Workers say_ “enough's enough_” by shuifanglj

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									                   COMMUNIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA                                 October 22 2003 No.1160 $1.50 THE WORKERS’ WEEKLY ISSN 1325-295X




              Scandalous lack
             of child protection
  Workers say, “enough’s enough!”
The standard of child protection and foster care being
provided by the Queensland State Government is nothing
short of scandalous and criminal. And it is now a very
public scandal. The Crime and Misconduct Commission
is currently conducting an inquiry into abuse within
the foster care system. There are reviews underway
into the deaths of nine children in care. In the past four
years, 75 children with connections to the Qld Families
Department have died.

           by Bob Briton               that reforms to the system are “well
                                       advanced”.
     This crisis has forced the hand        However, spending on child
of the union representing workers      protection in Queensland is
in the sector, the Queensland Public   still among the lowest in the
Sector Union. Last week the QPSU       Commonwealth despite the
announced a series of work bans        astoundingly high level of demand.
aimed at limiting the burdensome       Premier Beattie, himself, admits he
workload being put on the state’s      is “not proud” of the state’s record
child protection workers and to        with regard to child protection.
oblige the government to come               As governments continue to
clean about the number of children     privatise and cut social spending
at risk who cannot be adequately       to fund wars, tax cuts and corporate     and working conditions of workers
protected.                             handouts, the demand can only be         in the sector.
     The Queensland Ombudsman
recently condemned the Depart-
                                       expected to grow.
                                            While the Ombudsman’s
                                                                                    Ms Gordon points out that
                                                                                there are only 400 child protection
                                                                                                                                 Refugee Week 2003
ment’s handling of the case of a       recent comments pointed to               workers spread across Queensland       It is the second anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X,
10-week-old girl as “unsound”          systemic failure, some commenta-         to respond to 27,592 notifications      when 146 children, 142 women and 65 men drowned off
and exhibiting “significant            tors and bureaucrats have tried to       of child abuse and to care for           the Australian coast while the Australian Government
maladministration”.                    move the blame onto individual           nearly 4000 children placed under                       turned its back on them.
     The family of the mentally        caseworkers. The atmosphere of           the guardianship of the state (2001-   A child born under guard in Adelaide becomes the 187th
disabled mother had warned the         blame and recrimination has led          2002 figures).                         child in detention by Australian policy – with more than
Department that she was not able       to a slump in morale in the area of          To be able to do their jobs pro-      half of these children detained for over two years.
to care for the baby before the        the Department of Families with          fessionally and to better safeguard
body was discovered in a Salvation     responsibilities for child protection    the children of the state, they are    Tasmanian girl Ruth Cruz Mendoza to be deported to the
Army hostel for single mothers in      and foster care.                         putting a cap on the caseloads of                      streets of El Salvador.
September 2001.                             Penny Gordon has worked in          the various workers – a maximum         The Bali bombing children who Prime Minister posed
     For his own political purposes,   the child protection area for the past   of 15 Child Protection Orders for        with for media cameras still denied access to their
Qld Liberal Senator Santo Santoro      22 years. She was the chairperson        each Child Protection Worker, for                   refugee father in Australia.
has called for an immediate royal      of the Queensland Child Protection       example – and banning any associ-
commission into the crisis. Families   Council from 1999 to 2001. She has       ated Ministerials, Complaints and       A new Saulwick opinion polled shows the majority of
Minister Judy Spence has claimed       called for an inquiry into the morale    Executive Correspondence. J             Australians think refugees pose little or no threat to
                                                                                                                         national security and reject the language of “queue
                                                                                                                                              jumpers”.

        In the past four years, 75 children                                                                            It is time for the Australian Government to acknowledge
                                                                                                                            its international responsibility to asylum seekers.
            with connections to the Qld                                                                                 Acknowledgements to The Refugee Rights Action Network
                                                                                                                            & For a Just Australia. For more information visit
         Families Department have died.                                                                                       www.rran-wa.org & www.ajustaustralia.com



     Universities’                             Death of a                              Paul Robeson                    China’s giant step               Bolivian President
   nation-wide strike                        young labourer                              honoured                         into space                           flees
          - p3                                    - p4                                      - p7                              - p8                              - p9
                The GUARDIAN
                                                                             AUSTRALIA


    No 1160                                 October 22,       2003          Massacre history
                                                                            “should be taught”
  Our one-sided commemorations
     The Howard Government and Howard personally are
conducting a relentless campaign to militarise the thinking of
the Australian people in pursuit of the phoney “war against
terrorism”. Howard has gone to the APEC heads of govern-                    Aboriginal leaders and politicians have called on the Federal                        Constable William George
ment meeting in Bangkok pushing this Western-promoted “war                  Government to ensure schoolchildren are taught the “true” history of             Murray arrived on the scene around
without end” high up the agenda. His aim is to involve the other            the nation’s shameful past. The call came at an emotional ceremony               the same time, to investigate reports
nations in the US’s imperialist campaign for global domination.             deep in the remote Australian outback to mark the 75th anniversary               of cattle-killing in the area.
     The commemoration conducted in Bali was also used towards              of one of the nation’s most recent Aboriginal massacres.                             Determined to teach the locals
                                                                                                                                                             a lesson, and failing to investigate
the same ends. Sheriff Howard once again pushed himself into
                                                                                 The massacre took place at          the mainstream education were           the murder properly, Murray set out
the front row, this time to promote his cynical sympathy for the            Coniston, about 300 km north-            taught about past massacres like        on a campaign of violence that was
Australians killed in the Kuta blast.                                       west of Alice Springs in 1928,           Coniston.                               to leave dozens of Aboriginal men,
     The cynicism of this display of compassion was rather unex-            following the murder of a white              “We can’t change history but we     women and children dead over the
pectedly but none-the-less dramatically revealed by the photo               man. Police killed between 31 and        can make sure it’s written accord-      next few weeks.
of Howard holding hands with two children whose Indonesian                  100 Aboriginal men, women and            ing to what actually happened.              Murray’s grand-nephew Chas
mother had died in the blast. The bereaved children had been                children.                                Reconciliation is genuinely in the      Dale said he felt “deep heartfelt
specifically denied a visa to visit their father who is locked up in a           A flawed and widely criticised      hands of our children”, Senator         sorrow” for the victims. Like Mrs
camp in Australia. He is a refugee from Iran and is on the list to          inquiry, which did not hear from         Scullion said.                          Ah Chee, Dr Dale said he grew
be deported. Their father is the children’s only living parent. But         Aboriginal witnesses, later found            For 64-year-old Marita Ah Chee,     up hearing stories of his Uncle
does this engender any sympathy from the Australian immigra-                police acted in self-defence.            a member of the Stolen Generations,     George.
tion authorities? Absolutely not!                                                In a remarkable act of recon-       the day was vital to the healing pro-       But it was not until later in life
     Even after the publication of the photograph and the publicity         ciliation, descendants of those killed   cess. “I never thought this would       that he realised the devastating
given to the children’s plight, Minister Amanda Vanstone calmly             last month met and embraced rela-        happen”, Mrs Ah Chee said. “It’s so     impact of his great-uncle’s actions.
offers the response, “I have asked my department to pursue with             tives of the police officer who led      positive to see this happen today. I    “My father told me Uncle George
vigour the man’s reunion with his children in Iran”. A reunion              the punitive killings.                   can tell my grandchildren we made       was a legend – naturally enough I
but not in Australia! The father must first accept deportation                   “It’s not about payback”,           peace with the policeman’s niece. I     grew up proud of Uncle George”,
back to where he fled from.                                                 ATSIC acting Chairman Lionel             gave her a hug”.                        Mr Dale said in a letter to the local
     However, this is only one facet of the Bali commemoration.             Quartermaine said. “It’s about               The Coniston massacre occurred      Aboriginal people.
The tragedy is being squeezed relentlessly by the media and the             acknowledging what took place and        during a series of raids around             “His values and attitudes were
government. We are regaled with stories of heroism that are                 how best we can go forward”.             Coniston Station as payback for         proudly passed on from Uncle
undoubtedly true but presented in such a way as to suggest that                  The Coniston massacre of 1928       the death of a white dingo trapper,     George to my father, and from my
it is only Australians who display such heroism and compassion              has been told and retold among           Frederick Brooks.                       father to me.
for others.                                                                 generations of Aborigines in                 Mrs Ah Chee remembers her               “But my lack of feeling, my
     But the people of many other countries are experiencing Bali           Central Australia, but many other        mother telling her how she survived     lack of compassion, became a ter-
                                                                            Australians are still unaware of the     being hunted down by a police           rible burden for me. I have come to
tragedies every day. What of the people of Palestine whose homes
                                                                            brutal events.                           officer by running at night as his      realise how very terrible the killing
are being flattened by Israeli bulldozers and tanks and many                     Mr Quartermaine said Australia      party slept. “Everything that moved     times were to all involved.
men, women and children killed. Do those who die not deserve                needs to face up to its “shameful        he was shooting”.                           “I’m two generations removed
to be remembered? Do the Palestinian people not also show com-              history” for true reconciliation to          According to legend, Brooks         yet these times have been devastat-
passion to those rendered homeless with family members killed?              occur. “Australian children need         was killed by an Aboriginal man         ing to me. I can barely imagine the
     What of the victims of the war in Iraq? What of the people of          to be taught about the history so        named Bullfrog at the place now         impact of these killing times on
Bolivia where government police and military have killed about              this country can move on and be at       called Brooks Soak, a soak on a         those directly involved.
70 people demonstrating against the grinding poverty inflicted by           peace with itself. Only the truth can    dried up riverbed about 20km south          “I’m slowly healing from my
the policies imposed by the World Bank and the IMF? Do they                 set this country free”, he said.         of Coniston Station.                    past and I hope that my sorrow
not also suffer and cry and help one another?                                    “In this country we talk about          Bullfrog was either angry about     expressed to you today can help you
     What about the people of Vietnam who are still suffering the           wars at a far distance and we always     his wife sleeping with Brooks, or       heal … your wounds of our tragic
consequences of Agent Orange sprayed on them by the US mili-                say ‘lest we forget’, yet we say to      that the white man had failed to        past.”
tary invaders so ably helped by Australian forces? What of the              Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander    honour his side of a deal for tobacco       Now the ghosts of Brooks Soak
mothers who bear deformed children? How often is a commemo-                 people ‘forget it, forget what took      and sugar rations.                      have finally been acknowledged and
ration held for the many more victims of Australia’s invasion of            place’.”                                     Before long the bush telegraph      laid to rest, Aboriginal leaders and
their land. The Vietnamese were not invading Australia. It was                   Northern Territory Senator          had exaggerated the murder into an      politicians are looking to the future.
Australia that was invading their homeland.                                 Nigel Scullion described the day         incident where 30-40 Aboriginal             They want to ensure the lessons
     We do not even have to go overseas to show that the com-               as a true act of reconciliation. He      people had apparently murdered and      of the past are never forgotten.
passion of the Government, media and, unfortunately, many                   said he would speak to the Federal       chopped up Brooks and shoved his        Acknowledgements to
Australians is very one-sided.                                              Government to ensure children in         remains down a rabbit hole.             Koori Mail J
     Just recently the Indigenous newspaper Koori Mail recalled
the 75th anniversary of the massacre by police of up to 100
Aboriginal men, women and children at Coniston in the Northern
Territory in 1928. (See story opposite.)
     Where are the monuments erected by any Australian govern-
ment? When have the white Australian population lit candles in
memory of those killed – possibly a larger number than the 88
Australians who lost their lives in Bali? Which church commem-
orates this act of genocide – only one among the many massacres
of the Indigenous people as the invaders stole their land and at-
tempted to eliminate them completely? The Government cannot
even say “Sorry”.
     It is suggested that the tragedy of Bali will be commemorated
“for ever”. The Indigenous people merely request that the mas-
sacre at Coniston should be taught as part of the history of
Australia.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Photo: Central Land Council




     As part of the Remembrance Day commemorations
(November 11) the Prime Minister is to go to London to open yet
another war memorial. And so the hypocrisy goes on.
     The commemoration of those who lost their lives is a normal
human reaction, but if we fail to act decisively to eliminate war,
ever more statues, war memorials and candles will be lit to mark
the inhumanity committed while some make use of this sentiment
to hide their real monstrous agenda.
                                                                            Central Land chairman Kunmamara Breaden speaking at the Remembrance Day
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    2    THE GUARDIAN             October 22 2003
                                                                                                                                                                               AUSTRALIA


Nation-wide
uni strike
huge success
Academic and non-academic staff and students nationwide stopped
work on October 16 to protest against the Howard Government’s
attempts to crush student and staff unionism and impose individual
contracts on staff.
     Thousands of protestors took to      arguing that the government’s poli-
the streets of Australia’s major cities   cies breach the ILO Convention on
in an act of unprecedented solidar-       freedom of association and the right




                                                                                                                                                                                                             Photo: Ana Pha
ity, while university work ground         to bargain collectively.
to a halt. Pickets were mounted at            Even the conservative Australian
the entrances of many universities,       Vice Chancellors Committee
and at libraries and other centres of     has described the government’s
university activity.                      new uni employment policies as
     The      highly       successful     “unworkable”.                            Striking staff and students at rally in Belmore Park, Sydney
university industrial action fol-             It is not a matter of giving
lowed several weeks of intense            employees “freedom of choice”            with offering to the most vulnerable      their action had good support in       legislation, if passed, would be
activity over the government’s            over their method of employment,         of their employees.”                      the media, from the ACTU, the          implemented retrospectively.
attempted enforcement of its new          as the government describes it. As                                                 Teachers’ Union and support from            Staff responded with a series
university industrial policies. The       the Sydney University branch of                                                    Ireland, the USA and Canada.           of stop-work meetings and a
Government is attempting to make          the National Tertiary Education          ANU calls                                     To the surprise of many the Vice   university-wide strike on October
$404 million in federal university
funding conditional on universities
                                          Union (NTEU) noted, “University
                                          staff already have the option of
                                                                                   government’s bluff                        Chancellor of Curtin University
                                                                                                                             spoke. He opposed the workplace
                                                                                                                                                                    7. That night the University’s
                                                                                                                                                                    Senate had a meeting. The Vice
conforming to its anti-student, anti-     negotiating an individual common             Just prior to the nation-wide         relations proposals.                   Chancellor was questioned by staff
worker agenda.                            law agreement with their employer.       strike the Australian National                The President of the National      Senate members regarding the
     The misnamed Bill, Backing           The government is not satisfied,         University (ANU) staff union forced       Union of Students condemned            appropriateness of refusing to sign
Australia’s Future, was bull-             however, because under the current       administration to sign off on its         funding cuts, pointing out that soon   off on an industrial agreement.
dozed through the House of                arrangements, any individual con-        enterprise agreement. As a result         it would only be rich people who            He claimed he did not want to
Representatives, but is still to be       tract offered by a university must       they did not participate in the strike.   could go to university.                jeopardise the university’s access
tested in the Senate where it is          at least match, if not surpass, the          Minister for Education Brendan            The Assistant Secretary of         to its promised portion of the $404
expected to encounter some oppo-          working conditions set out in collec-    Nelson warned that if the legislation     the Community and Public Sector        million pool of funding.
sition. It seeks to abolish collective    tive bargaining agreements.              passed the Senate the ANU would           Union urged students and staff              Both staff and students around
agreements (Enterprise Bargaining             “In other words, for any indi-       have to re-open negotiations with         to take the issues widely to the       Australia are concerned that the
Agreements, or EBAs) negoti-              vidually-contracted staff member,        staff over the EBA.                       community for they needed to           government’s policies will have
ated by unions in universities and        there remains a strong collective                                                  understand and be concerned for the    major adverse implications for
replace them with non-union indi-         agreement to fall back on. An                                                      education of their children.           tertiary education in general – its
vidual work contracts (Australian         Australian Workplace Agreement           Perth                                                                            quality, independence and student
Workplace Agreements, or AWAs).           is a form of contract that explicitly        In Perth the President of the WA                                             access.
     The seven unions involved            cuts off access to such a safety net.    Division of the National Tertiary         Sydney University                           Last Thursday staff and students
have referred the matter to the
International Labour Organisation,
                                          The minimum standard becomes
                                          whatever employers can get away
                                                                                   Education Union told the thousand
                                                                                   students and staff at a rally that
                                                                                                                             postpones EBA                          sent a clear message to the Howard
                                                                                                                                                                    Government that they will not toler-
                                                                                                                                 The Government’s Bill was          ate the undermining of university
                                                                                                                             presented to Parliament the day        staff and student rights. This is only

Carr pushes racist                                                                                                           before the University of Sydney
                                                                                                                             was to sign off on a long-due wage
                                                                                                                             increase. The Vice Chancellor,
                                                                                                                                                                    the beginning of the struggle to
                                                                                                                                                                    defend public university education.
                                                                                                                                                                    The next step is to bring in other


“law and order” agenda
                                                                                                                             Gavin Brown, refused to sign off       trade unions and community at
                                                                                                                             on the agreement, saying that the      large. J


Photos of a bullet-ridden house wrapped up with a story of                         Right now, what we need is action
immigrants, drugs and guns have become the latest fuel to drive                    to make the streets safe …
Bob Carr’s eternal “law and order” campaign. There is no doubt                         “And officers can rest assured
that once again NSW residents ─ already living under some of the                   of the support of all decent
harshest “anti-terror” laws in the world ─ will be asked to relinquish             Australians in whatever steps they
further civil rights for their own safety and protection.                          deem necessary to rid us of the
                                                                                   murderous menace that has become
        by Andrew Jackson               “Obey the law of Australia or              apparent in the past few weeks.”
     John Howard won the 2001             ship out of Australia”, declared Mr          The Opposition spokesperson
Federal election with racist scare-       Carr, commenting on an incident in       on Police, Peter Debnam, further
mongering. “I don’t want people           Sydney last week where two people        upped the ante ranting about a “war
like that in Australia”, he spat          were killed when bullets were fired      against urban terrorists” and the
on national television, as he told        into their home. “We are not going       “gun warfare crisis”.
Australia how a boatload of refu-         to see, step by step, our civilisa-          No doubt Mr Carr will now                                                                     Greens MLC
gees had thrown their children into       tion dragged back to the medieval        call for new powers to help fight                                                                 Jim Scott with
the ocean.                                standards of revenge cycles. It’s as     his war against crime, just as Mr                                                                 Nidia Diaz
     We now know this story to be a       simple as that”.                         Howard demanded new powers to
complete fiction. There was a boat-           The       Sydney       Telegraph     fight his war against terrorism.
load of refugees, but the events as       – Murdoch’s slavishly pro-Carr               However, these powers are not
John Howard described them to the         trash-tabloid – picked up the baton:     needed to fight crime or terrorism          Hope for the Salvadoran People – Nidia Diaz
media and what actually happened          “The violent and bitter break-up of      – their aim is to silence public
were two completely different sto-        a 12-year marriage, involving guns,      dissent.                                        About 100 people attended a public meeting on October 15 in
ries and John Howard knew it.             attempted rape and death threats             The past few years have seen                 Perth, WA, to hear Nidia Diaz, a representative of the FMLN
     It was a deliberate campaign of      fuelled an escalating family feud        a hightened level of political                  (Farabundo Marti for National Liberation Front) of El Salvador
racism designed to instil fear in the     which resulted in the murders of a       activity in Australia. From the              and Member of the Central American Parliament. Diaz is the one
Australian people, win the election,      man and woman this week”, ran the        tens of thousands that blockaded               of the highest-ranking FMLN representatives to visit Australia.
and implement a raft of laws repeal-      front page article.                      the Crown Casino in S11 actions              She visited Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth to
ing civil liberties under the guise of        The Telegraph Editorial,             against the WTO to the hundreds             mobilise the support of the Latin American community and to initiate
                                                                                                                                 the Salvadoran Solidarity Committees for Change. Diaz is of the
“internal and external security”. And     illustrated with a photo of a very       of thousands who marched against
                                                                                                                                opinion that current political trends in South America and FMLN’s
it worked ─ the more frequently and       authoritarian-looking Mr Carr, gave      the war, the Australian people                  lead in the polls, give it a good chance of winning the general
shrilly he repeated the story the         pointers to the real issues behind the   are taking to the streets and                elections in March 2004. She urged Salvadorans and Australians
higher he climbed in the opinion          beat-up.                                 venting their anger at anti-people          alike to support the activities of the FMLM and to send international
polls.                                        “If… police have strong              government policies.                                  observers to El Salvador for the general elections.
     Now NSW Premier Bob Carr             indications they know the identity           And both Bob Carr and John
has sought to outdo Mr Howard             of the people responsible for these      Howard have demonstrated their                         For more information about the FMLM and on
with a racist diatribe the likes of       crimes, but are powerless to act         ideological commitment to stamp                        how to become an international observer, visit:
which has not been heard since the        because of a lack of public co-          this dissent with police-state                     http://www.cis-elsalvador.org/election_observers.htm
early Hanson days.                        operation, then that’s unsatisfactory.   authoritarianism. J

                                                                                                                                                THE GUARDIAN            October 22 2003          3
LABOUR STRUGGLES


Death of young worker
sparks state-wide stoppage
The death last week of a 16-year-old labourer at a factory                        running extremely high on this
building site in Sydney’s west has caused a NSW-wide shutdown                     issue. The CFMEU office has been
of sites being developed by Australand. It has also given new                     inundated with calls from workers
impetus to calls for tougher occupational health legislation to                   suggesting an industry-wide stop-
include jail sentences for industrial manslaughter.                               page to bring matters to a head.
                                                                                  While the union is leaving this
            by Bob Briton           Relations, John Della Bosca, has              option open for the moment, pres-
     Joel Exner was working on the      responded to calls for tougher            sure is building.
roof of the building 15 metres above    occupational health and safety laws           CFMEU safety co-ordinator
the ground when he fell to his death.   by saying that great strides have         Steve Keenan said last week that the
It was his third day on the job.        already been made. Fines of up to         death at Eastern Creek was the 45th
     He had been working for a sub-     $825,000 already exist for negligent      fatal accident on a construction site
contractor on the site, but principal   bosses and the Minister claims he is      that he had attended in the past three
contractor Australand has admitted      not opposed to a crime of industrial      and a half years.
in the media that he was not wear-      manslaughter with penalties includ-           While workers and their unions
ing a safety harness.                   ing time in jail being put on the         struggle with the State Government
     Australand maintains that he       statute books.                            for occupational health and safety
was not required by law to wear             Mr Della Bosca has clouded            laws with some teeth, a family and
a harness while carrying out the        the issue with public discussion          a community are left grieving. The
work, a claim that the Construction     of whether such an offence should         teenager’s mother, a single parent
Forestry, Mining and Energy Union       be part of the Crimes Act or the          with two other sons, was treated for
(CFMEU) spokesperson Phil Davey         Occupational Health and Safety Act.       shock in hospital after being told of
strongly denies:                        Speaking with The Guardian, Phil          Joel’s death. J                          Joel Exner
     “That is utter rubbish and dis-    Davey made the union’s position
ingenuous in the extreme. I was on      clear: “…whether it’s under OH&S
the site today, 15 metres up; the law
says if you are three metres up you
need a static line harness…”
                                        legislation or under the Crimes Act
                                        is immaterial to us. What we’re
                                        after is for laws to get on the statute
                                                                                  Australian unions back
     The union also insists that Joel
was not given the relevant training
for the job.
                                        books in one form or another so that
                                        building workers and other workers
                                        in heavy industry in this state can
                                                                                  striking East Timorese workers
     Over one thousand workers have     have some confidence that if terrible     Unions West Australia have called on affiliates for financial support                According to Sabino Adornia,
downed tools on all Australand proj-    things happen, such as happened           to assist striking employees of Timor Aviation Services (TAS) in                one of the sacked employees, “East
ects throughout the state until the     yesterday, company directors can          East Timor. The strike began on Friday October 3 in support of two              Timorese workers can not believe
CFMEU completes a safety audit of       go to jail.”                              workers who were dismissed by the company at Dili International                 that Australian companies think
the sites. The union expected this to       “We feel that if you’re a com-        Airport.                                                                        they can come to East Timor and
take the rest of the week and work      pany director and your cost cutting                                                                                       ignore principles of fairness and
would not resume until the sites        or corner cutting results in some-             The two workers, who are elect-     ees being work at 5.30am without       justice. Timor Aviation Services is
were given the all clear. WorkCover     one dying, you should go to jail in       ed delegates of the Maritime and         compensation.                          even disregarding a legal directive
investigators issued several prohib-    exactly the same way that, if you’re      Transport Union of Timor Lorosae             The workers tried to negoti-       from our own government.”
ition notices on the Eastern Creek      a motorist and your driving results       (UMTTL), were negotiating a col-         ate some extra payment for these            The company refusal to rein-
site where Joel fell.                   in someone dying, you go to jail.”        lective agreement to improve wages       hours but the company refused.         state the workers left them with no
     State Minister for Industrial          Feelings in the industry are          and conditions of TAS employees          As a result, they did not unload an    other choice but to exercise their
                                                                                  when they were fired.                    unscheduled plane and Penna, as the    right to strike.
                                                                                       The union and TAS management        Managing Director, fired the two            On the third day of the peace-

      LABOUR NOTES                                                                had been in protracted negotia-
                                                                                  tions for a collective agreement for
                                                                                  almost six months.
                                                                                       The company is co-owned by
                                                                                                                           workers.
                                                                                                                               During negotiations between the
                                                                                                                           directors of TAS and Harvey World
                                                                                                                           Travel from Darwin, the Union and
                                                                                                                                                                  ful strike, a UN Police officer using
                                                                                                                                                                  excessive force arrested and hand-
                                                                                                                                                                  cuffed the International Transport
                                                                                                                                                                  Workers Federation (ITF) co-ordi-
                                                                                  Tony Penna of Darwin and the             the Government, the Department         nator for East Timor, Mick Killick,
  The Tasmanian Branch of the Liquor Hospitality and Mis-                         Directors of Harvey World Travel         of Labour and Solidarity instructed    who was observing the peaceful
  cellaneous Workers’ Union (LHMU) has negotiated an                              in Darwin. TAS has contracts to          Penna to comply with East Timor’s      strike.
  agreement with the State Government protecting the jobs                         provide customs clearance and            Constitution and immediately rein-          He was released after 56 hours
                                                                                  handling services to the UN,             state the two sacked workers after     in detention following orders when
  of school attendants in government schools for the next                         Harvey World Travel, the Australian      the company failed to provide any      prosecutors at a preliminary hearing
  five years. During that period there will be no contracting                     Defence Force and charter compa-         evidence to support their case for     failed to provide sufficient evidence
  out of their work. “This agreement gives our members the                        nies serving numerous Australian         summary dismissal.                     to justify his detention.
  security to plan their lives for the next five years”, LHMU                     oil, gas and mining companies. It is         The Union, with the support of          The United Nations has so far
  Secretary David O’Byrne said. The union and its membership                      not registered in either East Timor      the Trade Union Confederation of       declined to drop all charges against
                                                                                  or Australia.                            East Timor (TLTUC), has vowed          Mr Killick the hearing is set down
  have being battling since 1991 to stop successive govern-
                                                                                       In the midst of bargaining, in      to continue its strike until the       for Tuesday October 21 in Dili.
  ments from contracting out cleaning in government schools.                      August 2003, it won a new contract       company abides by the laws of          Information used in this article
                                                                                  from the UN for ground handling.         East Timor and the conventions of      was provided by the Trade Union
  Low paid community and disability workers have secured a                        Penna then demanded that employ-         the ILO.                               Confederation of East Timor. J
  $17 a week pay rise. The increase was awarded by the full

                                                                                  Gaming merger must protect jobs
  bench of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission despite
  staunch opposition from employer representatives Employ-
  ers First and Australian Business Lawyers. The Commission
  awarded the $17 increase to workers earning $731 a week                         The Union representing UNiTAB workers in Queensland has called                  over the future of Queensland TAB
  or less. Those on higher wages will receive a $15 increase.                     for commitments regarding job security and working conditions                   workers.
  Australian Services Union President Sally McManus said the                      following the formal announcement of plans for the TAB Ltd (the                      It appears that UNiTAB
  decision was a rebuff for Employers First who had demanded                      privatised NSW TAB) to merge with UNiTAB.                                       will retain its headquarters in
                                                                                                                                                                  Queensland and continue to trade
  that community workers trade off conditions for any wage rise.                      UNiTAB is a Queensland-based             “UNiTAB, TAB Ltd and the           under its present name.
                                                                                  gaming company which also owns           Queensland Government should                “I will be asking representatives
  Telstra is set to confirm it will export another 500                            the South Australian and Northern        give clear commitments about           from the two companies to give
  Melbourne jobs to India. According to Workers Online in-                        Territory TABs. It was previously        the impact on jobs”, Ms Bignell        commitments about the future
  dustry sources insist that contracts with IBM GSA had been                      known as Qld TAB Ltd, but changed        said.                                  security of working conditions
  terminated with the work going to Infosys and Aventail,                         its name to UNiTAB to reflect its            “The proposed merger should        and in relation to the totality of
                                                                                  takeover of gambling operations in       not be an excuse to bid down jobs      employee numbers.”
  both based in India. The development confirms union                             South Australia and the Northern         and conditions, and we believe it           This merger will in effect
  fears and opens the floodgates for a wholesale export of                        Territory.                               would be appropriate for the parties   amount to a takeover with TAB
  jobs – with as many as 15,000 Telstra-related jobs at risk.                         The new (private) company will       to the merger to provide clear com-    Ltd shareholders owning about 75
                                                                                  be Australia’s largest wagering com-     mitments about this to employees”,     per cent of the new company and
  After 227 days Electrical Trades Union members at Smor-                         pany with more than 3000 outlets         she said.                              is likely to be followed by other
  gon Steel have ended their picket. The workers showed                           taking bets on horse and greyhound           “The vast majority of employ-      mergers or takeovers in an industry
                                                                                  racing. It would also have 115,000       ees in Queensland have given           which has already become highly
  enormous strength and determination to fight for industry
                                                                                  profit-generating slot machines.         many years of service despite being    monopolised by a few private
  standard Enterprise Bargaining Agreement conditions. The                            Australian Services Union            employed as casuals, and they          corporations since the privatisation
  dispute will continue in the Australian Industrial Relations                    Branch Secretary Julie Bignell said      deserve guarantees regarding their     of state betting offices. TAB Ltd has
  Commission. The workers at Smorgon Steel would like to                          many UNiTAB workers who were             future.”                               also held merger talks with Jupiters
  thank everyone who has supported them during the dispute.                       concerned about its impact on jobs           The union is seeking assur-        Casino and the Victorian company
                                                                                  and working conditions.                  ances from UNiTAB and TAB Ltd          Tabcorp Holdings. J

      4    THE GUARDIAN             October 22 2003
                                                                                                                                                                        AUSTRALIA


Mr Potato Head deals
the dirt on terrorism
From Our Correspondents                                                           “He was wearing a button on his
                                                                                  shirt that said ‘Ram Bullbar into
“My future fellow Americans. Here in the land of Oz I want to                     Parliament’. He asked me to join
insure yu that your sovereignty is safe in our hands from the                     the Libel Party, and I said ‘I’m a
terrism and evil henchfolk.” So began US President Petroleum                      Laboured member’. He said `It
G Gusher’s prayer meeting in the Australian Parliament during                     doesn’t matter’, so I said `I don’t
his visit last week. He continued by thanking Prime Minister Lon                  want to pay the $16 membership’,
Coward for his support for committing Australia to America’s                      and he said ‘We’ll pay the $16
endless war plans.                                                                membership’.”
                                                                                       Asked by our correspondents if
    “I know Lon’s creed is in line      correspondents he wanted to “give         he was branch stacking, Mr Bullbar
with mine – no sacrifice is too big,    them the dirt” from “inside the           claimed to be merely recruiting.
no profit is too much”, said a grin-    corridors of power”. His voice dis-       “My philosophy – and I don’t
ning Mr Gusher turning to the Prime     torted by the mask, Mr Potato Head        believe this cuts across the general
Minister with open arms. “Come          told how war on terrorism was an          thrust of Libel values – is that the
here squirt.”                           impossibility. “And they know it”,        Libel Party can’t have enough rich,
    Mr Coward was visibly moved,        he said proceeding to give a brief        arrogant windbags trying to knock
blushing and saying “Oh, gosh Pet”,     history.                                  off the rich arrogant windbags in the
as Mr Gusher playfully took him in           “Terrorism is as old as politics,    leadership”.
a headlock and rapped his knuckles      and that is quite old. Terrorism is            “Look at me, a millionaire finan-
on the PM’s bald pate. “God is on       not a people, a nation, a religion,       cier and ruthless opportunist with an
our side”, cried Mr Gusher. “Not        a tribe, a political organisation or      unshakable belief in the principle
their God, but our God.”                a movement. Terrorism is a politi-        that there are those who are born to
    Mr Coward concurred, waving         cal tactic. So Gusher, Coward and         rule. The problem with the current
his arms in the air and swaying with    British Prime Minister Toby Blat          member for Moneysworth is he’s
his eyes closed in ecstasy, chanting,   say they are waging endless war on        been deluded into thinking that just
“Ye and verily, our God is a good       a tactic. But the result of this war so   because people voted for him in an
God, our God is a vengeful God.         far is the invasion and occupation of     election he has some sort of tenure.
Our God is for the powerful over        two countries.                                 “He’s living in the last century.
the weak, for if he had meant the            “The reasons given for these         Ask any public servant or university
weak to have rights he would have       wars were the pursuit of terror           academic and they’ll tell you tenure
made them major shareholders of         suspect Balsamic Vinegar in               has been replaced by the corporate        Ex-communications minister Richard Alston is going on as
transnational corporations.”            Afghanistan, and claims of WMD            ethos of the powerful killing and
                                                                                                                            though he has absolutely wiped the floor with the ABC in a
    After the final hymn Mr Gusher      (widespread mutual disgust) in Iraq       eating the weak – and sometimes
thanked the Laboured opposition for     aimed at the USA and its allies.          their own young, if they happen to        crushing 17-51 victory. Alston had filed 68 complaints of bias
their attendance. “I notice some of     Neither Balsamic Vinegar nor              threaten profit margins or one’s own      in the national broadcaster’s reporting on the war on Iraq
you have attitude”, he said referring   WMD have been found, although             personal wealth.”                         with the ABC’s watchdog the Independent Complaints Re-
to the various positions of official    as a result of the wars there’s plenty         In addition there have been the      view Panel. Just 17 – i.e. 25 percent – were upheld leaving
protocol assumed by Laboured MPs:       of WMD now, which of course               revelations of a conflict of inter-       Alston, at 51 short, trumpeting the Panel’s findings as “a bru-
Laboured Leader Hyman Spleen            increases the chances of terror           est by the former Minister for the        tal reality check”. It appears Tricky Dicky is a tad delusional.
down on one knee in the yielding        attacks. People can thank Gusher,         Privatisation of Telstra and the
position; his shadow treasurer Bark     Coward and Blat for that.”                ABC, Dicky Dialtone. Mr Dialtone
                                                                                                                            This seemed to be confirmed when Tricky blamed his mother
Loathsome standing behind holding            At this point the sound of a         has blamed his mother for the pile
a sign with “CHOOSE ME” and a           flushing toilet caused Mr Potato          of Telstra shares in the family trust,    for his having a conflict of interest. When it was revealed last
phone number on it.                     Head to withdraw into the shadows         saying that she has kept him in the       week that his family trust has a whopping pile of Telstra shares
    Following the pray meeting          cast by the urinals. “I will contact      dark since he was a small boy.            purchased while he was Minister in charge of Telstra, he point-
Mr Spleen told the media outside        you again soon”, he said exiting               “I did say that the privatisation    ed to his mum. “Completely unbeknown to me my mother,
– where demonstrators against Mr        through a disused sewage pipe.            of Telstra was for mums and dads.         apparently on the advice of her stockbroker, purchased some
Gusher had been democratically          “When I say ‘from effluent, flowers       And, as all mothers are wont to do,       shares in Telstra some years ago, but I had no knowledge of
allowed to protest 20 kilometres        grow’, you will reply `polite patrons     her share market advisors, stockbro-
away on the outskirts of the national   point Percy at the porcelain’ and we      kers, accountants and investment          this”, he told the ABC, which demonstrated its unbiased nature
capital – that protocol meant nobody    will know it is us.”                      portfolio consultants – completely        by allowing Tricky to tell such huge pork pies on national tele-
was really opposed to Mr Gusher’s            Elsewhere, all is not going well     without my knowledge – must have          vision. After all, it’s not his mum’s trust, but the family’s, and
visit. Asked about the millions of      in the ruling Libel Party. Adding to      told her to buy them.                     Tricky’s financial interests were in there alongside mater’s.
people who had marched against          the revelations of a bogus war on a            “You might well say that
Australia’s involvement in the war,     tactic, are the ructions in the blue      because it is a family trust and my       Capitalism, like its best known secret agent, James Bond,
Mr Spleen said, “They’re obviously      ribbon Libel seat of Moneysworth,         money is in it too that it is ludicrous   tries to screw everything it touches. So it was just a matter
a bunch of nobodies.”                   where Libel president Merchant            for me to claim that I didn’t know.       of time before professional tennis revealed its 007 symptoms.
    Meanwhile, during the course of     Bullbar is busy branch stacking with           “But let me tell you, one
their investigations our correspon-     the objective of getting the numbers      Christmas when I was a little boy         International tennis players are deliberately throwing matches
dents were contacted by a mystery       so as to buy his way into Parliament      I caught her taking the lollies out       for financial gain. Bets of nearly $200,000 have been placed
whistleblower known only as Mr          as the Moneysworth sitting member.        of my stocking and putting them in        by players on internet betting sites. As with athletics, football,
Potato Head, who arranged a meet-            Our correspondents spoke to a        hers”, he said indignantly. “I don’t      cycling, cricket etc, it will not be possible to watch profession-
ing with them in the toilet block of    number of people in the electorate.       want to raise the ‘candy from a           al tennis again without a cloud of suspicion hanging over it.
Old Parliament House.                   “I was coming out of the cinema           baby’ analogy, but I ask you, what
    The informer, who appeared in       in Double Pay when this bloke             kind of person takes candy from a         A warning was sounded last week by visiting New Zealand
a Mr Potato Head mask, told our         approached me”, one of them said.         baby?” J                                  Greens MP Jeannette Fitzsimmons about the drive by trans-
                                                                                                                            nationals such as Monsanto to introduce genetically modified
                                                                                                                            crops in Australia. Claims by New Zealand’s Environment
                                                                                                                            Minister that the decision to allow the release of GM crops,
                                                                                                                            animals and micro-organisms will pay for health and education
                                                                                                                            were rejected by Ms Fitzsimmons. “This is a claim supported
                                                                                                                            by no evidence whatever. The gains are at best marginal
                                                                                                                            and the loss of our `100% Pure NZ’ brand could be severe.”

                                                                                                                            CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is G-G Major-General
                                                                                                                            Michael Jeffery. When PM Howard announced the appoint-
                                                                                                                            ment as Governor-General of a former Major-General who
                                                                                                                            holds out as the pinnacle of his career his participation in
                                                                                                                            the criminal US-led war on Vietnam, it was clear that Jeffery
                                                                                                                            was Howard’s man. The non-political Queen’s representa-
                                                                                                                            tive has told a security conference in Canberra that the UN
Protestors took up the theme of “humour, satire and ridicule” with gusto at the “Don’t be Bush-                             Charter should be changed to legalise first strikes against
wacked” rally in Sydney last Sunday. Banners, placards, effigies, fancy dress and a giant George                            sovereign countries. “Terrorists must be ruthlessly pur-
W (on stilts) manipulating a lookalike John Howard puppet were among the ways in which several                              sued”, said the non-elected Queen’s representative, “both
thousand people let the US President know he was not welcome in Australia. Former Australian                                domestically and internationally.” The figurehead Queen’s
intelligence agent David Wilkie, who suffered a campaign of slander and vilification by the Howard
                                                                                                                            representative called for “interventionist action” by the UN
Government when he exposed Howard’s lies over Iraq, was given a standing ovation before and after
his address to the rally.                                                                                                   in “Africa, Europe, the Middle East” and “our own region”.


                                                                                                                                            THE GUARDIAN          October 22 2003       5
MAGAZINE



GM maize contamination in
Is the genie out of the bottl
Twenty-five months after the first scientific evidence                                 Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group          Basis of existence
became public, the Mexican Government and the scientific                          warned that “Recent US produc-
community have acknowledged that Mexico’s traditional                             tion of corn genetically modified             Alvaro Salgado of National
maize crop is contaminated with DNA from genetically                              to produce substances ranging from        Centre to Support Indigenous
                                                                                  plastics and adhesives, to spermi-        Missions (CENAMI) cited a Nahuatl
modified (GM) maize despite a government prohibition on                           cides and abortifacients poses an         poem that emphasises the role of
the planting of GM seeds. Mexico is the centre of origin                          even greater risk of contamination”.      corn in Mexican communities: “It
for maize – one of the world’s most important food crops.                              “There have already been cases       is our mother because it gives us
On October 9, Mexican peasant farmers and indigenous                              in Iowa and Nebraska of accidental        life; it gives us unity and identity,
communities along with NGOs publicly released the                                 escape of corn modified to produce        as children of the same family. It
results of their own testing that found GM contamination                          non-edible substances. If we’re           makes us love our mother earth
of native maize in at least nine states – far more serious                        already finding contamination in          and not abandon her. It makes us
and widespread than previously assumed. Their findings                            remote areas of Mexico, where             peoples. We share the maize with
are a timely warning for Australia and the rest of the                            cultivation of GM corn is prohibited      joy, but nobody has the right to
                                                                                  by law, how can we guarantee that         use it as its owner, maize can feed
world where the release of GM crops is being pushed by                            these other types won’t spread as         us all, but we cannot appropriate
the transnational Gene Giants.                                                    well?”                                    it. We have a mutual relationship,
                                                                                       Ribeiro continued: “Like all         that’s why we defend it from foxes,
    No fewer than four government-          The organisations were espec-         GM products in the world, the             coyotes and rats. We don’t want it to
sponsored studies have been under-      ially alarmed to find traces of the       proteins detected are all under           run out, because we exist thanks to
taken in Mexico over the past two       insecticidal toxin (Cry9c), the           patent. The Monsanto corporation          corn”.
years to determine whether or not       engineered trait found in StarLink        that accounts for 90% of the world            “Contamination isn’t just one
transgenes are present in native        maize (formerly sold by Aventis           market in genetically modified            more problem”, said Salgado. “It’s
maize. Although none of the studies     CropScience).                             agricultural products already won         an aggression against Mexico’s
has yet been published, each study          StarLink was never approved           a lawsuit against Canadian farmer         identity and its original inhab-
found varying levels of contamin-       by the US Government for human            Percy Schmeiser claiming un-              itants… We won’t let the same
ation in two or more states.            consumption because of concerns           licensed use of their patent, even        technicians and institutions and
    But acknowledgment of gene          it could trigger allergic reactions.      though Schmeiser’s fields were            companies that gave us chemicals
flow has not come with a clear plan     Illegal traces of StarLink were           inadvertently contaminated by             and hybrid seeds come along now
of action to address contamination      found in US food products in 2000.        Monsanto’s GM canola.”                    to tell us not to worry and that the
and to prevent it from continuing.      Following a massive recall of taint-           “There are currently 2000            solution is their seeds. We want our
Neither is there a plan to protect      ed food products in the US, Aventis       similar cases filed by Monsanto and       seeds and we are going to defend
vital national and international col-   withdrew StarLink from the market.        other biotech corporations against        them and rescue them”.
lections of crop germplasm stored                                                 farmers in Canada and the US.”                The coalition of indigenous         International Agricultural Research)
in gene banks in Mexico and                                                            Elizabeth, a peasant from the        communities, farmer and non-            to address the issue.
elsewhere.                              Alarming                                  state of Veracruz, declared: “The         government organisations demanded            Although FAO has expressed
    Given the appalling lack of
action and follow-through by the
                                        test results                              companies themselves should be
                                                                                  sued, for contamination. We pub-
                                                                                                                            that the Mexican Government make
                                                                                                                            public the results of all studies on
                                                                                                                                                                    concern, it has only been in touch
                                                                                                                                                                    with CIMMYT (International Maize
Mexican Government, international            The results show contamination       licly declare their responsibility, and   GM contamination, stop all imports      and Wheat Improvement Centre),
plant breeding institutes and the       has spread at least to the South,         we will not permit any lawsuit filed      of transgenic maize, continue its       the CGIAR institute in Mexico,
Gene Giants, the true creators and      Central and Northern regions of           by them, in any part of Mexico,           moratorium on the cultivation of        which has global responsibility for
custodians of maize decided to take     Mexico.                                   since they’re the ones who have           transgenic maize, and scrap the         maize breeding and for the world’s
matters into their own hands.                “If we’re finding contamination      damaged our corn with their genet-        flawed “biosafety” bill crafted by      most important maize gene bank.
    At a news conference on             in random samples from indigenous         ically modified products.”                biotech proponents, which is now             CGIAR has refused to take deci-
October 9 in Mexico City,               and farming communities far from               Pedro, an indigenous commun-         under discussion in the Mexican         sive action until they are convinced
indigenous and peasant farmer           urban centres and in communities          ity member in Chihuahua, echoed           Congress.                               there is solid scientific proof of con-
communities in Mexico joined with       that have traditionally used their        a view expressed by many of the                                                   tamination. However, CIMMYT did
NGOs, including ETC* Group, to          own seed, then the problem is much        representatives of indigenous                                                     decide to halt its maize collection
announce the results of genetic test-   more widespread”, said Ana de Ita         and      farming        communities       Safe Contamination?                     program in the region for fear that
ing of maize grown by traditional       of the Centre for Studies on Rural        affected, stating that for them the                                               it could inadvertently introduce GM
farmers in 138 communities.             Change in Mexico (CECCAM).                contamination of their corn is an             Many Mexican Government             traits into its gene bank, and began
    The results show that contamin-          “The presence of StarLink is         attack on their most profound             officials and scientists have           to test for the presence of transgenes
ation has spread to farmers’ fields     especially serious because it ends        cultural roots and a threat to their      acknowledged contamination, but         in its seed collection.
in nine states: Chihuahua, Morelos,     up in the corn these communities          basic source of sustenance and            deny that it is a problem.                   At the October 9 press confer-
Durango, Estado de Mexico, Puebla,      consume. The plants in several            autonomy.                                     On September 7 Mexico’s             ence in Mexico City, indigenous
Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Tlaxcala       communities that contain two, three            “Our seeds, our corn, is the         newly-appointed Minister of the         people and small farmers described
and Veracruz.                           and even four different transgenes        basis of the food sovereignty of our      Environment, Alberto Cárdenas told      CIMMYT’s failure to acknowledge
    Of 2000 maize plants tested,        together indicates that the con-          communities. It’s much more than a        the Global Biodiversity Forum in        and take action on the contamination
samples from 33 communities in          tamination has been around for            food, it’s part of what we consider       Cancún that there is no doubt that      of traditional maize as “deplorable”.
nine Mexican states tested positive     years, and that contaminated maize        sacred, of our history, our present       GM contamination in Mexico is                They urged that responsibil-
for contamination. In some cases as     on small farms has been cross-            and future.”                              real but he insisted there is no harm   ity for the CIMMYT gene bank as
many as four GM traits, all patented    pollinating for generations to have            Baldemar        Mendoza,        an   to native maize biodiversity or to      well as other banks in the CGIAR
by transnational Gene Giants, were      incorporated all these different traits   indigenous farmer from Oaxaca,            public health.                          network be surrendered to an inter-
found in a single plant.                in its genomes”, Ana de Ita said.         reported: “We have seen many                  The Minister offered no spec-       governmental body such as FAO,
                                                                                  deformities in corn, but never like       ific information on contamination       under conditions that would make
                                                                                  this. One deformed plant in Oaxaca        levels, nor did he provide evidence     it more responsive to the concerns
  • Contamination has been found in cornfields                                    that we saved tested positive for         supporting his claim that public        of small farmers and indigenous
    in the states of Chihuahua, Morelos, Durango,                                 three different transgenes. The old       health and the environment had not      people.
                                                                                  people of the communities say they        been compromised.                            The group also condemned the
    Mexico State, Puebla, Oaxaca,                                                 have never seen these kinds of                                                    Convention on Biological Diversity
    San Luis Potosí, Tlaxcala and Veracruz                                        deformities.”
                                                                                                                            Danger to                               for its failure to effectively address
                                                                                       He also stated that government                                               GM contamination in centres of
  • Analyses show contamination with the                                          representatives came to his
                                                                                                                            gene banks                              genetic diversity.
    genetically modified (GM) variety Starlink,                                   community to tell him not to worry                                                     The long-term impacts of GM
                                                                                  about contamination, because GM               Travelling transgenes are a         contamination on crop genetic
    prohibited for human consumption in the                                       crops have been available in some         global problem, not one confined        diversity are not known. Neither
    United States                                                                 countries for five or six years and       to maize in Mexico. Among others,       governments nor international insti-
                                                                                  there is no evidence that GM crops        GM contamination of traditional         tutions have taken action to stop
  • Some plants found to show presence of two,                                    are harmful to health.                    varieties of cotton in Greece,          GM contamination and to protect
    three and four different GM types, all patented                                    “But we have our own                 canola (rapeseed) in Canada, soy in     farmers and indigenous peoples’
                                                                                  evidence”, asserted Mendoza. “We          Italy, papaya in Hawaii have been       livelihoods.
    by transnational biotechnology corporations                                   have 10,000 years of evidence that        reported.                                    In February 2002, hundreds of
                                                                                  our maize is good for our health.             In February 2002, La Via            NGOs called for a moratorium on
  • Mexican indigenous and farming communities                                    To contaminate it with genetically        Campesina (the international            the shipment of GM seed or grain in
    demand a halt to corn imports, continuation                                   modified maize is a crime against         organisation of small farmers) and      countries or regions that form part
    of the moratorium on sowing GM maize, and                                     all indigenous peoples and farming        several hundred other civil society     of the centre of genetic diversity for
                                                                                  communities who have been                 organisations worldwide joined          the species. The communities and
    rejection of the Bill on Biosafety currently                                  cultivating and improving maize           forces to call upon the UN Food         NGOs at the press conference in
    before the Mexican Congress.                                                  over millennia for the benefit of         and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)      Mexico City repeated demands for a
                                                                                  humankind”.                               and CGIAR (Consultative Group on        global moratorium.

      6    THE GUARDIAN             October 22 2003
                                                                                                                                                                                    MAGAZINE



n Mexico                                                                           US to issue
 le?                                                                               Paul Robeson
                                                                                   stamp
                                                                                   Bowing to a six-year
                                                                                   grassroots campaign, the
                                                                                   US Postal Service has
                                                                                   announced that it will issue
                                                                                   a stamp commemorating
                                                                                   the life of Paul Robeson.
                                                                                   The announcement is being
                                                                                   greeted with joy in the
                                                                                   ranks of those who fought
                                                                                   for its issuance.
                                                                                    by Tim Wheeler and Mark Almberg
                                                                                        The campaign for the stamp
                                                                                   was launched in 1997, a year before
                                                                                   the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s
                                                                                   birth. Mark Rogovin, a leader of the
                                                                                   Chicago-based Paul Robeson 100th
                                                                                   Birthday Committee, credited two
                                                                                   people as initiators of the idea of
                                                                                   honouring Robeson with a stamp:
                                                                                   Dr Margaret Burroughs, founder
                                                                                   of Chicago’s DuSable Museum of
                                                                                   African American History and a
                                                                                   friend of Robeson, and Veterans for
                                                                                   Peace activist LeRoy Wolins.
                                                                                        “We had this idea about pushing
                                                                                   for the stamp and we obtained con-       victory”, Rogovin said. “We should       will be told about Paul Robeson, the
 Immediate demands                         understanding how to prevent fur-
                                           ther contamination but whether or
                                                                                   tacts from all over the United States
                                                                                   in connection with the 100th birth-
                                                                                                                            think about holding celebrations all
                                                                                                                            over the United States, stamp par-
                                                                                                                                                                     great fighter for equality and world
                                                                                                                                                                     peace, the great athlete, singer,
     CECCAM’s Ana de Ita summed            not it is possible to de-contaminate    day celebrations”, Rogovin said.         ties, and so on.”                        actor. He was a genius who gave his
 up the demands of the organisations       without further harming diversity.      “We decided to come up with a very            The stamp, part of the Postal       heart and soul to the people.”
 and communities involved in the               “Peasant farmers throughout         simple petition urging the Citizens’     Service’s Black Heritage Series, was         Robeson, he added, “embraced
 study:                                    the world, those who hold intimate      Stamp Advisory Committee to issue        unveiled at a September 29 news          all the advanced ideas of the
     • total rejection of genetically      knowledge of local farming systems      a postage stamp in honour of Paul        conference at Columbia University        Communist Party USA, the need for
 modified crops;                           and crop diversity, are the only ones   Robeson.”                                where Robeson earned a law degree        a socialist transformation of society,
     • rejection of the bill on biosafe-   capable of undertaking the task, but         Many thousands or even tens of      in 1923. It will be released in time     the need for unity of Black, Brown
 ty before Congress, which would           must have the support of the inter-     thousands of signatures were gath-       for African American History Month       and white. He played an outstanding
 only legalise genetic contamination;      national community in this process”,    ered at the DuSable Museum, he           this coming February.                    role in the defeat of McCarthyism.”
     • hold the multinational              notes the ETC Group.                    said. Every day, busloads of school           Professor Manning Marable,              Tyner was referring to
 producers of GM products, particu-        Acknowledgements to the                 children would visit the museum on       director of Columbia’s Institute         Robeson’s scathing testimony during
 larly Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer,          ETC Group the Action Group              field trips, learn about Robeson, and    for Research in African American         an appearance before the House Un-
 Dupont, Dow and BASF, responsi-           on Erosion, Technology and              sign the petition.                       Studies, told the news conference        American Activities Committee,
 ble for the contamination. We reject      Concentration, formerly RAFI.                The Women’s International           that Robeson “was a man who              in which he denounced lawmakers
 their lawsuits for “unlicensed use of     The ETC Group is an interna-            League for Peace and Freedom             spoke truth to power”.                   who were covering up for lynchings
 patents”, that are in direct violation    tional civil society organisation       was another group whose mem-                  Robeson’s life, he said, is an      and segregation in the South.
 of farmers’ rights;                       headquartered in Canada. It is          bers threw themselves into the           argument for affirmative action to           The witch-hunters had put
     • the Mexican Government              dedicated to the advancement            campaign, especially members of          increase enrolment in the nation’s       Robeson on the blacklist in an
 make public all the results of studies    of cultural and ecological diver-       the Los Angeles WILPF branch,            colleges and universities by men         attempt to block him from sing-
 of contamination;                         sity and human rights. For more         and members from Philadelphia to         and women of colour.                     ing in concerts or speaking. They
     • maintain the moratorium on          information visit:                      Miami and from Portland, Maine, to            Columbia Law School’s vice          revoked his passport to keep him
 cultivating and freeing GM maize          www.etcgroup.org                        Portland, Oregon.                        dean, Richard Briffault, spoke at        from travelling abroad.
 into the environment;                     The report is the collective effort          “In the end, I think we gathered    length of Robeson’s legacy at the            Tyner said the grassroots peti-
     • immediate halt to importa-          of indigenous communities and           nearly a quarter million signatures      law school, from which he gradu-         tion movement for the Robeson
 tions of GM corn, the most likely         peasant farmers from Oaxaca,            from all over the country”, Rogovin      ated in three years. “He is one of our   stamp deserves thanks for their
 source of contamination;                  Puebla, Chihuahua, Veracruz             said. “We went to the Citizens’          greatest graduates”, Briffault said,     efforts and congratulations for
     And      finally     she      said,   and CECCAM, CENAMI, ETC                 Stamp Advisory Committee and             hailing his stand against colonialism    a hard-won victory. “We need a
 the indigenous and farming                Group CASIFOP – Centre for              turned them in. After working on         and fascism and for civil liberties      grassroots movement urging people
 communities, supported by the             Social Analysis, Information            this for nearly four years, every        and civil rights.                        to buy this stamp. Every stamp that
 organisations they choose, will take      and Popular Training, AJAGI –           month or two we’d call and ask                Former New York Mayor David         goes through the system is like a
 specific actions to stop and reverse      Jaliscan Association of Support         them for an update and they’d say:       Dinkins told the news conference,        picket sign for justice.”
 GM contamination.                         for Indigenous Groups, UNOSJO           “It’s still under consideration”.        “We thought this day would never             He warned that the Postal
     The ETC Group raises the              – Union of Organisations of                  He added, “We were never            come. For years we got stamps for        Service is threatening to terminate
 important question of not only            Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca. J              certain that we were going to have       Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse            the Black Heritage Series claiming
                                                                                   a success, but we always felt that       and no Paul Robeson.” He praised         “low demand”. Said Tyner, “We
                                                                                   whether we got the stamp or not,         Robeson as a giant in the struggle       need a campaign to get people to
    Abbreviations:                                                                 the campaign would have been             for African American equality and        use these stamps that have honoured
                                                                                   worthwhile to do anyway since we         against racist oppression. “We           giants like Harriet Tubman, W E B
       CECCAM        Centre for Studies on Rural Change in Mexico                  introduced so many people, espe-         all stand on the shoulders of Paul       Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall and Dr
                                                                                   cially young people, at the grade        Robeson”, Dinkins said.                  Martin Luther King Jr”.
        CENAMI National Centre to Support Indigenous Missions                      school level, at the high school              Present at the event was Jarvis         The stamp is a black and white
                                                                                   level, who had never heard of            Tyner, executive vice chair of the       photo portrait of Robeson. On the
        CIMMYT       International Maize and Wheat Improvement                     Robeson, to this great man”.             Communist Party USA. “This is            back Robeson is described as an
                     Centre                                                             Now, he said, the task of educat-   a great victory”, Tyner told the         “incomparable artist and singer,
          CGIAR      Consultative Group on International Agricultural              ing the people about Robeson has         People’s Weekly World.                   human rights advocate, scholar and
                     Research                                                      been made easier but at the same              “The US Postal Service              athlete, defender of Black freedom”.
                                                                                   time a greater challenge.                could not have honored a greater         People’s Weekly World
     ETC Group       Action Group on Erosion, Technology and                            “I think this is a tremendous       American. Now, every school child        www.pww.org J
                     Concentration
          FAOUN      Food and Agricultural Organisation
                                                                                      “This is a great victory… The US Postal Service could
              GM     genetically modified
                                                                                        not have honored a greater American. Now, every
           NGOs      non-government organisations
                                                                                          school child will be told about Paul Robeson.”

                                                                                                                                                THE GUARDIAN             October 22 2003          7
INTERNATIONAL


US backs long-planned attack on Syria
Pentagon adviser Richard Perle said that the recent Israeli attack
on Syria was long overdue and that he would not rule out US
military action against the Arab State. Perle is a close advisor to
the US President and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld.
     Perle was addressing a confer-        “regime change” and the occupation
ence in Jerusalem of conservatives         of the territory of sovereign states.
from the US and Israel. He said he             The occupation policies of the
was “happy to see that Israel has          US have taken a beating in both
now taken a similar step in respond-       Afghanistan and Iraq. Desperate
ing to acts of terror that originate in    attempts to prove that Iraq is a suc-
Lebanese territory by going to the         cess story and that the Americans
rulers of Lebanon in Damascus”.            are liberators and heroes, falter
Perle also said he hoped the air           every time another body bag is
strike reflected a new Israeli policy      secretly shipped back to the US.
similar to the Bush doctrine.                  A phoney letter-campaign has
     “We have problems with the            been launched in the US to tell the
Syrians who continue to support ter-       folks back home that everybody in
rorism. We have to find a way to get       Iraq loves the American troops and
them to stop”, Perle told journalists.     that all is going well.
     When Perle was asked if this              The original new world order
would include US military action           blue-print of the US remains
against Syria, he said: “Everything        unchanged. It is based on the
is possible”.                              Statement of Principles issued by
     He added that Syria was very          a group of neo-conservatives who
weak militarily and the US would           formed an entity called the Project
not find it difficult to commit its        for the New American Century
forces to Syria despite its heavy          (PNAC) in June 1997.
commitment in Iraq and South
Korea, and a continued presence in
the Balkans and Liberia.                   Pre-emptive
                                           strike policy
US veto                                        “The history of the 20th             policy team in the first Bush presi-   duties associated with the security       never-ending US military adven-
                                           Century”, the statement said in          dency and Dick Cheney was then         environment in critical regions”.         tures keeps growing. As John
     When the Israeli bombing came         part, “should have taught us that it     Defence Secretary).                         The PNAC report also                 Bolton, Under Secretary of State for
before the UN Security Council,            is important to shape circumstances          In September 2000, well before     described the homeland security           arms control said at the US embassy
the US found no support for Bush’s         before crises emerge, and to meet        George W Bush became President,        plan – “develop and deploy global         in London last week, “We’re now
claims that Israel was exercising          threats before they become dire”.        PNAC issued a detailed 81-page         missile defences to defend the            turning our attention to Iraq, Syria,
a legitimate right to “defend its          One of the project’s major prin-         report Rebuilding America’s            American homeland and America’s           Libya and Cuba”.
citizens”. No one else accepted the        ciples called for a major increase in    Defenses. The report talked of         allies, and to provide a secure base
Israeli argument that the bombing          military spending “to carry out our      several “core” missions for the US     for US power projection around the
of Syria was a “deterrent” move,           global responsibilities today”.          military. These included nuclear       world. America is to control the new      Long planned
either.                                        Among the 25 signatories to          superiority, expansion of the armed    ‘international commons’ of space              This US policy was worked
     The US, as it has done consis-        the PNAC founding statement were         forces to 200,000 active-duty per-     and ‘cyberspace’, and pave the way        out a long time ago. Wesley Clark,
tently in the past, vetoed a resolution    Dick Cheney, Ronald Rumsfeld,            sonnel, and “repositioning” the        for the creation of a new military        a retired general and a Democratic
condemning Israel’s actions.               Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld’s No.2          military forces “to respond to 21st    service – US Space Forces – with          Party presidential nominee for the
     The US and Israeli leaders do         at the Pentagon) and Jeb Bush.           century strategic realities”.          the mission of space control”.            coming US mid-term elections,
not hide the fact that their aims are      Rumsfeld was head of the Pentagon                                                    President Bush targeted three        recounts a conversation he had in
                                                                                                                           countries in his January 2002 State       the Pentagon with one of the senior
                                                                                    Multiple wars                          of the Union address – Iraq, North        military staff officers in November

           “Dangerous game”                                                             One of the project’s missions
                                                                                    was to “fight and decisively win
                                                                                    multiple, simultaneous major theater
                                                                                                                           Korea and Iran – as the “axis of
                                                                                                                           evil”.
                                                                                                                                Iraq is no longer part of the
                                                                                                                                                                     2001.
                                                                                                                                                                         The officer told him that the US
                                                                                                                                                                     was on track to attack Iraq. This was

             says Syrian CP                                                         wars”. The report described those
                                                                                    wars as “large scale” and “spread
                                                                                    across the globe”.
                                                                                                                           “axis of evil”. It has been “liberated”
                                                                                                                           from weapons of mass destruction it
                                                                                                                           never had and is presently under US
                                                                                                                                                                     advanced as part of a five-year cam-
                                                                                                                                                                     paign plan and that there was a total
                                                                                                                                                                     of seven countries, beginning with
In a strongly worded statement the Syrian Communist Party has                           Another mission for the military   occupation.                               Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya,
condemned the recent Israeli attack on an inhabited area near the                   was to “perform the ‘constabulary’          The list of target countries for     Iran, Somalia and Sudan. J
outskirts of Damascus, the capital city of Syria.


                                                                                    China’s giant step into space
    “By expanding the arena of its         aggressive actions against the Arab
aggression, Israel aims to overcome        people, without the continuous
the critical difficulties it is facing     integrated support by American
due to the brave resistance of             imperialism”.
the Palestinian people who are                 The Syrian CP calls on people        China’s first manned space flight last week, although just a small step          security to the nation’s security.
struggling for their national rights       around the world to denounce the         into space is a giant step for China. It has enormous significance in            An important component of the
and to end the unjust occupation.”         Israeli aggression.                      terms of China’s science, industry, politics, international influence,           US and Russian military security
    “Israel is playing a dangerous             “We call for expanding the           national prestige and military achievements.                                     strategies is related to [their] space
game”, says the statement. “The            campaign in the Arabic countries                                                                                          flight strategies and [their] mastery
Syrians know very well how to              to boycott American goods and                 China’s 10th Five-Year Plan       into orbit “no earlier than 2010”,        of space.
protect their pride, independence          interests.                               adopted for 2001-2005 included the     said Beijing Review on September              “However, China is against the
and freedom. They have never                   “Arab countries that still have      country’s space development.           18 this year.                             militarisation of outer space and
bowed to aggressors and never will.        normal relations with Israel are              First to come were a series of        China will then put a man             hopes to warn its people of unsteady
    “It is very obvious”, says the         invited to break off these relations”,   unmanned flights (already achieved)    on the moon and will “be able to          factors from the outer space”, says
statement, “that Zionist Israel            concludes the Syrian Party               and then manned space flights.         actively participate in competition       Beijing Review.
would not be able to perpetrate its        statement. J                             Following the successful launch and    and co-operation, solving problems
                                                                                    retrieval of manned near-earth orbit   concerning lunar resources and the
                                                                                    satellites will come space-walking     sharing of the benefits among differ-     Military-free zone
                                 Sydney Rally                                       and docking; the development and       ent nations”, writes Beijing Review.          “China believes that outer space
                                                                                    launching of a space laboratory            The magazine goes on: “For            should be a military-free zone
   No Turkish troops be sent to Iraq                                                and the manning of a Chinese built
                                                                                    space station in near-earth orbit.
                                                                                                                           several thousand research institutes
                                                                                                                           and companies in China, the project
                                                                                                                                                                     and will be able to play a more
                                                                                                                                                                     important role in agendas like the
           The Turkish Government voted on October 6                                                                       offers an unprecedented chance. The       prevention of an arms race and the
       to send troops to Iraq. The Government will be paid                                                                 project could facilitate updates and      protection of its domain in outer
      US$8.5 billion blood money for this. The Turkish and
                                                                                    Space station                          improvements to large-scale R&D           space after it rises as a nation with
     Kurdish communities in Sydney are organising a protest                             At present, the only operational   establishments.                           advanced space technologies”.
                                                                                    space station in near-earth orbit is       “In order to improve inter-               Beijing Review lists China’s
        rally to demand no Turkish troops be sent to Iraq.                          one put up by Russia and the US.       national co-operation, the China          space program together with the
                     They ask you to support them.                                  This has fallen on hard times with     National Space Administration has         Olympic Games in 2008, the 60th
                                                                                    the breakup of the Soviet Union        established the Secretariat for Asia-     anniversary of the founding of
            Sunday 26th October 12 noon                                             and the fatal accident that put the    Pacific Multilateral Co-operation in      the People’s Republic of China in
                                                                                    US Columbia space vehicles out of      Outer Space.                              2009 and the World Expo in 2010
               Auburn Railway Park                                                  service.                                   “The manned space flight              to be held in Shanghai, as evidence
                  Speakers, Turkish & Kurdish music                                     A mock-up of a “Space              project will help the strategists         of China’s advancement and rise
                                                                                    Laboratory” was released in China      and decision-makers recognise the         to power among the nations of the
                                                                                    in February 2003 and it is to be put   strategic importance of our space         world. J

       8    THE GUARDIAN                 October 22 2003
                                                                                                                                                                   INTERNATIONAL



Strikes rock Bolivia: President forced to resign
Bolivia’s President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, in an increasingly                   of the workers and peasants. That
desperate effort to quell the massive strikes, demonstrations and                   plan, too, sparked a major rebellion
peasant roadblocks that have virtually paralysed Bolivia for over                   and claimed at least 32 lives before
a month, announced on October 13 that he was temporarily                            the government was forced to make
suspending his plan to export natural gas through Chile to the                      concessions.
United States. Then last weekend, with his government in crisis                         This time around it appeared
and Bolivia virtually paralysed he was forced by massive popular                    that Sánchez de Lozada was in even
                                                                                    deeper trouble. His vice President,
pressure to resign.                                                                 Carlos Mesa, openly criticised his
    Union, peasant, student, and              Over 55 people have been              superior’s policies, and four of the
indigenous Indian groups have             killed in the violent military crack-     15 cabinet members resigned in
opposed the proposed gas export           down in recent weeks, many of             protest.
plan, arguing that Bolivia’s vast         them in El Alto. Clashes have been            Evo Morales, an indigenous
natural gas reserves should be used       intense in other towns, too, notably      union leader and member of the
in Bolivia for the people’s benefit.      Cochabamba, Oruro and Potosi.             Bolivian Congress, said “the only
They denounced Sánchez de                     While the natural gas export          political solution to this crisis is
Lozada’s “free trade” policies and        plan was the immediate cause of           the resignation of the President”,
many called for the nationalisation       the crisis, its roots go much deeper.     according to the Associated Press.
of the oil and gas industries.            Bolivia, a Texas-sized country with           Roberto de la Cruz, a union
    But the President’s announce-         a population of eight million, is         leader in El Alto, said “We will not
ment did nothing to stem a rising         one of the poorest nations of Latin       stop until he (the President) goes
tide of rebellion and a deepening         America, with over 70 percent of          away”.
crisis of his regime. Despite his         its population mired in extreme               The unrelenting pressure of the
announcement, thousands marched           poverty.                                  strikers and peasant demonstra-
in La Paz, the capital, demanding             Bolivia has long been under           tors eventually forced Sánchez de
Sánchez de Lozada’s resignation,          the economic and political domi-          Lozada out.
and a public transit strike – com-        nation of the United States. Its              Ominously, the US warned
bined with continuing highway and         workers have been subject to              last week prior to the resignation,
road blockages by militant peasants       extreme exploitation. Many thou-          that it would “not tolerate” any
and miners – brought the city to a        sands of its peasants have been           move to topple the current regime.       New Bolivian President Carlos Mesa in the capital La Paz
standstill. Food and gasoline were        driven to bankruptcy and ruin. Its        “The American people and their
in increasingly short supply in the       mineral resources, including its          government support Bolivia’s
capital.                                  vast natural gas reserves, crude oil,     democratically-elected President in

                                                                                                                                                   Global briefs
    Tensions were brought to a            zinc, tungsten and gold, have been        his bid to build a more prosperous
boiling point after the government        subject to systemic plunder by US         and just future for all Bolivians”, a
called out thousands of troops            mining and petrochemical compa-           State Department statement said.
backed by tanks to suppress the           nies for decades.                             The Bush administration is
rebellion, particularly in the city of        Sánchez de Lozada, 73, was            increasingly nervous about the
El Alto, a poor, industrial suburb of     born and grew up in the US. He is a       mounting turmoil in Latin America
La Paz.                                   millionaire businessman and a close       – particularly in Bolivia, Venezuela,      CUBA: Cuba’s Foreign Ministry has denounced the resur-
    El Alto, which has a population       ally of George W Bush. He took            Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, and          rection of discredited US claims, that Cuba is developing
of 750,000, was a major centre            office in August 2002 after winning       Brazil – and the growing opposition        biological weapons. Such charges constitute a “cynical lie”,
of the general strike. Most of its        only 22 percent of the vote.              to the US-backed Free Trade Area           the Foreign Ministry said. Allegations that Cuba possesses
residents are of Indian origin. The           In February of this year, he tried    of the Americas.                           or seeks to possess biological weapons were first made
city was put under martial law            to push through an IMF-inspired           Adapted from an article by Mark
                                                                                                                               by Bush administration official John Bolton in a speech in
and the population was brutally           austerity program that would have         Almberg from the US communist
suppressed.                               drastically cut the living standards      paper People’s Weekly World. J             May 2002. They receded from view after Cuba emphat-
                                                                                                                               ically rejected the charges and challenged the US to prove
                                                                                                                               them. Former President Jimmy Carter had also demanded

Belgium                                                                                                                        to see such proof, casting more doubt on Bolton’s claims.
                                                                                                                               The Cuban Foreign Ministry said the Bush administration

Ford workers fight to keep job
                                                                                                                               had “shamefully lied” in its bid to win votes from right-wing
                                                                                                                               Cubans in Miami. It rejected what it called “these new impe-
                                                                                                                               rial threats” and said the Cuban people will not be intimidated.
In Genk, a working class community in the Belgian province of                       will not allow that the transnational      SOUTH AFRICA: The South African Communist Party said
Limburg, the 9000 Ford workers are fighting to prevent 3000 of                      corporations and the political world
                                                                                                                               last week that this year’s “Red October” campaign will focus
them being thrown out of their jobs. Ford plans to sack 12,000                      decide among themselves to give up
                                                                                    our jobs. We want popular participa-       on the fightback of farm workers against their employers’ wide-
workers: the 3000 in Genk, 1700 in Germany and the rest in North                                                               spread violations of labour law. SACP General Secretary Blade
America.                                                                            tion in decisions.”
                                                                                         The trade unions were organis-        Nzimande said the case of over 1000 farm workers wrongly
    For the Belgium workers, Ford             Between 1993 and 2000, the            ing a big march for jobs on Saturday       dismissed by the ZZ2 farm in Limpopo Province for insisting the
is the only major factory in the          Ford Company made US$56 bil-              October 18 in Genk.                        farm comply with new minimum wage laws is just one example
region since the coal mines were          lion profit. Over the same period,             The Workers’ Party of Belgium         of the problem. He said a recent report by the South African
closed 15 years ago. In Genk, one         Ford introduced night shifts and          has called on Ford to respect the          Human Rights Commission “shows evidence that despite the
out of every four youth is jobless.       shifts on Saturday and Sunday, to         two agreements it signed. “With            post-1994 transformation of the labour market in favour of work-
    Ford-Genk signed a collective         the detriment of family life and rest.    all its energy, the Workers’ Party of
bargaining agreement with the trade       Moreover, thousands of Ford work-         Belgium and militant trade unionists
                                                                                                                               ers, farm workers still do not enjoy rights because of arrogant
unions in October 2002. This agree-       ers had to transfer to subcontracting.    will fight for this, together with the     refusal by employers to comply” and lack of mechanisms to
ment should have guaranteed all           In the first six months of this year,     workers”, the Party said in a call for     ensure compliance. Most farm workers and domestic workers
9000 jobs until 2006.                     Ford still registered a US$1.3 bil-       international solidarity. J                still face conditions similar to those under apartheid, he said.
    Ford-Genk had also concluded          lion profit.
an agreement with the government              The Workers’ Party of Belgium           Solidarity messages may be               INDIA: The All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and the
of the Flemish Region (the North          has issued an appeal for solidar-            sent to WPB - Limburg: Dr               Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) have strongly condemned
of Belgium) for 900 million euro          ity with the Ford workers. Harrie           Harrie Dewitte, Keinkesstraat            government plans for the privatisation of some of the Indian Oil
worth of investments in Genk. It          Dewitte, spokesperson of the                  3A, 3600 Genk, Belgium                 Company’s operations. In a joint statement, the union feder-
involved the start-up of four simul-      Workers’ Party of Belgium for the                                                    ations said it was neither prudent nor in the national interest.
                                                                                           or foerd@gvhv.be
taneous production lines: for the         province of Limburg said, “We                                                        “In fact the decision is directly against national interest, keep-
                                                                                      with a copy to wpb@wpb.be
new Mondeo, the Focus, the Galaxy         demand to all to help build a move-
and the Cross Over. The Flemish           ment in all layers of the population.                                                ing in view the geopolitical importance of the oil sector to the
                                                                                       Additional info available from
Region would donate 53 million            A movement of all people who do                                                      country in the present worsening security scenario”, they said.
                                                                                               www.ptb.be
euros to Ford.                            not accept this unjust decision. We
                                                                                                                               ITALY: The country’s three main labour federations – CGIL,
                                                                                                                               CISL and UIL – are calling a four-hour walkout on October
                                                                           Sydney                                              24 to protest the Berlusconi Government’s plan to change
                                                          Celebrate the anniversary of                                         the rules for pension eligibility. At present the official retire-
                                         The Great October Socialist Revolution                                                ment age is 65 for men and 60 for women, but a worker may
                                                                                                                               become eligible after contributing to the pension fund for 35
                                                     Friday November 7 at 6.30pm                                               years or more and reaching the age 57. The government’s
                                                       65 Campbell St, Surry Hills                                             proposal would raise the years of contribution to 40, and
                                                                                                                               the eligibility threshold to 65 by 2008. “We ask all workers,
                                                          Donation $10 ($4 concession)                                         young people, and pensioners to take to the streets and de-
                                                         Food provided / drinks available                                      fend a system which is not in trouble”, the three federations
                                                            phone Jules on 9212 6855                                           said in a joint statement. “There is no pensions emergency.
                                                           CPA Sydney Central Branch                                           The government ... is dramatising the pensions problem”.


                                                                                                                                              THE GUARDIAN           October 22 2003       9
LETTERS
Walk for me                                   Australia, Australia, what are        Treaty and will it make this clear to    Howard at Kuta                           of Australian education, health and
My young friend who is now                 we doing?                                the public prior to signing?                                                      welfare, Iraq is now irradiated with
                                                    Elaine and Geoff Smith               Secondly, will the ALP call for a   Seeing John Howard hugging               depleted uranium and unexploded
in his third year behind wire                                                                                                relatives of the Bali bombing
in one of Australia’s detention                          West Haven, NSW            Referendum on the proposed Treaty                                                 ordnance, Islamic jihadists have
                                                                                    so that the voters have an opportu-      victims was a sickening reminder         been inflamed and Australian tour-
camps on Nauru writes to me                                                         nity to record their position?           of Argentine General Galtieri            ists have been massacred in Bali as
most eloquently of “freedom”.              The ALP                                       In terms of the Constitution        expressing sympathy with the             a direct result.
Maybe we cannot imagine what                                                        Parliamentary or popular approval                                                      Let us hope the Kuta memorial
it is like to ask for protection and       and the US FTA                                                                    Mothers of the Disappeared in
                                                                                    is not required for foreign treaties.    the Plaza de Mayo, when his              to all those innocent Australians
find yourself locked up without            We understand that the ALP has           The position is similar for engage-                                               will become the epitaph to a
                                           serious reservations about the                                                    policies were directly responsible
hope.                                                                               ment in war and we have just             for the deaths of thousands in           criminally negligent and hubristic
                                           Free Trade Agreement apparently          experienced the making of such a                                                  government that has consistently
        Walk For Me                        soon to be concluded with the US.        seriously flawed decision by the
                                                                                                                             Argentina’s Dirty War.                   dumped human values in favour of
    Walk for me                            The Progressive Labour Party is          Howard Government this year.                 The Howard Government                profits, prestige and power.
    Out of your house                      completely opposed to the FTA                 It seems to us that the poten-      enthusiastically joined Britain and
    Through big cities                                                              tially far reaching nature of an FTA     the US in this illegal war, which,                       Gareth Smith &
                                           and has made that clear in its                                                                                                              Maxine Caron
    Cross busy streets                     submission to the Senate Inquiry         requires that it cannot be left to the   as predicted, has resulted in a tragic
    Walk for me                                                                     Government alone to decide on such       fiasco.                                                 Byron Bay, NSW
                                           earlier this year.
    To any big restaurant                                                           matters without a clear mandate.             Nearly 200 US lives have
    Feel people talking happily               Our question is: Does the                                                      been lost since George W Bush
    Order something out of routine         ALP have a commitment to NOT                             Klaas Woldring           declared war’s end, countless Iraqi
    “What should I send you?”              honour the Treaty if there is no                     National Secretary           lives have been snuffed out, about
    My pen friend wrote to me              Parliamentary approval for this                Progressive Labour Party           A$750 million has been sucked out
    Can you send me
        the feeling of a bird?
    When it flies
        in the vast open sky

    But when he does take that fate-
ful flight back to Afghanistan, he
will be facing the same terrors that
compelled him to run in the first
place.
    There will be no chance to
pursue his love of physics and
language. There will be no chance
to find a wife, marry and feed his
children. The Taliban are back. The
country is in ruins.
    What verbs will this young
man use to characterise his actions
then? “hide”? “scurry”? “freeze”?
“starve”? “tremble”?
    He longs to have his intellect,
hopes and happiness “soar” like the
bird.




  Culture
                                                Instead, according to Bush him-
                                           self, he “made it very clear to the
                                           Prime Minister, like I have consis-


   & Life
                                           tently done, that Israel’s got a right
                                           to defend itself and that Israel must
                                           not feel constrained in defending the
                                           homeland”.
                                                Israel is the country that
                                           boasts openly of state-sanctioned
Let terrorism                              assassinations,        unashamedly
                                           carries out massacres of civilians
be unconstrained                           who get in its way and practices
                                           group punishment (identified at
                                           Nuremburg as a war crime).
As I write this, US President                   To tell such blatant state ter-
George W Bush is shortly to visit          rorists “not to feel constrained” in
us. He will address Parliament             these matters is like giving a serial
and no doubt have lots to say              killer a “get out of jail free” card.
about peace, the democratic                It’s not just an encouragement to
system, American values, and               commit further acts of violence, it
such like. He will pose as a               condones them in advance.
champion of freedom and leader                  The pretext for the Israeli bomb-
of the war on terrorism.                   ing was a suicide bombing in the
                                           Israeli city of Haifa, carried out by
         by Rob Gowland                    a 27-year-old apprentice lawyer,
    But actions speak louder than          Hanadi Jaradat. Her brother Fadi,
words, or so they say, so we can           23, and cousin Saleh, 31, had been
hope that people will see through          shot to death 18 months earlier by
the well-crafted bilge of Bush’s           Israeli troops.
speech to the reality behind the                Bush reiterated his support
words.                                     for Israel’s terrorist action in a           Nevertheless, they say, “It is       seemingly innocent warning: “MAY         the United States... Since 1968, JDL
    That reality, just lately, includes    televised address the next day. This     our belief that the American people,     YOU ONE DAY KNOW WHAT                    operations have killed 7 persons and
Bush’s whole-hearted endorsement,          time he said the Israeli bombing         finally armed with such information,     LIVING IN TERROR IS LIKE”.               wounded at least 22”.
on two separate occasions, of the          was “essential” no less and went         will take the steps necessary to end         If Americans Knew does not                If Americans Knew link the
Israeli Government’s October 5             on to say what probably came as a        the tragic and escalating carnage in     think the warning is all that inno-      JDL website attacks on them
bombing of Syria.                          surprise to no one: “We would do         Israel and Palestine”.                   cent. In a release they point out        with a death threat the organisa-
    The Israeli bombing was                the same thing”.                             For the organisation’s efforts “to   that “the Chairman and a member          tion received at the beginning of
an act of terrorism intended to                 As the group If Americans           inform the American public accu-         of the Jewish Defence League were        October, after Alison Weir took part
coerce the Syrian Government               Knew and anyone who pays atten-          rately, fully, and truthfully about      indicted January 10 on charges of        in a public debate at the University
into abandoning its support for the        tion to these matters can tell,          Israel and Palestine”, its founder,      conspiring to bomb the office of         of California Berkeley Campus.
Palestinian’s struggle for freedom.        terrorists abound in the USA, and        Alison Weir is listed as an “enemy”      Congressman Daryl Issa”.                      The caller threatened that “me
Now, Bush, as everyone knows,              they’re not all in the White House,      on the website of the Jewish                 They also quote “Middle Eastern      and my buddies, who were trained
claims to oppose terrorism and             either.                                  Defence League(JDL) in New York.         expert Donald Neff” who refers to a      in the Israeli Army, will come and
support freedom, but when it comes              If Americans Knew is a public           The JDL is indefatigable             1986 study of domestic terrorism         kill every single one of you son-of-
to the Palestinian people the words        advocacy organisation that would         in exposing and opposing neo-            prepared by the Department of            a-bitches for what you are doing to
seem to acquire different meanings         like to see Bush’s administration do     Nazis and other fascist apologists       Energy (presumably prepared out          destroy Israel”.
for him.                                   something genuine about real terror-     for Hitler. But they also equate         of concern about possible terrorist           Now, the question is: can If
    The day after the bombing of           ists in the US.                          criticism of Israel with anti-           attacks on US power stations and oil     Americans Knew look to George
Syria Bush telephoned Israel’s                  This group tries to get the facts   Semitism and label all critics           facilities).                             Bush and the US Government
Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. Did          about Israeli policy in Palestine out    accordingly.                                 That study concluded: “For           to protect them, or would Bush
Bush tear a strip off Sharon for           to the American people, a tall order         The JDL website falsely labels       more than a decade, the Jewish           be likely to tell the JDL “not to
trying to start another war in the         in the face of a relentlessly pro-       Ms Weir with the ominous tag of          Defense League (JDL) has been one        be constrained in defending the
region? Hardly.                            Israel media and government.             “holocaust denier” and attaches a        of the most active terrorist groups in   homeland”? J

       10    THE GUARDIAN                 October 22 2003
                                                                                                                                                                          WORTH WATCHING

    Rob Gowland                         asbestos. Asbestos manufacturer
                                        James Hardie had allowed decades
                                                                                       loss of cultural identity in order to
                                                                                       appeal to masses everywhere”, says
       previews                         to pass before they warned con-                Castellina.

      ABC & SBS
                                        sumers that their lucrative building
                                        product was killing people.
                                             “Robyn Unger was like many
                                                                                              H  ow’s this for typical
                                                                                                 Hollywood hokum? It’s
                                                                                       the mid-’30s. Tom Smith, a trainer,
    public television                   women facing terminal illness”,                persuades an auto magnate to buy a
                                        says the director, “concentrating on           stumpy looking three-year-old horse
       programs                         making everyone else feel OK about             with asymmetrical knees, who looks
     Sun October 26 ~                   the situation. If she hadn’t been like         like “he should be pulling a cart”,
                                        this I’m not sure I could have made            who has raced 35 times in two years
     ~ Sat November 1                   the program and her family would               – and lost nearly every time.
                                        have also found our intrusions                      He pairs the distrustful horse,
When the program Disturbing             impossible.”                                   Seabiscuit, with a dismally perform-
Dust goes to air on Inside                   “It was a harrowing, enlighten-           ing jockey, “Red” Pollard. Pollard’s
Australia (SBS 7.00pm Sunday),          ing and heartbreaking experience               experience riding bad horses on the
500 people will be dying from           and I’m very glad I’ve helped Robyn            worst tracks has given him a special
mesothelioma, the most virulent         tell her story.”                               rapport with difficult horses.
asbestos disease. Asbestos fibres
(usually breathed in) have cre-              T   o maximise the return on
                                                 a film, Hollywood seeks
                                        to have it viewed by the widest
                                                                                            The pair win their first race and
                                                                                       keep on winning. Within months
                                                                                       they are competing in the richest
ated an incurable cancer in their
bodies that kills its victims within    possible audience, everywhere.                 horse race in the world – the Santa
                                        Hollywood is today, as it always               Anita Handicap (US$100,000 prize
an average of nine months of            was, controlled by the banks that              money at a time when the average
its onset, years after the fibres       finance film production.                       American earned less than US$500
entered the body.                            They have no interest in low              a year).
    The condition is now an epi-        budget, art-house or independent                    The next year the Western nag
demic. In 20 years, 40,000 people       films that appeal to specialised               has to race War Admiral, the toast of
will have died from this asbestos       audiences (“niche markets”). That’s            the East Coast racing establishment.
poisoning which will reach its peak     not where the big money is, and                Pollard meanwhile has suffered ter-
in 2010.                                Hollywood has always gone after                rible injuries whilst riding another
    Disturbing Dust follows Perth       the big money.                                 horse but he counsels the jockey
couple Robyn and Peter Unger                 In The Shadow Of Hollywood,               who rides Seabiscuit.
through the last months of Robyn’s      screening on Masterpiece (SBS                       When Seabiscuit wins, Pollard
life. Twenty-seven years ago she        10.00pm Tuesday), details how                  comments, “Seabiscuit made a rear
and her husband used James Hardie       US politicians have worked with                admiral out of War Admiral”.
asbestos products to create a cheap     the Motion Picture Association of                   Six weeks later, Seabiscuit’s
and sturdy extension to their modest    America to “control the TV and film            career – like Red Pollard’s – appears
cottage in the Perth hills.             industry, commodify filmmaking,                to be over when he ruptures a            Superb comedy-drama (Stage Door)
    Robyn held the asbestos sheets      and export American culture”.                  ligament. Pollard and the horse con-
for Peter while he cut them. In the          This French-Canadian docu-                valesce and recover together.            typical ’30s farce about a shop          boiled working girl pursued by the
process, she inhaled the deadly         mentary looks at the evolution                      Then Pollard and Seabiscuit,        assistant (Ginger Rogers) who            boss’s son. It’s a bit of a Cinderella
microscopic fibres that cause           of Hollywood’s hegemony, from                  now seven-years-old, make a final        finds a baby on a foundling home         story, but the players are all first rate
mesothelioma.                           early protection of the US product             attempt on the Santa Anita Handicap      doorstep and can’t convince anyone       and their professionalism makes for
    The filmmaker who made              to the use of political pressure and           (which he has now lost twice – by a      she’s not the child’s mother.            an entertaining piece of flummery.
Disturbing Dust lives in Perth him-
self. “Disturbing Dust was borne
out of an interest in the number of
                                        economic threats to guarantee its
                                        dominance over cinema distribution
                                        in Europe.
                                                                                       nose). In a dazzling comeback for
                                                                                       both horse and rider, they win.
                                                                                            The curious thing is, it’s not a
                                                                                                                                    Laid off on Christmas eve,
                                                                                                                                Ginger gets her job back when
                                                                                                                                the foundling home director tells
                                                                                                                                                                             T   he last of the Katharine
                                                                                                                                                                                 Hepburn RKO movies to be
                                                                                                                                                                         showcased in the @ The Movies slot
people contracting asbestos diseases         After WW2, the US asked the               movie but a documentary and the          the millionaire owner of the store       (ABC 10.20pm Saturday) is the
around Western Australia”, he says.     French Government to reserve nine              story is all true. Life imitating non-   about her attempt to “abandon her        1937 adaptation of the play by Edna
    “As I began researching the pro-    out of every 13 weeks of cinema                art, you might say.                      baby”. Rich folk behaved like that       Ferber and George S Kaufman,
gram, everyone I spoke to reported      screening for US films. Today, 85                   In fact, Seabiscuit (SBS 7.30pm     in the ’30s, at least in Hollywood’s     Stage Door.
a connection to someone who was         percent of the total films broadcast           Friday), won the Emmy last year          ’30s.                                        The American Film Insti-
dead or dying because of asbestos.      in Europe are American.                        for Outstanding Writing for Non-             The millionaire’s son, David         tute’s description is spot on:
    “Our own home in suburban                Luciana Castellina, in charge             fiction Programming.                     Niven, takes an interest in Ginger       “Screenwriters Morrie Ryskind and
Perth boasts an asbestos roof and       of external economic relations in                   It makes some interesting points    and “her” baby, leading to               Anthony Veiler took the Ferber-
is divided from our neighbours by       the European Parliament, points out            on the perception of underdogs,          assumptions about who the baby’s         Kaufman original and added a
asbestos fences. WA is full of asbes-   that cultures all around the world             especially unglamorous ones, in the      father is. Various misunderstandings     great deal of snap-crackle-pop
tos and people who’ve breathed it.”     are all starting to look alike. This           Depression-ridden ’30s.                  (and the production of a couple of       dialogue which director Gregory
    By the early 1980s, one in
three Australian homes contained
                                        “McDonaldisation of culture has
                                        led to a genocide of images and a                     B  achelor Mother (ABC
                                                                                                 2.00pm Saturday) is a
                                                                                                                                bogus fathers) culminate in Charles
                                                                                                                                Coburn’s splendid line: “I don’t
                                                                                                                                care who the father is, I’m the
                                                                                                                                                                         La Cava then turned into a superb
                                                                                                                                                                         comedy-drama about life in a thea-
                                                                                                                                                                         trical boarding house that housed
                                                                                                                                grandfather!”                            Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers,
                                                    Wollongong                                                                      Garson Kanin directed from a         and some of the best young talent

              Save Medicare March & Rally                                                                                       script by Norman Krasna. Ginger
                                                                                                                                Rogers is excellent as the hard-
                                                                                                                                                                         and character actors then working in
                                                                                                                                                                         Hollywood”. J
                                   Saturday 8 November 10 am
                                                                                                                                                                  Sydney
                              Fred Moore House Trade Union Centre
                                   Lowden Square Wollongong
                              march to Wollongong Mall Ampi-threatre
                                                                                                                                    Politics in the Pub
                                                Speakers include:
                                 Dr Con Costa from the Doctors Reform Society
                                                                                                                                     Every Friday night 6pm – 7.45pm
                                Federal Shadow Minister for Health Jillian Gillard                                               Gaelic Club, 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
                               Federal Member for Cunningham Michael Organ MP                                                    (across from the Chalmers St exit and Devonshire St tunnel at Central Station)
                                 Federal Member for Throsby Jennie George MP                                                             Dinner afterwards in the Royal Exhibition Hotel across the road
                                  Representative from NSW Nurses Federation
                                 For further information contact: Elizabeth on 02 4229 2888
                                       Organised by Illawarra Save Medicare Alliance                                                                            October 24
                                                                                                                                       TERTIARY EDUCATION: THE VANDALS STRIKE AGAIN
                                                                                                                                        Dr Carolyn Alport, President National Tertiary Education Union;

                                The Guardian
                                                                                                                                          Gerard Noonan, Education Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
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                                                                                                                                                  THE GUARDIAN               October 22 2003          11
                                                                                                                                             THE WORKERS’ WEEKLY
                                                                                                                                         COMMUNIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA




China’s big economic success
A delegation form the Communist Party of India (Marxist) recently
visited the People’s Republic of China. It was led by Sitaram Yechury
a member of the Political Bureau of the CPI (M). Here are extracts
from his report on his return from that visit. It was published in
the CPI (M) newspaper People’s Democracy.

     A visit to China after a gap of            Starting from 2001, China
three/four years always leaves one          began its march towards the third
with amazement. The hectic all              of the strategic goals: fully-fledged
around economic activity and the            modernisation and a per capita
construction of buildings, offices,         income at the level of moderately
factories and residential quarters is       developed countries by the middle
at such a pace that seems unlikely          of the 21st century.
anywhere else in the world. The
skyline keeps constantly chang-
ing and so does the facade on the           Reforms in China
ground.                                          China’s leaders expect a growth
     China’s economic growth has            rate of over eight per cent, once
often been termed, by many, as a            again, this year. They repeated and
miracle. Since December 1978,               reiterated that the reform process
when the Communist Party of                 is accompanied by the adherence
China (CPC) adopted the course of           to the four cardinal principles – the
reform in order to build socialism          socialist road; leadership of the             Towards full modernisation – state-of-the-art paper mill in Zhejiang Province
with Chinese characteristics, the           CPC; Marxism-Leninism and Mao
economic growth has been simply             Zedong thought; and the people’s              it must be repeated that socialist         An essential pre-requisite for             Thirdly, social inequalities con-
stupendous.                                 democratic dictatorship.                      China has in place what they term      profit generation is the availability     tinue to remain with some people
     The gross domestic product in               Such tremendous economic                 the “two guarantees” policy that is,   of adequate infrastructural facilities.   growing rich much faster than the
2000 was, in parity pricing terms,          growth, which continues even in               providing basic living conditions      Before foreign investors decide to        rest. Special measures to narrow the
6.4 times that of 1978, with an aver-       a period when the world capitalist            and health for all its citizens.       invest, they look for the availability    gap, they say, have been initiated
age annual growth rate of 9.52 per          economy is in the midst of a severe               According to the Chinese           of power, communications, access          (like those earning less paying lower
cent.                                       recession, is explained away by               Ministry of Labour and Social          to ports and airports etc. Only when      house rent, health charges, scholar-
     During the decade of the ‘90s,         many as due to the adoption of the            Security, the number of people         these are in place does investment        ships for higher education, etc).
China emerged as the largest pro-           economic policies of globalisation            employed in various sectors of the     flow.                                          Fourthly, regional inequali-
ducer of grain, cotton, oil seeds,          and liberalisation by China. Some             economy in China totaled 730 mil-          In China, it is the socialist State   ties, though reducing, still pose a
coal, iron and steel, electricity,          claim that China has adopted a suc-           lion in 2001.                          which provides this infrastructure        problem that needs to be resolved.
chemical yarn, domestic electrical          cessful private market economy; has               Out of the 730 million, 120 mil-   and ensures that all the required         Backward regions and regions with
appliances, etc in the world.               flexible labour laws of hire and fire         lion jobs are in the private sector    needs are in place before the for-        difficult physical terrain are being
     Its volume of exports and              and is, therefore, able to attract an         including private businesses, retail   eign investment comes in. China’s         focused upon. The more prosper-
imports increased from US$20.64             astoundingly high dose of foreign             trade, catering, tourism etc. State    success does not lie in the logic         ous regions and some public sector
billion in 1978 to US$509.77 billion        direct investment. Let us examine             sector employment is 510 million,      of globalisation and liberalisation       enterprises have been given the
in 2001. In 2001, it attracted for-         these claims.                                 (the other 100 million coming from     peddled in statements like “it is not     responsibility for specific regions
eign direct investment of US$69.2                In 1978, the State ownership             the collective sector). Around 20      the government’s business to be in        with time-bound targets. This, they
billion.                                    in the national economy was 78                million employees were laid off        business”.                                say, has helped in reducing such dis-
     China’s top leaders have under-        per cent and an additional 20 per             due to obsolete technology and             As economic development takes         parities, but more needs to be done.
taken many mega projects for the            cent was in the collectively owned            restructuring.                         place, the State in China has become           On the whole, the Chinese
development of the country. These           sector.                                           Between 1996 and 2000, more        the most dominant and determinant         leadership appeared satisfied with
include: (1) the Three Gorges Dam                By 2000, the State and collec-           than 40 million jobs were created      economic player in providing the          the overall economic performance
to generate 22,400 MW power and             tive owned sectors of the economy             out of which a large proportion of     required social and economic infra-       while tackling certain adverse
solve the problems of drought,              constituted over 75 per cent of the           jobs have gone to laid-off workers.    structure.                                developments. Agriculture, how-
floods, irrigation and navigation;          national economy while the private                Around four million laid-off           In addition, the social infra-        ever, continues to remain an area
(2) the 4000 km pipeline project to         economy grew from over one per                employees receive basic living         structural expenditures in socialist      of concern when the demand for
facilitate easy transportation of oil       cent in 1978 to nearly 25 per cent in         allowances every month. (Beijing       China, in terms of health, educa-         food articles is on the rise and the
from the western part of the country        2000. This figure includes the joint          Review, October 31, 2002).             tion, housing, etc have contributed       cultivable land available is on the
to the eastern part; (3) the magnetic       ventures of both public and private               In addition, they have an          tremendously in increasing labour         decline due to rapid industrialisa-
levitation (without wheels) train           Chinese companies with foreign                unemployment insurance program,        productivity. China has a large,          tion, even in rural areas.
project which is aimed to travel at         capital.                                      which guarantees a basic livelihood    well-educated and a healthy labour             This is attested by the fact that
430 kilometres per hour; 1000 kilo-              The public sector, therefore,            for those who may become unem-         force. It is not so much the cheap-       between 1990 and 2001, the number
metres of superhighways, four new           continues to remain the dominant              ployed. The basic living conditions    ness of wages that attracts foreign       of rural households increased from
railway lines; the water transporta-        sector of the economy. Apart from             of more than 90 percent of the         investment but it is basically the        222.37 million to 244.32 million,
tion project from the south to the          continuation of such dominance by             laid-off workers from State-owned      ability for higher levels of labour       while the number of rural labour-
north; and so on.                           public ownership, strategic sectors           enterprises were guaranteed.           productivity.                             ers declined from 895.9 million to
     Modern China is constructing           like defence, telecommunications,                                                                                              482.3 million! Much of this labour
the world’s largest dam, the longest        power generation and all other areas                                                                                           was absorbed in the agro-industries
bridge, the fastest train and the high-     of social and economic infrastruc-            Foreign investment                     Problem areas                             set up in a planned manner in the
est railroad.                               ture continue to remain 100 per cent                                                     The process of reforms in China       rural areas, called Township Village
     China achieved the first two           in the public sector.                              The reason why China attracts     has its attendant problems. The           Enterprises (TVEs). They are con-
steps of the strategic goal it had set           This makes a mockery of the              a high degree of foreign investment    Chinese leaders and the Chinese           centrating in the area of further
itself in the early ‘80s, that is, that     claim that competition can improve            does not lie in the claims made by     journals candidly discuss these           increases in productivity on land.
by the year 2000 China would qua-           only by privatisation. All the key            the liberalisation pundits. Foreign    problems and the ways of resolv-               In the final analysis the contra-
druple its 1980 per capita GNP and          sectors remain under State control            investment, for that matter any        ing them. During the course of our        diction between socialist China’s
provide a “fairly comfortable” life         in China.                                     investment, moves into areas where     discussions with the Chinese lead-        attempts to use foreign capital and
for its people.                                  With regard to the labour laws,          it sees profit.                        ers, they pointed out four problem        technology to strengthen social-
                                                                                                                                 areas that are continuously being         ism with Chinese characteristics
                                                                                                                                 combatted.                                and the desire of foreign capital to
   Communist Party of Australia                                                                                                      First, though corruption has
                                                                                                                                 been brought under some degree
                                                                                                                                                                           undermine socialism in China will
                                                                                                                                                                           determine the direction, scope and
   Central Committee:                      Wollongong Branch:                        Brisbane Branch:                            of check with exemplary death             future of China’s economic devel-
   General Secretary: Peter Symon          Leanne Lindsay                            David Matters                               sentences awarded to top leaders          opment and socialist construction.
   President: Hannah Middleton             PO Box 276 Corrimal 2518                  PO Box 2148 Salisbury East 4107
   Australian Marxist Review:              Riverina: Geoff Lawler                    Phone: (07) 3398 9623
                                                                                                                                 who were caught on this score, the        Many new flash points can emerge,
   Executive Editor: Hannah Middleton      PO Box 1016 Wagga 2650                    South Australian State Committee:           problem has not been completely           like that of the 1989 Tiananmen
   65 Campbell St, Surry Hills, 2010       Phone: (02) 6921 4316                     Marie Lean                                  eliminated.                               Square incident in the unfolding of
   Ph: (02) 9212 6855 Fax: (02) 92815795   Fax: (02) 6921 6873                       Room 5, 1st floor, 149 Flinders St,             Secondly,       unemployment          this contradiction.
   Sydney District Committee:              Victorian State Committee:                Adelaide 5000 Ph: (08) 8232 8200
   Rob Gowland, 65 Campbell St,            Andrew Irving                             West Australian Branch:                     resulting from the restructuring of            However, we, in the CPI (M),
   Surry Hills 2010 Phone (02) 9212 6855   PO Box 3 Room 0                           Vic Williams                                the public sector enterprises is not      wish the Chinese people under the
   Newcastle Branch: 303 Hunter St         Trades Hall Lygon St Carlton South 3053   5B Jemerson St Willagee Perth 6156          completely solved. The retraining         leadership of the CPC, all success in
   Phone: ah (02) 4926 1752                Ph: (03) 9639 1550 Fax: (03) 9639 4199    Phone: (08) 9337 1074                       and redeployment of such workers          their efforts to strengthen socialism
                       Website: http://www.cpa.org.au             Email: cpa@cpa.org.au                                          is being undertaken on a big scale        in China overcoming the connected
                                                                                                                                 but problems remain.                      problems. J

       12     THE GUARDIAN                 October 22 2003

								
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