Monthly Archives: July 2007

Support the Palm Island community in their bid to run the Palm Island store.

Please sign the open letter, in the following link, to the Qld. government in support of the Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation’s bid to manage the Palm Island store instead of government appointees.

Please  distribute the link through your networks.

  The Palm Island store is currently owned by the Queensland Government.  It charges inflated prices to subsidise the transport of goods to other Aboriginal communities in Queensland.    The government has recently announced that the store is to be privatised, and there are two competitors for the tender.  One is  the Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation (PICSAC) and the other is a gaggle of bureacrats and mainly non-Palm Islanders supported by the state government.

from the PICSAC 




ABN 95 384 533 636

C/-Cecilia Sibley, Farm Road Palm Island

July 2007

The Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation (PICSAC) was incorporated in February 2007, as a result of a public meeting held on Palm Island in December 2006.

The Queensland Government has announced plans to privatise the store, and has designed a tender process.

Anyone wishing to take part in the tender process will need to comply with the tender requirements and have in place a developed business plan setting out how the store will be managed and run, how it will be financed and how it will benefit the community.

We submitted an application to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations for funding to prepare a business plan. That application was approved and the business plan is now being prepared.

Ian James is working with Lex Wotton and the corporation committee to prepare the business plan so that when tenders are called the corporation can bid to own and control the store on behalf of ALL PALM ISLANDERS.

There is no definite date set at present for privatisation, but is expected in the near future.

To tender successfully, the bidder will have to show how it can run and finance the store, that it represents the majority of the Palm Island community and that it has in place the expertise to ensure sound governance.

Outback Stores Pty Ltd is a professional store management operator, set up by Indigenous Business Australia to assist communities to operate stores. Outback Stores has the knowledge, skill, money and the buying capacity to operate the store efficiently and according to the wishes and needs of the community. Outback Stores is able to operate the store for a community group, provided it is operated for the benefit of the whole community.

Outback Stores has visited the community twice to explain how it can partner a community group and operate the store.

The objective of the PICSAC is to provide a vehicle to represent all Palm Islanders in bidding for the store tender. To achieve this, the corporation needs to widely hear the views of Palm Islanders, and to develop agreement about the objectives of the store.

PICSAC believes that a democratically elected governing committee, comprising a majority of residents of Palm Island, should direct Outback Stores and determine the use of store profits.

It is expected that at the time of privatisation, the government will provide funds for some major spending on the store building and facilities.

This Project is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Indigenous Small Business Fund, which is administered by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.






  • The government has announced it will privatise the store, and that the ownership and control of the store will be returned to the community.

  • The Department of Communities has formed a corporation called Palm Island Community Company Pty Ltd which it intends will take over ownership and control of the store.

  • The Government Corporation is a Government Business Enterprise which will charge for its fee-based services, and directors’ fees and distribute any profits remaining according to the wishes of its directors.

  • Its directors will be made up of 2 from the Federal Government, 2 from the Queensland Government, 2 from Local Government, 1 Traditional Owner, 1 Community representative, with an independent chairperson.

  • In this model, 1 community member is elected and 3 are appointed, with 5 outsiders appointed
    Although the plans for this corporation have been made public, there is almost no awareness of its existence in the Palm Island community.



  • Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation (PICSAC) has been formed to create a community vehicle to own and operate the store.

  • We can engage a professional management company, Outback Stores Pty Ltd, which can bring enormous buying power, & working capital. OS charges a fee of 4% of turnover, to operate the store using local staff, and the profits would be retained within the Palm Island community.

  • Outback Stores operates by direction from a management committee representing the community organisation.

  • The profits can be returned in full to the community with none spent on a Government Business Enterprise.

  • The use of profits should be determined by a democratically elected committee made up of a majority of Palm Islanders, for the benefit of the whole community.

  • Plans are advanced and unless the community acts now, the store will pass from one government department to another government vehicle, and be lost to the community forever. The tendering process is ‘on hold’ at present but planned for September 2007.

  • In a comparable PICSAC model, 5 community members are elected, with a maximum of 4 outsiders being appointed.


The government has been promising to hand the store to the community for more than 20 years.

PICSAC is a vehicle for all to join, to enable one tender on behalf of the whole community.

We want to ensure the community can bid to own and operate the store on behalf of the whole community-with no profits to be spent on another government body.

We are presently speaking to as many people as we can to inform all people & obtain support on Palm Island.





Palm Island background from

Palm Island background from Senator Andrew Bartlett

James Cook, Joseph Banks and Smallpox

by John Tracey

This is an article about covert biological warfare, Captain Cook and Joseph Banks, about the deliberate infection of disease which spread like wildfire across the nation.

The historical context for the discovery of Australia was the defeat and withdrawal of the British forces from America after a protracted war with the French, the indigenous and the new white Americans in America and Canada as well as the French and Spanish and others in the global conflict. . Britain had sustained a tremendously expensive war and the dilemma for its government and royalty was whether to defend their colonies militarily at further expense or allow political independence and attempt to develop trade advantage with the new nation. Cooks voyages of discovery occurred during the transition from one to the other.

During the “French Indian war” in America, shortly before the endeavor voyage. British troops, aided by some indigenous tribes fought the French with support from other indigenous tribes, the culmination of this was the taking of Quebec by the British in 1759 . Some histories say that at this period Cook was the chief surveyor of Newfoundland, exploring and chart making in groundbreaking scientific pursuit. Some explicitly state that he had no part in the war effort. Other histories tell a different story, for example, of Cooks nine year military posting in Newfoundland this is said

“In 1756 he was made master and transferred to the “Pembroke”, a 64 gun ship sent to America to aid in the war there against France. William Pitt’s idea was to claim all of Canada for Britain. This involved capturing Quebec. In order to do this, the St Lawrence river needed to be navigated. This hadn’t been attempted since 1711 resulting then in a total disaster. Under cover of darkness, though constantly harried by the French and native Indians, James Cook and others took soundings and measurements along the St Lawrence. From these figures they produced charts which enabled 200 ships to successfully navigate the river and land troops under General Wolfe to take Quebec.”

Another person who, most histories assert, was conducting groundbreaking scientific pursuit in Newfoundland at the same time as Cook was Joseph Banks. He kept no journal of his work in this time, but on the basis of it he was admitted membership of the Royal Society on his return. Later he was made president of the society on his return from the Endeavor voyage, the journals of which he and the Earl of Sandwich, sea lord and commander of the British fleet, edited and published, taking great efforts to repress unauthorised publications about the voyage.

Another person in the same place at the same time was Lord Jeffery Amherst. Amherst was commander of the British forces in America. Amherst went on to become governor of Virginia. His other claim to history is he is credited as being the father of modern biological warfare. In 1763 (a few years before Banks arrived but Cook was there) Amhurst instructed his officers to infect blankets with the smallpox virus and give them to the Indians.

A letter from Colonel Henry Bouquet to General Amherst,commander of British forces in America dated 13 July 1763, suggests in a postscript the distribution of blankets to “inoculate the Indians”; Amherst, replying to Bouquet, dated 16 July 1763, approves this plan in a postscript and suggests as well as “to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race.” (This postscript spans two pages.) . Readable photos of the letter, can be found on the internet,

A fourth figure who was at the same time and the same place was Robert Rogers, leader of Rogers rangers who armed and organised Mohawk warriors to fight against the French. Rogers has been credited with building a new model of covert guerrilla warfare that todays S.A.S. are based upon and if I have read between the lines correctly, the Australian native police were based on. Around about the same time, (Cook and Banks in the same year) Cook, Banks and Rogers returned to England. After a short period to prepare Cook and Banks set sail on the Endeavor.

The Sea lord Earl of Sandwich and Banks were well acquainted and worked together in planning the Endeavor voyage and the publication of the voyages journals. They were both members of the Masons and the Royal Society, as was Cook., Cook was admitted to the Royal Society after his return from the Endeavour voyage and his famous paper on scurvey and sailor health was presented by John Pringle, a military surgeon famous for his expertise with infectious diseases was also in the French Indian war.

One of Banks’ fields of study and one, as president of the royal society, he had an active role in funding and repressing work into infectious diseases, especially smallpox. The Royal society (which funded the Endeavor voyage) funded the early research of Edward Jenner who eventually invented successful vaccination. However when he began experiments with cowpox, , Banks withdrew funding and threatened him that his reputation would be demolished if he published his research. He published his work privately which lead to the vaccine. Edward Jenner’ s work was controversial because it challenged the earlier work of Lady Mary Wortley Montague who developed an inoculation (via cloth and blankets) which was 50% successful Lady Mary Wortley Montague “discovered” inoculation, which was being practiced in Turkey and China, while Traveling with her Husband, Edward Wortly Montague, the uncle of John Montagu Sea lord Earl of Sandwich. All three were members of the Hellfire club, a libertine wing of the masonic movement. Lady Mary’s daughter married Lord Bute, who became George III’s right hand man. In the light of all this consider the following extract from Cooks journal of first contact with Australian Aborigines, interestingly enough Banks Journal conforms almost word for word. . “A third musket with small shot was then fired at them, upon which one of them threw another lance, and both immediately ran away; if we had pursued we might probably have overtaken one of them, but Mr Banks suggesting that the lances might be poisoned, I thought it not prudent to venture into the woods. We repaired immediately to the huts, in one of which we found the children, who had hidden themselves behind a shield and some bark; we peeped at them, but left them in their retreat, without their knowing that they had been discovered, and we threw into the house, when we went away, some beads, ribbons, pieces of cloth, and other presents, which we hoped would procure us the good-will of the inhabitants when they should return,……….

………We saw many houses (gunyahs) and places where they had slept upon the grass, of which there is great abundance without any shelter but we saw only one of the people, who, the moment he saw us, ran away. At all these places we left presents, hoping that at last they might procure confidence and good will.” The medical knowledge of the time, of which Banks was an expert, was that the virus can be stored in an infectious state for a couple of years when it is dried out.

The use of blankets and handkerchiefs from smallpox sufferers, or cloth smeared with pus from a sufferer was the method of experimental inoculation, much of this testing being done on prisoners. Obviously if these ribbon, pieces of cloth and other presents were deliberately infected with smallpox this aspect would not be included in the official journal. This somewhat puzzling gift giving in the midst of armed conflict could be explained as a naive diplomatic gesture or it could explain the biological warfare methodology of infecting a target populations. Banks and Cook, in their journals, express disappointment upon returning to the battle scene that the Aborigines avoided touching the presents.

Joseph Banks , despite only minimal contact with healthy Aborigines, returned to England celebrating the prospects for development in Australia, insisting that the Aborigines are dying out and almost extinct. This was the argued basis for Terra Nullius. On this first voyage Cook visited many places in the Pacific including Australia,New Zealand, and Tahiti. On his second voyage he sailed past Australia but stopped at New Zealand, Tahiti and Fiji. Again on his third and fatal voyage he sailed past Australia to New Zealand and Tahiti and on to discover Hawaii where the locals ate him for his efforts. Despite tremendous publicity and excitement in England about Australia, primarily whipped up by Joseph Banks, Cook, on his second and third voyage seemed to avoid Australia like the plague, so to speak.

Nearly twenty years after George III and The Earl of Sandwich sent Cook and Banks to discover the southern land The first fleet set sail for Botany Bay, the very place where Cook gave his first gifts. Despite two voyages to the region in those years which bypassed Australia, Britain was confident enough to establish the colony Banks was one of the key architects and administrators of the New colony. I find it curious that Banks visited Newfoundland briefly as the British were packing the last of its bags in America after carving up of the known world by European powers in the treaty of Paris. He then returned with Cook and Rogers then became the most influential man in establishing the colony in Australia. The most historians seem to know of this period is it is where Banks got his botanical training.

The epidemics that hit this country after invasion indicate biological warfare may have been a factor. The maladministration of health services was the biggest factor. As we have seen the colonial administrators were well aware of infection research, health regimes, and vaccination, they would clearly have understood the consequences on the indigenous population. Whether deliberate or coincidental the South African Apartheid system and the Australian reserve systems have created hot houses of infection quarantined against vaccinated white society. These were also centres for blanket distribution. All aboriginal health services were administered by the police. Forced removal of Aborigines infected with a whole range of diseases to distant reserves ensured the maximum infection of the indigenous population. Is this a wild conspiracy theory? If there is a grain of truth in it, like all covert military operations, the hard evidence will have been destroyed and sanitised histories presented.

The crisis in the study of literature in the school system

The August Meeting of the 17 Group

— Pat Buckridge on the crisis in the study of literature in the school system.

Wednesday, the 1st of August at 7pm
in unit 6 at 20 Drury St. West End.

Pat teaches literature at Griffith University and has published extensively on literature and on Australian and Queensland culture, including Australian and Queensland literature. He has provided this summary of his talk:

“I argue, first, that the rumoured crisis in the study of literature in Queensland secondary schools is real, and deeply entrenched.

Such claims are routinely dismissed by pointing to the works of literature that do, undeniably, appear in syllabus booklists; but these are gradually diminishing in number, range and diversity, under the influence of so-called ‘Critical Literacy’ approaches which, as an article of faith, deny the distinctive value and interest of classic literature, focusing on the ideological functions of all cultural texts and discourses, and seeking to expose these functions by methods of linguistic and discursive analysis.

I argue that the cultural loss incurred in this process is a serious one, entailing – for a whole generation of students – a failure to achieve affective, imaginative and intellectual contact with the human past; or – putting it less neutrally – a misguided, ideologically driven refusal by teachers and education administrators to offer students unimpeded access to that huge body of writing, the literature of the past, which is the unique record of past human experience and consciousness.

The free-standing human value of that record needs to be insisted upon, irrespective of the various ‘uses’ – political, ideological, ethical – to which it might be put in different historical and social circumstances. It’s an issue, I suggest, of heritage conservation, closely analogous in some respects with the conservation and maintenance of environmental assets like Antarctica, or of cultural assets like the Taj Mahal.

Thinking about literary education in ‘heritage’ terms is not new, but it’s also not recent, at least in Queensland; and perhaps it’s time to revisit an old idea for what it might have to offer as a response to an intractable contemporary problem.

I’ll be suggesting that a ‘conservation rationale’ might indeed have some useful pedagogical and curricular implications for the study of English in our schools. “

Bring all eating drinking talking friends of any reasonable politico-cultural persuasion.

Don’t take the non-Trotsky convention too seriously.

Dan O’Neill


DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS — lest we forget


A lunchtime rally organised by the Stop The War Collective was held today (Thursday July 19) in support of Dr Haneef at the Department of Immigration Offices in Adelaide St, Brisbane to condemn the federal government’s use of the Migration Act to detain Dr Haneef, and the undemocratic nature of the recently introduced “terror” laws.

About 120 people were in attendance plus a large media contingent generated by the sudden detention of Dr Haneef by the immigration minister yesterday.
The Building where the demonstration was held was placed in lock down by police some people were denied entry and workers in the building were kept inside during the protest.

Workers in the QANTAS call centre wanted to know why the police paddy wagons were outside their place of work. One worker said it was the normal police over-reaction.
Another looking out the window of the call centre asked what is the meaning of the placard that read “Reckless with a Sim Card — Arrest Shane Warne.

An Australian Services Union delegate in the call centre said later: “It makes you wonder how clueless some people are about (the Dr Haneef matter)”.

The speakers included Rob Nicholson who spoke on behalf of the Stop the War Collective, Dr Emad Soliman (Australian Democrats and Muslim community); Shabari Nair, Indian community; Peter Russo (Dr Haneef’s solicitor). Others on the speakers’ list were Ciaron O’Reilly (Christian Peace Activist), Jim McIlroy (Socialist Alliance and candidate for Griffith [Rudd’s seat]), and Stop the War representative, Paul Benedek who chaired the meeting.
For details of who said what see the excellent report by the Spring Hill Voice

Dr Haneef’s lawyer, Peter Russo said that the case presents a lesson for all of us. “The question now is, how do we treat people who come to the attention of authorities?” he said. “That’s the crux of the matter.”

The use of such laws is not new.

The report below titled Lest We Forget speaks of 27 crew members of the Pong Su who were released by the Court, only to be scooped up by the Immigration department (then DIMA-now DIAC).

Down the years both extra-judicial and judicial detention has been used against Aboriginal people, trade unionists, socialists and workers. In the early 1990s the Goss Labour Government redefined a detention centre for Aboriginal kids to frustrate an order for their release.

The use of such tactics can be compared with the use by Labor and Liberal Governments since the Second World War. These attacks on democratic rights have often been policed by secret government organisations like ASIO or Special Branches set up by various governments.

In Queensland the Special Branch worked for years using secret targetting of union members. Student activists were also detained unlawfully by various police acting with support of the Bjelke Petersen goverment.

The message is that this is nothing new. And the response may develop in various ways.

I have addressed three types of response below.
I have ignored the legalistic or liberal response demonstrated by conservative judges arguing ‘due process’ and government ministers.

The idealist response where people protest only to be ignored as happened in the large mobilisations against the Iraq war. Academics, chuch leaders and peace activists often participate in this way.

The opportunist (electoralist) response is demonstrated by people who push candidates for election to parliament on the back of such opposition. As one refugee activist, Freddy Stein, put it. ‘I am not running for parliament so I do not need to speak for more than 2 minutes.’


Freddy Stein spoke well but put much emphasis on a parliamentary solution which has many risks for democratic rights advocates — not the least of which is the parliament is essentially undemocratic.

Parliament means rule for the rich not the poor. It is the executive of the parliament that has the power to detain people summarily.

On a strategic level, the opportunist response has been ineffective.

This is partly because the racists and war mongers on both sides of the house control the federal senate and will continue to do so after the 2007 federal election.
For example, only the minor parties have supported the release of Dr Haneef. Rudd has been silent. His spokeperson, Lindsay Tanner, has been an apologist for inaction.

The class or collective response.
We see little of this today. The workers are quiet. The organised labour movement want to get the ALP elected. At the rally today there was not one trade union leader or organiser who spoke. Yet it is workers who have the power to prevent the abuse of democratic rights.

This is a failing of the anti-war movement as much as it is of the organised labour movement.

We should not forget that this is very difficult to reach ordinary workers through the media. The rally focussed on the media so it was an attempt to get into the lounge rooms in the same way that party political advertisements do.

Also the police told one organiser of the rally that they would arrest anyone entering the building for trespass. For whatever reason this was not conveyed to the rally. I think it is important to let people know what the police have told you. It makes the rally more democratic. However we do live in times of fear, where people screen this kind of information out for one reason or another.

I told people at the rally about it but I was not on the speaking list so could not tell all present.

There are very real limits to protest. Protest does not engage in a challenge for power or, if it does, it is confined to a similar approach as parliamentary parties that ignores the class nature of society.

The power of the executive over courts
Recently a judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory fined four Pine Gap activists for entering the US spybase there. Nevertheless Minister Ruddock has authorised the DPP to seek jail terms against these people who were charge under Cold War legislation (Defence Special Undertakings Act 1952).

Punitive Detention
Today Dr Haneef is in punitive detention in Wolston Correctional Centre, at Richlands in Brisbane’s south-west. These means that he cannot speak to other prisioners.

Lest We Forget

The following is a report from Pamela Curr, Campaign Coordinator, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre ASRC,

As the detention of Doctor Haneef once more highlights the seemingly limitless power of the Immigration Act, it is worth remembering other cases where people have been released by the Courts and the Immigration Minister has then turned gaoler under his own powers.

When charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, the 27 crew members of the Pong Su were released by the Court, only to be scooped up by the


Immigration department (then DIMA-now DIAC) and taken out to Baxter detention centre. There they languished in secret in a formerly, unused compound until the day that other detainees became aware of their presence.

Policy changes in the Baxter hellhole allowed detainees to be escorted on foot between compounds instead of in locked vans. On one such occasion, detainees attention was called to this never used compound by cries and eyes peering over the compound walls.

Detainee contacted advocates with their concern for these people. “We don’t know who they are but they are crying for help and we can only see their eyes. We don’t think that they are Chinese- we can’t understand their language.” The guard asked them to disregard what they had seen because “you will get me in trouble”.

Subsequent investigations revealed that they might be the crew of the ‘Pong Su’. This was confirmed when a list of names was produced. The list indicated the likelihood that many of these sailors were most likely fathers and sons. They were not seeking asylum. They desperately wanted to go home to their families but DIMA were holding them for their own purposes. It was only after it was revealed how distressed they were at being held incommunicado that they were finally granted their wish to leave- 13 weeks after the Courts had found them not guilty of any crime.

Technically the power to detain under the Migration act is so that persons can be removed from Australia, however as we have witnessed in the case of long term detainees, this power in reality allows the Australian government to hold a person for their entire lives without charge or judicial oversight.

To contact Pamela Curr about this article visit

OR at ASRC, 12 Batman St West Melbourne 3003, ph 03 93266066 fax 03 93265199

See also on BushTelegraph The Sweet Life


National Aborigines and Islanders Day for Justice (NAIDOC) has been celebrated for 50 years. Meetings, Rallies and Marches have been organised in Brisbane this past year (2006-2007). Much effort and organisation has gone into these rallies and marches for Justice. … Continue reading

Pine Gap 4: Crime and Punishment

US Base at Pine Gap

Crown Appeal sentence in Pine Gap Case

Why are the missiles called peacekeepers, when they’re aimed to kill?
Why is a woman still not safe when she’s in her home?
Love is hate, war is peace, no is yes, we’re all free.
But, some-body’s gonna have to answer, the time is coming soon.
Amidst all these questions and contradictions there’re some who seek the truth
Why? a song by Tracy Chapman

The Director of Public Prosecution (on behalf of the Crown) have filed the following claims for the appeal against the sentence of the Pine Gap 4.


  1. The judge failed to have regard to the maximum penalties;
  2. The judge erred by placing inadequate weight on general deterrence;
  3. The judge erred by placing inadequate weight on specific deterrence;
  4. The judge failed to accurately reflect the seriousness of the offending and lack of contrition;
  5. The judge erred in considering the Second and Third Respondents (Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie) gave considerable cooperation;
  6. The judge erred when referring to the antecedent report of the Second Respondent (Jim Dowling);
  7. In imposing fines, the learned trial judge did not consider section 16C Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth); and,
  8. Having regard to the objective facts and circumstances, the imposition of fines by the judge was manifestly inadequate.

Without wishing to point out the obvious, this means the government wants to put the Pine Gap Four (PG4) in jail, probably more than the 2 weeks they would have got if they did not pay their fines.

The government regards fines of more than $1,000 too lenient on the PG4. [Jim Dowling was fined $1,300].

They were also required to pay restitution of more than $10,000 for some minor damage to a weld mesh fence. This means that they would lose wages and ant assets they might have. [Speculation that the bailiff could recover superannuation is just that, speculation].

There should be a staunch defence of these activists because their only ‘crime’ was to try to expose the role played by the American spy base at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory.

Pine Gap has been used by the Americans to locate targets to bomb people in Iraq.


The grounds being used by the Crown (acting on behalf of the Minister and therefore Government) above are quite absurd.

It was Minister Ruddock who authorised the use of the Defence Special Undertakings Act 1952 against these activists in the first place.
The Pine Gap Four co-operated in every way possible with the authorities including admitting to the facts of the Crown case (that they entered the base by cutting through fences).

Such entry into Pine Gap is usually met with a fine.

Why place these people in jail?kh_020.jpg

During the trial the court ignored many of the submissions by the defendants.

One example of the prosecution ignoring submissions by the PG4 defence was when the court refused right of appearance to a scientific expert on Pine Gap:

“MR DEMBO (DPP): Your Honour, firstly you’ll recall that I did say that the Crown would take under advisement the one witness, whose name I forget at the moment, Professor so-and-so. But we have considered very carefully and we make the objection on the same grounds as articulated both by yourself and indeed by the Crown yesterday.”

Who owns Pine Gap?

“I thought I had a good argument on the ownership of the land” said one of the PG4, Jim Dowling, “It belongs to the local aboriginal (Arrernte) people”.

The issue of land ownership was important because the PG4 claim they did not trespass on Pine Gap because they had sought and were given approval by the custodians of the land, an elder (of the Arrernte people), Pat Hayes.

“Aboriginal people supported the protest outside Pine Gap” said Jim Dowling.

The US backed Australian government wants to incarcerate any opponents of their war plans —no matter how effective or ineffective that opposition may be.


For a full description of this case see Pine Gap: Crime and Punishment

For words from the Pine Gap Four see the comments section below.

Ian Curr


Best of ‘Hainanese Chicken Club’ Stories by Lachlan Hurse

***Editor’s Note*** The ‘Hainanese Chicken Club’ is a lunchtime social gathering of friends who work in Brisbane City. It is convened by Lachlan Hurse. And the following are my selection of the stories written by Lachlan Hurse for the club. … Continue reading

‘The Sweet Life’

When the long distance electronic communication by telegraph arrived in the USA in the 1800's, the proponents said we will now have instant information from England, while others commented that all that will be different is that we will know when Lady Windemere has the flu

US academic, Neil Postman, in his book “Amusing Ourselves to Death”

When I read about efforts by groups to lobby federal parliamentarians about the crisis in the Middle East, no coherent message seems to come through. What expectations can we have of our parliamentarians? What can we expect of our media?

Recently one small group wrote to Australian MPs about Palestine.

This is what National Party MP, De-Anne Kelly, had to say in reply:

“I appreciate that you have taken the time to write to me outlining your concerns, however, like many regional MP’s I receive hundreds of items of correspondence from all over the country each month on top of an equal if not greater amount from constituents in my electorate. To do justice to the concerns of the people of Dawson, I cannot respond to each and every request I get into my office. It is therefore my duty and policy to deal generally with matters raised by constituents living in the electorate as they are mostly not represented by lobby groups and have no wider voice at Federal level. I have read your correspondence and I will keep the legitimate points you raised in mind when the matter is raised at parliamentary level. From this and similar responses from MPs one might conclude that writing to Federal MPs is nearly as big a waste of time as talking to the Australian Media."

The Great Aussie Media Swindle
I support this view (of the media & federal govt) by reference to reports over the past couple of weeks in the Australian press and on radio and TV. Currently Australian journalism seems to be script writing fulltime for the ABCs Chasers’ War on Everything. Only now, the media moguls are putting The Chasers script on the front pages of our daily newspapers.

Here are just some of the headlines that have beseiged us on Saturday, July 07, 2007:

“Terror hunt widens to three statesNews Corp

“Six doctors questioned as terror net widens” The Australian

“War on terror is global not localThe Australian Editorial

“Doctors released after terrorism probe questioning” ABC Online

Looking at what they (media & govt) have served up in the last few days (4 – 7 July 2007) … we have seen the International-Islamic-Doctor-conspiracy. ABC radio national, in particular, seems to have a great liking for this one.

On some questions the ABC is worse than the commercial media (if that it possible) given last week’s wholesale endorsement of the alcohol-fueled-aboriginal-dysfunction-child-abuse myth in the NT followed by the slavish reporting of the great-islamic-doctor plot.

What will come next? Internment of all Muslims? Don’t laugh, a Qld Senate candidate has proposed it. The Blacks at Mutitjulu (near Uluru) appear to be already in internment. Mutitjulu community leaders Dorothea and Bob Randall said recently:

“There is money set aside from the Jimmy Little foundation for a kidney dialysis machine at Mutitjulu, but National Parks won’t let us have it. That would create jobs and improve indigenous health but they just keep stonewalling us. If there is an emergency, why won’t Mal Brough fast-track our kidney dialysis machine?”

Of course, Brough and Howard get great coverage in the media to reject the ‘great land grab’ claims by aborigines in the Northern Territory.

Nearly as much coverage that Howard got this week to refute the obvious truth (leaked by Defence Minister Brendon Nelson) that Australian troops are in Iraq to protect oil supplies to the West.

The Great Doctor Plot
Don’t you pity the poor medic the Qld cops have been questioning? I refer to the doctor from the Gold Coast Hospital interned in the Brisbane watchouse under the anti-terrorism legislation. Gee, this doctor pickd a great location to be an international terrorist. The Gold Coast Hospital. Give me a break.

From what little information that has been released so far (6 July 2007), the doctor’s only link to the botched 4WD gas bottle explosion at Glasgow airport was that he trained in a Liverpool hospital and prayed with the odd Muslim medic (which I imagine you would, if you were both and doctor and a Muslim living in Liverpool). If the cops keep rounding up Muslim doctors the emergency wards in public hospitals will freeze.

The Australian Federal Police vs the Lebanese Secret Service
Did you read about what the Lebanese military did when they arrested that Western Suburbs boxer from Sydney and his mate?

They were more direct; they beat them up for 13 days, asked them a lot of questions about some strange fellow called Al Kyder and let them go. They still detain two of their mates.

By way of contrast what do the Federal, State Govts & the AFP do in the great Australian Democracy?

They intern the doctor from the Gold Coast without charge for over a week. They arrest 7 or 8 of his mates. They spread fear and loathing midst the population via the media.

They fly some smart arse terrorism expert out from Scotland Yard to interrogate said doctor, get the paparazzi stake out his home, his mate’s home, and interview his mum, wife and brother in Bangalore and splash their IDs all over the papers with the most-Islamic-looking-photo-stereotypes they can photoshop in a day. The last time I looked they were yet to come up with a photo of his new born baby.

Why don’t they call in an Australian terrorism expert? Dr John Jiggens, for example. You know, the guy that solved the Ananda Marga conspiracy case of 1978. That is, Australia’s most recent terrorist incident where a couple of poor garbos died. According to Jiggens NSW cops got the wrong mob, the Annanda Marg were in the clear, there was even evidence that pointed at ASIO and the Special Branch.

The Sweet Life’?
I referred disparagingly above to Australian paparazzi.
This word has an interesting derivation, it’s from the Federico Fellini 1960 film La Dolce Vita (‘the sweet life’ [pictured]).

A character in the film was a news photographer.

His name was Paparazzo (presumably, the singular of Paparazzi]

Methinks, the politicians and paparazzi are robbing workers of the sweet life.

That is, if the sweet life existed for workers in the first place.

Ian Curr
7 July 2007

New Labor drives a wedge between militants and moderates.

In the midst of current debate over militant and parliamentary strategies for the workers movement, Julia Gillard made headlines when she attacked union militants and said that she would not endorse automatic ‘right of entry‘ for union organisers into workplaces.

A less publicised part of Gillard’s speech was her criticism of the Keating government’s IR policy:

“Under Keating’s system, an employer was required to notify an eligible union that it had commenced negotiations with its employees for a non-union agreement and required to provide each such union a reasonable opportunity to take part in the negotiations for the so-called non-union agreement.” [Melbourne Press Club — Julia Gillard’s speech 25 June 2007]

“What is wrong with that?” a worker asked.

Gillard made her point:

“In line with respecting that choice (of a non-union agreement), an employer and its employees will be free to collectively bargain together where they choose to do so and this will give rise to a genuine non-union collective agreement that has no union input at all…None of these requirements are in place under Forward with Fairness [New Labor’s IR policy].

Gillard then said: “A non-union agreement will be just that – a non-union agreement. Indeed, a union would not even know it was being made.”

“Hey, now New Labor is really sucking up to business” said one unionist.

It gets worse. At the same Press club lunch, Julia Gillard went on to say “bizarrely the last few weeks have seen them (Howard and Keating) mirroring each other, trying to create the same myth: that [New] Labor’s policy on industrial relations will take us backwards, that it’s downing tools on reform, that it will be a return to the bad old days”. Gillard did not elaborate what she meant by ‘the bad old days’ cliche.

Gillard criticised the Howard government for having too much regulation and not being sympathetic to the effect red tape had on small business.

The Hawke-Keating government curbed central wage arbitration and conciliation by introducing Enterprise Bargaining which reduced the collective power of workers down to the enterprise or workplace level.

Keating legislated for big business and big amalgamated unions where small groups of workers lost their voice. Now Howard has reduced collective bargaining using AWAs and centralised minimum wage fixing, ironically named Fair Pay Commission.

New Labor’s approach is to reduce union militancy and grass roots organisation.

At the Press Club lunch Gillard stated: “Enterprise collective bargaining is an important driver of productivity and a key feature of our policy. True non-union collective bargaining is a feature of Forward with Fairness [new labor’s IR policy]. Under our system [New Labor], a union does not have an automatic right to be involved in collective bargaining.” [my emphasis]

“What do we want?” said a militant unionist. “Workers Control of Production” was the answer.

How does Gillard propose to deal with worker control? This is what she had to say at the Melbourne Press Club under the heading: “Tough rules against industrial action”.

“Finally, Forward with Fairness dedicates Labor to the toughest rules against industrial action in its history.

Industrial action will only be protected in one circumstance – when bargaining for a collective agreement – and only then if it has been authorised by a secret ballot.

Labor has never before required mandatory secret ballots. A Rudd Labor Government will do so.”

“All power to the workers! ” a lone voice rang out.


Pig City: all in the name of ‘Exploiting Native Talent’

Workers BushTelegraph readers may wish to have a look at the article Exploiting Native Talent in the Arts Section of The Australian, 2 July 2007. No, the title of The Australian article is not meant to be ironic, or is … Continue reading