Tag Archives: Essays

My worst moment: remember September 11th … 1973

A short story

The morning of 11th September 1973 will remain forever fixed in the memory of Julio Jorquera Muñoz.

Julio was a Graphic1 maintenance fitter at Elecmetal one of the workplaces in the heavy industry sector under the supervision of the government and which was administered by a Workers’ Council. It was also the political centre of Cordón Vicuña Mackenna, an organization which brought together in one group all of the industries of that sector. This was in Santiago, the capital city of Chile.

When he arrived at work that morning the atmosphere was tense. The radios had announced that the Navy had taken the port of Valparaiso and were suppressing industrial centres and workplaces. Julio, a militant in the socialist party and a union leader, was on the director’s committee of Cordón Vicuña Mackenna.

He had good reasons for being worried as he had tried to contact his wife but communications by then were cut.

However, in accordance with emergency plans already in place for this situation, he assumed responsibility and gave instructions to his comrades to be prepared for any contingency.

At 9:00am, Radio Magallanes, the only station still free to broadcast, announced that President Allende had arrived at Government House to confront the military coup. At the same time Julio received a communiqué from the leadership of the socialist party ordering him to organize a patrol of 12 men to go to Government House and join in the defense of the government.

Julio knew all of his comrades well and was aware that they hadn’t had sufficient preparation in the use of their arms but he called a meeting of party militants and read the communiqué to them. Nobody asked questions because everyone knew what they had to do. Julio called for 12 volunteers and twenty hands went up.

Faced with this situation he felt that the fairest thing to do would be to leave it to chance. Cutting up twenty pieces of paper he wrote the word SÍ on twelve of them, NO on eight, folded them over exactly the same and placed them in a hat.

He then explained to his comrades that whoever took out a piece of paper with SÍ written on it would go on the patrol and those who drew a piece saying NO would have to stay behind. He then asked each one to read out loud the word written on their piece of paper.image

This was how he selected the 12 members of the patrol which he was to lead.

The most difficult thing now, considering that all of the streets were being patrolled by the military, was to get to Government House and join the resistance forces. Julio and his comrades discussed different alternatives to avoid the military patrols but none of the ideas seemed safe.

Finally, an electrician, Jose Sanchez, suggested that as Government House was on fire they might use a fire engine to transport the men.

As the fire station was located nearby, his idea was accepted unanimously. But commandeering a fire engine wasn’t going to be easy so Manuel Carrasco, the political leader in their workplace, proposed that the 12 men should present themselves at the fire station with Julio in the lead, identify themselves as members of the secret police and demand that a fire engine be handed over.

It seemed a good idea because at that time Santiago was in chaos and various special forces, some civilian and some in uniform, were at large.

They made their way to the fire station in two black cars with their number plates hidden. Clutching sub-machine guns and pistols they ordered the station chief to hand over the fire engine and uniforms for a special operation. The chief and the firemen on duty at the time didn’t hesitate for a minute in complying and they didn’t ask questions.

Julio Jorquera and his 12 comrades dressed themselves in the firemens’ uniforms, boarded the fire truck and set out for Government House. Traveling at great speed and with the siren blaring nobody stopped them until they reached the perimeter of Government House.

They approached Santa Rosa St. almost reaching Bernado O’Higgins Avenue when they were intercepted by a 20 man patrol armed with sub-machine guns and under the command of a young officer. The militants led by Julio had their weapons ready to confront the military patrol if necessary but the officer only asked them to identify themselves and to explain where they were going. They had false identity papers and had no problem showing them to the officer and explaining that they had been called to a fire at Government House.

The officer, not very convinced with this explanation, tried to contact the fire station but happily for Julio and his comrades communications were cut. So the young officer decided to let them through and even gave them safe passage so that they weren’t stopped by any other patrol.

Years later Julio Jorquera remembers this dramatic experience and tells his children:

‘That was the worst moment of my life. If we had been discovered we would have been shot in the act, those were Pinochet’s orders. And it would have been a useless death because when we reached the place where we thought we were going to find the rest of the resistance there were only soldiers, the whole sector was surrounded by the military.

‘Judging that sooner or later we would be discovered we made our way to the embassy of Argentina which was located on Vicuña Mackenna Avenue and there we asked for political asylum. Since our lives were in danger, the ambassador, a very humane person, took us in and gave us protection. There were people already there, just like us, who had sought asylum.

At the end of December of that year the dictatorship granted permission for our exit from Chile and so we finally arrived in Buenos Aires where we were able to breathe once again the wonderful air of freedom. Thanks to the solidarity of the Argentinean people our lives were saved and this story can be written down and known by everyone.’

Marcial Parada
January 2008

[BushTelegraph Note: Please note that this is a short story. All the characters and events are fictitious.]

Marcial Parada is also the author of Vuelo Lan Chile – the true story of thirty-one families who left their country to escape from injustice and human rights violations suffered under the military dictatorship that ruled Chile.]

On Democratic Rights and the Work Ethic

1977 is not that far from 2007

Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.”

1977 was a time when Australia was governed “by four farmers and a sheep” — Bob Hawke.

Early in 2008, the Australian National Archives released the cabinet papers of the Fraser coalition Government of 1977.

In many ways, 1977 was a watershed year for Australian politics, as well as for other countries in the British Commonwealth like Pakistan.

1977 was the year the father of the recently assassinated former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, was executed by the military.

Some other parallels exist between 1977 and 2007:

Don Chipp founded the Australian Democrats and won two senate seats in the 1977 December election. It was the November 2007 election where the Australian Democrats lost their last senate seats held by Andrew Bartlett from Queensland (among others). The liberal democratic party set up to keep governments honest had lasted only 30 years.

After Australia’s Uranium decision (as Fraser called it) Joh Bjelke-Petersen sent out the Queensland police onto the wharves and the streets to make sure opposition to uranium mining and export was stopped. Thus the Fraser Government’s authorisation of uranium mining and export precipitated the longest period of sustained popular revolt in Australian history, the Queensland Street marches of 1977-1979.

Like many others, under Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s street march ban I was arrested as a result of my opposition to uranium mining and export. These arrests occured at both state and federal pre-election rallies in Brisbane in 1977.

I recount the circumstances of one of those arrests. On 24th November 1977 Prime Minister Fraser spoke at a lunch time rally organised by the Queensland Liberal Party in King George Square in Brisbane. He spoke in favour of his government’s policies which included mining and export of uranium.

I was arrested for speaking against these policies and the street march ban on the same platform just a few moments after Fraser had finished speaking. I was thrown into a paddy wagon without being advised of the charges laid against me or the name of the arresting officers.

Seven other people known to me were arrested at the same rally.

I was taken to the South Brisbane watchouse where the desk sergeant advised me that I would be charged with ‘disorderly manner’ and ‘resist arrest’ and placed $80 bail for my release. Four of those people arrested at the rally were bailed out at a total cost of $280 by the Civil Liberties Co-ordinating Committee [CLCC] that had been set up to oppose the street march ban imposed to prevent opposition to uranium mining.

I was no more disorderly at that rally than Prime Minister Fraser nor did I resist arrest. Yet I and the six others were arrested in King George Square that day and he was not.

On 23rd March 1978 appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and pleaded not guilty to the charges laid against me. I subpoened TV footage of my arrest shot by an ABC camera-person. His film showed that I had merely addressed the crowd and had been no more ‘disorderly’ than Fraser. The ABC opposed the production of the footage of my arrest. Theit business was news not appearing in court on democractic rights charges. Nevertheless, a nervous ABC camera-man gave evidence of what he saw that day.

I was acquitted on both charges.

Unfortunately the others arrested on that day did not contest the charges laid against them and were all convicted in their absence and their bail was forfeited. It was not uncommon for the CLCC defence fund to pay out up to $30,000 in bail at right-to-march rallies during this period.

1977 Cabinet papers reveal that Fraser threatened to use the army if workers and their unions tried to stop uranium exports.

BushTelegraph has put together a retrospective based on the national archives material and an interview with the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.

Malcolm Fraser, who had been minister for the army during the Vietnam war, became Prime Minister after Sir John Kerr sacked the Whitlam Labor government on 11th November 1975.

The Fraser coalition government held power for 8 years until defeated by the Labor party led by Bob Hawke in 1983.

BushTelegraph conducted a candid interview with Mr Fraser by phone at his sheep property, Nareen, in Victoria over the Christmas break of 2007. Fraser’s advice to the Rudd labor government elected in November 2007 was “to work hard and keep the unions in check”. The interview is reproduced below.

BT: Good Morning Mr Fraser, thanks for speaking with BushTelegraph.

Could you give your impression of the first fifty days under the Rudd Labor government?

Malcolm Fraser: I would like to start by saying that for the first two weeks of the Whitlam Labor government, before the full electoral result was known, Whitlam and Barnard formed a two-man ministry, known as a duumvirate, to govern until a full ministry could be announced.

During that time Mr Barnard held 14 portfolios including Defence and Immigration. Barnard was a nice enough chap who held the seat of Bass in Tasmania. Lance Barnard lost the deputy leadership to Dr Jim Cairns and served as Defence Minister. But Mr Barnard was soon put out to pasture by the labor caucus as ambassador to Norway or Sweden or some other social democracy like that. This enabled my government to win the seat of Bass at a bi-election which paved the way for our landslide victory in 1975.

BT: But in those first two weeks, Whitlam and Barnard withdrew troops from Vietnam, arguably the longest period of sustained genocide in the 20th century, ended conscription, announced tertiary education for all that wanted it, foreshadowed equal pay for women, land rights for aborigines in the Northern Territory…

Fraser: But lacked the economic know-how and hard work to back it up. Gough Whitlam liked to make these wide-sweeping declarations and then crack open the champagne – a classic champagne socialist, if a conservative one. Dr Cairns who became Treasurer after Barnard left was even worse than Gough.

Whitlam never made a virtue of hard work. After the Governor General, Sir John Kerr,Governor-General Sir John Kerr with former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies at his home, December 1977. Sir John resigned as Governor-General on 8 December 1977. took away Whitlam’s commission, Gough went and had lunch with advisors before even consulting with his labor senate team about what the government should do in the senate. That gave us, in opposition, the opportunity to obtain support for a double dissolution election and the landslide that followed.

Gough probably had a glass of wine with his steak after being sacked by the Governor General.

Then Gough had the temerity to go out on the steps of parliament and say those words “Well may we say ‘God Save the Queen’, but nothing will save the governor general…”

But then Kerr liked the champagne himself …

BT: Sorry to cut you off, but didn’t your government have a freeze on wages without similar controls put on prices. But I asked you about Rudd.

Malcolm Fraser: Oh, pardon me; I was placing the new Labor government in an historical perspective.

Firstly Mr Rudd obtained a landslide victory over Mr Howard’s government but not as big as mine was over Whitlam.

Mr Rudd will not control the senate in the way my government did.

Mr Rudd has indicated he will wind back refugee policy of the Howard years, re-instate work-for-the-dole in the Northern Territory, and re-employ Dr Haneef in the hospital system.

You see the difference between Gough and Mr Rudd is that the Whitlam government made all these changes in the first two weeks and then sat back for the next three years and let the economy slide into crisis, and allow inflation to break out while having negative growth.

BT: Perhaps I should inform our readers that the Whitlam government introduced a universal health care system [Medibank] in Australia for the first time and began relations with China paving the way for a trading partnership, mainly based on coal and other mineral exports and cheap consumer imports that gave Australia yet another post war capitalist boom in the 1990s and 2000s [the first boom was from 1945-1975].A miner at Peak Downs Coal Mine, Queensland 1977

Nevertheless, Mr fraser, what will Rudd do?

Malcolm Fraser: My prediction for 2008 is that Mr Rudd will make some concessions to the wets and let the country slide into stagflation.

BT: What should Rudd do?

Fraser: Do what I did, keep inflation in check, maintain free tertiary education, accept the boat people after the failure of the war in Vietnam, pardon, I mean in Iraq, maintain universal health care [Medicare], export uranium, and keep a tight reign on the unions by banning secondary boycotts.

Generally speaking, I would advise Mr Rudd to create a better environment for business to flourish.

BT: Is Rudd up to task?

Fraser: That, my friend, is in the lap of the gods.

I did try to keep wages in check with limited success because of the unions, we tolerated student unions but allowed for conscientious objectors to opt out of unions, provided free tertiary education for many, accepted boat people who came to our shores from Vietnam, the communists had taken over there, maintain the US alliance, provide aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory, at the same time open up bauxite and uranium mining and kept the unions in check.

One thing though, Mr Rudd has a far greater work ethic than Gough did which is a good start.

BT: Thank you Mr Fraser.

Next week BushTelegraph will be interviewing Gough Whitlam on the progress of the Rudd Labor Government.

NB: BT acknowledges the National Archives of Australia as BT has reproduced images from their website.

BushTelegraph advises that some material in the cabinet papers is the subject of continuing ASIO classification and was witheld by the national archives for reasons of ‘national security.

Ian Curr
3 January 2008

Resources: Courier Mail article “Bjelke-Petersen Law unto himself

Joe Strummer Memoriam

by Ciaron O’Reilly

Joe Strummer died on Dec. 22nd. 2002.

This is how a few people in London celebrated his memory last night.
Feel free to post your own memoriam as a comment on this link
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85601

Well as memorials go it was a little weird. They meant well but probably tried to do too much at this time, in this venue.

On the eve of the 5th.anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death, the crew from Philosophy Football www.philosophyfootball.com hosted a memorial effort entitled “Clash Culture Christmas Party” in the Offisde Pub near the Angel (London).

It wasn’t anything like the memorial I went to in NYC following the death of Abbie Hoffman in ’89. That one seemed to have a lot more folks present who knew the departed personally. It was addressed by Abbie’s activist cohorts historian Howard Zinn, beat poet Alan Ginsberg and the now late Norman Mailer. Aaron Keyes the Yippie who pioneered by pie throwing in the ’70’s wandered the bar.

Hard to combine a memorial with the “end of the week/end of the year” Christmas Party vibe – but they tried their damnedest with this eclectic mix of remembering, celebrating, film launch, panel analysis and “Attila the Stockbroker” in full punk poetic throttle.

I guess I’ve always had the impression that the left in general don’t do death too well. It can’t be an English thang (even though the MC at one point said “if you know Joe he wouldn’t want this to be a wake…obviously this guy hadn’t been to an Irish, or even an Australian, wake). A few years ago, I went to a wonderful London wake for anarchist pacifist printer and jailbreak maestro Pat Brian Pottle at Conway Hall years ago.

It was a great movement gathering, MC’d by his twin Brian Pat Pottle. The highlight was when a well dressed wide boy rose from the crowd of aging folkies and hippies. He was the son of failed Soviet spy, successful prisoner escapee Geroge Blake. He thanked Brian’s family and Michael Randel and the Irish ODC Sean Bourke who broke his dad outta jail
http://libcom.org/history/articles/blake-prison-escape-…1966/

He remarked how much nicer it is to be able to visit his dad in Moscow rather than Wormwood Scrubs.

Anyways I digress, back to the Joe Strummer Memorial night. I walked toward the Angel along the canel from Dalston. It was atmospheric, misty and a little tense (I dunno, call me paranoid but I’m always worried in London that someone or three are going to rush and push me into the canel or onto the tube line). I was striding pretty fast. I began to overtake an old guy with his shopping. As I approached from behind, I thought I’d put him at ease

“Cold isn’t it?” , I remarked.
“That’s for sure!”, he replied in an Irish accent.
“Where you from?”
“Galway, been here since ’75!”

So over the next 500 metres we discussed the war of independence, the civil war and he’s work with the local St. Vinnies!”

Met up with my mate at the Angel tube. Got to the Offside Bar way before kick off. The new Clash -shirts were pretty spiffy and ya got a £6 discount on the shirts with your entry ticket so whey hey. Bought a “Joe Strummer Whiteman in Hamersmith Pali ” t-shirt for a mate, bought a “Don’t wanna know what the rich are doin‘” one as a Chrissie present for myself (hey charity begins at home!)

Check out www.philosophyfootball.com if you’re running out of gift ideas

An eclectic mix began to gather in the bar. We took a chair at the reserved table for the “Red Pepper” ‘zine crew., who arrived in dribs and drabs until we had to give up our seats. The founder of “Class War” rocked up, Searchlight and UNISON crews. Some folks who must have been born after “The Clash” released their first album, some folks who were at the first Clash gigs. Crowd was mostly male, well it was a lefty footie fan kind of gig.

Proceedings were kicked off by Philospophy Football MC talking about the influence of Joe Strummer. I first saw Strummer and “The Clash” at the Cloudland Ballroom in Brisbane (Australia) in ’82. It was a few months before Brisbane hosted the “Commonwealth Games” (I had bought that t-shirt at the time and scrawled “Celebration of British Imperialism” in marker pen over it).

Our authroitarian Queensland state government had introduced special legislation to counter planned Aboriginal land rights demonstrations at the Games, they rearmed the cops with the latest designer batons (tried and tested in NZ/Aotearoa during the racist Sprinkbox Rugby tour the year before), there was a heavy police presence that night. Either Strummer or someone in the crowd coined the phrase “Pig City” which went on to become the title of a Briz anarchist cult hit single, later a book about that music scene and this past year are state funded celebration of the music of those times. Go figure! http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85337

Like Billy Bragg, Joe was always good at finding out what was happening locally and dragging some rad on to the stage to give a political rap while the band provided a background instrumental.

That night, local aboriginal activist, Bob Weatherall (this must rate alongside “Lawless” as one of the best surnames for an activist!) took to the stage.

Bob performed a traditional dance as “The Clash” thumped out the beat.

Weatherall stopped dancing and roared out his call to the streets and soldiarity with the aboriginal struggle. A few months later, many of us gathered at The Clash gig were in paddy wagons headed for the watchhouse as the Commonwealth Games ’82 unfolded.

The Games and the demand for indigeneous land rights were being broadcast around the world by the assembled international media.

I last saw Joe Strummer with the Mescaleros at the Brixton Academy a few months before he died.

He was brilliant.

The last time Joe played, and the first time Mick Jones joined him on stage in 20 years, was a benefit gig for the Fire Brigades Union in London, November 02.

The gig was five weeks before he died. So the next thing on the agenda at the Offside Bar was the launch of the film “The Last Night London Burned” dealing with that gig and the strike.

Good flick, a must have, but funds were running low due to my formentioned t-shirt fetish and my principle of “you should always buy stuff by people who do benefit gigs for you!”, so the Mark Thomas DVD had set me back £14 and another £2 for the must have “I put Gordon Brown in the Dock” badge.

When the film finished the MC and another guy spoke a bit too long – although they missed Joe and were sincere in what they were saying – the MC then departed on what looked to me like being high risk strategy by holding a panel. This was a bar, it was Christmas, the end of the week, the end of the year for Chrissake….but the noise levels weren’t too bad and it was interesting alrighty.

There was a Glasgow strike organiser from the Fire Brigades Union whose early politicisation was accelerated by “The Clash”. There was a punk Professor Man.City supporter who made some good points about the differences between the punk scene in London and northern England.

There was 1970’s music journo and early manager of “The Clash”, Caroline Coon who I could have listened to for ages if I was in a more sober state. Mark Thomas, AFC Wimbledon fan, was the last to speak from the panel. Initially thrown by the MC outting Mark’s three primary inspirations as the Bible, Bertloch Becht and Joe Strummer.

Dealing with the bible remark in front of his fellow agnostics, Mark regained his stride quickly and moved the night from being a “Joe Strummer Memorial: Nostalgia as Mild Form of Depression” to “Joe Strummer as a Dissident Memory: An Inspiration For These Times” kinda night. Mark talked about how Brecht, Strummer and the arts in general can change your perception on the world.

He then fast forwarded into his present campaign around free speech in Parliament Square. He spoke of his recent legal initiative to charge P.M. Gordon Bown and Nelson Mendela with failure to apply for a police permit for their recent illegal gathering while unveilling the Mendela statue in Parliament Square. That’s where my £2 for the badge was going…….
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2226425,00.html

Before the former Clash tour DJ, Scratchy Myers, took the decks and we danced the night away, Brighton FC fan (and apparently the Brighton FC stadium announcer) “Attila the Stockbroker” http://www.attilathestockbroker.com/ tuned his mandolin and injected anger, energy and football references into the gathering.

Apparently Attila was really a stockbroker for 9 months way back then, when someone said he had the ehtics of “Attila the Hun” and the anarcho poet legend was born. He ditched the day job and went on the road for the next 26+ years. Atilla got a little pissed off with the pub punter noise level…but hey this was a bar, the end of the week the end of the year, Christmas but he was more than a match for the crowd (was probably a tactical error on his part to piss of the only Crystal Palace fan in the audience by reading prose about their 9-0 away defeat to Liverpool sometime in the ’80’s).

Hell hath no fury like a Palace fan scorned and this guy wouldn’t shut up….. “Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace………”
ad nauseum haunted the rest of his set.

Like many in the room Attila was deeply moved by Joe Strummer and saddened by his departure………….

In Memoriam:

COMMANDANTE JOE

I guess in quite a lot of ways I grew up just like you
A bolshy kid who didn’t think the way they told him to
You kicked over the statues, a roots rock rebel star
Who knew that punk was more than just the sound of a guitar


And I’ll always remember that night at the Rainbow
When you wrote a soundtrack for my life, Commandante Joe.
So many bands back then were like too many bands today
A bunch of blokes who made a noise with bugger all to say


The Clash were always out in front, you put the rest to shame
Your words were calls to action, your music was a flame
You were our common Dante, and you raised an inferno
And you wrote a soundtrack for my life, Commandante Joe.


Reggae in the Palais Midnight till six!
Rockin’ Reds in Brockwell Park!
Sten guns in Knightsbridge!
Up and down the Westway


In and out the lights!
Clash City Rockers!
Know Your Rights!
I guess in quite a lot of ways I grew up just like you


A bolshy kid who didn’t think the way they told him to
Like you I always knew that words and music held the key
As you did for so many, you showed the way to me
Although I never met you, I’m so sad to see you go


‘Cos you wrote a soundtrack for my life, Commandante Joe.

by Atilla the Stockbroker

Ciaron O’Reilly
22 December 2007

1917 Conscription Referendum and its lessons for today

RSVP by the Friday 14th December for catering reasons

annette brownlie 3328 8459, 0431 597 265 annettebrownlie@optusnet.com.au

Australian Invasion

IT didn’t take very long for the ALP’s brand new halo to slip.

Julia Gillard has used her new position of power to align herself with John Howard’s anti-black-armband revisionists and declare that this nation was in fact settled and not invaded.

Allow me to point out to the newly installed Education Minister that genuine and duly qualified historians believe that a nation can only come into possession of occupied land by three means. Number one is by treaty, number two by mutual consent and, third, by armed and hostile invasion to conquer the existing owners and take the land by force.

To this day, I have never sighted a treaty and there is no legal instrument that has been countersigned by the Queen of England and the appropriate Aboriginal elders and custodians to acknowledge a peaceful transition. So the truth has to be that this continent was secured for the British crown by an horrific war that was waged against an unarmed and peaceful population that did not have the technology or the blood lust to resist the invading forces.

Gillard needs to accept that until this nation can acknowledge that truth of its past and enshrine that truth in the national record, Australia cannot really go forward.

Sam Watson

Macgregor, Qld

More articles on this issue can be found on BushTelegraph by entering “Invasion Day” in the search box at the top right of the BT webpage and pressing Go!

There’s a cold rain on the Autumn wind
A brother murdered in Sydney Town
Marrickville brother under supposed legal cover
In his home they gunned him down
We say oh oh ooooh
Gunned him down
Sad river of tears
Two hundred years in the river of fear
Gunned him down.

Kev Carmody in “River of Tears” on Eulogy for a black person

Liberate Iraq from democracy’s warriors of spin

pg4-book-thumbnail.jpg

On election night, former Assistant Federal Treasurer and warmonger, Peter Dutton, looked like losing Cheryl Kernot’s old seat of Dickson to a local school teacher, Fiona McNamara, until the masters of spin came out and said that the ALP candidate had conceeded.

Former Defence Minister in the Howard government, Nelson Nobody, could not be drawn on the imbroglio and supports only George Bush.

Meanwhile one of Dutton’s fiercest opponents has published a book about Pine Gap and the Iraq War that Dutton supported so strongly as a member for Dickson.

The book can be downloaded by clicking here pg4-book-bt.pdf

 

2007 Federal Election: Bastards voted out

Little Joy for Workers

“In democracies, sometimes the rulers have to change in order to ensure that things remain the same”

— adapted from The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

Unions were told by the Labor Party that they had to work on a marginal seats campaign to get the ALP in government and thereby change the workplace laws. Unions generally accepted this view.

The Senate

In the book After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet the leftpress collective argues that

this strategy (the electoral solution) demands that the ALP achieves the highly unlikely scenario of winning a majority in both houses, or, more likely, of winning a majority in the House of Representatives and getting compliance from smaller parties in the Senate. However, getting candidates elected is not guaranteed and even if a candidate gets into parliament there are many other issues in the parliamentary system competing for the attention of parliamentarians.

The provisional result in the senate is:

Coalition 37
ALP 32
Greens 5
Family First 1
Nick Xenophon 1

As predicted in After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet the ALP will not control the senate and on many anti-worker, anti-union issues like WorkChoices.
The senate will remain hostile to any legislative changes favourable to workers and their unions. [See Liberal senators in bid to block repeal of IR law]

The Greens

Some workers looked to the Greens as a possible means of easing the workplace laws because the Greens had better Industrial Relations policy than Labor.

However the Greens will not have the balance of power in the Senate. One scenario is that a vote to replace WorkChoices would leave Labor and Greens deadlocked with the coalition 37 votes to 36 votes with Family First and Nick Xenophon (no-poker machine lobby) with the casting votes.

The big gain for the Greens was in Tasmania (two seats in the senate) and South Australia (one senate seat) with some gains in Victoria (falling short winning a senate seat). See http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/results/senate/vic.htm for the final tally after preferences.

In Queensland, the Greens, once again, did not do well in the Senate getting only half a quota (7%) before preferences.

However, in the house of Reps, the Greens did well in inner city Brisbane seats where there are now a lot of public servants and other white collar workers who vote Green.

The Greens seem unable to capture the blue collar working class vote, which in this election just went back to Labor.

The Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Equality Party did poorly again polling less than 2% of the vote in seats contested. Of the socialists contesting the senate, Sam Watson in Queensland got the best result for the Socialist Alliance in the senate (he got a meager 1,584 votes or 0.08% of the vote).

Analysis

At the national level, this means the ALP will face a hostile senate when it tries to get its minor reforms to WorkChoices through the parliament.

Yet people worldwide are starting to turn away from privatisation by governments. They wish to return services like health, education, transport and telecommunications to public ownership.

That is, people are moving away from the neo-conservative experiment of the past 20 years. This seems lost on ALP governments throughout Australia, governments that are privatising public resources like electricity industry in NSW. [See Electricity sell-off a surge to the bottom line]

The last major privatisation in Australia was the sale of Telstra, yet what did people get from the sale of Telstra?

A failed company with a hopeless mob running it and taking away $20 million each per annum in salaries.

At the same time, call centre workers at Telstra have been committing suicide because of the bad conditions. See the article in BushTelegraph: No Action on Worker Suicides at Telstra

This trend away from private ownership in the minds of workers (see strikes in opposition to power privatisation in NSW) is still minor but there is some chance it may spread.

Meanwhile rising Labor star, Kevin Rudd (PPP*) once said:

We (the Labor Party) are the genuine inheritors of the [Adam] Smithian tradition [of modern-day capitalism].

We accept price. We accept markets. We accept the legitimate pursuit of self-interest.”

From After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet. @ http://wpos.wordpress.com/

For more in depth discussion of the unions situation post election 07 see After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet.

* Coined termed by veteran SMH journo Alan Ramsey. PPP = ‘prissy, precious, prick’

Gallery

Vale Bryan Law

This gallery contains 3 photos.

“Can’t add my name into the fight while I’m gone So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone And I can’t question how or when or … Continue reading

Workers’ political organisations

After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet has discussed the broad trends in the Australian labour movement within a context of dwindling socialist ideas and organisations. We have argued that the historic mission of the Australian Labor Party has been the modernising of capitalism in moments of crisis, and subsumed workers’ interests into the so-called national interest, thus thwarting attempts to achieve socialism, specifically worker control of production.

We have shown how the ALP-style approach has been used by the union leadership to manage class conflict. The net outcome, we argue is a gradual slide in workers’ conditions and a retreat from the socialist aspirations once held as a fundamental tenet by workers’ organisations. Alternative approaches to workers’ struggle were also discussed, with historic examples provided, showing that on occasions when alternative approaches were adopted, far from being utopian, they delivered better outcomes for workers and contributed to the developing strength of the trade union movement in the early and middle years of the twentieth century. Yet the organisations of that period carried their own weaknesses, which were later exploited by a class determined to roll back any advance that the working class had made, in order to maintain their wealth and power.

So, where to from here?

For those who maintain their socialist aspirations the challenge seems daunting. The demise of the Communist Party of Australia, and the shift of those who had been active in the New Left into ‘issue politics’ meant that there are no organised formations of the political left that have any significant leverage within the organised workers’ movement. Those with an uncompromising class perspective have been pushed to the extreme margins of workers’ struggle.

A generational shift has compounded the problem. Many of those militant unionists who cut their teeth in struggles of a previous epoch retired, and became increasingly out of touch with the day-to-day state of the working class. Younger militants joined environmental organisations and fought for peace and the rights of refugees, but strangely kept their distance from union organisation. There was no counterweight to those individuals from Labor families who sought personal gain and advancement through the union movement, convinced of their own working class credentials; they mistakenly viewed their advancement as a legitimate substitute for the advancement of the class as a whole.

With the failure of the radical left to engage seriously with Australian workers and their organisations the Australian union movement, the gap between socialist ideas and unions engaged in day-to-day struggle widened. Unions became part of a romantic narrative that increasingly had taken hold in the left. They took on a distant and elusive character, idealised into a static mythical past, but in their current state seen as a corrupted shadow of their former selves. Yet we have shown that the dynamic within the union movement, between leaders and members, between progressives and conservative elements has characterised the whole history of the movement and that the present is a particular moment in this dynamic relationship. That is to say, the debate to which we have contributed has been going on for well over a century, and will continue to inform working class struggle, with all its ups and downs for some time to come.

In the early years of the twenty-first century the conservative trend within the labour movement has been ameliorated by some militants within the workforce who have taken up the challenge of becoming active within their unions. However they face many hurdles including:

  • the mistrust of fellow unionists who are ALP members, particularly those in the union hierarchy who are deeply involved in ALP machinations, preselections and electioneering, (and intent on containing their members aspirations to a Labor victory);

  • the indifference of fellow workers who are not interested in their politics;

  • the bemusement of other active unionists who try and ignore them (except when they offer useful left cover); and,

  • the lack of rank-and-file structures which allow them to engage directly with workers on the job.

While the prospect for worker organisation is limited, however, out of the contradiction of master and servant (boss/worker) comes conflict. When workers take action to advance their own interests, there is an opportunity to link with other workers engaged in similar industrial disputes. We argue that as the political nature of workers struggle emerges there is a need for new structures or organisation to take workers out of the bureaucratic framework that confines unions today. A new possibility may be realised — workers’ political organisation.

Workers’ political organisations (WPOs) have significant historical precedents in Queensland, inasmuch as they successfully laid the foundation of labour organisation in the early part of the 20th century. For example workers’ political organisations in Rockhampton, Fitzroy and Ipswich were the vehicle for taking workers into the ALP. Similarly the women workers’ political organisation, under the leadership of Emma Miller sought political representation in state and federal parliaments, and the promotion of the interests of women in the body politic. Grass roots organisation leading up to the federal election of December 1903 were aimed at achieving these aims. Their activities included three mock elections, public meetings distribution of leaflets and door-to-door canvassing, and visits to women in factories and workshops.

Subsequently we have seen the formation of many organisations that might be characterised as workers’ political organisations, including strike committees, union support groups and rank-and-file committees. Their role has been critical at times, and less successful at others due to circumstance and their own organisational capacity. While not necessarily consciously related they have had as a common element their focus on grass roots activity, and especially shop-floor organisation.

What would workers’ political organisations look like today? We would not presume to offer formulaic prescriptions but for what it is worth, offer some general guiding principles, which are open to interpretation within a specific context. We would argue that workers’ political organisations:

  • are founded in workplace organisation;

  • are focused on workers themselves achieving their goals without appeals to members of the ruling elite;

  • seek to extend democratic principles throughout their workplace and unions,

  • aim to advance workers interests as a whole, not on a sectional or even national basis;

  • cast aside the dogmatism and narrow discipline of the sect and seek an engagement with workers as human beings, not on a one-dimensional ideological basis.

  • should ignore zealots, and be wary of agent provocateurs and adventurists;

  • strive for unity between workers, organisers and officials of their unions. Their argument is with the boss and their lackeys;

  • are based upon the aspirations of workers to socialism, the abolition of private property and worker control of production.

There may be other options to tackle the entrenched dominance by the captains of industry, the global moghuls and their business empires, who have for centuries inflicted misery, wars and mind-numbing propaganda on the working class. We are hopeful that this book will move the debate into a space from where can examine all options that will help build organisations that effectively challenge the capitalist might, and usher in a truly human age.

They are cutting down our trees

In Camp Hill, inner city Brisbane, on 12 November 2007, they are cutting down our trees.

I

asked if I could take this photo. The tree lopper told me to make sure I took the photo on his best side. He said that the trees make a mess in this neighbour’s yard and that both trees that stand over 40 feet high are to come down.

One neighbour said that she felt sick.

One of the Kookaburras (pictured watching the destruction) lives in the trees and comes and visits her back verandah.

The neighbour said: “I suppose there is nothing we can do about it, pardon me I think I can hear my phone ringing.”

I asked her later if she knew.

She said: “No, I am sorry but I have to go to work”

Another neighbour said that many years ago there were no trees and that they could see the kids walking home from nearby Coorparoo State school.milne-lane.jpgfryar-st-backyards.jpg

Our backyards do not have to be destroyed. Just look here at the beautiful vegetable garden of one of my neighbours.

Saving Mary

SAVE THE MARY RIVER

What are the real costs of the proposed Traveston Crossing dam?

Two information evenings are scheduled to make common cause between the people of Brisbane and the residents of the Mary Valley. Come along and find out the reasons why the proposed Traveston Crossing Dam on the Mary River is not in the best interests of the people of Brisbane or those of the Mary Valley.

SAVING MARY EVENINGS

1. Brisbane Workers Community Centre – 2 LaTrobe Tce, Paddington (enter from Given Tce) Thursday December 6. Meet at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

2. Ahimsa House – 26 Horan Street West End on

Tuesday December 11. Meet 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

  • Come along and see footage of the scenery and location.
  • Meet affected residents from the Mary Valley.

Find out

  • Why the Traveston Crossing Dam Project on the Mary River will not solve Brisbane’s water shortage.
  • Why the construction of a dam at Traveston Crossing could jeopardize Brisbane’s future food security.
  • Why the long-term financial consequences could be extremely costly to Queensland’s tax-payers
  • How the project would lead to the irreparable damage to an area of outstanding biodiversity value.

Watch a PowerPoint presentation and have the opportunity for discussion.

Find out how you can help. Please tell your friends!!! Gold coin donation entry. Details: Zela 54829831

*******

 

Dear friends and sisters of Mary,For some time I have believed that we should resist the kinds of stereotypes which are often bandied about by government and media which portray city people as careless consumers while the people of the Mary Valley as too small-minded to make a sacrifice for the greater good. Both rural and urban dwellers must act together to save the Mary Valley, because the sad fact is that any sacrifice made by the people of the Mary Valley would not be for the greater good, as is illustrated by the following considerations.

1. Food security is looming large for Queensland at the moment, with a string of news items concerned with reduced grain forecasts, Murray-Darling irrigators received little or no water and drought claiming vegetable production in the Lockyer Valley appearing in the press. It seems short-sighted in the extreme for the State government to be inundating close to 9000 hectares of good quality agricultural land just 2 hours north of Brisbane..

2. The University of Sydney’s report into water options for South East Queensland, commissioned by a council of 10 mayors from affected shires, found that the water needs could be supplied by an array of options, including recycling, demand management strategies, waste reduction etc. Productive farmland cannot be produced by other measures.

3. Financial costs are spiraling.

The most useful description of cost is one that takes into account capital and running costs, and equates them to the amount of water produced. The most detailed study to do this is Stuart White’s study, which costs Mary Valley water from the Traveston Crossing proposal at more than $3 per kilolitre delivered to Brisbane. This is very expensive water. Desalinated water costed in the same way comes out to less than $2.50 per kilolitre.

4. The amounts of money being spent on the Murray-Darling River System in the last decade are staggering. Malcolm Turnbull has been throwing around figures of another $10 billion. And still we hear that farmers are being allowed only a small fraction of their former water quota. This tells us that damage done to catchments is not just costly to repair, but may be impossible. The cost of building Traveston with all its technical problems, would impoverish us: the cost of undoing it may ruin us. And the downstream loss of production and likely salinisation has not even been factored into the equation. Downstream from Traveston is 200 km more river and 5 more towns whose farmers and citizens depend on the Mary.

5. At the recent 10th International River Symposium, Dr Stuart Blanch displayed a map which revealed that the Mary is the only Queensland river left flowing east to the sea which has not been reduced to a series of stepped lakes by impoundments. And it is no co-incidence that the Sandy Straits are a fisherman’s paradise compared with previous fishing spots which have been destroyed by the damming of the rivers which formerly flowed out, with their stream of nutrients, to the sea. A great deal of tourist income (estimated at $120 million per year), will be lost if Hervey Bay is degraded.

6. The Mary River is the only habitat of two endemic endangered species, the Mary River turtle and Mary River Cod, and also contains the vulnerable lungfish and southern snapping turtle which although also found in the Burnett river have been seriously impacted upon by massive impoundments on that river. According to the precautionary principle of scientific conservation, we cannot risk a possible disaster to this last refuge for the unique wildlife of SE Qld. At some point, the carrying capacity of the country has to be questioned. We can’t allow unchecked population growth in the South East corner then take the water which nourishes this last free river. Another way must be found.

7. The way the people of the Mary Valley have been treated is just plain wrong. The announcement of the Traveston Crossing Dam proposal was done with no consultation, in contradiction to a recently-completed local area water agreement, and with no pre-feasibility or feasibility studies. The great local knowledge of rural-dwellers with up to 3 generations of occupation was disregarded. Two indigenous groups have been intimidated into signing Land Use Agreements, (one person reported being told that if he did not sign, his group would be excluded from further inclusion in negotiations) with a third group still refusing to sign. The Butchulla people, whose country is downstream (Hervey Bay and Fraser Island) have been excluded from negotiations, on the pretext that no part of the construction will be on their land. However the Butchulla country will suffer the most downstream impacts.

8. It is in the interests of all Queenslanders to ensure that the productive fertile and biodiverse Mary Valley is not inundated for a highly questionable water scheme. Let’s learn the lessons of the Murray-Darling and preserve the Mary Valley as a foodbowl, eco-tourism destination and wildlife haven only two hours from Brisbane. If we don’t stand up for the farmers and voiceless creatures of the Mary Valley, we also fail to protect our own best interests.

Zela Bissett Convenor, (Sisters of Mary)

Ph 54829831

Mob 0439 130 537

 

Philistines no longer at the gates: final word from QUT lecturer

Video: Laughing at Aborigines? – Tough Questions for QUT…

Dear Friends

This is to notify you that John Hookham and I have reached a settlement with the university. The details of the settlement are confidential but the upshot is that I have resigned from QUT. I had intended to accept the university’s first offer which we had reached as a settlement of the Federal Court proceedings. That settlement awarded me $100,000 dollars in damages plus costs. The findings of the misconduct tribunal conducted by Barry Nutter were also set aside and my suspension was lifted.

I wished in those circumstances to fulfill my promise to my students to return to work. However on Friday afternoon when John Hookham and I went back to Kelvin Grove Campus to get some personal belongings, we were refused entry. In what was the ugliest scene of my professional career a young post graduate student slammed the door against me. Fortunately I was not injured. I am 65 years old. I have a bad back and am being treated for a serious heart condition. The young man who endeavored to ram the door against me was not alive when I began to teach at Kelvin Grove Campus. I wish to say that my career at QUT spans four decades. I have worked for principals and directors who never agreed with my politics and who no doubt regarded me as a nuisance. But to be fair to them they respected my right to dissent. Moreover they would never have tolerated the kind of vigilantism that I was subjected to on Friday.

I hold no enmity against the post graduate student who attacked me, but his actions brought home very forcibly to me that I was not safe at QUT and accordingly I yielded to the urgings of my doctors and my lawyers and I resigned.

I wish now to thank you for your support. I and my family have endured dark hours in this struggle. At times it looked like John and I would be crushed and driven into penury. But thanks to your help and the courage and tenacity of my wonderful and brilliant lawyers Stephen Kerin and Susan Moriarty, I and John have survived. I thank you all again from my heart.

It is a terrible thing to pick out a few from the many people who have walked with me through these dark hours. I wish first to name those former colleagues Hugh Childers, Noel Preston, John Bisset, Merv Welch, Graham Bruce and Nea Stewart-Dore. The warmth of their support was a bitter sweet reminder to me of what teaching at QUT used to be like. In this context I wish to mention my personal and professional debt to the late Basil Shaw, Ken Leask and Clem Young. They were great educators, whose example and spirit were always with me in the decades that I have worked at QUT. From them I learned that any leadership in education which is not based on ethics and morality will be as nothing.

I cannot name all those current staff and students at QUT who have given me support for obvious reasons. But I can and will express my deepest thanks to Alan Jones from 2GB. He and I are from different ends of the political spectrum, yet when I sought his help he did not hesitate to put my case to his audience. For that decency I can never thank him enough. He will always have my prayers. I also wish to mention my old and honoured friend Mildred Grant whom fate and the powers have given to me as a gift and an inspiration. For over 12 years we have met every Sunday to read our Shakespeare and, when I can prevail upon her, my beloved Dickens. She is now in her tenth decade and is very frail but she has been with me always in the worst times. I wish also to speak of the brave Adrian Strong whose videos on < youtube.com/globaldawning > have documented our struggles and agonies.

I must say a special thanks to those members of the disability community who expressed to me and John their support and thanks. I offer as well a special thanks to my good comrades- Lou Proyect whose Marxism list is a bright light in a dark world; Sam Watson -Indigenous Activist extraordinaire; Ciaron O’Reilly of the Catholic Workers, and Jim McIlroy of the Socialist Alliance.

In addition I give thanks to Brian Laver who has endeavored over the years to explain to me the necessity of speaking truth to power as well as to domination and who did not betray those ideals as he stood by my side in person, with spirit and at court against the might of QUT. I must make mention too of the fearless historian Ross Fitzgerald who spoke out for me and John, though I have been critical to the point of cruelty of him in the past. But he is a good man whose commitment to free speech is non-negotiable and he has acted accordingly, although he appears to have paid a great price for speaking out in support of John and me. To my family in Ireland, America and here in Australia I return fully the love you have given me in such abundance.

I ask you all now to know that I have survived and am well.

Gary MacLennan
Brisbane
1st November 2007

Arise ye workers from ye slumbers!

A New Direction for Unions.

It is interesting (but not surprising) that there have been no calls from unions for a national Your Rights at Work rally during the 2007 Federal Election Camapign. The ALP clearly believe they don’t need union mobilisation to win seats, they prefer to scare people with the prospect of higher interest rates and a reduced work conditions if the federal government is re-elected.

A “Time to GO” rally has been suggested, however it is unlikely to get much support from unions. Take, for example, the recent Australia at the Crossroads rally in Brisbane where only 100 people turned up.

Workers are just waiting for Labor to win.

Meanwhile unions are running scared in the face of well funded campaigns by groups like the National Farmers Federation.

Unions have done little more than support parliamentary reform, there has been no campaign of defiance of the laws, not even a piecemeal one. See “After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet” for analysis of possible union strategies, now and in the future.

Why should workers support rallies that support a Rudd and Gillard victory?

As for the Greens their problems are many:

Where goes a vote for Greens?

Fact: The Greens have better policies than Labor on industrial relations, indigenous affairs, the environment, war and refugees.

Under Greens policies, workers still would have the right to strike, Gunns Pulp Mill would be banned, the Northern Territory (NT) intervention in Aboriginal communities would not have been allowed and African refugees would be welcome.

Neither government nor Labor support these policies.

However, Greens policies will never get passed by any Australian parliament.

The Greens have stated that they intend giving the ALP their preferences in some seats.

The question is: “Has Labor any policies to justify Greens giving them preferences in the 2007 election?”

Since Rudd has been leader of the ALP, Labor has endorsed government policy on banning workers’ right to strike, and supported the Howard government approval of Gunns’ pulp mill in Tasmania.

Last year Rudd refused to criticise the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and has been silent on refugee rights.

Given the extreme wealth of his wife, Rudd is likely to become the richest PM in Australian history i.e. richer even than Malcolm Fraser.

On a matter of principle, why, therefore, do the Greens propose to give Labor their preferences?

The Greens intend giving Labor preferences in marginal seats like Bass, Lyons, Melbourne, Bennelong, Wentworth and Moreton.

Why not give preferences to independents and socialists that reject Labor mimicry of government policies?

Are the Greens to repeat the same mistake they made in the 2004 Federal election? In 2004 the Green’s gave their preferences to the ALP even though Labor supported Family First above the Greens.

Subsequently Family First won the Victorian Senate seat. This right-wing, fundamentalist Christian party had received one tenth of the Green vote. The Green’s Di Natale got over 250,000 votes and Family First’s Fielding go about 20,000 votes. Yet Labor put them above the Greens.

So Family First won solely on Labor preferences. Family First then voted with the government against students right to form unions, against workers’ right to strike, and against working women.

If the Greens repeat the same mistake by giving Labor their preferences in 2007, they will make it easier for the ALP’s pro-business version of WorkChoices and Gunns’ Pulp Mill in Tassie to be approved in the next federal parliament.

Labor’s bi-partisan support of the abolition of Aboriginal Land Rights in the Northern Territory has rescinded the modest reform Whitlam introduced in 1975 when he poured NT dirt into Vincent Lingiari’s hands. Whitlam’s silence on this shows how determined the ALP is to get a right-wing Christian in the Lodge.

Ian Curr
10 October 2007

Water Theft

Comments on Logan Basin Water Resource Plan (‘the plan’) and its effects on North Stradbroke Island.

Water supply in South East Queensland has become a key issue in recent years due to lack of planning to cater for rapid and unsustainable population growth, prolonged drought and drying climate.
I say unsustainable because the best measures of sustainability are ecological ones not economic ones. It is the health of ecosystems that ultimately determine human well being.
 
The most commonly used measure of ecological sustainability is called ecological footprint.
This is a measure of the amount of productive land area including natural habitat that is required to support a given lifestyle. Griffith Uni researcher, Michelle Graymore, estimated this area to be 6.2 ha per capita in 2001, increasing from 4.86ha in 1998.
Clearly, the richer you are, the more resources you use per capita.
The ecologically productive land available globally is estimated at 1.7ha per capita (Weizsacker).
The Queensland Government’s response to lack of water in SE Qld dams has been to ram through a series of infrastructure projects to boost water supply including doubling the extraction of water from North Stradbroke Island.
Picture 1 – Looking out over Moreton Bay from the dune behind Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island (photo: Ian Curr)
I have read the State Governments Logan Basin Water Resource Plan which proposes to expand the Logan basin to the islands in the south of Moreton Bay.In the plan focus has been placed on North Stradbroke Is (NSI) because it is the island with large (known) supply of accessible water. My comments below relate solely to North Stradbroke Is (NSI).The plan states up front that the target is to extract an additional 22ML/d.

This is a fait accompli. Then the Queensland government plans to model the Island’s hydrological system and use an adaptive management strategy to manage the resource given that the model is verified and works. The plan states that it may take up to 2 years to verify the model.

This process puts the cart before the horse.It is at odds with the precautionary principle that a development or a new technology should not be undertaken before the likely consequences are known. Specific comments related to this water plan. There are limitations with the data including:

  • Lack of access to mining company water pumping records to verify data.
  • Significant error band in current estimates eg. p24 – the long term recharge of the aquifer of 400 – 800mm/yr of rainfall
  • Selected use of rainfall data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Eg. 1960 to 1999 rather than the full record including the current drought.

The likely effects of climate change are glossed over. BOM data already shows an east coast receiving about 40 to 50mm less rainfall every 10 years since 1950. Some rainfall data over the past 20 years from The Gap shows a much higher rate of rainfall decline at that location.Tim Flannery in his book, “The Weathermakers” states that complex systems such as climate do not change in a perfect progressive linear way.

Instead they often change abruptly (relatively speaking) as they shift to another set of complex conditions (Flannery, p.83).

Climate data indicates that there appears to have been step changes in the climate in 1976 and 1998. Each of these shifts is likely to change the boundaries of daily weather and so extremes events become more common and more extreme.

Several ecological indicators of this region already tell us to tread carefully. For example, the water quality of Moreton Bay and streams feeding the bay are in decline (refer to Qld. EPA’s Healthy Waterways Ecosystem Report Cards at www.healthywaterways.org).

The plan states that there has been a steady decline in the water table level of NSI (p.29) and that there is a link between water taken from NSI, water table levels and ecosystem health (p.29).

Ecosystems include weather systems and respond as complex systems.ecosystem-collapse.jpg

Graph taken from (Factor Four, Weizsacker p.236)

Weizsacker has demonstrated the effects of acid rain on the health of a North American lake . He shows that pollution added to an environment may have little measurable effect for many years before the ecosystem quite rapidly declines, in this case as the acidity as measured by decreasing pH rapidly started to increase around 1950.

This is an example of a tipping point being reached when complex systems rapidly change to a new set of conditions.Finally there are the limitations of the existing steady state computer model of the NSI hydrological system.

While the current model may be able to closely replicate water levels observed in most NRW bores, the plan lists the limitations of the model with regard to the risk of sea water intrusion. Hence a new model is being built to “simulate water table fluctuations under prolonged wet or dry conditions” (p.25).

Surely the model should be proven before it is used for decision making.Ultimately the debate comes down to what is the sustainable carrying capacity of the SE Queensland region in terms of human population and resource extraction, use and waste generation, before ecosystems go into serious decline and more and more resources have to be imported.

Environmental scientists argue that in the final analysis, populations have to live within the carrying capacity of the Earth and preferably of their regions.

We have already exceeded globally the available arable land area per person. (Nielsen, p. 239) as the population continues to explode at 80 million per year (Nielsen, p.19).

According to Graymore, for SE Queensland with the current per capita resource consumption (not just water), the overall sustainable carrying capacity is about 362,000 people.

Many resources can be imported but not necessarily sustainably.Desalination, bringing large icebergs of fresh water from Antarctica, or piping water from the far north are all offered as solutions to SE Queensland’s water problems.

These solutions could in the longer term minimise the necessity to extract more water from North Stradbroke Island.

All these proposals are energy intensive, expensive and may lead to further complex environmental problems eg. changing the salinity of the oceans.

In an economic system based on a fictional belief in infinite resources and waste sinks, exponential growth of population, resource consumption and waste generation, the ocean will simply be treated as an infinite resource and waste depository.

I doubt if these simplistic fixes are ecologically sustainable.In my opinion, the long term solution lies in learning to live within the ecological limits of a region including its fresh water supply.

This limit is set by our catchment area, allowing for ecological flows to maintain natural habitat. We seem to be hell bent on exceeding this limit.Trevor Berrill September, 2007.

References

Flannery, T. (2005). The Weather Makers. Text Publishing Ltd.Graymore, M. (2001).

The Ecological Footprint of SEQ 2000-01. Coastal CRC, Griffith Uni.Weizsacker et al (1997).

Factor 4: Doubling wealth – halving resource use. Club of Rome.

Words of Mass Deception by the Maniacs of Spin

The Pine Gap Spy Basenew-picture.jpg
Given the rulings by the Judge Sally Thomas in the Pine Gap Four pre-trial to protect the Defence Minister decaring places like Pine Gap prohibited under the Defence Special Undertakings Act (1952), the PG4 defence team should advance another (yet to be tested argument) concerning the DSU Act 1952.

Put simply, the argument I am talking about is that the special defence undertaking outlined in the government gazettal of Pine Gap in 1967 is a lie.

This lie is no different really to the lie about there being WMDs in Iraq or that the invasion of Iraq was intended to bring democracy to that country.

Subsequent events confirm such lies … sooner or later.

Only one example is necessary:

George W Bush, speaking from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, told the world that the Americans had had a great victory in Iraq and the war was over. Bush said, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq the United States and our allies have prevailed and now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”

In the past week (15-21 October 2006) it has become clear that the current Australian government is being hurt politically by these lies.

The Australian Government now concedes that the exit from Iraq does not depend on reconstruction. Nor upon “democracy” being installed in Baghdad.

The American president is now claiming that the Iraqis have mounted a Tet-style offensive against the coalition of the willing. Foreign Editor of the Weekend Australian, Greg Sheridan eagerly interprets Bush:

This is what President George W.Bush meant … that the present spike in violence in Iraq may be analogous to the Tet offensive in Vietnam in 1968.”

Is Sheridan actually saying that the architect of the Tet offensive, General Giap, has emerged from retirement (or resurrected from the dead) as shining beacon for ‘Jihadists using lessons of Tet‘ to lead the insurgency in Iraq? Sheridan gets worse.

In the same article he now says:

They (the US public) doubt whether there is a coherent and effective plan (by the US administration).”

I’ll bet Sheridan was not saying this a year ago; he may not have been saying it two weeks ago.

A conservative Australia with a reactionary judiciary and a biased press, along with the numerical lack of Australian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, have prevented recent revelations such as the ones in the book “The Weapons Detective” from doing more damage to the government.

To quote a barrister commenting on the PG4 case:

To prove the case against the accused (the PG4) it is necessary to establish each element of the offence, including that the conduct complained of occurred in a prohibited area. I would have thought the onus on the Crown to establish that the conduct occurred in a prohibited area, requiring (the Crown) to show a nexus between the property in question and the gazetted undertaking would have provided a means to raise the issue of whether the gazetted undertaking (space research) existed at all.”

Even if the defence lawyer had argued this in her pre-trial address to the judge that should not be the end of it. There should be a challenge against the judge (Sally Thomas) on the basis of prejudice and bias shown at pre-trial and the fact that she was a Lt. Col. in the Army Cadets.

This judge has been educated to accept the lie upon which Pine Gap was founded.

The defence should take every opportunity they can to highlight that the gazetted undertaking by the government through its defence minister, Fairhall, in 1967 was a lie.cmap-bldg-at-pine-gap-on-5-december-2005.jpg

It is this lie that the PG4, by their actions, have tried to reveal.

As we know, Pine Gap is not now and never has been a space research facility. The Crown and its witnesses should be strongly challenged about this. Evidence that the 1967 gazettal of Pine Gap as a space research facility was used as a cover for its real purpose should be advanced by the defence.

A CIA operative admitted this to Bob Plastowe in 1986 on the documentary “Inside Pine Gap“.

There are other witnesses who can give evidence of this lie by the American Defence Department.barton13506_narrowweb__300×4722.jpg

One is Rod Barton (pictured here), the author of the book “The Weapons Detective” (Black Inc. Agenda).

Bob Plastowe’s 1986 TV report “Inside Pine Gap” should be viewed by the jury. In particular, the defence lawyer(s) should shown the interview with the CIA operative admitting that the US has lied about activities at Pine Gap in the first few minutes of this report.

How and at what point this argument is run is up to the defence team.

My view is that this argument should made to the jury before the close of the crown case (in other words, the allegations made in the report should be put to relevant crown witnesses) and also should be a focus for cross-examination of these same crown witnesses.

The maniacs of the Right, whether they write for newspapers, make speeches in parliament, or give judgements in court will be found out in the end; whether it will be in time to prevent the PG4 from paying a high price for their idealism remains to be seen.

Ian Curr

October, 2006