Called, "DiEM TV: Another Now with Yanis Varoufakis," this, one of several Varoufakis videos, focuses on how to break up Amazon dot com - but then passes on to how to break up the feudal world order. Varoufakis has unique experience of the global financial-political system, and so he does a good analysis of Amazon's engulfment of the real world and of feudal capitalism. Most interesting is his advice on how to break this behemoth down to size via Lilleputian-style exploitation of the financial system. Part of the video involves Varoufarkis reading from a novel he recently published about a global-democratic revolution after the 2008 financial collapse, Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present. You may or may not hold Varoufakis's communistic value solutions, but his methodology could also play out with many different new kinds of polities. I enjoyed this mixture of Socratic style and Swiftian analogies. You may wonder at his aiming ammunition at Amazon dot com, when his books sell there, but he says his publishers choose to market them there. This does not detract from his analysis. You may also wonder about his understanding of alternative energy resource-limits, but that also should not prevent you from learning from this analysis. Video inside article.
Will governments buy back vital resources and essential services from the embattled private sector, or will they allow the wealthy to pick up resources and monopolies cheaply, pressing the unemployed and endebted into slave-like conditions? Can we adapt to or avoid a future that appears to hold more and worse pandemics? If COVID-19 is a pandemic designed for elite purposes to cull the aged and weak, why have some governments tried to protect their vulnerable populations? We have obviously become too economically dependent on the model of continuous accelerated growth in human numbers and human activities globally to be able to protect ourselves from the pandemics that come with this economic model. At the same time the long-predicted oil-resources breakdown in supply is looming. Can any good come of this? Is this an opportunity?
There are many reasons why a return to normality after COVID-19 is unlikely.
The underlying reason is the world-trend to a rapidly increasing incidence of serious new cross-species viral diseases (zoonoses). The most likely to produce epidemics and pandemics are those coming from large populations of domestic animals raised in intensive farming. Where once a zoonose would probably kill a novel host before the virus got a chance to jump to another individual, our new tendency to put livestock together in vast dense populations, along with our increasing tendency to live in vast dense populations ourselves, means that viruses can find multiple hosts to replicate in before their first host dies. Because we have no specific immune defenses against new zoonose viruses, they are much more likely to infect and kill us than longstanding human diseases.
The embedded video below, Flu Factories, gives a graph between 1951 and 2006, showing that international progression of avian flus (among the most dangerous sources of zoonoses shared between pigs and birds), began building up with the institution of ever larger factory farms around the 1980s, and skyrocketed from the beginning of the 21st century.
It quotes a summary of the components of risk:
"- Increased demand for poultry products.-
- Increase in commercial peri-urban production.
- Increase in size of susceptible bird population in interface between extensive and intensive production.
- Increase in pathogenic virulence.
- Enhanced exposure in human population.
- Emergence of human pathogen.
- Human-to-human transmission pattern."
Dangerous divide between veterinary and human health sectors
Writing of the east in 2014, the World Health Organisation notes
"[The lack of] collaboration between the animal and human health sectors under the concept of “One Health” approach, which links the human with the animal health sector integrating the animal and human disease surveillance and response system that could, otherwise have helped controlling the zoonotic infections in animal reservoirs, enable early outbreak detection, and prevent deadly epidemics and pandemics." [Source: World Health Organisation: http://www.emro.who.int/fr/about-who/rc61/zoonotic-diseases.html 
This collaborative failure was and is also a major problem in the west, which, in the problem of COVID-19 control, amounts to a failure of communication in the context of dissimilar paradigms between the economic sector and the health sector. So, we have health professionals urging quarantine and business urging abandon of quarantine. We have obviously become too economically dependent on the model of continuous accelerated growth in human numbers and human activities globally to be able to protect ourselves from the pandemics that come with this economic model.
We could mitigate some of the risk within the current system
The above-cited World Health Organisation article http://www.emro.who.int/fr/about-who/rc61/zoonotic-diseases.html, which has a number of useful recommendations, correctly suggests that practising barrier nursing for all hospital patients would probably avoid almost all epidemics. Unfortunately, after antibiotics became widely available in the second half of the 20th century, hospitals all over the world became increasingly casual about infection control.
And we could return to reusable and locally produced hospital equipment: Post 1970s, with growing reliance on plastics and paper disposables, hospitals reduced their independent options by abandoning much in-house sterilisation of reusable instruments along with the laundering of reusable gowns, masks, and other protective equipment. As we know, the reliance on cheap imported sources for disposable equipment and tools has defined 21st century inadequacy in the management of COVID-19.
If we return to business as usual, however, with factory farming, clearing of wilderness, dense human populations, mass people movement internationally, and international trade, especially in animals and plants and their products, we will continue to experience pandemics. Some will have much higher fatality than COVID-19.
Politics of the current pandemic
The current pandemic is like a test of our social and political resilience, as well as our immune resilience, and its management presents something of an economic and moral puzzle, because of COVID-19's tendency to cull the weak and elderly - those people we have been taught by popular economic rationalism to blame all our woes on. (See /taxonomy/term/265 and /taxonomy/term/393.)
Whilst COVID-19 might look like a pandemic specially engineered on order from economic growth lobbyists who scapegoat the elderly and infirm, whilst encouraging mass migration of younger, haler, more fertile, cohorts, deemed economically more productive, this may only be coincidence.
Britain, Sweden and the United States have behaved more in tune with such economic ideologies, throwing their populations to the wolves, with cries of 'herd immunity'. Some governments, however, actually seem keen to avoid this opportunity of culling the elderly and infirm, when they have previously been so disparaging and cruel towards them. Australia and New Zealand are examples of such countries. What could explain this apparent humanity among an elite composed of economic rationalists, who generally only value their populace on condition of high productivity? Did politicians' wives, mothers, and fathers, get to them? Or is it because most at the top of government, political parties and corporations, and armies, are old themselves? Is it about the look of it, the desire to avoid mass graves and piles of cardboard coffins, US and Brazil-style? Is it about avoiding a glut of cheap housing and plunging property prices? Is it about avoiding total collapse of the hospital system, when surely they could have sequestered parts for themselves? Is it about avoiding economic collapse of old-age care businesses? Is it about currying favour with the elderly voter cohort? Is it about an exercise in preparing for the next worse epidemic? Is it about fear that the public will revolt at the prospect of their elders drowning in putrefacted lungs? Is it about shock at the prospect of shiny economic principles besmirched by medieval suffering and dirt?
It is certainly hard to figure out. Maybe what happened was that the pandemic took the mainstream press by surprise, and what we got, for a change, was a spontaneous response by the usually pre-programmed journalists. The elites, who are normally spoon-fed by the mainstream press, and protected from realising how angry some voters are, were panicked at the idea of popular rage. Usually they are protected from our perrenial rage at housing prices, homelessness, and rotten wars, because it is rarely reported and we have no independent public talking stick and means of assembly, so are unable to organise beyond indignation and that indignation is largely impotent because invisible to the political class. I take the near collapse of the anti-war movement as my model in this, since it appears to have been related to the mainstream press having simply stopped reporting on anti-war protests after the last big world protest against the Iraq war. Whilst I would like to believe that the alternative press can take care of reporting, it does seem that the mainstream still dictates the propaganda, hence what the elite politicians react to.
So, did politicians in Australia and New Zealand react to protect their vulnerable populations simply because they were afraid of public indignation? (All the while preaching against the use of protective face-masks.)
Or did the mainstream press jump at the opportunity to sow economic panic, so that media moguls and their friends could buy up assets and businesses cheap? And the politicians fell in with this plan under pressure to avoid public indignation about plague.
An engineered virus commissioned by elites?
There is little evidence to suggest that this virus was engineered, but a not insignificant number of people believe that elites would do so. After all, elites maintain massive military machines that design biological warfare, and constantly engineer the most brutal wars-for-profit in what has become the biggest game in town. But why would they or anyone need to commission a zoonose flu, when we have so many new zoonoses coming on board at faster and faster rates, from massive factory farms, and from the bush, as human population expands into what remains of forests and wildernesses, displacing exotic animals, and sucking the last endogamous and sedentary tribes into the vast human homogeneity hopper?
"During the past decades, many previously unknown human infectious diseases have emerged from animal reservoirs, from agents such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Ebola virus, West Nile virus, Nipah virus and Hanta virus. In fact, more than three quarters of the human diseases that are new, emerging or re-emerging at the beginning of the 21st century are caused by pathogens originating from animals or from products of animal origin. A wide variety of animal species, domesticated, peridomesticated and wild, can act as reservoirs for these pathogens, which may be viruses, bacteria, parasites or prions. Considering the wide variety of animal species involved and the often complex natural history of the pathogens concerned, effective surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic diseases pose a real
challenge to public health." [Source: "Report of the WHO/FAO/OIE joint consultation on emerging zoonotic diseases," (May 2005) p.5. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/68899/WHO_CDS_CPE_ZFK_2004.9.pdf]
Why would elites encourage something that, anyway, threatens to put the kybosh on economic activity and mass people movement? Have they seen the writing on the wall, the collision of overpopulation with undersupply? Is this a way for them to lock populations down so they can control revolts against mass immigration? But the lock-downs stop mass immigration.
You could argue that big fish that survive will be able to buy up multiple businesses and assets dirt cheap, in the way that Mr Soros picks up currencies and coal mines cheaply in the wake of wars and climate activism. In the short-term, it would be hard to counter this one.
In the longer run, however, inevitably, more virulent viruses will have the effect of sparsening populations, ultimately making them less infective. Substantially sparser populations world-wide will really wreck the connective fibre of the international capitalist system, and will probably wreck national systems, sparing all but local systems. Depending on how much populations and global trade and travel are reduced, humans will spontaneously reorganise into small viscous populations, developing their own local immunities.
The elites, however, may well benefit from this too, on the way down. This would be because, if we spiral into depression, people will work for tiny wages, even for their keep, or as slaves, everywhere, creating local alternatives to both imported and outsourced cheap overseas labour.
At the same time as the pandemic, the long-predicted oil-resources shortage is looming, although it is initially presenting as an oil-glut. Reduction in economic activity through mass quarantines has led to collapse in demand for petroleum. Since the 1970s, oil discovery and production have become increasingly difficult and costly. Easily drilled and pumped sources of crude have long given way to hard-to-access mixed liquids and gases, including fracked and vegetable ones. Oil exploration and production decline and stop in the absence of sufficient investment. Overleveraged companies fail under economic stress, especially with the kinds of costs involved in oil-exploration and exploitation. Countries dependent on oil-revenue descend into economic depression. Supply chains are disrupted by business failures. Machinery falls into disuse. Skills are lost or poached. Predators and competitors destroy oil-fields in order to privilege their own production recovery. Ultimately governments and conglomerates, including banks, will be able to buy up oil exploration and production cheap. Western governments have tended to enable corporations, to the detriment of economic and equitable supply, and have gone in with their war machines to destroy or wrest oil production from public companies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, etc. The stop and start mode is inherently costly and disruptive. Probably the only reliable mode of oil and gas production is by governments, which do not have to make a profit. As Colin Campbell wrote in the 1990s,
"The Soviets were very efficient explorers, as they were able to approach their task in a scientificmanner, being able to drill holes to gather critical information, whereas their Western counterparts had to pretend that every borehole had a good chance offinding oil." [Source: Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5, in Sheila Newman, Ed. The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed., 2008]
Some possible solutions and adaptations
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed fundamental weaknesses in global supply system.The need for governments to take over outsourced services and resources in order to provide for vital needs reveals the fallacy of privatisation for profit, and exposes the notion of privatisation for 'efficiency' as laughable.
The failure of private businesses and corporations provides a serendipitous opportunity for governments to cheaply buy back vital resources, such as land, power and water, and essential services, like airlines, roads, hospitals, land-production and housing etc.
Deglobalisation of the economy means ending mass migration and foreign ownership of resources and essential services.
Without Australia's massive population growth, which relies on mass immigration, the land and housing sector would no longer support our huge and immensely costly private property and infrastructure development industry. Until Primeminister Menzies in the 1960s, who also encouraged mass immigration, government was the main land and housing production source.
Governments now have the opportunity to re-regulate land and other vital resource prices in order to reduce the cost of living and production, to get us through the coming economic depression, and beyond. Lower land-prices would mean more local ownership and the opportunity for more local food production, proportionately reducing the need for the cash economy. These changes would make it possible to reduce the hours of work that people need to earn a living and the need for consumerism to support more workers.
Governments should also be able to organise the share of essential work more equitably.
Populations in lock-down have had the opportunity to investigate the notion of leisure, the meaning of life, and even to smell the roses. Released from the treadmill, but at risk of their lives, more may have started to question the authority of the elites and be more willing to participate in political self-determination. Nonsensical advice about not wearing masks, which must have had fatal consequences, was given by the highest authorities in the land. Will this lead to wider public loss of blind faith in media-created and promoted figureheads, resulting in ordinary people doing their own research and testing and trusting their own judgement, finding leaders locally, rather than accepting the leadership choices and policy dictates of a distant political caste?
 This paper is undated but appears under the "Comité régional » Sixty-first session," which made its annual report in December 2014.
In Australia ordinary environmentalists have seen a rising resistance to the protection of our natural environment from the very people they thought they could rely on – The Australian Greens and various big environmental NGOs. There has been a similar strange distancing from representing the economic and social interests of ordinary Australians. Among spokespeople for the Greens, this resistance has manifested as a militant effort to support Lib/Lab policy of massive population growth through planned and commercial immigration by conflating refugees with ordinary immigrants, and calling any attempt to reign in immigration "racist". Currency speculator, George Soros, was long suspected to be the source of this creeping political confusion. The hacking of the multi-billionaire’s Open Societies files has recently confirmed him to be the organising force for the new-age ideology of open borders and the illogical stigmatisation of all care for national interests and cohesion.
What motivates George Soros, the multibillionaire, to prosecute open borders? Much has been written about George Soros and his multipronged attempts to subvert national political processes. Many have suggested that he is psychopathic, enjoys chaos, and makes money out of what he does – but, as someone wrote:
“The Soros tentacles reach far and wide thanks to his great wealth and ability to keep himself behind the curtain. It would take an especially gifted forensic accountant to sort out all of the various interconnections among the major foundations and their smaller satellites[…]” 
Here are the results of some well-known investigations:
“Convicted in France of insider trading, Soros specializes in weakening or collapsing the currencies of entire nations for his own selfish interests. He is known as the man who broke the Bank of England.” 
Soros is a partner in the Carlyle Group.
“The Carlyle Group makes most of its money from weapons expenditures. The money we are talking about is over $193 billion. The more wars we fight, the more profits they make.” 
Soros invested millions in moveon.org in the United States. Moveon.org waged a campaign to bring Cheney’s Haliburton shares into disfavour associated with disapproval of the war on Iraq. Soros bought almost 2000 shares of the deflated stock (bringing them to form over 2% of his total stock portfolio). Moveon stopped talking about the war. Haliburton shares regained value, and Soros resold them for nearly $40m profit. 
Currency trading and political instability
Soros is a currency trader and currency traders make money out of political instability, which affects currency values.
[Soros] has been blamed for providing funding for several revolutions in which his preferred people took power. See ” Top 5 Revolutions Backed by George Soros”, (2011).
He subsidises a number of ‘humanitarian’ organisations which have taken the ‘rebel’ [fundamentalist] side in Syria. These activities go back a long way and have been monitored for decades.
“Soros is intimately involved in HRW (Human Rights Watch) .. HRW and OSI (Open Society Institute) are close. One of Soros’ most influential institutions is the International Crisis Group, founded in 1986. ICG is headed by individuals from the very center of political and corporate power. Its board includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Morton Abramowitz, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State; Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe; and Richard Allen, former U.S. National Security Adviser. Allen is noteworthy for quitting Nixon’s National Security Council out of disgust with the liberal tendencies of Henry Kissinger.” (Source: Heather cottin article at George Soros: Imperial Wizard/Double Agent, Covert Action Quarterly, December 9, 2003.)
“When Soros gets hold of power in any government, he makes money. It is difficult to find examples of Soros invasions that leave the target country better off.”( Tiz, Joy. It's Not Easy Being God: The Real George Soros (p. 31). Hero's Prose, LLC. Kindle Edition.)
Moveon.org is currently (2016 US Elections) advertising for organisers to push a line that Trump is a racist etc.
You could follow up a myriad of interference patterns and find possible financial outcomes, but why does Soros need to finance failing political parties and insignificant minorities in order to train up salespeople? Why does he need to push open borders, popularise mass immigration, overuse the notion of racism, and make 'islamophobia' a household word?
The real game
Maybe the real game is just open borders and mass immigration. But why would a businessman be so keen to open borders and suppress objections to mass immigration?
Well, the name of the game is population growth. You see, it isn't sufficient just to have a big population. In fact a big population, whilst having intrinsic problems, will ultimately develop steady demand rather than growth in demand. The key to driving growth in demand is to drive population growth, but if you really want to push demand up, you need to stampede populations. You need to bomb people and destroy peoples' economies and dispossess rural populations in one place, then destroy objections to their entry in another place. You need to stuff up the economy here, so that people will move over there. You need to dispossess rural populations and attract them to cities, encourage them to marry and have children until their cities are overpopulated, and then you need people to come and recruit them to somewhere where the grass is greener.
People think that immigration is only about moving people, that the things around them stay the same. But cities, homes, roads and cars do not move with the immigrants; the country they get to has to supply those things. So, if you are a corporation that invests in financing, supplying materials to, or providing infrastructure or a peak-body for such corporations, your mission will be to influence any political process, institution or person that you can to bring about more people-turnover.
Left and Right
Left and right have been accusing eachother of assisting corporatisation, high immigration and environmental destruction for some time now. Most people who identify as left or right won't realise this though, because wedge politics punish anyone from either side that tries to take a look for themselves at what the other side is doing.
However, if you do take a look, you will hear from the Libs that it is Labour that is causing all the environmental destruction, overdevelopment and high immigration. From Labor you will hear that it is a corporatist plot by the Libs to destroy labour laws, bring in cheap labour and dig up the environment. Both are telling a captive audience similar stories while both privatise public goods, invest in land-speculation, property development and mortgage finance.
In fact, Soros covers both Left and Right territory. That is a reason that it is so confusing to try to analyse why the stuff he advocates is all bad. You have to agree with some of it.
The creation of a false-left
It is a problem that most of the literature that exposes Soros comes from the right because people on the left are disinclined to read it. However Soros is just as dangerous for the left. In fact, through his funding he has created a false left by pushing some defensible human rights causes to the exclusion of basic civil rights. This left has become so distracted by Soros’s favorite causes: refugees, multiculturalism, top-down regulation on climate change, same-sex marriage, colour revolutions, that it has become silent on the illegal wars that create the refugees by destroying stable governments, silent about the globalisation of cheap labour and the deterioration of national industrial laws, silent on overpopulation, silent on the paving over of wildlife habitat with new suburbs, silent on citizens rights.
You can see why it is easier for the right to criticise Soros than it is for the left. It is politically problematic for the left to criticise itself publicly. It is also traumatic for members to question it internally, due to the presence of Sorosian guardians who will punish dissenters, such as those who recently expelled one of the Greens for demanding that they deal with population. How does Labor go about criticising Bill Shorten's involvement with the Soros funded organisation, GetUp, when Shorten controls the factions? What about the unions that shared Shorten's board presence at GetUp? See, "Australian democracy swiss-cheesed by George Soros Open Societies Foundations."
SOROS Media influence may rival Murdoch’s
Soros is able to control public debate by controlling major portions of the media.
Soros’s media influence: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/05/11/dont-hear-george-soros-ties-30-major-news-organizations.html
“Only a small fraction of the media—often referred to as alternative—are willing to examine the actual facts about the mysterious man who became leader of the free world. Talk radio and independent bloggers have become the modern version of Nazi resistors with their chain letters and ham radios. Why is it that without the blogosphere, there would be no discussion of George Soros and his full-scale war on the United States?" Joy Tiz, It’s not easy being God: The real George Soros, 2010, Hero’s Prose, LLC Palm Desert, California 92260 ISBN-13: 978-0-61541-473-7, page 23-24.
See also, BBC 2012 article by Charlotte Pritchard, "Is one in eight Australians really poor?", from which this photo comes.The study uses the employment and household income accounts and (Gini) indexes of income distribution for 187 countries, from 1990 to 2010. It introduces the concept of an inequality footprint – taking into account the inequality of both the internal and external workforce required to satisfy the consumption demands of a given country. The results show that most developed countries, with their international trade taken into account, have less internal inequality than the countries they trade with.
“The United States and United Kingdom are notable exceptions to this. Among developed countries only these nations have within-country inequality higher than their inequality footprint,” Alsamawi said.Forty million of the 70 million workers from outside the USA who are responsible for many of the products Americans consume, come from countries with high inequality. Despite this, America’s internal inequality is still higher than the inequality footprint representing its international trade. The same applies to the United Kingdom. The United States showed an increasing inequality footprint during the Bill Clinton era and especially after the NAFTA treaty came into force. It has slightly decreased during Obama’s presidency. In the United Kingdom the inequality footprint increased after Tony Blair left power and also jumped after the global financial crisis and recession. Australia and Japan are the only countries with comparable levels of trade activity to the UK and USA. Forty percent of Australia’s international trade activity is with China, a country with relatively high inequality.
“But compared to America and the UK our internal inequality is still much less, giving us an overall footprint of relatively high equality - on a par with Germany but less equal than Japan or Canada,” Alsamawi said.By contrast Russia has high inequality within its border but in 2010 it had the lowest inequality footprint in the world because approximately 62 percent of its international trade was with Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, where inequality is low. That situation will have greatly changed since trade sanctions have been imposed by some of its trading partners in the context of the war in the Ukraine (more than 20 percent of Russia's external workforce came from Ukraine in 2010). Commodities producing countries tend also to produce inequality Commodities that are inequality-intensive, affecting the internal inequality of the nations producing them and the footprint of the nations they trade with, include electronic components, chemicals, fertilizers, minerals, and agricultural products.
“In the past it was assumed that globalisation would raise the income of almost all nations and help redress inequality but evidence suggests no obvious relationship between a country’s participation in globalisation and positive changes in inequality,” said University of Sydney’s Dr Joy Murray, an author on the paper.
“We do not argue whether trade between more and less equal countries is a social good or ill but have provided a robust, global account of inequality and trade upon which further economic analysis may be built.”The authors of The Inequality Footprints of Nations are Ali Alsamawi, Dr Joy Murray, Professor Manfred Lenzen and Daniel Moran, all from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Integrated Sustainability and Keiichiro Kanemoto from Tohoku University.
Update 1 June 2015: See new related articles: "Concern that Australian PM Abbott position on MH17 has no solid basis and is unfair to Russia" and "Anti-Russia Sanctions rely on False Statement by Julie Bishop, Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister." This is an occasion for people to make factually based comments and inquiries to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Prime Minister's Office on the way Australia is participating in what appear to be ill-based hostilities. See ABC Australia apologises for bias against Russia in reporting MH17 crash and general tag: http://candobetter.net/taxonomy/term/585. This human aspect, coupled with the involvement of oil industry concerns, highlights the problems associated with globalised, commercialised universities, globalisation and US/NATO alliances and energy resources. This is yet another warning signal of a population and economy in overshoot, locally and internationally. Expansionism is driving blocs of countries into a collision course. Our association with America has made us officially unfriendly with a large number of countries and complicit in the destruction of several. Human rights obligations are under scrutiny. We must pull back from escalations like these. [Ed. Broken link now fixed.]
We believe that some Australian universities may be sending away Russian PhD students, as under new sanctions they are not allowed to teach some of them.
Students must certify that they are not studying in any of the areas related to the new sanctions policy, otherwise their projects cannot be continued. See below statement by the University of Queensland, last updated: May 4, 2015 at http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/sanctions.
"The Regulation amends the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 (the Principal Regulations) by expanding the scope of existing measures in relation to Russia. These measures include an arms embargo, restrictions on the access of Russian state-owned banks to Australian capital markets, preventing the export of goods and services for use in Russia’s oil exploration or production, and restrictions on Australian trade and investment in Crimea." (Excerpt from the attached "Explanatory Statement to F2015L00356")
This document also goes into the possibility that the sanctions might contravene human rights obligations, but argues with itself that it does not:
"The human rights obligation that may possibly be affected by the amendment to the Regulation is the presumption of innocence. Article 14(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law. As strict liability offences allow for the imposition of criminal liability without the need to prove fault, all strict liability offences engage the presumption of innocence in article 14(2) of the ICCPR. A strict liability offence will not necessarily violate the presumption of innocence provided that it is: (i) aimed at achieving a purpose which is legitimate; (ii) based on reasonable and objective criteria, and (iii) proportionate to the aim to be achieved.
Regulations 12, 12A, 13 and 13A of the Principal Regulation provide that strict liability applies to the circumstance that the sanctioned supply, sanctioned import, sanctioned service or sanctioned commercial activity is not authorised by a permit under regulation 18 of the Principal Regulation. The Amendment Regulation extends these provisions to certain supplies, imports, services or commercial activity in relation to Russia, Crimea and Sevastopol. The effect of this is that strict liability applies to the existence or otherwise of a sanctions permit. For an individual, strict liability will not to apply to any other element of the offence. The purpose of this provision is to prevent a spurious defence that a statement of the Minister could be taken as de facto authorisation to engage in conduct that is prohibited under the Act.
Either the permit exists or it does not exist." (Excerpt from the attached "Explanatory Statement to F2015L00356")
This news-article post is made quickly and without yet having absorbed the detail of allegations against Russia - if it is available in these documents or elsewhere.
See also Autonomous Sanctions (Russia, Crimea and Sevastopol) Specification 2015- F2015L00390 which is dated 1 March 2015 with the date to be ceased in 2025. It seems utterly amazing that we are cutting ourselves off from Russian and affiliated bloc knowledge and expertise gained independently and complemetarily to the familiar Western sources on the basis of extremely flimsy allegations.
One fervently hopes that Julia Bishop will show the initiative she has shown in Iran and seek detailed dialogue with Russia's foreign affairs and trade ministers and President Putin in these matters and that they will quickly be resolved. One also fervently hopes that the whole US/NATO incursion on Russia's borders and in the Middle East will be quickly scaled down, despite the growing influence of "Hawks" behind the United States' current expansive and warlike policies. As things seem to stand, our dependence on the United States looks like a liability and puts us at odds in many cases with Indonesia and other countries we have strong associations with, due to the US's anti-Russia attitude and its incursions in the Middle East.
Below is a quote from a statement by the University of Queensland, last updated: May 4, 2015 at http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/sanctions.
"Sanctions and UQ
Of particular relevance to UQ is the provision of technical training or assistance related to military activities and/or the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of arms and related material of all types including; weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, spare parts and accessories for the former. This includes goods present on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL), including ‘dual use goods’ which may not be of a military nature.
Iran, Syria, Russia and Ukraine also have specific sanctions in terms of ‘export sanctioned goods’. The provision of technical training or assistance in the use, development, manufacture or maintenance of these goods is also of relevance to the University.
Studying at UQ
For all applicants who are a citizen of a country listed above, including those who are a permanent resident or hold dual citizenship of Australia, the Graduate School is required to complete an assessment of the proposed research project against current sanction regimes. In some cases a review by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is also required.
The assessment will include the nature of the research project as well as the goods and equipment that will be used throughout the program.
This will mean that an application for admission and scholarship will take longer to process. In order to assist UQ with the sanctions assessment applicants will need to submit a 2-4 page research proposal with their application.
Unfortunately some applicants may not be able to study their intended or preferred research topic, and a revision of the research project for Research Higher Degree study may be required."
We attach the government's "Explanatory Statement to F2015L00356" in regard to this matter.
Republished from the Australian investigative program, 4Corners: Slaving Away By Caro Meldrum-Hanna and Ali Russell, a program about slavery in Australia today. Although the program focuses on the abuse of backpackers on 457 visas and tourists working illegally in the fruit picking and chicken meat packaging industry, this is just the tip of an iceberg of exploitation that has arisen in Australia with massive increases in immigration at the same time as our industrial law protection has been wrecked. At the same time, cheap imports have made it impossible for many honest and worthwhile businesses to survive, whilst the loss of industrial protection has created an opportunity for corporations to exploit people to the max. The program also reflects another effect of globalisation and mass immigration - the high cost of housing. The enslaved temporary or illegal immigrants in this documentary are usually packed into unsavory premises for which they pay rent. Some might argue that since these people are paid wages - albeit slave wages - they are not slaves. However when you do not actually get paid on time and are kept in debt to your employer for rent and other charges, and when you do not speak English and have no idea where you are, and so cannot begin to extricate yourself - this amounts not only to slavery, but to illegal detention. Apparently Australian authorities claimed that it was too difficult to find these abusive enterprises, yet 4Corners was easily able to uncover this frightening industry, with the cooperation of the exploited and trapped workers. It looks like government is complicit at all levels.
Monday 4th May 2015
Slaving away: The dirty secrets behind Australia's fresh food.
It's in your fridge and on your table: the fresh food that we take for granted.
But there's a dirty secret behind it.
Much of it is picked and packed by a hidden army of migrant workers who are ruthlessly exploited.
"There is slave labour in this country." - Queensland grower
A Four Corners investigation has uncovered gangs of black market workers run by unscrupulous labour hire contractors operating on farms and in factories around the country.
The produce they supply ends up in our major supermarkets and fast food chains.
"Almost every fresh product that you pick up... will have passed through the hands of workers who have been fundamentally exploited." - Union official
These labour hire contractors prey upon highly vulnerable young foreigners, many with very limited English, who have come to Australia with dreams of working in a fair country.
They're subjected to brutal working hours, degrading living conditions and the massive underpayment of wages.
Reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna has obtained undercover footage and on-camera accounts of this dark world. One migrant worker told her:
"I felt like we were going back in time... the way we were being treated was inhumane."
"It made me question Australia as a country."
Female workers are particularly at risk with women coming forward to make allegations of harassment and assault.
From farmers' fields to factory floors, the program tells the story of those workers who slave away to produce the food we buy and eat on a daily basis.
SLAVING AWAY, reported by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 4th May at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 5th May at 10.00am and Wednesday 6th at midnight. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.
ALDI Response [pdf]
Coles Response [pdf]
Costco Response [pdf]
Covino Response [pdf]
D'Vine Ripe Response [pdf]
KC Fresh Choice Response [pdf]
KFC Response [pdf]
Red Rooster Response [pdf]
Woolworths Response [pdf]
Akers Farm Response [pdf]
Four Corners investigation reveals exploitation and slave like conditions on farms supplying Aussie supermarkets | news.com.au | 4 May, 2015
Sex abuse, stolen wages and 'slave-like conditions' | Daily Mail Australia | 4 May, 2015
Labour exploitation, slave-like conditions found on farms supplying biggest supermarkets | ABC Radio Australia | 4 May, 2015
In Conversation: Australia's invisible migrant workers | SBS | 23 May, 2013
Casualties in the supermarket war | ABC Radio National | 24 March, 2013
MP wants action to prevent harvesting rorts | The Chronicle | 22 December, 2012
ASSISTANCE AND RELATED WEBSITES
Anti-Slavery Australia - Working to Abolish Slavery | +61 (02) 9514 9660 or email [email protected]
Visitor Programme statistics | Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Economists are predicting that Australia will be the world's biggest exporter of LNG by 2018, overtaking Qatar's production. Instead of being able to enjoy prosperity and the economic benefits, consumers and manufacturing industries will be held hostage to the multi-national mining giants' demands.
Gas producers in the eastern states were once devoted to supplying domestic buyers, but now they are now chasing export dollars. Until very recently, gas extracted in Australia stayed in Australia. Because our nation has abundant natural gas reserves, it meant our gas prices have stayed low by global standards.
The loss of insulated prices will mean we are forced to compete with buyers across Asia who prepared to pay top prices.
Today, new technology has made it possible for Australian gas to be liquefied economically and exported, via ships, overseas. Multinational gas companies have been given licenses to extract Australian gas from major new gas fields and to export it, primarily to Asia. Exports of Australian gas will start ramping up from July 2015.
Unlike most gas exporting countries, our Federal and state governments (except for Western Australia) appear incapable, and unwilling, to reserve any gas for domestic use. They are failing to protect our manufacturing industry, jobs, and consumers from Queensland's gas exporters, and we will be held at ransom by mining companies' mega-power.
Unbridled globalization gives them more power than governments! There might be some benefits of globalisation of our natural resources, but not when we have foreign mining corporations strangling our right to what should be protected for our own use - and expecting us to pay their extortion rackets!
Reserve Our Gas will campaign for lawmakers to move urgently to prevent this by ensuring a percentage of Australian gas is reserved for domestic use at a fair price.
The new gas export industry is linking Australia to the high global price for gas, with projections showing local gas prices rising dramatically in the coming years as a result. While Australian gas has traditionally cost around $3-4 per gigajoule domestically, it can sell for up to $18 per gigajoule on Asian markets.
While there is no national gas reservation policy, Western Australia mandates the reservation of 15 per cent of the state's gas.
“Australia is the only nation on earth allowing exporters to extract our gas without restriction and sell it back to us at the global price,” AWU National Secretary and Reserve Our Gas spokesman Scott McDine said.
Australians have a right to know their rapidly rising gas bills are actually completely preventable. We just need to do what every other gas-exporting nation does and bring in laws to look after the local population. Australians should pay the Australian price for gas - not the global price - because it’s our gas.
The Grattan Institute report Gas At The Crossroads: Australia’s Hard Choice says that “governments should not put constraints on the market – for example, by introducing a gas reservation policy that allocates a fixed amount of gas to domestic consumers for a fixed (and lower) price”.
They say that “Both industry and governments need to work with communities to resolve the impasse over coal seam gas in New South Wales and Victoria...: Electricity and gas prices in Australia have already increased 61% and 36% respectively in the past five years and further price jumps will put pressure on the country’s manufacturing industries. So, multinational greed should force Australians on the East coast to allow more coal seam gas mining!
There are significant concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing including the potential to contaminate water sources and cause earthquakes. A report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia said: "In addition to concerns over contamination of aquifers from the chemicals added to fracking fluid, issues have also been raised about contamination of water supplies from fugitive gas after fracking, and seismic activity and tremors associated with the drilling and fracking process".
Fracking has been used during coal seam gas operations in both Queensland and New South Wales.
“The footprint maps the movement of commodities around the world. It is a new tool which can assist businesses, government and non-government organisations in understanding the complex dynamics of inequality and trade,” said Ali Alsamawi, a PhD candidate in the School of Physics and lead author of the PLOS paper (see attached).
See also, BBC 2012 article by Charlotte Pritchard, "Is one in eight Australians really poor?", from which this photo comes.
The study uses the employment and household income accounts and (Gini) indexes of income distribution for 187 countries, from 1990 to 2010.
It introduces the concept of an inequality footprint – taking into account the inequality of both the internal and external workforce required to satisfy the consumption demands of a given country.
The results show that most developed countries, with their international trade taken into account, have less internal inequality than the countries they trade with.
“The United States and United Kingdom are notable exceptions to this. Among developed countries only these nations have within-country inequality higher than their inequality footprint,” Alsamawi said.
Forty million of the 70 million workers from outside the USA who are responsible for many of the products Americans consume, come from countries with high inequality.
Despite this, America’s internal inequality is still higher than the inequality footprint representing its international trade. The same applies to the United Kingdom.
The United States showed an increasing inequality footprint during the Bill Clinton era and especially after the NAFTA treaty came into force. It has slightly decreased during Obama’s presidency.
In the United Kingdom the inequality footprint increased after Tony Blair left power and also jumped after the global financial crisis and recession.
Australia and Japan are the only countries with comparable levels of trade activity to the UK and USA. Forty percent of Australia’s international trade activity is with China, a country with relatively high inequality.
“But compared to America and the UK our internal inequality is still much less, giving us an overall footprint of relatively high equality - on a par with Germany but less equal than Japan or Canada,” Alsamawi said.
By contrast Russia has high inequality within its border but in 2010 it had the lowest inequality footprint in the world because approximately 62 percent of its international trade was with Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, where inequality is low.
That situation will have greatly changed since trade sanctions have been imposed by some of its trading partners in the context of the war in the Ukraine (more than 20 percent of Russia's external workforce came from Ukraine in 2010).
Commodities producing countries tend also to produce inequality
Commodities that are inequality-intensive, affecting the internal inequality of the nations producing them and the footprint of the nations they trade with, include electronic components, chemicals, fertilizers, minerals, and agricultural products.
“In the past it was assumed that globalisation would raise the income of almost all nations and help redress inequality but evidence suggests no obvious relationship between a country’s participation in globalisation and positive changes in inequality,” said University of Sydney’s Dr Joy Murray, an author on the paper.
“We do not argue whether trade between more and less equal countries is a social good or ill but have provided a robust, global account of inequality and trade upon which further economic analysis may be built.”
The authors of The Inequality Footprints of Nations are Ali Alsamawi, Dr Joy Murray, Professor Manfred Lenzen and Daniel Moran, all from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Integrated Sustainability and Keiichiro Kanemoto from Tohoku University.
Western support for oligarchs via IMF
Western support will allow more IMF and European lending to prop the Ukrainian currency so the Ukrainian oligarchs can move their money safely to British and US banks, economist and author Michael Hudson told RT’s Truthseeker.
RT:Could you summarize for us the tried and tested steps that will lead from IMF loans, to Ukraine’s best assets ending up in private Western hands – the IMF’s ‘knee-breaker’ role as you memorably described it as?
Michael Hudson: The basic principle to bear in mind is that finance today is war by non-military means. The aim of getting a country in debt is to obtain its economic surplus, ending up with its property. The main property to obtain is that which can produce exports and generate foreign exchange. For Ukraine, this means mainly the Eastern manufacturing and mining companies, which presently are held in the hands of the oligarchs. For foreign investors, the problem is how to transfer these assets and their revenue into foreign hands – in an economy whose international payments are in chronic deficit as a result of the failed post-1991 restructuring. That is where the IMF comes in.
The IMF was not set up to finance domestic government budget deficits. Its loans are earmarked to pay foreign creditors, mainly to maintain a country’s exchange rate. The effect usually is to subsidize flight capital out of the country – at a high exchange rate rather than depositors and creditors getting fewer dollars or euro. In Ukraine’s case, foreign creditors would include Gazprom, which already has been paid something. The IMF transfers a credit to its “Ukraine account,” which then pays foreign creditors. The money never really gets to Ukraine or to other IMF borrowers. It is paid to the accounts of foreigners, including foreign government creditors, as in IMF loans to Greece. Such loans come with“conditionalities” that impose austerity. This in turn drives the economy even further into debt – forcing the government to tighten the budget even more, run even smaller budget deficits and sell off public assets.
RT: Can Ukraine expect the so-called ‘IMF effect’ of 1 in 5 of the impoverished population emigrating to work abroad, and what consequence could this have on a country to lose its brightest minds?
MH: Ukraine already draws in foreign emigrants’ remittances equal to about 4% of its GDP. (About $10 billion a year.) Most of this money comes from Russia, the rest from Western Europe. The effect of IMF austerity plans is to drive more Ukrainians to emigrate in search of work. They will send some of their earnings back to their families, strengthening the Ukrainian currency vis-à-vis the ruble and euro.
RT: How are the IMF’s tools in reality “weapons of mass destruction” as you quoted it?
MH: Lower budget deficits cause even deeper austerity and unemployment. The result is a downward economic spiral. Lower incomes mean lower tax revenues. So governments are told to balance their budgets by selling off public assets – mainly natural monopolies whose buyers can raise excess prices to extract economic rent. The effect is to turn the economy into a renting “tollbooth economy.” Hitherto free public roads are turned into toll roads, and other transportation, water and sewer systems also are privatized. This raises the cost of living, and hence the cost of labor – while overall wage levels are squeezed by the financial austerity that shrinks markets and raises unemployment.
RT: The IMF’s perhaps also a weapon of mass destruction in a more literal sense. The organization has publicly threatened and blackmailed Ukraine that it will ‘re-design’ its aid package, unless Kiev goes to war on fellow Ukrainians in the East of the country and stops them protesting. Does that not make it now literally a criminal accomplice or instigator of war and murder?
MH: The IMF’s “conditionality” is that it “pacify” the East. Pacification may occur violently in today’s Orwellian rhetoric. The only way in which actual political and economic peace can be achieved is by a loose federalization of Ukraine, to make each region independent of the kleptocrats in Kiev, who are appointed mainly from the West.
As for accusations of criminality, this always depends on who is the prosecutor, and what is the court! No country has yet prosecuted the IMF. All that voters can do is reject governments submitting to IMF conditionalities. Many voters who are able will “vote with their feet” and simply leave the sinking economy. So the IMF’s defense is that Ukraine and other clients are voluntarily committing suicide rather than being murdered. Austerity is ultimately a policy – nobody is holding gun to their head, except when political leaders are assassinated as in Chile in 1974 under Pinochet with the US Government behind it. In this sense, Ukraine today is a replay of Chile four decades ago.
Participants in the nationwide Ukrainian rally against bank outrage and for the rights of borrowers under the slogan “No to currency slavery!” by the building of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada. (RIA Novosti)
RT: Everyone knows austerity’s effects on Greece and elsewhere; polls show most Ukrainians don’t want it; even the IMF itself now admits austerity doesn’t work. Why will Ukraine’s leaders allow it to happen, are they guaranteed a cushy job in the West when they’ve voted out or something?
MH: Ukraine’s leaders are mainly kleptocrats. Their aim is not to help the country, but to help consolidate their own power. George Soros has written that their best way to do this is to find Western partners. This will provide US and European backing for the kleptocrats tightening their hold on the economy. Western support will provide more IMF and European lending to support the currency so that the Ukrainian oligarchs can move their money safely to the West, to British banks and US banks.
RT: Do you think that the EU isn’t stupid enough to make Ukraine a full member, so under the one-sided association agreement, member states will just strip the country of its best assets, and use its workers as near slave labor, with Ukraine’s 91 US cents an hour minimum wage?
MH: The EU hardly can really make Ukraine a member. One reason is that a key policy underlying French and German creation of the original Common Market in 1957 was the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Ukraine has rich Western land, and that part of the country is largely still rural. Foreign investors would like to buy it out and “re-feudalize” it, creating large business farms. But the EU is unlikely to provide the subsidies that financed mechanization and capital investment in Western European agriculture.
The EU does not need to formally integrate with Ukraine to benefit from its inexpensive labor. Wrecking the economy Greek-style or Irish-style or Latvian-style is sufficient to send its workers to the West. And the most mobile traditionally are the best educated youth in their 20s, able to speak foreign languages and with skills in demand in the West.
RT: You noted Ukraine ‘must have asked the US first’ before blowing up that gas pipeline. Do you think NATO will support anything even terrorism to make Russian gas seem less reliable, especially while US fracking giants currently are waging a big PR campaign in Europe.
MH: The US has pressed Europe to make its own economy much more high-cost and to rely on US gas exports mainly in order to deprive Russia of foreign exchange. The NATO rationale is essentially that which Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk tweeted on Monday, June 16: Ukraine “won’t continue subsidizing Gazprom [to the tune of] $5 billion annually, so that Russia can arm itself against us [with this money].”
The US position today is what it was in 1991: Without manufacturing, Russia cannot be a serious military power to defend itself. And without purchasing foreign technology and without large state subsidy – as US and European governments provide their own economies – Russia cannot create a manufacturing economy. So NATO is trying to prevent Russia from earning enough money to modernize its economy, on the principle that any industrial power is potentially military, and any military power my potentially be used to achieve political independence from the US sphere.
RT: Anything else you would like to add?
MH: What is at issue is whether economies throughout the world will let financial leverage dismantle the power of elected governments, and hence of democracy. Governments are sovereign. No government actually needs to pay foreign debts or submit to policies that negate the three definitions of a state: to create its own money, to levy taxes, and to declare war.
At issue is who shall rule the world: the emerging 1% as a financial oligarchy, or elected governments. The two sets of aims are antithetical: rising living standards and national independence, or a renting economy, austerity and international dependency.
NSW households are set to be slugged with an increase of up to $225 a year on their gas bills as of July 1. Australia is rich in gas. The reason is that gas is being exported, so it means a "shortage" of east coast supplies.
Australia will triple its gas production in the next few years as key gas projects in Queensland ramp up production. Despite production going up, domestic prices are set to increase as well. The Consumer Utility Advocacy Centre's Martin Jones says it is part of the globalisation of the economy.
Electricity bills have more than doubled in some areas of Australia in the past decade. The people working here say when gas goes up too, it will hurt. In Victoria we use a lot of gas, and a lot of people use it and it does get cold. And then to a lesser extent NSW and Queensland, they use less gas and there's less people that do use it. So, “comsumers need to be more efficient”!
Prices for households increased on average by 72% for electricity and 54% for gas in the 10 years to June 2013.
Global gas revolution
The Grattan Institute’s June 2013 report, Getting gas right: Australia’s energy challenge, shows how a rising export industry on the east coast plus ongoing strong exports from Western Australia put Australia at the forefront of the global gas revolution.
Strong Asian demand and high prices are inducing Australian producers to export their gas. That means local consumers will have to pay higher prices. Within the next couple of years, gas prices for households on the east coast, particularly in Victoria, will rise by as much as $170 a year. Large industrial users of gas will come under pressure from equally significant price increases.
Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) chairman Dr Peter Boxall says the increases are largely due to rising wholesale gas prices. "The ability to export liquid natural gas is driving a structural change in eastern Australia's wholesale gas market, and increasingly domestic gas prices will be influenced by what is happening in world gas markets," he says.
The decision comes off the back of a recent move by the NSW government to deregulate electricity prices.
#10;Globalisation and the loss of control of prices">Lock the Gate’s national coordinator Phil Laird said IPART’s report confirmed international markets will influence gas prices, rather than supply availability. Mr Laird said expanding CSG operations would not bring prices down. He continued, "The fact is that opening up NSW for CSG drilling will not only lead to massive price hikes in domestic gas but will also harm our best food-producing land and precious water supplies".
With global gas resources likely to last at least 200 years, the International Energy Agency has described the next decade as the ‘golden age of gas’. (not for consumers though- Grattan institute report)
Domestic manufacturers will have to pay more and will become less competitive. Domestic industries will close or downsize due to rising gas prices, and will lose workers. Australian consumers will have less disposable income, and that in turn will lower consumer rates.
The gas exporters are overwhelmingly foreign-owned. They demand local industries compete with Asian customers for Australian gas - our own resource! Electricity, water, and gas costs are all increasing despite government promises we'll all be better off.
Senator Waters, Australian Greens spokesperson for mining said: "The foreign multinationals causing the problem by hoovering up domestic gas for export at record prices are now saying that the solution to household price rises is to mine and frack even more gas, risking even more farmland and water”.
The Greens should be leading the charge to force Governments to support the development of a new type of sustainable economy including development of sustainable energy export industry, and lobbying for the trimming down our massive population growth to match.
Norway - an example
Indebted European nations, and Australia, should look to Norway, which has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world mainly by refusing to spend its huge oil revenues and placing them instead in a sovereign wealth fund. The fund generates money from its ownership of petroleum fields, taxes on oil and gas, and dividends from a 67% stake in Statoil, the country's largest energy company. Norway is the world's second-largest gas exporter and the seventh-largest oil exporter.
Norway has a Current Account Balance that is a world-leader in large part because it still has part ownership (67%) of its petroleum processing industry (Statoil). In contrast, Australia surrenders its resources to mainly foreign entities in exchange for exploration rights plus royalties based on tonnage exported.
Both sides of politics are at the beck and call of the monolithic international mining corporations. Globalisation means that our resources, our land, our sovereignty, our future are all being sold off to the highest bidder. Manufacturing will have to pay more and will become less competitive.
When I was young and first getting involved in politics, it felt like the left was winning and we would be able to usher in a golden age of civilized politics and equal opportunity. But it did not happen. A report by Oxfam, a month ago, found that the richest 85 people in the world own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world's population—some three and a half billion people—combined. Half the world's wealth is owned by just one per cent of the world's population. And the situation is getting worse. In nearly every country they surveyed, economic inequality has increased since 1980.
The richest one per cent in the US more than doubled their share of national income. In Australia, the richest one per cent doubled their share. After the GFC, the wealthiest one per cent in the US captured 95 per cent of post-crisis growth, while the bottom 90 per cent became poorer! How did this happen? Where did we go wrong?
At the risk of oversimplification, capitalism was largely unfettered and successfully fighting off the workers and
their political representatives until the Great Depression of the 1930s, when they stuffed up big time and paid
for it in the form of the rise of the welfare state, government enterprises, workers' rights and protections, and
various restrictions on market excesses.
Wealth disparities, corporations crushing ordinary people, democracy and environment
But in the last few decades the rise of multinational corporations, globalisation, free trade and the ideas of the free
movement of goods and people has enabled capitalism to progressively break free from national governments.
We now see corporations that are too big to fail. We now see companies, some as large as the governments they
talk to, demanding the unwinding of rules and regulations they do not like, and threatening to take their bat and
ball and go elsewhere if they do not get their way. Environmental protections, workplace protections, foreign
ownership restrictions—pretty much anything governments might want to do in the public interest—are under
attack. Large corporations are expressly demanding in so-called trade agreements that they have the right to sue
any government that takes action which damages their financial bottom line, the so-called Investor State Dispute
Some welcome these changes; I do not. The picture I see is of a manufacturing sector in decline and of job
security, particularly for younger and older workers, becoming a thing of the past. The picture I see is of our
young people not being able to afford a home of their own as we could. The picture I see is of an environment on
the ropes, with many of our beautiful and priceless birds, plants and animals on the brink of extinction, and our
land ravaged by droughts, bushfires, floods and cyclones. The picture I see is of terrorist violence and regional
killings fuelled by conflict over access to scarce land, water, food and energy. The picture I see is of older people
struggling to pay the bills, of families under constant time pressure, mental-health problems and drugs like ice
and alcohol causing more hardship and misery among our young people than ever before:
Fight back by learning from Norway's successful model
So how does the left fight back? How do trade unions fight back? How do environment groups fight back? We
need to learn from successful models. We need to learn from Norway, for example. When it comes to long-term
policy vision, Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund, currently worth $900 billion, is what we should have done years
ago. Set up in 1990, the fund owns around one per cent of the world's stocks, as well as bonds and real estate
from London to Boston, making the Nordic nation an exception when others are struggling under a mountain
of debt. The fund, equivalent to 183 per cent of 2013 Gross Domestic Product, is expected to peak at 220 per
cent around 2030. As the chief economist at DNB Markets points out, 'The fund is a success in the sense that
parliament has managed to put aside money for the future,' which is something Australia should have done but
squandered the opportunity.
The comparison between Norway's management of their resources boom and Australia's management of ours
could not be more different. Norway has maintained a much larger manufacturing sector, currently just under 30
per cent, per working age of population, than Australia. Norway has an employment to working-age population
ratio that is five percentage points higher than Australia's and an unemployment rate of 3.3 per cent, compared
to ours of six per cent. Between 1980 and 2010 the cumulative current-account surplus for Norway was 200 per
cent of GDP, while for Australia the outcome was a cumulative current account deficit of 127 per cent of GDP.
Significantly, Norway has a population growth rate one-third of Australia's and little migration. What it has
instead is an aggressive industry policy to maximise pull-over effects to manufacturing from resource expansion.
This was done by local content targets during resource expansion and operation; and subsidies, investment
support and training to ensure manufacturing could meet local content targets at minimum cost to the resource
The sovereign wealth funds' investments offshore have minimised the appreciation of the Norwegian currency, in
contrast with Australia, where a high Australian dollar has put pressure on the competitiveness of manufacturing,
which in 2004 contributed 12.5 per cent to our economic output, but today just seven per cent.
The Dutch disease
There is absolutely no doubt that Australia has contracted 'Dutch disease'. Perhaps we should call ours
'Ozteoporosis'. Mining has grown but manufacturing has shrunk. We had a currency surging on the back of the
vast capital inflows required for new mine construction and expansion, as Ian Verrender recently pointed out in
an article on how we squandered the resources boom. In support of sovereign wealth funds, Ian Verrender said:
How could such a fund have helped us? By investing offshore, it could have helped stabilise the currency, partially
offsetting the dollar-boosting effect of the resources boom, thereby easing pressure on our manufacturing and
Learn from Sweden
We also need to learn from Sweden. As The Economist has reported:
Sweden has also donned the golden straitjacket of fiscal orthodoxy with its pledge to produce a fiscal surplus
over the economic cycle. Its public debt fell from 70% of GDP in 1993 to 37% in 2010, and its budget moved
from an 11% deficit to a surplus of 0.3% over the same period.
Sweden's public accounts, in contrast to the rest of Europe, have swung back into balance after the global financial
crisis, and Sweden remains one of the few countries in the OECD whose financial assets considerably exceed its
liabilities—to the tune of more than 20 per cent of GDP. Yet social expenditures remain high and the Swedish
welfare state remains strong. The Swedish state is still large—51 per cent of GDP last year—and spends much
more than Anglo-Saxon countries do on everything from early childhood education to job search and training.
More than 70 per cent of the children of the poorest fifth of Swedes are in state-financed childcare and education
schemes, compared with fewer than 30 per cent in America.
Wage disparities in Sweden are narrower than in Anglo-Saxon countries, thanks to centralised bargaining
between unions and employers that sets minimum wages in different sectors. More than 7 out of ten workers are
members of unions. Top CEO pay has not risen nearly as dramatically as in America.
Maintenance of social capital
Not surprisingly, Swedes' trust in government is over 60 per cent, amongst the highest in the Western world.
This is a vindication for a model based on relative equality and supportive welfare that can coexist alongside
a balanced budget, funded by high taxation in an economy that is performing well for all its citizens, not just
for vested interests.
Unlike Australia, the US, and other European countries, the Nordic countries have kept real control of their
borders. With one exception, they have kept their own currency. Norway has not even joined the European Union.
That is the sort of thing that gives you real independence and sovereignty, and control over your own destiny, as
opposed to entering into trade treaties that compromise and surrender the capacity of government to act in the
national interest and look after their own citizens.
Borders and population numbers
And finally, and critically, they have not run migration programs that artificially inflate their population. The
Nordic countries have a combined population of 25 million, with expected combined growth by 2050 of only
three million to 28 million. Australia by comparison is 23 million but is expected to grow by over 60 per cent
to 36 or even 40 million by 2050.
So I say to my friends in the trade union movement, I say to my friends in the environment movement, I say to
my friends in the Labor Party: if you are sick of losing, we need to learn from these examples and campaign in
favour of independence and self-reliance and against rapid population growth.
SPEECH delivered in the Australian Federal Parliament on Monday 24 February 204
Date Monday, 24 February 2014 Source House
Page 158 Proof Yes
Speaker Thomson, Kelvin, MP (Wills) .
For readers who want to help defend The People and their Environment, consider getting involved in Kelvin Thomson's Victoria First.
|Here is a story that explains this concept. Thanks to our contributor, Matthew Mitchell, for alerting us to this brilliantly simple analysis of our current problem, originally published as a comment here. It is a skilled, yet easy to understand, critique of economic theory that underpins todays political policy and the similar adverse impact of globalisation on places as far away from each other as Bangladesh and Australia.|
(Original Source by John Kozy, Global Research, February 13, 2012: http://www.globalresearch.ca/abstractions-versus-the-real-world-economic-models-and-the-apologetics-of-greed/29270 Subtitles inserted by candobetter.net editor.
"Offshoring production to underdeveloped nations gives needy people jobs, increases their incomes, reduces poverty, and expands their nations’ GNPs. It also enables people in developed nations to purchase products produced offshore at lower prices enabling them to consume a wider range of things. As a result, everyone everywhere is better off."
Convinced? Most economists are, but it hasn’t worked that way. Everyone everywhere is not better off—as the whole world now knows. Why?
A factory in Bangladesh
In the latter part of the 80s or early part of the 90s, a large retailer (don’t remember which one) thought it would be a good idea to bring an employee of a factory in Bangladesh to America to see how the clothing the factory was producing was being marketed to Americans. So a Bengali woman was selected to represent her factory and brought to America. This idea didn’t work out well. The woman not only saw how the products were being marketed but how much they cost and she was infuriated. She knew what she and her coworkers were being paid, about two percent of the price of the garments. She did not remain silent and was quickly sent back to Bangladesh. Here is the gist of her story:
She said she and her coworkers were not financially better off after being hired by the factory. Yes, the wages were better than those that could have been earned before, but they weren’t much benefit. Why? Because when the paychecks began to arrive, the local landlords and vendors increased prices on everything, so just as before, all of their incomes went to pay for basic necessities. The landlords and vendors got the money; the workers were not better off, and those in the community who were not employed by the apparel factory were decidedly worse off. It fact, it quickly became apparent that the workers were working for nothing. They did the work; the landlords and vendors got the pay. But, of course, the country’s GNP was better, which is all that matters to economists who still claim that Bangladesh’s economy is improving.
And although Americans were able to buy the apparel more cheaply than they could have before the manufacturing was offshored, the American apparel workers who lost their jobs are decidedly not better off.
Two conclusions follow from this scenario: employment alone is not a sufficient condition for prosperity; full employment can exist in an enslaved society along side abject poverty, and an increasing GNP does not mean that an economy is getting better. Remember these the next time the unemployment rate and GNP numbers are cited. Those numbers mean nothing.
"The economic model described above just does not work, not in Bangladesh or anywhere else"
More than thirty years has now passed and nothing has changed in Bangladesh. Most Bengalis still continue to live on subsistence farming in rural villages. Despite a dramatic increase in foreign investment, a high poverty rate prevails. Observers attribute it to the rising prices of essentials. The economic model described above just does not work, not in Bangladesh or anywhere else. Explaining why reveals what’s wrong with economics and why current economic practices, which have not essentially improved mankind’s lot over the last two and a half centuries, won’t ever improve it.
Economists build models by what they call “abstraction.” But it’s really subtraction. They look at a real world situation and subtract from it the characteristics they deem unessential. The result is a bare bones description consisting of what economists deem economically essential. Everything that is discarded (not taken into consideration in the model) is called an “externality.” So the models only work when the externalities that were in effect before the models are implemented do not change afterward."
On May 18, 2010 I was severely brain-injured in a collision which occurred when I was cycling to my job as a Patient Support Officer (cleaner) at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital. This was the tragic end to my absence from my real career choice and qualifications in computer science, forced on me because of misinformation given to me by my last employers in that field. At the time of the accident I was seriously attempting to return to my career, having learned, to my utter disgust, that the project from which I was sacked after two years, which I was told was a complete failure, had not failed at all. I may have forgotten a lot due to my brain injury, but I have not forgotten this. The injustice is seared in my memory and I am now publishing the documents that record the truth of my pre-injury predicament. They may also help others in this cut-throat industry. This will be the first in a number of contemplated articles on my experience of brain injury. Sheila Newman has also written a book about it which will probably be published late this year or the next.
How a computer scientist became a hospital cleaner and then a hospital patient
I was overqualified for the role of cleaner because I had an Honours Degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern Queensland and had worked for two years to implement the Distributed Java Virtual Machine in the Computer Science Faculty of the Australian National University (ANU) running parallel on more than 80 computers. (Much of the content of the ANU page that describes the details of this project is missing as of 10 January 2014. The error message states: "Fatal error: Call to undefined function: mysql_select_db() in /data0/web/data/feit/functions/connect.php3 on line 14"). At the end of two years on the ANU project, my supervisors claimed that my work on this was substandard and I was forced to accept that judgment at the time.
I have since learned that my work must have been of a very high standard, because, only 3 months after I finished at the ANU, a Canadian Masters student commenced to use the DJVM as a platform on which to build her Masters degree software project. Had there been the slightest bug, let alone any serious flaw in the DJVM, it would have been much harder, if not impossible for her to complete the project. However not knowing that, I saw no alternative but to seek low skilled work. That is why I ended up working as a cleaner. And that is how I came to suffer a severe brain injury.
Thanks to my RBWH supervisor, Jan Dring, for her kindness
Although my position as a cleaner at the Royal Brisbane and Women's hospital was not what I had studied to do, to be fair to the RB&WH, working conditions at the time were good. My supervisor, Janine Dring, now retired or retrenched, encouraged me to apply for clerical work. She was also the person who identified me when I was brought unconscious to Accident and Emergency after the collision. I have been told that she visited me on the ward and one evening, while I was still unable to form memories, she obtained permission and then took me down to spend time with my work colleagues. I spent over two months in the Neurosurgery ward in Brisbane and then a further six weeks in Mater Private, before coming down to Melbourne because my carer was advised that rehabilitation and services were better there than in Queensland.
Below is a letter that I sent to my former supervisor in 2008, when I realised how misled I had been about my abilities.
Complaint to Dr John Zigman of my treatment by ANU Computer Science staff 2002-2004
Subject: Complaint of my treatment by ANU Computer Science staff 2002-2004
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2008 16:56:53 +1000
From: James Sinnamon
[Email sent to: Dr John Zigman, Dr Steven Blackburn, Peter Strazdins, Dr Ramesh Sankaranarayana.]
Dear Dr John Zigman,
This is just to let you know:
I have not worked in my chosen vocation of computer science since my involvement in the Distributed Java Virtual Machine Project (http://djvm.anu.edu.au) abruptly ended in February 2004.
When I last spoke to you, as I recall, in May 2004, and asked if you reconsider your decision to not offer me a PhD scholarship to work on the continuation of the DJVM project in Arc Project DP0449670, I at least gained the impression that you would do anything you would have been practicably able to to help me out of my dire professional circumstances.
I would never have dreamed that you would have failed to take the small amount of effort that would have been entailed in passing on to me knowledge that would have almost certainly have allowed me to confidently approach prospective IT employers for work.
That knowledge was that the DJVM I had helped to implement had been chosen by a Canadian student (http://webhome.csc.uvic.ca/~jbaldwin/) as a platform on which to build her Masters project (http://aosd.net/workshops/late/2006/later/submissions/baldwin.pdf) and that the DJVM had met all of her requirements.
I have been judged for not having more vigorously sought employment since February 2004, but I wonder if those people making those judgements could understand the effect of having the hard work of two years of my life deemed, implicitly or explicitly, as worthless, by every one of those I had worked closely with during that time.
I formed the distinct impression from you that the DJVM I had tested on 72 nodes, packaged and documented was to be shelved in favour of another DJVM to be built using BCEL and it was not until years later that I was to learn that my DJVM had, indeed, been used, after all, on ARC project DP0449670.
If, after working late into the night every night often for weeks on end facing heartbreaking bug after heartbreaking bug (never as far as I recollect having been introduced by myself), I could not produce a product of worth to anyone else, then what possible chance did I stand of being able to produce anything of value to any employer by working normal hours?
As a consequence, I have not been able, for the last four and a half years, to even bring myself to write my resume, let alone a job application. Every attempt I have made to do so has only driven me into despair and depression.
The simple knowledge that the DJVM I had helped to implement had been successfully put to use would have changed everything for me. How that could not have occurred to you is beyond me.
I can only come up with three conceivable reasons why you would have withheld that knowledge from me:
1. That my fate and well-being mattered so little to you that it never again entered your head again after I last spoke to you around May 2004
2. Malicious intent.
3. Acknowledgement of my contribution to the DJVM project would have somehow been an embarrassment to you and would have threatened your own reputation.
4. Some combination of the above.
Instead, as a result, I am working today as a cleaner without any realistic prospects of even being able to gain employment in a white collar occupation let alone in IT.
When I went to Canberra in early 2002 I had hoped, if nothing else, to get from my employment simple unambiguous achievement that I could subsequently use to impress prospective employers.
I badly needed a crowning achievement in my CV because, prior to that, my IT career had been very patchy, I would argue, largely for reasons beyond my control.
As it turned out my implementation was indeed exactly that, but neither you nor anyone else bothered to tell me and I was until April 2008 over four years later that I was to learn this.
Because I was not told this, it looked to me, and to any prospective employer, like shelfware which, for all anyone knew, may not have even worked at all.
As I had been denied the chance to actually use the application I had poured my heart and soul into for two years I had no way of knowing if it would have met the requirements of any other user and prospective employers would have only had my word to go on that it had been meticulously tested on up to 72 nodes using novel debugging techniques I had devised myself.
If I had not worked so hard to do that, on occasions against your own counsel, it is most likely that it would have not met the requirements for the Masters Project to implement Aspect Orientation.
Even if it was true that I was seriously wanting as a prospective PhD student as you, Dr Peter Strazdins, Dr Steven Blackburn, Dr Ramesh Sankaranarayana all implied, then, surely, at least I was entitled to some honest feedback well before October 2003, less than two months before my contract was originally due to expire?
In fact, I distinctly recall being told by you only a matter of days before the news was broken to me that I was not to be part of the DJVM project that you considered me an indispensable part of the DJVM team, but that all changed, apparently after the others told you they didn't think I was up to it.
I was subsequently told in January 2004 that only after that did you bother to think more deeply about my performance and come to arrive at the conclusion that I had, indeed, demonstrated my unsuitability months before that as a result of my own contribution to the ARC research grant application having been judged unsatisfactory and as a result of the way I had worked on the first version of the DJVM in 2002.
Whatever the validity or otherwise of those claimed concerns about me, to have not, at some more timely stage, made the effort to have sorted out in your own mind their implications for my own future with the DJVM project and make them known to me, I consider a gross failure in your duty of care to me as my supervisor.
From all the evidence I can see on the DJVM web site, little has been achieved in well over four years since I was unceremoniously dumped from the project.
In fact, given the seeming lack of progress, it seems to me highly probable that you, Dr Peter Strazdins, Dr Ramesh Sankaranarayana and Dr Steven Blackburn have been hasty and wrong in your judgement of me, made behind my back in 2003.
Perhaps now it may be acknowledged that the supposedly excessive time I spent was, indeed, what was necessary to solve the problems I was faced with.
Wherever the truth lies, I was entitled to much more timely feedback so that either I could have been given the opportunity to lift my game or, if that was not possible, to have begun to make realistic preparations for an alternative subsequent career.
In Dr Peter Strazdins' case, it has since become clear to me that he had decided well before the outcome of the ARC research grant applications were known that I was to be dumped from the project but had never made the effort to inform me. To the contrary, he even asked me to participate in the 24 hour pushbike race that was to be shortly held. I took this to be confirmation that he expected me to remain at the ANU. How anyone would imagine that someone, whose career prospects were as grim as he must have known mine to be, would have wanted to spend weeks training for such a physically gruelling event is beyond me.
On the day that the outcome of the ARC research grant applications were announced in October 2003, you burst into the office to break to me the good news that our application had been successful. That naturally led me to believe that I was to be included on the project and that you wished me to be included on the project.
I asked all present including, as I recall, Dr Steven Blackburn, Dr Peter Strazdins and yourself that a meeting be held ASAP so that we could discuss the future of the DJVM project. no-one else bothered to tell me that I was not to be included. In fact, almost a whole week went by before Dr Peter Strazdins bothered to break the news to me and, even then, it was only after I had gone into his office and had raised the issue.
These are only some of the reasons that I consider your overall treatment of me to be inexcusable. It is hard for me to conceive of a more shabby way for any professional to have been treated by former work colleagues, let alone by colleagues I had considered to be friends.
I intend to make a formal complaint of this through whatever channels are still available to me.
Whilst it is not clear if you can be held to account for what you did as you apparently no longer work for the ANU, I also hold Dr Peter Strazdins, Dr Ramesh Sankaranarayana and Dr Steven Blackburn culpable for what happened to me.
Regardless of what my prospects are and regardless of the eventual outcome, I intend to put this on the public record so that others may be warned not to place their trust in you.
James Sinnamon [...]
Red Hill QLD 4059
Documents indicating DJVM project was successful after all
Below I reproduce two emails recording my correspondence with Jennifer Baldwin, the Canadian student who used the virtual java machine that I successfully produced.
Subject: Re: Distributed Java Virtual Machine and AJVM
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008
From: Jennifer Baldwin
To: james.sinnamon [...]
No worries about the delay in replying, takes me awhile as well. But
you never did call me 'Janet'
> So am I right to assume that you encountered no serious bugs in the dJVM?
That's right, we never did find any bugs that weren't introduced by my own
> Do you mean http://djvm.anu.edu.au/download/DJVM-1.1.0.tar.gz
Yes, that's the one. I haven't really looked at it other than noticing
it no longer has patch files so I couldn't use it for the type of
research I was doing anyways.
Subject: Distributed Java Virtual Machine and AJVM
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008
From: James Sinnamon
To: [Jennifer Baldwin]
Dear Jennifer Baldwin,
I worked as a research programmer on the dJVM for two years from 2002 until
I was gratified to learn that the DJVM had been put to use since my
involvement ended. I have just cursorily viewed your documents and found
the dJVM within http://webhome.cs.uvic.ca/~jbaldwin/AJVM.tar.gz
Can I ask how difficult or easy it was to get the dJVM built and then used?
Whilst I had tested it on up to 72 nodes with, as I recall, relatively trivial
Java applications it failed to run a considerably more complex multi-threaded
Java application I had written for an Honours Year project in 2001.
Interfaces were never dealt with as it seemed to me as if no further
modifications to the RVM were required, but when my applicaiton crashed, I
speculated as to whether this because modifications were necessary for
Interfaces. I wasn't able to pursue this.
A cut-throat industry
Given the extremely high rates of unemployment in the Information Technology/Computer Science industry and the lack of industrial protection in that field in Australia, my story must echo the experiences of many computer professionals. Perhaps few will have had their misfortune amplified to the degree that mine was, but my awful experience still serves to highlight the downstream impact that casual arrogance in employers and supervisors in any field may ultimately produce. Surely in a world less characterised by the anonymity of globalisation and constant people movement, and so-called efficiency, it would be much harder for human beings to treat each other so badly, without actually declaring war.
Towards maintaining credentials in the computer industry, I built the political and environmental internet site candobetter.org (which later became candobetter.net). After my injury I was no longer able to maintain the site, but Sheila Newman, my major collaborator on candobetter.net, has gone out of her way to salvage and oversee its management. For me, this was tremendously important. Without that site I would possibly have little connection with my former activities in the social and political sphere.
Santa Claus is now in gear
Santa acted on bad advice and sold the lot
He really didn’t care a jot
For monetary rewards
Which the boss could get with much lower awards,
As workers slaving all over the world
Earn much less than at the Pole we’re told
So many changes came to bear
Santa was nearly pulling out his hair!
His polar elves stood to get the sack
But he held fast to them as they had the knack
Of making toys beyond compare,
They truly had just so much flare.
So was it good or was it bad?
Or was Santa really "had"?
He works so hard with his staff of elves
He was told they would have much more for themselves,
But as they’re paid in toys, not money
The whole thing seems just terribly funny!
Power centralised to Commonwealth means that Australia is no longer an authentic federation
There is general consensus among scholars, political commentators and others that over time a centralisation of power has occurred at the Commonwealth level in Australia [Bell, 2006 p171, Brown,2006 p12, Emy, 1997p387, Peters, 2006,p57, Twomey & Withers, 2007p.4, Wiltshire,.2006,p189]. Arguably, Australia is no longer an authentic federation. Federal structures legitimated in the Australian Constitution Act [ACA] (usually known simply as ‘The Australian Constitution’) are retained, established ‘norms’ of intergovernmental relations continue but power is firmly in the hands of the Commonwealth government and associated elites. I will argue below the Australian system of government thereby also fails to adhere to the principles of the rule of law and that Australian governments are failing to perform the primary function of government: to protect and secure the welfare of the people residing within their jurisdiction.
Power and authority
To have the power to govern is not the same as to hold legitimate authority to do so. In order to examine the ways in which the present system of government in Australia violates the principles of the rule of law, these principles will first be briefly described. How the Australian system of government violates these principles is then outlined. And, finally, strategies are suggested as preliminary approaches needed to break down the barriers to reform. If and how these violations can be corrected is conditional upon the successful removal of these barriers, with the Australian society finding a set of shared principles upon which to base a revised theory of government.
States and Governments
The concept of ‘State ’ is indispensable in the understanding of our current political world. States are the principal actors on the international stage and by far the most significant actors on their own territory”. [Skinner, 2011] It is also central to any understanding of the rule of law. Government is ‘state’-based. In mainstream discourse, government and state are often used interchangeably, as synonyms. They are not.
“Government is the means through which the authority of the State is brought into operation” [Heywood 2000, p40]. Hence ‘government’ is inseparable from the State: it cannot exist without a ‘state’.
According to the fictional theory of state as outlined by Skinner, “the conduct of government is morally acceptable if and only if it basically serves to protect the welfare and safety of the person of the state, that is to say our person – the fictional person – we are considered together as the person of the state. …. The duty of our rulers”, the government, “is to promote the good of that person”. This raises “the spectre of the common good… over and against theories of individual rights.”
The State, “the fictional person endures beyond the lifetime of any of us present” has, as originally posited by Hobbes, an artificial eternity of life. [Skinner, 2011] [Hobbes,1651]. This theory of the State places the common good to the fore and provides a specific meaning to the role of the demos in the state, a democratic state. The fictional person – every individual as one is the raison d’état - constitutes the state. According to the fictional theory of state, the legitimate authority to govern is to assure the well-being and security of the state’s ‘person’.
Pogge  and [Held 1996] in outlining their differing views on cosmopolitanism share with many other theorists the view that the primary political unit is the individual and therefore the criterion for legitimate authority to govern lies in the observance of human rights. Is the State the collective in the form of a fictional person or a multitude of individuals? How can authority be vested in either the collective in the form of the almost eternal fictional person or the multitude of individuals? Power vested in the people as a whole is the sine qua non of democracy.
Rule of law and rule by law
Aristotle concludes government is better exercised through the rule of law than by the ‘rule of men’ “… it is preferable that government be by or in accordance with law, since (i) laws are products of reason(s) not passion(s}, (ii) the sovereignty of a ruler or assembly tends to tyranny [i.e. rule in interests of a section, not common good, (iii) equality demands that each mature person have some share in governing, and (iv) rotation of offices and office-holders is desirable and can hardly be managed without regal regulation.” [Finnis, J. 2010 paraphrasing Aristotle’s Politics III:15]
Not only is law based on reason, but it is based on reasoning applied and tested by many people to the accumulated experience of a society of people over time: hopefully accumulated wisdom.
Rule by law as protection against tyranny implies ruling in the common good, equality and political liberty, limitations on length of office, if not specifically representation and regulation: all elements of democratic liberal theory.
The ‘rule of law’ is then when primary and supreme authority of the state is vested in the law [Finnis, J. 2011]. The rule of law is independent of government[s]; it applies equally to the rulers and the ruled. It must be “administered fairly, rationally, predictably, consistently and impartially. Improper external influences, including inducements and pressures, are inconsistent with each of these objectives.” [Spiegelman2003]
The rule of law is different from rule by law. The rule of law “is not merely the opposite of the lack of law, of anarchy…. [it] is not the systematic and constant application of laws – that is rule by law” [Stephens1999]. It is based on reason, developing shared understanding over time: creating an accepted wisdom to protect the society/State/individuals as a whole. It cannot be imposed, requires nurturing and commands respect: the lore of binding rules.
As a self-proclaimed liberal democratic nation with a federal system of government, recent and contemporary governments in Australia are in flagrant violation of many, if not most of the principles inherent in those claims. The rule of law as outlined above is the overarching principle of good democratic government and it is not operating. In the Australian system of government, it is strictly rule by law as opposed to democratic rule of law. The two major parties, Labor and the Non-Labor coalitions have effectively captured the executive and legislature, the parliament, at both Commonwealth and state levels. Competition for executive power, increasingly adversarial nature of daily politics inside and outside of parliament, masks the fact that both ‘sides’ of politics share an interest in maintaining the level of power now acquired at the central level and face common challenges in setting agenda to govern when much of the decision making power over much of what was previously confined to the nation-states is increasingly in the hands of international ‘forces’ and they have lost the capacity to engage with and gain authentically the support of the public.
Power ever more distant from the people: Central government saps states of power
As stated in the introduction, there is little or no discernible authentic division of power between the Commonwealth and the state governments: power is firmly in the hands of the Commonwealth government in direct violation of this defining principle of federation. Federalism is a form of democratic government: it is premised on the sharing of power. The federal division of powers is one of the primary measures to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of the few. This polarisation of power in the Australian government is inextricably linked to a much broader upward spiral of power and wealth that is occurring globally [Pogge,T 2011]
Inaccessible justice system
The inevitable consequence of the concentration of the power and wealth in the hands of the few is the disempowerment and impoverishment of the many: this of itself is a form of tyranny.
“The fundamental rational of liberal democracy is to guarantee its citizens political liberty and equality of legal status… Both together entail measures to ensure all citizens have effective access to, and fair and humane treatment in and by the courts [Emy 1997 p. 393] This is put forward as an argument to advance the case of a limited bill of rights.
Neither of these ‘rights’ are guaranteed nor protected by the Constitution or by legislation. In the reality of the average wage earner, access to the justice system is severely compromised for most Australians due to the costs involved. Many in the legal profession and the courts are of the elites. While space prevents providing detailed evidence to this effect, the ex-High Court Judge Michael Kirby confirmed that access to the justice system is “the really central fault of our legal system” – “the problem really is a structural problem and if you want to do something really, you have to do something revolutionary.” It should be noted that, aside from the prohibitive costs of seeking redress in the justice system, the amount of legislation being passed by government has increased enormously over the last ten years. The amount, length and complexity of legislation contribute to a lack of understanding within the community.
Two party stranglehold on power makes change very difficult
If the above diagnosis is correct, how can these violations of the rule of law or democratic practice be corrected? “…any substantive amendment [to the Constitution] requires bipartisan agreement and the efforts by the major parties to mobilise consensual support amongst a sometime truculent electorate” [Emy, p.392] As stated above, the major parties have a shared interest in maintaining the level of power [and wealth] acquired as they are competing for the same prize. There is no incentive to diminish the power in the prize. Proposals for change to the current powers of the parliament are unlikely to be tabled in the current Commonwealth parliament. Even reforms not requiring constitutional amendment will require bipartisan agreement and are unlikely to impact or lessen the powers of the current parliament.
There is no evidence of impending popular uprising only of disaffection, even alienation. The something ‘revolutionary’ mentioned by ex-Chief Justice Kirby to render the system of justice more affordable and accessible is not so easily identified. Power and wealth once acquired are rarely relinquished without coercion or struggle. The legal profession is unlikely to accept the basic wage for their services. There are some signs of a mounting number of issues causing increased activism in some quarters but effective mechanisms of campaigning in the public domain are lacking. Mainstream media are largely controlled by powerful elites with vested interest in maintaining the status quo. The ‘social media’, while effective in reaching those with declared interests in a given subject area, are in fact not very effective in reaching an audience as diverse as the Australian electorate.
Reasons to reform the Australian government system
The main reasons to initiate reform of the Australian system of government are a moral ones: the alleviation of preventable human suffering through better government; to improve the security and well being of people residing within the jurisdiction of the Australian state; to establish the rule of law with a system of government established with the consent of the people.
Reform is required to halt and reverse the current polarisation of power and wealth that has for corollary the disempowerment and impoverishment of many. As a willing member of the Anglo-US axis of power, Australian governments are complicit in oppression caused by the phenomenon of globalisation within and beyond Australian borders.
Structural reforms required to system
The structural reforms proposed in much of the literature – the creation of new states or regions, the strengthening of local government, tax reforms to redress the vertical imbalance by the reinstatement of state fiscal powers have been unable to demonstrate how they can be achieved in reality. The number and breadth of proposals indicate that it is structural reform of the system of government, of the political system itself that is required.
Strategies and starting points in the Australian Constitution Act (ACA)
Before forming a proposal for structural reform, it is necessary to identify a strategy to break down the barriers to reform. It is also necessary to find a starting point. The Constitution - the Australian Constitution Act (ACA) - is a possible starting point for two reasons. Firstly, it is the foundation document of the consolidation of Australia as a nation-state – for better or worse – it is a shared point of reference. While it may not have been accessible to all of the people all of the time, it must become so to legitimate any significant reform. Firstly, in order to assist with understanding as to why revision/reform is required and demonstrate respect for what has gone before in order to promote respect for the process and for the revised Constitution. Secondly, because the ACA enshrines principles that should be retained, if the Australian people wish to build on what is, to create a genuinely democratic federation. The principles of the separation of powers, of federalism itself, of electoral representation and referenda, based on sound reason, all aspects of the ACA can be revised to reflect that which has been learned from experience over more than a century and with reasoned expectations of political participation from all sections of contemporary society.
Constitutional Revision – The Preamble
A proposal to revise the Constitution – a task accomplished by the Helvetic Confederation in the 1990s - would not be welcomed by the major parties, which between them, have a strong parliamentary majority. Even if a proposal of substance to bring positive reforms were put to them, it still would not succeed if it impinged in any way on their current powers. It is in their vested interest to preserve the status quo. The only proposal to which they may be amenable – with sufficient electoral pressure and underpinned by strong moral incentive – would be a revised Preamble to the Constitution. While a revised preamble may initially have no immediate ramifications, a preamble that clearly and succinctly outlines the principles of government supported by a wide audience would be a stepping stone to raising the debate for a revision of the Constitution itself as one coherent document.
Practical alliance of State with Local and Regional government and institutions
On another front, those with the most to lose or who have lost already, may fight the next battle better. Local government is subject to radical change through state legislation. State governments, despite appearances, have lost fiscal and other powers. The so-called residual powers that is the Constitutional powers of the states have been neutralised through High Court judgements ruling in favour of the Commonwealth.
If the States’ politicians wish to regain and retain power within an Australian federation, they need to ally themselves with, not try to control, the regional institutes and local governments that are effectively under their regulation. Winning hearts and minds in those areas by effective institutional support and improved service provision is something valuable of itself. It is a strategy that would assist both the powerful and the less powerful: with institutional and electoral support, State politicians could also better defend their position in the federation.
Focussing the assets that one has on doing what is required as opposed to wasting effort on lobbying and negotiating for that which may not succeed, is amounts to preventing losses and consolidating one’s own power.
An indication that there is shared interest across the States to initiate a strategy of some kind for reform is the establishment of the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) in 2006. This represented a small step to draw attention to the fate of the federation. Setting up institutions, however, is the political equivalent to the bureaucrats calling a meeting. The impact will not be felt in the wider Australian electorate. A joint state level strategy faces nonetheless the barrier of the two-party system. Will politicians be willing to break ranks within their parties to support the reinstatement of state powers in the federation? Or does it require significant electoral success by smaller parties and/or a rise in the number of Independent Members to strengthen state-based initiatives for reform?
The need for reform is urgent; the scale of reform required is significant. The barriers will be difficult to dismantle. The successful passage of any reform to the federation requires a paradigm shift reversing the impacts and repercussions of three decades of neo-liberal capitalist practices. Success will be conditional upon the political good will and cooperation of current elites [parliamentarians, federal court judges, and major capitalist lobbies, [media moguls, business, mining, professional associations, etc.] and/or the art of persuasion or tools of coercion to elicit the requisite cooperation. Legitimate positive democratic reform will require the sound understanding and the good will of many of the diverse interest groups within the Australian community to identify and validate authentically shared values and beliefs that can underpin the principles for a federation reformed or a nation refocused on democratic government and a more humane society.
 When used with a capital ‘State’ refers to the national entity: the nation-state. When used with a small ‘s’ ‘state’ refers to a federated unit within the nation-state.
 The Australian public is said to be more likely to accept a revised Preamble rather than change the main text of the Constitution. The former is symbolic and not enforceable by law where contested concepts are present. However, the recognition of Aboriginal people and of local government is a way to lead in to the need for significant Constitutional changes by ‘amendment’ or indeed the need for a new Constitution.
Aristotle “Politics – A treatise on Government” translated from the Greed by William Ellis. Publ by JM Dent&Sons Ltd 1928 – eBook edition
Bell, P (2006) “How Local Government Can Save Australia’s Federal System” in A.J. Brown & j. Bellamy (eds.), Federalism & regionalism in Australia 11: 171-184 Sydney, NSW: ANU Epress. Retrieved July 2012 from http://epress.anu.edu.au
Emy, H  “Unfinished Business: Confirming Australia’s Constitution as an Act of Political Settlement” in Australian Journal of Political Science; 32:3,383-400
Fenna, A  “Adaptation and reform in Australian Federalism”, in Tomorrow’s Federation -Reforming Australian Government, Kildea, P., Lynch, A and Williams, [eds], The Federation Press Ch.2pp. 26-42
Finnis, J  “Natural Law Theories”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition) Edward N. Zalta (ed.) URL = Galligan, D.  “The Indirect Origins of Judicial Constitutions” The 2011 Annual Lecture in Law and Society, The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, Oxford University. Podcast. Gallop, G  “The Future of Federalism” Keynote address: Institute of Public Administration Australia, Perth, Western Australia. September 2007 [Transcript] . Gallop, G  The COAG Reform Council: A View from the Inside in Tomorrow’s Federation -Reforming Australian Government, Kildea, P., Lynch, A and Williams, [eds], The Federation Press Ch.2pp. 43-52 Held, D. (2004) “Democratic Accountability and Political Effectiveness from a Cosmopolian Perspective” Heywood, A 2000, Key Concepts in Politics, Palgrave Macmillan, New York. Hobbes, T. 1651 “Of the several kinds of Common-Wealth by Instiution, and of the succession to the soveraigne power” in Leviathan or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Commonwealth Ch.XIX: Project Gutenberg eBook released October 11,2009. Kirby, M.  Interview at a book launch of A J Brown’s Michael Kirby: Paradoxes and Principles at the ANU Faculty of Law, Canberra = podcast Patapan, H.  “Separation of Powers in Australia” Australian Journal of Political Science, 34:3,391-407 Pellet, A  “State sovereignty and the protection of fundamental human rights: an international law perspective.” Pugwash Online – Conferences on Science and World Affairs: Occasional Papers, 1:I at www.pugwash.org/reports/re/pellet.htm Peters, Mal  “Towards a Wider Debate on Federal and Regional Governance: The Rural Dimension” in Federalism & regionalism in Australia. Brown, A.J., & Bellamy, J. (eds.). Sydney, NSW. ANU ePress. Ch 4 pp57-70 Retreived July 2012 from http://epress.anu.edu.au Philpott, D  “Sovereignty” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sovereignty downloaded 12 September 2012 Pogge, T.  Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty in Ethics,? 48-75 Pogge, T.  “Globationsation, Inequality and the State” lecture in The State of the State lecture series, Oxford University downloaded iTunes, 7 August 2012. Skinner, Q.  “The Genealogy of the State” lecture in The State of the State lecture series, Oxford University, downloaded iTunes 7 August 2012. Spigelman, CJ, NSW  “Address at International Legal Services Advisory Council Conference” quoted at www.ruleolawaustralia.com.au/principles Stephen, N.  “1999 Annual Lawyers Lecture, St James Ethics Centre” quoted on www.ruleoflawaustralia.org.au/principles accessed 12 July 2012. Sypnowick, C  “Law and Ideology” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2010/entries/law-ideology download September 15, 2012. Twomey, A & Withers, G. (2007) “Federalist Paper 1: Australia’s Federal Future: Delivering Growth and Prosperity. A Report or the Council or the Australia Federation” prepared at the request of the Premier of the Government of Victoria, S. Bracks. Wiltshire, K. (2006) “Reforming Australian governance: Old states, no states or new states” in A.J. Brown & j. Bellamy (eds.), Federalism & regionalism in Australia 12: 185-200 Sydney, NSW: ANU Epress. Retrieved July 2012 from http://epress.anu.edu.au
accessed 12 July 2012.
Galligan, D.  “The Indirect Origins of Judicial Constitutions” The 2011 Annual Lecture in Law and Society, The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, Oxford University. Podcast.
Gallop, G  “The Future of Federalism” Keynote address: Institute of Public Administration Australia, Perth, Western Australia. September 2007 [Transcript] .
Gallop, G  The COAG Reform Council: A View from the Inside in Tomorrow’s Federation -Reforming Australian Government, Kildea, P., Lynch, A and Williams, [eds], The Federation Press Ch.2pp. 43-52
Held, D. (2004) “Democratic Accountability and Political Effectiveness from a Cosmopolian Perspective”
Heywood, A 2000, Key Concepts in Politics, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
Hobbes, T. 1651 “Of the several kinds of Common-Wealth by Instiution, and of the succession to the soveraigne power” in Leviathan or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Commonwealth Ch.XIX: Project Gutenberg eBook released October 11,2009.
Kirby, M.  Interview at a book launch of A J Brown’s Michael Kirby: Paradoxes and Principles at the ANU Faculty of Law, Canberra = podcast
Patapan, H.  “Separation of Powers in Australia” Australian Journal of Political Science, 34:3,391-407
Pellet, A  “State sovereignty and the protection of fundamental human rights: an international law perspective.” Pugwash Online – Conferences on Science and World Affairs: Occasional Papers, 1:I at www.pugwash.org/reports/re/pellet.htm
Peters, Mal  “Towards a Wider Debate on Federal and Regional Governance: The Rural Dimension” in Federalism & regionalism in Australia. Brown, A.J., & Bellamy, J. (eds.). Sydney, NSW. ANU ePress. Ch 4 pp57-70 Retreived July 2012 from http://epress.anu.edu.au
Philpott, D  “Sovereignty” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sovereignty downloaded 12 September 2012
Pogge, T.  Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty in Ethics,? 48-75
Pogge, T.  “Globationsation, Inequality and the State” lecture in The State of the State lecture series, Oxford University downloaded iTunes, 7 August 2012.
Skinner, Q.  “The Genealogy of the State” lecture in The State of the State lecture series, Oxford University, downloaded iTunes 7 August 2012.
Spigelman, CJ, NSW  “Address at International Legal Services Advisory Council Conference” quoted at www.ruleolawaustralia.com.au/principles
Stephen, N.  “1999 Annual Lawyers Lecture, St James Ethics Centre” quoted on www.ruleoflawaustralia.org.au/principles accessed 12 July 2012.
Sypnowick, C  “Law and Ideology” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2010/entries/law-ideology download September 15, 2012.
Twomey, A & Withers, G. (2007) “Federalist Paper 1: Australia’s Federal Future: Delivering Growth and Prosperity. A Report or the Council or the Australia Federation” prepared at the request of the Premier of the Government of Victoria, S. Bracks.
Wiltshire, K. (2006) “Reforming Australian governance: Old states, no states or new states” in A.J. Brown & j. Bellamy (eds.), Federalism & regionalism in Australia 12: 185-200 Sydney, NSW: ANU Epress. Retrieved July 2012 from http://epress.anu.edu.au
(Article by Sheila Newman and Tony Boys.) Burma, now known as Myanmar, nationalised its oil and gas industries after a long history of foreign exploitation. Now the new government seems to be making friends with globalists and, Australian-style, setting up to sell their resources for what looks like the final gasp of the growth/industrial economy. Comments from Tony Boys, regional specialist, on how the locals may fare.
Article by Sheila Newman and Tony Boys.
Burmah/Myanmar oil and gas exploration history
In the second world war the Japanese invaded Burma (now called Myanmar) in part to gain access to its oil reserves and remained there until 1944, when they were defeated.
Scotland originating Burmah Oil Company was the sole oil company to operate in Burma until 1901, with the entry of Standard Oil.
In 1963 Burmah nationalised its petroleum industry, creating the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). The company was the sole operator for oil and gas exploration, production and transmission, with a 1,900km onshore pipeline grid. A French energy group, Total S.A. partnered MOGE in the Yadana natural gas pipeline, along with Chevron Corporation, a US-based company and PTT, a Thai state-owned oil and gas company. (Source Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanma_Oil_and_Gas_Enterprise.)
Foreign exploration and development corporations are eyeing Myanmar's precious minerals with a view to moving in for the kill. Industry advocates are pressing for "more open investment rules" in line with other middle-income Asian nations. Myanmar is located close to China and India with their scarily boundless appetites for raw materials, so the corporate race is on to dig it all up as fast as possible to 'kickstart' China and the rest of the world from their real-time economic doldrums and put them back on some buried sunlight time.
The international mining industry, not too fond of paying its way, is portraying Myanmar as more attractive than Australia and Indonesia since those countries enacted new taxes on mining. In the mean time Australia and the United states recently modified economic sanctions against Myanmar perhaps because its new government looks somewhat more democratic, with Aung San Suu Kyi now in parliament or possibly because the new government is talking about opening up to foreign investment and human rights have never posed much of a problem there.
What ever is happening, it doesn't look like this 'democracy' will be much better for Myanmar than what has happened in the past, just corporate rather than national, and, really, capitalist rather than democratic perhaps.
GlobalData, a UK-based business research company, in a press release, "Myanmar - An emerging natural resources powerhouse," (8 October 2012) say that the government has
"expressed interest in joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for increasing transparency in the extractive sector. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the mining sector’s contribution to Myanmar’s GDP has increased from MMK15 billion ($2.3 billion) in 2000 to MMK367 billion ($56.2 billion) in 2010 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 37.6%. Myanmar holds minerals such as lead, zinc, silver, chromium, copper, gold, and precious gems.
The country also has several major oil and gas fields, but a lack of technology and low participation from foreign oil companies has left most of its hydrocarbon reserves unexploited. However, May 2012 saw the Ministry of Energy announce that foreign oil companies will be allowed to make upstream investments in 23 offshore oil and gas blocks in the country.
Myanmar holds proven oil and gas reserves of 2.1 billion barrels (bbl) and 25 trillion cubic feet (tcf) respectively as of April 2011. Additionally, the country’s energy ministry estimates its domestic shale oil reserves to be around 3.3 million barrels (MMbbl). FDI in Myanmar’s oil and gas industry stood at about $13.8 billion for 2011–2012, representing almost 31% of the country’s GDP. However, the country must become a more investor-friendly nation to attract bigger international investments, and develop its fossil fuel production."
To put this in perspective, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) ranks Myanmar at 70th in the world with estimated proven reserves of 0.05 billion (250,000,000) barrels of oil per day and 37th with estimated proven reserves of gas of 10 trillion cubic feet. World oil usage is currently around 25,000,000,000 barrels per year. There is no way of verifying the real accuracy of these estimates because the data is mostly commercially sourced and used to justify commercial exploration where it might not otherwise be undertaken. Press releases are notoriously prone to exaggerate for impact.
What does this really mean for Myanmar?
"Industrial growth in Myanmar could potentially benefit every strata of society, promoting employment opportunities and economic development ... states a new report by natural resources experts GlobalData."
Commercial press releases are also always inclined to make industrial growth and extraction sound great for the people in a country where it occurs. The reality is that corporate scale mining, agriculture and construction always take land out of traditional hands which are rarely compensated. Self-sufficient people thus displaced are expected to train and fit into a new extractive and contractual economy, which erases their place in the world and expects them to pay rent where once they owned productive land.
Japan-based Tony Boys has written extensively about local tribal people in this area of the world, where he has travelled with musicians and studied the languages. (Read more and see photos of agricultural cycle and hill people's rich lives here.) He comments:
"Clearly this is going to mean more disruption for the Karen and other nationality people - the Kachin are also mentioned - since they are the ones who live in the mountains, where most of the mining is going to take place (but not oil and gas, which seems to be offshore).
The GlobalData press release describes Myanmar's environment as requiring
"protection from policy makers, who must control excessive felling of trees, the proper treatment of mining waste and water systems, and illegal mining. Mining without using proper safeguards can also put miners’ safety at risk, and harmful mining practices have been observed at gold mines in the states of Kachin and Karen, and in copper mines in Northern Myanmar."
If there is renewed logging then there will most probably be a government push to get indigenous peoples (IPs) totally out of the forest, not to simply prevent them from carrying out swidden farming (this was the main story in Thailand, but the Karen and other IPs managed to prevent the worst from happening - physical relocation - though some villages were forcibly relocated in the 80s.) That sort of thing is very likely to happen in Maynmar. There are plenty of Karen in Myanmar living in the flatlands, so the government is likely to just shrug their shoulders and say 'better for them in the flatlands than in the hills, where life is tough and where the hill people are destroying the forests anyway...'.
Although tin is not mentioned, I have seen a few places where Karen villages are associated with tin resources in N. Thailand. When the mining company moves in to mine the resources (generally just stripping off the surface) I suppose they have permission from the (local) government to do so, but the villagers are told absolutely nothing. They are even told lies about what is being mined or being done - it's so bad that I had to figure out what had been mined in one village about 15 years after it happened because NO ONE in the village knew what it was!! It took me a while to realize it was tin (and I had seen similar situations in two other places). There did not seem to be any serious health effects and so on, and the area was small (might have been a failure, actually) so good for them, but if there is gold found near a village, that will really mean the end. Mountains of tailings and arsenic is used in the process, I believe, so no one wants to be living near that! (There's a gold-mining area I've visited in NZ, just on the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula - the locals were very angry. There were also gold prospectors wandering the hills all over the peninsula - the locals were on the watch out for them and sometimes even threatened them at gunpoint if they were on anyone's land. You can imagine what the situation is likely to be in Myanmar...)
If it were Aung San Suu Kyi totally in charge, maybe not so bad. I think the IPs can trust her. But she is not in charge, and even if she were, mining is likely to take place. The country has to develop, doesn't it? Do we have any alternative development scenarios in Myanmar? Not to my knowledge. So they're stuck with selling their resources for what looks like the final gasp of the growth/industrial economy.
Unfortunately, not a few people (IPs) are going to have their lives very badly disrupted by this. It's very, very sad. So is Fukushima, so is Koodankulam and everywhere where big money is imposing it's dangerous and dirty technology on the ordinary, powerless people." (Tony Boys).
In her Quarterly Essay piece, "Great Expectations," Laura Tingle loads a gun with a big bullet that she never shoots - which I thought any writer knew was a no-no. She says that "constant mass migration" " more than anything else" pushed the Australian economy and the population through waves of rapid change. The whole time I was reading her essay I was waiting for the gun to go off and for Detective Tingle to say two obvious things ... ...
This is a review of Australian Financial Review's Chief Economics editor, Laura Tingle's sweeping condemnation but interesting analysis of Australians' perceived expectations of democracy, which should not go unanswered. Having googled and found no critical responses, I wrote my own.[Ed: On 8 Aug 2012, Notes 8 and 9 ammended to eliminate confusion re Khemlani loan minutes.]
Review of Laura Tingle, "Great Expectations" in Quarterly Essay, Issue 46, June 2012.
Tingle says 'Entitlement'; you say 'Rights'
Laura Tingle's thesis (if you can call it that) is that Australian governments not only fail to deliver, but that they don't have the power to deliver what the public expects anymore.
According to her, this situation came about in the following way: Australian government began by administering a dependent population in a patronising way. Australians became passive recipients of government benefits - to the extent, Tingle believes, that convicts seemed almost more inclined to die of starvation than to try to feed themselves by farming. Moreover, after the gold rush, Australian men got the vote and could run for parliament whether or not they had property and the quality of politicians declined compared to that when only people with property could vote. In these circumstances, politicians with poor manners came to dominate parliament and Australians therefore lost respect for their politicians.
With deregulation and privatisation (under Hawke and Keating), governments dissolved the very institutions that gave them power. Because of Hawke and Keating's actions Australian governments now have so little power that they are unable to satisfy the promises they make at election time to the electorate.
Both Howard and Rudd attempted to counter this institutional impotence with handouts to individuals. Howard pretended that he was into small government and Rudd revelled in big government. Howard lost government because the electorate rejected Workchoices. Rudd was removed by his own party because he was unable to live up to the expectations he had himself created.
The party replaced Rudd with Julia Gillard but she has problems because she now heads a minority government. Australians don't like minority governments, says Laura Tingle, repeating the mantra from Fairfax and Murdoch newspapers, which are more into telling people how they feel about Gillard and minority government than finding out what Australians really think about Gillard. Tingle concludes that the social contract needs to be renegotiated: Australians need to decide what they want from government and government needs to decide what it can still actually do in an "open economy".
The essay is badly structured because it raises issues then never returns to them, reading like something edited at the last moment to remove some paragraphs that were originally included, thus reducing the sense of the argument. It is long and filled with assertions that strike me as dubious, based on somewhat cherry-picked arguments. I can only take on a few and have chosen some of those which I consider most flawed by ideology. In some cases a class bias is so blatant that one looks for the punchline, but, it seems, Ms Tingle does not mean to show a funny side in her views.
The idea that politicians post gold rush were of poor quality
For the idea that the politicians post gold rush were of poor quality Tingle provides no justification except that they were ordinary people of presumed lesser education than those furnished by a system that required people to own property in order to run for election or to vote. Tingle nonetheless has noted in the same text that Governor Arthur Phillip made children's education mandatory and free in the Australian colonies, and therefore that ordinary Australians were better educated than ordinary British.. The well-educated property owning politicians took refuge in the NSW Upper House, according to Tingle. (It seems to me that the same thing happened in Britain, where there was no gold rush, but business replaced landed gentry and peerage as coal and iron overshadowed agricultural production in the industrial revolution.)
On pages 19-20, in order to show that Australians were, from the get-go, dependent 'entitled' people, Tingle quotes Hirst (without mentioning that he is known by some as a slavery revisionist)  in Colonial Society and its Enemies who wrote that convicts during the first settlement were content to use up rations as food was running out and showed no interest in producing food for themselves.
From the diary of a man who was actually there, Watkin Tench, as edited by Tim Flannery, you would learn, however, that people could not grow food properly in the first two years because they had been shipped out without sufficient tools and did not have farming skills. And Laura Tingle should know (considering she is an economic journalist) that growing food was extremely difficult in Australia without mechanisation and fertilisers. As for a reputed passivity among convicts, the regime of the first settlement was a terrifying one where, as well as frequent floggings and solitary confinements someone was executed, often for stealing food, every other day.
Tingle often uses the word 'paternalistic' to describe Australian government from the earliest days of settlement, but a better word would be authoritarian. By using the word 'paternalistic' however, which has a somewhat benevolent undertone, she also manages to characterise Australians as childlike and passive. With Hirst's help, convicts emerge as wimps who tugged at Daddy Governor's apron strings, thus copping a few well-deserved slaps. This caricature sets the tone for this digest of Australian government powers and citizens' rights.
"Entitlement" and "Rights"
'Entitlement' is a new slur-word to denigrate democracy and Tingle often uses it instead of the term 'rights', and when she uses 'rights' she puts them down:
Tingle: "Men would commonly march on government buildings demanding work when things were difficult, and politicians would oblige." (p.26)
"Many of the laws that determined how we lived, our rights, even our rail gauges, had been passed. A strong expectation that governments would ultimately look after us and provide us with work had firmly taken root, along with our cynicism about politicians." p.27.
"We fought relatively little for rights, since so many came from our British inheritance." (p.25)
There are many similar examples.
Although Tingle mentions that the French Revolution took place simultaneously with the establishment of the first settlement in Australia, her knowledge of its impact seems negligible. She talks vaguely of human rights and accuses Australia of not being interested or involved in these because, she implies, Australian rights came almost seamlessly bestowed by the bureaucracy. She gives no examples of the Australian rights to which she alludes (unless she means the ability of freed convicts to buy land and to be paid for work), but she also seems to be unaware that these rights and many more are enshrined at law in the bulk of European polities through Napoleon's civil code and its imitations, all of which followed on from the first part of the French Revolution. Various rulers during the long period of revolution tried to convince the French people that they were pretentious and suffering from 'entitlement' and wars were fought by Britain with other royal houses and the church to stop them getting democracy, but today the French have real rights and so no upstart can accuse them of empty attitude or 'entitlement'.
Australia has no such citizens' rights enshrined at law. Perhaps once, when we had state banks, state assets (like Telecom) and state housing and government unemployment services, and universal pension rights, we could speak of rights provided by institutions, however. As such institutions have been privatised and deregulated by Hawke, Keating and Howard, we have of course lost those implied and institutionalised rights, just as the governments have lost the power to provide them. What is left is the right to vote (for governments with no means to power) and the right to rent land for housing from the banks via extortionate mortgages (but not the ability to own it outright because population growth has inflated its cost).[5a]
Immigration and Population Growth
Right at the beginning, Laura Tingle loads a gun with a big bullet that she never shoots - which I thought any writer knew was a no-no. She says that "constant mass migration" " more than anything else" pushed the Australian economy and the population through waves of rapid change. The whole time I was reading her essay I was waiting for the gun to go off and for Detective Tingle to say #LossOfControl">two obvious things:
1. High immigration is a major factor in our loss of control over cost of living, [notably land (especially for housing), water and fuel prices and all the things that depend on these - i.e. everything] and
2. Immigration numbers are one thing that the government CAN still control, [but it only seeks to grow them].
Instead of pointing out that "constant mass migration" can still be controlled by government, Tingle concludes her essay with the general idea that Australian governments have lost control over most processes in this country and that now there needs to be some kind of discussion about what governments can actually do for Australians and what Australians want and can ask for from governments. How such a discussion could proceed is not obvious, unless it is to be via the usual media-theatre, like Rudd's 2020 summit, where journalists and a few talking heads from pseudo-academia, peak growth lobby groups and parliament, have a pseudo proxy discussion purportedly on behalf of the rest of us and decide to go on with more of the same. Tingle rubbishes Julia Gillard's idea for a Citizens Assembly and the mainstream press made out that Australians rejected it (using a newspaper commissioned poll), but why would Australians reject some means of democratic control?
The fact is that Australia, unlike my example of France, has no effective system of delegates to represent citizens. All opinions are manufactured from the 'top' down. We don't have real democracy. If we had had real democracy we would not have lost control of the significant powers and processes in this country. Australians have shown that, given the democratic opportunity, they will always vote against privatisation and deregulation. The problem is, as Laura Tingle and James Sinnamon, "Privatisation Backlash," make clear, they are rarely or never given the opportunity in time for it to make a difference. Government and the press unite to keep these matters off the agenda. Laura Tingle's essay is surprising because she admits these things as losses that the corporate agenda of the Australian Financial Review, which provides her media voice, supports and markets as if they were public benefits. It seems to be the case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, or more accurately, crying "Fire" after the house has burned down.
Unaffordable land for housing
Unsaid in Tingle's essay, however, is that a major complication of high population growth is high housing prices. The property development lobby with mines and building materials upstream and banks, solicitors, and state governments addicted to stamp duty taxes downstream, constantly demands more immigration via its lobby groups, which include the absolutely huge Property Council of Australia, the Real Estate Institute of Australia, the Housing Industry of Australia, the Australian Population Institute (APop), the Multicultural Foundation of Australia, the Institute of Global Movements, and veritable legions of others. This is a long established problem which has greatly worsened as the Australian housing market has been opened up to the world with the Foreign Investment Review Board removing nearly all barriers to foreign purchasers and investors.  With the rise of the internet, every solicitor, real estate agent, migration agent, mall rental agent, and foreign student tout has been able to market individually to the world.
Tingle on housing prices and foreign debt
The most obvious ills that have come from the loss of control that Tingle does describe are those related to open economy/market and high housing prices, as Tingle does admit. (pp42-43):
"Yet, after attacking Labor for years for not reining in foreign debt, Howard presided over an increase in it at a time when Australia's terms of trade were the best they had been for a generation. A country's foreign debt funds the cost for the difference between what it exports and what it imports. Even if governments cut their debt by not spending as much, someone still has to borrow overseas to cover the difference. Under Howard, however unwittingly, it was households that started to raise foreign debt via their demands for credit from banks that borrowed overseas on their behalf.
Rod Tiffen and Ross Gittins point out in the 2009 edition of their book How Australia compares that Australian household debt in relation to disposable income almost doubled during the Howard years. Some other countries have even higher levels of household indebtedness, but Australia is now considerably above the average. A central reason for this was the increasing price of housing, with Australia experiencing one of the sharpest rises in prices worldwide, so that mortgages in relation to income grew prodigiously during the Howard years. This suggested increased financial stress for many people, despite the relatively good economic growth.
But, as Tiffen and Gittins also observe, current account balances, household debt and house prices were outcomes of markets. Government had limited influence over the decisions of the individuals and companies who traded in those markets. (...)
Howard's response to the increasingly difficult politics of housing was to offer subsidies for first-home buyers (which only inflated prices further) and general tax cuts, and to blame the states for a lack of developed land leading to higher prices."
[See also Greg Wood's "How much further can developer-debts drag us down?"]
Tingle does not mention, however, though surely she has by now figured it out, that both these things could be controlled through a reduction in immigration, long residence tests for citizenship, and protection of land and housing for citizens with leasing only to foreigners.
Tingle never returns to this major factor she describes as more influential than anything else - constant mass migration - in our loss of control over our democratic processes, our economy and the natural environment which is their envelope.
Open economy means open borders to Australian elite
Left unsaid is that Tingle's idea of an open economy does not just mean the passage of commodities and products across borders, but includes the passage of people as well. In the Fairfax and Murdoch views of the world, and those of Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott (all of the latter are members of the Multicultural Foundation of Australia) open economy means open borders for anyone with money. All that hoo-ha about asylum seekers is just a smokescreen for open slather on economic immigration and foreign ownership to both of which almost no barriers now exist in Australia. Not only has government deconstructed Australia's institutions and the rights they accorded to its citizens, government has also deconstructed our borders and so the very notion of citizenship. Open economy is also code for open borders. Under such circumstances, the social contract those on this continent might get will be whatever they can pay for in a global auction.
Oil shocks and Countershocks
In her curiously discursive narrative, Tingle does not situate the systemic economic changes she documents within the larger geopolitical picture - after the oil-shocks of the early and late 1970s. It seems that, for her, they just kind of emerged as logical imperatives of a market that came out of nowhere.
In fact, oil and gas producing colonial economies, including Australia and the Middle Eastern ones, sought independence and self-sufficiency during the 1970s when they saw what was coming. The global marketing of oil was a countershock strategy by the oil-importing countries.
Whitlam tried to ensure an independent energy basis for the Australian economy in anticipation of the first oil shock.
"The national policy on minerals and energy approved at the 1971 Launceston Conference of our party has proved to be not only singularly relevant but even historically visionary in the light of subsequent events. We anticipated the world energy crisis (1973), have dealt with international currency turmoil, established a sound export pricing policy, checked the inroads into Australia of the multinational corporations, and secured the respect and understanding of our trading partners."
On December 13, 1974 the executive council of the Commonwealth of Australia, made up of Prime Minister Whitlam, Attorney-General Murphy, Treasurer Cairns, and the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Rex Connor met to seek funding for Rex Connor's project for a natural gas pipeline to make Australia energy-self-sufficient and to fund unemployment reduction. For this they sought $US 4,000,000,000 (four billion US dollars). The minute of the meeting stated,
"The Australian government needs immediate access to substantial sums of non-equity capital from abroad for temporary purposes, amongst other things to deal with exigencies arising out of the current world situation and the international energy crisis, to strengthen Australia's external financial position, to provide immediate protection for Australia in regard to supplies of minerals and energy and to deal with current and immediately foreseeable unemployment in Australia." 
If Whitlam had not been overthrown it is quite likely that the economic changes that have disempowered Australian citizens would not have happened.
The backlash was incredible: Rex Connor and Whitlam's energy and employment policies caused a political countershock in the Australian parliament whereby the Liberal opposition, representing big business, manipulated those in the Whitlam government not able to understand the implications of the oil shock, and caused a situation whereby Whitlam was painted as incompetent and overthrown. Primeminister Fraser's spending was greater than Whitlam's, but Fraser also sold off equity. Tingle does not mention Fraser, except to suggest that his 'razor cuts' [Howard was his treasurer] were possibly exaggerated. My own research documents that Fraser began the process of breaking down Australia's foreign investment barriers, however.
In the rest of the world a division occurred between the Anglophone economies and the Continental European ones, with Reagan-Thatcher economics in the Anglophone countries - which borrowed to continue growth in population and consumption - and softer more democratic economies emerging in Continental Europe, which consolidated a democratic social contract and reined in population growth and consumption. Fraser, Hawke and Keating, ushered in these Anglo-style economic changes to Australia.
Breaking the state
"The great political battles of the 1980s and 1990s were fought over the idea that government intervention in markets was bad and removing it was good.(p.33)
"State paternalism is what politicians do. It is a hard habit to break." (Tingle, p.33.)
Tingle marks the beginning of the dismantlement of the system in 1983, when Hawke floated the dollar.
She says how the Hawke government floated the doallar in 1983, without any political warning or electoral mandate. Her explanation for this float excuses Hawke and puts blame on Whitlam: "It was set off by newly powerful financial markets putting irresistible pressure on the exchange rate following the election of a Labor government, which, to the markets, had overtones of a return to the financial chaos and excessive spending of the Whitlam years."
"The push to undo the Australian settlement - for that was what the floating of the dollar triggered - was politically bipartisan."
Tingle uses the loaded term of 'reform' here:
"Pressure for this reform had been resisted for decades, with the renovation of many economic institutions and structures long overdue."
She says that state regulation of parts of the economy prevented there being uniform rules for doing business throughout Australia and the highly regulated financial system "could not provide the flexible finance to underpin economic growth."
"Few argued that we shouldn't deregulate the economy (and those few that did were howled down); most debate was about the speed with which it happened and how to protect people through the change."
The people were not consulted. When she says that 'few argued against this' and that they were 'howled down' she is talking about those politicians and journalists anointed as talking heads by the mainstream media. The electorate itself was excluded from consultation over these institution and government threatening changes.
Tingle gives the game away:
"Yet, here is the crucial point: voters weren't consulted about the changes - except belatedly at the ballot box, when both major parties were in fundamental accord."
She also says that the states were not consulted much either.
But it is the consequences of those changes that her article is about.
Deregulation made it hard to retain our standards because, as Laura writes, "Previously, if you brought money into Australia as an investor, it was hard to get it out again. Now money could come and go as international investors saw opportunities and assessed how competitive we were with other countries."
She ascribes what Hawke did to pressure from the 'markets', as if the markets had a life of their own.
The government was now playing to the markets:
"There was suddenly a new constituency to win over: the financial markets."
She describes a situation where government began to run scared of the financial markets and their technocratic interpreters,
"Hawke and Keating [the treasurer] found themselves not only trying to explain the benefits of deregulating markets to the electorate in political lingo that everyone could understand, but also having to deal with constant demands to prove their bona fides to sceptical bankers, brokers and international financiers."
As she says, voting polls on government went up and down according to the value of the Australian dollar.
In 1986 economics became the 'new political topic' and Australians lost confidence in their own values, due to propaganda from Hawke and Keating. Tingle's observations reflect this in a nuanced way:
"The polls at the time suggested that while voters didn't like this new uncertainty - so far removed from the relatively safe world they had lived in until this point - they were persuaded that Australia needed to change."
I am reminded of a question recently put to me by a friend, "What did they talk about on the radio and television before they began to talk constantly about population growth?"
Well, from 1986, they talked constantly of the dollar. It was only after about 2000 that the push by the growth lobby for population growth became an open obsession.
Keating showed himself to be a skilled propagandist:
"Keating's lectures worked, and they gave the electorate some ownership of the reform process."
(This highjacking of the electorate's ownership of governance over financial regulation is also nuanced as a 'reform' process by Tingle.) She writes,
"Australians endured this period of reform because they were persuaded that it would produce better outcomes for their kids for the future."
Her other words, however, which show that the electors were not consulted and had no choice and that given the authoritarian - sorry, paternalistic - nature of Australian government, they had no means to prevent what was happening, belie this observation.
Government and Trade Unions
Per capitas were told to put 'national interest' ahead of their own benefits.
"It was the era of 'peak body' summits. The Accord struck between the government and the trade union movement during the 1980s and early 1990s harnessed the centralised wage system to buy the deals that helped Australia make the economic transition. The Accord bought wage restraint and, as a result, lower inflation. In return there were individual tax cuts, targeted welfare assistance and increased superannuation. There was also the 'social wage' - all the elements of state paternalism prepackaged: an implicit contract that, in return for wage restraint, there would be new services and help from the government."
[This change would exert downward pressure on wages.]
With the 1990s crash people lost their savings and the government made things worse for them by failing to protect jobs. Tingle seems to suggest that high housing prices are perceived as a good by Australians when in fact they are only perceived as a good by a minority who can afford to invest in housing and who do not care or do not understand about the impact on the environment and the cost of living of population growth. As mentioned, under Howard the price of housing rose along with credit debt. The rate of immigration also rose and fed the housing inflation but, as I have said, Tingle does not mention this.
As part of her presentation of Australians as apparently reasonable but really unreasonable, Tingle (p.8) talks about all the things that Australians expect of governments - quite reasonable things most of us would suggest, such as accessible hospitals, good schools, roads, public transport, childcare, protection for neglected children and for the rest of us from violence and crime. She also suggests that Australians want the government to intervene in industrial disputes that are causing 'the rest of us inconvenience' as well as to support workers left without their entitlements by collapsing businesses. But then she says that we also object to alcohol and tobacco laws and, furthermore, to governments attempting to find ways of "allocating water among millions of users that is sustainable and priced rationally."
See the manipulative conflation?
Tingle (p.8) fails to note that water is a vital resource and its allocation is complicated by population growth, but governments in Australia have forced population growth on Australians and it is only because of this that frequently predicted problems have arisen with relation to our water supplies. The governments of Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd and now Gillard have brought this great ill on Australians. By burying the water problem in a list of social goods and values, and lesser gripes, Tingle seems to want to disguise its real rank. Water is not a social good; it is a geophysical attribute without which humans cannot survive, inside or outside of a society. Governments should not endanger its supply through overshoot. That is the least, the very least we should expect of our leaders. If Australians are really the passive and demanding dolts that Tingle frames us as, they would go along with the situation that has created expensive water rationing and the associated life-threatening vulnerability their politicians have allowed the Market to create. Instead they protest, but they have no rights.
For all my disagreement with the social theory in this essay, which I find childish, I do admire Ms Tingle for writing something so broad and sweeping for us all to use as a jumping off pad. That takes some get up and go. She has summed up a lot of what is happening. Of course I am also afraid that, instead of simply launching discussion, it will be taken as a prescription pad and used as pre-emptive medication by government and the media. The Financial Review, of course, has quoted it uncritically and I listened to some (not all, I admit) of a Philip Adams interview with Laura on the subject and Adams seemed to swallow it whole, like a delicious pill. Furthermore, the comments on his site were all similarly approving and uncomprehending.
At the beginning of the essay Tingle makes the point that
"we have not sat down and worked out exactly what we expect 'the government' - by which I mean its administrative side, as well as the politicians of the day - to be and to do."
I agree with her that we need to sit down, however I am much less vague about what needs to happen after that. There is a model out there that has worked for two centuries in Europe. It is the European Civil Code, also known as the Napoleonic Code. In the EU, only Britain has failed to adopt this Roman Law based model. Australia needs a Civil code of citizens' rights, legally defendable, modelled on the French one to combat the disorganising forces of the markets. We need to abandon our ad hoc British system.
 Tingle p.7: "Governor Arthur Phillip insisted that the children of the First Fleet's convicts should be educated. Phillip's pragmatic rationale was that education might stop the first generation of free-born white New South Welshmen following in the criminal footsteps of their parents. It was not meant to rewrite the rulebooks for what government did even though it meant, from the very start, that children born in a penal colony would gain an education that was not available to their contemporaries in the country from which their parents came."
 Isobel Barrett Meyering, "Contesting Corporal Punishment, Abolitionism, Transportation and the British Imperial Experiment," B.A. Hons History, University of Sydney, 2008, pp 15-16.
[3.] Watkin Tench, 1788, Comprising a Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay and A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, first published in 1789; this edition edited by Tim Flannery, Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1996, p.102.
[4.] Watkin Tench, op.cit., p.119. An illustration of the extreme situation was that the officers of the first settlement plied Baneelon, an Aborigine captured for anthropological study, with all the scarce rations he could eat in order to keep up a pretence to the Aborigines all around them that the British invaders were not actually close to starvation. They feared that if Baneelon escaped he would alert his clansmen to their weakened condition and the Aborigines would finish them off. Tench recorded that their rations for a week were insufficient to keep Baneelon for a day and the starving settlers felt obliged to hunt and fish for extra, entirely on his behalf. Nevertheless Baneelon became increasingly unhappy and managed to escape. Watkin Tench, op.cit., pp.125-6.
 She cites Paul Kelly, p. 31: "Kelly defines it as 'individual happiness through government intervention' and notes its origins in 1788. 'The individual looked first to the state as his protector, only secondly to himself,' he writes, going on to quote the earlier history of Keith Hancock, who wrote in 1930 that 'to the Australian, the State means collective power at the service of individualistic 'rights'. Therefore he sees no opposition between his individualism and his reliance upon government.' She cites Donald Horne as having noted in The Lucky Country, 'the general Australian belief is that it's the governments' job to see that everyone gets a fair go.'"
She goes on: "The idea of state paternalism is embedded in our relationship with government, and has been since the time our convict forefathers expected Governor Phillip to fix the small problem of starvation rather than do anything about it themselves." In the Essay, this is her second remark indicating a belief that the first settlers were in some way inferior and unreasonable. This is a bizarre point of view attributing authority, powers and skills to British prisoners which they did not have, and in the absence of tools.
[5a] As part of the process of determining what governments can offer and what we want of them, we need to take stock of what we still have, although these are in the process of being attenuated and corporatised: government prisons, schools, universities, and hospitals.
 See Foreign ownership.
 See for instance, on the growth lobby: "Property Council of Australia 2010 campaign to contrast with 2012 spin""Transcript of Growth Lobby video-shocker, "Straightening out B.A.N.A.N.A.S""http://candobetter.net/node/2960; "Land and Rent Costs to Business make Australia uncompetitive"
 Wilkinson, A Thirst for Burning, op.cit., p. 138. Wilkinson comments, on page 139, "There is little doubt that some of Connors's ideas were far-sighted. ... He was correct in predicting the 1973 oil crisis and then, at a time when people world wide had overcome the fright of the OPEC moves, Connor continued to champion conservation of energy. Unfortunately he was denied the mean of achieving it. ..."
 Paul Kelly, The Unmaking of Gough, Allen & Unwin, 1994, p. 191, cited in Sheila Newman,The Growth Lobby and its Absence in Australia and France, Swinburne University, 2002, Chapter 7, subtitle, "Initial Reaction in Australia to the First Oil-Shock."
The Governor General later signed the minutes of this meeting and those of a later one that reduced the loan sought two billion.
(Kelly and Tom Uren, Straight Left, Vintage, 1995 pp. 209, 222, 223, 236-7, describe Rex Connor as having an impressive knowledge of the mining industry. Apparently Gough Whitlam had no knowledge of the industry at all but believed that Connor was a visionary.)
 Prime Minister Fraser liberalised foreign investment rules under the Foreign Takeovers Act (1975). Successive amendments have progressively removed barriers for foreigners to purchase land in Australia. Few restrictions remain. From less than 10% in 1972-75 under Whitlam, foreign investment in Australia increased to 49% of GDP in 1990-91. By 1986 more than half was destined for real-estate investment. Sheila Newman,The Growth Lobby and its Absence in Australia and France, Swinburne University, 2002, Chapter 3, "Public and Private Housing Policy," citing from R.H. Fagan, "Foreign Investment", in Australian Encyclopaedia, Terry Hills, NSW, Australian Geographic, Pty. Ltd, 1995, pp.1393-1394. By 2012, this figure was close to 90%. See graph from www.debtdeflation.com/blogs, which uses RBA data.
 Sheila Newman,The Growth Lobby and its Absence in Australia and France, Swinburne University, 2002, Part Two, Chapters 7 and 8.
This has been adapted from an e-mail from asumofus.org. Original story here.
See also: Russian law requires registration of "NGO carrying out functions as a foreign agent" of 13 July 2012
The roar of a chainsaw shatters the peaceful calm of the Karelia forest in Northwestern Russia. A logger carves into an exquisite giant -- a 600-year-old tree -- with expert precision. Within minutes, he has masterfully sliced through tree rings, added the felled tree to a growing pile, and moved on to the next.
These trees -- part of Russia's last remaining old-growth forests -- will be chopped up to make cutting boards, wooden spoons and other items for IKEA. IKEA has built a reputation around sustainability and tells its customers, literally, "We Love Wood", and that the furniture they buy will not contain wood from old-growth forests. But a new report shows that IKEA is clear-cutting Russia's remaining ancient forests and destroying hundreds of thousands of unique animal species for profit. If it doesn't stop now, there may be no trees left.
IKEA is the third-largest purchaser of wood in the world, behind Home Depot and Lowe's, and roughly 60 percent of the products stocked in IKEA's 300 department stores across the globe contain wood of some form. IKEA already decimates 1,400 acres of forest a year -- that's why it purchased this enormous swath of over 740,000 acres of Russia's Karelia lush boreal forests -- for expansion.
IKEA is trying to convince customers that it adheres to the strictest environmental standards, and only uses wood sourced in economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable ways. But a Swedish conservation group discovered that IKEA's wholly-owned subsidiary, Swedwood, is clear-cutting the last of Karelia's old-growth forests from areas of high conservation and devastating invaluable forest ecosystems in the process. This directly violates the minimum requirements IKEA has set for its timber.
IKEA truly cares about its sustainable image and internationally-known brand and is especially vulnerable to public pressure from SumOfUs.org members. That's why it is important we send a strong message now.
As a world leader in the furniture industry and one of the world's largest companies, with over $30 billion in profits between 2000 and 2008, IKEA has the means to make its forestry practices more ecologically friendly and needs to stop misleading its customers.
Thanks for loving trees,
Emma, Taren, Kaytee and the rest of us
Why are old-growth forests so important?
Russia's lush, old-growth forests perform vital functions for life on Earth. They help to stabilize the climate by locking carbon in the soil -- which helps safeguard our climate. In addition, old-growth forests have much greater biodiversity than managed plantations, and are home to literally hundreds of thousands of unique animal and plant species, like rare species of lichens, mosses and other plants and animals. These species cannot survive in secondary forests.
But because of logging, only 10% of Russia's old-growth forests remain.
NGOs claim that IKEA, through Swedwood, is helping to destroy ecosystems that are home to endangered species by clear-cutting already depleted old-growth forests. In Karelia, only isolated tracts and pockets of old-growth forests remain.
In Russia, Swedwood Karelia LLC owns a logging concession of over 740,000 acres. And with Russian markets increasingly opening to the global market, and World Trade Organization (WTO) membership likely, environmentalists fear the worst damage to Russia's forests is yet to come.
IKEA under fire for ancient tree logging, The Guardian. May 29, 2012. (Editorial comment: Although the Guardian has, to its credit, taken a principled stance on this issue, it has been publishing lies about the conflict in Syria. These lies could well make it possible for the US, it's NATO allies, Israel and the Arab dictatorships to carry out their plans to launch a war against Syria and Iran. The ecological cost, not to mention the human cost, of such a war could hardly be less terrible than IKEA's destruction of Russian rainforests
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This article identifies a tendency internationally to desensitize the public to the mass-murder by Western-supported governments of whole peoples whom they find inconvenient. Australia has a history of cultivating 'wilful blindness' to these events in our neighborhood, under the leadership of powerful government figures. Geoffrey Taylor here draws our attention to an example of such a complex attitude in an interview with Paul Keating last year. [This article started out as a response to Tigerquoll's comment, "Willful Blindness in East Timor, Sri Lanka, and now West Papua".]
This article identifies a tendency internationally to desensitize the public to the mass-murder by Western-supported governments of whole peoples whom they find inconvenient. Often the victims of this persecution are described as or even call themselves 'communists'. Usually they would more correctly be called nationalist peasant movements against Western supported governments that are privatising and corporatising [colonising] the common and traditional land of these people and depriving them of their right to self-government. Such genocides are later 'economically' justified by an averaged rise in living standards with increased GDP that comes with the overtaking of small subsistence holdings and their adaptation to commercial agriculture and other industries. That these agricultural and industrial changes could only come about by mass dispossession and slaughter of the original land-holders is almost never acknowledged in any manner that might be meaningfully pinned on the political, private and corporate entities which ultimately profit from these despicable colonial events. Australia has a history of cultivating 'wilful blindness' to these events in our neighborhood, under the leadership of powerful government figures.
Geoffrey Taylor here draws our attention to an example of such a complex attitude in an interview with Paul Keating last year. Keating stands out as a prime minister who, along with the United States and the United Kingdom, cultivated Australia's supportive relationship with the brutal and oppressive Suharto Government in Indonesia. Candobetter Ed.
In a recent interview (24 Mb MP3 file here) on 2 November last year with the ABC's Richard Fidler, former 'Labor' Prime Minister Keating dismissed concerns for human rights and democracy in Indonesia. He claimed that figures given by economists proved that ordinary Indonesians had been lifted from poverty to prosperity by the policies of former dictator Suharto, who came to power in the coup of 1965 in which more than half a million members and supporters of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) were murdered.
Keating's apologies for the Suharto dictatorship have to be read to be believed. I have not yet fully transcribed all that is of interest from the above-mentioned MP3 file, but below is some:
Richard Fidler (RF): One of the things I get from your book is that you, kind of, seem indifferent toward -- you shrug at the idea of democracy in Asia. ...
Paul Keating (PK): No, no ..
RF: You treat it like an over-rated virtue like chastity before marriage or something like that. You're going to go: Ahh!, ... We make too much fuss about the idea of ...
PK: Yeah, A lot of this came from our debate about Indonesia. Here is our largest neighbour, about two hundred and thirty million people. -- the largest, you know, five or six flying hours across the archipelago, ... -- because of what happened at Balibo in Timor, the Fairfax newspapers, especially the Sydney Morning Herald, ran this brutal campaign against Indonesia for nearly 30 years. In fact the Sydney Morning Herald editorialised in favour of a military attack by Australia on Indonesia. You can imagine it. ... And this is all because they don't share our democratic values. The fact that Suharto's New Order Government pulled two hundred and thirty million people from abject poverty and brought them to a reasonable standard of living --- In fact, the year before the economic collapse of '97/'98 the World Bank said that the declines in infant mortality and the rise in education standards, the general improvements in health and the distribution of income are greater in Indonesia than any country under study. ...
RF: But do you ...
PK: This cuts no ice, of course, with the donkeys at the Sydney Morning Herald
RF: That's, that's true, but you know, then, that Suharto was pretty much a gangster in many ways ...
PK: No, he wasn't. No, no!
RF: His whole family were into that economy in a big way ...
PK: No, no!
RF: The cars, tobacco ..
PK: No, no! You don't know that ...
RF: Clothes. They were all in on that
PK: They were
RF: I think what you're saying is that, like you have got to watch your terms. This guy down the road -- the gangster down the road isn't such a bad bloke, because he keeps the streets quiet.
PK: No, no. You've ... Let's get the argument set right right here. In the country which has got no wealth, he local people, the ..? boomies as they call them ...
The demonisation of Communism, which has increased in recent years, allows the large scale killing of Communists in countries such as Vietnam, Korea and Indonesia to be glossed over in the way Keating did or else depicted as other than the gross crimes against humanity that they in fact are.
In truth, most Communist Party members in those countries listed above had little in common with Stalin, whose terrible record had been used to so darken the name of Communism. Most would have been much more at home in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) than running Stalin's gulags. The murder of half a million PKI members would have had affected Indonesia in a fashion similar to what the murder of around 20,000-30,000 member of the ALP would have done to Australia at the same time.
The destruction of the PKI served to strategically protect the rear of the United States military as they commenced to obliterate Vietnam Laos and Cambodia with more bombs than were dropped in the Second World War, resulting in the loss of more than 3 million dead in Vietnam alone.
The scale of the crime against humanity, made possible or directly committed by the Indonesian dictators so applauded by Keating, is chilling - and this man was Prime Minister of Australia from 1991 to 1996!
 That and other estimates of 300,000 and 1,0000,000 are given on page 25 of Pretext for Mass murder (2006) by John Roosa. As so much of the mass murder was covered up by Suharto's police state, it was not possible to properly investigate the mass murder until after Suharto's resignation in 1998.
The decline in the value of the US dollar is engineered by the US government in order to make US products more affordable and to relaunch their manufacturing economy. The world is trapped by the US into subsidising its debt on account of the very large market it represents and the control over the money markets of US corporate investors. Other economies with higher value currency will experience a falling off in sales because the goods they produce will be less affordable on the world market. Hans-Peter Martin and Harald Schuman wrote about this 'trap' late last century. Read what they wrote then and consider how well it explains our current situation.
Subordination to the money markets
Hans-Peter Martin and Harald Schumann write:
"Subordination to the money markets ... leads to an attack on democracy. It is true that every citizen still has a voice. Politicians must still try to reconcile the interests of all social layers in order to win a majority, whether in Sweden, the United States or Germany. But once the elections are over, the decisive factor is what economists euphemistically call the right of money to vote. It is not a question of morality. Even professional fund managers are only carrying out instructions by seeking the highest possible return on capital placed in their care, but their superior power now allows them to challenge every step forward in social equality that has been painfully achieved in a hundred years of class struggle and political reform." (p.69)
"The dramatic imbalance [makes] large parts of the world economy dependent upon the state of things in America itself. Since 1990 traders and economists have been pointing out that, in the end, conditions in the dollar area alone determine the evolution of world interest rates. In the spring of 1994, for example, all the signs in Germany pointed towards a conjunctural downturn. According to current economic thinking, the resulting weak demand for credit should have led to falling interest rates, an indispensable condition for investment to recover. But the US economy still had rising growth , and interest rates suddenly shot up on the US securities market. Interest rates promptly rose in Europe too, above 7 per cent, which was further 'bad news' for the economy in general. A year and a half later Germany was again sunk in recession and the same story repeated itself, as US factories were reportedly working to full capacity. Even the Bundesbank's lowest base rate for a decade changed nothing. It is true that Germany's defenders of the currency lent more than ever to the banks and enabled companies to raise 7 per cent more in credits in 1995 than in the previous year; but the cheap capital immediately flowed out to foreign markets that showed a higher return. Helmut Hesse, member of the central banking council of the Bundesbank, soberly remarked that 'the capacity of issuing banks on their own to bring down interest rates' had unfortunately 'faded away'.
Dollar on collision course with other currencies
The dependence of the dollar area puts Washington's finance and currency policy-makers in a powerful position, one which more and more often sets them on a collision course with other countries. Exchange rates are a guage of the relationship of forces in the latent war for financial-economic supremacy.; When the dollar fell by as much as 20 per cent against the yen and mark in the first four months of 1995, this threw the machinery of the world economy into chaos and triggered a new recession in Europe and Japan. Portfolio managers panicked and converted their investments into marks and yen, so that the fall was not limited to the dollar but all European currencies lost value against the franc and the mark. Suddenly the foreign income of German companies was worth much less than they had calculated. Daimler, Airbus, Volkswagen and thousands of others wrote figures in red and announced that in future they would prefer to invest abroad. Once again specialist magazines such as Business Week, Handelsblatt and The Economist described the 'impotence of central banks' in face of the vicissitudes of the trillion-dollar currency market, whose daily turnover is almost twice as high as the combined reserves of all central banks. Objectively the rapid fall in exchange rates did not appear justified. The actual purchasing power of the dollar corresponded more to a value of 1.80 marks than to the 1.36 at which it was being traded. Moreover, for short-term loans on the money market, the interest rate was 1 per cent higher than for the now top-class mark and yen. Economists of every stripe were at a loss to understand. Marcel Stremme, currency expert at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, even thought that 'there is no logical explanation' for the exchange rate of the dollar. The IMF's leading economist Michael Mussa could only remark that 'the markets are acting crazy'.
How the US benefits from falling dollar
Illogical? Irrational? Insiders in the currency game see it very differently. Klaus-Peter Möritz, for instance, then head of currency trading at the Deutsche Bank, briskly interpreted the decline of the dollar as 'a conscious political strategy on the Americans' part' to overcome export weaknesses by making their products cheaper on overseas markets. The exchange rated had thus become a weapon in the struggle with Japan and Germany for a share of the world market.
This sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it is also quite plausible. The great majority of global players in the money market are American institutions with a worldwide infrastructure. They evidently do not dance to the tune of the US government, but they bow most gladly to the aims of the Fed and its chairman, Alan Greenespan. Besides, the hardiest speculators do not cross swords with the world's largest bank of issue, because its dollar reserves are unlimited. 'It's enough for a Fed director to call up a Congressman and tell him that the US has no interest in stabilizing the greenback,' argues Möritz. The dealers soon get the picture and take care of the rest. this strategy is also indirectly supported by the two most powerful men in America. Thus, during th world dollar crisis in April 1995, President Clinton let it be known that the USA might 'do absolutely nothing' to stop it falling. Shortly before, at a congressional hearing, Greenspan had held out the prospect of a drop in the base rate that never materialized. In both cases there was an unmistakable signal to the markets that the central bank and the government wanted the dollar to fall. The Frankfurt professor of economics Wilhelm Hankel also sees the decline of the dollar as just 'clever US currency politics'. In a world of weak currencies plagued by inflation, the dollar is in danger of becoming overvalued, so that by talking it down Washington's money-guards 'transfer the problem to other countries'. This is clearly also how Helmut Kohl's advisers see things. Contrary to his usual caution with regard to the Big Brother across the Atlantic, the chancellor personally protested at Washington's obstructive currency policy and openly described it as 'quite unacceptable' - with pretty mediocre results.
How the rest of the world suffers
The economic statistics for 1995 record the victory of the dollar strategists. In Germany the economy grew at only half the expected rate, and the weakness of the dollar was the spur for mass redundancies. Even harder hit was Japan, whose trade surplus with the United States shrank by three-quarters in just twelve months. the country stank from recession into deflation and the numbers without work doubled. Greenspan and Treasury Secretary Rubin dropped their hard line only in autumn 1995, when they could be sure of the desired result. In September the central banks of the three countries again began to support the dollar with concerted purchases: the exchange rate slowly moved back up and was hovering around 1.48 marks by summer 1996.
The currency markets are therefore not at all crazy: they follow Alan Greenspan's baton. The cluelessness of experts, on the other hand, simply shows how their theories ignore the fact that, even in the cyberspace of world money, the actors are people who either wield or must submit to power and its accompanying interests. Not all central banks are equally impotent before the Moloch of the market. Rather, they are inserted into a clear hierarchy of size. At the gop is the Federal Reserve. Next come th Bank of Japan and the Bundesbank, which in turn dominate their neighbours in the yen and Deutschmark zones."
 This article features an extract from pp 69 and 71-73 of the Pluto Press Australia edition of Hans-Peter Martin and Harald Schumann, The Global Trap, Globaliation and the assault on prosperity and democracy, translated by Patrick Camiller and first published in English by Zed Books, London, 1997.
I was moved to investigate further when on April 5th candobetter.net received an anonymous comment, entitled, "Koala left clinging to a tree after land clearing." A link to a photograph of a koala clinging to a tree in a recently cleared paddock showed that someone had actually managed to get photo-evidence of the sickening process of koala extinction - for unwanted development - which goes on under our noses with the blessing of the Queensland Government.
Development in Australia is plain scary!
The photographed koala is just one of the many disappearing (starved, run over, mauled, exposed) koalas on the Queensland Goldcoast, where greedy developments are, ironically, absurdly, destroying the beauty and space they advertise in their brochures. There are no effective laws to stop them in Australia. What is more, the State government in Queensland and the state governments in all the other states of Australia operate like land-companies, making laws to privilege development and ensuring that environmental laws have absolutely no teeth. The justification for such developments is to accommodate population growth, but it is the development lobby that causes the population growth to be politically engineered simply to keep up demand for housing, and to provide an excuse for the intolerable rate of ecological destruction.
As Vivienne Ortega wrote in her admirable article, "Koalas on the edge of survival precipice" on the subject of koala extinction, "There is no way koalas can evolve and adapt fast enough to overcome roads, logging, land clearing, invasive species and pets. The only way koalas could “win” is if they had machine guns to protect them!"
The entity directly backing the development destined for the koala habitat in question is the "Perron Group", which describes itself as "a privately-owned Perth-based Group of Companies owned and controlled by the Chairman, Mr Lloyd Stanley Perron AM." [AM stands for 'Member of the Order of Australia'. Wikipedia describes the Order of Australia as 'an order of chivalry established by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia on 14 February 1975 "for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service"'.]
The Perron group, by its own account, has invested more than $30m in the project which is responsible for the destruction of koalas' homes in an area where the species is severely threatened in a world already over-run with people and suburbs.
The group describes its project as "a world class example of a sustainable master planned community for future generations of Australians."
The intention is to build 3,500 houses on this precious native habitat with a long history of being protected and of continuing community support for its protection.
Let us pause for a moment and consider what the notion of a 'master-planned' 'community' must mean to the citizens in the area who may have believed they had self-government, where members of the elected council, such as Councillor Ted Shepherd, have been trying to fight for their rights and for koala and other species habitat since this development application was first proposed. Ironically millionaire Bob Anthes, in a land where money almost always means destruction of wildlife and democracy, had kept this land safe for nature up to his death in 2004. Then, according to Melinda Marshall's article,
Balance? What balance? Bank balance?
Mr Alston was quoted on 14 December excusing his actions by saying, "You have to have a balance of natural and human habitat," he said.
What sort of 'balance' is extinction? As Vivienne Ortega writes in "Koalas on the edge of the survival precipice,"...., "The only way koalas could “win” is if they had machine guns to protect them!"
If you want to stand up for the koalas, you can leave comments here for the Perron Group re its "Pacific View Estate." There are a few already, to the effect that just because it's 'legal' that doesn't make it alright. And there is a sad little argument to the effect of, "We cut the trees down for rural management, but we agree with you that farming isn't a good idea so close to urban development, that's why we are putting more houses there." (!)
Pacific View Estate and the Perron Group
The Perron Group consists of many 'players'. CRA, DPZ Pacific, Urban Planning Services, Ocean Park Consulting, James Warren & Associates, LVO Architecture, John Wood Consultancy Services, Bitzios Consulting, Cardno, Steensen Varming and Acoustic Logic Consultancy. On the Pacific View Estate site it says, "Pacific View Estate, a new relationship between natural and human habitats."
This description would also suit TEPCO's business in providing electricity to Japan.
God Squad vs Koalas
CRA claims (on the Pacific View Estate site) to 'work closely' with Mission Australia.
Mission Australia describes itself as having a "founding purpose inspired by Jesus Christ," and that, " Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'. Furthermore it claims that its "vision" is "to see a fairer Australia by enabling people in need to find pathways to a better life'".
Well, maybe with 'visions' you don't need to look at reality.
Does Mission Australia really think that Jesus would endorse the desecration of the natural world, the extinction of species, the razing of forests, and the abrogation of community self-government through commercially "master-planned" communities dominated by transnational corporations?
Talk about building temples for money-changers! I won't be making a donation to Mission Australia if this is what it supports.
Other organisations involved in this Pacific .... Project.
DPZ Pacific says that its "mission" is "to design and build communities in harmony with the environment in the world’s most dynamic regions for growth." It's a bizarre mix of words, isn't it? I guess you could take it to mean that DPZ Pacific considers this region not for its biodiversity, but for its population growth trends. Thus, to be in harmony with marketed demographic projections, there is nothing wrong with paving over the trees, starving out the koalas and stuffing up local self-government. What is this? Leggoworld? Are the people and their elected representatives just some kind of transformer toys there to animate a sandpit?
DPZ Pacific: "DBIDBI Design," not exactly what you would want for a natural environment, this architectural firm, going by the photos on its website.
Urban Planning Services - UPS ... More planners.
Ocean Park Consulting: "Ocean Park Consulting Pty Limited is a Gold Coast based company that provides to government agencies and private enterprise organisations delivery management, approvals engineering, environmental planning and integrated infrastructure planning services.
Ocean Park Consulting's extensive professional experience in major land development and infrastructure projects facilitates early recognition of potential project constraints and opportunities and allows for development of effective management strategies to ensure positive project outcomes, to strive to achieve a balance between the needs of the natural environment and the human environment. "
That word, "balance" again, in such an unbalanced project of machines against nature.
James Warren & Associates is described on the site as "a specialist environmental consulting company which has been operating since 1987." It is claimed that "JWA have completed a detailed assessment of the Ecological Values of the Pacific View Estate site" and that the company has "identified the potential impacts of the proposed development on these values and have recommended various mitigation measures" and that "in consultation with the team of experts, JWA have assisted to design a concept plan that provides for the conservation of the ecologically significant values occurring on site."
Wonder what they had to say about the koalas and chopping down all the trees? Speak up, James Warren and Associates! Are you pleased or did they ignore what you recommended?
(Then again, how can anyone in this group speak up? Their livings depend on this process continuing. So someone else has to stop it.)
LVO’ Architecture ... More builders...
John Wood Consultancy Services was established in December 2000, as the Principal Recreation and Environmental Planner with EDAW (Australia) Pty Ltd. On JWC's site there is a notice which states that the operator is "a current member of the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation" and explains that all such members "have agreed to abide by QORF's Code of Ethics." If you go to the site that lists those ethics, which are quite admirable. It is therefore surprising to see that one of their members should be associated with a project which is now linked to destruction of koala habitat and the razing of trees on a property once known for its conservation values, now transformed into a corporate vs community battleground.
Bitzios Consulting is an Australian traffic engineering and transport planning consultancy that operates on an international scale.
Cardno: Grogan Richards Consulting Engineers has merged with transnationals Cardno, an "infrastructure services firm" which, like others on the Pacific View Estate, professes to be creating "better communities across the globe". Its "client base includes builders, developers, shopping centre owners and managers, local government, government departments, architects, manufacturers, retailers, town planners and the legal profession."
Steensen Varming - construction, engineering, incorporating "environmentally responsible features."
Acoustic Logic Consultancy - more engineering and construction of a specialised nature. "With the implementation of this wealth of knowledge and experience, ALC and the Pacific View Farm have endeavoured to ensure that this project will not have detrimental acoustic impact on the future and existing residents of Worongary."
With such a corporate army of spin-doctors and built-environmentalists what hope do koalas or democracy have? In fact the koala might well stand for local democracy because both democracy and koalas are doomed in this commercial transnational environment, with its practitioners determined to ram their steel constructions down the locals' throats with the saccharine-sugar coating of a few promised 'jobs' which may well go to imported labour.
Oh what evil in Australia is done in the name of "jobs", where once there was land and food to spare and the possibility of a just society.
Out of control
The Gold Coast Council administers a once-magnificent part of Australia and oversees a great deal of callous destruction and environmental degradation in the name of continuous population growth - which most people explicitly reject in polls.
The growth is driven by investors who only see the returns on their balance-sheets and apparently lack the wit to examine the greater costs - to social capital and local, national and global biodiversity. This tragic process which currently entraps Australia was magnified to greater heights than ever before in the mid-1990s, as the global internet took off and as the last feeble obstacles to foreign purchase and investment of Australian real-estate were removed. Policies were put in place to turbo charge the financial turnover on an international scale, leading to the so-called global financial crisis. But we are dealing with addicts here, so the crisis machine was cranked up again with public money.
The homes will be bought by outsiders mostly, with no knowledge, loyalty or emotional investment in the community - rather like the developers, one suspects.
 I recently talked with a lawyer who had just graduated from a post-grad course in Environmental Law. I asked her if there was anything in it. "Nothing," she said. "Absolutely nothing. It's completely shocking!" She added, "I took the course to see if my first impression was really true, that the environmental laws in Australia didn't work. And it was true! We have no environmental law!"
Melinda Marshall, "Council bushwacked," March 22nd, 2010.
The Chinese Government is buying Australian farms to directly feed its population. Farm buy-ups were not referred to the FIRB unless they were worth more than $320 million! So, unless the farm property is under this amount, it just becomes "international" land! Unease about global food shortages in the next 20 years - and long term agricultural market opportunities - have made Australia and areas of South America prized targets for foreign government-aided enterprises and private investor groups.“Racism” is justified sometimes
Now is the time for some real and justified "racism"!
The Chinese Government is buying Australian farms to directly feed its population.
The purchases are not monitored by the Foreign Investment Review Board, according to Senator Bill Heffernan. Farm buy-ups were not referred to the FIRB unless they were worth more than $320 million! So, unless the farm property is under this amount, it just becomes "international" land!
The highest bidder should be scrutinised! Any agents for the Chinese government or nationals should be rejected.
Just how many farms are worth more than $320 million anyway? What about our food security in the face of climate change threats, which Kevin Rudd has dismissed?
In March, 2009, visitors on temporary visas, such as business owners and foreign students, were allowed to purchase any home to live in, land to build on or new dwellings for investment purposes.
The change saw Chinese money in particular being poured into blue-ribbon Melbourne real estate, as both a way of safeguarding wealth and advancing hopes of migration. Suburbs such as Elwood, Hawthorn and Caulfield North all returned to the $1 million median price club and experienced quarterly growth in excess of 20 per cent. Although the Government announced in April this year that it would adopt a more stringent approval process, experts claim the latest changes will have little effect on the market. Opposition finance spokesman Joe Hockey said it was clear that foreign investment was having an upward impact on housing prices. The same will happen with farming land prices, and food!
China land grabs
Unease about global food shortages in the next 20 years - and long term agricultural market opportunities - have made Australia and areas of South America prized targets for foreign government-aided enterprises and private investor groups.
Africa has also been the focus of a significant land grab, particularly by overseas government-owned investment corporations from China and the Middle East.
So far there were only anecdotal reports of Chinese agricultural investment but Senator Heffernan quoted research by Professor Zhangyue Zhou of the School of Business at Townsville's James Cook University. He believes the produce would be sent back to China from farms now being purchased.
There are reports of significant Chinese interest in Tasmanian dairy farms. The Chinese would never allow this in their own market!
The key focus of foreign investment has been China in the past two years, but direct investment from Japan to Australia hit $36 billion in 2008, up more than 50 per on 2006 levels, and is predicted to keep growing. A table of Australian acquisitions by Japanese companies compiled by law firm Blake Dawson lists 25 major plays since the start of 2007, totalling almost $18bn.
The two largest investments were Japanese brewing giant Kirin's takeovers of Lion Nathan ($3.3bn) and National Foods ($2.9bn). (The irony is not lost that our "National Foods" is not owned by our own nation!)
Others in this sector included Asahi's takeover of Schweppes and Suntory's takeover of Frucor.
Corporate heavyweight Mitsui paid $100 million for a 49 per cent stake in Australia's fourth uranium mine. Mitsui also owns the Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria. They are not likely to be concerned about losing Australian wildlife, like the Orange-bellied parrot!
In the 1970s, India dramatically increased food production, finally allowing this giant country to feed itself. But government efforts to continue that miracle by encouraging farmers to use fertilisers have backfired, forcing the country to expand its reliance on imported food. The overuse of one type - urea - is so degrading the soil that yields on some crops are falling and import levels are rising.
In Western Australia we've got an Indian-government backed company planning to build a fertiliser plant which will be committed, as part of its financial arrangements, to sending 90pc of its production back to India.
In 2006 India invested $2.2 billion in Australia, up from $1.1 billion in 2005.
Hindalco Minerals, a subsidiary of giant Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla, bought Western Australian copper miner Western Minerals. Aditya Birla Minerals Limited is now listed on the Australian stock market.
Another Indian group, Bhushan Steel, holds a 10 per cent stake and a board seat on Queensland coal miner Bowen Energy.
The difference is that the Indian companies are privately owned while the Chinese investors have a much more opaque relationship with China's government.
Lack of patriotism
This is a direct result of Australians not sticking up for Australians. It is high time we had a more nationalistic agenda. If farms are being sold 'cheap' it is all thanks to the ALP in various states, devaluing the farmers hard work and assets. Add to the fact the total lack of reliable services in rural areas, like water, electricity and health hardly attracts people to the bush. The Chinese take, take, take from the Australians thanks to our weak leaders like Kevin Rudd and now its just like that old adage....give them an inch and they'll take a mile.
The irony is that thousands of farmers are walking off the land, due to financial difficulty because they cannot compete with cheap imported food, so the Chinese buy up our land grow huge amounts of food, ship it off to China and most likely export it back to Australia and in turn more Australian farmers walk off their land and most likely sell it to the Chinese again.
For the first time in history we have a Chinese-Mandarin speaking Prime Minister more focused on helping China's growth and food security than actually helping Australia! Ironically, farmers are also being forced to sell their land due to sky-rocketing rates to make land available for property developers.
'Modern' Australia has the worst record in the world for species extinction. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there are more endangered plants and animals in Australia than most of the rest of the world. Records of recently extinct species in Asia show 71 species that have disappeared in the wild. Examples include the Yunnan lake newt (Cynops wolterstorffi) from China, the Bonin thrush (Zoothera terrestris) from Japan, or the redtailed black shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor) from Thailand. They are hardly going to have any concern about our so-called "pest" Australian native species!
Looming food crisis
We need to increase food output by 70 per cent by 2050 to meet the global food crisis. There needs to be money for helping farmers to adapt and manage climate change, and for meaningful water initiatives.
Professor Cribb, Science writer and former head of CSIRO media, told a recent Senate enquiry in Canberra that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation last year revealed investments in the order of $80 billion a year in agriculture were needed to help meet the needs of a global food challenge. By 2050 there will be about 10 billion people on the planet to feed!
We seriously lack patriotism and vision in Australia and we are too willing to the highest bidder - something we will regret! It is time the taboo on "racism" be lifted to protect Australian interests.
Population growth is being used as an industry to keep our economy strong through building up the property markets. What happens when all our mining resources finally run out? With almost no manufacturing sector, all our farms foreign-owned, will we turn into a third-world economy overnight.
China will have a perfect pretext to attack and invade Australia in order to allegedly protect its legally purchased acquisitions and the Chinese people who now own them.
Why spend so much on Defence when the potential enemy is already invading by stealth? Australia will become an economic subset of China and Chinese citizens will be given unlimited access to move to Australia to look after their interests and eventually, if Chinese buy even more Australian assets, and they have the money to do so, what is to stop Australia will becoming a Chinese province?
Author John Ralston Saul is in town for the Sydney Writers Festival and will be speaking at the Sydney Town Hall this evening at 6pm. Bookings can be made through the Sydney Writers' Festival 2010 website.
Ralston Saul has updated his book 'The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World.'
'For more than a decade, Saul has been arguing that it is high time to completely rethink the primacy of economic fundamentalism, to discard what he sees as the flawed, 1970s ideology of unfettered free-market globalisation. "The recent European bailout adds fuel to his argument", he says. "This is the outcome of globalism? That we're more in debt than we were in 1973? We're not having a conversation about what worked and what didn't [in globalisation], and we have to have that conversation." [SMH 17th May 2010, p6]
Ralston Saul says we had the chance to reform the system - but that was before the global financial crisis.
"Nevertheless, I think democracies are capable of reforming the system, and there's a long list of things that need to be done. One of them, shut down the business schools, they're at the core of the problem... for the last thirty years there's been a sort of intellectual cleansing in economics department, so there's only one way of thinking." [ABC, 18th May, 2010, by Adam Spencer].
Saul also in his most recent book, 'The Fair Country', analyses what he sees as the parallel between Canada and Australia in respect to geography, the extreme climate, and the essential importance of Aboriginal people.
In "Hissing in the Grass," Steve Green writes that
S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the US. It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.
“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.” ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower
It is similar to what India faced with imposition of the salt tax during British rule, only S 510 extends control over all food in the US, violating the fundamental human right to food.
Monsanto says it has no interest in the bill and would not benefit from it, but Monsanto’s Michael Taylor who gave us rBGH and unregulated genetically modified (GM) organisms, appears to have designed it and is waiting as an appointed Food Czar to the FDA (a position unapproved by Congress) to administer the agency it would create — without judicial review — if it passes. S 510 would give Monsanto unlimited power over all US seed, food supplements, food and farming.
In the 1990s, Bill Clinton introduced HACCP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points) purportedly to deal with contamination in the meat industry. Clinton’s HACCP delighted the offending corporate (World Trade Organization “WTO”) meat packers since it allowed them to inspect themselves, eliminated thousands of local food processors (with no history of contamination), and centralized meat into their control. Monsanto promoted HACCP.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton, urged a powerful centralized food safety agency as part of her campaign for president. Her advisor was Mark Penn, CEO of Burson Marsteller*, a giant PR firm representing Monsanto. Clinton lost, but Clinton friends such as Rosa DeLauro, whose husband’s firm lists Monsanto as a progressive client and globalization as an area of expertise, introduced early versions of S 510.
S 510 fails on moral, social, economic, political, constitutional, and human survival grounds.
1. It puts all US food and all US farms under Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, in the event of contamination or an ill-defined emergency. It resembles the Kissinger Plan.
2. It would end US sovereignty over its own food supply by insisting on compliance with the WTO, thus threatening national security. It would end the Uruguay Round Agreement Act of 1994, which put US sovereignty and US law under perfect protection. Instead, S 510 says:
COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS.
Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the United States is a party.
3. It would allow the government, under Maritime Law, to define the introduction of any food into commerce (even direct sales between individuals) as smuggling into “the United States.” Since under that law, the US is a corporate entity and not a location, “entry of food into the US” covers food produced anywhere within the land mass of this country and “entering into” it by virtue of being produced.
4. It imposes Codex Alimentarius on the US, a global system of control over food. It allows the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the WTO to take control of every food on earth and remove access to natural food supplements. Its bizarre history and its expected impact in limiting access to adequate nutrition (while mandating GM food, GM animals, pesticides, hormones, irradiation of food, etc.) threatens all safe and organic food and health itself, since the world knows now it needs vitamins to survive, not just to treat illnesses.
5. It would remove the right to clean, store and thus own seed in the US, putting control of seeds in the hands of Monsanto and other multinationals, threatening US security. See Seeds – How to criminalize them, for more details.
6. It includes NAIS, an animal traceability program that threatens all small farmers and ranchers raising animals. The UN is participating through the WHO, FAO, WTO, and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in allowing mass slaughter of even heritage breeds of animals and without proof of disease. Biodiversity in farm animals is being wiped out to substitute genetically engineered animals on which corporations hold patents. Animal diseases can be falsely declared. S 510 includes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), despite its corrupt involvement in the H1N1 scandal, which is now said to have been concocted by the corporations.
7. It extends a failed and destructive HACCP to all food, thus threatening to do to all local food production and farming what HACCP did to meat production – put it in corporate hands and worsen food safety.
8. It deconstructs what is left of the American economy. It takes agriculture and food, which are the cornerstone of all economies, out of the hands of the citizenry, and puts them under the total control of multinational corporations influencing the UN, WHO, FAO and WTO, with HHS, and CDC, acting as agents, with Homeland Security as the enforcer. The chance to rebuild the economy based on farming, ranching, gardens, food production, natural health, and all the jobs, tools and connected occupations would be eliminated.
9. It would allow the government to mandate antibiotics, hormones, slaughterhouse waste, pesticides and GMOs. This would industrialize every farm in the US, eliminate local organic farming, greatly increase global warming from increased use of oil-based products and long-distance delivery of foods, and make food even more unsafe. The five items listed — the Five Pillars of Food Safety — are precisely the items in the food supply which are the primary source of its danger.
10. It uses food crimes as the entry into police state power and control. The bill postpones defining all the regulations to be imposed; postpones defining crimes to be punished, postpones defining penalties to be applied. It removes fundamental constitutional protections from all citizens in the country, making them subject to a corporate tribunal with unlimited power and penalties, and without judicial review. It is (similar to C-6 in Canada) the end of Rule of Law in the US.
For further information, watch these videos:
Food Laws – Forcing people to globalize
State Imposed Violence … to snatch resources of ordinary people
Oak snake image at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Florida
This article comes from the background research for the Freewaves Feminist Magazine Show on 3RPP Radio Port Phillip, Victoria, Thursday, 20 August 2009. On the show with me was Catherine Manning, who wrote “Would you like porn with that?” for Candobetter, who has started up an internet site focused on removing porn from children’s eye level in stores.
Before we did the show together, I did a bit of research into the nature of pornography and why it might be good, or bad. I had difficulty coming to grips with the subject at all for some strange reason. I think that, like a lot of people, I have learned to tune out from the skin-marketing all around me, so focusing on the subject and related issues required an effort. I found a lot of very interesting writing and some very funny blogs.
This is what I came up with.
What is pornography anyhow?
Pornography is not just about getting naked, or having sex, or even recording, depicting or describing it.
The word pornography is made up of the Greek word for ‘prostitute’or ‘sex slave’ – porne- and the word for ‘writing’ graphein. The word pornographos designated a person who writes about prostitutes. Women in Ancient Greek society did not have the status of citizens and slaves had no status at all.
Pornography as we know it today still contains the ingredients of body sale and slavery. Slavery, in many instances these days, is commuted to objectification rather than frank chattel status.
‘Commuted’ in the sense of being paid for. Now you are not owned as a performing slave, but you rent yourself out. The person giving their body to pornography is assumed to be doing so from freedom of choice in order to make money.
Initially the pay for pornography, as in prostitution, may be higher than for other jobs available. Or the pornography may carry, falsely or really, some acting or modelling component and may be seen as an opportunity to get into something more skilled.
Pornography offers the vendors profits where none might otherwise exist. The ability to turn the girl next door, the schoolgirls on the bus-stop, your wife, daughter or girlfriend into cash may be very hard to knock back.
In the absence of women taking more control of their own incomes, including ownership of land and assets, the only thing stopping third parties from making a living this way would be a moral code to resist assisting the exploitation of women and their public exhibition of their bodies, which is generally deemed to be demeaning and damaging, unless it is artistic, which is to say, not titillating.
Some women would say that pornographic work is only damaging because women are seen to be objects owned by men and renting their bodies out for any purpose lowers the value of the object.
Can a woman enjoy displaying her body in a provocative pose to an unknown range of anonymous magazine browsers? The associated notoriety has become more and more apparently acceptable in public mores, possibly due to the expansion of visual media and the associated expansion of profit opportunities.
Who makes the money out of pornography?
So, why don’t men do it with their bodies too? Or is their main role as agents, salesmen and owners?
Who makes the most money out of pornography – the women who pose or the men who sell it? Obviously the employer has to stand to make more than the subject of the picture or there would be no profit in it.
It is said that one of the richest men in the world, Rupert Murdoch, made a lot of his money out of his famous ‘Page 3’ girlie photos at a time when the print media were constantly expanding.
The divisions and oppositions by gender in our species are political and economic
Steve Biddulpf writes that:
“Boys have many positive impulses around sexuality. Deep down most teenage boys are deeply romantic, capable of quite spiritual feelings towards women and girls.” (Steve Biddupf, “How we turn boys into creeps.”)
But the domination driven culture of capitalism undoes them.
A man with a big car and a couple of semi-naked young women sitting on it looks rich and successful to other men, according to Ape and marketing logic.
A woman surrounded by young naked men would also look rich and successful, as if accompanied by slaves, but we don’t see this so much. This is probably because our society is dominated by men who reject the popularization of women with male slaves. Why? Because we are against male slavery and its portrayal. But not that of women.
Catherine Manning’s concern that young girls will early identify as inevitable the public sexualisation of their gender as objects has deeper significance than ‘mere’ psychological trauma. With the huge expansion in volume and exposure of pornography, the risk is of the perpetuation and exacerbation of the attitudes that underlay the slave societies of Ancient Greece and England and her colonies before the 20th century, where women had no rights to property or citizenship and could not even have custody of their children in the event of a divorce.
Does it seem too way out to imagine our society being prepared for such a future? Think of how Russia has become a source of prostitution for the world with the simultaneous arrival of the capitalist press and economic decline. And South East Asia.
Mr Murdoch as a porn hustler; more than just an industry
Consider the influence that Mr Murdoch, the man who designed the Page 3 girls to become our social norm, now has on the production of political parties and leaders in Australia and throughout the English-speaking world, and even, more and more, in Europe.
Consider his influence on our dogma of economic and population growth, commodification and privatization, his impact on food habits and acquired cultures and values.
Could this kindly old man, solid patriarch and deliverer of Boyer Lectures really be the same man who brought the English-speaking world the Page 3 soft porn? Well, if that’s the worst he can do, is it any big deal?
I wonder if, however, in his vast network empire, Murdoch ever thought about investing in something a little more sophisticated?
Well, as it happens, Newshounds Are Us at www.newshounds.us/ (an online news-site which arose with the original researchers for the film Outfoxed about Fox TV) report in 2009 that Rupert Murdoch,
“… the born-again Christian who chairs media giant News Corporation, has been secretly building a stable of wholly-owned pornographic channels for his BSkyB subsidiary. The Business has learnt that BSkyB now owns and operates its own pornographic channels – the 18+ Movies selection – after years of hosting third-party content only. The company has also been entering into partnerships with companies that broadcast pornographic television channels on BSkyB, such as Sport XXX Babes, XXX Housewive and Playboy. BSkYB has agreed retail distribution agreements with these companies. With Playboy, for instance, BSkyB now not only hosts the channel but sells its service, and collects and shares in the revenues from Playboy customers.”
They further inform us of another old man who owns newspapers and made a fortune from pornography, saying that,
“For years the Murdoch press has labelled rival newspaper baron Richard Desmond a pornographer in articles charting his business which has included pornographic magazines and TV channels.” http://www.newshounds.us/2006/02/12/rupert_murdochs_pornography_profiteering.php
Desmond owns the Daily Express and OK magazine.
Silvio Berlusconi’s personal control over Italy’s ideas is even more direct. He is the Prime Minister of Italy, in the first place, but has been estimated to have personally
[…]The hallmarks of Mediaset television are blizzards of commercials, interspersed with AC Milan soccer matches – Berlusconi is the team's owner – game shows, "reality TV" serials and vaudeville extravaganzas featuring leggy troupes of scantily-clad young women.”
“controls more than a third of all book and magazine publishing and a leading national newspaper.”
Source: Frank Viviano, CBS5, “The Resurrection Of Silvio Berlusconi.”
But wait, there’s more: A report called, “The Porn Standard, Children and Pornography on the internet”, found that the “large and lucrative internet pornography industry is flooding the Web and seeking mainstream acceptance.”
It also found that
“The online pornography industry generates $12 billion in annual revenue roughly equal to the annual revenue of ABC, NBC, and CBS combined”[…], and, that “The two largest purchasers of [internet] bandwidth [space] are companies in the adult entertainment industry.
Household names in manufacturing own these global investments in Porn:
“The report found that, already in the year 2000, “General Motors Corporation (through its subsidiary DirecTV®) was selling more pornographic films each year than Larry Flynt of Hustler®. EchoStar Communications, which is heavily backed by Rupert Murdoch, now generates more revenue from pornography than Playboy®.
Other major players in the pornography business today include AT&T®, Hilton®, Marriott International. [Source: Sean Barney, “The Porn Standard: Children and pornography on the internet,” http://www.thirdway.org/products/14]
Maybe we looking at a porn-led international economic recovery?
So is this where the banks and big corporations are investing our funds now? Are they aiming for a porn-led global financial recovery?
If this phenomenon is so pervasive, so irrestistible, and it relies so much on women’s bodies, how come we are still letting a bunch of old men run our show?
If there is so much money in pornography, shouldn’t the women and children who wear the costs at least get control of the profits – not to mention the industry? Go here for the Celebrity Bestiality report on making money out of porn. That report concludes that only the big investors get anything out of the business.
Corporations and governments in the old-fashioned role of pimps
This is where we came in: Female gender slavery and prostitution make money for the masters, not for the individuals who perform the work.
Pimps tend to be men who are able to attract a few women by fair or foul means, but who are not too fussed about renting them out for sex. Perhaps this is one of the ways in which capitalism began.
Did the case ever happen where women were able to attract men and then were not too fussed about renting them out for sex? To whom? In capitalist societies women generally did not own anything, whereas men were able to own them. It therefore seems that the tendency for many more women to be prostitutes than men probably resulted from women’s marginalization and then further marginalized them.
But are women’s bodies the only ones objectified like this? No, pornographic objectification happens to men and to children of both sexes, although in the latter case it is not yet deemed acceptable.
Male gender slavery and objectification in war
And there is another way in which men are objectified by the same kinds of commercially organized forces which is just as demeaning and destructive – and that is in war. In war young men are convinced or forced to risk their bodies, minds and lives for the sake of profits, yet told that what they are doing is honorable.
And women and children suffer in war of course as well, often in pornographic ways that are beyond ordinary imagination.
Porn and war seem to be human issues of economic and political disenfranchisement in contexts of removal of power to distant locations and persons who do not have to face the people who wear the consequences.
Another argument in favour of relocalisation.
That’s not the end of it, but here’s a good song to pause on – “JPEG Baby”. It's sung by the writer of the Celebrity Bestiality report.
Send us your thoughts in a comment.
And maybe take a look at http://www.sayno4kids.com/blog/ - Catherine Manning’s page proposing simply moving pornographic magazine displays to above children’s eye-level.
On Wednesday, 12 August 2009 the Victorian Parliament Upper House passed a motion moved by the Liberal Nationals Coalition to disallow parts of a water regulation which would have seen the Brumby Labor Government break key water promises.
The Coalition’s disallowance motion was supported by the Greens and DLP member Peter Kavanagh.
Coalition spokesman says it opposed the order because it broke three key promises
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, said the Coalition opposed the order because it broke three key promises made to Victorian communities.
The government’s intention was to redirect water to Melbourne through the north-south pipeline despite it being promised to the Snowy and Murray rivers,” Mr Ryan said “Labor also planned ‘negotiating with the Commonwealth’ on distributing savings from the second stage of the Food Bowl Modernisation Project, which contradicts its original promise of allowing the water to be split 50/50 between farmers and the environment.
He added that, “Furthermore the order lacks the necessary rigour in auditing savings from the Food Bowl Modernisation Project.” Mr Ryan said the Coalition was determined to hold the government to account over its promises to the environment, to irrigators and communities in northern Victoria.
Mr Ryan accused the Government of attempts at "looting water" due to failing to plan for Melbourne's future water needs
“Today’s successful disallowance motion in Parliament highlights the overwhelming opposition to the Government’s attempts to loot water from food producers and the environment because it has failed to plan for Melbourne’s future water needs,” Mr Ryan said.
“Labor’s hyperbole that by disallowing this order, the Coalition has denied water to the environment and Melburnians is factually incorrect.
“The ball is now in Premier Brumby and Minister Holding’s court to actually come back to Parliament with a fair and honest amendment to the bulk entitlement.
“Such an amendment should include a rigorous auditing process for savings which is approved by Parliament and where environmental water and savings that are meant for irrigators are delivered to them, rather than to Melbourne.”
Greg ... of the Greens commented that the Coalition should not treat the matter like political football and should do more than just criticise the Government. It should tell the electorate what it will do if it comes to power.
Order would have breached committments regarding Foodbowl Modernisation Project
(The Foodbowl Modernisation Project has problems of its own - see articles.)
The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition has successfully moved to disallow parts of the Bulk Entitlement (Eildon-Goulburn Weir) Conversion Further Amending Order 2009 that would have breached commitments the Brumby Government made to the community regarding the Foodbowl Modernisation Project, according to Member for Northern Victoria Region Wendy Lovell.
Ms Lovell, who is vehemently opposed to the north-south pipeline, spoke about the disallowance motion in the Legislative Council after it was introduced by the Coalition this morning.
The Coalition’s motion disallowed parts of the Bulk Entitlement (Eildon-Goulburn Weir) Conversion Further Amending Order 2009 because it breached three key commitments the Brumby Government made to food producers, the environment and Victorian communities.
To go ahead would break promise to protect health of Snowy and Murray rivers through the Water for Rivers Agreement
“The Brumby Government would have broken its promise to provide savings from the Central Goulburn 1234 Modernisation Project to protect the health of the Snowy and Murray rivers through the Water for Rivers Agreement,” Ms Lovell said.
“According to the Order, Brumby Government has also reneged on its commitment to split savings from Stage 2 of the Foodbowl Modernisation Project 50/50 between farmers and the environment, and will instead distribute savings ‘based on future negotiations with the Commonwealth.’
Inadequate auditing of 'foodbowl modernisation process'
“The Order also failed to establish a proper measure and audit process for water savings made from the foodbowl modernisation process.
Instead of an independent audit, the Order bizarrely stated water savings would be calculated ‘in accordance with calculation methods approved by the Minister for Water’, therefore at the Minister’s discretion.
“The Order clearly breached commitments the government made to the environment, food producers and Victorian communities and shows the Brumby Government is prepared to place the future of farming communities and our rivers in jeopardy for the sake of sending 75 gigalitres of northern Victoria’s water to Melbourne."
Yet more unforgivable promise-breaking
“The Brumby Government has already broken the ultimate promise, which Labor made in 2006 when it said it did not support taking water from north of the Great Dividing Range to meet Melbourne’s future needs, and the Coalition will work diligently to hold the government to its promises to the environment and northern Victorian food producers,” Ms Lovell said.
Source: BRUMBY’S BULK ENTITLEMENT FOR NORTH-SOUTH PIPELINE DISALLOWED
Wendy Lovell Liberal Leader of the Upper House
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
We are entering can era of severe scarcity
Illustration: Gustave Doré's Don Quixote
We are entering can era of severe scarcity in which centralised and globalised systems will fail to provide for us and we will have to develop highly localized economies. Most people would probably doubt that we could organize satisfactory communities without vast state bureaucracies and corporations. The achievements of the Spanish Anarchist workers collectives in the 1930s show what miracles ordinary people can do.
One of the strong beliefs reinforcing the acceptance of consumer-capitalist society is the assumption that it has to be run by authorities up there somewhere, by governments, bureaucracies, corporations, experts, CEOs, via big complex systems that ordinary people like us can’t fathom and couldn’t possibly run. People take it for granted that there is a vast distinction between our governors and we who are governed, and this is inevitable in a modern complex technocratic society. Our only role in government is to elect our governors occasionally, then submit to their rule. Meanwhile it is best if we devote ourselves to working diligently, consuming, football, celebrities and trivia.
In my very firm view consumer-capitalist society will soon be over. It is extremely unsustainable and unjust. There is no possibility that the per capita rates of resource consumption the 1.5 billion rich have can be extended to the other 7.5 billion we will soon have on earth. The Australian footprint of 8 ha of productive land per capita is about 10 times the area that will be available per capita in 2050. Well before that we will run into savage and insoluble shortages of oil, water, food, fish, several minerals, phosphorus, and the ecological consequences of the greenhouse problem, destruction of soils and forests, and a holocaust of species loss, the social and political impacts of collapsing states, resource wars and massive refugee movements.
Globalisation is over
Whether we like it or not we will localize. Globalisation is over. If complete collapse and die-off is avoided the only viable path will be in terms of mostly small and self-sufficient local economies in which people cooperate to organize their own local productive capacity to produce for themselves most of the things they need with little trade. In the coming age of severe scarcity economies must be mostly focused on needs and not profits, and organized by rational and cooperative control of the economy as distinct from driven by market forces (although they could still have a role.) Above all there can be no economic growth at all, and affluent “living standards” must be abandoned. The goal must be satisfactory but frugal and self-sufficient ways in stable or zero-growth economies.
Most people would probably totally reject this vision, believing that conservation effort and technical advance will enable us to go on pursuing ever-increasing affluence and GDP. In addition they would not believe that an acceptable alternative defined in terms of frugal living standards and no growth could remotely be designed. However I have no doubt that we could easily and quickly build a very satisfactory as well as sustainable and just society…if we wanted to. Its principles would have to be frugal but adequate living standards, high levels of self-sufficiency in mostly small local economies of the kind indicated above. (For a detailed discussion see The Simpler Way website, .) In my view this is the direction we will be moving in soon, whether we like it or not.
Again l think one of the most powerful ideological forces blocking such a transition is the general conviction that a satisfactory society could not be run without all those heavy bureaucrats, experts and CEOs, and rule by authoritarian and complex governments. Well if that’s your view, let me tell you about what the Spanish Anarchist collectives did in the 1930s.
The Spanish Anarchist Workers Collectives
In a period of about six years after 1933, during a civil war, the anarchists got control of large areas of Spain, containing 8 million people. Possibly 1800 collectives were established. Often they were able to take over factories and estates abandoned when their owners fled the war. With remarkable speed collectives made up of workers in these firms formed and organized to continue production. Many very large ventures were quickly put back into operation. For instance three days after a battle in Barcelona the trams were running again.
Attention was focused on the most important needs, for instance the setting up of communal dining halls. The collectives plunged into the reorganization and improvement of industries, for instance combining many previously struggling small firms, coordinating and integrating. In some regions they ran the fishing industry, from the boats to the canning factories and the distribution networks. They actually organized and ran whole regional economies, including public services such as policing, road construction, flood control, water supply, transport, maintenance of parks. They set up banks, flour mills, theatres an aluminium industry, organized international importing, printed their own money, abolished interest payments, and ran railways and telecommunications systems. Entire health systems were established, including medical centres, hospitals and sanitoria. In Barcelona six hospitals and eight sanitoria were built. Dental services and surgery was free, provided by doctors receiving set payments. Schools were free. Ordinary people gained access to medical services they previously could not afford when doctors only served the rich. They even established engineering and optical training institutes, and a university. The city of Barcelona with a population of 1.2 million was run in these ways.
Towns exchanged surpluses. Some towns and collectives abolished money, arranging all production and distribution in terms of needs and vouchers. Abundant things, such as fruit in season, were free, but scarce things were rationed.
The basic format for this “governing” was the weekly assembly of all workers in the factory, reviewing all operations, planning, electing managers, making decisions. Factories would send delegates to meetings handling issues involving several factories, and similar delegations up to larger and more centralized assemblies would deal with wider regional issues. These latter gatherings had little or no power because recommendations would be taken back down to the factory assemblies where everyone had a vote. That’s the essential Anarchist principle; all power is held by citizens and any centralized issues are thought out by delegates but the recommendations are taken back to the citizen assemblies for approval. They refused to resort to bureaucrats, let alone paid or professional officials, managers or politicians. Managers were just more experienced workers elected by the assemblies, recallable at any time. Committees mostly met after work hours or on the weekend. In other words the government of factories, farms, industries and entire regions was actually carried out by ordinary people deliberating in citizen assemblies. Of course in all these domains more experienced people had key roles but were not bosses or privilelged.
From accounts such as those in Dolgoff, The Anarchist Collectives, (1973) the production of goods, the efficiency of operations, the effectiveness of distribution and allocation, and the social welfare and justice consequences were huge improvements on what had prevailed before when control was in the hands of privileged elites and most people lived in poverty and oppression. They reorganized and innovated extensively and quickly. Men and women became much more equal. Large transfers of goods were organised to poor towns, supplies to hospitals were quickly established. A voluntary retirement age of 60 was set. Unemployed people were paid a full wage. By bringing previously idle and inefficiently used productive capacities into operation huge surges in output and welfare were quickly achieved.
Where wages were retained they were made more or less equal. However in many industries wages were abolished, for ideological reasons. Wages are elements in the system where capital hires labour, controls production, and takes the product, and workers have no involvement in production other than selling their labour and they can be dumped at any time at the whim of the employer. Instead in some cases they simply organised to provide all workers with listed necessities, sometimes via voucher or coupon systems. These entitlements varied with need, for instance being greater if there were children in a family. Thus they implemented the basic “communist” principle of allocating according to need not work done or skill.
In his introduction to Dolgoff, Bookchin makes some important observations on the mentality of the industrial worker. A lifetime of taking orders, discipline to often mind-numbing grind, no control or responsibility or concern with the uses of the product or its social value or who benefits, is likely to produce passive consumers primarily interested in their wages, i.e., purchasing power. Workers tend not to think they should do any managing. It is not surprising that in Spain the alternative thrived most in the rural regions because in addition to the collectivist traditions, the peasant way of life involves conditions and dispositions that are foreign to the industrial worker. Small; farmers must be multi-skilled handymen, energetic, thoughtful and responsible. I believe the coming revolution will be led by the spirit of the peasant and homesteader. When your welfare depends not on a wage, but on whether you organise and manage and fix and plan and think ahead and troubleshoot, and plant the beans in time,…and maintain the cooperative relations with the people in your community you depend on…then you are more likely to have the dispositions Anarchism requires.
Marx didn’t grasp any of this. In my view Marx’s analysis of capitalism, how it works, why it has problems, where it is taking us, is of the utmost importance. But what he thought about the post-capitalist society and how to get to it are I think of little value or mistaken (apart from the principle “From each according to ability, to each according to need.) If we get through to a sustainable and just society it will not be via violent revolution led by the working class led by a vanguard party which will rule from the centre until we become capable of communism. None of that can lead to local economies run by local people in participatory ways. In addition Marxists still fail to see that a satisfactory society cannot be heavily industrialized or affluent. But what’s most important here, as Bookchin points out, Marx didn’t think the outlook and personality of the worker was important (except in so far as he would support revolution.) That could be left until after the revolution. All that mattered was harnessing workers to revolution. The Anarchists in Spain had a totally different view, realizing that everything depended on how aware, committed and autonomous ordinary people are. They put a great deal of thought and effort into developing what they called “personalities”. That’s our main problem now.
Achievements were more impressive in rural areas than in the urban and industrial areas. Many impoverished peasants were able to come into larger and more farms. They were not coerced to do this and many remained outside the collectives as independent farmers. These received surprising levels of assistance from the collectives, often enjoying the benefits they would have enjoyed had they joined. They were not allowed to own more land than they could work.
These achievements were made in difficulty conditions, with many able bodied people away at the front, produce sent from regions to the troops, and at times under destructive attack from enemies.
The material I have read does not throw much light on how they were able to coordinate things. How were they able to make sure that enough bolts of the right size turned up at the right factory when they were needed. Remarkably it seems that such things were sorted out well enough just by people organizing to get and send the necessary information and supplies. They did put a great deal of effort into collecting statistics to enable sound decisions, and into research to improve production.
The extremely important point for us in all this is that their achievements demolish the claim that you have to leave the mass of decisions to the workings of the market or to centralized state bureaucracies. They seem to have shown decisively that rational planning carried out by citizens can run an economy at least well enough. Remember that in the coming era our economies will be far less complex than they are now, greatly simplified by the absence of growth, making the control of small and local economies more tractable.
Note that although they did these things without huge professional planning bureaucracies. They did plan and make rational decisions, based on the detailed statistics they continually collected. But apparently they could quickly see what needed doing and then make the necessary decisions and carry them out via grass-roots assemblies and elected managers. Compare that with our bureaucracies where if you are lucky you get a letter back in two months.
So there, we can do it! Ordinary people can run economies via participatory democracy, without states, capitalists, bureaucracies or authoritarian rule.
As I see it Anarchism defines political maturity. For thousands of years humans have tolerated rule by kings, tyrants, dictators, and politicians. Representative democracy does not allow people to govern themselves. They are treated as infantile and untrustworthy. The goal must be citizens taking responsibility for running their own collective affairs directly, with no one having power over anyone else, via highly participatory procedures. In his discussion of the way this was done by the Ancient Greeks, the Medieval and New England towns, Bookchin stresses the educational significance of this, its importance for the development of mature, thoughtful, caring and responsible citizens. When your fate and that of your town depends on whether or not you can help make good decisions in the assemblies you have a strong incentive to develop conscientious thoughtful and caring dispositions.
So it’s a bit more complicated that I have made it appear to be at the start. I misled you by saying that in Spain “ordinary people” achieved all those things. The key to the Anarchist success is to be found in the long history and powerful ideological traditions of the regions. For hundreds of years rural villages had functioned in highly collectivist ways. In addition Bakouknin’s Anarchist theory had been brought to Spain in the 1880s and had been widely influential. The movement had grown significantly in the decades before 1930, so when the opportunity came with the civil war large and sophisticated pre-existing forces sprang into action. Ideas, values land practices that had been in existence and rehearsed for a long time could be quickly put into operation.
The point is that the remarkable achievements of the Spanish Anarchists were made possible by extra-ordinary people. We will not be able to do these things unless the right ideas and values have been widely established. People in consumer-capitalist society are far from the necessary state. Governments cannot do it for them. They cannot develop the new local participatory economies, firstly because they can’t think in any other than centralised, top-down solutions, free markets and capitalist control. More importantly, the required economies of The Simpler Way will by definition be run by the citizens of the town or suburb. Only they can learn their way to the procedures for doing this that suit their local conditions. We cannot begin down that path until people in general see that it is the way to sustainable and just society, and eagerly seek to take that path because they can see that it will yield a much higher quality of life.
We are sadly very far from having anything like the necessary ideology and values among the passive, trivia-preoccupied consumers of late capitalist society. That defines the task before those who want to help solve global problems. We have to work very hard to build the required world view, values, and commitments, and there isn’t much time left to do it.
How do we do it?
In my view the Left has always been remarkably weak on the nature of ideology and how to liberate people from the dominant ideology of consumer-capitalist society. Here are brief notes on how I think we should try, given the global situation we are in. (For a more detailed discussion see.)
Again we are in a historically unique situation because after hundreds of years in which increasing wealth and abundance were taken for granted we are likely to rapidly enter an era of permanent and intense. Especially as petroleum dwindles, people will realise with a jolt that the old systems will fail to provide for us and that communities will have to organise local economies. This is already happening, most inspiringly within the Transition Towns movement. By far the most important step that can be taken by anyone who wants to save the planet, prevent global warming, eliminate Third World poverty, bring peace to the world, etc., is not to join a green party, buy a Prius, lobby against wood-chipping, or learn how to fire an AK47. It is to come and help us start building aspects of the new society, here and now, within the towns and suburbs where we live. This is not just because those are the alternatives that must eventually be built. More importantly it is because working there side by side with ordinary people will give us the best possible access to build the necessary critical global consciousness, that is, to get people to understand that the old systems cannot be made sustainable or just, that vast and radical change is needed, that free markets, growth, competition and acquisitiveness must be scrapped, and that there are far more satisfactory ways.
Dolgoff, S., Ed., (1990), The Anarchist collectives : workers’ self-management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939 ,Montréal, Black Rose Books.