NUMBER 19 SUMMER 2005/2006

EDITORIAL: Despite complaints from the Right, high levels of taxation are no barrier to international competitiveness and rising real wages are the biggest spur to growth in labour productivity. The biggest threats to Australia’s prosperity are further cuts in the social wage to finance tax cuts and rentiers who distort infrastructure priorities in favour of private profit.

JUDE MCCULLOCH believes politics is under attack as globalisation and the ‘war on terror’ are used as excuses to erode the boundary between the role of police and military in maintaining internal security.

TIM MOORE examines the baby boomers and concludes that, while they see themselves as the uncompromising generation supporting women’s liberation and opposing the Vietnam War and racism, they also embraced consumerism, the cult of permissiveness and instant gratification. This created fertile ground for economic rationalism and policies which discriminate against Xers, particularly in the area of education.

CHAS SAVAGE points out that the response of state and federal governments to terrorism potentially offers a far greater threat to civil liberties and democracy than acts of terrorism – unless security agencies are required to act within laws protecting individual freedom.

PATRICK EMERTON explains why the anti-terrorism legislation is a threat to democracy and the rule of law. ASIO’s powers transform it into something closer to a secret police with the discretion to determine whose political activity will be legitimate or not and hence who will be subject to detention orders.

JOHN BRADFORD’s open letter to the Prime Minister on his decision to invade Iraq accuses Howard of deceit. Howard’s shameful act is incompetent to the point of stupidity because the terrorists have been able to make him their agent.

ERIC AARONS says that, unlike classical liberalism or traditional conservatism, neo-liberalism has replaced values concerning the public good with an extended version of the market and individualism. Environmental challenges mean there must be a new alignment of political forces with a new sense of the common good.

BRIAN WALTERS argues that the old idea that protection of the public interest in legal matters could be left to the Attorney-General is redundant because of party discipline and cabinet solidarity. If NGOs are to uphold the public interest they must have access to the courts without having to give security for costs or undertakings as to damages.

RICHARD CAMPBELL reviews the facts about oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and comes to the conclusion that the basic assumptions of the major western democracies and China that there will be sufficient supplies for decades to come are false. We need to support polices which promote energy saving now to avoid a supply crisis within the next decade.

CLINTON FERNANDES explains that the doctrine of Realism based on power politics drove Australian’s recognition of the Indonesian takeover of East Timor in 1975 and recent negotiations over maritime borders affecting oil rights. The unequal treaty, like the brutal occupation, may also become untenable if Australian public opinion sees it as unjust.

PATRICK TROY, DARREN HOLLOWAY and BILL RANDOLPH present a detailed plan showing how Sydney households could be encouraged to conserve and recycle water at a fraction of the cost of desalination and cut demand for potable water from Sydney Water by 80 per cent.

IAN MCCAULEY argues the Right has appropriated the language of the Left in order to de-legitimate the values which were once the property of the Left.

SID SPINDLER, former Democrat Senator, points out the third party vote has increased from 10 to 20 per cent since 1990. He argues the case for third parties holding the balance of power in the Senate, making executive government more open and accountable to Parliament and public opinion.

SHAUN CANNON from the Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace details how the Howard Government’s new workplace relations legislation violates Catholic social teaching on the nature and dignity of humanity and work.

ERNEST RODECK recalls his time on the Victorian Prison Industries Commission, which helped to create meaningful work within the prisons, training and jobs on release, and savings from reduced recidivism and explains how the Commission was downgraded to a Committee when prisons were privatised.

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