NUMBER 1 SUMMER 1999-2000

Dissent - Issue 1This first issue of DISSENT focuses on the region. The main message from Des Ball and Paul Dibb is that Australia can afford to defend itself and its regional interests, provided that defence expenditure is based on a rigorous, relevant strategic policy that sets limits on what the ADF is expected to defend.

Jane Nicholls gives a vivid personal account of the atmosphere of terror and imminent violence created by the Indonesian-led East Timor militia in the days leading up to the referendum. She conveys the fear, rage and guilt felt by foreign observers whose own departures further endangered the local population, who would be slaughtered in the absence of foreign witnesses.

Jamie Mackie (politics), Kenneth Young (foreign affairs), David Bourchier (Indonesian military), Andrew Mack (labour relations), James Griffin (Irian Jaya), and Richard Broinowski (Radio Australia) each look at the Australian/Indonesian relationship from their own expert perspective.

John Legge (why the Right is wrong) argues that the past three decades of growing inequality has been caused by Milton Friedman’s monetarist, pro-market policies, not by technological change. Legge points out that the theory from which neo-liberal policies derive their model is based on ‘perfect competition’, which does not exist in the real world.

Simon Marginson, Julie Wells and Paul Mees write on the crisis in our universities. Marginson points out that current policies are depleting Australia’s human capital and the economy’s ability to adjust to emerging global challenges. Wells shows the adverse impact of cutbacks both on research capacity in universities and on equity and access. Paul Mees looks at the implications of the attempt by the ANU Research School of Social Sciences to close down the Urban Research Program, in order to sustain research in areas far less relevant to the nation.

Martin Feil argues that the World Trade Organisation is a malign influence which now exists largely for the benefit of multi-nationals and is legitimised by the ideology of free trade.

Bill Russell and David Hayward analyse the Kennett inheritance. Russell sets out realistic priorities which should be taken up by the Bracks government. Hayward shows how Kennett transformed himself from Premier of a state into CEO of a business and forgot that power is still untimately derived from the ballot box rather than the biggest shareholders.