30 January 1999. Thought for the Week: "It seems, therefore, that we shall have to fight the old battles all over again, and force our rulers to sign a new Magna Charta. Unless the private individual can secure for himself some protection for his wife and family against the confiscation of their home, and we can attain an opportunity to acquire some culture and leisure, then I cannot see what advantage we are getting from our much-proclaimed 'advances' in science, invention and education. It appears, too, that the vast amount of mechanical skill and encyclopedic knowledge we are acquiring has no connection with what was once called wisdom."
James Guthrie, Our Sham Democracy (1946)
SALVAGING THE REPUBLICAN DISASTER
by David Thompson
We can expect every effort to ensure that the drive towards the republic is "cranked up" again. This must be led by the news media, overwhelmingly republican, and now almost overwhelmingly foreign-controlled. As we previously warned, prepare for a media blitz. We will certainly see it this week with events surrounding Australia Day, and every effort made to portray republicanism as "nationalistic" and "patriotic"; For the first time in 50 years, nationalism and patriotism (under their new definitions) will become "acceptable".
The constitutional vandals, such as
Turnbull, Wran, Vizard, etc., will be reinvented as "patriots".
Every effort is now being made to salvage the republican cause to avert an impending disaster, which could see republicanism swept aside for another 20 years. In the scramble to avert disaster, no tactic is too low, including an attempt to mislead the voters. It is now being openly suggested that the referendum question be "as simple as possible" so people can "understand it". So simple, in fact, that it is downright deceptive.
Republicans are now calling on the Treasurer, Mr. Costello, to pull his weight as a declared republican, and use his influence in Cabinet. What is required of Costello is an undertaking that he will move heaven and earth in Cabinet to ensure that the referendum question consists of the vague, motherhood question along the lines of "Would you prefer to have an Australian as Head of State?" No reference to the scrapping of the Crown, no question about reserve powers, no mention of the myriad of specific constitutional changes required to achieve this smooth sleight-of-hand.
Whatever leverage is available is being bent upon the republican "dissidents" - people like Ted Mack and Phil Cleary, who cannot stomach the "pseudo-republican Turnbull model" and who demand direct election of a president. Almost every newspaper editorial in the country is urging Mack and Cleary not to split the republican vote; "let's get the republic first, and if it doesn't work, we can fix it up"!
A new group is being hastily cobbled
together, "Conservatives for the republic", to give the impression
that there is a deep-seated desire among "conservatives" for
the republic, that has simply never been expressed previously.
Just what is "conservative" about radical and even dangerous
constitutional vandalism has not been explained. As yet little
real pressure has been placed on the republicans by monarchists.
But they know they can expect this to come in force from all
quarters, and that they will have to withstand the sort of
savaging that people like Bruce Ruxton are capable of.
The republican path ahead is still strewn with obstacles. Treasurer Costello's campaigning for the republic is more likely to be a distinct disadvantage. Here is the man who is attempting to impose the dreaded GST upon us, and next he wants a republic. In an environment where the press is deeply distrusted, an aggressive republican press campaign is certain to generate resentment.
ABORIGINAL REVOLUTION BOILING UP
In further attempts to salvage the republican charge, all non-essential baggage is to be cut away. The aboriginal industry responded with anger and dismay when informed last week that the push to re-write the Preamble to the Constitution, including recognition of aborigines as "prior occupants", was to be abandoned. It was too vulnerable to scare campaigns, and confused the issue, the republicans claimed. The activists are furious, and swear retribution.
It is unlikely that the aboriginal industry
will campaign against the republic, but there are plenty of
other avenues for reprisals. For example, the suggestions
of boycotting the Olympics and campaigning against Australian
"human rights abuses" received additional support. Perhaps
the most revealing (and alarming) development is the growing
determination within ATSIC to demand a referendum of aboriginal
people on the question of a treaty with Australia, and the
possibility of "a separate aboriginal government".
NEW STEEL MILL FOR NEWCASTLE
by Jeremy Lee
Today BHP is a financial cot-case. Some years ago it abandoned its traditional role and became a transnational. It ventured into coal, oil and minerals, as well as building steel mills in North and South America and Asia. The Asian meltdown has hit BHP particularly hard. Oil is at one of its lowest prices ever. The world is awash with cheap steel, often from Third World mills built through western aid. BHP sold its huge coalmines in Queensland after coal came under intense pressure. Japan is still seeking further cuts to what are give-away prices of Australian coal.
Seeing the giant BHP reeling drunkenly from disaster to disaster, a number of competitors have sought to capitalise - chiefly the Smorgon family, which moved out of meat-processing a few years ago and is now building mini-steel mills, using scrap as a main feed stock. They are reckoning on a recovery in steel sooner or later, and if BHP continues on its present disastrous course, the possibility of Australia's main, historic producer no longer in the arena.
The latest news is of a joint venture
in a new Newcastle stainless steel industry between Boulder
Group NL and Australian Overseas Resources Ltd., each having
a 40 percent stake. The Australian Financial Review
(19/1/99) said: "... International bankers have already expressed
interest in financing the debt portion of the project which
will be about $187 million
In two remarkable articles, written in
Queensland's Courier-Mail over January 19th and 20th,
economist Terry McCrann warned of an approaching financial
disaster. His first article stated: "Be warned. Be seriously
warned. The chances of some form of global financial catastrophe
are rising rapidly. Forget about the 'Y2K problem'. We have
to survive the increasingly likely 'Y1999K problem' first....
It is ... possible to see certain types of financial catastrophe
tipping either the world economy or our own local economy
into recession. ... It's much easier to call the increasing
chances of 'some sort' of financial disaster than to detail
exactly what will, and when it might, happen. There are just
too many disasters-in-waiting now brewing.
In his second article, on January 20th,
McCrann continued, under the heading
There's a lot in McCrann's policy-beliefs that we don't share. Only some Australians had a good year in 1998 - by no means all. Many suffered grievously. Nor do we believe the way out of this disaster can be achieved by Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan's decisions about interest rates and credit restrictions.
The League of Rights has always stressed that there is no physical reason for Australia to suffer catastrophe. To the contrary, it is providentially equipped to provide all its citizens with food, clothing and shelter of the highest standard. It has no reason to be a debtor-nation. It has more than enough raw materials and commodities at its disposal to provide all Australians with a high quality of life, peace and happiness. What it needs is leaders who start from an understanding of this physical reality, prepared to reject foreign "snake-oil" which leads us onto false, disastrous paths. But McCrann's analysis of the potential disaster is correct.
SIR HUMPHREY FIDDLING... WHILE AUSTRALIA BURNS
The Australian Financial Review (19/1/99) reported: "The Federal Government's top public servants could receive pay rises of up to $30,000 in March, as a result of a Remuneration Tribunal recommendation yesterday. The proposal brings the salary of the most senior Commonwealth departmental heads - the secretaries of the departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Defence and Treasury - to $276,000... a further 10 to 12 percent pay increase will also be paid in March 2000 "
Politicians' salaries are, of course, also decided by the Remuneration Tribunal. Whether this means that politicians receive an automatic pay rise the article did not say.
PHRASING THE QUESTION
The referendum on the issue of Australia becoming a republic is expected in November. As in opinion polling, much can be done to determine the answer one receives by the way the question is framed. Clever question phrasing often deliberately skews the results of a survey or poll in the direction required by the operator. In order to get the result they want, the republicans now propose to influence the way the question for a referendum on the republic is phrased. There is plenty of room for deliberate deception, and plenty also for complete misunderstanding in the referendum question.
It is proposed by the republicans as a matter of strategy, to attempt to deceive the electorate by concentrating on the issue of the citizenship of Australia's Head of State. Why have a foreign woman from the other side of the world as Head of State? In view of the fact that, since Australia's historical, cultural and political roots are British, there is nothing wrong with this at all. Until the Australia Act was passed in 1984, Australians were regarded as "British" as well. The Head of State was "one of our own", and of course, still is. If the republicans demand an Australian citizen as Head of State, the simplest and safest answer is to propose an Act of Parliament conferring formal Australian citizenship upon the Queen.
The dilemma for republicans is that if the question is seen to be dishonestly phrased they obviously have something to hide, leading to a "no" vote based upon that suspicion. In addition to this, if there is any suggestion that the referendum question may not provide the legal basis for wholesale constitutional change, it is quite certain that there will be a High Court challenge to the result. The issue is by no means straightforward. The Bill for the referendum, including the question (or questions) to be asked, must be passed by Parliament Members of Parliament should be advised that the referendum question must deal with the specific constitutional changes required (even if there are 85 of them) or be rejected by the Parliament.
CASE AGAINST "YOUR RIGHTS" DROPPED
Last year we reported that the ABC has mounted a court case to prevent the distribution of the annual civil rights handbook, "Your Rights 1998" published by John Bennett of the Australian Civil Liberties Union. In his book, Bennett was highly critical of the ABC's handling of the Pauline Hanson issue, which obviously embarrassed and infuriated the ABC. The threat of legal action was greeted by a strong chorus of objection from the more evenhanded in the print press including ABC commentator Terry Lane. Lane said that in this case, "the large ABC thinks it can get away with squashing the small Mr. Bennett". John Bennett, however, is not one to retreat easily. In November he embarked upon a letter-writing campaign, protesting the ABC's action to every Member of Federal Parliament. He described the ABC's tactics as "an appalling threat to the freedom of speech in Australia".
Within two hours of the letters being
received by the Parliamentarians, the ABC had called off its
threat to destroy the booklet in the courts.
The claim that Asian migration to Australia is not as high as feared by most Australians, has shown to be hollow. It is well known that the numbers of Asian migrants have risen steadily, and overtook the numbers of arrivals from the British Isles in 1984. This trend has continued, and during the past 15 years, the numbers of migrants from Britain and southern Europe averaged 28,133 per year. The Asian-born intake, however, averaged 48,103 people per year. Originally the Australian Government had required that for every non-British born migrant entering Australia, the intake should comprise 10 British-born migrants. This requirement was established in the late 1940s, but quickly subverted.
In the post-war period, migrants born
in North Africa and Asia comprised 24.3% of net migrants.
The trend towards more non-British migrants is also exaggerated
by another aspect, previously largely overlooked. This is
the rate of departure of migrants who, for whatever reason,
decide not to remain in Australia. The departure rate for
European and British-born migrants is around 28 percent, while
the departure rate for Asian-born migrants is much lower,
at about 11 percent.
THE EXPLODING DEBT SPLURGE
Were reported at the end of last year
on the massive growth in personal debt in Australia. If anything
it is going even faster.
A 2 percent increase in interest rates would add a further $5 billion onto overheads in Australia - enough to tip a further minority into catastrophe and social disaster. One imagines our politicians and public service "fat-cats" would not notice, so long as "the fundamentals" in statistics were "comfortable".
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS CONTINUE
During 1998 continued mergers and acquisitions worth $51.2 billion took place in Australia - an increase on the $43.8 billion the previous year. The Australian Financial Review commented: "..... Overseas buyers accounted for more than 46 percent of transactions by value, in a year in which cross-border activity worldwide reached unprecedented levels and in which Australia, despite its relatively small size, was the fourth most active M & A market. The level of activity could be even greater in 1999..."
A small number of brokers managed the takeovers, headed by Warburg, Dillon Read. Second in the list was Goldman Sachs, under the dynamic leadership of its republican Australian director, Malcolm Turnbull.
SUCCESS OF THE RELENTLESS LETTER-WRITER
While some are easily discouraged by rejection of their efforts by editors of letters-to-the-editor pages of newspapers, others simply see it as a further challenge to be overcome. One such relentless letter-writer is Ron Fischer of Talbot in Victoria, who continues to have incisive letters published all over Australia. If he is rejected in one place, he simply moves to the next newspaper. It takes more than simply sheer perseverance, however. It also takes more than being well informed.
The letters themselves are crafted with a skill that improves his chances of publication. It is a skill derived of keen observation and long experience. The following is a recent example of the art, published in the Ballarat Courier late last year:
"Dear Sir, "Australia is selling off
the farm paddock by paddock (business by business). Adding
to all that has gone before, in the last couple of months
the Stawell woollen mills and the Horsham foundry have been
bought by overseas interests. Now the Ballarat railway workshops
have the 'FOR SALE' notice out (The 'Courier' November
28). The Member for Ballarat West (Mr. Jenkins) is apparently
happy to announce that a 'large international railway company'
is interested. What odds that this, or another 'multinational,
will be the ultimate purchaser?
CAPTURING THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY
One of the issues overlooked in the monarchy/ republican debate, is that of the subversion of the Head of State. It is not only extremely difficult to subvert a monarch, but in our own system, not very much point, since the monarch does not exercise direct political power. However, the election of a president, as in the United States, offers the possibility of subversion.
There is no doubt that former US Presidents have been subverted from time to time. President Truman is the classic example. All Presidents of the United States are subject to influences such as that of the Council on Foreign Relations, whose support is crucial in being elected in the first place. But it is not impossible that an American President could be completely corrupted by the influence of immense wealth. Armand Hammer derived much of his immense wealth from Occidental Petroleum, and is now known to have bribed and suborned elected representatives at all levels of the American administration over a period of 50 years. Richard Nixon's political undoing was Watergate, but it is not widely understood that behind the Watergate fiasco, was Armand Hammer and immense amounts of cash.
A large part of Hammer's fortune was derived from a close relationship with the Soviet Union. Kremlin papers reveal that Hammer was a lifelong agent of influence for the Soviets, and rewarded with business opportunities, like that of establishing the first pencil factory near Moscow. However, during the Cold War, trade with the Soviets became more difficult for Hammer. In order to acquire credits from the EximBank to trade with the Soviets, Hammer prevailed upon Nixon to change the American approach to confer Most Favoured Nation Status upon the Soviets. At the height of the Cold War, this was no small achievement, and would have succeeded had not Nixon been disgraced by Watergate.
The truth is that Armand Hammer was quite capable of "owning" a string of American politicians as well as subverting the Presidency. Neil Lyndon, ghostwriter of Hammond's memoirs and Hammer employee, reveals that Vice President Al Gore's father was "owned" by Armand Hammer. Throughout a career of bribery and corruption, Hammer had completely captured Gore Snr., and kept him financially throughout most of his political career as a Congressman and later Senator from Tennessee. As a result of Gore Snr. being "in Hammer's back pocket" the Gore family depended upon Hammer largesse, which was abundantly forthcoming. Hammer's relationship with Gore Jnr. simply followed the same pattern of that with his father.
The image of the squeaky-clean (if dull and wooden) Vice-President Al Gore is far from the truth. The truth is that Al Gore's father committed Gore Jnr. to a corrupt relationship with the immensely wealthy Hammer, which Hammer was already exploiting before his death. If Hammer had lived another 10 years, and Clinton was impeached by the US Senate President Al Gore would belong, lock, stock and barrel, to the communist Armand Hammer, one of the most corrupt influences on American politics ever.
The profound and long-standing relationship between the Gore family and Armand Hammer has never been revealed or properly investigated. Americans are facing the prospect of Al Gore as the Democrat candidate for President after Clinton's term expires (or impeachment intervenes). Gore may yet gain the Presidency, yet another President with a background of profound corruption.
The election of the Head of State often results in an increase in corruption, a problem not faced by monarchies, where God selects the Head of State by birth. Australians might reflect on this issue when confronted by the republican demand for a president rather than a monarch.
"On Target" is published by the Australian League of Rights, Box 1052. G.P.O. Melbourne 3001.