Letter to the Editor – The Adelaide Review – Green Economics & Politics

John Spoehr made some extremely important points in his article “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green” (The Adelaide Review January 2010).

I think the most important one was that given the global environmental crisis and the scarcity of water, we need to develop a green approach to economics to ensure that the planet does not become uninhabitable for human beings and many other species that are already endangered.

The past 12 months has indeed demonstrated to us all that political leaders globally considered that the global financial crisis was of greater importance than the global environmental crisis.

The very generous bailing out of the banks and other financial institutions that were mostly responsible for the global financial crisis in the first place could, we have been told by aid organisations, have overcome world poverty and third world debt. It could have also been diverted to  put a lot of finance into green solutions and sustainable industries which we urgently need, but which the wealthy of the world rarely support – preferring to invest in “clean” coal and the “clean” peaceful atom.

I hope that John is correct when he states that communities will change their leaders if they fail to respond to the global environmental crisis.

Cophenagen showed us very clearly that our Federal Government was extremely reluctant to do much about this crisis and that our Opposition thought that it was going too far and wanted to do less, despite Tony Abbott’s claim that it is greener than the Government.

For far too long, political leaders have relied on the market place to provide all human needs. This notion has been based on several assumptions by those who proft most:

  • the idea that the profit motive is the only valid one to advance human progress
  • the right to pollute without taking any responsibility
  • the right to rapaciously exploit the workers who generate the wealth and the global environment in which we live
  • the right to foist industries on the world community whether they be necessary or sustainable

We can no longer afford to tolerate such greedy, short-sighted and irresponsible thinking if we are to ensure that future generations will have a healthy and viable habitat.

Petition on the Gaza Siege and Gaza Freedom March

The Palestinians are suffering every day that the state of Israel:

  • allows more Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands
  • extends its huge dividing wall
  • continues its blockade
  • refuses to stay within its agreed borders
  • establishes road blocks that delay Palestinians from getting to work, visiting family and friends and obtaining emergency medical services

More than ever, the human rights of Palestinians are under attack. All democratic nations must force the Zionist leaders of the State of Israel that they cannot continue their unfair actions.

I urge you to sign the petition to Mr Rudd.

Thanks for your compassion and solidarity for the plight of the Palestinians

Please be a voice for justice for suffering Palestinian families in Gaza by signing and circulating the petition to Rudd.

http://www.petition online.com/ libgaza1/ petition. html

To:  Kevin Rudd

Israel ’s siege on Gaza is vicious and cruel, and it must end immediately.

Its continuation means continued war on the basic necessities of life for the population of Gaza .

Any ordinary, decent person would assume the people of Gaza have a right to water. However, before Israel ’s attack on Gaza from December 27 2008 to January 18 2009, 80 per cent of Gaza ’s water did not meet World Health Organisation standards for drinking water. Among the reasons for this was Israel ’s refusal to allow in the chlorine needed to purify Gazan water.

When the attack started, 80 per cent of Gaza ’s water wells functioned only partially. Afterwards, 70 per cent did. Worse than this, as a partial consequence of what the Goldstone Report called Israel ’s “large-scale and systematic destruction of greenhouses”, the water supply of Gaza is on the verge of collapse. Meanwhile, parents have little choice but to give their babies polluted drinking water. This water damages babies’ blood: their skin turns blue, and they suffer respiratory and intestinal problems.

Israel also refuses to allow reparations on Gaza ’s water supply to begin. The Israeli government lets in so little food that the growth of Palestinian children is being stunted. The food that they eat overwhelmingly comes in the form of humanitarian aid. Gazans might have fed themselves, but their chicken farms and flour mill were also destroyed in Israel ’s attack at the start of the year.

Those of us who oppose the blockade believe that Palestinians deserve food. Palestinian babies should be allowed to drink water that doesn’t injure them. Palestinian children should not have their growth stunted.

Palestinians in Gaza have the right to live in dignity. This right needs defending. A small group of Australian activists have recognised this, and will join contingents from 42 other countries around the world, in the Gazan Freedom March. On December 31, they will march through Gaza to the Israeli border, in order to break the blockade. Their cause is just, and we support them fully.

We urge our government to support their march. We urge our government to ensure the safety of every Australian risking his or her life in the struggle for Palestinian rights.

The Undersigned

Chomsky strikes again: A Super Power Of Near Demonic Dimensions

A Super Power Of Near Demonic Dimensions Click to view

Prof Noam Chomsky

AETFA SA Inc Media Statement: Vale Abdurrahman Wahid

MEDIA STATEMENT:  1 January 2010

The following statement was issued today by Andrew Alcock, Information Officer, AETFA SA Inc:

“All people who value human rights and social justice in the Asia Pacific region will be saddened by the passing of former Indonesian president, Abdurrahman Wahid, on 30 December 2009 at the age of 69.

Abdurrahman Wahid was elected Indonesia’s third president in October 1999. His period in office, which lasted until July 2001, was a particularly difficult one as he inherited a political and financial chaos caused by the 32 year old Suharto dictatorship and he had to deal with the machinations of the brutal and corrupt Indonesian military (TNI). However, while in office, he worked for peaceful solutions to the secessionist movements in Aceh and Papua and created a broad coalition of unity.

He visited East Timor after it became independent and, at the Santa Cruz cemetry, the scene of an Indonesian military massacre of 271 civilians in 1991, he apologized for the human rights abuses committed by the TNI during its brutal 24-year occupation of the country. Wahid also removed the powerful General Wiranto from his cabinet over his alleged role in the bloodshed and human rights abuses in East Timor.

At a welcome given to Gus Dur by the East Timorese government, the then PM, Jose Ramos Horta, gave him a warm welcome, saying that he was the only Indonesian political leader who had supported East Timorese independence.

The former president allowed the West Papuans to use their preferred name of West Papua instead of Irian Jaya, a name that had been forced on them by the TNI. He also  tried to give them more autonomy.

Wahid, who was fondly known by his nickname Gus Dur, was a strong proponent of human rights, social justice and was a democratic reformer. He attempted to establish a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate political killings, disappearances and massacres during Suharto’s 32-year rule and granted greater press freedom.

Prior to becoming president, Wahid became the leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim group. He used his leadership to promote moderate Islam and interfaith tolerance including with Jews.

Munir Said Thalib, or ‘Munir’, one of Indonesia’s most famous human rights and anti-corruption activist and founder of Kontras. an Indonesian human rights group was a very strong promoter of Abdurrahman Wahid. In 2001, Munir  urged fellow Indonesians to vote for him because he was the only Indonesian political leader who took human rights and racial and religious tolerance seriously.

[Tragically, Munir was assassinated in 2004 while travelling to Utrecht University to undertake postgraduate studies in international law and human rights. It was discovered that an Indonesian agent had put arsenic in orange juice that he had consumed].

Yenny Wahid, Gus Dur’s second daughter, was a journalist who worked for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. She covered news stories from East Timor and Aceh and for her stories on  East Timor’s referendum for independence, she and her team won Walkley Award for journalism.  There are stories that at great risk to herself, she frequently intervened to stop Indonesian soldiers to cease assaulting East Timorese. 

Wahid had been receiving treatment in the intensive care unit of Ciptomangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta and died during surgery to remove a blood clot in his heart. His condition had deteriorated because of complications from diabetes and kidney failure. The former president had struggled with illness for many years. He was confined to a wheelchair, had lost most of his sight, and had serious kidney problems.

Abdurrahman Wahid had many detractors amongst western political leaders including John Howard and media commentators, but generally they were the ones who had acted as apologists for the Suharto dictatorship and its behaviour in East Timor, West Papua and Acheh.

We should remember that Australia has lost a good friend and the world has lost a great fighter for peace, human rights, social justice and international understanding and Indonesia has lost its most humane president”.

A climate con: Analysis of the “Copenhagen Accord” by David Spratt and Damien Lawson

An interesting analysis that we should all consider.


For a green future.

Letter to the Editor – The Guardian Weekly – OH&S is a basic Human Right

As a person  who has worked in the area of occupational health and safety (OH&S), I was distressed to read David Smith’s article, Miners sue gold giant Anglo for lung disease payout (TGW 27.11.09).

Tragically, all too often in the history of work, those who seek to make huge profits out of the work of others refuse to implement effective safeguards, claiming them to be too expensive. Later, when it is realised that huge numbers of workers are suffering incurable diseases or are dying far too early, many owners of industry deny there is a problem and then fight paying compensation to the victims of their criminal negligence. They can get away with this behaviour because OH&S laws are weak or absent.

In the case of Anglo miners, the problem is silicosis, a dusty lung disease. In Australia, the major killer of workers are diseases caused from exposure to asbestos dust. The diseases are asbestosis, a dusty lung disease, lung cancer and mesothelioma, cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs.

Workers in Australia have had a long struggle to get compensation from the companies that have caused their diseases and death. The most notorious is James Hardie, a company which produced asbestos products for several decades in Australia. It lied and deceived about the dangers of asbestos dust exposure and then tried to cheat victims out of their compensation. Finally, it tried to shirk its responsibilities by going offshore to the Netherlands and leaving a woefully inadequate compensation fund.  After much campaigning by victims and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the James Hardie company has been forced by law to give compensation to its former employees.

Not one of its senior executives has been brought to justice for the crimes they have committed against humanity, even though there are tens of thousands of victims who are dying earlier than expected. Tragically, stories like this are being repeated in many parts of the world including South Africa as David Smith’s story reveals.

Effective OH&S laws could help to prevent these tragic outcomes, but politicians have to be pushed into taking action.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that every year in the world, about 2.2 million workers die from work-related causes and that a 160 million more become sick or injured. More people die from work related causes than from wars. This is a deplorable situation which needs to be changed urgently.

The majority victims are dying from work related cancers caused by carcinogenic chemicals or agents. As a result, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has had a cancer awareness campaign to alert workers to the dangers. All governments should be supporting the ITUC campaign and tightening OH&S laws to protect their working people from all workplace hazards and from owned criminally negligent employers.

Effective OH&S is a basic human right for all workers. Every worker has the right to return home at the end of the working day, healthy and safe. At the end of a working life, every worker should have the right to enjoy a long, happy and healthy retirement.

Currenly the Australian Government is standardising OH&S legislation in the country. Sadly for Australian workers, it is watering down the laws we currently have. This will inevitably lead to more work related disease, injuries and deaths.

AETFA SA Inc Media Statement – 2 December 2009 – Indonesia bans screening of the film Balibo

MEDIA STATEMENT    2 December 2009

The following statement was released by Andrew Alcock, the Information Officer of the Australia East Timor Friendship

Association SA Inc tonight:

“It should come as no surprise to learn that Indonesian authorities are planning to ban the screening of the Australian film Balibo at the coming Jakarta International Film Festival. As a result, the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents’ Club felt it necessary to cancel a planned screening of the film.

Balibo tells the story of the Balibo 5, a group of Australian-based journalists who were murdered by the Indonesian military (TNI) on 16 October 1975 at Balibo and Roger East who was also murdered by the TNI in December 1975 in Dili during the early days of Indonesia’s illegal invasion of East Timor.

Australian Indonesian apologists have claimed for some time that since the demise of Suharto that Indonesia is a democratic country.

This latest move by Indonesian authorities is an indication that the Indonesian republic has a long way to go before it can be described as a democratic nation. The Indonesian government needs to allow much more freedom for its citizens and needs to have greater control over the TNI before it earns this description.

In addition, no country can claim to be a democracy when it continues to allow war criminals in its armed forces who have committed genocide and sickening human rights abuses to be free without facing justice. Over the past four decades these officers have committed  such crimes in  West Papua, East Timor, Acheh and some parts of Indonesia itself. Some of them are still violating human rights in West Papua today.

One of the worst violaters of human rights was General Wiranto and he was allowed to openly participate in the 2009 Indonesian presidential elections.

Responsible governments of democratic nations should cease all military cooperation and supply of arms the TNI and only resume these activities when:

  • all the war criminals in its ranks have been brought to justice
  • monies taken corruptly by the Suharto family and the TNI have been recovered and used to pay reparations to their victims
  • the Indonesian government has paid reparations to those countries in the region for the damage that the TNI has caused
  • TNI troops in West Papua are withdrawn and the people be allowed to have a UN administered independence referendum

If the Indonesian Government refuses to cooperate, these matters should be dealt with in the International Criminal Court as many of the crimes rival those committed by the Nazis during World War 2 and the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

There are many Indonesian citizens who want these actions to be taken because they too have suffered at the hands of the TNI. It should be When the Australian Federal Police recently announced it would investigate the events in in 1975 Balibo to determine whether war crimes had been committed, KONTRAS, an Indonesian human rights group welcomed the initiative”

Letter to the Editor – The Independent Weekly – Climate Deniers on the Opposition Front Bench

Barnaby Joyce going onto the front bench should be no surprise to people who take a responsible attitude to caring for our environment. How many more supporters of “clean coal”, nuclear energy and the flat earth theory will make it onto the front bench in the near future?

Given the election of mad monk, Tony Abbott, to the leadership of the Liberal Party & Opposition, I am worried that if he ever becomes PM, he will try to make membership of the following organisations mandatory:

  • the FES (Flat Earth Society)
  • the CMA (Constitutional Monarchy Association)
  • the CCDL (Climate Change Deniers League)

And maybe even the League of Rights.

Seriously though, let’s hope that most Australians are environmentally responsible and not silly enough to vote for the Liberal Party while Tony Abbott and his fellow troglodytes hold sway.

The Liberal Party in this country has rarely supported liberal values throughout its history, but it has never been so right wing as it is today. It must be extremely difficult for the true liberals in that party at the present time.

It’s bad enough having a Labor Party that isn’t a true labour party and that is currently quite happy to sell out the OH&S human rights rights of ordinary workers. At least, ALP MPS have done some homework on climate change and are aware that something needs to be done about it even if their strategies are woefully inadequate.

The Climate Change Deniers have had a great victory this week and made Australians look stupid on the international stage and more importantly delayed urgent strategies to make the earth’s environment safer for future genereations.

Letter to the Editor – The Independent Weekly – Kevin Foley & Depression

I was very interested to read Hendrik Gout’s article about SA’s Deputy Premier and his battle with depression (A Man and His Reasons, TIW 13-19.11.2009).

I agree that there should be a great deal of compassion and empathy shown for any person with this condition.

As Hendrik pointed out, Kevin Foley is known for putting his views in a very strong and forthright manner and frequently displays aggressive behaviour and anger towards those with whom he disagrees. Evidently, these displays of temper are not necessarily related to his depression.

It has to be said that our Deputy Premier is not known for displaying empathy or compassion towards others including those who need it.

As people show some feelings of sympathy towards him because of his condition, it is to be hoped that in return, he will develop greater feelings of sympathy and compassion towards others who may experience misfortune. A sympathetic review of compensation for injured workers, which was cut back in 2008, would be a worthy starting point.

Protest to Nestle over Underpayment of it’s Indonesian Workers

You might remember ain the 1970s and 1980s, that the world’s largest food company, Nestle, was in trouble with the World Health Organisation and some governments because its unethical advertising of its baby milk products led to intestinal infections and kwashiorkor, a protein deficiency.

Tens of thousands of Third World babies died  as a result of this unethical and criminal behaviour and it only stopped after a sustained international campaign for many years. Nestle management has never let human rights and ethics to stand in the way of making massive profits.

Now Nestle claims that wages are a “commercial secret” and will not discuss them with the union representing its workers in Indonesia.

The company is also harrassing union members and has created a fake union to weaken the real one.

The workers at the Panjang Nescafé factory urgently need your help.
The IUF has launched an online campaign.
Please send off a message today:


I have left my message below for your consideration.


To Paul Bulcke, CEO
Frits van Dijk, Executive Vice President, Zone AOA

CC Jean-Marc Duvoisin, Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Nigel Isherwood, Assistant Vice President, Human Resources, Zone AOA
Arshad Chaudhry, Managing Director, Nestlé Indonesia

Dear Sirs

Management at the Nescafé factory in Panjang, Indonesia, still refuses to respond constructively to proposals put forth by the union SBNIP to negotiate wages and to include the wage scale in a new collective agreement. SBNIP members face discrimination and pressure. I call upon Nestlé to fully respect trade union rights, stop fighting the SBNIP, stop promoting the company union and immediately engage in good faith collective bargaining negotiations with the SBNIP as the representative of the Panjang workers for collective bargaining.

I remember some years ago when Nestle’s unethical advertising led to the deaths of thousands of Third World babies and much suffering. The corporation only changed its behaviour after a sustained international campaign.

I have visited Indonesia and I know how hard it is for ordinary workers to survive on the very low wages paid there.

Nestle, one of the wealthiest corporations in the world has no excuse to deny their employees wages that sustain them and give them quality of life. It is after all a basic human right to provide a fair wage to those who create your profits under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

I boycotted all Nestle’s products then and will do so again until your Indonesian employees are accorded wage justice. 

Yours sincerely

Andrew (Andy) Alcock