<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Halliburton's War Profits 

Halliburton's Deals Greater Than Thought
washingtonpost.com

By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 28, 2003; Page A01

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice President Cheney, has won contracts worth more than $1.7 billion under Operation Iraqi Freedom
and stands to make hundreds of millions more dollars under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to newly
available documents.

The size and scope of the government contracts awarded to Halliburton in connection with the war in Iraq are significantly greater than was
previously disclosed and demonstrate the U.S. military's increasing reliance on for-profit corporations to run its logistical operations.
Independent experts estimate that as much as one-third of the monthly $3.9 billion cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is going to independent
contractors.

Services performed by Halliburton, through its Brown and Root subsidiary, include building and managing military bases, logistical
support for the 1,200 intelligence officers hunting Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, delivering mail and producing millions of hot meals.
Often dressed in Army fatigues with civilian patches on their shoulders, Halliburton employees and contract personnel have become an integral
part of Army life in Iraq.

Spreadsheets drawn up by the Army Joint Munitions Command show that about $1 billion had been allocated to Brown and Root Services through
mid-August for contracts associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Pentagon's name for the U.S.-led war and occupation. In addition, the
company has earned about $705 million for an initial round of oil field rehabilitation work for the Army Corps of Engineers, a corps spokesman said.

Specific work orders assigned to the subsidiary under Operation Iraqi Freedom include $142 million for base camp operations in Kuwait, $170
million for logistical support for the Iraqi reconstruction effort and $28 million for the construction of prisoner of war camps, the Army
spreadsheet shows. The company was also allocated $39 million for building and operating U.S. base camps in Jordan, the existence of which
the Pentagon has not previously publicly acknowledged.

Over the past decade, Halliburton, a Houston-based company that made its name servicing pipelines and oil wells, has positioned itself to take
advantage of an increasing trend by the federal government to contract out many support operations overseas. It has emerged as the biggest
single government contractor in Iraq, followed by such companies as Bechtel, a California-based engineering firm that has won hundreds of
millions of dollars in U.S. Agency for International Development reconstruction contracts, and Virginia-based DynCorp, which is training
the new Iraqi police force.

The government said the practice has been spurred by cutbacks in the military budget and a string of wars since the end of the Cold War that
have placed enormous demand on the armed forces.

But, according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and other critics, the Iraq war and occupation have provided a handful of companies with
good political connections, particularly Halliburton, with unprecedented money-making opportunities. "The amount of money [earned by Halliburton]
is quite staggering, far more than we were originally led to believe," Waxman said. "This is clearly a trend under this administration, and it
concerns me because often the privatization of government services ends up costing the taxpayers more money rather than less."

Wendy Hall, a Halliburton spokeswoman, declined to discuss the details of the company's operations in Iraq, or confirm or deny estimates of the
amounts the company has earned from its contracting work on behalf of the military. In an e-mail message, however, she said that suggestions of
war profiteering were "an affront to all hard-working, honorable Halliburton employees." Hall added that military contracts were awarded "not by politicians but by government civil servants, under strict guidelines."

Daniel Carlson, a spokesman for the Army's Joint Munitions Command, said Brown and Root had won a competitive bidding process in 2001 to
provide a wide range of "contingency" services to the military in the event of the deployment of U.S. troops overseas. He said the contract,
known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP, was designed to free uniformed personnel for combat duties and did not
preclude deals with other contractors. Carlson said the money earmarked for Brown and Root was an estimate, and could go "up or down" depending on the work performed.

The Joint Munitions Command provided The Washington Post with an updated version of a spreadsheet the Army released to Waxman earlier this
month, giving detailed estimates of money obligated to Brown and Root under Operation Iraqi Freedom. Estimates of the company's revenue from
Iraq have been increasing steadily since February, when the Corps of Engineers announced the company had won a $37.5 million contract for
pre-positioning fire equipment in the region.

In addition to its Iraq contracts, Brown and Root has also earned $183 million from Operation Enduring Freedom, the military name for the war
on terrorism and combat operations in Afghanistan, according to the Army's numbers.

Waxman's interest in Halliburton was ignited by a routine Corps of Engineers announcement in March reporting that the company had been
awarded a no-bid contract, with a $7 billion limit, for putting out fires at Iraqi oil wells. Corps spokesmen justified the lack of
competition on the grounds that the operation was part of a classified war plan and the Army did not have time to secure competitive bids for
the work.

The corps said the oil rehabilitation deal was an offshoot of the LOGCAP contract, a one-year agreement renewable for 10 years. Individual
work orders assigned under LOGCAP do not have to be competitively bid. But Waxman and other critics maintain that the oil work has nothing to
do with the logistics operation.

The practice of delegating a vast array of logistics operations to a single contractor dates to the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War
and a study commissioned by Cheney, then defense secretary, on military outsourcing.

The Pentagon chose Brown and Root to carry out the study and subsequently selected the company to implement its own plan. Cheney served as chief
executive of Brown and Root's parent company, Halliburton, from 1995 to 2000, when he resigned to run for the vice presidency.

At the time, said P.W. Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar and author of "Corporate Warriors," it was impossible to predict how
lucrative the military contracting business would become. He estimates the number of contract workers in Iraq at 20,000, or about one for
every 10 soldiers. During the Gulf War, the proportion was about one in 100.

Brown and Root's revenue from Operation Iraqi Freedom is already rivaling its earnings from its contracts in the Balkans, and is a major
factor in increasing the value of Halliburton shares by 50 percent over the past year, according to industry analysts. The company reported a
net profit of $26 million in the second quarter of this year, in contrast to a $498 million loss in the same period last year.

Waxman aides said they have been told by the General Accounting Office that Brown and Root is likely to earn "several hundred million more
dollars" from the no-bid Corps of Engineers contract to rehabilitate Iraqi oil fields. Waxman, the ranking minority member on the House
Government Reform Committee, had asked the GAO to investigate the corps' decision not to bid out the contract.

After a round of unfavorable publicity, the corps explained that the sole award to Brown and Root would be replaced by a competitively bid
contract. But the deadline for announcing the results of the competition has slipped from August to October, causing rival companies to complain
that little work will be left for anybody else. Bechtel, one of Halliburton's main competitors, announced this month that it would not
bid for the corps contract and would instead focus on securing work from the Iraqi oil ministry.

In addition to the Army contracts, Halliburton has profited from other government-related work in Iraq and the war on terrorism, and has a
$300 million contract with the Navy structured along similar lines to LOGCAP.

Pentagon officials said the increasing reliance on contractors is inevitable, given the multiple demands on the military, particularly
since Sept. 11, 2001. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is a champion of "outsourcing," writing in The Post in May that "more than 300,000
uniformed personnel" were doing jobs that civilians could do.

Independent experts said the trend toward outsourcing logistic operations has resulted in new problems, such as a lack of
accountability and transparency on the part of private military firms and sometimes
questionable billing practices.

A major problem in Iraq, Singer said, has been the phenomenon of "no-shows" caused by the inhospitable security environment, including
the killing of contract workers, including a Halliburton mail delivery employee earlierthis month.

"At the end of the day, neither these companies nor their employees are bound by military justice, and it is up to them whether to show up or
not," Singer said. "The result is that there have been delays in setting up showers for soldiers, getting them cooked meals and so on."

A related concern is the rising cost of hiring contract workers because of skyrocketing insurance premiums. Singer estimates that premiums have
increased by 300 percent to 400 percent this year, costs that are passed on to the taxpayer under the cost-plus-award fee system that is
the basis for most contracts.

The LOGCAP contract awarded to Brown and Root in 2001 was the third, and potentially most lucrative, super-contract awarded by the Army. Brown
and Root won the first five-year contract in 1992, but lost the second to rival DynCorp in 1997 after the GAO criticized the Army for not
adequately controlling contracting costs in Bosnia.

ADI Update 

First Precinct Plan lodged - public has until October 1 to lodge submissions
Following release by the Carr government of the first Precinct for development, the Comland/Delfin Lend Lease Joint Venture has submitted its draft plan to Blacktown Council. So make sure you get copies and make submissions in time!
While you can download the plan and all of its supporting documents from the Penrith City Council website here (Blacktown Council's website makes no mention of the plan), we recommend that you contact the Councils to ask whether they can supply copies of the plans.
There are some suggestions for submissions on the ADIRAG website, which you may want to use to get you started.
http://www.savetheadisite.bmt.com.au/

You can access the draft plans, including the Macrofauna Management Plan (which deals with the fate of the site’s kangaroos) at:
Blacktown City Council - Civic Centre 62 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown.
Phone 9839 6000 or, for further info, Erika Roka on 9839 6424.
Mount Druitt Library - Ayres Grove, Mount Druitt.
Penrith City Council - 601 High Street, Penrith.
Phone 4732 7777.
Penrith City Library - 601 High Street, Penrith.
Penrith Council's St Marys Office - 207-209 Queen St, St Marys.
St Marys Library - 207-209 Queen Street, St Marys.
Dept. of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources - Level 8, 2-10 Wentworth Street, Parramatta.

Lend Lease Demo - Friday 5 September
If you want to save the largest remnant of Cumberland Plain Woodland, the "jewel of Western Sydney" from the bulldozers...
If you don't want to see the last free mob of kangaroos in Sydney shot or sterilised...
If you think thousands of houses should not be built on land in which toxic chemicals, radioactive waste and munitions have been buried (and allegedly cleaned up)...
If you wonder why Lend Lease is one of the ALP's biggest corporate donors...

Join us at the Greens For The ADI Site demo to Save The Lot!
12noon-2pm
Friday 5th September
outside Lend Lease headquarters
Australia Square, 264 George St Sydney

Contact: Gabrielle Worrell 9673 4098

Friday, August 29, 2003

Public Forum on Hicks & Habib 

Hey all. for everyone who attended our last meeting, and any who missed
odut on the great night, there is a forumn comming up which should be great.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group has organised a Public Forum on
David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib:

When: Saturday 20 September 2003
Time: 6.00pm
Where: Sydney Trades Hall, 4 Goulburn St., Sydney.

Confirmed guest-speakers thus far are: Terry Hicks (David Hicks'
father); Stephen Hopper (Mamdouh Habib's Solicitor); and Maha Habib
(Mamdouh's wife); and still to be confirmed: Steven Kenny (David's
Solicitor), and a guest from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

As you are aware these two men, along hundreds of others, have been
imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, by the US administration for over 20
months now. The Australian government has done nothing thus far to seek
their release or repatriation of these two Australian citizens so they
can be tried in Australia under Australian law.

This is a great opportunity for you to hear a panel of legal experts and
guests linked to David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib's campaign.

This is also a great opportunity to link your name to an event which
seeks justice for two of our own who have been left in inhumane
conditions languishing at Guantanamo Bay.

Your comments and suggestions are more than welcome.

For further information, please contact Marlene Obeid on 0401 758 871 or
at mlobeid@hotmail.com

ADI Site 

With the release of the Draft Macrofauna Management Plan by Lend Lease for the ADI site at St Marys, we now know what they want to do with the kangaroos and emus that make the site home (the only place in the Sydney basin where emus can be seen roaming free at the moment).
Make sure you check it out. It is on the web at the official website the developers set up to "keep the comunity informed" about the issues.
www.talkstmarys.com.au
Draft Macrofauna Management Plan

The ADI Residents Action Group have released some handy tools regarding this report. There is a petition which can be emailed to you (timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au and below is a letter that can be edited and sent both to Blacktown Council, and to the National Parks and Wildlife Service who are the ones who will sign off on the plan.


National Parks and Wildlife Service
St Marys Macrofauna Management Plan Submissions
PO Box 36
SUTHERLAND NSW 1499

Cc. The Premier of NSW, Bob Carr

Your Name: ___________________________________________________
Address : ___________________________________________________
Suburb : ___________________________________________________
Post Code : _____

Submission: Draft St Marys Macrofauna Management Plan


To National Parks and Wildlife Service

I oppose the Draft St Marys Macrofauna Management Plan as submitted by Delfin Lend Lease and Comland for the land formerly known as the ADI Site St Marys.

I reject this Draft St Marys Macrofauna Management Plan because of any of the following:

* The plan is contrary to my belief that no part of the 1545 ha site should be developed.
The land should be retained in public ownership for conservation purposes to be managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for the benefit of all Australians.
* The plan proposes to take from the public, including the children of the wider area, the daily experience and enjoyment of witnessing kangaroos and emus existing peacefully in a spacious natural environment.
* The plan facilitates an urban development to which I am opposed.
* The plan proposes to cull kangaroos by shooting, lethal injection or sterilisation.
* The plan proposes methods that are inhumane and will lead to the death, injury, the separation of young from their mothers and overall suffering of the kangaroos and emus.
* The initial phase of the plan proposes to fence off the entire eastern third of the site, including the Eastern Precinct, and kill all of the kangaroos in that area.
* The plan proposes to herd emus from the eastern third of the site into the site’s western area, leading to suffering and undue stress.
* The plan proposes the use of firearms within urban areas to kill or tranquillise kangaroos. The supported method of culling could lead to injury or death for members of the public.
* The plan’s rationale for macrofauna management is based on assumptions and anecdotes rather than scientific evidence. No details are provided of what specific plants the kangaroos eat on the St Marys Property (SMP), or what specific plants are threatened by kangaroos in the SMP.
* The plan facilitates a development that will dramatically reduce the habitat for kangaroos and emus.
* The plan proposes a long-term management strategy of retaining a very much smaller number of kangaroos in a section of the proposed Regional Park, but only after massive development is approved. And so far no Plan of Management exists for the proposed Regional Park.


I urge the NSW Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus, to continue his opposition to the culling or harming of kangaroos and emus on the former ADI Site St Marys.
Minister, I interpret culling to mean any of the methods of killing proposed by this plan. I urge you not to shift from your stated position.


Signature Date

Council
You can also edit this and address it to all the councillors on Blacktown City Council.
Their contact details can be found at http://www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/yourcouncil/yc_councillors.asp

Lets fight to keep this amazing natural asset for future generations. It is about time the west got tourism dollars, rather than more overpriced houses on tiny blocks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Interesting Articles 

Here are a few links to interesting articles from the last few days on different topics.

Who benefits?
http://www.agitprop.org.au/nowar/20030827_guardian_who_benefits.htm

Many theories are being advanced as to who might have carried out the fatal
bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad - this or that "terrorist"
organisation, fighters from outside Iraq, al Qaida (of course), remnants of
Saddam Hussein supporters, etc.

In investigating any crime, any good detective will consider the question of
motive and there are many reasons why Iraqis should express hatred towards the
United Nations. It sanctioned the war against Iraq in 1990. It imposed the
tragic 12-year long sanctions on Iraq that led to the deaths of at least 500,000
Iraqi children. It did nothing to stop the illegal and continuous bombing of
Iraq by the US and British bombers for the last 10 years. It failed to stop the
US and British invasion and occupation of Iraq this year and has now, despite
earlier opposition, actually passed a resolution legitimising the invasion and
the authority of the US in its occupation. At the same time, the UN has failed
dismally to carry out its repeated resolutions regarding Israel. There is a
justified opinion that the UN is hypocritical.... *full article*

UWS students to pay $30 million more for courses: report
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/26/1061663791655.html

Students at the University of Western Sydney will pay more than $30
million extra a year in tuition fees if the Federal Government's plans
to restructure higher education go ahead, figures obtained by the Herald
reveal.

Official Government figures show undergraduate students would pay
$30,811,621.80 more in a single year if tuition fees were increased by
30 per cent across the board.

The figures were compiled by the Western Sydney Education Alliance and
checked by the UWS corporate services division. Their release follows
claims that the university will lose more than $30 million over the next
three years in Federal Government funding....
*full artilce*

Liars couldn't expect flowers after bombs and occupation
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/25/1061663732767.html

America and its allies were warned that the situation in Iraq would
quickly develop into a guerilla war, writes Tariq Ali.


THE recolonisation of Iraq is not proceeding smoothly. The resistance
in the country (and in Palestine) is not, as Israeli and Western
propagandists like to argue, a case of Islam gone mad. It is, in both
cases, a direct consequence of the occupation. Before the recent war,
some of us argued that the Iraqi people, however much they despised
Saddam Hussein, would not take kindly to being occupied by the United
States and its British adjutant.

Contrary to the cocooned Iraqis who had been on the US payroll for far
too long and told George Bush that US troops would be garlanded with
flowers and given sweets, we warned that the occupation would lead to the
harrying and killing of Western soldiers on a daily basis and would soon
develop into a low-intensity guerilla war.

The fact that events have vindicated this analysis is no reason to
celebrate. The entire country is now in a mess and the situation is
much worse than it was before the conflict....
*full article*

Please email any interesting articles to me - timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au

Counter-globalisation! 

The next meeting of the Research Initiative on International Activism
(RIIA) is scheduled for next week. The topic is around the
counter-globalisation movement. The meeting is scheduled to coincide
with the next WTO meeting in Mexico which is scheduled to begin in
mid-September, and the many protests that are planned around it.

Speaker: Brett Neilson (UWS)
Topic: The counter-globalisation movement - an Italian/Australian
perspective.
Date: Friday, 5 September
Time: 1.00pm-3.00pm
Room: to be advised (email James Arvanitakis james.arvanitakis@uts.edu.au)

Brett Neilson is lecturer in the School of Humanities at the University
of Western Sydney, where he is also a member of the Centre for Cultural
Research. He is author of "Free Trade in the Bermuda Triangle ... and
Other Tales of Counterglobalization" (University of Minnesota Press,
2003).

More information about Brett's work can be found at:
http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/N/neilson_free.html

http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol2no1_2003/mezzadra_neilson.html

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Free Trade - what it could mean for us. 

The next meeting of the WSPG will be looking at the issue of free trade and the WTO.
It is very relevant due to the fact that Australia is in the middle of negotiating a free trade agreement with the US, as well as this September 9-13 is when the next round of WTO meetings are taking place in Cancun.
Speakers will be anounced soon.
Monday 8th September, 7pm, Rooty Hill Uniting Church, 86 Rooty Hill Rd Nth

In the mean time check out this artice from the Age on the weekend for a little background on the issue.

Free trade leads to torrent of trouble
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/08/22/1061529334881.html

David Elias
The Age
August 23, 2003

One-fifth of the world's fresh water is stored in Canada, in
picturesque glaciers, woodland streams and lakes, but does it belong to
Canada?

Until the provincial Government of British Columbia banned the export
of bulk water to a drought-stricken region of southern California, the
question had never arisen. But with the stroke of a pen the floodgates
of rules and regulations governing trade between neighbouring countries
were opened.

Sun Belt Water, a Santa Barbara company that wanted to ship water in
converted oil tankers, has launched an action against Canada under the
North American Free Trade Agreement. Saying it has lost a business
opportunity for all time, the company is claiming more than $US10.5
billion ($A16 billion) for loss of profit.

The long-term implications are much more significant than the monetary
claim, and the matter is being decided by a NAFTA panel convened by the
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

That is not an elected body, and because it operates outside of
national laws and constitutional guarantees of justice and equality, it
is virtually unaccountable. It meets behind closed doors, and is not
obliged to reveal its processes or make its decisions public.

The ripples are felt around the world, because the Bush Administration,
under a fast-track authority granted by the US Congress, is negotiating
free trade agreements with friendly governments wherever it can.

Australia's negotiations have been under way for months but neither
government is revealing the substance of these talks, giving rise to
fears that if the final agreement follows the lines of NAFTA,
especially provisions governing investment, similar tribunals may wield
immense power in Australia.

Global Trade Watch, a new anti-globalisation lobby group in Australia,
has told the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
that if the Australia-US free trade agreement adopts what are known as
"investor state" provisions, they could seriously harm Australian
democracy.

Michael Cebon, author of the group's submission, says: "They have the
effect of giving corporations the right to take sovereign governments
to a tribunal over elements of local, state or federal legislation
which reduce or deprive them of profits."

Take the case of a Californian company that bought a waste transfer
station in Mexico and sought to convert it to a toxic waste processing
plant and landfill. State and federal governments in Mexico gave it the
green light but when the local community mobilised against it, the
Guadalcazar municipal authority refused permits.

The company, Metalclad, launched a $US90 million lawsuit against
Mexico, claiming that Guadalcazar's actions amounted to expropriation
without compensation, which was forbidden under NAFTA rules. It argued
that Mexico had failed to provide fair and equitable treatment in
accordance with international law, as required in the three-nation
NAFTA pact.

The NAFTA tribunal found Guadalcazar's denial of the permit to be
improper, and a violation of domestic law amounted to a violation of
international law. It added that Mexico had failed in its duty to
provide a transparent, clear and predictable framework for foreign
investors.

Public Citizen, the US action group formed 30 years ago by consumer
activist Ralph Nader, said the decision implied that the Mexican
Federal Government had a duty to take the company by the hand and walk
it through the complexities of municipal, state and federal laws. It
also required the Government to ensure that officials at federal, state
and local levels never gave contradictory advice.

Like so many of the cases taken to NAFTA tribunals, this has a familiar
ring to it, but opinion differs as to whether alarm bells should be
sounding in Australia.

Mike Nahan, executive director of the pro-globalisation Institute of
Public Affairs, says the economies of the US, Mexico and Canada are
closely intertwined. He believes the US-Australian arbitration system
will not be so onerous. "The NAFTA negotiations tried to grapple with a
whole range of industry exchanges as well as resource sharing, which
won't exist to the same extent in an Australian agreement."

Nahan expects contentious issues over competition policy and
agriculture, and he cannot rule out the possibility that a US company
might win an arbitration over an Australian resource with cultural
implications - for example, mining yellowcake on land sacred to
indigenous Australians.

Public Citizen and the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth
have been monitoring 15 cases in the NAFTA tribunals in which damages
claimed by companies add up to more than $US13 billion. Of these, four
were against the US, six against Canada and five against Mexico.

Their review noted that few claims were filed after the agreement came
into force nine years ago, but once the first investors obtained
damages or reversed government policy, a flurry of cases followed.

Governments have made decisions believing them to be in the public
interest on environmental and public health grounds as much as for
commercial reasons, but cross-border investors have claimed them to be
in violation of newly acquired investor rights.

As a result, chemical manufacturers unable to sell fuel additives
across the US-Canada border have used arguments about expropriation of
assets and cited rules requiring national treatment for foreign
investors.

An industrial waste company in the US has sued for millions, arguing
that the Canadian Government had no right to ban the export of toxic
wastes in contradiction of the US Government's position on imports.
Canada acted because it was a signatory to the Basel Convention, a
multilateral agreement covering trade in toxic waste that the US had
not signed.

The publicly owned Canada Post is under challenge from the world's
largest express carrier, United Parcel Service, for allegedly abusing
its special monopoly status. The US company says Canada Post is using
its infrastructure, its postal boxes, retail postal outlets, ground and
air transport and letter carriers to cross-subsidise its Canadian
parcel and courier service.

Some of the cases are at first unbelievable, even bizarre, but they all
have serious consequences for the governments involved, and sometimes
for their judicial systems.

One case involving a Canadian funeral business has created the
possibility that all court decisions, including those of the US Supreme
Court, are open to review by the unaccountable NAFTA tribunals.

A court in Mississippi came down hard on the predatory behaviour of the
Loewen Group and awarded $US500 million damages to a local undertaker
that the Canadian conglomerate had tried to run out of business. Loewen
lodged an appeal but reluctantly settled for $US150 million after the
Mississippi Supreme Court refused to waive federal and state rules
requiring appellants to civil actions to lodge a bond in cash and
collateral equal to 125 per cent of the awarded damages.

That should have been the end of it, but three years later the Canadian
group sued the US for $US725 million compensation. It argued that the
jury verdict, the punitive damages and the Mississippi bond requirement
violated its investor rights guaranteed under NAFTA.

The NAFTA tribunal has rejected the US Government argument that the
case was outside its jurisdiction. The cash-strapped Loewen Group has
been suspended from trading by the Ontario authorities but its action
before the NAFTA tribunal is still going.

And the Canadian water issue? Who's to say? The Canadian Government
believes the claim is inactive and the issue has gone away but Sun Belt
Water insists the case is pending. The NAFTA tribunal, as usual, is
saying nothing.

Memorial for Kane Mason 

When Europeans began migrating to and settling in Australia towards the end of the 18th Century, some thought it was acceptable to practice to go out and shoot members of the Indigenous population.
It was a form of sport and entertainment that although outlawed and illegal, is still happening today.
24 year old Kane Mason was shot and murdered in July 2003 as he walked along the Road with his friends in Macksville.
If you find this offensive and want to demonstrate your opposition then join with similarly supportive people. Voice your opinion in a silent and peaceful way by attending Kane’s Memorial Service.

Sunday 31 August 2003
3pm
Harbord Park – Harbord

Lets stand together to say Racists attitudes and showing disrespect towards our indigenous community is not going to be tolerated or accepted.

Dress: Black
More details - Theressa 0422 927 159

Friday, August 22, 2003

Iraq Occupation Watch 

Want to visit a great site which has a lot of resources looking at the continued occupation of Iraq?

Check out:
http://www.occupationwatch.org/

Find out more about life for Iraqi's under the US occupation. What has it meant for health care and education? How many casualties are there? What compensation is there for the innocent who are killed? What about tertiary education? What is the structure of the governing council put in place by the US? What are the concerns that thoughts of the Iraqi people, and what are they demanding from America?

It is a very interesting read full of informative articles.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Tampa Day 

This August is the second anniversary of the Howard Government’s disgusting refusal to allow the MV Tampa and the rescued refugees on board to enter Australia. Show your support for asylum seekers this Tampa Day, Friday 29 August.

Local Rally

Meet 4.30pm, Church St mall, outside Parramatta Town Hall.

Cultural Night

When: 6.00pm.
Where: Mars Hill Café, 331 Church St Parramatta.
Tickets: $8 full / $4 concession, at the door. Reasonably priced food available from the café.
Call Katrina or Roberto, (wk) 9687-5134, (mob) 0414242729 if you plan to go allong.

Demo to save ADI site 

Urgent!!!

A picket will take place outside Jackie Kelly's office

from 12 - 2pm Fri. Aug. 22 (tommorrow!!!)

Help save an environmental treasure, an area with heritage and cultural value, a potential tourist attraction, and land that is unfit for housing due to contamination risksm, salinity and flood risks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

ADI Developers to face community backlash 

I know that the ADI site doesn't fit stricktly with the notion of peace, however, maintaining our areas cultural heritage, environmental assets and green space for future generations is an issue of great importance. Check out the latest from the ADI residents action group below.

ADI Residents Action Group
Media Release - Wednesday, 20th August 2003
ADI Developers to face community backlash

The ADI Residents Action Group (ADI RAG) is calling on the public to 'seek revenge' by writing a submission to Blacktown Council opposing Delfin Lend Leases Precinct and Macro Fauna Management Plans for the ADI Site, plans that are now available for public comment. ADI RAG have labelled recent comments by Delfin Lend Lease Project Manager, Joe Gorman, claiming their development to be "unique" and a "model of sustainability" as misleading and disingenuous.

"Delfin Lend Lease are blatantly misleading the public in an attempt to sell their development. Their development is no better than any current development in Sydney and is far from a model of sustainability. They know they have a lemon on their hand" Said spokesperson for the group.

"We will be out in force pointing out the negative aspects of this development to the public".

"This development is all about profit, cramming as many houses into a small space. It is a development for the rich and will do nothing to address home affordability for first homebuyers. There will be no building blocks available for less than $300,000."

"Let us remember that this is publicly owned land that is being flogged off and the developers will profit some $2 Billion. Yet State and Local Governments are falling into line behind them for a paltry $11.5 million return. There is the upgrade of a few roads, some bike tracks, some painted bus lanes but nothing for hospitals, schools or public housing."

"Their plans to displace the Kangaroos and Emus from the site are clearly unpopular with the public. In a desperate attempt to regain some public credibility they are now claiming that if left unmanaged the Kangaroos will severely damage rare and significant Cumberland Plain Woodland (CPW) and will ultimately starve. They also claim that they will retain some Kangaroos in the Regional Park"

"Delfin Lend Lease claim that they had 'independent fauna experts recommend culling as the best option for the Kangaroos'. Delfin Lend Lease paid these experts, they can hardly be considered 'independent'. These so called experts from Universities in Melbourne and Newcastle have stated to ADI RAG they have no knowledge of the ADI Sites vegetation or even what plants the Roos eat."

"Keeping the Roos fenced within the Regional Park demonstrates the developers are clutching at straws. A Species Impact Statement would be required to allow them into the Regional Park and a special permit from Bob Debus the Environment Minister would be also be needed. This further emphasises our point that no development should be allowed until the Regional Park has a Plan of Management and a Recovery Plan for CPW has been implemented by NPWS."

"Allowing only a 28 day community consultation period is disgraceful. We are talking about a massive urban development that will have a huge impact on the residents, the environment and the infrastructure of western Sydney. A Development Application for a backyard swimming pool is afforded the same 28-day period. This is a sham. We are disappointed that Dianne Beamer, the Assistant Planning Minister, has ignored our request to extend the exhibition period and has not instructed Blacktown Council to allow the public more time to adequately respond."

Further comment: Geoff Brown 0402 705940 or Imogen Yang 0415 102984

You can check out their website at www.savetheadisite.bmt.com.au for more info.
To make a submission to Blacktown Council on the net you can click on http://www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/contact/cu_contactform.asp.

It is also wise to email or write letters to our local MP's from the state and federal governments who are the ones with real power over this development.

The Hon. Robert John CARR, MP - Premier
Email: bob.carr@www.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9349 6440
Mail: Suite 501 Level 5
806 Anzac Parade
Maroubra NSW 2035

The Hon. Diane BEAMER, MP - Minister for Western Sydney
Email: mulgoa@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9834 2999
Visit her electoral office: Shop 26 St Clair Shopping Centre
Cnr Endeavour Avenue and Bennett Road
St Clair NSW 2759

Mr Allan Francis SHEARAN, MP - Member for Londonderry (and on Blacktown Council)
Email: londonderry@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9833 1122
Visit his electoral office: Shop 12
82 Victoria Street
Werrington NSW 2747

The Hon. Richard Sanderson AMERY, MP - Member for Mount Druitt
Email: mountdruitt@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9625 6770
Visit his electoral office: Suite 208
Westfield Shoppingtown Carlisle Avenue
Mount Druitt NSW 2770

The Hon Roger Price MP - Federal Member for Chifley
Email: Rogerpricemp@aph.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9625 4344
Visit his electoral office: Shop 6, Roger Price Centre
15 Cleeve Close
Mount Druitt NSW 2770

The Hon Jackie Kelly MP - Federal Member for Lindsay
Email: Jackie.Kelly.MP@aph.gov.au
Phone: (02) 4732 2844
Visit her electoral office:Cnr Woodriff and Tindale Streets
Penrith NSW 2750

The Hon. (Bob) Robert John DEBUS, MP - Attorney General, and Minister for the Environment
Email: bluemountains@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 4751 3298
Mail: Shop 3
107-109 Macquarie Street
Springwood NSW 2777

The Hon. Sandra Christine NORI, MP - Minister for Tourism and Sport and Recreation
Email: sandra.nori@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9660 7586
Mail: 225 Parramatta Road
Broadway NSW 2007

The Hon. (Carl) Patrick Carl SCULLY, MP - Minister for Housing
Email: smithfield@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9726 8668
Mail: 103-105 Ware Street
Fairfield NSW 2165

The Hon. Craig John KNOWLES, MP - Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
Email: macquariefields@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Phone: (02) 9605 7000
Mail: PO Box 260
Ingleburn NSW 2565

September anti-WTO 

Following are the details of a series of events taking place in September in Sydney in the lead up to September 13 WTO 'Fiesta for Freedom'.

Get to know the WTO
AID/WATCH and ATTAC launch Aileen Kwa's book ‘Inside the WTO’
2pm, Sat 6th Sept
Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Pt Rd, Glebe.
Contact: 9557 8944

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad "Eyes on Mexico"
A Mexican wave of protest against the WTO agriculture policies.
10am, Mon 8th Sept
US Consulate, MLC Tower,
19-29 Martin Place, Sydney

The ABC of the WTO -
ATTAC, AID/WATCH & Greens teach-in
6-9pm Tues 9th Sept
AID/WATCH, 19 Eve St, Erskineville, NSW 2043
Contact: Tim 9557 8944 or 0419 291 508

‘Fair Trade to a Peaceful World: How the WTO undermines peace’
AFTINet Public Meeting.
11am-1pm, Sat 13th Sept
Uniting Church, 264 Pitt St, Sydney.
Contact: Louise 9299 7833

Join millions around the world in a WTO Fiesta for Freedom!!
Saturday 13th Sept
Rally at 2pm, Town Hall steps, Sydney city,
Bring pots & pans, puppets, banners and costumes for Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ inspired march.
Contact: Chris 0416 385 803

For a pdf of the A5 flier email timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au or melanie.gillbank@aph.gov.au
Print and distribute as you like.
If you don't have access to a photocopier, please get in contact with melanie and she can send you some hard-copy leaflets.

Melanie Gillbank
Campaigner for Greens Senator Kerry Nettle
melanie.gillbank@aph.gov.au
Ph: 9241 6663 m: 0403 051 606

Last weeks meeting 

This is just some brief info for all of you who couldn't make the meeting on Monday August 11.
There was a good turn out of regulars, and a few unfamiliar faces there to listen to Maha Habib, the wife of Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib, as well as his lawyer Stephen Hopper. They were extremely informative and gave a detailed history of the life, arrest and treatment of Mamdouh, giving some interesting pieces of information that were quite new to group members such as:
1) The fact that Mamdouh was arrested in Pakistan, 700km from the border with Afghanistan (there are Australian Government documents confirming that.
2) He was on his way to Karachi, the capital, to catch his flight home to Australia when he was arrested.
3) There is no evidence that he was ever closer that 100km to the border with Afghanistan, and no evidence has been produced that this tubby middle age businessman from Sydney was either involved with, or had the physical ability to do any military training or service with terrorist groups or the Taliban.
4) His arrest by Pakistani law enforcement occurred several days before the conflict in Afghanistan had begun, making the tern "enemy combatant" even more ironic as he not only was never in the county, or involved in combat, but he was arrested before there was any chance for combat.

Maha Habib brought her two daughters to the meeting. She spoke of the hardship and difficulties the family has faced, and especially the suffering of her children. Her youngest daughter turned 3 a few weeks back, and has no memories of her father, and only knows him from photographs.
The family had their home raided by ASIO, suffered threatening actions from members of the community, and was even attacked by Medicare who alleged they had cheated the system (however documents showed this to be completely untrue!)

It made clear the true horror of the situation in which two Australian citizens, for the last 20 months have been locked in a foreign prison, with no rights, no legal representation, no trial, and no charge.
Mamdouh Habib and fellow Australian David Hicks are amongst the hundreds detained by the United States in Guantanamo Bay for alleged links to the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Detainees from 42 countries are being held in Guantanamo Bay, and every one of these nations, other than Australia, has demanded the fair and just treatment of these citizens.
David Hicks celebrated his 28th Birthday on Thursday August 7.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties Chairman Cameron Murphy had hoped to make the meeting, and has promised to speak at a future one, said the following about the issue. "The Americans are breaking the values of truth and justice and everything else we stand for.
Our government should be demanding the release of everyone who is held without charge. They accuse the terrorists of terrorising people indiscriminately, yet here the US government is doing the same thing.
If these people have committed a crime, there are processes, but instead the law is being thrown out in a mad attempt at revenge.
The men face the death penalty if convicted by the military tribunal, which has no recourse for appeal, and whose decisions can be overturned by the US President is he decides."

Allan Green, the vice president of the Liberal Greenway Federal Conference also came to the meeting, and gave information about the governments position on the two men.

He reaffirmed the governments position that they have been in close contact with the US, that delegations have spoken to Mamdouh Habib and that he is physically "appears to be in good health".
He also assured us that the government will ensure that "Mr Habib is treated fairly and appropriately at all times."

Many people in the group questioned how fair or appropriate continual detention without charge or legal access could be, as well as the physically detention in glorified chicken coups.

Mr Green responded by saying that peoples concerns would be addressed by the government, and that we should write letters to the government regarding our concerns. Specifically he mentioned Senator Marise Payne as a Senator responsible for people in western Sydney.

To contact her, you can email senator.payne@aph.gov.au, visit her electoral office 2-12 Macquarie Street, Parramatta, write to her at PO Box CC18, Parramatta NSW 2123, or fax her on (02) 9893 5150
Also visit the federal government website at www.aph.gov.au to find out the contact details of others in the government if you wish to contact them. Also, consider pushing the opposition to act.
Jackie Kelly (Penrith) and Ross Cameron (Parramatta) are two liberal MP's that you could also contact.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

On Line Opinion 

On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit e-journal that aims to provide a forum for public social and political debate about current Australian issues. We publish articles intended to stimulate a public discourse on a range of topics. It is not the editors’ intention to dominate these pages – these articles are gathered from a variety of independent sources and are published in the belief that ideas are the essence of progress and that issues and opinions should be addressed, not suppressed. We welcome any rational contribution to what we hope will be a robust public debate not available in any other media or forum.

It contains a great range of articles updated daily on a range of issues by people from all political persuasions, and it is definitely worth checking out, and visiting once a week to keep informed on a range of debates.

Here is a link and excerpts from a recent article I found interesting.

The war on terror is the new Cold War and will not help bring peace.

This article summarises a paper called The Implications of the War on Terrorism which was delivered by Ken Macnab on Thursday 10 October 2002 at the Annual Conference of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia in Canberra.
Dr Ken Macnab is an historian and President of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney.

President Bush announced the "war on terror" to Congress shortly after the September 11 attacks. His policy was elaborated in other speeches, such as his State of the Union Address in January 2002 and his speech at West Point Military Academy in June, and the document titled The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, released in late September 2002.
Some key aspects of this "war on terrorism" are worth noting. The first is a distinctive interpretation of history that places America at the centre of a new world view. Out of the conflicts of the 20th century had emerged "a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise." Integral to this view of history is a belief in an American "mission," a "crusade," a new "manifest destiny".
Second, the American leadership has not the slightest doubt about its ability to arbitrate for the whole world, to identify the "good" and the "evil", the "civilised" and the "uncivilised", those "with us" and those "against us", those supporting "freedom" and those supporting "terror", those possessing threatening "weapons of mass destruction" and those merely having these same weapons for their own protection.
Third, the definition of "terrorism" at the heart of this war is vague and changeable, and is mainly political rhetoric, permitting selective and self-serving application. The focus of the war is flexible, including "thousands of terrorists in more than 60 countries," "regimes that sponsor terror" such as the "axis of evil," "rogue states" and other American-chosen targets.
Finally, although there are statements about peaceful methods of pursuing the "war on terrorism", such as promoting "human dignity" and working with others to "defuse regional conflicts", the only methods given any real support are aggressive and militaristic. Moreover, at West Point, Bush proposed selective pre-emptive military strikes, whereby America must "confront the worst threats before they emerge".
All this largely ignores the lessons of the history of terrorism…
* Check out the rest at http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=618

It is also easy to find a topic or issue where many people have inputted articles and debate. A great current example is:

How to engage Citizens
It poses the question:
“Democracy is at its strongest when a range of citizens are active in policy development and decision-making, but when our leaders consult the public it seems we hear the same voices speak up. Why don't more people engage in public debate, and what can be done to broaden the input base?

There are then numerous articles regarding the issue, with the following list of just the first few.

Citizen engagement is a victim of the eternal time-completeness trade-off.
by Martin Stewart-Weeks - Monday, August 18, 2003
Want to really engage the community? Don't walk under Arnstein's ladder.
by Peter Henderson - Monday, August 18, 2003
'Lead us not into temptation …': the overworked notion of leadership.
by Miles Little - Monday, August 18, 2003
Four ways to help promote citizen engagement and participation.
by Russ Grayson - Monday, August 11, 2003

Go to Online Opinion and get informed about a whole range of issues facing Australia as a nation, and Australians as individuals.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Rally for Public Education 

Save TAFE and Universities!!!

The Tertiary Education Alliance is organising a National Day of Action for Education on Wednesday 27th August. The rally begins at Sydney Uni at 12 noon and TAFE students from all campuses, unionists, community organisations and the general public will join them out the front of University of Technology Sydney at 1pm (Broadway, near Central Station). The rally will have a focus on public education, responding to the cuts to TAFE and Universities. There will be speakers from both sectors. For more information about the campaign go to http://labor.net.au/campaigns/tea/tea.html

Even if you can’t make it on the day, take action at work. Concerned people are asked to FAX the Minister on the day to show their anger: for more information go to http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/tea/news/action.html

If you are a TAFE Student and want to support the campaign against TAFE Fees and the restructure of TAFE, please contact Labor Council at activist@labor.org.au

To download a leaflet for your workmates, go to http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/tea/background/tafe3.html

To download a petition, go to http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/tea/background/tafe4.html

Send a protest letter to the Minister at:
http://labor.net.au/campaigns/tea/protest/protest_form.html


Sunday, August 17, 2003

US Free Trade and the PBS 

The Federal Governments current media campaign about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has made all Australians more aware of the system that guarentees affordibly priced medicines for Australians, and our responsibilities in maintaining it as a cost effective and sustainable system into the future. However, what has not been publicised is that the US, as part of the Free Trade agreement that we are currently negociating, is lobbying to destroy key elements of the system, to help bolster the profits of US pharmaceutical companies which are currently restricted by the system.

Below is some interesting articles emailed AFTINET about the issue. (Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network - http://www.aftinet.org.au/) Go to their website, and there are links on the front page if you want to get better informed about the whole range of issues, and the affects on Australians of any free trade agreement.

US wants reform of 'unfair' PBS
By Geoff Winestock and Mark Davis
Australian Financial Review
12/08/2003

Washington is pushing Australia to rejig its $4.5 billion subsidised medicines system to boost the revenues of US drug companies, a senior US trade official said yesterday. Describing the agenda for free-trade talks due to be completed by the end of the year, Grant Aldonas, US Under Secretary of Commerce, told a meeting in Sydney the US wanted to "clean up" Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which delivers cheap medicines to Australian consumers. He said the US was "ploughing the ground politically" because it believed that the PBS "undercut" the patent rights of US drug companies such as Pfizer.

Australian officials have said that the PBS is off the agenda for trade talks, trying to damp down fears among health consumer groups a deal could lead to higher drug prices here. But Mr Aldonas, who handles international trade issues, implied that drug prices should rise, saying that the US wanted consumers in other countries to share more of the burden of paying for research and development for advanced drugs.

"There is a sense of unfairness in the US," he said, because US consumers paid high prices under a free market while consumers in Australia and elsewhere benefited from low "reference prices" under schemes like the PBS. The US pharmaceutical industry has been pushing for reforms to the PBS so they can charge the government higher prices for their medicines.

Drugs listed on the PBS receive government subsidies, dramatically reducing the cost to consumers and boosting sales for the manufacturers. But the quid pro quo for manufacturers is that the prices they can charge for listed drugs are regulated. The manufacturers have criticised the PBS "reference pricing" system, under which prices of new medicines on the PBS were not allowed to be any higher than the cheapest similar drug already on the market.

They argue that the prices they receive when selling their medicines under the PBS are not high enough to recoup their investment in developing new drugs. Mr Aldonas also confirmed that the US is trying to break CSL's monopoly on provision of blood plasma products in Australia.


US trade deal may triple drug cost
By Sharri Markson
Sunday Telegraph
03 Aug 2003

COMMON prescription drugs would triple in price if cost controls were lifted under a US/Australia free trade agreement (FTA), a new study has warned. US drug companies are lobbying for price controls, in place under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), to be eliminated as part of the agreement.

A study undertaken by the Australia Institute and obtained exclusively by The Sunday Telegraph warns changes to the PBS could be devastating. It claims prices for common medications used for ailments such as asthma, high blood pressure and arthritis, could rise by more than 300 per cent. Institute executive director Dr Clive Hamilton said the PBS was a key negotiating point in the free-trade agreement.

"If the American drug companies get their way we will see a large rise in the cost of medicines in Australia," he said. "Some vital medicines would be out of reach of low-income Australians, particularly pensioners. "The Australian Government will trade that off against rights to the American market for agricultural goods."

There are estimates the agricultural rights will provide a net benefit to Australia of $4 billion annually, directed at select farming industries. But this would come at the cost of higher medicine prices for Australian consumers, he said.

Australian and US trade negotiators reported good progress after bilateral talks in Washington this week, but also warned that they may not meet the end of the year deadline set by US president George Bush. Lead US negotiator Ralph Ives said the countries exchanged initial market opening offers for goods and services during the third round of talks in Honolulu. The two sides will exchange requests, in late August or early September, on how they would like those offers improved, he said. Steve Deady, chief negotiator for Australia, said Canberra wanted a "big package on market access" but would consider transition periods for sensitive US commodities.

The Australia Institute study examined the cost of the 10 most prescribed drugs in Australia in 2002 and compared them with US prices. The largest price difference was for arthritis drug Celebrex which tripled in cost from $24.97 wholesale to $101.48 in the US.

Asthma sufferers would also have to pay more with Ventolin, costing $42.90 in the US compared with $11.47 here. Lipitor, a cholesterol drug used by around 5.2 million Australians, would rise from $49.95 to $89.50. Antidepressant drug Zoloft would double from $29.28 to $62.57. Cholesterol drugs Zocor and Pravachol would also both rise from $48.89 and $43.55 to $103.45 and $75.96, respectively.

Dr Hamilton said US negotiators were placing enormous pressure on the Federal Government to change the PBS as part of the FTA. A spokesman for Trade Minister Mark Vaile said the Government was committed to the scheme and that US had so far not requested for any changes to be made to it. "The US pharmaceutical industry isn't clear what they may seek from Australia," he said. "However, the US chief negotiator Ralph Ives has made it clear that they are not going after the PBS." The federal government last week wrapped up its third round of negotiations in Hawaii. The next round of FTA negotiations are scheduled for Canberra in October.

* The following is the text of a letter to write to

Write to Mark Vaile about the PBS: sample letter attached Mark Vaile, Minister for Trade.

Mr. Mark Vaile
Minister for Trade
Parliament House,
Canberra ACT 2600
email: mark.vaile.mp@aph.gov.au

Dear Mr Vaile,

I am writing to you to request that you exclude the reference pricing facility of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States (USFTA).

The US Under Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Grant Aldonan, has stated publicly that the US wishes to challenge reference pricing as part of the negotiations. The Australian Financial Review of 13 August 2003 quotes Mr. Aldonan as saying that 'there is a sense of unfairness in the US' because US consumers paid high prices under a free market while consumers in Australia and elsewhere benefited from low 'reference prices' under schemes like the PBS ('US wants reform of 'unfair' PBS, Australian Financial Review 13 August 2003).

The Australia Institute has undertaken research comparing prices of the most common drugs in the US and Australia (The Australia Institute, (2003) 'Comparing Drug Prices in Australia and the US: The implications of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement', 25 July 2003, www.tai.org.au). It found that the wholesale prices of ten of the most commonly prescribed drugs in Australia are at least 79 per cent to 306 per cent more expensive in the US. The report concluded that if reference pricing were removed under the USFTA negotiations, it is clear that prices for drugs in Australia would rise significantly.

Reference pricing makes drugs affordable to Australians, including those on low incomes, and I am very concerned that you have not been prepared to state that it is off the agenda in the USFTA negotiations. Important social policies such as this should not be traded away in secret trade negotiations. Trade agreements should be subject to a full parliamentary vote, not simply signed off by Cabinet.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Name
Address


Dont let the PBS system be destroyed by corporate greed.
Get informed on the issue (by checking out AFTINET and The Australia Institues research - www.tai.org.au)

ADF in Iraq 

AUSTRALIAN TROOPS STILL PART OF THE OCCUPATION FORCES IN IRAQ

Australian Defence Force involvement in Iraq (Operation Catalyst) comprises approximately 1000 personnel, including:

* An Australian Joint Task Force headquarters for national command of ADF elements deployed in the Middle East. This headquarters is currently commanded by Air Commodore Graham Bentley and will be responsible for both Operation Catalyst and Operation Slipper, Australia's contribution to the war against terrorism.

* A naval component of about 270 personnel, comprising HMAS Sydney (soon to be replaced by HMAS Newcastle) as part of the coalition maritime force conducting maritime interception operations in the northern Persian Gulf and a Logistic Support Element.

* A RAAF C-130 Hercules detachment of about 140 personnel providing intra-theatre air lift and sustainment support in the Middle East, with two transport aircraft, ground crew and other support elements.

* An Air Traffic Control detachment and support personnel at Baghdad International Airport providing air traffic control services, and Combined Air Operations Staff - totalling about 80 personnel.

* A security detachment of about 70 personnel including armoured vehicles and an explosive ordnance detachment to provide protection and escort for Australian Government personnel working in our Representative Office in Baghdad.

* Up to 16 analysts and technical experts to support the Iraq Survey Group - the coalition effort to locate, identify, account for and subsequently destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and associated programs.

* An Australian contribution to coalition headquarters and units, combined logistics and communications elements comprising about 90 personnel.

* Six personnel to provide training and policy support to assist the development of the Iraqi Defence Force.

* A temporary military liaison officer with the Australian Mission in Baghdad.

* Three ADF representatives to the Coalition Provision Authority (formerly ORHA).

* A RAAF P-3C Orion detachment of about 160 personnel conducting maritime patrol operations, with two aircraft and associated command and support elements supporting both the rehabilitation operation in Iraq and the coalition operation against terrorism.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Medicare Forum with Julia Gillard: Labor's Alternate Plan for Medicare 

The Save Medicare Alliance is hosting a meeting with Julia Gillard, the Shadow Labor Health Minister. She will be talking about the status of the Public Health system, what Howard's plans for Medicare mean for working people and the details of the ALP's alternative plan for Health in this country. There will be opportunity for questions and discussion after her speech.

WHEN: Friday 22nd August
WHERE: Trades Hall Auditorium, 4
Goulburn St Sydney
TIME: 3pm


For further information, please contact either Bruce Childs 0412 803 457, Shane O'Brien 0418 227 997 or the Combined Pensioners and Superannuates (02) 02 9281 3588. For more information about the Medicare campaign go to http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/medicare/medicare.html

Download a Medicare petition and get your friends, family and workmates to sign it to show their concern and express to the Howard government how essential it is to all Australians:
http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/medicare/background/petition2.html

Monday, August 11, 2003

Gambling on Terrorism and Thought Control 

The SMH ran a very intertesting article from The Boston Globe which discusses two programs funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. The first program, which has now been shut down, attempted to gauge the likelyhood of various events, such as terrorism, by getting people to bet money on them. The second involves attempts at mind reading and control, and already the program has sucessfully had monkeys control movements of a robotic arm using their thoughts, and a mouse has been run around a maze like a remote control car through external mind control.
What does it tell us ther the US is spending millions, and hiring some of the best neuroscientists to work on these projects? It certainly marks another step closer to the distopian visions of the past where totalitarian regimes have saught to control even the minds of their citizens.
How long will it be before we are arrested for thought crimes?
How long until we can be driven around by remote control?

Read the article! http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2003/08/08/1060145870619.htm

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Sept 13: global mobilisation against war & corporate globalisation 

To coincide with the WTO summit in Cancun, Mexico, a range of organisations around the world are mobilising on Sept 13.
Here in Sydney, the network of activists in Global Justice are organising a "Fiesta for Freedom" around the following demands:

Say NO! to the World Trade Organisation
Say NO! to the US-Aust Free Trade Agreement
Say NO! to Bush and Howard's war without end
Say YES! that Another World is Possible

Starting at Sydney Town Hall
Saturday, Sept 13, 2pm

The theme for the day will be modeled around the Mexican "Day of the Dead" (a very colourful annual fiesta in honour of dead loved ones etc.), to symbolise the fate of social services, environment etc. under neoliberal globalisation.

GJ are organising a working bee next Wednesday, Aug 13, 6.30pm, outside the UTS Student Association (Tower Block campus) to start making props for the day. All welcome!

The next organising meeting is Thursday, Aug 21, 6.30pm, at the Teachers Club, Mary St, Surry Hills.

There is also a public meeting being organised by a coalition around the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network (AFTINET), at 11am-1pm on Sept 13, at the Pitt St Uniting Church Hall. Please check www.aftinet.org.au for details.

Protest US Deputy Secretary of State, Richard L Armitage 

"Richard L Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State, United States of America is
in town next week - Wednesday, August 13 - at 12.30pm at the Ballroom at
the Westin, in Martin Place.

This is a great opportunity to tell him what we - and the majority of the
world - think about his government's ongoing occupation of Iraq in which
the US is playing the major role.

We can also tell him what we think about the US's push in the WTO - which
is meeting again in Mexico in September - to get poor countries to open up
their markets to US corporations in the area of services.

We can also tell Armitage that we oppose the proposed "free trade" deal
with Australia on the grounds that it will undermine the Pharmaceutical
Benefits Scheme (considered an unfair trade restriction) and other
deregulatory measures which will adversely affect ordinary working people.

The meeting is being hosted by the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre, and no
doubt while he's in town there will be talk of strengthening ties with the
Indonesian military. Rumsfeld and Downer want to strengthen ties with the
killing machine in Indonesia which is slaughtering hundreds of people in
Aceh and West Papua right now.

What do you think? Let's give Armitage a welcome he wasn't expecting! Lets
meet outside the hotel at 12 noon - bring banners, placards, drums and
stuff for a vibrant protest!"

Call organisers on 0401 166 342 for any more details.
Check out the article at Sydney Indymedia

US activist gaoled under Patriot Act 

This article is a must read. Although i don't agree with his politics, his arrest and imprisonment certainly demonstrates the excessive restrictiveness of the US government. What is most disturbing is that a similar thing could happen here. The suffering of SHERMAN AUSTIN may well be the beginning of an era where those who seek to question the government, and demand a democratic system that serves the people, rather than big business and special interest groups, will no longer have the right to do so.
After Austins 1 year in prison, he has three years probation where he is unable to associate with any person or group that seeks to change the government in any way (be that environmental, social justice, political, economic, etc.) What this is really saying is that he cannot be a an active citizen within the alegedly democratic US.
Check it out!!!
http://www.raisethefist.com/news.cgi?artical=wire/-----74814smallsherm.gifIMG.article

Friday, August 08, 2003

Now we the People Conference 

Challenging the U.S. Empire: Australia for Peace and Justice

The 2003 Now We The People conference is on 23-24 August at the University of Technology, Sydney. The conference features an impressive array of Australian and international speakers, brought together by the necessity to oppose the path Australia is being led down by the new imperialism of the U.S.A. Join with unionists, environmentalists, peace, media, Indigenous and church activists for a weekend of building the kind of Australia we believe in.

Register for the 2003 Now We The People conference:
pdf file [full brochure, needs acrobat reader] or
web page [basic and quick]

Check out the conference program:
pdf file [best for printing, needs acrobat reader] or
web page [basic and quick]

Further details http://www.nowwethepeople.org
Alternatively email search@magna.com.au

Thursday, August 07, 2003

What has happened to democracy? 

We have all seen democracy slowly eroded within our society.
I am not talking about Bush’s election theft, or Howard’s complete disregard for the wishes of the people, I’m not even talking about the restrictive laws that are slowly eroding our rights. What really gets to me is how undemocratic even the little things are.
Take for example Blacktown Council: potentially the greatest example of a dictatorship in Blacktown.
You see, out of the 15 councillors elected, there are nine from Labor, which is enough to control all decisions of council if they vote together. These nine councillors who control council discuss all issues at caucus before hand, and are bound to vote in a way that the majority of caucus members decide (or like Danny Mackin face expulsion from the party). So now, there are five councillors who outvote the other four at caucus, and control council. This group of five are a faction headed strongly by the Mayor of Blacktown, Alan Pendleton and what Cr Pendleton thinks is invariably backed up by those in his faction. Now we are left with one man, who controls the votes of his faction, therefore controls caucus, and therefore has complete control over the decisions of Blacktown Council.
Have you ever wondered why a development was approved, or council did a back flip over an issue like the ADI site, or why the independents feel so powerless and disenfranchised, and why no matter how much debate occurs, the decision is always known from the start. Now you know.
So while His Royal Highness Alan Pendleton sits atop his thrown ruling over all Blacktown, with the help of a few cronies and the Labor caucus, democracy is being killed off right in our backyards.
And the lack of democracy in one of the three tiers of government that make up our nation is even more immense when you consider that Blacktown is the largest council by population and income in Australia, and one of the 500 largest corporations in the country.
Surely, Blacktown deserves better. We deserve democracy, not a council run by an unaccountable dictator however he pleases.

Marshalls for Hiroshima Day 

The organisers of Hiroshima Day need 20 marshalls / money collectors for the rally this Saturday. If you are interested in helping out in this way, the Marshalls Meeting is at the Town Hall Square inside steps 11.30 am on the day.

Contact Peter Murphy with any questions.
SEARCH Foundation, Rm 610, 3 Smail St, BROADWAY NSW 2007. Ph: 02 9211 4164; Fax: 02 9211 1407. Web: www.search.org.au

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Andrew Wilkie for Australian of the Year 

Mr Andrew Wilkie, the former senior intelligence analyst who resigned from the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in protest at John Howard government's deceit over information relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism, has been nominated for the Australian of the Year Award 2004. According to the Australia Day Council, "nominating someone for the awards is the greatest honour you can bestow upon them." If you feel that Mr Andrew Wilkie makes you proud, please support his nomination by providing a written reference for Andrew. This should be sent to:

Australian of the Year Awards 2004
National Australia Day Council
Old Parliament House
King George Terrace
Parkes ACT 2600

Please include the reference number 2103 in your letter. For any information on the Awards, please visit www.australianoftheyear.gov.au, or call 1300 655 193.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

tertiary education alliance 

The NSW Tertiary Education Alliance was formed in March this year in response to the Federal Government’s announcement that it would be making radical changes to our TAFE and universities.

A number of sector groups representing stakeholders in public education have come together to defend tertiary education. Current members of the NSW Tertiary Education Alliance include: the NSW Teachers Federation (including TAFE Teachers), the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), the Communityand Public Sector Union (CPSU), the NSW Labor Council, the Youth Action Policy Association (YAPA), the National Union of Students (NUS) and the NSW Federation of P&Cs.

In this year's federal budget the Howard Government unveiled its plans to radically restructure the Australian tertiary education system. The result will be to shift the financial burden of public education onto Australian families.

*Universities will replace the HECS fee scheme with HECS-HELP which has
up to 30% higher fees

*Up to half of all university places will be full up-front fee paying, a scheme which already costs up to $130 000 for a degree

*Full fee paying undergraduates and postgraduates will be encouraged to borrow up to $50 000, with an interest rate of 3.5% above inflation

*There will be a 5 year time limit for the completion of a degree, with financial penalties for failing subjects or changing courses

*TAFE will continue to be inadequately funded, despite steadily increasing enrolments

*Student, staff and community representation on university governing councils will be reduced

*University funding will be tied to the offering of individual contracts (AWAs), thereby dismantling collective bargaining for staff

Australian students and their families already pay among the highest rates in the world for university education. These changes will mean that tertiary education will be out of reach from many students. The NSW Tertiary Education Alliance will stand up against these plans to force Australian families to pay more.

The Alliance has already held a number of successful campaign activities.
The campaign was officially launched on April 10 with a march through the city and a concert in Hyde Park. Despite the very wet weather over 800 students, staff, parents and teachers marked the launch of the Alliance, which was officially announced by Michael Gadiel from the NSW Labor Council.

On May 8 the Alliance hosted a major public forum in Sydney Town Hall to hear speakers from the ACTU and the three opposition parties outline their
position on the proposed changes. Natasha Stott-Despoja from the Democrats, John Kaye from the Greens and Jenny Macklin from the ALP all pledged to block parts or all over the package in the Senate. However they all warned that it would take a concerted campaign from the entire community to save TAFE and universities. We must make it clear to the Government that we are opposed to these drastic changes.

The Alliance is currently working on setting up campaigns in local regional areas that are going to be hardest hit by these changes. We are also putting
together submissions for the Senate Inquiry that will look into the impact of these proposed reforms and students, staff and institutions.

If you are interested in finding out more, getting involved in the campaign or writing a submission to the Inquiry, please contact the NSW Tertiary
Education Alliance c/o Anna York - 0402 025 703, annayork@hotmail.com.

Monday, August 04, 2003

WSPG Meeting 

THE FORGOTTEN AUSTRALIANS: HICKS AND HABIB

Monday August 11
7pm - 9pm
Rooty Hill Uniting Church
86 Rooty Hill Rd Nth, Rooty Hill

Come and hear about the plight of two Australian Citizens who have been detained for more than a year and a half without being charged, tried, or given any legal rights. These two men are alleged terrorists fighting with al-Qaida, however, there has still not been any evidence given to substanciate these claims, and the facts we do know have Habiob arrested in Pakistan, not near Afghanistan, not in possession of any weapons, and travelling home to his family in Australia. The facts about Hicks are just as hazy, but the evidence suggests that even if he was fighting in Afghanistan, it was with the Taliban, the accepted legitimate government at that time. This is no different to the many Australians who have done millitary service in home countries such as Israel and Greece where there is compulsary service. This is why Australia doesn't want them returned home, because they have committed no crimes. Even the US must be concerned that their military tribunals will need more substancial evidence as they have still not charged or tried the men.
Speakers include Maha Habib, the wife of detainee Mamdouh Habib, Stephen Hopper, lawyer for Habib, and a representative of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.
Come allong to get informed, find out what you can do to demand justice for these men, and support the families of the detainees.

CURRENT PEACE EVENTS 

The next big march is Hiroshima Day: Saturday 9th August
Meet 12 noon, assemble Sydney Town Hall Square, March to Belmore Park
"Hiroshima never again; free Palestine and Iraq."
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, incinerating 140,000 men, women and children. On August 9, a second American atomic bomb killed 74,000 men, women and children in Nagasaki.

Now we the People Conference: August 23 and 24

Challenging the US Empire - Australia for peace and justice
Draft Conference Program: Saturday August 23, 2003
9.30 am - Registration
10.15 am - Welcome to Country
10.30 am - Opening Plenary
Where are Howard and Bush taking Australia? The social, economic and environmental consequences of the US Alliance.
Panel: Doug Cameron (AMWU), Dr Patricia Ranald (AFTINET), Andrew Wilkie, Tanya Plibersek MHR, Senator Kerry Nettle, Margaret Reynolds (United Nations
Association), Dr Carol Araullo (BAYAN Philippines)
The conference continues to the afternoon on Sunday.

For more information contact the Search Foundation,
email search@magna.com.au , www.search.com.au.

TAFE
If you are a student at TAFE and are interested in getting involved in the campaign against the fee increase and restructure, please contact
a.tattersall@labor.org.au. A TAFE Student Network is forming in response to these attacks and needs student support. There will be a National Day of Action against the changes to Higher Education for Universities and TAFE on 27th August.

If you wish you were getting more information about other social justice/social movement events, then you might want to join the Labor Council's Union Activist Register. It sends out regular updates about all these sort of events. Just go to: http://www.labor.org.au/activist

Aussies in Guantanamo Bay 

Demand justice for David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, the two Australians who are being detained indefinitely by the US. This is unjust, illegal, and would not be accepted from any other nation on earth. We need a fair and impartial trial for both men, with proper legal council, so that if they have committed a crime they can be punished, and if they have not they can be imediately repatriated to their families in Australia.

The Western Sydney Peace Group will be looking at this issue at the next meeting (Monday August 11, 7pm, Rooty Hill Uniting Church, 86 Rooty Hill Rd Nth, Rooty Hill) and will have Mamdouh's wife Maha, and his lawyer Stephen Hopper speaking, as well as a representative of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. Find out more about the men, the detention, the legal arguements, and how you can join the growing push to demand justice for all the detainees.

These men are Australian citizens and neither has been given the rights of citizenship by the Howard government. There are42 countries have nationals imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, 41 have protested the indefininte detention, 1 has not - Australia.

What you can do:

1) Next Thursday 7th August is David Hick's birthday. He has been in detention for aproximately 20 months.
While even the Bali Bombers have been given a fair trial, with legal access, in full view of world media, David anfd Mamdouh continue to rot behind bars, out of sight, in breach of international law.
On Thursday 7th August we will remind our politicians and other Australians that David and Mamdouh are 'two of our own' by celebrating David Hick's 28th birthday. We will use this opportunity to say that David and Mamdouh, like other Australians, have birthdays, families and friends, and 2 years ago, enjoyed the same freedoms and lifestyle as us.
As fellow Australians, therefore, we will demand that they are afforded due process and are returned to Australia immediately to be charged and tried under the eyes of Australians with their choice of lawyer and support from their families. If they cannot be charged here, they should be released.

Events on Thursday 7th August:
The theme is 'hundreds and thousands' theme, representing other Australians who enjoy the human rights and justice that David and Mamdouh are currently denied. Make 'fairy bread' and wear brightly coloured tops.

In Sydney:
Early morning: Handout of A5 flyer 'birthday cards' at train, bus stations. The 'card' says Happy Birthday David on the front and details of further information and actions inside. These include an email campaign to politicians for the day, and an online petition.

10.30am. All are welcome to join families and supporters of David and Mamdouh for a Birthday Party morning tea in First Fleet Park (close to Circular Quay Station near the Museum of Contemporary art). Cakes, Fairy Bread, kids entertainment. A large birthday card and petition will be signed.

1.00pm Meet at Kirribilli House, Kirribilli for handover of birthday card for John Howard to deliver to David Hicks. Speeches from Stephen Hopper and Maha Habib (Mamdouh's solicitor and wife) and Hannah Middleton (Sydney Peace and Justice Coalition).

To offer assistance for any of these events, receive flyers, announce your own birthday party event: in Sydney david7august@yahoo.com.au .

2) Write letters to our local federal Members of Parliament (see example below)

3) Write letters to newspapers about the issue: ring a talk back radio program

4) Talk to like minded people about the issue

5) Email for a petition and collect signatures fairgofordavid@internode.on.net or download from website

VISIT THE WEBSITE www.fairgofordavid.org

Letter for Federal Politicians.
Use it for info and write your own, or cut and paste if you dont have much time.

* * * * *
I am writing to express my great concern for the well being of fellow Australians, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib who are currently being held by the US military in camp X-ray, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I am aware that these men are kept in small cells, that they are allowed little exercise and have been cut off from direct contact with the outside world, including from their Australian legal counsel.

They have been held without charge since their capture. In David’s case, he has been held in these conditions now for 20 months.

I am aware also that these men have been subjected to ongoing interrogation by US military, Australian Federal police and ASIO since their capture.

These men have been unlawfully detained in breach of all the norms of international law including the Geneva Conventions parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights advocates against arbitrary detention. Both Australia and the US are signatories to this.

While the court cases of suspected Bali bombers have been made public, you have not spoken out for the same privileges to be afforded to two of your own citizens.

Other countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sweden and Pakistan have achieved repatriation of their citizens from camp x-ray through strident protests.

David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib must be afforded due process and be returned immediately to Australia to be charged and tried under the eye of the Australian public. If they cannot be charged, they must be released.

Unless this occurs, you will be seen as aiding and abetting the US in their unlawful detention of these two Australians and putting Australia’s relationship with the US before the interests of its own people.



The Hon John Howard, PM
Prime Minister of Australia
Send an email at: http://www.pm.gov.au/email.cfm or fax: (02) 9251 5454

The Hon Alexander Downer, MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
a.downer.mp@aph.gov.au

The Hon Daryl Williams AM, QC
Attorney General
daryl.williams.mp@aph.gov.au

Senator the Hon Chris Ellison
Minister for Justice and Customs
senator.ellison@aph.gov.au

The Hon John Anderson MP
Deputy Prime Minister
john.anderson.mp@aph.gov.au

Sunday, August 03, 2003

HIROSHIMA DAY MARCH 

MARCH for a NUCLEAR FREE WORLD

SATURDAY AUGUST 9
12 NOON
ASSEMBLE TOWN HALL SQUARE - MARCH TO BELMORE PARK


In 1945, the United States dropped two nuclear weapons, one on Hiroshima
and the other Nagasaki. Together they killed more than 210, 000 men,
women and children. Most of the casualties were unsuspecting civilians,
and the long term damage of those weapons is still affecting the health
of people.
The US, Britain, France, Russia and China still have more than 26, 000
nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration spends more than $US 437 billion on their
military anually, and is planning tactical nuclear weapons for
"pre-emtive" and "preventitive" use against "rogue states" without such
weapons.
The risk of these weapons, which most affect non-combatants, being used
is increasing alarmingly with a new breed of militarism that is
prevelant in the US.

The Western Sydney Peace Group is supporting this rally, and people who
wish to attend can join us and catch the train together, departing
Penrith at 10:50, all stations to Blacktown 11:12, then Parramatta at
11:23.
We need people who can leaflet their local neigbourhood, shops, station
etc about the rally, or even just a few leaflets to workmates. Give me a
call (0401 769 880) to organise some leaflets, or for any forther details about the march.

Save Medicare Alliance 

The need to protect the Medicare system from the Howard Government is increasing, and it is important that everyone get involved to protect this vital and valuable asset which provides all Australians, regardless of wealth, with a good qualtity, affordable system of health care. The ability to see a doctor for free (it costs around $90 to see a GP if you are not covered by medicare), and recieve medication at affordable prices under the Pharmacutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) which subsidises essential medicines so that you dont have to fork our hundreds or thousands of dollars to treat any health problem.
Check out the LaborNET website regarding it
Get active on the issue. Send a letter to your local Federal MP, especially Liberal ones (like Jackie Kelly and Ross Cameron) as well as letters to the local papers. It is important all Australians are aware of the Howard Governments plans to slowly dismantle the system that has given free, universal healthcare to Australians for more than 20 years.

Download a petition and get locals to sign it and demonstrate their opposition.

Join the Save Medicare Alliance and their email list ( savemedicarealliance-subscribe@yahoogroups.com )
They have regular meetings and do leafletting, they have already run stalls and leafletted in Parramatta and Penrith.

For more information, or ways to get involved, you can also visit the website of the National Medicare Alliance

The Senate Select Committee on Medicare will be comming to Sydney some time soon, so try to keep up to date and go allong to voice your concern. It is too late to make a submission, but not too late to express you distress at any plan to destroy the Medicare System.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter