The Guardian 6 April, 2005

Dingo bytes

The much ballyhooed cheap domestic air fares that were promoted as coming out of competition are set to go down the gurgler as transport magnate Chris Corrigan takes over the Virgin Blue no-frills airline. Corrigan has said that his main aim will be to "stop the rapid deterioration of fares". In a broader sense it's worth asking why the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, set up by the government supposedly to champion the rights of consumers and to prevent monopoly, has done nothing to hinder Corrigan's excursions into the road, air, shipping and rail transport businesses. The answer is a big "thank you" from PM Howard for Corrigan's attack on the Maritime Union in 1998. It should be recalled that Corrigan colluded with the government to have scab workers, trained in Dubai, take the place of union members on the waterfront.

It was reported in the press last week that some pharmacists in the US are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning after pills because the use of such medications violate their religious beliefs. Of course, that could only happen in the USA, couldn't it? Not a bit of it. Our Christian fundamentalist government is encouraging all sorts of reactionary behaviour. Such as the chemist in the Hunter Valley in NSW who refuses to stock condoms or the morning after pill based on moral beliefs. Greens MP Lee Rhiannon advised the chemist to sell the business to someone who will sell contraceptives. "Chemist play an important part in our community, giving basic health assistance, with sexual health being part of this service", Lee Rhiannon noted.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is the foreign editor for The Australian newspaper, Greg Sheridan. Sheridan is a representative of American foreign policy in Australia. As such he defends everything the Bush administration does. So he used his column last week to try and discredit a poll carried out by the Lowy Institute that found 57 percent of Australians were "very worried" about the external threat posed by US foreign policy. Sixty-eight percent thought Australia read the Howard government allowed itself to be dictated to by the US. Sheridan tipped the bucket on the poll, concluding that it was "nearly meaningless" even though it asked some very important questions, such as whether Australia should adhere to international laws. The fact is Sheridan and his ilk are fighting an ever-increasing uphill battle in defending the actions of the US, and the Howard government's obsequiousness to it. The day after his column appeared former Australian defence intelligence expert Rod Barton, who blew the whistle on the cover up of the torture by Australians of prisoners in Iraq, revealed that another Australian intelligence expert had resigned in disgust at interference by the US in falsifying reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, a lie that was used to justify the war.

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