The Guardian 13 April, 2005

Dingo bytes

In NSW, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon last week re-introduced an ALP caucus motion, which had been abandoned by Labor, condemning the Minister for Roads, Michael Costa. Saying it was disappointing that the ALP left faction dropped the motion, Ms Rhiannon declared she was giving them another opportunity to take a stand. She pointed out that Costa has, among other dirty deeds, closed train lines, threatened to demolish 200 homes to build a motorway, and announced he wanted 20 percent of the state’s public servants sacked. "There is a mountain of evidence that shows Michael Costa is a liability to the cabinet, the parliament and, most importantly, to the people of NSW", said Lee Rhiannon.

At ABC Melbourne radio station 774, former commercial radio talkback shock jock Richard Stubbs has caused an angry response from listeners because of an increased focus on personalities instead of issues during the past year. The Victorian branch of Friends of the ABC has received hundreds of letters of complaints about Stubbs’ style because he tends to dismiss talkback callers with opinions that diverge from his, an approach typical of the shouting matches that pass for discussion and debate on commercial radio. Friends of the ABC say he is going for personality over content and "dumbing down" the station. It’s all part of the drive to commercialise the national broadcaster.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which is funded by the Defence Department, has come up with a novel idea — contract out large sections of the Australian military to private companies. It’s not novel at all, of course. The privatisation of militaries around the world has been underway for some time, alongside the emergence of private armies in such places as Afghanistan, as well as a growing number of mercenaries operating in war zones. It’s a profit bonanza for big business. The Policy Institute’s report, "War and Profit", puts it straight, saying that the US and Britain "already rely extensively on private firms to provide logistics support in operational areas".

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is the Boeing Corporation. Boeing is one of the biggest nuclear weapons contractors in the world, with agreements and associations with weapons contractors around the globe. Its branch here in Australia is tied into the US bases and their role in the US Star Wars program. The extent of Boeing’s political influence was demonstrated last week when the NSW Attorney General granted the transnational an exemption from the state’s Anti-­Discrimination Act. Boeing will have protection from prosecution under the Act for three years so it can invade the privacy of current and prospective employees, demanding information such as their residency status in Australia. This will allow Boeing to hire, fire, segregate, train and pay workers based on their citizenship, giving Boeing absolute power over its workforce.

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