The Guardian 27 April, 2005

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Letters to the Editor

Misleading abortion figures

I rarely find Daily Mirror articles interesting or inspiring. But the April 22 issue was an exception with a very good article written by Zoe Taylor. Called “Shame game; exploiting women’s pain” the author shared her experience of a miscarriage. She also pointed out that many women go through this painful experience without much help or understanding.

What I found especially moving was her resolve to raise her voice against the likes of Queensland National Party Senator Ron Boswell who is attempting to restart the abortion debate.

Zoe Taylor took on the abortion figures which are being used as a weapon against women in the debate. The figure of 91,000 abortions per year was mentioned by Senator Boswell.

Ms Taylor points out that Boswell is considering introducing a private member’s bill based on what he calls the “most comprehensive, up-to-date information on abortion in Australia”.

But what is not being told to the public is that the figure of 91,000 includes an unknown number of women treated after a miscarriage.

The figure for mid-2003 to June last year also includes those who have suffered ectopic pregnancies and foetal deaths.

Ms Taylor gives figures provided by SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support): “Every year in Australia there are about 55,000 early failed pregnancies, 1750 babies are still born and 900 die in the first 28 weeks of life. Only about 2 percent of terminations are classified as later-term”.

It’s between the woman and her doctor to decide on the issue. I absolutely agree with Zoe Taylor that politicians should butt out of this issue.

Abortions have been legal in Australia and should remain safe and legal.

Anna Bianco

Some Anzac Day war memories

Melbourne seemed to be as good a place as any for a 10-year-old kid in wartime. We could still get 3 pence worth of broken biscuits once a month from the grocer. The bickies came in tins and some got broken before being weighed (for those who could afford them). The Japanese and German enemy was not to be seen, they were an ogre over the seas somewhere.

As a kid I was unsure and a bit fearful when my mum said we were to have a visitor from Tassie. She was a young woman who married her young man before he enlisted to go to war — and he wasn’t coming back. I remember things were a bit morbid until mum said she was taking our young lady to collect her dead hubby’s things and his pay book from the big army barracks in Melbourne.

The next day our Tassie friend left with many tears but when my dad got home, all hell broke loose.

It appeared that when the top brass presented the widow with medals etc, they also presented the young widow with a bill for 7/- (7 shillings, now $14) to bury her hubby in an army blanket.

I was glad to hear my dad say one day that he would be home for once on a Saturday morning. He worked at Fisherman’s Bend Commonwealth aircraft factory. The government had a contract to build aircraft for the war effort under license to the British Beaufort millionaire family in the UK.

My dad and the other workers had exceeded their quota for the month and the plant was to be shut down for 20 days with no production to take place.

So I was surprised to answer the door at home to a Peace Officer (Commonwealth policeman) some time late on the Saturday morning and was asked where Gerry Gowland, my dad was.

He was out visiting a neighbour. I was told to tell him he had to be in attendance at his place of work within 2 hours otherwise he would face a jail offence under the Manpower Act. (So much for my dad having a Saturday off).

He rode off on his pushbike along with many hundreds of other workers to Fisherman’s Bend to return to work.

Lo and behold! The workers had to stay at their work places for days and days with no machinery working and no electricity at all. The workers built wood, coal and coke fires for heat and to boil the billy. They had to clock on and off as per usual but not allowed to produce a thing because the British Beaufort family had a license that could not be broken. The contracts were cost plus in those days.

Our Aussie soldiers at the war front fighting the enemy on the Islands were asking where the bloody hell are the aeroplanes? It’s those bloody unions again, was the bull dished out by the powers that be.

Larry Gowland

All out for May Day!

As International Workers’ Day (May Day) approaches it is important to reflect on the victories of the past and to celebrate. Not just celebrate what has happened in the last year, but what the wages, working conditions and the civil rights were like when our forefathers fought and won better conditions.

Things such as long service leave, holiday pay, penalty rates, occupational health and safety, the right to strike, the right to protest just to name a few did not always exist but they are now under threat.

I don’t know if anyone else has notice but it seems that the Australian workforce and some in the union movement (not all) have become too “relaxed and comfortable” while bargaining away these conditions and rights. The implementation of the Accord was the beginning and let’s face it, things haven’t got any better since then.

With the Howard Government now having control of both houses of parliament Australian workers and welfare recipients alike are going to be in for the fight of their lives — no doubt about it.

There is no time to say “It’ll be right, mate” and sit on our hands and wait. The fight to protect our living standards and civil rights is on now, not in the last week of June just before Howard gets his Senate majority.

One of the best ways to thank our past comrades and defend the oncoming onslaught is to protest with our feet.

Get out and march on May Day.

Workers united will never be defeated!

Jessica Martin

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