The Guardian 15 June, 2005

Dingo bytes

The new chief executive of Telstra, Sol Trujillo, has been taken on as a hired gun to terminate jobs in the full privatisation of the telco. The sale of the remaining publicly-owned 51.8 per cent will bring an estimated $31 billion. Sounds like a lot, but in terms of the contribution a fully publicly-owned Telstra would deliver in services, and to the economy as a whole, it is a piddling amount. Trujillo certainly has the right credentials. He ran a now defunct CIA-backed company in the US called Graviton which was funded by the CIAís venture capital firm In-Q-Tel. He is backed by Telstra chairman, Donald McGauchie, one of the conspirators behind the 1998 attack on the Maritime Union. Trujillo will be paid $10 million a year to oversee the sell-off of Telstra. Expect he and McGauchie to be in the forefront of the Howard governmentís attack on the union movement.

Whose system is it #1? Charles Abbott, the former deputy chair of the failed HIH insurance company, on trial charged with nicking $180,000 from HIH and putting it in his own private company even though he knew HIH was about to go under, has been let off. The NSW magistrate hearing the case found there was nothing improper about the payment.

Whose system is it #2? It was reported last week that the NSW prison population has grown by 40 percent over the past decade. This has come about through harsher sentencing, a strategy of the Carr government, and accompanied by a drop in the use of community services orders by 35 per cent. The cost of keeping a prisoner is $173 per day, while the cost of administering a community services order is $9.56 per day.

Whose system is it #3? Perth-based mining company Anvil Mining has admitted that its vehicles were used by the Congolese military. Three Congolese citizens are suing the company which allowed the military to use the vehicles to mount an attack on a village. The two sons of one of the three complainants were killed in the attack. Another complainant was captured and tortured. Anvil management claims it had "no option" but to allow the military to use the vehicles. The mother of the two killed said eyewitnesses told her they were buried by Anvil mining vehicles driven by Anvil mine drivers.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is the Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, who last week symbolically turned the first sod in the construction of a new extension of the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney. Vanstone described the new centre, which will have a play area, a hall and lawns but will keep the men, women and children there behind razorwire, as "utopian". They will also be able to hear a heavenly choir of native birds. "You can hear them chattering away now", the Minister told the gathered media, which didnít ask the obvious question: if itís so bloody marvellous, why doesnít Vanstone move in herself?

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