The Guardian 20 July, 2005

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Letters to the Editor

Food labelling in WA

It is not enough to know that what we buy is Australian! It is most important we have food labelled "grown in WA". It is not being parochial but rather a safety net that will contribute to the sustainability of our future food and agricultural industry in this state. Who knows what the future holds? Drought, famine, climatic change, war, in such times it is wise to have the resources to grow your own food as was discovered during World War II.

Different standards apply in each state. For example, bananas go through a process of food irradiation in Queensland. This prolongs the life and many would say takes the real taste of food away. Also we do not know what the long term effects of food irradiation on future generations might be.

Do we in WA need to buy those large Queensland bananas, sold in our supermarkets when we have far superior Carnarvon bananas that taste a lot better just like real bananas! Apart from unqualified danger there may be in food irradiation, Queensland also sends us their cane toads as a bonus!

To overlook future escalation of transportation costs of food is short sighted and a big political mistake. Ronald Bright, novelist and historian warns of the house of cards factor that collapsed past empires in history.

We may be on the cusp of collapse as unelected offshore corporations take control of public assets and what we eat. They care nothing about our future, only big profits now!

Mary Jenkins
Spearwood WA

War is war

Our leaders tell us we are at war; why then should we be surprised at being bombed? Do governments really think we can "shock and awe" the 7.4 million Baghdadis and, from the comfort of our homes watching TV, enjoy the "fireworks" of missiles demolishing cars, houses, water treatment works, electricity supply stations with impunity?

We are all electoral conscripts, even the politically apathetic, and so we are all complicit in the crimes carried out in our name, even if personally we are vehemently against the illegal invasion of Iraq. As usual, innocent and guilty suffer.

In war, killing or maiming the enemy is lauded. The Allies fire-bombed Dresden and incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while in turn London was blitzed and Pearl Harbour's ships sunk. In war special forces operate behind enemy lines trying to cause maximum damage by assassinating and bombing.

From such exploits heroes are made and medals awarded. Some states like Israel were founded on terrorist activities; the Stern gang masterminded the bombing of Jerusalem's King David hotel, killing 91 people as well as causing civilian slaughter at Deir Yassin.

Churches, synagogues and mosques all claim Samson was a hero when he pulled away the Temple of Dagon's pillars, killing himself and 3000 Philistines. Is this different from suicide bombing? The young men who bombed London are considered "subhuman filth who must be eliminated" by Kim Beazley, but are in fact considered heroes in the same tradition that we celebrate. They gave their lives for God and country just like our young did at Gallipoli. How many more will have to die or be crippled because of the evil doers we elected in Britain, America and Australia and who remain at large and dangerous: Blair, Bush and Howard?

Gareth Smith
Byron Bay, NSW

Call it off

Newton and the Laws of Uniform Motion taught us or should have taught us that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same may not be as demonstrably true in the political world as in the mechanical but there is, undeniably, a parallel tendency, usually attenuated by delay.

The London bombings should be understood for what they are a manifestation of such a reaction not a primary action. The same can be said of the Twin Towers incident, the Bali and Madrid bombings, and the string of numerous other atrocities.

It's a pity all this has to be overlaid with religious confusion and animosity, and tied up with ancient rivalry and biblical prophecies.

As it is, the man who declared the disastrous war on terrorism, and has prosecuted it on and off for most of the past four years, to no apparent avail, is in the best position to spare us the pious histrionics and call the whole thing off. He won't of course. He just hasn't got the necessary medicine for the cure in his saddle bags.

Peace is possible. But a victory for either side in this interminable clash is not.

Not quite behind the scenes Italy, UK, and US are already preparing to withdraw their forces from Iraq, and perhaps from the wider Middle East.

That, in any case, would be a prerequisite for a cessation of hostilities.

Dave Diss
Glengowrie, SA

Come clean Mr Howard

It was interesting to note John Howard's' response to Laurie Oakes' questions on the Sunday Business program on Channel 9 (July 10, 2005). When questioned about the 63 per cent of Australians who expressed their opposition to the governments so called IR reforms. The Prime Minister stated that under his government real wages had risen by 14 per cent after inflation. Mr Howard also stated that the minimum wage increased by 12 per cent in real terms.

What Mr Howard neglected to say was that his government has repeatedly supported the employer groups when it comes to fixing the minimum wage or the safety net adjustment. If the Howard government and the employer groups had been successful in their attempts to influence the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) Australian Workers at the lowest levels would be approximately $50 per week worse off.

Mr Howard, his government and the employer groups refuse to acknowledge the role of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in the negotiation process, but, Australian Workers should know (if they do not already know) that if it had not been for Unions fighting for better wages and conditions Australian Workers would be a hell of a lot worse off.

If we look at the last most recent (last ever) safety net adjustment to be arbitrated by the AIRC the Howard government and the employer groups argued for an $11 per week increase. The ACTU argued for a safety net increase of $26 per week. The Howard government also argued that the $6 per week tax relief to come into effect on July 1, 2005 should be considered when awarding the increase. After examining the arguments put before them by the government, the employer groups and the ACTU, the AIRC determined that an increase of $17 per week should be awarded.

Under the government's proposed IR changes the AIRC will be replaced by the so called Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) who will be responsible to government for setting the minimum wage.

The AFPC will be hand picked by government and will probably consist of labour economists, and representatives from the employer groups. The bottom line is that Howard's changes are based upon the American system which has seen the minimum wage frozen at $5.50 for approximately eight years.

But, don't worry, Mr Howard stands by his record and he has a new breed of Australian Worker the "Enterprise Worker" who will put Australia's long term economic needs before their own and that of their families.

Why not let Australian Workers know the truth Mr Howard and that is you and your government are driven by ideology and your government does not represent the "Aussie Battlers" but the likes of the Business Council of Australia who presented you with the new vision for IR in their 1999 paper "Rebuilding the Safety net".

Tony Hall
Kenwick WA

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