The Guardian 24 August, 2005

Dingo bytes

The truth will out, as the saying goes. Last week it was revealed that a former senior Foreign Affairs officer, Dr John Gee, had written a letter explaining his resignation from the US-led Iraq Survey Group which went into the country after the US invasion looking for weapons of mass destruction. Geeís letter set out grave concerns about the way the search for weapons was carried out and was given to the offices of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister. But it was withheld from a Senate committee inquiry into pressure that was brought to bear by the US on Australian personnel in Iraq to influence the Groupís findings. Another former Australian weapons inspector, Rod Barton, who earlier this year exposed the torture of Iraqi scientists by US members of the Survey Group, noted: "Itís a funny sort of democracy, it seems to me, where the truth is withheld. There are those in the government who could have testified before the committee, in Foreign Affairs and Defence."

Around 20 government MPs are pushing for amendments to the Broadcasting Act to give the government the power to ban television programs that breach classification guidelines. They claim their move is in response to the nudity and sexual references on the Big Brother Uncut program on the Ten Network. If they do get the censorship powers would they, for example, order Kerry Packer to remove what they consider an offensive program from his Nine Network? Not in a million years. No. They want to be able to gag opinions that are critical of the government, or expose its lies and corruption, and those things wonít emanate from the commercial broadcasters. Only the investigative journalism and current affairs on SBS and the ABC do that.

About a year ago Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty had his knuckles rapped by John Howard when he dared to intimate that Australiaís participation in the Iraq war makes us a more likely terrorist target. Last week he was at it again, saying the London bombings meant Australia is inevitably a terrorist target. The only connection between Australia and the bombings in London is the Iraq war.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is the Hillsong Church. Religious fundamentalism in Australia can be a real money maker, if you have the support of governments. The Muslim-bashing NSW and federal governments have not hesitated to jump on the populist evangelical bandwagon known as the Hillsong Church. Former NSW Premier Bob Carr gave a sermon there, as have PM John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello. Last year the church posted $50.8 million in revenue and has invested in real estate ó all church related, of course, and so tax free. Hillsong praises the virtues of capitalism i.e. self enrichment through exploitation, exactly the kind of cut-throat demagogy the Howard government practices.

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