The Guardian 28 September, 2005

Dingo bytes

If you needed any further proof that the Howard government is screwing workers, look no further than the International Monetary Fund. The capitalist think tank that manipulates the world’s economy in its annual report has praised Howard and co for their anti-union laws and urged them not to waste the opportunity of having control of both houses of parliament to ram through other destructive, profit-generating policies, including the gutting and privatisation of the welfare system.

A Senate committee investigation into the wrongful detention of Vivian Alvarez Solon, who was deported to the Philippines, has tabled a scathing interim report on the affair. "Although Ms Solon insisted that she was an Australian citizen and had married an Australian, potential lines of inquiry were not pursued by Department of Immigration officials prior to making the determination that she was an unlawful non-citizen", says the report.

The Labor Party’s claim that the government fraudulently issued travel documents with false names in order to deport two asylum seekers to Serbia has seen the government respond with a threat of litigation. Like a cornered rat with nowhere to turn, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has threatened to sue the Labor Party over the claims.

The phoney war on terrorism has entered the arena of censorship of the arts. The Melbourne City Council has barred an artist from entering a street art exhibition funded by the council. Titled Canberra 18, Azlan McLennan’s work features the 18 Islamic groups proscribed by the Howard government as "terrorist". And in May last year the council ordered the removal of a McLennan work that was critical of Israel from a shop window in Flinders Street.

At the other end of the terrorism spectrum, it turns out — not surprisingly — that the Christian fundamentalist Howard government has close ties to a sect called the Exclusive Brethren. The sect ran ads for the re-election of the Howard government at the last election and ran a smear campaign against the New Zealand Labour government in the lead up to the elections there. They also spent $500,000 to have George W Bush re-elected.

CAPITALIST HOG(S) OF THE WEEK: are the transnational financial institutions. The international trend of outsourcing jobs is going way beyond the setting up of call centres in India. But even there as Indian workers have successfully made gains in pay and conditions, the major banks and financial institutions are looking elsewhere to find ever cheaper labour, including China, Brazil, the Philippines and Poland. Some have as much as 20 percent of their workforce offshore. And the work being done is not only in call centres. Some financial activities and human resources, that quaint renaming of what was once called the personnel department where hiring and firing took place, are also being outsourced. So now you can even get the sack from offshore. As Bertold Brecht put it, "As a crime the robbing of a bank is nothing compared to the founding of a bank".

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