The Guardian 16 November, 2005

Dingo bytes

Since the collapse of the HIH insurance company in 2001 which wiped out the investments and savings of thousands of people and the jobs of thousands more, the Howard Government has still not closed a loophole that allows foreign insurance companies to operate here unregulated. Although it moves like greased lightening to push through legislation to attack trade unions and our democratic rights, a report given to the Government 18 months ago proposing tighter regulations has still not been acted upon. It’s called deregulation.

Britain offers a good example of two-faced deregulation. It is now official policy that to become a British citizen you must know more about British life than the British themselves. There is now, added to all the other strictures involving becoming a British citizen, a test of 24 questions about British life that must be answered completely by applicants. When it was tried out on native Britons only a few could answer more than four or five questions. Foreign investors, though, have no such barriers. The London Stock Exchange announced the sharpest increase in foreign takeovers for more than two years, ironically on the day the new test was introduced.

The Howard Government’s utter, deliberate failure to provide the means to train the skilled workers needed for industry has seen it instead use a bonus points system for visa applicants with particular trade and occupation qualifications. Recently mining, petroleum and chemical engineers and dental specialists were added to the list. Meanwhile CSIRO, the nation’s main research organisation, has announced it is slashing a quarter of its research support staff to cut costs. After having chunks of its government funding taken away, the CSIRO has been forced to focus on income generating research for the private sector. Also, a review of 780 CSIRO jobs is underway to make a saving of around $5 million.

Private schools teaching a new version of creationism should lose their public funding, say the NSW Greens. Some private schools intend to change their science curriculum to include the intelligent design theory. "The threat by some Christian schools to tell their students that the intelligent design fable is science raises important questions about the role they are playing in our society", said Greens Education spokesperson John Kay. "Far from fulfilling a public purpose, they are intellectually crippling their children and isolating them from scientific reality."

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Although being given credible evidence, including witnesses, Downer has arrogantly dismissed David Hicks’ claim that he was sexually abused by US personnel at Guantánamo Bay. This despite the indisputable fact that sexual abuse is part of the US military program of interrogation and torture.

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