The Guardian 7 December, 2005

Dingo bytes

The Howard Government’s $220 million package to preserve fish stocks in Australian waters has behind it the Government’s free market mantra. The Government is buying back 600 of the 3,000 commercial fishing licences and also reducing the size of the catch of some species. Sounds like a sensible preservation measure at first glance. Local operators are warning that consumers will face higher prices for fresh fish and increased levels of imports. Part of the PR for the cuts is the proposal that Australian fish farms will increase production to fill the gap. But the cost of running agricultural farms here is extremely expensive, much more so than in other countries. Thus the overseas market will win out every time. In other words, the Government is supporting imported fish instead of Australian catches.

The disgraceful state of the NSW prison system was highlighted by the death of Scott Simpson in May last year. Simpson hanged himself in his cell at Long Bay Prison after prison officers cancelled his appointment with a psychiatrist. A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, he had spent 26 months in solitary confinement, locked up for 23 hours a day. "It’s an absolute disgrace", Dr Robert Lewin, a forensic psychiatrist with 20 years experience, told the Coroner’s Court last week. "I regard solitary confinement as fundamentally inappropriate for someone as disturbed as this man was. It is grossly inhumane."

The Northern Land Council has rejected reports it is backing a nuclear waste dump for the Northern Territory (NT). Media reports had stated the Council was supportive of the proposal, which is being pushed by the Howard Government but has been rejected by the NT Government. Federal Parliament has passed laws over-riding any NT legislation banning a dump. Three preferred sites — two in the south of the NT and one near Katherine — have been identified by the Howard Government. Traditional owners have rejected any dump on their land. "We are certainly not backing any dump — our position remains unchanged", said a statement from the Council. So, someone’s spreading rumours. I wonder who?

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) which has launched a major PR operation in defence of the Howard Government’s union busting agenda. The ACCI bases its argument on lies, of course. How could it not. It claims that destroying people’s rights at work will make productivity increase and so make everyone better off, increasing employment and curbing poverty. The ACCI puts forward the endorsement of the industrial relations changes by such pro-worker organisations as the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Productivity Commission and the Department of Treasury.

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