The Guardian 4 May, 2005

Dingo bytes

The private sector always crows that profits-first business can deliver services and goods more efficiently than the public sector. But governments always subsidise business with taxpayers’ money in tax breaks and government funding in various forms. Its called corporate welfare. So it is with the private companies running bus services in Sydney’s west. Ministry of Transport documents reveal that bus operators tendering for the services want contracts that provide a guaranteed profit of 113 percent above running costs. Three operators have already been given contracts worth more than $1 billion in total. "These three operators … now have funding certainty", said Transport Minister John Watkins proudly.

The racism that came along with the establishment of the colonial occupation of Australia and the rule by profit hungry capitalism, continues into 2005. It makes headlines when the victim is a high profile individual, as was the case last week when Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman was forced to pay a 50-year-old debt, amounting to $990 in today’s currency, incurred by the then Queensland Protector of Aborigines for the burial of her great-grandmother in 1950. The family was hit with the bill when organising the funeral of Freeman’s niece who was to be buried with the great-grandmother. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said he has "asked for a report" on the incident. Apparently no such report was required when Beattie ordered a taxpayer-funded state funeral for the despot who ruled Queensland via a gerrymander in the 1970s and ’80s — Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

A glimpse into what’s in store for us here in Australia if the Howard Government gets away with privatising our health system could be seen in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald last week (April 25). Herald journalist Mark Coultan had been living in the USA for two weeks when his wife broke her wrist, a break requiring an operation. Orthopaedic specialist — $US480; primary care physician appointment — $450; surgeon’s fee for the operation — more than $8000; hospital fees — $9443; follow up visits to the orthopaedic surgeon — $300 a pop. Coultan also noted that to start children in an American school requires them having a medical examination — $300.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is Rocla Quarry Products, owner of the last major sand dune at Kurnell, near Cook’s landing site. After the Carr Government knocked back the company’s application to mine sand under the dune (even Bob Carr is aware of the public sensitivity toward the area) Rocla Quarry arrogantly stated that it will remove all the sand anyway and use it for concrete. Apart from destroying one of the few remaining dunes in the area, mining the site would destroy a ground water aquifer and put at risk the ecosystems of a nearby nature reserve.

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