The Guardian 18 May, 2005

Dingo bytes

Vivian Young was deported to the Philippines as an illegal asylum seeker by immigration authorities four years ago, leaving behind two sons who are now 9 and 17. Vivian Young is not an asylum seeker but a mentally ill person, as is Cornelia Rau, who was locked up in an immigration detention centre for four months. They were not, as the News Ltd press keeps insisting, “wrongly deported” or “wrongly detained”. They are the victims of a system of mandatory detention, a vicious, fascistic system: all who are caught up in its net are wronged in violation of international law. At the same time, to one degree or another asylum seekers who have been locked up — including children, some of whom have been born in detention centres — are suffering mental illness because of their incarceration.

Remember John Howard’s promise that “no worker will be worse off” under his government? Of all his electioneering claims, this was the one that was most blatantly a lie. The introduction of laws to smash the trade unions is the highest profile move by the government, but everything Howard has overseen hits working people: the inequitable tax restructure; the undermining and intended destruction of the public health system; wholesale privatisation … the list goes on. And Howard always has an escape clause in his promises. The escape clause for “no worker worse off”? Here he is last week — “I don’t think I’ve ever said I can guarantee people’s wage levels.”

Glaring inequality in Australia under capitalism is now becoming blatant instead of hidden. The commercial mass media does what it can to cover up the poverty, unemployment and general crisis of the system, but the situation is such that it’s becoming difficult even for those spinners of lies and false hopes. A piece in the Daily Telegraph this week, for instance, trumpets that the class war is over. That’s desperation. Meanwhile, in the tiny Central American nation of Belize, a Cuban medical brigade has cared for more than 1,257,000 patients in the poverty stricken country during the last five years. In fact, socialist Cuba has sent medical teams to various parts of the world over many years in acts of solidarity, even as Cuba itself stands up to an economic blockade imposed by the USA for more than 40 years. Yet here in Australia we have the Howard government preparing to completely destroy Medicare. There is an alternative.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is the Truffle Group of restaurant owners who suspended without pay one their Centrepoint Tower workers in Sydney for daring to eat a brad roll before the start of his shift. Management has been bullying staff for some time with the aim of reducing their number. The worker committed suicide.

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