The Guardian 2 November, 2005

Dingo bytes

The militarisation of Australia continues apace. Last week it was Liberal MP Dana Vale calling for a theme park version of Gallipoli on the Victorian coastline. And the Howard Government itself is appointing high ranking military officers to senior departmental posts. Colonel Angus Campbell, a serving military officer, is set to take up a position as First Assistant Secretary in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's national security division. He joins former special forces commander, Major-General Duncan Lewis, who was made Deputy Secretary in Charge of the Department's counter-terrorism strategy. Of course, we mustn't forget the Governor General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, also a personal appointee of Howard's.

The Indonesian military's special forces unit Kopassus, infamous for its human rights abuses in Indonesia, East Timor and West Papua, is linking up with Australia's SAS special forces for training and exercises. This is to happen under the guise of anti-terrorism but it is a clear indication that the planned use of the likes of the SAS is to crush dissent and opposition to government policies and actions. That is a speciality of Kopassus. No doubt the SAS will pick up some handy hints on mass murder and oppression. Kopassus troops are scheduled to fly to the SAS's base near Perth next April for bloodletting and torture practice.

If anyone was duped over Government claims that the price of telecommunications in the bush wouldn't increase after Telstra's privatisation then they will be set straight after Telstra management's threat to increase charges to rural users last week. Telstra chairman Donald McGauchie, who was one of the conspirators behind the attack on the Maritime Union and is a close mate of John Howard, has announced that competition in urban areas will make Telstra lose services and profits, hence increased charges in regional Australia are a must.

The Australian National Audit Office is investigating breaches of the constitution in more than 12 federal government departments. The departments have allowed unauthorised officials to sign funding agreements, illegally taking more than $1 billion of taxpayer funds. A cover up was attempted by the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration last June when he retrospectively validated agreements. This is only the tip of the iceberg under this most secretive and corrupt government. The Finance Minister Nick Minchin tried some of his own covering up, saying there "is absolutely no suggestion of impropriety". What a hoot.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is infamous axe man Max Moore-Wilton. The former head of the Prime Minister's office was rewarded for his scorched earth approach to the public service by being appointed chief executive of the privatised Sydney Airports Corporation. Now Max the Axe has tied up a deal with Macquarie Bank next year to run the bank's airport assets in Brussels, Rome and Britain after his contract at Sydney Airports expires. Macquarie Bank is the biggest shareholder in the Sydney Airports Corporation.

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