The Guardian 21 February, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Why is the US military here?

As the National Coordinator of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition for nearly 20 years, I can say that I have rather extensive knowledge of anti-US bases struggles in this country. Over 20 years ago, in the early ’80s Peter Garrett read a statement against US bases at the gates of Pine Gap. Since that time Peter (sadly for us) has concentrated on environmental and social justice issues. Peter’s statement on US bases a few days ago is not a surprise to us (we would have appreciated his support) as his focus has been elsewhere. In other words Peter Garrett’s opposition to US bases here is one of perception not reality.

Whether Australia should have US bases on its soil is not about Peter Garrett but about the reasons and role of such bases in Australia. The new base at Geraldton brings to 40 and rising, the number of US military bases in our country. We should be discussing why is the US military here? Do they for example facilitate "extraordinary rendition" from those bases? Australians will never know as both of sides of politics intones the magic phrase "national security reasons" which means we do not have to tell anybody anything.

We wonder if Australians wish to have our territory used to spy on our neighbours, our territory used as a staging post for aggression against people in the Middle East, our territory to be used as a training ground to have our soldiers take US orders. Will these bases become nuclear and terrorist attack targets and get Australians in the crossfire? These are just some of the issues that should be discussed as our government negotiates in secret turning over our territory for the use of the greatest polluter on the planet, namely the US military.

Denis Doherty
Sydney, NSW

Water our precious resource

I was pleased to read your article in reference to Howard’s con-job. He is even conning some of our Labor State MP’s, on the issue of National control of our valuable resource — WATER! Howard asserts that the state’s policies and authority to deal with the issues of water are better centralised than decentralised!

It is incidental that the states are all governed by Labor premiers, some of whom unfortunately appear to support Howard’s push towards National control. How easy would it be for one national corporation to dominate future investment of our precious resource. It’s our river it meanders North, South, East and West? It’s a medley, a piece of land, something each state is pleased to be apart of. I am pleased that The Guardian provides journalism to support citizens of Australia to form an analysis on the subject of Water and local heritage.

Since the time of the Australian Colonies government Act of 1850, Labor leaders and the Union movements were known to have been suspicious of Federal control of state issues: The reasons being:

  • State colonies favoured decentralised power away from the authority of international rule (British).

  • Self government within states promoted democracy.

  • Dispersed power to independent states enabled individual styles and supported mutual interest for regional concerns and interests.

  • The labour leaders could perceive that Federalism had a middle class enthusiasm to secure capitalistic aims, that can be incompatible to the practical requirements of individual states (colonies).

  • Historically it has been documented that by 1900 each state (colony) had a vigorous local political life and felt independent from international rule.

  • Two of the main issues for Federalism were to secure the defence force and promote economic advantage.

    For all of the above reasons I can’t help but form a parallel between the suspicions held by the unions and working class towards Federalism of 1900 and today’s trend in 2006 to nationalise precious resources and fraternise with global investors.

    Jasmine F Spence
    South Australia

    Climate change and Bob Brown

    There are trillions of tons of methane locked in the Artic permafrost, a massive bog frozen for millennia. Now buildings are falling as it melts and releases this deadly greenhouse gas.

    Methane is a lethal planet-warmer, far worse than carbon dioxide. Burning of fossil fuels has almost produced an irreversible feedback loop, with more Artic melting, more methane, more warming, more melting, and then spiralling into uncharted territory. Katrina was a disaster. We haven’t seen anything yet! We’re staring into the face of extinction.

    Yet the coal industry puppets we call politicians scream about Bob Brown "Losing the plot". Excuse me, he’s the only one that hasn’t. The other mad mob reject vital growth of wind and solar because it doesn’t fatten the usual suspects. And jobs? Give me a break. The same clowns have exported thousands of them, and bank on Aussies being too stupid to know huge investment in renewables will create all the clean, safe employment we need.

    Mrs Kim Bax
    Cedar Vale, Qld

    Righteous Jews

    I think it is important that there has been some discussion in the media about the Israel/Palestine debate that has been occurring in the Jewish community.

    Just as there were Righteous Gentiles during World War II who risked their lives to save Jews (and other targeted groups such as the political left, gypsies and the German trade union movement) from the Nazi holocaust, so too there are Righteous Jews who know that modern Israel stands on Palestinian land which was taken by the action of terrorist Zionist gangs.

    They also know that Israel’s leaders are not truly committed to a lasting peace plan in the Middle East.

    Jewish people in this category include Albert Einstein, Noam Chomsky and Tania Reinhardt. Professor Reinhardt, a Jewish Israeli citizen has written key books about Israel and Palestine. Last year, while on a speaking tour in Australia she told audiences of her plans to leave Israel even though she was born there.

    Her reason, she said was because she could no longer live in a criminal "state".

    The world needs courageous people, Jewish and Gentile who are prepared to speak out about injustice and crimes against humanity without fear or favour.

    Andrew (Andy) Alcock
    Forestville, SA

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