(no subject)

esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Wed, 24 Apr 1996 05:14:06 +0200


DEATHS AT KEW COTTAGES -
AN INDICATION OF THINGS TO
COME?

Social justice comes at a cost. It comes at a cost to profitability. The
deaths of nine men at Kew Cottages in Melboume is just the tip of the
iceberg. All across Australia, social justice is becoming a thing of the
past. What little social justice that existed is being eroded by a wave of
economic irrationalism. All across the country those with the greatest need
are being asked to make the greatest sacrifices. It's no accident that nine
severely disabled men died in the fire that engulfed two units at Kew Cottages.
As the Victorian govemment continues to support projects and policies that
support the rich, what little support those who were not able to look after
themselves have, has been whittled away. The very young, the unemployed, the
poor and the disabled are having what few services they have privatised. No
one is immune from the brutality that passes as government policy. For every
dollar that goes into projects that support the Kennett regimes business
associates two dollars are taken away from those people who need support.
It's no accident that people are not able to find hospital beds and that
patients with acute medical problems have to wait days in accident and
emergency departments until a public bed becomes available. It's no accident
that teachers are asked to teach ever increasing numbers of pupils. It's no
accident there aren't enough ambulances available. It's all a case of
profitability. If you create the circumstances that allow the private sector
to maximise its prorlts, what few community services that are available to a
community tend to run down and eventually disa@pear.
In 1995 the residents of Kew Cottages were hungry, because the government
wanted to save money. In 1995 the government was told that services were
substandard and there were not enough attendants to look after the needs of
the residents. Even though nine men have died in pitiful circumstances, the
State con@inues to shrug off any responsibility for the tragedy. Each and
every member of the Kennett regime is responsible for each and every death
at Kew Cottages. They are responsible for those people who have died waiting
for an ambulance. They are responsible for those people waiting for a
hospital bed and they are responsible for the increasing levels of pain and
suffering which characterise post-modern Victoria.
The deaths at Kew Cottages are just another manifestation of a society and
government that values private profitability above all else. These deaths
are an indication of what will happen if people continue to be bedazzled by
circuses. Next time you see a politician or a government bureaucrat, don't
let them get away. Tell them "Remember Kew Cottages". If we forget this
tragedy, the State will continue to govern in the interests of those with
power. Remember to remind the garbage that wields political and economic
power in this State and this country that we hold them personally
responsible for all the human tragedies that have occurred as a result of
their implementation of economic policies that increase the profits of
corporate Australia at the expense of the great bulk of the Australian
community.

WE'RE ALL EOUAL BEFORE THE LAW?

Australian society is based on a number of transparent myths. The myth that
we are all equal before the law is one of those enduring fairy tales that
needs to be squashed once and for all. It's all very well to say potentially
we are all equal before the law. That anyone has the right to take their
grievance to the courts. The reality is a little different. Anyone who has
had any experience with the law will realise that unless you have the funds
to pursue a case, your chances of getting justice in court is very minimal
indeed.
Anyone who has taken a case to the courts soon realises that access to
justice is non-existent. How many times has somebody with access to
unlimited funds been able tO escape justice? How many times has somebody
with funds been able to keep appealing a case. The courts resemble a poker
game if you have the necessary money you can "up your bet" and appeal to the
next level of the justice system. If you don't have the necessary funds you
lose the hand.
Justice is skewed towards those with money. If you have the necessary line
of credit you can have your day in court. If you can't afford the cost, you
may as well not bother getting on the legal merry goaround. Even if you have
truth on your side, the chances that you will receive justice through the
legal system are very remote indeed. So next time somebody tells you you've
got a good case you should take it to court, let them know what you think
about the myth that all Australians have access to justice through the legal
system.

BASH'EM ALL

The wholesale changes to ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission) that the Federal Government wants to push through the Senate,
highlights the bash'em all mentality that pervades the coalitions attitude
to Indigenous Affairs in this country. There's no doubt that some employees
of indigenous organisations have been fiddling the till. At the same time
there's no doubt that the great majority of indigenous organisations do the
best they can with what little they have.
Any hierarchical organisation whether it's indigenous or non-indigenous has
its fair share of crooks on its books. The wholesale robbery that
characterised corporate life in this country in the 1980's did not lead to
any radical government overhaul of corporate structures in this country.
Those dishonest corporate players that were eventually cornered, have been
charged and are awaiting their day in court. It's one thing stamping out
fraudulent and dishonest practices in an organisation, it's another thing
blarning everyone for these dishonest practices.
The overkill that has characterised the Coalition's response to indigenous
affairs has buried what little goodwill that existed between indigenous and
nonindigenous Australians. Instead of supporting and strengthening those
indigenous organisations that are providing a service to their communities
the government has decided to indulge in a little bit of collective punishment.
In one swoop the Coalition has bundled both corrupt and honest indi@enous
organisations into the same basket. We now have the honest indigenous
organisations coming out and protecting dishonest individuals and groups
because they see the Coalition's attack as @n attack on all indigenous
people in this country. Collective punishment has never worked and will
never work because it forces eople to protect people they don't upport.
Instead of waiting and then electively dealing with problems where roblems
arise, the Coalition has decided to treat all indigenous organisations as
orrupt. Its rapid fire change in policy ill come to haunt it in the very
near future.

TWO SMALL VICTORIES

Anarchists and anarchist sympathisers have had two small victories over the
past week. Shell 62 from Darwin has advised us that he has received an out
of Court settlement of $1000 plus costs as a result of a claim lodged for
compensation under the Northern Territory Crimes Act. The clam was in
connection with a head injury which required 7 stiches at Royal Darwin
Hospital. The injury was sustained by Shell 63 as a result of an alleged
assault with a torch by Constable Simon Freson of the Northern Territory
Police in Knuckey St. Darwin on the 28th January 1994.
Ben Alterman from Loddon prison in Victoria is having his complaints about
having his mail withheld from him as well as his complaints about
intimidation investigated by the prisons (internal) investigation unit. They
have been instructed by the Victorian State Ombudsman and the Director of
Victorian prisons to investigate Mr. Altermans complaints. Although it's
pleasing to see some action taken in this issue, it's important to remember
that the investigation is being carried out by the Office of Corrections. lt
will @e interesting to see the Victorian Ombudsman's response to this
investigation.
It's important for political activists to let the State know that they are
not easy marks. Both Shell 63 and 13en Alterman have demonstrated that gains
can be made if you have the courage to stand up and fight.

GROWING IT IN THE BACKYARD!

There is a debate down here in Victoria about what to do about drugs. The
Pennington drug commission has come to the conclusion that the use and
growing of marijuana for personal use should be decriminalised. It has also
adopted the proposal that sees drug addiction as a medical not a legal
problem. All in all the Pennin@ton commission has come up with a number of
sensible proposals on how to break the stranglehold that drugs can have on
people and society.
The Kennett regime is now faced with a major dilemma. How do they deal with
the recommendations that have been made by a commission they hand picked
themselves? Do, they ignore the commissions findings and continue to
implement their discredited drug enforcement policy or do they attempt to
break the monopoly local and overseas criminal elements have on the drug
trade. In a particularly cynical manoeuvre Premier Kennett has given
individual MP's a conscience vote on this matter.
It will be interesting to see how many of the Pennington's commission
recommendations will be incorporated in the bill that will be debated by the
Victorian parliament at the end of May. The Premier has allowed the
coalition politicians a conscience vote because there is little if any
support for the decriminalisation of marijuana amongst the current batch of
coalition politicians. Irrespective of how they vote, the reality is that
drug addiction will continue to be a major problem as long as laws are used
to criminalise a significant proportion of the population. Even if marijuana
is decriminalised (and I don't believe it will be decriminalised) in
Victoria, the community will face a major drug problem because the
Pennington commission still believes a legal distinction should be made
between different types of drug users. As long as society uses a legal model
to tackle a social problem the legacy of addiction will continue to be a
major community problem in Australia.

ISRAEL'S INVASION OF LEBANON
ACHIEVES NOTHlNG

Israel's foray into Lebanon has become an exercise in double speak. As the
Israeli military forces over half a million Lebanese from their homes, it as
not only made the Izbollah guerillas local heroes.
It has also damaged what little chance that Israel had of making peace
with its neighbours. The Israeli State has embarked on a military campaign
that will turn over 25% of Lebanon into a virtual free fire zone.
Those civilians who have not fled the Israeli free fire zone are now being
hunted down and shot by the Israeli armed forces. The Israeli government and
many Israelis still don't seem to understand that the countries borders will
never be secure while they continue to occupy Southern Lebanon. In a cynical
little exercise designed more for local Israeli political consumption than
for the desire to secure its border with Lebanon the Israeli govemment has
embarked on one of the most significant terror campaigns of the decade.
Imagine the outcry if Lebanon invaded Israel and bombed Tel Aviv or
Jerusalem because it felt its territorial integrity was in jeopardy.
The current invasion of Lebanon will only strengthen the hands of those
militants on both sides who use religion and nationalism as their calling
card. Unfortunately millions of others will suffer because of these
religious and nationalist bigots.

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