(AA) ++ AAWR 216

esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Fri, 13 Sep 1996 00:37:16 +0200

Anarchist Age Weekly Review

Number 216

9th - 15th September, 1996

Remember how John Howard and Paul Keating walking cap in hand to the
Padrone's lair before the Federal election. Remember how they squirmed when
they were asked what deals they had cut with the media moguls. Remember how
John Howard swore that the Liberal National Party would call a media inquiry
to look at the question of media ownership and the current cross media laws.
Remember his earnest manner and his great humility as he promised each and
every one of us that he would tackle the issue of media ownership by calling
a public inquiry.

Well it looks like Johnny Howard and his ministers have got cold feet. It
looks like the media Padrone's have finally talked some sense into Johnny
Howard's ear. The Prime Minister and his cabinet have decided it's not in
the governments best interest to lift the lid on the media and cross media
Pandora's box. In their wisdom they've decided there's nothing to be gained
by upsetting the media Padrone's. So instead of holding a public inquiry
into media and cross media ownerships the governments are going to produce a
green paper on the question. That's right, one of those pathetic government
green papers. The major difference between a public inquiry and a green
paper is the participation of the public in an inquiry and the active
exclusion of the public in a green paper.

People are able to make submissions to a government inquiry, they can't make
submissions to a government appointed group that produces a government green
paper. An open inquiry has been turned into a closed shop. It's incredible
what thin skins Australia's media moguls have. They love dishing it out but
they run to ground when the public spotlight is about to be turned onto
their activities.

For far too long Australians have been saying that media ownership is
concentrated in too few hands. Proposed changes to Australia's cross
ownership media laws will ensure that two or three individuals will control
over 95% of the media in this country. As the media sets the political and
social agenda and governments are frightened of the media. The scene is set
for more media driven hysteria. Considering the concentration of media
ownership in this country, it's no surprise to anyone that the coalition
government has decided to scrap their proposed media inquiry. If you're the
anointed one you wouldn't want to upset the Padrone's would you? If there's
one thing you can say about this government it has no qualms about kicking,
scratching, biting and gouging those sections of the community that can't
defend themselves but it hasn't the stomach to face up to those sections of
the community that wield real power in this country. The current coalition
government is little more than a classical bully. Its decision not to hold
a media inquiry highlights a classical flaw in its essential character.

Mr. Ben Alterman a prisoner at Loddon Prison Castlemaine has entered the
second week of a hunger strike. Mr. Alterman commenced his hunger strike on
the 30th of August 1996 because Loddon prison authorities denied him access
to the July issue of the Anarchist Media Institute Monthly Obscenity Award
and subsequently removed the March, April, May and June Anarchist Media
Institute Obscenity Awards from his cell because "the good order and the
management of the prison could be compromised by him receiving these awards".

Considering that Mr. Alterman first made contact with the Anarchist Media
Institute as a consequence of material that is freely available in the
Pentridge Prison library and considering the satirical political nature of
these awards it's astounding to think that the Loddon Prison authorities
have refused him access to further awards and have removed the previous
awards from the walls of his cell at Loddon Prison.

The Loddon Prison authorities have not only denied him access to these
posters they have also REFUSED to provide him with the necessary forms so
that Mr. Alterman could lodge a complaint about their actions with the
OMBUDSMAN. The behaviour that is being exhibited by the Loddon Prison
authorities is the type of behaviour that people expect from the Indonesian
military dictatorships and Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

To deny prisoners access to political material especially satirical
political comment is political censorship of the worst kind. To deny Mr.
Alterman access to forms that would allow him to make a complaint about the
prison authorities actions is to deny Mr. Alterman what few legal rights he
has in prison.

Mr. Alterman commenced his hunger strike because he strongly believes that
the political censorship that the Loddon Prison authorities are practising
needs to be challenged. As he is being denied access to material that would
allow him to challenge the prison authorities decision he has no other
option but to go on hunger strike until he receives the political material
that he is now being denied.

We encourage Anarchist Age Weekly Review readers to drop Ben a line. It's
important that Ben has continued contact with people outside the prison
system during his hunger strike. Mr. Ben Alterman, Loddon Prison, Locked
Bag 3, Castlemaine 3450, Victoria. Australia.

The Federal Government's plans to stop funding Dental Services will help to
lift porridge sales across the nation. The four hundred million dollars
that has being slashed from the countries dental services will have a
devastating effect on the lives of tens possibly hundreds of thousands of
Australians. The Coalition government does not seem to realise or does not
care that dental services will now be beyond the reach of a significant
minority of Australians.

You only have to experience one bout of toothache or an abscess to realise
how important dental care is. Government members believe that dental care
is a luxury and should only be available to those who can afford private
care. They don't seem to realise the devastating impact dental care caries
and infection can have on an individual and their family. To wind up the
Commonwealth dental programme because "dental care is a State matter" is
little short of criminal.

Access to basic health care includes access to dental care. Why should
people be denied dental care if they don't have the necessary funds to buy
that care. It seems incredible that in this day and age when millions of
dollars of the public health budget are used to promote oral hygiene that
the government both at a State and Federal level is not willing to provide
access to basic dental care. The governments policies are bound to rebound
on itself. Waiting lists at some public dental hospitals will be stretched
to ten years for urgent cases. The coalitions attempts to slash 400 million
dollars from the dental budget will eventually increase the medicare budget.
The illusory savings that have been made by slashing the dental health
budget will be eaten up by the increased human and medical costs that will
occur because of people's lack of access to basic dental services.

Next time you've got a toothache or a dental abscess and you are not able to
gain access to dental services, go down to your local coalition members
parliamentary office, I'm sure once their office is full of people who are
moaning and groaning because they need urgent dental care, they will get the
message quick smart.

If there was a prize for insensitivity it would be won by the Victorian
State Treasurer Alan Stockdale. On the very day that newspaper front pages
and the air waves were full of pictures and sounds of people who could not
even access the most basic health care services, the State Treasurer stated
that the hospital dramas that were being played out before the public eye
were nothing more than a ploy to remove funds from his precious budget. As
far as he was concerned this is the type of behaviour that a Treasurer
expects from doctors and nurses before the delivery of the budget. As I
said before if there was a prize for public insensitivity Alan Stockdale
would be a leading contender for such an honour.

The countless personal dramas that plague the Victorian Health Care Network
are a direct consequence of State government policies. You can't tear out
the heart of the public health care system and expect workers to provide the
same efficient service. You can't expect to pour tens of millions of
taxpayers dollars into Grand Prix's, Domain Tunnels and countless other
private projects and not experience public deterioration in health,
community welfare and the education sector's.

In a few days time we're going to witness Federal parliamentarians
'exercise' their conscience by voting on a private members anti-euthanasia
bill. This little exercise will get people asking themselves are
politicians representatives of the people or are they independent agents
that can vote whichever way they like? We live in a country whose
constitution is based on parliamentary principles. Although Australians are
forced by law to vote for some politician, they don't have any power to
force a political candidate to vote in a particular fashion.

Representative democracy is a particularly pathetic form of democracy. Any
elected politician can vote anyway they like irrespective of the promises
they have made and irrespective of the views of the people they supposedly
represent. Senator Coulston's defection from the Labor Party and the so
called parliamentary conscience vote that Australians are about to witness
highlights the fact that politicians are not accountable to those people who
elect them into office.

Their total lack of accountability to their electorate is highlighted every
time they break an election promise and every time they exercise a
conscience vote without trying to find out what their electorate thinks.

The United Nations refusal to topple the Hussein military dictatorship
during the Gulf War in 1991 has resulted in the death of over 500,000
children in Iraq over the past five years. Not our figures, United Nations
and London School of Economics figures. As the United Nations forces
streamed towards Baghdad and as the Iraqi forces crumbled before the 1991
onslaught, the United States government was concerned that if Saddam
Husseins government was overthrown, the region would be destabilised and
there was no guarantee about what type of government would spring up in its

In its wisdom the United Nations decided to apply sanctions to Iraq. These
sanctions have now been in place for over five years. The major casualties
of these sanctions have been the children of Iraqi's who are not members of
the Iraqi military dictatorship. The Republican guards and Saddam's
military supporters want for nothing, the ordinary Iraqi people are denied
access to the most basic commodities. Although sanctions have isolated the
Iraqi regime, they have not loosened its grip on military and political power.

If the United Nations and the United States are serious about destroying the
Iraqi military dictatorship, they should provide more direct military
support to those elements within Iraqi society that want to topple the
military butcher. To continue economic sanctions without providing military
support will only increase the power of the Iraqi military dictatorship.
The current events in Iraq highlight the danger of pursuing policies that
strengthen the hand of the Iraqi dictatorship and which weaken the resolve
of those Iraqi's who want to rid themselves of Saddam Hussein and his
military goons.

Q. What do anarchists think about Euthanasia?
A. Anarchists are the first to acknowledge that an individual has the right
to end their own life in a dignified manner. They are also the first to
acknowledge that it's dangerous giving the State power to determine how
someone can end their own life and who can and who can't end their own life.
The current euthanasia debate raises questions about the degree of pressure
relatives, the community and the State can place on an individual to end
their own life.

Euthanasia is essentially an individual decision. Each person should have
the right to end their life. The euthanasia debate should not be a debate
about whether an individual should end their life but a debate about how
they can carry out their wishes. Most States have legislation on their
books that prevents other people from assisting somebody to end their life,
few have laws that make it a criminal offence for an individual to take
their own life.

Most of the legislation that's in place today is there to protect
individuals from having their life taken by somebody else. It doesn't take
much imagination to realise that the State, relatives, friends and the
community can pressure an individual to end their life. As anarchists we
oppose any coercion being used to force someone to make a decision about
euthanasia. We also appose any laws which give the State power to prevent
someone from seeking assistance to end their own life.

The key to euthanasia lies in an individual having the right to ask someone
to assist them. What's the point of ending your own life in pain, without
any dignity and without the company of those you love most in life. Most
anarchists accept the idea that individuals can ask for assistance to end
their own life. Most are concerned about the potential power the State has
to coerce individuals and groups to look at euthanasia as a solution to
community problems.

Parameters and structures need to be set that give people choice and that do
not coerce them to make a decision that they do not really want to make.
Parameters also need to be set that make the process open to public scrutiny
and that protect individuals who assist relatives, friends and colleagues to
end their own life in a dignified and painless manner.

The Australian Anarchist Congress that is being held in Melbourne this
weekend to organise a federation of occupation based anarchist unions has
the potential to be a watershed in Australian Anarchist activity. We find
ourselves at a period in Australian history where the slate is about to be
wiped clean. The current debate about the proposed new Industrial Relations
Legislation and the very real possibility that new industrial relations laws
are about to govern relationships between employers and employees has opened
up a window of opportunity that anarchist activists have not had since the
beginning of the 20th century.

Every time the slate is wiped clean, activists have the opportunity of
making their mark on society. Whether we are able to make a mark or not
depends on our ability to organise an effective challenge to the new
emerging order. The SEIZE THE MOMENT ANARCHIST Congress provides an
opportunity for Congress participants and non-participants to become
involved in occupation based unions that have the potential of acting as
seeds for a new society. These anarchist occupation based unions would
include wage earners, self-employed, unemployed, students and retirees in a
particular occupation. Each union would be able to federate with other
occupation based anarchist unions. Each occupation based anarchist union
would attempt to set up a series of local unions across the continent.

Most anarchists we have approached support the concept of occupation based
anarchist unions, many have doubts about the viability of such unions. The
Congress on the weekend has been organised by the Libertarian Workers for a
Self-Managed Society/Anarchist Media Institute to debate these questions.
There is enough interest in the idea, members of the congress will attempt
to form a number of occupation based anarchist unions. Even if only a few
occupation based anarchist unions are formed, a precedent has been set for
the formation of other such unions.

Whether we succeed in seizing the moment or not depends to a large degree on
other people seizing the moment with us. We encourage all our readers and
supporters to make contact with any of the occupation based anarchist unions
that they are interested in. We encourage them to form local branches in
their community. We are on the threshold of a new age each and every one of
us has the potential to seize the moment and make our mark in the struggle
to create an egalitarian society.


To Arms!

Capitalists, Parsons, Politicians, Landlords, Newspaper Editors and Other
Stay-At-Home Patriots.

your country needs
in the trenches!!

Follow your Masters

Tom Barker a prominent Sydney I.W.W. activist was charged with publishing a
poster that was "prejudicial to recruiting" in 1916. The Industrial Workers
of the World (I.W.W.) were prominent in the anti-conscription struggle which
raged during the First World War. Australians rejected conscription in two
separate referendums during this period.

Barker was convicted of publishing material that was "prejudicial to
recruiting" and was sentenced to six months jail. His conviction was
squashed on appeal, but the Australian government finally jailed him on
another charge and deported him to Chile. Early Australian History is rich
with examples of working people who were hounded and jailed for trying to
create an egalitarian society on this continent.

That beacon on the hill, The Herald-Sun the most read little rag in
Australia (over 800,000 copies sold daily) spoiled its copy book last week.
A newspaper that has consistently made the gutter press look respectable has
sunk to its lowest level yet. The Herald-Sun published the picture of a
dead baby on its front cover, but pretended that the picture was taken while
the child was alive. The Herald-Sun staff took a picture of a baby in a
coffin cropped it closely to remove the coffin and published it on its front
page as a live baby.

To compound matters they also published the picture of a young naked girl in
a squat (about 18 months old) in the inside pages, named the little girl and
said she was the sister of the girl on the front cover. They failed to
mention that the baby on the front page had died 7 years ago and the picture
of her sisters was taken 12 years ago. The little girl is now a thirteen
year old teenager. When she saw herself in the Herald-Sun and saw the
picture of her baby sister on the front page she broke down and is now
undergoing psychological treatment.

The deceit inherent in the publication of these pictures and the lack lustre
apology and public acknowledgment of this atrocious example of gutter
journalism highlights the utter bankruptcy of the corporate media. You can
imagine the gold medal performance the Herald-Sun would have executed if the
Anarchist Age Monthly review deliberately published a picture of a dead baby
on its cover. When we cast back our minds a few months, we all remember the
Herald-Sun performance when the La Trobe University student Newspaper
Rabelais published an article on shop lifting. While the editors of
Rabelais await trial for their words of wisdom, the Herald-Sun continues
adnauseum to publish its tripe.

Joseph Toscano/Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society.
HUNGER STRIKE DECLARATION, Ben Alterman, Locked Bag 3, Castlemaine 3450,
Victoria, Australia.

Tweed Eco-Village Project, Newsletter, PO Box 1490, Murwillumbah 2484, New
South Wales, Australia.

Legal News Vol 6 No.12 - Vol 7 No.5, Issn 1075-7678, PO Box 1684, Lake Worth
TC, 33460 United States.
An Australian Anarchist Congress to organise a Federation of Occupation
Based Anarchist Unions

Saturday 14th September 1996
OPENING ADDRESS: 1.45pm - Joseph Toscano Libertarian Workers for a
Self-Managed Society/Anarchist Media Institute
CLOSE: 5.30pm
Sunday 15th September
CLOSE: 5.30pm
Ross House, Hayden Raysmith Front Meeting Room, 4th Floor, 247 Flinders
Lane, Melbourne 3000


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You too can have a copy of the August 1996 Anarchist Media Institute
Obscenity Award won by The Federal Treasurer Peter Costello "The World's
second greatest Treasurer for filling the coalition's mythical ten billion
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Goes to the Herald-Sun newspaper for trying to pass off the picture of a
dead baby on its front cover as the picture of a live baby.