December 3rd 2005


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: HIGHER EDUCATION: Top university accused of elitism

EDITORIAL: Trade talks: smoke and mirrors

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Workplace changes set to change societal fabric

SCHOOLS: Vouchers for schools - giving parents choice

PRIMARY PRODUCTION: Advantages of single-desk for Australian wheat

SUGAR DEREGULATION: Beattie to abolish single selling-desk

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Working women and pensions / One hand washes another: European-style / Those were the days, my friend / The burning Bush

ABORTION PILL: Part of the disease, not part of the cure

OPINION: The difficult dilemma of Australia's Muslims

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Why North Korea got one more chance

CULTURE AND SOCIETY: Great Russian writers on the riddle of humanity

CINEMA: Three Australian films fall flat: The Proposition, Jewboy and Little Fish

BOOKS: The Lost Executioner: A Story of the Khmer Rouge, by Nic Dunlop

BOOKS: Victoria Cross: Australia's Finest and the Battles They Fought, by Anthony Staunton

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STRAWS IN THE WIND:
Working women and pensions / One hand washes another: European-style / Those were the days, my friend / The burning Bush


by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, December 3, 2005
Working women and pensions

Amidst the clamour of the war of claim and counter-claim as to who in the community should be further rewarded, who should be compensated, or further compensated (and this battle over the disposition of the social product is basically all that politics is about in Australia now) - amidst all this frequently contrived fury, there is one group which has not been saying very much.

So, naturally, it is not of interest to the media or to the politicians. This group consists of working women in their 50s.

Selina Mitchell has spoken up for them in The Australian (October 28, 2005), and she quotes from an admirable study of female health which is extending over 20 years and is involving 40,000 Australian women.

It turns out that nearly half of working women who are in their 50s will have to rely on a pension rather than upon savings or superannuation, when they retire.

According to this study, 60 per cent of women in their 50s are in the paid workforce. The implications for the future cost-impact on pensions are obvious, and governments should be preparing now.

But this group are a bit unique historically. They are less likely than were their mothers to have the financial support of a partner - because of their divorce rate - and they are less able than their daughters to build up superannuation.

These 50-and-over working women are staying at work longer because they cannot afford to leave; and when they do, it is either through ill health or because they have to care for another family member.

40 per cent of women in management or professional work expect to need a pension, as do 60 per cent of clerical workers and 70 per cent of manual workers.

Incidentally, almost three-quarters of women who were separated, divorced or widowed believe that they would need a pension.

At this stage, I think we should call for three cheers for that - one each for Lionel Murphy, Alan Missen and the Family Court's former Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson.

Oh - and a motion of congratulations to the 57 varieties of feminist organisations, divided on many things, but united in a near-visceral hatred of the family - nuclear or extended - and males.

And to complete the profile, the University of Newcastle's Dr Penny Warner-Smith, project manager of The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, found that "women in lower-status occupations and women without a partner are already in worse physical and mental health". Just great. Lionel strikes again.

To digress, here are figures I don't quite understand. In 2000, 37 per cent of older Australians were on a full pension; last year it was down to 31.2 per cent; while those on at least a part-time pension fell from 57.4 per cent in 2000 to 51.2 per cent last year.

Presumably, there are an increasing number with some super. I hope so.

While many of these women said they enjoyed working, it quite often involved high stress levels and long hours. So there is a big gap between when women wanted to retire and when they realistically thought they could.

I'll just add that this had been the lot of many, or most, men I've known all my life - and I expect down the ages.

Nevertheless, we and the government should be paying attention to this hitherto silent group who are in an increasingly vulnerable situation.

One hand washes another: European-style

The European Union has done it again. For the 11th year in a row, the European Court of Auditors has refused to approve the EU's accounts, saying that "the vast majority of the payment budget was again materially affected by errors of legality and irregularity".

(Incidentally, the Court of Auditors is the official watchdog for the EU's financial activities).

But note the damning phrase "the vast majority of the payment budget". (My emphasis).

There were major shortcomings in the EU's two biggest expenditure areas: farm subsidies and regional development. Farm subsidies are the biggest part of the budget, the most disputed over the years, and the most rorted.

But the auditors also refused to sign off on the budgets for foreign policy programs, aid programs and internal policies - especially the research program. Could anything be more damning?

But the European Commission said they found the findings "sad". Yes, I suppose that's one way of putting it. Like saying what happened at HIH Insurance was "sad". Yes, it was. Is that all?

The EU Commission has the job of getting the 25 member-states to agree next month to assent to a newly proposed budget of $US1 billion a year, extending over seven years.

Countries on the take will agree; but as for those running a tight ship themselves, why should they deliver their taxpayers to the slaughter, at the hands of crooks and bunglers, yet again?

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose turn it is to be the EU president (the post rotates every six months) said: "We have taken steps to bring future change in this ridiculous situation where the Court of Auditors qualifies the EU accounts every year."

A pious but faint hope, I'd say - like promises to clean up the UN administration or its rort-ridden agencies.

In reply, the British Conservative Party's spokesman on Europe, Graham Brady, said it was yet another illustration of the drift and incompetence at the heart of Tony Blair's EU presidency.

So, "the crisis in confidence in the use of the EU funds", as Brady describes it, extending for at least 11 years, is the fault of Tony Blair, who's halfway through a six-month term of presidency!

This is the level of the European Conservatives and the attitude of the European apparatchiki and parliamentarians.

The United States has come under almost identical attacks whenever, over the years, she has protested against particularly rank areas of waste and corruption at the UN, and threatened to withhold money from openly contaminated agencies. It is immediately said the US is "anti-UN" - and anyway her own Administration is a mess, no matter who is President.

Recurring failures

It's taken the Iraqi oil-for-food program, and the recurring failures of UN aid schemes and peace-keeping charades, to make most people start to give up on the UN. Similarly with Europe's citizens and taxpayers and their EU.

They are turning away in droves, and these endemic financial scandals are becoming the last straw.

As to Europe giving ground on agricultural subsidies, that is a lost cause, and Japanese and South Korean farmers are trying to make sure that their governments toe the protectionist line.

George W. Bush knew this would be the result, which is why he so generously offered concessions on agriculture by the US. Which his farming lobbies, acting through Congress, would reject if it ever became a real possibility.

Why our farmers are being forced to accept free trade and downsizing, when everyone else is refusing, I'll leave to your imaginations.

Globalisation will continue - without free trade.

So, that billion people living on a dollar a day are going to have to think of some other ways whereby to improve their lot.

Those were the days, my friend

As the latest re-writing of the History of the Whitlam Dismissal campaign peters to its close, an old friend who reads News Weekly reminded me of Sir David Smith's devastating article, "The 1975 Dismissal: Setting the Record Straight" (National Observer, No. 64, Autumn 2005). Everyone should read it.

He also showed me Tony Parkinson's article, "Maintain the rage? What of shame, Whitlam, shame?" (The Age, November 15, 2005).

Parkinson speaks of another anniversary - the day following the Dismissal, a day of which Gough Whitlam should be thoroughly and permanently ashamed, and about which Labor and the rest of us should keep calling "shame".

Of November 12, 1975, Parkinson writes: "This was the day Whitlam, ALP national secretary David Combe, and far-left Senate candidate Bill Hartley discussed and then agreed to make approaches to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, using the good offices of Henry Fischer, for a $US500,000 gift to help fund Labor's 1975 election campaign ...

"These three Labor insiders initiated a secret negotiation that might have left Australia's political system vulnerable to corruption by a foreign government ... And not just any foreign power. This was an invitation to a régime they knew to be despicable and despotic." (My emphasis).

Parkinson adds: "This was the first and last time an Australian political party had sought to solicit funds from an outside power."

I don't know that. How is Parkinson so sure?

The Communist Party of Australia was a political party, running candidates, campaigning in elections, with a membership which was, at one stage, quite considerable. It appears to have been in receipt of money from a foreign power for just about its whole long life - Moscow's gold, it used to be called.

The Marxist-Leninists who, under Ted Hill, broke away from the CPA, seem to have benefited from Beijing's generosity from day one, although we have been learning more recently of how much of the money dispersed by Beijing to help Western sympathisers was Russian-sourced.

I think it would be reasonable to say that the Australian far left have been taking money in a regular, organised way from foreign, hostile powers ever since 1917.

Routinely conspiring

And this culture of co-operating with Australia's enemies - as very often these foreign powers have been - has also been adopted by Labor left people who have maintained close, continuous and, we would assume, mutually beneficial relations with a variety of one-party states, many of them dictatorships or tyrannies and given almost routinely to conspiring against neighbours by a variety of means known since the days of Machiavelli.

The common quality which this wide variety of states possessed, besides money and perks, was their hatred of the West and its leading country, or countries.

In the past, the states supported by our dissident left had to say they were socialist or "left", but this is no longer required. They can be theocracies; they can practice execution of opponents, as well as of ordinary criminals; they can drive women out of public life and the economy and deny them an education; they can top up their income with massive drug cultivation and sale, and with money-laundering, etc; they can practise religious persecution.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall - not communism, which has not fallen - it is to those countries to which our traitors/idealists of the left have turned.

Continuous traffic of such well-wishers from Australia and most Western countries has been going on since the Revolution.

Their destinations are not holiday camps or branches of the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence - these countries expect a bang for their buck and support for their policies, which are against ours or against those of our friends. Nothing could be clearer.

The unusual thing about the 1975 Labor love-in with Saddam was that it was from the top.

Normally, the love-ins are with MPs with clout within their party - perhaps a factional leader or militant union agitator-generals, senior academic windbags or sky pilots*, who kiss hands, and boots, then return to home base and start changing policies within their area of influence.

Anyway, Parkinson can't see why we aren't commemorating that Day of Perfidy - November 12 - instead of the lifeless Dismissal beat-ups of the media.

* Old-fashioned term for "parson".

The burning Bush

George W. Bush has been making big waves in his Asia-Pacific journeyings, and our media are having a terrible job deciding how much to censor. So little of it fits their catechism - Bush the failure, Bush the idiot, Bush the weak - and the wicked.

He has been taking the fight right up to the Chinese, and prevailing.

When walking shoulder to shoulder with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Bush praised Taiwan and spoke of that country's progress from being a one-party, illiberal state to one where there is democracy, a multi-party system and the rule of law.

He would like to see China emulate her little neighbour's progression, for Beijing has a lot of work to do on human rights.

Among other things, this was a backhander to Beijing for its repeated attacks on Japan and on Koizumi for not saying "sorry" around the region and for their continuing to honour Japan's two-and-half million war dead.

Bush has suggested that what Japan did ended 60 years ago, whereas China continues to oppress her own people, Tibetans and various minority groups, not to mention Christians and Falun Gong.

China feebly protested, but there haven't been any more staged anti-Japanese riots, or verbal attacks on Koizumi.

Bush then gave China a bigger serve at the recent APEC conference and demanded changes in her economic strategies which are hurting her neighbours and called for an end to her never-ending patent piracy and a stop to her rigging of the the yuan.

He is of course speaking for many countries there. The Chinese agreed to make changes.

Bush then worshipped at one of the few Christian churches in Beijing, was photographed with the worshippers, and called for religious toleration in China for all people.

How long is it since anyone has spoken to the Chinese like that? I'm not suggesting that we should. We should just get off our knees, stop praying for a cargo cult and start protecting a long friendship with a far superior society, Singapore, from orchestrated, totally insincere attacks from our media.

I say "insincere", because China has one of the largest execution rates in the world - and public executions - as well as an ongoing string of psychiatric hospitals for the politically deviant ... such as journalists.

Have our media, outraged Labor hacks and, of course, our parsons been saying a word about this?

  • Max Teichmann




























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