March 25th 2000

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Telstra - is there another way forward?

COVER STORY: Aged Care: where to from here?

BOOKS: 'The High Price of Heaven', by David Marr

TAIWAN: Taiwan election presents new challenge for Beijing

ECONOMICS: World economy: the rhetoric, the reality

PAKISTAN: Feudalism: root cause of Pakistan’s malaise

BUSINESS: Innovation, technology and the forces of change

Letter: Free trade and predatory policies


AGRICULTURE: How government kick-started land settlement

LAW: No Native Title on mining leases: Federal Court

POLITICS: SA swings away from major parties

FAMILY: Mr Howard’s "forgotten people": Australia’s families

JUSTICE: The facts behind the furore on mandatory sentencing

COMMENT: The war against drugs is not lost it was never started

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Immigration policy: whose view will prevail?

Letter: Federal control of resource development

Books promotion page


by Various

News Weekly, March 25, 2000
The battle’s o’er

"Conservatism is doomed. True, in the Eastern bloc, in its conclusive demolition of the Berlin Wall, it won the battle of ideas. But in its own Western bloc, it's lost the battle of process and that's likely to prove decisive.

"In the United States, George W. Bush is opposed to same-sex marriage. So is John McCain. But whichever one of them becomes President will have little say over whether or not, in Vermont and elsewhere, justices of the peace (and, indeed, clergy) find themselves uttering the words, 'I now pronounce you man and husband'.

"On almost any issue you care to name - from partial-birth abortion to education reform to racial quotas to human cloning to drug legalisation - the real action's in the courts not the legislatures.

"Aside from tinkering with the tax code and coming up with an entitlement here and there, America's 'lawmakers', as newspapers still quaintly refer to elected representatives, no longer, in any meaningful sense, make laws - not the ones which govern our lives.

"Instead, what they mainly do is protest their impotence to do anything very much at all ...

"The caricature of Western legal systems is usually that they are insufficiently progressive: 'white man's justice', etc. But, in fact, even if either man had the stomach for it, it would be all but impossible for Bush or McCain to find enough judges from the available pool with even a nominally conservative approach to these issues. The judiciary now fulfils the same role as the military in banana republics: you may be able to elect your politicians, but the real, entrenched power in the land will see to it that the legislature will only ever be a figleaf ...

"The existence of an activist judiciary is a great advantage to weasel candidates of the Left. It allows Al Gore to stay electable by running to the right of the courts, secure in the knowledge that he can leave it to them to chalk up the great irreversible victories of American progressivism. Meanwhile Al can profess that although he 'personally' is not in favour of same-sex marriage, he must bow to the will of the court."

- Mark Steyn, The Spectator, March 4, 2000;

Blair's army

"It is almost impossible to believe that this Blair Government - which constantly claims to hold the Armed Forces in high regard - has really decided to allow soldiers to sue their commanding officers if they are given orders which prove (with the comforting certainty of hindsight) to have been 'wrong'.

"I can think of no decision which would do more to undermine the necessary self-confidence of junior officers and to damage morale and discipline in the Armed Forces.

"How can you train men under your command for war if you are constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure you are not about to be ambushed by a gaggle of lawyers?

"How can you make snap decisions under rapidly changing circumstances when the threat of legal action is ever-present?

"So why has the Government once again ignored expert advice and taken this farcical decision to allow the fashionable compensation culture which has so disfigured civil society to enter the Armed Forces? Why are Ministers so ignorant of, or dismissive of, Service opinion?

"It is, I believe, a matter of generations. National Service was abolished more than 40 years ago. Previous Labour Cabinets included men with distinguished war records ... In contrast, no member of the Blair Administration has, as far as I am aware, had any significant military experience ...

"What makes the Government's decision more perverse is the fact that there are ample and well-tested procedures in place to redress grievances, discipline incompetent or unfair officers and to provide compensation when unavoidable disasters occur."

- General Sir Peter de la Billiere, Commander of the British Forces in the Gulf War, UK Mail, March 7, 2000;

Australian figures

* World trade grew at an average 6.5 per cent between 1990 and 1997, or more than three times the speed of world economic growth. Agricultural trade, which grew at only 2 per cent p.a. from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, lagged behind manufacturing trade which grew at 6 per cent p.a. Developed nations impose protection on agricultural imports from developing countries of about 15 per cent compared with 3.4 per cent for manufactured imports. Manufactured exports of developing countries now account for over 70 per cent of their total exports.

* International tourism to Australia in 1998 with 4.2 million visitors produced export earnings of $17.3 billion compared with coal $8 billion; gold $5 billion, alumina $4 billion; oil $3.8 billion; iron ore $3.7 billion, wheat $3.3 billion, beef and veal $3 billion, aluminium $3 billion, wool $2.7 billion.

- Extracted from Australian Economic Trends written by Professor A.H. Pollard AO for the Lumley Corporation;

Haider appeal

"Who is the real Jörg Haider, and what is the source of his appeal? I would suggest that despite the undoubted echoes of Austria's Nazi past, Haider is essentially the product of post-fascist modern Austria, where the cult of youth, health and sporting prowess counts for more than morning prayers, dreams of expansion to the East or recapturing lost cultural glories ... Neither the love of Alpine landscapes, nor a faint anti-urban and anti-intellectual echo of pan-German nationalism, nor even populist xenophobia are enough to turn a man into a fascist Führer, though no one will argue about the compulsively provocative streak.

"But what makes him attractive to many Austrians is that he is essentially a chameleon, a consummate actor and a political entertainer with a flair for saying out loud what ordinary people think. Haider listens to the feats of 'der kleine Mann' and poses as their Robin Hood - the popular hero who will take from the rich and give to the poor; he can play the role of the macho proletarian and the Porsche-driving yuppie, who is prepared to challenge the corrupt and cosy carve-up of Austria by the 'red' nomenklatura and the 'Black' (clerical-conservative) oligarchs. He feeds on and exploits to perfection both the real and the imaginary resentments in the great Austrian tradition of populist demagogy that began with Lueger and Schönerer, culminating in the fanaticism of Adolf Hitler ...

"Among his followers one finds not only extremists and xenophobes, or the 'losers' of 'modernisation' who fear unemployment, but bright young yuppies wanting 'liberation' from 30 years of stultifying socialist rule and an over-regulated economy. Haider's Frechheit (cheek), his youthful openness and 'liberal' trendy manner speak to this generation as a wind of change ...

"Europe's new 'populists' claim to speak in the name of the 'silent majority', which is alarmed at the pace of contemporary social and technological change and of the coercive effect of Big Brother in Brussels ...

"Consideration for minorities, the defence of human rights, decent treatment of immigrants and equality before the law are indeed bedrock values for a new Europe; so, too, are respect for the decisions of the ballot box, and the right to be judged according to one's deeds."

- Professor Robert S. Wistrich, Times Literary Supplement, March 3, 2000;

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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