March 10th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Nationals: the last hurrah?

EDITORIAL: Government embraces the politics of panic

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Competition Policy the next to go?

INDONESIA: Borneo violence further weakens Wahid

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Why refugees are a soft target

Help needed for North Queensland farmers

DRUGS: Drug policy criticised by international board

Straws in the Wind

Letter: Kim Beazley - look at the record

Senate inquiry attacks NZ apple import proposal

ECONOMICS: Trade blocs - where will Australia fit?


HUMAN RIGHTS: Amnesty Report may sink China's Olympic bid

HEALTH: Lessons of SA abortion experience

COMMENT: Paul Lyneham - Australia's H. L. Mencken

Teen books gone from "honest" to "offensive"

Letter: Refugees - coarsening of attitudes

Letter: Alice Springs - Darwin railway

Letter: One Nation

Books promotion page

Letter: Kim Beazley - look at the record

by Marcus L'Estrange

News Weekly, March 10, 2001


What a change! In the 1950s Labor imploded in fighting off the extreme Left and spent the next 20 years in the political wilderness. Now it looks like the Coalition's turn in fighting off the (extreme) Right.

However let's look at the alternative Prime Minister and before we become too forgetful, let's look at his record.

Kim Beazley in his January National Press Club address, amongst other matters, "affirmed Labor's faith in government rather than the market and was repositioning Labor closer to its heart".

What utter nonsense. After Kim's 13-year term in government there is nothing left to affirm faith in. Kim in his various ministerial roles has either outsourced public services or helped flog everything off at fire sale prices. Like the Beazley 'black hole', Kim's cupboard will be bare if he becomes PM.

Then to add insult to injury he failed to supervise properly the Finance Department when Mal Colson and others were up to their tricks. Not satisfied with that, he then proceeded to sleep whilst the massive Collins Class submarines cost overruns (using battlers' money) went through the roof.

Beazley was then moved from his beloved Defence Department, which then was the most top heavy Department of armed services in the world, to the Employment Department, by Keating, for supporting Hawke in the leadership battle.

He spent a year in that (Employment) Department, which continued on to become one of the most expensive job creation schemes for its own middle to senior managements in the history of bureaucracies.

Again a massive waste and at the expense, of course, of the unemployed. Sir Humphrey Appleby must have wept for joy at the massive growth of public service middle to senior management under Beazley.

Kim, like many others from the 1983-1996 Labor Governments, should have resigned in shame in 1996 with such a dismal anti-real-Labor record. The recent Bureau of Statistics' annual yearbook reports (January 27, 2001) that the gap in after-tax income households in Australia in the mid 1990s (when Kim and Labor left office) was the fourth highest of 21 Western countries surveyed, and was widening. Labor and Kim succeeded in creating an American-style class of working poor. This from a putative Labor Government!

Finally Kim Beazley has added insult to injury by :
  • enthusiastically supporting the Howard Government's decision to set the capital gains tax rate at half the income tax rate,
  • supports the Howard Government's $3 billion-a -year subsidy for private health insurance which will hasten the death of Medicare,
  • failed to support the Democrats' amendments in the Senate and then supported the Government's decision to transfer $700 million to the wealthier schools,
  • now wants to retrospectively freeze the automatic indexation of the petrol excise in order to maintain an environmentally unsustainable use of the motor car and not use that windfall on, say, public transport.
  • supported the 1983 decision to deregulate the Australian financial system.

According to former Treasury Secretary John Stone in News Weekly (October 7, 2000), that decision opened Australia's relatively small economy to the international markets and inexorably led to a raft of other policy changes: the cutting of protection, deregulation of the labour markets, privatisation, and National Competition Policy.

Kim may now be visiting rural and regional Australia and showing concern at their plight, but to me it's like the arsonist returning to the scene of the fire. The hypocrisy is amazing.

This is the believer in neo-liberal orthodoxy who is now claiming to be a reborn Laborite. He's not a real Laborite's bootlace and the Labor Governments (1983-1996) were, to borrow the now familiar expression, run by the dregs of the middle class, rather than the cream of the working class.

The best description of Comrade Beazley and his Third Way/New Labor nonsense can be found in President Clinton's Secretary of Labour Robert Reich's scathing attack on British PM Tony Blair's/Comrade Beazley's Third Way politics that supposedly put a human face to Margaret Thatcher's free market economics with the help of an army of spin doctors:

"Rarely in the history of world politics has a term gone so directly from obscurity to meaninglessness without any intervening period of coherence."

Given the Howard Government's vicious treatment of the unemployed by attacking the underclass to gain the votes of the working class, unionists and the public sector, I suppose any change is for the better, but don't expect a social democratic heaven from Kim.

Marcus L'Estrange,
ALP member,
St Kilda, Vic

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