March 23rd 2002

  Buy Issue 2629

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: The US steel decision

Ansett's collapse highlights failure of deregulation

Government's currency gamble goes bad

Straws in the Wind: All you need is love / What's in a name?

NSW Anglican Bishops support stem cell research ... but not at the cost of human life

Media: Courageously un-PC / Sudden 'enthusiasm' for Crean

Captive market (letter)

Misdirected (letter)

US steel (letter)

Show trials (letter)

Adult stem cells: the better option

Comment: Enron's collapse - the net widens

ASIA: How should the West respond to the terrorist threat?

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Straws in the Wind: All you need is love / What's in a name?

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, March 23, 2002
All you need is love

As a little boy, I used to watch my mother put out basins of water for passing dogs when the weather was really hot, and the roads and pavements burned. Many a stray dog got a new lease of life - for a while. She also used to poke saucers of milk under the house when some homeless moggy had a new batch of kittens. My father and sister used to get very sarcastic about all this goodness: "All the mongrels in Carlton will line up soon," said my father. But I backed my mother.

In fact, when the dog cart would come down the street, full of captured flea bags, and stop while the dog catcher raced off to catch another stray, she and I would slip up to the back of the cart, undo the door, and let the inhabitants out. Then make our escape. My mother used to win the ladies' sprint races at the church picnics, so I'd find it hard to keep up with her. A bit over the top, you think? Probably.

My mother kept putting out water, milk and scraps for the birds, long after I'd left home; and neighbours used to call her the "Dog Lady". My father and sister kept jeering, but she took no notice. So, when an adult, I automatically gave to the Lost Dogs Home and still do. When I was flush, I gave, like most people, to a number of charities, but in recent years, stopped.

More and more of these charities, like "aid" organisations, became very large, hooked onto government grants and sponsors, organised like businesses, and selling their products like any huckster. Also, they started to have political opinions, and to practise moral and political blackmail.

Many were obviously taken over by some political faction; more and more served as career paths for people bound for somewhere else; or else, they became sheltered workshops for characters who seemed totally unlike the earnest, integrated, hard-working people I used to meet and mix with. And, as we all observe, the number of charities fighting for our dollar, or the State's, indicate that we are dealing with an industry growing like topsy.

Seeing that it appears impossible to politicise lost dogs and cats, and almost impossible to use them as a career path into politics, or the media, I feel secure in my choice.

I was moved to write this when observing the extraordinary antics, disgraceful were they not so ludicrous and transparent ... of the various charities who have been attacking the Governor-General, serially and in combination, and in loving co-operation with the press. It is no part of their function, of course, and the very word "charity" sounds uncomfortable in their strident mouths. They have gone political - probably captured - so naturally one votes with his feet.

This latest exercise in manipulation seems simply part of an orchestrated campaign, prepared before the Queen's visit, by people who lost the republic referendum and the election; this is the squalid payback.

So, like Polonius, keep your money in your purse unless you see a thirsty dog, a hungry cat, or a sick bird. But let the charity apparatchiki eat cake, or badger whoever is the government.

What's in a name? Plenty

Victoria's renaming everything mania is taking a breather, for the moment, with Steve Bracks returning to his inner city Heath Robinson building sprees. But there is, I've heard, a general renaming campaign ready to go. People are asking, "What is Canberra?" "Who was Canberra?" - the answer lies in that no-go zone called The Past. So giving it a name more appropriate to our time, and faithful to the ambience of that city will, my spies tell me, soon be activated. My suggestion - Kleptograd.

Then there is the buzz about the National Gallery. Melbourne has one, dating from the middle of last century, but there is also an arriviste gallery in Canberra, with spokesmen to match, who are saying, they should have the copyright and we should call ours something else.

For once, our government is standing firm. But a real problem is coming up. After the Builders Laborers have completed their devoted efforts, the Victorian gallery is going to be split into two parts, on different locations. If that is to be the situation, shall we call the parts National Gallery Mark 1 and National Gallery Mark 2 - or the second one something else? There already is a Museum of Modern Art at Heide. So ... in recognition of the tireless efforts of some of our city fathers, and clergymen and, the new character of central Melbourne ... we should name it the "Shooting Gallery".

Then there was a senior academic who wants Princes Highway renamed, because it was called after a prince. You could have fooled me. There is nothing to replace a university education. So, should we stop talking about the Prince of Peace? I doubt if anyone cares what that great ribbon of road metal, skid marks and diesel fumes is called long as it doesn't finish as Ponce's Highway.

Chicago! Chicago!

The evidence coming from the building industry Royal Commission continues to be quietly sensational, and quite damning for the unions concerned. Things being as they are, little appears on television, press coverage is desultory, selective and often parked in the bowels of the paper.

The public media is unconcerned - it's only a Liberal stunt.

The stunt, in fact, concerns the same corruption, intimidation and extortion which moved John Cain to clean up the building industry in Victoria, and secure the deregistration of the BLF, the imprisonment of Norm Gallagher, and the conviction of two corrupt businessmen.

(The disparity between Norm's sentence and the bonds entered into by the convicted employers drew justified criticism at the time. But the overall result was very beneficial.)

Industrial 'peace'

We've heard of the $250,000 paid by one big employer to unions to secure industrial peace on a $100 million project - now it is the turn of Tasmania, where a union leader threatened the major builder with a boatload of unemployed thugs from Melbourne, unless he signed a union-backed enterprise bargaining agreement. Followed by the threat to pull out workers from the Chadstone shopping centre project. As the builder had a close personal connection to the Gandel Group, he capitulated.

Evidence was given that the CFMEU (construction) and CEPU (plumbers and electricians) had had little success in disrupting Tasmanian work sites because union membership was low and employer/employee relations good, based on mutual loyalty. Hence the need for the interlopers to use threats of violence and secondary boycotts.

The fact is, they are not wanted and this is the real problem for so many Australian unions.

Tactics such as these, forcing people to join unions they do not wish to be a part of, compelling employers to pay protection money and take on workers not of their choice, call for the state to protect the victims of union thuggery. Which, I take it, was one of the aims of Tony Abbott, who introduced the legislation setting up the Royal Commission.

Of course, if the Bracks Government did its duty, as John Cain's people did their's, there would have been far les need for federal intervention. But, as we know - this is a very different sort of Victorian Labor government than that of John Cain Jnr.


Robert Stove drew my attention to a mistake in my account of the Reichstag Fire. The Dutch communist tried with Dimitrov was Van der Lubbe, not Lübke, who was a West German politician. Thank you kindly, Roberto.

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