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Editorial: ACC premiums save money for all.

CONTENTS: Editorial: ACC premiums save money for all. VSM arises again REVIEW-'Welcome to Australia' A Documentary by John Pilger (1999) The News - Hmmmm. Web site lies of the week.


Editorial: ACC premiums save money for all.

Today's announcement of a $1.16 per $100 of payroll levy fulfils the Government's promise that the state monopoly to be imposed from July 1st would save money. Combined with cutting the tail levy premium (covering the costs of historic claims) from 67c to 40c per $100 of wages, this means that from July 1 total ACC costs will be an average of $1.56 per $100 of wages paid. A positive bargain compared to the current $1.87 average.

National's bizarre campaign against our ACC reforms has descended to lies. Have a look at this week's web site of the week, at the bottom of the newsletter. The four horsemen of the apocalypse (the Insurance Council, the Employers' Federation, the National Party and the ACT party) don't appear to have understood a basic fact: state monopoly insurance is more efficient than private sector scrabbling after claims. It also has better motivations - a focus on rehab, rather than a focus on making sure claims are minimised, and on lining one's own pocket.

Watch out for a few more rants as the legislation progresses. The right still seems to think it's in Government.



VSM Arises again

A recent media release by Trevor Mallard, explaining education legislation to be put before the House this year, included the following terse sentences:

Membership of and Fees for Tertiary Students Associations * The Education (Tertiary Students' Association Voluntary Membership) Amendment Act 1998 will be repealed. * Students enrolled in an institution which has voluntary membership may vote to return to compulsory membership if the student body receives a petition signed by 10% of students, or by a vote of an existing students' association (so long as the association represents at least 50% of students). * Fees for membership of a students' association would be collected automatically by the tertiary provider on behalf of the association. The amendment will also cover how to achieve student representation on a Council.

This doesn't say a hell of a lot. Obviously the recovery of the student unions is an important goal for Labour. If our wider project is to make headway, it's vital that `our' organisations are viable. Student unions are a good place for left wing activism, and an institutional prop that has no qualms about attacking our opponents. We need them as much as they need us.

I do have concerns though. I think that the law should treat compulsory associations in a way which clearly benefits their members over those campuses who choose voluntary membership. Students, in my experience, are ignored once associations go voluntary. That is certainly the case at Auckland, where students are being screwed over by the University at every turn. They're even going so far as to try and steal our buildings. The lesson is simple: only compulsory membership allows associations to protect students' interests. I look forward to the repeal of the biased act the last government put through and its replacement by proper legislation that puts students first.


REVIEW - 'Welcome to Australia' A Documentary by John Pilger (1999)

John Pilger is an Australian born investigative journalist who travels around the globe uncovering injustice and cruelty wherever he sees it. His consistent ability to penetrate the milieu of selected truths, half-truths and outright lies, and discover realities that mysteriously elude the mass media, makes him of the few examples of the fabled fourth estate. His works include 'Death of a Nation' - a doco secretly filmed in East Timor. It established that powerful vested interests in the form of the US and Britain had not only condoned, but helped orchestrate the invasion and destruction of the small republic. Another is 'Hidden Agendas', an expansive work covering such topics as the fraudulent role of the media and the IMF. One interesting observation is that the Vietnamese government is required to pay back loans taken out by the defeated Saigon regime for the purpose of buying American weapons. That is, Vietnam is still paying for America's invasion.

Periodically Pilger returns home to examine the situation in Australia. This time he turned his attention to White Australia's treatment of the native Aboriginals, a subject which he has often examined in the past. This time he views it in the context of Australia's celebrations of nationhood, on the eve of its hosting of the Olympic Games. Because of the grave facts contained within the film, I feel it necessary to offer an extensive description.

The film starts by detailing segregation in Australian sport. Black athletes, despite their exceptional talent, were forbidden from competing with white athletes. This included runners omitted from Olympic teams, despite being faster than any of the white runners, and a cricketer who when briefly allowed to integrate, bowled arguably the worlds greatest batsman, Don Bradman, for a duck. He was returned to the reserve soon afterwards. In fact Pilger reveals segregation that in the 1960s and 70s has astonishing parallels with the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Aborigines did not have the vote. Black children were forcibly appropriated from their families and brought up in camps, called reserves. When old enough boys were sent to work on farms as cheap labour, and girls into middle class homes as domestics, where they were often abused. One has to also draw parallels with slavery. One Queensland Aboriginal talks of how if he were to show his face in town he would be arrested and returned to the 'reserve', which he preferred to call a compound. In south Australia blacks had to carry passbooks on them at all times, just as in South Africa.

Although many things have changed in last 20 years glaring problems still remain. An investigation of an Aboriginal town in rural northern Western Australia revealed that trachoma, a disease of poverty, and practically unheard of in much of the world, had infected more than half the children in one school. Pilger goes on to outline further problems for Aborigines, such as a lower life expectancy than much of Africa, ballooning suicide rates, high rates of death in custody (an issue that attracted a condemnation from Amnesty International). He then switches focus to the current forces which are to the further detriment of the Aboriginal cause. In 1998 25% of Queensland and 10% of Australia voted for One Nation, of which a key policy was curtailing native land rights. Mostly this was a working class and small farmers vote, and shows a dark side of White Australia that is mirrored in White New Zealand. One thinks of ACT's Maori policy, which also appealed to many in the working class and small farmers. Also currently some unions such as the NDU look for overstayers who are working illegally (and often in poor conditions) to dob in. It appears to result from the economic problem, which has leads workers to look for a solution to their declining wealth. However instead of wanting a more equal share from those with more, they instead look to those with less. This may be combined with a need to compensate for an antipodean feeling of cultural inferiority. I think that these generalisations can be applied to similar sections in both Australia and New Zealand.

More of a threat is the Howard government, although recognising the 'stolen generation' in 1997, refused to apologise. The issue was debated in a half-hour session in parliament, during which the PM walked out. The conception that the history of Australia is one of murder and genocide is absolutely refuted by Howard, much the same as Maori grievances were refuted here in the 50s and 60s. the government is moving to overturn small gains made by the Aborigines. This is a government which shamelessly showcases and claims affection for Aboriginal culture, the boomerang and the didgeridoo are theme pieces of the upcoming Olympics, yet fails to make amends for past injustices, and even continues to exacerbate them. In 1994 legislation was passed which curtailed the 1992 Supreme Court decision, granting Aborigines equal land rights. This was because of the interests the Mining oligarchy, whose operation was threatened by encroaching land rights. The media oligarchy, Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch, who between them control 70% of Australia's press, backed this up. A media in which Aborigines are consistently portrayed as lazy and undeserving.

It is no wonder that there is talk of abandoning the Olympic Games, a supposed celebration of Australia's maturity. A maturity that Black Australians know nothing of. There seems very few options open to them as far as improving themselves. Being only 2% of the population they are not in a bargaining position. Winning political rights has won them few concessions. It seems the only way powerful corporate interests can be circumvented is through an upsurge in popular opinion, however there is little sign of that.

Jeremy Anderson


The News - Hmmmmmmm.

A real quick roundup of the week's news, plucking headlines out of thin air really.

On the back of a successful trip to Australia, where the defence issue was treated with the intelligence we've come to expect from the Prime Minister, it is slowly becoming apparent that the F-16's are a no go. We cannot justify them, and we don't need them. Participating in multilateral peacekeeping efforts is much more important than playing with toys with our former Alliance partners from the United States.

Reaction to today's rise in the minimum wage should be taken with more than a grain of salt. The economic literature on the result of minimum wage increases is very mixed. There's no consensus about the impacts a rise has, but most current opinion is that if the increase is not excessive, then it's unlikely to have a statistically significant impact on employment rates. Raising low paid workers out of poverty via minimum wages also helps lift them out of welfare, which is something I'm sure we would all applaud.

Environment Minister Marian `BooBoo' Hobbs (she loves the name, and, apparently, the Teletubbies, believe it or not!) announced last Friday that work was being undertaken to see how best to meet NZ's obligations to cut carbon dioxide emissions. The minister commented that increased use of public transport would have a role to play. It's a point to note that most of NZ's CO2 emissions come from private cars.

And of course, thanks to the new Labour-led Government, New Zealand won the defence of the America's Cup 5-0 against the Red Moon of Prada.


Web site lies of the week - Fair Go

http://www.fairgo.co.nz is a site which is full of misinformation about Labour's ACC reforms. Have a look if you want to have a laugh, or see just how low the right can fall.

Till next week,



All submissions should be to the Editor at carters@ihug.co.nz.

While this newsletter is published in the name of Young Labour, the contents is entirely the responsibility of the Editor and the views expressed here don't constitute any official position of Young Labour. All contents copyright (c) 2000. Subscribe at younglabour-subscribe@listbot.com

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