Western  Australian
CITIZENS’
VOICE

Created by resolution of a public meeting, this newsletter is
also available by e-mail or by mail (to non e-mail users only)

To receive next 5 issues by post, send $10 to
StopMAI Coalition, 42 Central Avenue, Beaconsfield 6162

Bear, symbolising greed and strength of predatory corporations
Newsletter of the STOP-MAI
Campaign Coalition (WA)

No. 1, JULY, 1999

Links to later news

CONTENTS
Introduction
Public Forum
Editorial contacts
Contributions
Action on Logging
J18 Crossword
OPINION: Sovereignty
OPINION: Treaty Power
GM Crop Suicides
Advice for Activists
SPECIAL: 40p Book
Marseillaise Hymn

58  CONTENTS 1-50  101-on  Translate  Links  Events  Books  HOME  Issue #2 > >  Foot v v  60
HOT NEWS: The European Commission has issued its agenda for a WTO New Round (MAI-type negotiations) in a Communication which is available on the web.

Inaugural Newsletter

AT the full day seminar on globalisation held in Perth on June 26, it was decided to provide a newsletter to those who participated. The first issue would be free, subsequent issues would be by subscription to defray costs of preparation and postage.

The functions of this newsletter are to provide information on local, national and international activities and on the effects of the corporations' drive to globalisation, and a forum for readers to swap experiences and ideas.

The Stop-MAI group met on July 3 to consider how the newsletter should be produced, how it was to be funded, and what it should contain.

You will find the details below. Please regard them at this stage as proposals: your own comments are welcome and will be taken on board.


Perth citizens demand fuller public participation and new approach to DFAT multilateral treaty process

[Media statement issued after the June 26 public forum]

THE Federal Government's proposal to support a new round of global investment negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was intensively discussed at a daylong public meeting held at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, on June 26.

Discussion was led by Patricia Ranald (Public Sector Research Centre, University of New South Wales) and the WA Trades and Labor Council leader Tony Cooke.

The speakers reviewed the purpose of the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which sought to dilute governmental power to regulate foreign investment and capital flows.

The MAI was scrapped last year in a fury of worldwide public protest, but Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer has now instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to pursue similar new negotiations through the WTO November ministerial meeting in Seattle.

After six hours of consideration, the packed meeting called on the Australian Government to shun MAI-type negotiations but rather "to support the development of an alternative and binding agreement on investments which democratically regulates international investments and promotes ecologically and socially sustainable global development".

Noting that DFAT had declined to participate in the public meeting, the resolution also called for full, open public participation in this process.

Patricia Ranald informed the meeting that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) had already endorsed an alter-native proposal with the object of enforcing prescribed responsibilities and placing the profit motive into a proper context of world-wide human needs.

The publication of a range of new Australian books on the subject was announced, and the audience resolved to support an informative regular newsletter to be commenced in July.

 

Citizens' Voice

This newsletter is published by the STOP-MAI Campaign Coalition (WA).

The contents include information on local and international activities and material reproduced or extracted from Australian and international sources, primarily via the Internet.

The editor is Dion Giles email dgiles@eftel.com.

For media liaison contact Brian Jenkins on 9246 3882, email jenks@iinet.net.au and web page http://www.iinet.net.au/~jenks/

Citizens' Voice will continue to be sent by email free of charge. For mailed copies the subscription rate will be $10 for five issues starting with No. 2. Subscriptions and donations are received with thanks by Gwyneth Dunlevy, 42 Central Avenue, Beaconsfield 6162, Phone 9335 5939 (mornings or after 3 pm best).

Citizens' Voice will be placed on the Web, and the URL will be announced in the next issue. In the meantime, regularly updated information on local activities can be found at our Stop-MAI (WA) web site at http://www.iinet.net.au/~jenks/WA1.html For those with web access, Brian Jenkins has prepared a page at http://www.iinet.net.au/~jenks/stopmai.html which provides links to most information on globalisation from all viewpoints.  [Brian's former Website address was: http://www.nettrek.com.au/~brian/

Your contributions

Readers are encouraged to submit news and opinions relevant to the globalisation agenda. Since almost everything can at a stretch be said to be relevant, and the function of Citizens' Voice is to focus attention on the main issues and discourage dispute over side-issues, some ground rules are proposed.

Letters should be legible, preferably typed. The length should not exceed 400 words. Your letters should include contact details so that the Editor can get back to you if necessary.

You may write under your own name or, if you wish to keep your identity private, you may use a pen-name. However, if you use a pen-name you are asked to inform the editor of your contact details. Letters under different names from the same person can't be accepted. If you are using a pen-name and someone wishes to write to you, the Editor will ask you if you wish letters to be forwarded, and if so will forward the letter. No personal details of any reader or subscriber will be passed on without that person's express permission.

Registered Western Australian readers have a general right for relevant letters, proposals and comment to be included in the Newsletter, provided that--

In this inaugural edition the Editor has considerably relaxed these rules. However, in future, writers are asked to co-operate by seeking to work within them. In particular, the 400-word length stipulation is a guideline only: longer contributions are welcome but will be cut back to within 400 words if publication space is tight.

 

Alive & Global
--Western Australians Reclaiming the Future

This superbly designed
40-page book
was produced in Perth for the June 18 International Day of Protest. It contains succinct articles on Globalisation, the MAI, Jabiluka, Pangea, Jubilee 2000, the Forestry struggle, and much more. Copies sold out at our public forum. StopMAI has a limited supply at only $5 per copy (+ $2.50 P&P)
(Send cheque or money order to StopMAI (WA)
42 Central Ave, Beaconsfield, West Australia 6162)

 

Campaign against
WTO threat to forests

A COALITION of forest protection leaders from around the world launched a campaign on June 28 to derail World Trade Organisation plans to write trade agreements that the coalition says threaten the world's forests.

"The World Trade Organisation clearly sees its area of focus as expediting trade, removing any obstacle to the flow of money and products," said Mark Westland, a spokesman for the Rainforest Action Network. "This is extremely dangerous without human rights and environmental safeguards."

For example, if the World Trade Organisation were to take tariffs away from processed lumber products — such as furniture — in the name of expediting trade, environmentalists predict consumption of wood products would increase by three to four percent, leading to increased logging of the world's forests.

To prevent this from taking place during WTO meetings in Seattle this November, the coalition of activists will pressure the group to change its mode of operation. "Each group will do what that group does best," said Westland. Lobbyists will lobby and action groups will stage protests.

"With such diversity and depth of experience, we are confident of ending WTO measures that will increase consumption of forest products without any regard for the well-being of the environment," said Victor Menotti of the International Forum on Globalisation.

The coalition, in its position statement, says, "In the WTO, trade provisions are supreme over the laws of nations, taking power away from local communities and governments and giving it to corporations. This makes it a direct threat not only to the world's remaining forests, but also to basic individual and states' rights."

To change the organisation so that its decisions are not detrimental to the environment and human rights, Westland said, environmental protections and human rights need to take a priority over the trade laws.

The groups that will pressure the World Trade Organisation include ASEED and the World Forest Movement from the United Kingdom; Bureau for Regional Public Campaigning from Russia/Siberia; Citizens Committee of Puerto Montt and Otway Foundation in Chile; Institute for Socio-Economic Analysis in Brazil; GATT Watchdog from New Zealand; Raincoast Conservation Society and Valhalla Wilderness Society from Canada; Tropical Forest Kyoto from Japan; Forum on the Environment from Indonesia; and American Lands Alliance, Earth Justice Law Centre, Friends of the Earth, International Forum on Globalisation, Pacific Environment and Resources Centre, Rain-forest Action Network and Sierra Club from the United States.

[From Scott Bernhard Nelson, Director, Technology & Ecology Communicopia Internet Inc. http://www.communicopia.net ]

Letters to the Editor

Sovereignty

From Rupert Sherlock

What is meant by the term 'Sovereignty', and why is sovereignty so precious to us?

The term denotes the political power a country has to govern itself. A sovereign state or country is independent, not under the authority or direction from any other country.

Sounds great doesn't it! But that's not how Australia is at present!

There are two sorts of control or pressure/influence a country can be under. The first is one we put ourselves under by signing ourselves into "clubs", and the second is imposed upon us by our creditors.

When we signed up as a foundation member of the United Nations, immediately we lost a certain amount of our sovereignty We in fact, agreed to accept and abide by whatever rulings or requests emanate from that august body. It is much the same as an individual joining any other club! The most you can do to have a voice is to get on the committee -- but when it grows too vast you lose any practical influence.

Joining the United Nations is different from say, entering a bilateral agreement with one other nation. In that case the obligations on each signatory are clearly defined before signing, and likewise the benefits to be expected.

We are already bound by a tremendous number (reportedly 2000!) "treaties" with the United Nations. We are expected to conform to a whole lot of rules touching many matters, most of which we had no hand whatever in designing. The latest is this godless Rights of the Child proposal. Fortunately we haven't yet legislated it into Australian law.

Now Australia has an enormous foreign debt. Standard & Poor's recent report warns that countries with equal credit rating have foreign debts equal to about 40% of their export earnings Thus they are usually able to easily pay their foreign debts from their export earnings.

But Australia's position is that our foreign debt amounts to 190% of our export earnings! The possibility of us running out of credit like the Asian countries is a real threat.

That is why the head of the International Monetary Fund has been pushing Mr Howard for 5 years to introduce a Goods and Services Tax to ensure that he will always have an avenue to easily increase his tax collections to pay the international banks

That's where we are at the moment.

So you see our sovereignty, our freedom to design our own laws and make our own rules, is very much impaired already

It is highly desirable that we move as soon as possible to reclaim as much of our sovereignty as can be done.

 


Power of the Treaty

From Graham Palmer

In the closing days of the Twentieth Century many believe this era will be called the age of the activist.

Many believe their actions have actually achieved real and lasting change to the world we live in.

In reality all that has been achieved is the occasional local success in what has sadly become a series of frantic rearguard actions against the unrelenting attacks of the transnational corporate warriors with their massive financial and political resources.

Many will be outraged by this statement, their ego wounded by this assault on their hard work and dedication. Sadly, the truth is we are fragmented and all marching to different tunes.

The whole can and will be greater than the sum of the parts, if we are ever able to unite as one.

If there was ever a time of united we stand divided we fall, this is that time.

Many who thought that the Labor Party would be that unifying force found out sadly that they (Labor) too had embraced the new world order.

Elections cost money and the public are influenced by what they hear and see in the media. It is a pity that the Labor Party allowed the ongoing concentration of the media and its resulting concentration of political power into the hands of so few but then that is what power politics is really all about.

Looking in from the outside it can be seen that the continued polarisation on party political lines of the numerous activist groups in Australia and across the world will continue to fragment the true power of these organisations to achieve the social change they seek.

There is a urgent need to form a non political, non-partisan organisation made up of the various groups to link and coordinate like minded groups who have the common agenda of creating a socially sustainable society.

Some may believe there is no need for such a central linking organisation and that the existing groups can look after themselves.

The fact that there are such a large number of small groups means they tend be weak both financially and politically as compared to their adversaries.

These groups are all too hard-pressed to represent themselves let alone concern themselves too closely with the world of politics and international trade treaties even ones that cause the very problems that they are fighting.

It will be a waste of time fighting to preserve old growth forest if governments are to be sued for millions for not allowing the forests be clear felled for what is usually a pittance in compensation. What use banning uranium mining and its export if governments can be sued into submission.

We have all seen what happened to Canada under the NAFTA Treaty.

Remember, it is no secret that the transnational energy corporations have already decided that Australia, especially Western Australia is to be the next global dump for nuclear waste and are literally moving their corporate power base to Perth to achieve this aim.

This is serious money speaking and remember just how really cheap our politicians have proved themselves to be in the past.

It is also no secret that these corporations need the global trade treaties to strangle public dissent by forcing governments to act as their agents to pass laws which "we" must have if "we" are not to be "punished" by our trading partners.

The latest international free trade treaty, once known as the Multilateral Treaty on Investment (MAI.), now on the run and, in hiding under a new disguise in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is out there, waiting.

Waiting to be signed by our government and others like it.

These global trade treaties seek to force national governments to make laws which will empower the corporate world and disenfranchise the people like you me and all those who have never heard of global trade treaties and rely blindly on our national leaders to protect them.

It is painfully obvious that our mainstream political parties have decided to support private commercial interests and their guaranteed political donations over the rights of the people whom they have sworn to protect and serve.

Remember these corporations and their political lackeys have tried before, and will never stop until either they succeed or until we do.

The battle of the people vs corporate power politics has been going on since those early transnational corporate raiders first set sail in 1492 across the ocean blue. The rest is history.

If these treaties are signed then all our hard won achievements will in the end amount to nothing.

Unity is the only weapon we have.

A central organised group is needed to link, coordinate, prioritise and focus the activities of all and fight the one true common threat to all.

It's got to be worth thinking about.

But don't think too long!

GM crops 'bad for the poor'

BBC item from May 9, 1999

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

A PROMINENT British development agency, Christian Aid, has warned that biotechnology companies' efforts to sell genetically-modified (GM) seeds to Third World farmers will do little to allay world hunger.

It says the companies' tactics may also rob Western consumers of their freedom to choose or refuse GM foods.

In a report entitled Selling Suicide: Farming, False Promises and Genetic Modification in the Developing World, Christian Aid says GM crops will not help to feed the hungry.

"The false promise of genetic modification is that it will benefit small farmers. The reality is that high-tech farming may make them more vulnerable," it says.

Rising costs

The charity says the increased levels of debt incurred by Indian farmers from using expensive hybrid strains of cotton have already driven hundreds of them to suicide. The reality is that high-tech farming may make them more vulnerable," it says.

The charity says the increased levels of debt incurred by Indian farmers from using expensive hybrid strains of cotton have already driven hundreds of them to suicide.

The full Christian Aid report can be found on the Web at http://www.christian-aid.org.uk/f_reports.htm (select "Selling Suicide")

The report is comprehensive and worth reading for an easy-to-follow analysis of the impact of GM foods on consumers and on farmers.  
Early in October 1999, Monsanto announced it would not continue at this time with experiments on the terminator gene.  Around January 2000 Monsanto was planning to be absorbed into another multinational corporation, to trade under a different name. -- inserted 07 Oct 1999

How to Oppose Corporate Rule

ONE of the strongest critics of the corporate agenda is Dr. Jane Kelsey, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Auckland. Dr. Kelsey has devised what she calls "A Manual for Counter-Technopols" -- suggestions and ideas for actions that challenge corporate rule. The following is from a list of some of her proposed tactics and strategies that could be adopted in Australia. See http://mai.flora.org/library/oppocorp.html

.

And, finally a big thank-you
…to the Trades Hall singers introduced by Brenda, and with "JJ" at the accordion, who gave us all such a welcome and lively break during the long June 26 forum.

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