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AGAINST A NEW ROUND of the World Trade Organisation

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Newsletter of the
STOP-MAI
Campaign Coalition (WA)

No. 3, NOVEMBER, 1999


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OUR EYES IN SEATTLE!!

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CONTENTS
Stop Millennium round!
The WTO agenda
WA bill on GM crops
Editorial:
GST battle not over
Online Special:
Battle of Seattle
Administration
Posting service
Contributions

Campaign
Nov30 Perth
Nov30 Sydney

CORRESPONDENCE
Global myths
WTO empty promises
Third-person morality


LINKS:

FROM THE INTERNET
GM stings US farmers
Timor aid - Trojan horse?
State ban on salmon

WTO Webliography
StopMAI WTO index

What’s on
NOW ?

Write to the Prime Minister, Trade Ministers and DFAT, protesting about Australia's 'free trade' stance.
Act now!. Addresses, fax numbers and a sample letter can be found by clicking
HERE.
Take part in
Nov 30
International Day of Action
PERTH PAGE
Protest outside DFAT Offices in Sherwood Plaza, Perth – all day November 30. MORE

 

STOP THE MILLENNIUM ROUND!!
--says Global Protest against the World Trade Organisation
THE World Trade Organisation (WTO) will meet in Seattle on 30 November to 3 December to launch a new round of economic “liberalisation” talks. They’re calling it the “The Millennium Round”, and already it’s in big trouble.

Over 1,200 Non-Government Organisations, from 87 countries, have signed a petition against the Millennium Round and an International Day of Action against the Seattle proposals has been declared for 30 November. A global protest is under way, focused on the Seattle conference, where hundreds of thousands of protesters are expected to surround the conference venue.

The governments of many low-income countries are opposing this new, totalitarian round of economic rationalism, and are refusing to discuss the new "liberalisation" agenda. Many of these governments blame the WTO for undermining sustainable development and economic security - especially food security. Others blame WTO "liberalisation" for environmental destruction and for the widening gap between the world's rich and poor. Seattle has become the battleground of future civilisation.

CLINTON FORCED TO ORDER ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION

On Tuesday, November 16, in an effort to placate the worldwide surge of criticism, a desperate US President Clinton acceded to the environment lobby and signed an executive order that there must be a full assessment of environmental impacts before the US enters any future trade agreement. The document is online at http://www.flora.org/flora.mai-not/15016

THEME FOR ACTION: "NO NEW ROUND - TURN AROUND!"

Demonstrations are being planned across Australia on November 30 to protest against the Australian Government's disregard for public opinion and advice from peak labour, environment, consumer and human rights organisations. Protesters will urge Australia to withdraw from the Seattle summit or face electoral backlash.

Below: On 16 November, 27 activists of the Et Paf collective occupied the WTO building in Geneva for 2 hours. From the roof, they displayed banners saying : 'WTO kills people - Kill the WTO!' and 'Moore aux tyrans'. (This is a pun in French meaning " 'Death to the tyrants' and 'Moore belongs to the tyrants'). A report of the action is available at http://www.agp.org/agp/occupation.html

BACKGROUND
The WTO Agenda

SINCE it was created in 1994, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has forced
government to repeal legislation deemed to be "trade restrictive". National laws,
especially environmental regulations, have been overruled in the name of free access
for corporations, whatever the consequences. Now the WTO wants to:


The Australian Government’s hidden agenda

All through 1999 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been "consulting"
with the public on what should happen at Seattle. It has received many submissions,
and heard critical opinions on which it clearly declines to act.

But it has REFUSED to tell us what it wants from the Seattle meeting. We
will only find out when we are told what has been decided on our behalf.

MARK VAILE'S SPECIAL ADVISERS

In Seattle, we will be represented by Trade Minister Mark Vaile. We are also
funding eight non-government representatives to attend the WTO meeting, as
part of the Australian delegation. ALL are representatives of BIG BUSINESS.

Non-business groups that represent millions of Australians are being ignored.
Organisations like the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, the Australian
Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian
Council of Social Service, Greenpeace Australia and the World Wide Fund for
Nature have offered to pay their own fares to Seattle and give free advice to
the Government.


Mark Vaile has rejected their offers. It seems he only wants to hear the business agenda. So, as in the case of his department’s botched policy on East Timor, the people of Australia must take to the streets to give our message to the Government!

[The above story and background were issued as a national media statement on November 17]

 

The protesters are united around one certainty: the need to fight for each other, failing which all will be defeated. Farmers will not be concerned just about agriculture, film-directors about films or consumers about health. The problem isn't beef, bananas, cultural diversity or the patenting of life: the problem is the WTO.

--Susan George (Go to full article)


 

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, 53 Wood Street, Fremantle WA 6160, Ph/Fax 08 9335 7646 or
0411 745 538 or email dgiles@central.murdoch.edu.au.
For media liaison contact Brian Jenkins on 08 9246 3882, email jenks@iinet.net.au [formerly brian@nettrek.com.au] or fax
08 9246 4284. 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, Ph. 08 9335 5939 (morning or after 3 pm best). Cheques payable to "STOP-MAI Coalition", not "Citizens' Voice" BACK NUMBERS ONLINE

No. 1, July 1999
No. 2, September 1999

News Update Pages

New service to registered readers: Items reported in Citizens' Voice sometimes refer to much longer articles that appear on the internet or have come to the Editor via email news groups. If you are a hard-copy reader and send a stamped addressed envelope, you will be sent a copy of the complete article. In some instances the internet version is too long to be printed – this will be indicated. If more than one article is sought you should enclose a stamped addressed envelope for each: unused envelopes will be enclosed in the return. If you are an electronic reader, use email (dgiles@central.murdoch.edu.au) to ask for an email version of anything you would like to read in detail.

  Your written contributions

Readers who are registered on Stop-MAI's mailing and/or email lists 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 can be e-mailed or, otherwise, should be clearly written or typed. Length should not exceed 400 words. Please include full 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 subscriber will be passed on without that person's express permission.

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

  • Contributions consist of emailed, typed or legibly written material.
  • The Editor may abbreviate contributions which exceed advertised guidelines on length, or multiple contributions from a writer.
  • The Editor may, in consultation with the writer thereof, decline to publish remarks which the Editor deems to be unfair or defamatory or opening up irrelevant areas of debate.
  • The Editor may correct errors of grammar, spelling or vocabulary and adjust scripts to an in-house style, but substantial alterations to a contribution may be made only in consultation with the contributor.

Perth meeting considers bill to halt GM crops in WA
Contributed by RAY TAUSS and JENNIFER SEARCY

GM means genetically-modified and GE means genetically-engineered.

The prefix "Franken-" is often applied to these materials after the story of Dr Frankenstein who messed around with a human corpse and produced an uncontrollable monster.

MORE than 40 people turned up at a public panel discussion in Subiaco on November 14 to hear about the progress of the Genetically Modified Material Temporary Prohibition Bill 1999 and to swap views and experiences.
The meeting was addressed by The Hon Jim Scott, MLC, the Greens WA State Upper House member for South Metropolitan Region, who said Green parties in New Zealand and Australia were seeking a trans-Tasman Royal Commission to look at genetic engineering. Ministers were telling the public they wanted labelling of GM products but were saying something else in private.

Mr Scott said the standard of labelling in Australia was far below that of other countries of similar income level, putting to rest any claim that we can't afford it.

To say that "more food would result from genetic engineering" ignores the pressure on other resources and the fact that already 4 kg of food per person per day is available planet-wide.

Buying time

The purpose of the Bill was to prevent spread of GE pollen and viruses and to give us time to consider whether we want GE food at all and if so what legislation was necessary to control it, he said.

Other points made by Jim Scott:

Bank warns on Monsanto

Former national Health Minister Dr Carmen Lawrence told the meeting that the Deutsche Bank had recommended against investing in the genetic engineering giant Monsanto. Other seed and chemical companies, especially in the UK, were being careful to state that they do not market any GE products.

There had not been much discussion of the issue in the Australian Parliament, but she believed parliamentarians would respond rapidly to pressure.

Dr Lawrence said it was untrue that only those who knew nothing about science were against GM foods.

A contributor from the floor said farmers could be sued if they used GE seed that blew into their property.

Another described how five people entered a supermarket in the UK and each asked at the checkout if each item could be guaranteed GE-free. The manager was called and the supermarket later decided it was best to sell only GE-free products.

(The Greens WA will run a genetic engineering workshop at 38 Adelaide Street Fremantle, above Chain Reaction store, from 1 pm to 3 pm on Sunday November 21, followed by a parade at the Fremantle Esplanade at 4 p.m. – details from Marilyn, 9331 5642)

- - - -

Frankentrees threaten forests

From an article by Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent the Guardian (London) November 10, 1999. Full item available from the Editor, Citizens' Voice

Environmentalists yesterday warned of the dangers of genetically modified super-trees which can cross-pollinate with native trees over a distance of 400 miles and which are being grown in field trials without knowledge of the consequences.

Modifications under trial raise the prospect of silent forests, devoid of insects, flowers and birds. The idea is to create super-trees that grow rapidly, resist rot, and defy insect attack.


Putting their country first

In Lithuania, the prime minister and two key ministers have resigned rather than take part in spending the country’s treasury on modernising the oil industry for a western company.

 

 

CORRESPONDENCE

GLOBAL MYTHS

By GRAHAM PALMER

Today's economic rationalist philosophy popularises the corporate myth that the globalisation of the market place is an unavoidable step forward in the evolution of Western capitalism and freedom for all:  an interesting belief considering the basis upon which it is founded.

Any examination of the new corporate mantra quickly reveals that rather than being new it is in reality a retrograde step into the past, to the days of imperial destiny.

This myth is usually sold to the masses as being for the benefit of all. Acts of true altruism, no less.  The spin doctors almost make you believe that all those bankers and corporate lawyers are in reality working their fingers to the bone for the welfare of the great unwashed masses.   True working class heroes.

Too often, unfortunately, our corporate and government decision makers seem only capable of making decisions which appear to benefit a select few.

Global trade is not new.  The Dutch, British , Spanish , Portuguese , French, and German empires were all based on global trade.   Buy low and sell high, and be prepared to use the sword if you have in order to force a sale or capture a market.  The term 'trade wars' is not just a colourful expression.

Myth of GM foods

One of the latest, and most dangerous myths is that we need genetically modified foods to feed the ever-increasing human population.

Sounds reasonable until you read about how the new genetically modified seeds are not only sterile, forcing third world farmers to buy new seed each year from the "Company" but the crops cannot grow without the liberal application of certain proprietary chemicals, which just happen to be owned by the same company.

Since the days of the Roman empire, the corporate elite, whether they be emperors, soldiers of fortune or merely the greedy speculators, all have been seeking to make other people's wealth their own.

Isabel of Spain was the first of the new venture capitalists.   Her financing of the exploration of the new world paved the way for the conquistadors of the corporate takeover of the New World.

The only difference between corporate rulers of today and those of the Roman empire is that the Roman elite tended to actually own the state and all its infrastructure, not to mention a large number of the human beings who lived within the state.

No doubt a worthy goal for our new global corporate elite.
Smoke and mirrors of global bureaucrats and politicians...

EMPTY PROMISES OF WTO
MASK DOMINATION AIMS


By JOHN MASSAM

The deceptive empty promises of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are understood by readers of Citizens' Voice, but the problem of awakening other citizens and the parliaments seems no easier now than a year ago.

The French Government's withdrawal following world-wide outrage led to the collapse of the negotiations for the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).  But doubtless similar secret dealings continue to enrich the rich and powerful, and to impoverish the rest.

Australia's Treasurer Costello recently said that a time of "plenty" was coming.  This statement was made to encourage the nation to accept further attacks on its standards.  (Remember Hawke's "Accord"? And Keating "This is the budget that brings home the bacon"?)

WTO promises

Similar "sales talk" preceded the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in 1994 to be an ongoing body to foster the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

United States Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen predicted an additional $1700 in annual income for each U.S. family.  Nothing like that figure eventuated.

The propaganda in 1994 was that the WTO would lead to unprecedented economic gains world-wide, and the Latin American and Asian countries would boom. Instead, there was the financial crash of the South-East Asian "tiger" economies, and the ensuing riots and trouble in Indonesia.

The U.S. trade deficit was forecast to decrease. Instead, it has exploded, just like Australia's. Politicians all around the world have preached that increasing world trade would reduce unemployment.  In other words, if the United States, Britain, and other countries can export more to Australia, and we can export more -- even if the same sorts of products are sailing in opposite directions around the planet -- there will be more work.

Anyone who has seen television footage of the automated computerised car factories in Japan (a country where there are plenty of surplus workers), or who has toured any big office and asked vainly to visit the Typing Pool (killed by computerisation), knows that a mere mindless increase of production and overseas trade will not create jobs, nor distribute incomes to the middle and working classes.

Millions still unemployed

In fact, Australia has had 7 per cent and more unemployment for about 30 years.  Most developed nations have had unhealthy unemployment levels of millions for about the same period.  Developed countries copy each other's "employment programmes."  Campaigns by service clubs like Apex, Rotary, and Lions, are held periodically.  The figures waver, but there is no sustained improvement, in spite of clever talk about "J-curves" and "recovery".

The WTO exists to put more power and wealth into fewer hands, to force unwilling countries to accept the economic and political power of a small minority in the rich nations, to adopt dangerous technologies whatever the risk, and to cripple any grassroots movements that attempt to reverse these processes.
THIRD-PERSON MORALITY


Due to our geographical and political isolation, we in this country have evolved an ability to see all morality, or the lack of it, as all to do with the other person.

Hence when we are faced with the most grubby and socially damaging evidence of gross dishonesty and corruption, we can delude ourselves into believing that it is really nothing to do with us and doesn't affect us. 

We can see this thinking at work in the ho hum way the "cash for comment" revelations are  being treated in the press and electronic  media, although the latter probably have a vested interest in doing so.

It is evident that the terrible consequences of having a society that has nowhere to turn for free (unbiased) and open information is not registering on the public consciousness.

Apart from the obvious greed involved, what does it say about the lack of respect and contempt for the mentality of the Australian people, when Laws and all the other mind-benders, treat the public in a way that they would never dream of relating to their personal friends.

Would they tell their cousin Charley to deal with a certain bank, or take out an insurance policy, simply because they had been paid to say so? Would their self esteem allow them to do so?    It is doubtful...  However it's OK to do it to poor old Joe Blow out there, who has to rely on their say so.  In such a society where can the people turn for truth..?     Is there any truth?

The words of William Blake, writing about the cowed people of London, in the 17th century, have an ominous aptness for us in Australia today: 
In every cry of every man
In every infant's cry of fear
In every voice, in every ban
The mind-forged manacles are here.

Voluntary contributions from registered readers are are welcomed and freely published in Citizens' Voice, subject to the advertised editorial guidelines.

 
US farmers stung by false
promise of GM crops


This is a very brief extract from an article by Catherine Lazaroff which can
be found at the Environmental News Service web site:
http://ens.lycos.com/ens/sep99/1999L-09-24-07.html

Contrary to the predictions of some farmers, government officials and
biotechnology companies, prices paid to US farmers this year for many
genetically modified crops will be lower than prices for conventional crops.

Boycotts

Prices have been driven down by market boycotts and the refusal of Japan and
the EU to import genetically modified grain.

Many farmers are seeing a smaller harvest than they had with conventional
crops. Some studies show that modified soybeans produced 6-7% less yield per
acre than conventional soybeans.

The additional cost of separating GM from non-GM products adds to losses.

"This has probably been from a historical view the biggest step backwards in
terms of productivity in the current era," says Dr. Charles Benbrook of
Benbrook Consultant Services.  Benbrook previously served as an agricultural
policy analyst on the President's Council on Environmental Quality


Timor Aid a Trojan horse?
From ABC Radio News, November 16


East Timor's Catholic leader Bishop Carlos Belo has joined the chorus of
complaints against international aid organisations.

Bishop Belo warned there was a danger that the United Nations mission to
rebuild the former Portuguese colony could mirror problems associated with
East Timor's 24-year occupation by Indonesia.

During that time, millions of dollars were provided by Jakarta to develop
the country, but most of it flowed back to Jakarta.

He said  there was a danger that UN funds would benefit foreign interests
most -- and not the people.


Editorial

GST battle not over

--Insist all parties put up or shut up!

AUSTRALIA has for some time been under pressure to institute a Goods and Services Tax in order that the costs of maintaining government services may be shifted towards Australians (who of course live here and have to pay GST) and not foreign investors.

When a group of Australian Democrat Senators defied their party's balloted policy and helped the Howard Government establish a GST in Australia, it looked like game, set and match so far as Australian consumers were concerned.

Making matters seem even more cut and dried, Labor had been proclaiming that once the tax was in there'd be no getting rid of it.

Lately, however, Labor has been moderating its stand, and talking of getting rid of the GST, or at the very least mauling it, on gaining office.

And within the Australian Democrats a ballot has been launched to determine whether those who negotiated the GST are to go on being supported to lead that party in the Senate. If their leadership is confirmed, they could be expected to oppose repeal of the package which they introduced in conjunction with the Coalition.

Now that the regressive burden of the GST is becoming increasingly plain, and a window of opportunity to get rid of it is opening, it becomes especially important for Australian electors who stand to be devastated by it to insist that all parties and independents declare incontrovertibly their stand on its being repealed after the next election.

True democracy would allow a citizen-initiated referendum to disallow the tax package, but even representative democracy can be made to work for the people if we all play our cards carefully.

[This editorial is the responsibility of the Editor]


TASMANIA DEFIES CANBERRA
OVER  SALMON  IMPORTS

From an article by Heather Long in The Examiner, Launceston.

The Tasmanian Government will usurp the authority of the Federal
Government by imposing its own disease permit system on salmon imports.


It is prepared to go to the High Court to defend its right to do so.

The State's chief veterinary officer Rod Andrewartha has applied his
authority to declare Tasmania a protected area under the Animal Health Act.

The move is not an outright ban on salmon imports, but means anyone
importing salmon products into the State will need a permit.

Primary Industries, Water and Environment Minister David Llewellyn said
Tasmania's actions could stop all salmon from being imported to the State if
necessary.

Must be disease-free

"And unless we are sure through the permit arrangement that the disease
status of fish is appropriate, it wont come in," Mr Llewellyn said.

The Government's actions come after it was announced in Canberra that
trans-Tasman salmon imports would be allowed into Australia.

Mr Llewellyn said that Mr Andrewartha had based his decision on the
knowledge that whirling disease, which attacks salmonids, already existed in
New Zealand but not in Tasmania.

Tasmanian politicians and aquaculture groups yesterday called on the
Australian public to boycott NZ salmon imports.

Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association executive officer Tony Smithies said
the association was appalled that the Federal Government had agreed to allow
the New Zealand imports while the Senate inquiry into the issue was still in
progress.

Background article: Australia's ban on salmon imports trumped by WTO


 Protest at Perth DFAT office on November 30

By BRIAN JENKINS

Nov 30 is the International Day of Action against the manipulated 'New Round' liberalisation agenda of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Action will be taken in public by hundreds of thousands in Seattle and millions throughout the world.

The logical PLACE for such action in Perth is the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in mid-city Sherwood Court. The Plaza out front is a natural meeting place for up to a couple of hundred citizens. The TIME for action is any time/all day on November 30.

I know of no PLAN for action, but I don't need one. I will just go to Sherwood Plaza that day and talk to my fellow citizens about the WTO's bad effects on my world and the treachery of DFAT in selling out Australians (and East Timorese) to curry favour with foreign investors.

I know at least three people who will be there holding placards at 8 am when the DFAT cats start arriving for work. The placards will say "STOP WTO ROUND - TURN AROUND!". I know another six who will meet us on the Plaza at lunchtime. Who knows, if the word gets around, there could be interesting discussions all day on the Plaza!

So, if you and your friends are planning to be in town on Nov 30, there is at least one interesting place to go. See you there! Pass the word round, and let me know (phone 08 9246 3882, fax 08 9246 4284 or email) if you hear of any organised action by unions or other groups. I'll post it on the web at http://www.iinet.net.au/~jenks/n30.html


SOUP KITCHEN CAMPAIGN FOR SYDNEY

Sydney activists are planning a soup kitchen outside the DFAT offices in that city on November 30 as part of a day of protest against the Seattle WTO meeting.

The day's events are:

11.00-12.00 - Stop the WTO's Poverty Agenda - SoupKitchen Protest
DFAT offices, 100 Williams Street, Central Sydney

12.30 -1.30pm Campaign and Book Launch at NSW Parliament House
Stopping the Juggernaut: Public interests versus the MAI (Pluto Press)
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
With Peter Garrett, Meredith Burgmann, Lee Rhiannon

Sydney contact and media spokesperson: Dr James Goodman, phone 02 9514 2714, Fax: 02 9514 2332



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