Western Australian

People against global
corporate control

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Newsletter of the STOP-MAI
Campaign Coalition

No. 7, October, 2000

Prof. Walden Bello's Melbourne S11 speech

". . .the dominant institutions of globalization can no longer handle the multiple problems thrown up by the process of corporate-led globalization. Instead of trying to reform the multilateral institutions, would it in fact be more realistic and 'cost-effective,' to use a horrid neo-liberal term, to move to disempower, if not abolish them, and create totally new institutions that do not have the baggage of illegitimacy, institutional failure, and Jurassic mindsets that attach to the IMF, World Bank, and WTO?" Go to full speech.

Join N25--the people’s economic forum

WE'RE not the WEF or IMF, we haven't amassed huge resources to fund mighty conferences and buy governments to ring them with police, but we're well on track with a Perth forum of our own.

Who's "we"? Ultimately the general public, sometimes nowadays called "civil society". The acquirers have their get-togethers to consider their interests, we're staging one to consider the community's: the Convention on Globalisation which was foreshadowed in the last issue of Citizens' Voice and will be held on Saturday November 25 in the 630-seat Elizabeth Jolley Lecture Theatre at Curtin University.

It is clear that our governments and media prefer people not to discuss these matters which are of vital commercial interest to them and their backers. If we didn't organise a conference, who would?

Of course we don't pretend to represent the entire population, we are a coalition of community groups who are concerned about the effects of corporate globalisation on society and want to know a great deal more about it. Indeed we think it's important that everyone should know a great deal more about it -- that it is the entire community's business.

Although Stop-MAI (WA) first started the ball rolling the convention is being shaped by people of a very wide variety of viewpoints as a glance at the keynote speaker list shows. Prominent participants include Unions WA Secretary Tony Cooke, AFTINET national coordinator Dr Pat Ranald of the NSW Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the national president of the National Civic Council, Peter Westmore. The 16 specialist workshops will be led by a galaxy of academics, activists and public figures including former senators Michael Beahan (UNAWA), Dee Margetts, Jo Vallentine and Jean Jenkins; Caroline Wood (Amnesty International), Sr Veronica Brady (UWA), Hon Chrissy Sharp, Hon Jim Scott, MLC, and Hon Giz Watson, MLC, Alannah MacTiernan, MLA, GeneEthics national director Bob Phelps, lawyer Jenny Westaway, political scientist Jane Hutchison and many others.

The common thread is a determination that the nature and implications of corporate globalisation be examined critically by the people themselves, and a faith that enough Western Australians realise this for such a convention to be a success.

Organising an event like this is a complex and demanding task, and early registrations will help the process no end. Download an RTF flyer with details of times, venue, speakers and workshops and of registration. Or you can get details and an application form from www.ecwa.asn.au/n25 . A quick response will be greatly appreciated. Also, earlybird registration (before October 13) is 25 per cent cheaper !!


Entire tug workforce dumped


IN an anti-competitive coup, the Court Government has given global giant Wijsmuller, in partnership with the extreme anti-union Queensland company Riverside Marine, exclusive licence to conduct towage of all shipping in and out of Bunbury for the next five years.

Result: All local tug workers out of a job and blacklisted from re-employment in Bunbury.

Their union, the Maritime Union of Australia, is leading a counter-charge. Already there's been a march through Bunbury with support from Fremantle workers.

It won't rest there. We'll keep you posted on further developments.

**COMPETITION POLICY: Employees compete, corporations merge and cut deals with government -- see item on mergers in this issue.

  One of the penalties for refusing to
participate in politics is that you end up
being governed by your inferiors. --

Editorial comment

Prague: Key to street mayhem

ONCE again we are seeing mayhem as people in their thousands take to the streets to challenge the replacement of democracy by corporate rule through unelected organisations like the IMF, accountable only to their owners.

Perhaps if the nostrums of the IMF were put to popular vote where they are supposed to apply, there would be less need for these confrontations. (See reader's letter).

The key to hostility to the IMF is its insistent demands for "structural reform" both in the "South" (the poorest countries) and in the "North" (the wealthiest countries). Debt to the bankers, crippling in the "South" and increasingly so in the "North", is a lever for enforcing "structural reforms" which mean directing domestic policies to enriching the trans-national corporations at the expense of the people.

The emphasis for the "South" is on putting export before domestic needs, the TNCs taking advantage of the cheap labour and poor environmental and social conditions. The emphasis in the "North" is on de-industrialising and squandering the purchasing power of the people to import the cheap goods tariff-free from the "South". The inevitable outcome is loss of job security and income for the great majority as the wretched conditions of the "South" are exacerbated and also spread "Northwards."

Debt lever for asset grabs

Running through all countries is the demand to "convert debt into equity" through privatisation of public assets -- the classic use of enforced debt as a lever to grab assets. The "reforms" demanded by the IMF have been increasing, not decreasing, indebtedness.

The outcome for the people of all countries is impoverishment, with much worse in prospect.

That's why the protestors have been out on the streets in Prague. That's why the Prague cops have attacked them with the savagery that the same police unleashed on people protesting against Communist tyranny not so long ago. That's why about 900 people have been arrested, and many remain in gaol where they are denied legal rights, beaten, and in at least one lockup placed at the mercy of Nazis in cahoots with the police.

Names and identifying features of many of these police are known through videophotography. Justice demands that all prisoners are released and compensated, and identifiable police officers who have broken the law in their zeal to curry favour are punished.


S11: Ex-policeman blows the whistle

DEAR S11: I offer my assistance and hope my advice may be useful to you. I am an ex-member of the Victoria Police (and ashamed of it after Tuesday), having resigned in 1994. I am currently undertaking a full time law degree at Deakin University. I spent four years as a member of the police Special Operations Group and concluded my service teaching use of force at the Police Academy. I have taught restraint & control, baton & handcuff and firearms courses to the security industry over the last 6 years and have also produced a video entitled "Restraint & Control for Security Industry Professionals" which is distributed from the United States across the world. Your lawyers are probably aware of this but force can only be used by any person (including police) in Victoria subject to the constraints of section 462A of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.)

I quote: "A person may use such force not disproportionate to the objective as he believes on reasonable grounds to be necessary to prevent the commission, continuance or completion of an indictable offence or to effect or assist in effecting the lawful arrest of a person committing or suspected of committing any offence"

Illegal and an assault

Any use of force outside these parameters is illegal and an assault. In Victoria force cannot be used to disband protestors unless they are being arrested for some offence and if force is used only what is necessary, reasonable and proportionate to make that arrest. As well as being completely outside these parameters, the police at the casino when using their batons were using force outside the parameters of what is known as a use of force continuum.

I am an expert in the use of force by law enforcers, having also trained with the Los Angeles Police SWAT team, the U.S. Navy SEALS, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and the Australian Army SAS.

If you are considering supporting criminal or civil legal action against the Victoria Police by any protester injured I would be very, very, very pleased to offer my assistance as an expert witness or offer any other advice I may be able to give you. Please contact me either through my email, cri@frontsight.com.au or phone 9419 3331 or mobile 0412 488 450.

Keep up the good work.

Best regards

Gary John Fliegner.

"We’d devastate your labour market"

--Chinese tycoon gives us fair warning

LIBERALISED trade with China would wreck Western economies because of China's extremely cheap labour, Mr David Tang, chairman of Shanghai Tang, told the WEF grabfest in Melbourne.

According to the Agribusiness Examiner (Issue 88, Sept 25), Mr Tang, after listening to delegates crowing about the huge sales expected in China, said "I've never understood why you want to engage us --- we've got fantastically low labour costs.

"China's going to completely devastate your whole labour force. They have labour costs 15 times, 30 times lower than America . . I couldn't give a toss about how your economy is trying to sell your things to us."

Beware of WTO

Mr Tang said the growing middle class of Asia were certainly a ripe market for western consumer goods, "but what I want to consider is how we're going to sell to you. All the stuff you're going to make, we're going to completely destroy in terms of costs," he said.

"I wouldn't concentrate on the rest of the world's companies selling to Asia. I would watch out if I were you about the World Trade Organisation "

Earlier, the WEF delegates heard China's Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation Shi Guangsheng say it would not be long before China was a full member of the WTO and once it became a full member, China would speed up the opening of trade in goods and services and strengthen its links with other members.

  The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people
tolerate the growth of private power to a point where
it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself
--Franklin Roosevelt


So much for competition!

IN 1980 there were 94 corporate merger deals worldwide, worth a total of $US 33.6 billion (all figures corrected to the 1998 value of the dollar). Fourteen of these deals, totalling $US 6.1 billion, or 18% of the total, were international.

In 1999 there were 32,088 corporate merger deals worldwide, worth a total of $US 3375.5 billion. Of these deals, 9655, totalling $US 1133.2 billion or 34% of the total, were international.

1980 and 1999 are not specially picked freak years. This explosion of corporate mergers is listed in a table prepared by Michael Renner, senior researcher at the WorldWatch Institute, listing the number of corporate mergers and their dollar value for each year from 1980 to 1999. The rise in mergers (many or most of them really acquisitions) continues relentlessly for the entire period.

Click here to see the complete table.


Other accounts

(The following and a wealth of other up-to-date information are obtainable from the international listserve based in Canada, http://www.flora.org/flora.mai-not/ )

Commentator Edward Said has prepared for Znet Commentary a very clear and compelling account of the massive encroachment of global corporate power in the past couple of decades and this, too, is available from Citizens' Voice. Go to full account.

Interestingly, the Canadian secret police have made a report on the world antiglobalism movement which serves as a very lucid account (from a secret police viewpoint) of the encroachments of global corporate business and the global growth of resistance. The document is entitled "Anti-Globalization: A Spreading Phenomenon"

  Did you notice this beauty in "The West"?

COLUMNIST Tony Rees, in The West Australian on September 23, explained in very clear terms just why the protesters were in Melbourne for the World Economic Forum and why as a community we should be deeply concerned about the whole globalisation process. And he concluded:

"Isn't it about time we got real? The past two decades have seen the most insidious growth of unrepresentative power in history. The relentless pursuit of profit, carefully sanitised to promote a feelgood atmosphere of wealth creation shared by all, has seen the emergence of a force which has the potential to create a revolution Marx could never in his wildest moments have conceived: the concentration in the hands of a small number of people who never have to face electors and whose binding desire, whose sole responsibility, is the generation of more wealth. Not wealth to be distributed to those who have little but huge piles of dosh to be divvied up between those who have plenty - and an insatiable desire for more."

The full story is available at http://www.flora.org/flora.mai-not/21778




AUSTRALIA'S big grains export industry has begun cashing in on worldwide consumer fears about genetically modified (GM) food by selling canola to Europe with a non-GM price premium.

The sales involve about 150,000 tonnes of canola, for shipment early next year at a non-GM premium of about US$5 a tonne, well-placed industry sources told Reuters.

Traders said Australia's non-GM canola competes directly with Canadian GM canola on export markets, and here consumer resistance, strengthened by the U.S. inability to separate all GM grains from non-GM grains, was boosting Australian sales, traders said.

It was hard to gauge the exact premium because currencies, freight rates and futures all came into play, but it appeared to be up to US$5 a tonne on the current stable market of around the mid-US$190s fob.

However, Europe is under pressure from the US through WTO to make GM food easier to sell by concealing its presence from customers.

According to The Guardian (London), Washington has warned the EU that it is considering making a formal complaint to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva on the grounds that labelling GM products is unfair discrimination against US goods and therefore a restraint of trade. The US says it will ask the WTO to impose sanctions against EU exports if GM labels are not removed from supermarket shelves.

WTO challenge to French asbestos ban

THE WTO is hearing a complaint by asbestos producers in Canada, Zimbabwe and Russia that the French Government has banned the sale of asbestos and the EU as a whole is following suit.

Patrick Herman and Anne Thebaud-Mony write in Le Monde Diplomatique (http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/en/2000/07/ 15asbestos) that 40 years after asbestos was shown conclusively to be a killer the WTO's disputes body (DSB), accountable only to global corporate business, is considering the case, and as long as the European countries choose to remain subservient to WTO they'll have to abide by the ruling.

A similar secret DSB hearing led to a ruling that the EU must import hormone-contaminated meat from the US. (M)

[Editorial comment: Until 1962 the asbestos industry was well aware that asbestos is deadly but it was not regulated as scientific proof hadn't been produced in public. Now it has, but the industry wants the scientists ignored. Contrast Frankenstein food, which is where asbestos was before 1962: not yet publicly proved to be deadly. Listen to the scientists, we're urged. They haven't proved anything against GM food (yet). Labelling it so that customers can decide for themselves is anti-scientific! See main story this page.]

Labelling rules for Australia

UNDER the provisions of Australian and New Zealand food legislation, every package of food and in some cases un-packaged food must be labelled. The labelling requirements of Standard A18 state that if a food is genetically modified it must be declared on the label of packaged food, and, in the case of unpackaged foods, in conjunction with the name of the food at the point of sale. Prepared meals sold by restaurants and caterers for immediate consumption are not required to be labelled when the necessary information can be requested of the serving staff.]

See ANZFA's December 1999 Draft Protocol for the labelling of genetically modified foods.


Doubts about all soy, GM or real
The huge soy industry is rushing into GM soy crops, but new evidence is indicating that even natural soy products are not the panacea they are reputed to be, and are actually a serious long-term health risk. See article by Jane Phillimore in The Observer (London).


Letter to the Editor

WHAT CAN BE DONE? (The case for CIR)

GRASSROOTS Politics in Australia today is a ferment of angst and disillusionment. The latest strike against a fair go, the GST, has the approval of the major political parties -- they only disagree on the detail.

Most Australians know something is wrong but wonder what can they do? Little groups have sprung up all over the country trying to do something Some are more successful than others, but suspicious of each other and divided, and ultimately they are steamrolled by the political establishment.

Citizens' Initiated Referendum

If Australia's citizens had the power of Citizens' Initiated Referendum (CIR) at their disposal a referendum could be held when sufficient people feel strongly enough about any issue eg. Should Australia get rid of the GST? Yes or No. Should Australia cut back on levels of foreign ownership in this country'? Yes or No.

Citizens' Initiated Referendum is a system whereby if say 3%-5% of the voters sign a petition requesting a referendum be held on any topic, the government of the day is bound to oblige and hold the referendum within a certain time frame

I believe CIR was originally intended to be in our Constitution but was nobbled along the way presumably by those out to preserve the privilege of the powerful few. Ultimately the people themselves must have power to be able to check the excesses of their elected representatives. Without this power, which Citizens' Initiated Referendum would give them, they may as well "whistle Dixie" as far as trying to force politicians to do anything is concerned

A referendum proposing an amendment to our Federal Constitution to incorporate Citizens' Initiated Referendum would galvanise all the forces of those "brassed off" with our present system. A strategic alliance or People's Movement of these forces with the one limited but attainable objective of C.I.R. would be unstoppable.

May 2001 centenary

What a great and fitting opportunity that would make available to the people of Australia. But even more fitting and appropriate if that referendum could be held on the centenary of our Federal Constitution in May next year.

So let's put aside personal ambitions and personal agendas, roll up our sleeves, join forces and make this possibility a reality.

Let us guard jealously the Australian tradition of a FAIR GO and guarantee freedom for our children and grandchildren.

Let us work together to enshrine Citizens' Initiated Referendum into our Constitution.

TONY GRIEVE, Lilydale, Victoria

  Don’t knock hypocrisy: it’s the first crack in their armour !

"AN enduring truth, a wise friend once explained to me, is that important social change nearly always begins in hypocrisy. First, the powerful are persuaded to say the appropriate words, that is, to sign a commitment to higher values and decent behavior. Then social activists must spend the next ten years pounding on them, trying to make them live up to their promises or persuading governments to enact laws that will compel them to do so. In the long struggle for global rules and accountability, this new phase may be understood as essential foreplay."

-- Comment by prizewinning US journalist William Greider, telling how corporations are now proclaiming themselves as committed to initiatives to promote human rights, environmental renewal and worker protection. Go to full story: 'Waking up the Global Elite'.


Story suppressed--Bolivia boots out TNC

IT'S impossible for the world's mainstream news media to ignore Seattle, Melbourne or Prague -- but events in the "South" (the poorer, super-exploited countries) are kept out of sight, out of mind

A remarkable story of war on the streets in Bolivia, culminating in the expulsion of an Anglo-American corporate giant in a stunning reversal of the march of globalism, has been all but suppressed in the "North" and ruthlessly suppressed in Bolivia itself.

All but suppressed, but not entirely. Some newspapers like the London Guardian and Observer have published an amazing account of these events by award-winning investigative journalist Gregory Palast. (See the breaking story in The Observer and a follow-up in The Guardian on the suppression of the news.)

The street battles in which five demonstrators and one policeman were killed erupted after an Anglo-American corporation got hold of Bolivia's water utility and -- in cahoots with the World Bank -- hiked the price of water in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba by 35 to 150 per cent.

This led to a general strike, which led to repression, which led to street demonstrations, which led to the murder of five demonstrators by police (and the death of one of the murderers), which led to greater protests -- which finally led to the embattled President cancelling the price hikes and taking the utility back from the corporation.

We strongly recommend that you read the outstanding original news coverage by Jim Schulz and Thomas Kruse.

EPILOGUE: Jim Schulz has recently reported that major protests are again spreading throughout Bolivia and especially through the region of Cochabamba.  Public school teachers throughout the country have been on strike for a week.  Residents of the Chapare jingle region of Cochabamba, about 90 miles from the city, have blockaded the major highway between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, two of the country's largest cities.  There the protest is against forced eradication of the remaining coca leaf crop, without due compensation from the government, and against the US’s construction of three major Bolivian military bases in the region. 

Closer to the city, as well as in La Paz, major highways have been blockaded by protesters, related to a variety of water and land rights issues. Protest leaders and government representatives are negotiating in several different forums, but at the same time the military is pounding protesters with tear gas grenades, and often live ammunition, which has caused deaths and many injured. See update report .


Grabbers deplore biodiversity treaty

FEDERAL politician Andrew Thomson, chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) which is currently inquiring into Australia's relationship with the WTO, has made his own lack of impartiality as a chairman and lack of commitment to Australia as a parliamentarian clear in a speech to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a body devoted to replacing democratic rule with corporate rule and production with acquisition.

He complains that a biodiversity treaty, debated in the open in the UN, interferes with trade rules negotiated in secret in the WTO, a narrow body accountable only to supranational corporate interests.

The speech is informative reading for people who are making submissions to the JSCT or are concerned about its role. The speech is reported in the IPA's Review magazine and a copy in Word RTF format can be downloaded from Citizens' Voice.


Academic revolt against neoclassical economics

THE French economics mainstream is in a state of shock and apprehension following dramatic and unexpected events late in June.

Economics students at the École Normale Supérieure, France's top institution of higher learning, were circulating with great success a petition protesting against excessive mathematical formalisation.

Throughout June and July an increasing barrage against neoclassical economics education came from one influential newspaper and periodical after another. The students, said a sympathetic Le Monde, call for an end to the hegemony of neoclassical theory.

Teachers have weighed in with a petition of their own along the same lines, with an impressive list of eminent signatories.

Meanwhile, The Minister of Education, Jack Lang, assured Le Monde that he would study closely the appeal from the students.

Backlash spreads

The backlash started in France but didn't stay there.

Under the heading "Economie autiste", the Belgian daily Le Soir reported on the events in France and offered its own analysis of neoclassical economics as a quaint political ideology masquerading as science.

And at the 10th World Congress of Social Economics at Cambridge University in August, American participants condemned the purge of non-neoclassical and non-mathematically oriented economists from university faculties in the USA, and the plunging standards of literacy among economics graduate students and colleagues.


Shell faces US court over Ogoni murders

THE writer Ken Saro-Wewa and eight others, executed by the Nigerian Government of the day for their opposition to environmental rape of their country, have returned to haunt Anglo-Dutch Shell on whose behalf they were hanged.

A US court has ruled that a lawsuit was lodged by the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York on behalf of three Nigerian emigrés to the US, including Saro-Wiwa's brother Dr Owens Wiwa.

The story is told in detail by Karen McGregor writing in Durban for The Independent, London (M). (Source)

Shell had appealed to have the suit thrown out, and the company has expressed concern at the disallowance of the appeal.

"We believe Shell facilitated Saro-Wiwa's execution," said Jenny Green, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, after the judgement. "We believe there is a basis in US law to hold Shell accountable."

Dr Owens Wiwa and the other plaintiffs claim to have suffered abuse or be related to victims of a state terror campaign against Ogonis who fought oil exploration in Nigeria's Rivers State. They specifically allege that Shell Nigeria:


Practical fair trade

The World Development Tea Coop Ltd believes in equitable trade and puts these principles into practice in competition with exploitative companies that dominate the Australian market for tea and coffee.

It imports (through the brand Trade Winds) pure Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, organic coffee and tea from Papua New Guinea, and coffee from East Timor and Colombia. All the products are processed and packaged in the countries of origin, establishing fair terms of trade and eliminating intermediaries. The Tea Coop has a network of voluntary distributors and community groups who sell Trade Winds tea and coffee to friends, neighbours and aid organisations.

Profits are returned to the communities of origin to fund educational projects and to promote sustainable development.

The World Development Tea Co-operative Ltd is at 8/8-24 Kippax Street Surry Hills NSW 2010,Tel. (02) 9281-8421 Fax (02) 9212-2468, Web site: www1.tpg.com.au/users/phillery/tradewinds/index.htm , email awdev@ozemail.com.au


In brief (M)

*Monsanto must pay $90m damages to the State of Philadelphia for contaminating a 12-storey state building with PCBs. Full story.

*Huge cash deals have been identified in securing Permanent Normal Trade Relations between the US and China. Full story.

*Three phases described for fight to get affordable AIDS treatment to Africans. Full story.

*The Tories are opposing the UK government's measures to curb double taxation rorts. Their reason: The curbs put the UK behind others in the race to the bottom. Story.

*Two Canadian scientists have developed a GM flax plant which they claim can't be killed. They call it the triffid (they really do). Email the editor if you want a copy.

*In an article in London's Financial Times, writer John Kay takes apart the fifteen-year New Zealand exercise in neoliberalism and concludes that the country has joined Argentina as a basket case that once was rich.

*"Eco Freako - the game" is now online at http://www.informaction.org

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