26 April 1999
weekly opinion

The independent Senator Harradine from Tasmania is behaving in a way that is an example to all parliamentarians.  While the Democrats are seeking to have uncooked food excluded from the GST, while the Coalition attempts to steamroller their legislation through, while Labour stonewalls, Senator Harradine presses onwards, requiring that the Coalition prove it's assurances that "no Australian will be worse off".

It does seem that he has uncovered at least two groups that will be worse off.  The most glaring example is self funded retirees.   Of what use is an offsetting taxation reduction to a person who has prepaid income tax?    Pensioners are also treated inequitably, the compensation offered should be tied to the original CPI (included housing).  Otherwise their compensation could well be eroded by inflation.

The writer expects to be a self funded superannuant because he pays income tax on his contributions to a superannuation scheme.


President Habibe has promised peace in the conquered colony of Timor (population ~ 800,000).   Our government should take his assurances at face value, and show more concern for the structure of the upcoming Indonesian elections which will determine the stability and happiness of the Indonesian people for decades to come.

Last year the Indonesian people of Java ran amok and deposed the nepotistic President Suharto in favour of Vice President Habibe.  President Habibe has promised to hold more democratic elections in June 1999.

For too long has this nation of 210 million people suffered unrepresentative & paternalistic government.   It is up to Australians to help the people of Indonesia obtain a fair and democratic election.

A fair and democratically elected government in Jakarta is more likely to offer the Timorese people a fair plebiscite.


NATO celebrated it's fiftieth birthday last week with heavy bombing raids on Serbia.

Sixty years earlier on 20 April 1939 Adolf Hitler celebrated his fiftieth birthday with "the most impressive military parade ever seen in Germany".

On 28 April 1939 Hitler denounced the negotiations for a resolution of Danzig's status, and demanded that Poland allow the ethnically German city to hold a plebiscite to join with Germany.  World War II started about four months later on 31 August 1939 when Poland (encouraged by the UK) refused the Germans in Danzig permission to have a plebiscite to join with Germany, and refused German access by road and rail to East Prussia and Danzig.

There are calls for NATO to use troops to invade Serbia.  Last week NATO continued to bomb Serbia to enforce the right of ethnic Albanian Kosovans to set up an independent state.

To date NATO claims a score of about six bridges, a train and a column of tractors.  Last week NATO tried to get Slobbodan by bombing the Serbian equivalent of the "White House" but apparently he wasn't home.  Then NATO bombed the TV network studios while Slobbodan was giving a live interview, but unfortunately they missed him again, all they got was a score of technicians.  Apparently they didn't kill enough technicians because a few hours later Serbian national TV was back on line.

According to NATO:   All fatalities caused by the Serb army are among "refugees".  If this is so, what has happened to the 80,000 KLA?  Is there any truth to the story that NATO is bombing the Serbian army in Kosovo at the behest of KLA spotters?   Is a captured KLA spotter the reason that NATO bombed two widely separated refugee columns in one hour of last week?

NATO insists that Serbia is getting desperate because the bombing is hurting.  Serbia has admitted that the bombing is hurting.  Serbia reported that NATO has destroyed about 20 schools, the philosophy department at Belgrade university, a few monasteries and about 500 people.  NATO's press agent says words to the effect that:  These things happen.  They are better off than the Kosovans in refugee camps.

To me it looks as if NATO is getting desperate.   By now NATO must have deleted most of Serbia's remotely political infrastructure.  Soon NATO will have to start bombing things like the municipal water pumping & purification plants and the municipal town halls.  Then what?  City blocks with people inside?  And then NATO's press agent will say:  They are better off than the Kosovans in cemeteries.

NATO's problem is, the longer that the war goes on, the more time that everyone will have to discover just how it all started.  Wasn't it Winston Churchill who said of Goebbels "ministry of information":

You can fool some of the people some of the time;
You can't fool all of the people all of the time;
Well that might be a misquote, but I think it captures the essence.

And Willie has got form.
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