The Guardian 8 March, 2006
The Australian Financial Review last week informed us that ASIO is increasing its ties with business. The secret police will share more intelligence on terrorist threats with companies. No surprise there: the phoney war on terrorism, like the real war in Iraq, is about boosting corporate profits. In an interesting statement, ASIO director Paul O’Sullivan said that under the government-established Business Advisory Group "we’ve come to understand that the critical infrastructure of the nation is largely in private sector hands". Privatisation threatens the nation’s security! O’Sullivan also made quite a strange observation. Last November ASIO arrested 19 suspects, 18 of who were born in Australia, but there was no evidence "of any link to outside control" with any of them. Of course he’s pushing the idea that there are "home-grown" terrorists, basically that we should be afraid of our neighbours. He added, ludicrously, that ASIO’s biggest challenge are "the terrorists we don’t know about".
In Queensland, the Beattie Government’s privatisation program is set to take off in a big way with $5.6 billion of public-private partnerships to construct and manage infrastructure in the next 12 month These include an airport link, a road and rail corridor, a mass transit project and a busway. Said Peter Beattie: "We are not here to make bankers wealthy, we are actually here to deliver outcomes for taxpayers." Yeah, right.
What about this for an oxymoron? Airservices Australia has announced it will cut hundreds of jobs to make the national air traffic controller "more efficient". How’s that? Three hundred jobs will go first up over the next 15 months in the finance and human resources areas. Next up will be cuts to aviation rescue, technical and engineering services and air traffic control. Airservices chief executive Greg Russell stated that "these changes are necessary to ensure our organisation is best prepared to safely and efficiently face the challenges and requirements of an ever-changing aviation industry." In other words, the major airlines, which are facing increased costs, have demanded that air navigation services reduce fees, hence the dangerous job cuts.
CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is Andrew Robb, the Howard Government’s recently appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Robb’s Liberal Party branch in Victoria distributed the offensive cartoons that have sparked protests in several countries because they denigrate Islam, in an e-mail newsletter. What do they talk about at their branch meetings?