NEWS AND VIEWS
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Sending a Chinese Back Home
In March last year, according to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the United States State Department, the United Nations Special Rapporteur Nowak reported that Falun Gong practitioners accounted for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in Chinese government custody. In its Country Report on Human Rights Practices, the US Bureau gave no judgment as to the truth or otherwise of that allegation but it did have this to say about the way adherents to this rather strange organisation are treated in China:
In Australia this week, as a Falun Gong adherent in the country illegally was prepared for deportation, a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald saying: "We do not return anyone where it will be a breach of our international obligations."
Finding Kevin Rudd's Patsy
Every Labor Party leader needs a patsy when it comes Federal Conference time. At some stage of the managed debates, the script will call on the top dog to assert himself. An opponent will be allowed to bark out an objection or two before being crushed by a decisive vote in the leader's favour. For next month's conference, Doug Cameron, the federal secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, is being prepared for this essential and ritualistic defeat.
As a self proclaimed spokesman for the left, Mr Cameron will be allowed, even encouraged, to argue for Labor to return to its past support of protection for manufacturing industry. Delegates will hear him urge the banning of free trade deals and public private partnerships. There will be a call for the removal of tax on superannuation payouts because it weakens the traditional pension safety net for retired workers. In the cause of old-fashioned equity the first-home owner's grant should not be available to the wealthy. Evil rich speculators should not benefit from negative gearing tax incentives.
Mr Cameron is sure to play the villain's role with panache and, as a trade union leader with ambitions to enter federal parliament himself and then advance his way to the ministry, will keep the rhetoric within the acceptable limits which Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd told his Caucus colleagues about yesterday. “Internal party democracy is important,” a caucus spokesman quoted Mr Rudd as saying. The spokesman added, according to the AAP report, that the leader was “relaxed about the debate – what was important was the tone of the debate.”
What will make it even more important for Mr Rudd is that the opposition debaters will come essentially from the ranks of trade union delegates to the Conference. The Parliamentary Party knows it is locked in to committing itself to reversing much of Prime Minister John Howard's industrial relations legislation but it wants to do all it can to pretend that a Labor Government would not be a trade union puppet. Mr Rudd crushing powerful union bosses on the conference floor will be a powerful and necessary symbol of his independence.
|© Richard Farmer 2007|