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Mon, Aug. 2nd, 2004, 07:59 pm
Will only the Greens and the Democrats stand up for this country?

(All references to Greens and Democrats are of the Australian variety.)
Labor has decided it will vote for the Free Trade Agreement with America. Watch as our much smaller economy gets trampled. I freely admit I don't know much about economics, but nobody has given me an intelligent argument about why the FTA will be good for this country, and based on this government's track record at dealing with America, I have to assume this is a bad thing. (Our "reward" for supporting America in the war on Iraq.) I was going to do a rant about how I felt uncomfortable about the Greens trying to usurp Labor's policy-making by trying to base a preferences deal on concessions, the key one being to reject the FTA, but the point is now moot. While I'm opposed to the FTA, I wanted Labor to form its own judgement about what is good for this country. I wanted Labor to show some signs of leadership, something it has thus far failed to do in this campaign. By abdicating their moral right to govern, they have given up their prospects of forming government.

More than ever, this country needs a strong balance of power party for the Senate. And with the Democrats' vote hovering around one percent in all opinion polls after their leader's disgraceful drunken brawling in the Senate (this is not an image I want the rest of the world to have of Australians), I fear the Democrats can no longer fill this role. It is up to the Greens to fill the breach and be the progressive party that Australia needs.

And in the lead up to American election, here's something for you politically aware Americans of the left-wing persuasion. ;)

This image courtesy of Wolfie's Den. If you want to spread it around (and accuse me of starting a meme in the process), feel free, but please don't hammer poor Wolfie's ISP if you can help it. Put it up on your own web server first if you can.

Mon, Aug. 2nd, 2004 03:07 pm (UTC)

Ristin is right about the Greens. And I've got to say, as an American, my feelings were trampled upon reading this, Marko.

I initially opposed NAFTA (North American Free Trade Organization) fearing loss of jobs, but it's worked wonderfully. Free trade benefits EVERYBODY. Canadians will, if they're honest, admit to enjoying the merger of their economy with ours. The Mexicans have benefitted as well, though they're still suffering under a corrupt one-party system to benefit completely. We are trying to bring Chile into the agreement, and I'd like to bring Ireland and Britain into NAFTA as well. Australia will BENEFIT from trade with America.

I oppose GATT (the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade) only because it came with a world-government, useless U.N.-type beauracracy called the WTO (World Trade Organization), which, of course, like so much of the rest of the world, is only too keen to vote against America. So until we get a GATT without the WTO, I will continue to oppose it.

Tue, Aug. 3rd, 2004 01:30 am (UTC)

Nothing I've said here is intended to be anti-American, and I'm quite frankly surprised you see it that way. I kind of thought my "gift" at the end would be a hint that I've got nothing against Americans, even if maybe Bush and I don't see eye to eye. Ristin knew not to take it that way.

As for the benefits of free trade, I have a Mexican friend who will tell you a different story about how well the Mexicans have fared. Free trade sounds like a very good idea to me if you have a big economy. The fact that an American senator described this deal as a "slam-dunk" for America should make me nervous, I think. A key industry for Australia (sugar) was left out of the deal. I may be wrong and the government's very optimistic projections may be borne out. Time will tell. My biggest concerns with the FTA are the impact it will have on copyright law in this country and on local culture. (I'm sure you'll agree with me that wanting to protect and nurture local content isn't "anti-American".)

Mon, Aug. 2nd, 2004 03:20 pm (UTC)

The fact that Australian companies will now be able to bid on US contracts, I believe, has the potential to bring a lot of money into the country, as does the ability to better our exporting industry. Sure, it's not going to be all our way, but neither is it going to be all the US's way.