Indira Naidoo

The Sydney Morning Herald

Alvarez case raises dark questions

“The unfolding Vivian Alvarez case has left many immigrants, like me, feeling decidedly unsettled about the country we’ve called home for most of our lives,” writes Indira Naidoo. What would happen to me, she asks, if I was involved in an accident and became disoriented? “Until the Alvarez case I naively assumed that I would be taken to hospital and my family contacted immediately. Now there are other ominous possibilities to consider. I may wake up in a mental institution, a detention centre or, as Alvarez found herself, in another country.” Has it reached the stage where “foreign-looking” Australians should carry their passports with them – “just in case our citizenry is called into question and we end up deported to an alien country?” That would make the Australian passport a sort of “pass card” that “allows us passage to shop, to go to work and to school without fear of imprisonment or deportation” – shades of the racist policies that “forced my parents to eventually flee their home in South Africa in the late 1960s and build a new future for our family in Australia. Crikey Says: It sounds far-fetched, but if you put yourself in Indira Naidoo’s shoes it begins to sound less far-fetched.
David Barnett

The Australian

Labor lacks stomach for a fight

Alexander Downer is right, says David Barnett: the Labor Party’s record is one of “appeasement, isolationism and the shirking of international responsibilities.” Labor’s World War II prime minister John Curtin had no “stomach for leadership in time of war” and “walked the streets of Canberra late into the night when the troopships were bringing home my father and the rest of the army.” The ALP made a hero out of Curtin but, says Barnett, he was really a “disgrace” who was “held in contempt by the allies, was not invited to any summit, and he never visited the troops.” The ALP is a party that “stands ready always to take up the cudgels on behalf of terrorists,” argues Barnett, while under the Howard government Australia “got our reputation, and our self-esteem back.” As The Economist acknowledged in its cover story last week, Australia has become a country of disproportionate consequence in world affairs – “and the ALP fought against it every inch of the way,” says Barnett. Crikey Says: John Howard’s biographer leaps to the aid of the party and one of its preferred sons, Alexander Downer, as he comes under increasing fire for his curious view of history.
Kenneth Davidson

The Age

The fund for the future of the fund managers

Should the federal government give its budget surpluses back to taxpayers, invest directly in infrastructure and human capital – or “dabble in the stockmarket through the $16 billion Future Fund?” asks Ken Davidson. By “pumping extra billions into the market,” the government will cause share prices to rise – but that rise won’t “cause an increase in the profitability or the export performance of companies concerned.” Successful fund managers don’t create wealth, says Davidson, they “appropriate future wealth” and they would soon be “out of business if they made long-term investments in accordance with the felt needs of society.” Their ability lies in “anticipating market sentiment ahead of the herd,” so the most likely effect of the government pumping some $140 billion into the sharemarket will be to “boost share prices, add to consumption and raise the cost and so reduce the provision for vitally needed infrastructure.” The real cost of the Future Fund will be that funds won’t be available to deal with water conservation and desalination, communications upgrades, transport bottlenecks and hospital waiting lists – and this will “make everybody poorer in 2020,” says Davidson. Crikey says: The unfashionable view of the role of government, markets, capitalism and the usefulness of the Future Fund – which isn’t so unfashionable any more.

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