Little discussed but highly relevant in the Visy/Amcor case is the squeezing out of competition. The reason the two got together originally was to block the US company Stone from entering the Australian market. That Visy then shafted Amcor provides insight to the pain customers have been feeling for years. Amcor played by the rules of their collusion; if you were an existing Visy client, they wouldn’t even provide a quote, or if they did it was double the existing price.

Residents of Fitzroy Crossing are being made to suffer financially for threatening the profits of the town’s alcohol vendors. Prices in the “Tarunda” supermarket have soared following recent restrictions on take-away alcohol sales. Tarunda is owned by the Leedal group, which owns large shares in both of Fitzroy Crossing’s liquor outlets. The Department of Consumer and Employment Protection (WA) advise that increasing prices in the supermarket to offset losses at the bar is legal. The liquor restrictions, imposed since the first Tuesday of this month, followed campaigns by local community and women’s groups. The first effect was an increase of more than ten dollars a carton for low strength beer, to $45; this was attributed to loss of a supposed subsidy from sales of stronger alcohol under the previous liquor accord; possibly of little concern to those who had campaigned for a complete ban on sales. Pressure on those who called for the alcohol restrictions is now coming from several directions. Threats of “payback” for any road deaths are commonplace, implying responsibility for drivers returning drunk from other towns. A march is being organised by those interested in overturning the ban. However, increasing the cost of healthy food choices in the only store, in a town with an overwhelming burden of chronic disease and poverty, is a particularly hard and unanticipated effect of the liquor restrictions.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator John Watson has not one but two former staff members taking him to task in the Industraoian Relations Commission. Not a good look.

Interesting that the Herald Sun only picked up on “those” student political connections of Julia Gillard. Not so long ago (but conveniently excised from her profile now) was the claim made that she had been the first student-elected President of the Adelaide University Union (1981, from memory). Not quite true – during her term the title of the position was changed from “Chair” to “President”. The first student-elected head of the body was in 1936. Then there’s the little matter of being the Australian Union of Students President – just a few months before the organisation’s complete collapse, but right in the middle of the demise. Hmm…

You’ll be interested to know that the Wilderness Society boxed themselves into an interesting glasshouse while protesting outside Peter Garrett’s Sydney Office last Friday. They had their protestors turn up in a hired gas-guzzling pink Cadillac – and parking in a disabled zone outside the office in order to get better photos!

Spotted in Bennelong last weekend was a fresh batch of John Howard posters. No mention of him being PM. Has he “signed” over that post to Peter Costello already? Or is it begrudging recognition that Kevin Rudd is bound for the Lodge?

Re. Your discussion of the Oz opinion section and its editor: on the issue of abortion very few pro-choice opinion pieces have been published over the past couple of years – in fact the pro-choice movement has virtually given up on trying due to such a low level of success. However, anti-choice protaganists including Albrectsen, Tankard- Reist, Pearson and others often write about the issues. This is disturbing, particularly given that the majority of Australians are pro-choice.

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the Australian rugby shirt makes it look as though the team is playing in bra and panties? At certain angles the dark side panelling gives the appearance of the female form. Then the upper section seen from the back looks like a girl’s top and bra straps. Looks to me as though the Sydney Mardi Gras has had a hand in this.

Election date. The mother of a daughter who works for a WA Liberal says that parliament will sit next week.

I was just push polled by the Department of Immigration survey. At the end of the survey they identified the department of immigration as the client. “Do you think that citizenship test allows migrants to contribute positively to Australian society?” As if permanent residents are unable to contribute! “Do you think that the citizenship test targets people from non-english speaking backgrounds?” What does this question mean? It targets (or should at least target) all potential citizens. This is just a ruse so that Immigration can say “most respondents think that the citizenship is an excellent way for migrants to contribute to Australian society.” I’m off to have a shower.

The legal area of the Australian Federal Police is examining the decision of the Industrial Relations Commission to reinstate sacked DFAT officer Trent Smith. DFAT has decided to comply with the Commission’s ruling, which was critical of the Department’s processes and witnesses: A range of other issues that would be of interest to criminal investigators emerged in the course of the hearings, including blackmail, perjury and the destruction of evidence.

Peter Fray

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