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Protesters at the World Economic Forum were told that the meeting of World Economic leaders prior to the meeting of the World Trade Organisation later in September had nothing to do with them. It was a benign meeting of businessmen meeting to discuss matters of interest to their economic interests.

This was not the case. Matters discussed and consensus reached had everything to do with citizens in Victoria, Australia.

A perusal of three articles in The Age of the week September 16 to 24  2000 illustrates the jeopardy in which Premi8er Bracks is prepared to place the public facilities which have not yet been corporatised, outsourced and privatised in this State.

1. On September 12, 2000 Louise Dodson, the Chief Political Correspondent on The Age reported that while Chairing a key session, Mr Bracks said:  "the consensus of the session was there were not too many services which could not be outsourced as long as the rules were set and the competitive level playing field established." He added that the role of the government became "an urger, a promoter and a protector" The panel of eminent academics and advisers from Japan and the Philippines decided that only defence, diplomacy, monetary policy and fiscal policy were core government activities. Everything else could be outsourced as long as the government regulated it.

2. On September 17,2000 Ray Casino, from Undercurrents in an article entitled "Bracks might have Engineers but he is not listening" wrote"

"So now we know what Steve Bracks really thinks about being in government, and we owe it all to the World Economic Forum.

Apart from deriding some of the anti-WEF protesters in Melbourne last week as un-Australian, and opining that they had "deserved everything they got" at the hands of the police, the Victorian Premier's contribution to the forum's Asia-Pacific summit was to chair a panel discussion, entitled : " Re-Engineering the government-business relationship in the new economy".

'Re-engineering', for those who have not yet come across the term in political contexts, is a fascinating bit of Newspeak. To re-engineer something is to change it, of course: but the choice of a mechanical metaphor is presumably meant to suggest that the change under consideration is strictly technical: that is, it is a matter of deciding whether the end itself is really desirable. In other words, it is a way of avoiding worrying too much about what George Bush inelegantly called "the vision thing". ..

But sometimes reality intrudes anyway and that is what happened to this particular WEF panel. They did not so much concern themselves with ways of ensuring that the gears of government and business can mesh when they have to, as with a comprehensive re-definition of what government is for. This was "the vision thing" on any understanding of it, and the Premier, if his impromptu remarks in praise of the panel's work are any guide is an enthusiast for the vision.

It is a pretty strange vision for a Labor premier, even in these times when neoliberal ideology is ascendant everywhere. The gist of the panel's recommendations was that government, on the model of a lean and aggressively competitive modern corporation, ought to confine its activities to its core functions only, and to deal with private contractors for the provision of everything else. The list of these supposed core functions, after the government-business relationship has been appropriately re-engineered, turns out to be very small indeed: defence, diplomacy, monetary policy and fiscal policy. ....

He was, however, endorsing a panel report that effectively said this: provision of education is not a core function of government, and neither is provision of basic health care, or public transport, or adequate housing or even, presumably, the maintenance of law and order."


So, the truth is out. Mr Bracks is happy for our public education to be put out to tender to whatever corporations wish to make profits on our children's educational opportunity. And in this he is continuing to underline an education system for only the few elite who can afford to pay enough - or give adherence to the right religion.

The WEF was not a benign organisation and the protesters knew exactly what they were protesting against. But the World Trade Organisation - the world money makers dot want to know what the millions around the world affected by their decision think about them.


On Thursday September 14, 2000 page nine, we learn :

"The WTO deputy director-general Andy Stoler said the WTO could see benefits in avoiding another attempt to launch the round with a "big bang" ministerial meeting. Around the world, big economic meetings are now attracting large, violent street protests, such as those seen at last year's ministerial meeting in Seattle, and this week's World Economic Forum meeting in Melbourne.

Mr Stoler said the WTO had begun separate negotiations in Geneva on liberalisation of trade in agriculture and services, as well as a review demanded by developing countries of whether Europe and the United States were avoiding their commitments under the Uruguay Round agreement of 1994. All were key parts of the agenda that collapsed in Seattle.

"Now that we have agriculture and services under way, there's no reason why we couldn't agree to add on additional subjects" Mr Stoler told The Age. "if we can manage to advance the round quietly, rather than by a big bang, why not?"

A senior Australian official backed the proposal, saying it had wide support among the WTO's 138 member countries. So far the only country that has offered to host the next ministerial meeting is QATAR, and while it would be an inhospitable site to protests, the WTO is concerned about the symbolism of launching its new trade round in a feudal desert state. "

So there we have it. Public Education, one of our key public services, is on the agenda for "trade liberalisation" in the World Trade Organisation, and Australia has plenty of collaborators in our major political parties.


DOGS intends to continue with this battle - so watch our site for more information!














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Last modified:Monday, 25 April 2005