The World Trade Organisation: An Australian Guide is an introduction to this powerful organisation and the impacts of its policies on people and environment around the world. It has a special focus on the WTO’s impacts on Australia and Australians. You can download the PDF version of this guide here:
or read the web version here:
Global Trade Watch:
Global Trade Watch: An Explanation of Some Key Elements of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, and Predicted Impacts on Australia…
My Submission in opposition to the Aus/US FTA:
GATS, Coke and the Loss of Paradise:
Some of my earlier writing on the General Agreement on Trades and Services (the forerunner of the FTA)...
From Active Brisbane:
On Paradise Dam, GATS, FTA’s and the loss of Paradise
by Anne 8:29am Sat Jul 19 2003
With the Paradise Dam, our river flows will be reduced to BELOW State acceptable standards, the delicate ecosystems and local farming community that depends on our river will be squeezed tightly on the little that is left under the dam. Will it be enough? Obviously not, according to State flow figures.
“On Coke, GATS, and the loss of Paradise”
Friday 18 July, 2003
“Five year strategic plan” is what comes quickly to my mind when I think sadly about our beautiful river. The WTO, GATS, FTA’s, the crucifixion of the UN, ignorance of human rights conventions, the silence to our protests, the horrific situation of apathy in our community to genocide of populations of fellow men, women, and children. People, like you and I, who are simply “unacceptable or expendable”. In the chill wind I hear a voice that tells me, this is the “Real Thing”. Coca Cola is here.
The waters of Paradise are in the centre of this black mud.
The inevitability of the Irradiation plant, now built near Redcliffe at the Narangba Industrial Estate, a strong lobby of local residents and NGO’s uniting in their attempts to stop this plant, ignored totally. The realisation is clear that Queensland now has the ability to purify our river, clean enough for bottling. What a strange coincidence that Coka Cola has a great thirst for clean water at the moment, particularly when India’s local farming river population are crying “Coke is making us thirsty”. (Ref1)
With the gratitude and pats on the back all around for Coka Cola’s recent sugar contracts being a real bonus for our local economy, I tend to feel very nervous. Their sudden contractual demand for our local sugar, when, in fact, we all know that government subsidies (our taxes) are being used to keep this industry viable.
If sugar was a financially viable local product why would our government need to subsidise?
Strangely coincidental? I wonder. Perhaps the recent changes to water allocations, with the ability of individuals to sell off the water in our river, chunks of water to the highest bidder… Will Coke be buying our water via allocations when they own our “unviable” sugar industry? Is our water a more viable product on the international market? I think it may well be. With Paradise Dam on fast track, there will be plenty to sell in the short term.
I question, what will be the long-term consequences? With this dam, our river flows will be reduced to below State acceptable standards, the ecosystems and local farming community that depends on our river will be squeezed tightly on the little that is left under the dam. Will it be enough? Obviously not according to State flow figures.
So how do we get it back?
Well, guess what, Coke has a wonderful bottled water line. Taken from rivers and springs all over the world, and their bottles need filling to keep demand growing.
With a local sufficient supply (and a healthy river) where is the local demand to fill this market?
To destroy, by taking too much, and then to sell back seems to me to be a very skilful manipulation of our local (and global) economy. Coke is our very own global player, with, I would presume, a well thought out long term strategic plan.
“But of course that would never happen here!” scoffs your elected representatives, and “GATS??? Not sure what that is, but will look into it for you…” My mind wings back to the days of Joh, and, “don’t you worry about that”.
Well I have a sick feeling growing in the pit of my stomach that this scenario may be worth seriously worrying about. Why is our Government (so enthusiastic of becoming another state of the US), so supportive of economic growth through capitalism, and privatisation of our own natural resources? Has our global water supply been well researched, and it is about to be manipulated very cunningly and skilfully by the hands of a few?
On the same lines as I watched other organisations I have worked for carry out their own bloodthirsty strategic plans.
Strategic Plans are those little documents that all large companies have, they plan, they budget, and they look to the future on wonderful new ways to make money. They analyse markets and market influences 5, 10, 15 even 20 years into the future. All large company’s do them.
Wealthy people who are thirsty will buy clean water.
Thirsty people who are controlled well by a skilled and hardened “terrorist force” don’t argue very loudly. People who have stood by innocently, and allowed their every move to be watched due to fear propaganda instilled in their brains. Their every move documented while they digested their daily dose of “Neighbours” and did nothing to stop the steady errosion of their freedoms, and precious natural resources. Nope, they won’t put up much of a fight. Thirsty people get rich enough to buy their water or they die…
I wonder if I will be rich enough to buy my water.
I wonder… are you rich enough?
Or will you be one of the poor who will need to fight for your water?
Can you become a “terrorist” if your children are thirsty?
It happens every day, millions of people worldwide die of thirst and starvation as their lands are stolen, raped and controlled with bits of paper in the hands of a few.
Why don’t they hear our voices when we demand answers?
My memory jogs me back to a time in the 80’s when I worked for various multi-national corporations, and they began their “streamlining” operations. Working for Strategic Planning Managers, Industrial Relations and Personnel Departments, my eyes were widely opened. Our hard earned rights and privileges were bought off, one by one. Planned carefully via our “strategic plans”.
First to go were our Rostered Days Off, that single day a fortnight that allowed me to take my new baby to the doctors, to the clinic, etc. I got a small lump of money for that day. I tried to protest, but my union rights has been sold when I was “promoted” to a staff member. Alone, I could not stand against the sell-off.
I would have been instantly dismissed.
Once sold that day was lost to any future employee in my position. What was a large investment at the time for the company, over a period of a couple of years, became a paltry sum in the bottom line.
Water allocation sales work in the same way, the farmer who sells off his water allocation in a bumper season when water flows freely, realises in a year or two that he needs that water to continue to be viable and to survive. Short term greed (or necessity) becomes the nail in the coffin for the water in our river.
When the water is needed back on the farm in years of drought, what will happen to the individual farmer who gave away his rights for a one off lump sum?
Will the corporation or individual he sold his water to sell it back at the same price?
Well, you guess the answer to that one.
Stan, the lovely old mail-man who was the first to be retrenched under a 5 year strategic plan left the large company I worked for. As I bade him farewell (after 24 years of service) on his last day, his teary eye’s asked me why his company had treated him in this heartless way. I realised then that times were a changing. Way back then, when “loyalty” was slightly more important than return on investment for shareholders.
Old Stan ended up on the scrap heap, just like our river, our lungfish and that fascinating newly discovered turtle that remains a mystery. Will we? How will old Stan afford to buy his water, too old to be employed, a retrenchment settlement cut in half by a few months for a higher “bottom line” in that multinational company’s need to “streamline”.
Is this the dawning of an idea or a simple realisation, that now, our time has come, “WE” are next.
Take a look at Austoft, are they staying around due to loyalty to our local economy and their employees? Simple answer, NO. Will Coke find a heart and remain loyal to us locals, will they give us back our river when the dam kills our water supply?
Yes of course they will, in bottles, and for a price.
WAKE UP, SAVE OUR FUTURE… SAVE YOUR RIVER
RALLY, 12 midday, 26th July, 2002
Details: (including booking details for Bus from Brisbane)
Hinkler Burnett Greens
1. Have we fallen this Far? Shreeram Vidyarthi
2. GATS and Water, Save the Children Fund, John Hillary, UK
available on request 6 years ago