New leadership

President's perspective

Our congratulations to Kevin Rudd and his Shadow Cabinet team. Kevin has shown that he has an informed understanding of Dr Evatt's role in establishing Human Rights principles in the UN Charter. We will work with him in regaining Australia's industrial and civil rights. In this Evatt Newsletter, we feature two pieces by Kevin from the Evatt archives: a paper on Australia's dying multilaterilism based on an address that he originally delivered to the Australian New Zealand Society of International Law, University House, Canberra, on 14 June 2002; and his chapter on globalisation and regional governance from the Evatt Foundation's book, Globalisation: Australian Impacts.

Seminar program 2006

At the 2005 Evatt Foundation Annual General Meeting we had a discussion about the issues we would pursue in the forthcoming year, in seminars and on our website, with the main theme being the pursuit of industrial and civil liberties. This resulted in a full program of Evatt public events.

In March, Professor George Williams and Geoff Derrick, Secretary (NSW and ACT) Finance Sector Union of Australia, opened our 2006 Sunset Seminar series with a discussion of the attacks on industrial and civil rights that the Howard government's industrial relations laws heralded. Professor Williams returned for our seminar on the "new" Corporations Law on 7 December, with former Attorney General, Jeff Shaw, QC and Dr John Buchanan, Director of Workplace Research Centre (formerly ACIRRT), of the University of Sydney and the Hon Ron Dyer, a Vice President of the Evatt Foundation. As a consequence of the new IR laws, the sky is not falling in, as Dr Buchanan remarked: "the floor is rotting". Professor Williams' address is reproduced in this Newsletter.

In between, in May we hosted a seminar on the nuclear power issue, with Richard Broinowski, Hon Professor of Communications at the University of Sydney, and Frank Muller, Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). We welcomed Frank again at the Evatt AGM in November to talk about his recent experiences in the United States. World authority on democracy, Professor John Keane, author of many books, including the prize-winning biography Tom Paine: A Political Life (1995), who is currently writing a full-scale history of democracy, spoke on "The Life and Death of Democracy" at a popular Sunset Seminar at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts in July, and we look forward to his book next year. Andrew Wilkie, the former Lt Colonel in the Australian Army and Senior Analyst with the Office of National Assessments described "The Crisis in Australian Security" at an Evatt Sunset Seminar in Launceston, organised by Evatt Executive Committee member Fay Gervasoni.

Dr John Falzon, Chief Executive Officer of St Vincent de Paul Society, led a Sunset Seminar in September on "Welfare to Work, or Punishing the Poor", supported by Kathleen Swinbourne, President of the Sole Parents Union and Gerard Thomas, policy and media officer for the Welfare Rights Centre. In November, Professor Mick Dodson AM, Linda Burney MLA and Associate Professor Quentin Beresford reviewed "The Future of Reconciliation" (this will be reported on the ABC National Radio programme Awaye!). Dr Beresford is the author of Rob Riley: An Aboriginal Leader's Quest for Justice, which was awarded the Australian 2006 Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction.

Evatt Website 2006

The Foundation maintained a significant publishing effort through its website. The number of subscribers and readers continued to grow, even though our output has remained stable. In 2006 we published five Evatt Newsletters and three special events Newsletters to our 2640 subscribers. For the 12 months to the end of November 2006, the site received nearly 4 million hits (3,680,190), which amounted to a total of 860,000 page views or an average of over 70,000 page views each month. On average, 2400 of the site's pages were viewed every day. Compared with 2005, the number of subscribers to the Evatt Newsletter increased by 10 per cent and the site readership increased by a third. The site attracts readers around the world. Australian readers comprise about 40 per cent of the total, Americans about 30 per cent and the United Kingdom about 5 per cent, with the remaining 25 per cent coming from over 100 other countries.

"We face a hard fight next year to make Australia a better place."

The general Evatt web publishing policy is to seek or accept material from any left of centre perspective on the basis of quality and currency, and to avoid sectarian controversies. From analysing the popularity of particular articles, it is apparent that the growth of the site's readership is primarily due to the strategy of maintaining a mix of current commentary underpinned by substantial research articles. The site has now been publishing material for five years, during which time we have increasingly been recognised by other sites on the internet, which means that there is an ever growing number of other sites referring readers to Evatt. For example, the popular Wikipedia site now lists seven of the Evatt Foundation's papers as references to its entries.

The Executive Committee has approved an upgrading of the site to include a formal citation system and a moderated self-publishing letters facility, along with a range of minor housekeeping improvements. The transition is being managed by Executive Committee member, Mark McGrath, and the revamp will be operational early in 2007.

Publications 2006

Our 13th annual review assessing the performance of state governments on economic, social and environmental criteria, The State of the States 2006, was published and well reported in the media. The book focused on "The State of the Public Sector" and is selling well, having been launched by Evatt Executive Committee member, Professor Frank Stilwell, at a seminar on 8 November.

Our thanks must go to the distinguished contributors and the trade unions that helped the Foundation fund the project - the Teachers' Federation and Maree O'Halloran, the Nurses Association of New South Wales and Brett Holmes, and, especially, the SPSF Group of the CPSU and David Carey and Bernadette Keefe. The SPSF Group was one of the original forces behind undertaking an annual comparative performance of the states when the Foundation began this project some 13 years ago, and it has been satisfying to have the union back as the strongest supporter of the assessments and the associated specialist research essays over recent years. Thanks also to Evatt Committee members, Christopher Sheil as editor, and Mark McGrath as publication manager. From The State of the States 2006, the annual Evatt Foundation State Government League Table, the introduction and the chapter on Australia's health system by Professor John Dwyer are available on the Evatt site.

Exhibitions 2006

In August we attended the opening in Adelaide of the Mary Alice Evatt Art and Politics Exhibition, mounted by Dr Melissa Boyde, the recipient of our Evatt Annual Art Award, in conjunction with Flinders University.

Program 2007

It seems to me that many of this year's themes will flow through to next year's federal election. Under the broad heading of Industrial and Civil Liberties we have IR plus all other areas of policy impacted by the qualitative changes posed by the High Court decision and associated pressures. This will give greater urgency to the campaign to have a Charter of Rights in this and the other states.

Mick Dodson has challenged us to use the anniversary of the 1967 referendum campaign to fight for a principled Reconciliation. There is also a need to further develop the debates that John Quiggin and Fred Argy have raised in The State of the States on how public services, education and public infrastructure can be expanded for the public good. The destructive results of the Iraq war, in all its complexity, need explanation and passion on our part. Global warming, with the nuclear issue, is a debate this wide brown land has to have.

We face the Howard government, media barons, powerful corporations and right wing think tanks well financed by the corporate sector. The time has come for all of the organisations that are against the real political, economic and corporate elites to co-operate with each other. We should be able to encourage mutual assistance and publicise the work of organisations like the Australia Institute, the Whitlam Institute, the Don Dunstan Institute, the Brisbane Institute, the Fabian Society, the Search Foundation, New Matilda, the Journal of Australian Political Economy, Dissent Magazine and, most importantly, the research work of individual Trade Unions.

New leadership

The Secretary of the Evatt Foundation, Jeannette McHugh, and I have decided that it is time for generational change. We would like to congratulate the Foundation's new President, Dr Christopher Sheil, and the new Secretary, Chris Gambian. We will assist them on the committee. Vice President, Rae Cooper, did not seek re-election this year and I would like to thank her for her contribution, particularly on all the issues related to female employment. The position of Vice President will be filled by Penny Sharpe MLC. I also welcome Mel Gatfield to the Evatt Executive Committee.

On behalf of all of us I would like to thank Jeannette McHugh for her work as Secretary over nine years, so much of it beyond the normal call of duty. I wish to thank our Administrative Assistant, Jason Anthony, for his enthusiasm, dedication and his skill in photography which now enhances our website.

Our Executive Committees has acted as a team at all times. We face a hard fight next year to make Australia a better place. We must help to make sure that there will be an Australian Labor government in September 2008 to celebrate Dr Evatt's election as President of the United Nations in September 1948.

This is my final President's perspective. On behalf of the Foundation, I wish all our members, supporters and readers the best of the season, and hope for better prospects for the peace we have all been working so hard for in the New Year.

Bruce Childs
(Retiring) President
Evatt Foundation