Kevin Rudd should ignore Howard and Costello over Chávez invitation

Dick Nichols, the National Coordinator of the Socialist Alliance, today called on federal opposition leader Kevin Rudd to ignore treasurer Peter Costello’s call for him to discipline two senior ALP figures who appear as signatories on an open invitation for Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to visit Australia.>>

The sign-on invitation, an initiative of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (and available on the AVSN website at, has received support from a wide range of Australian political personalities, including Australian Democrat Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, Green senator Kerry Nettle and Wayne Berry, ALP speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

The two senior Labor figures whom Costello called on Rudd to discipline are Warren Mundine, the ALP National President in 2006 and Victorian senator Gavin Marshall.

(According to an AVSN media release issued today Marshall’s name was included on the list of signatories by mistake.)

Nichols said: “Costello has invited Rudd to discipline these ALP personalities in the name of protecting the US-Australia alliance. Rudd should remind Costello that this country is still a place where people are free to make up their minds on the basis of discussion and debate.”

“Let everyone in Australia hear Chávez and then decide whether he’s the ‘dictator in waiting’ busily wrecking Venezuela’s economy that Howard government ministers claim he is.”

The Alliance spokesperson noted that Chávez had won nine years of elections in Venezuela by steadily increasing majorities (the last with 63% support), and that Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution” was in the forefront of implementing alternative policies to economic rationalism.

“If we want to find out what alternatives Venezuela is advancing in economy, education, health, environment and foreign policy, who better to invite to this country than Hugo Chávez?” Nichols asked. “He’s visited every other continent—why not Australia?”

The Socialist Alliance spokesperson concluded: “Now that many more Australians know that the Howard government disapproves of Chávez, AVSN’s sign-on invitation will be more popular than ever.”