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  Issue No 101 Official Organ of LaborNet 06 July 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: A Little Knowledge
Labor's science spokesman Martyn Evans was the Opposition's key player on the Knowledge Nation inquiry. He fills us in on the process.
*  Education: Theory and Practise
Whether or not you agree with the priorities for of Barry Jones’ Knowledge Nation Taskforce, Julie Wells argues its boldness has to be admired.
*  E-Change: 1.1 Email Nation
In the first of a series of articles on politics and the new economy, Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel argue network technologies are reshaping the fundamentals of society.
*  Economics: Banking on the Goodwill
Given their history, Evan Jones wonders whether banks can really claim to be "just like any other business"
*  International: A Deathly Struggle
In this dispatch from PNG, a trade union leader briefs us on the situation following the shooting of seven students at an anti-privatisation rally.
*  History: Enlarging Human Personality
Mark Hearn argues that Lloyd Ross's post-War approach to Workplace Democracy seems contemporary by today's standards
*  Satire: Shit is a Four Letter Word
Australian TV drama is lame and gutless just look at the ABC's Love is a Four Letter Word, says Tony Moore
*  Review: Tribute to an Artist
Dalgarno painted the seagulls circling the seafarer like flies buzzing around the face of a bushman. Thus did the artist depict the maritime worker.

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Academic Freedom On Trial
A Wollongong academic, sacked on the spot after raising concerns about the 'soft' marking of overseas students, has become the centre of a major test case on academic freedoms.
[ Full Story » ]

Unified Approach to Sheahan Inquiry
The trade union movement has agreed to present a single submission to the judicial inquiry into common law rights for injured workers being conducted by Justice Terry Sheahan.
[ Full Story » ]

Living Standards Shape as Election Factor
The decline in living standards for many working Australians would be a critical factor in determining the outcome of the federal election, according to the ACTU.
[ Full Story » ]

Clairvoyant PM In Secret Deal Fantasy
The noises coming from the empty drum called John Howard are becoming shrill. In his latest foray into fantasy land he’s come across a secret deal between the ACTU and Kim Beazley over the GST.
[ Full Story » ]

Hotels Face Workers Quiz
Secret deals allowing major hotel chains to bring in foreign housekeepers could mean there are hundreds of people working in Australia who are being underpaid and overworked.
[ Full Story » ]

Call for Senate to Decide Spammer's Fate
A Senate Inquiry should be established to determine of a member of the Australian Industrial relations Commission should lose his job after being found to discriminate against unionists in his former job.
[ Full Story » ]

PNG – Howard Should Speak Out
The Howard Government has been condemned for its silence on the slaying of seven Papuan New Guinean students, shot by police at an anti-privatisation rally last week.
[ Full Story » ]

Couriers Buck Over Tax Ruling
A new Tax Office ruling could decimate the courier industry, sending hundreds of small businesses broke by increasing their tax bills by 20 per cent.
[ Full Story » ]

Kempsey Killing Highlights Health Fears
Health workers have again raised concerns about hospital security after two nurses were injured in a fatal attack on the patient this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Checkout Operators Better Paid Than Aged Care Workers
The news that a Victorian Registered Nurse in Aged Care is being paid $200 an hour highlights the shamefully low pay of other Aged Care workers.
[ Full Story » ]

ACTU Weighs Into Bank Campaign
Unions are stepping up their campaign against the major banks, calling on customers to vent their anger at bank management.
[ Full Story » ]

Fund Bad Health for Families
Health fund MBF has been accused of promoting family-busting policies with a new non-union dealing cutting back leave rights for its workforce.
[ Full Story » ]

Australian Music Web Radio Station Needs Recruits
The NSW Labor Council this week launched their new online initiative for the local Australian music industry – Wobbly Radio.
[ Full Story » ]

Activist Notebook
Action for the Redfern cvommunity a new social movement and an EMILY's List fundraiser are all on this week's agenda.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Mate Against Mate

  • Disconnected from Reality

  • Applause for the Ton

  • Unions Online? Not Yet!

  • Editorial

    Political Smarts

    The lukewarm response to this week's Knowledge Nation report reflects not just on the failings of the national media to grasp big ideas, but the limitations of the Labor Party in selling them.

    The pity is that the bulk of the Knowledge Nation report is spot-on; a radical shift in the way that government interacts with the community. As Science spokesman Martyn Evans says: it is not about being smarter, but working smarter.

    The Spaghetti and Meatballs jibes- focusing on brain-iac Barry Jones' complex-looking map - resonate because they tap into a broad feeling that people don't want to be told they're not smart enough. Unwitting or not, this is the subtext of the Knowledge Nation branding.

    But this is not really a report about Knowledge - it's a report about how to manage our social structures, how the State should define its role in a new century.

    The Meatballs are the existing hierarchies that dominate our society. The Spaghetti is the linkages between these institutions that need to be made if we are to make our society work for us.

    On this reading the Knowledge Nation report is totally consistent with the rise of network technologies that - despite the Dot-Com crash - will transform our society over the next decade.

    It's really about flattening the Old World hierarchies - spreading information that has been held and guarded by one institution - and making it accessible to all, building up our common base of IP for our mutual benefit as a society.

    This is the theory that the Labor Council's Michael Gadiel and I have been mulling over for some time. We'd shaped it into a book, which was ready to go to print before the Dot Bomb convinced our publisher there was no market in new Net-based ideas left. In the spirit of Knowledge we begin publishing our tome online this week.

    But back to Knowledge Nation. If what I am saying holds true - it's clearly the wrong sell. Rather than a Knowledge Nation, the Beazley team is really offering a Networked Nation - people linked with their government and with each other through both new technology and a culture of sharing, not hoarding.

    This reorientation taps a broader nerve, about how we operate as society, and fits snugly with our Labor-ist traditions of egalitarianism and a fair go for all.

    In an era where Wedge Politics has divided our society into a sullen majority and dispossessed minority, this could be a truly saleable antidote, reconciling our fractured society, sharing our resources rather than keeping them in elitist boxes.

    But it is not the Knowledge Nation that will wind the hearts and minds. What we really need is a United Nation. And that's a product that I reckon Beazley could really go out and sell.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Aussies Are Ruder! The Bunnies Bite Back Neale Towart's Labour Review A Flaming Ideologue



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