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  Issue No 109 Official Organ of LaborNet 31 August 2001  

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Tool Shed

Le Penís Clone


It's time we all faced up to a few home truths about John Howard. This man would look relaxed and comfortable sharing a platform with Europe's neo-fascist leaders.

Overt anti-semitism isn't a goer for Europe's neo-fascists these days. Much as they might admire and revere Adolf and his jew-hating it isn't such a vote catcher in a post-holocaust world. Ah, but immigrants, now there's a scapegoat group you can still demonise and organise a far right party around.

With the storming of the Tampa, Johnny Howard takes his cue from the Le Pens and Finis of this world. The evidence of Howard's entrenched racism has been there from as far back as 1987 when he exposed his dark side in an ill-timed tirade against Asian immigration. If the Liberal Party and its business backers had any integrity they would have permanently ended his political career then. Instead, in their own desperation for power, they turned to this racist to end the Labor years. Now look where they find themselves!!

Since he became PM Howard has been cranking up the racial tension in Australia starting with his unconscionable crusade against land rights and the stolen generations and now at its logical conclusion with an SAS assault against a Norwegian ship with 400 poor souls fleeing the Taliban. You can just see Le Pen, the French ex-paratrooper, analysing the tactics and nodding his head in support.

You can only just savour the irony of where the ship directed by Australian authorities to pluck these refugees from the sea came from. Here, standing in stark contrast to the unscrupulous opportunism of our redneck 'leader' are the Norwegians with their impeccable social-democratic credentials, humanism, and sense of common decency. To juxtapose on TV the Norwegian Foreign Minister with his humanistic concerns for the refugees with our Prime Minister and his shameless pitch to the xenophobic streak of the electorate is to observe the disgraceful place in world politics that this Coalition Government is taking us.

'Fuck the Scandinavians, I'm with Le Pen and Fini,' is the real Howard doctrine.

As for our so-called refugee crisis - what a joke. Look at the incredible population dislocations of the last 10 years. Every time there has been a civil war or famine in Africa the result has been a stream of human misery in the hundreds of thousands if not millions. Only a trickle of those people end up in the west. The brunt of these human disasters is always taken up by their neighbours, in every case just as poor and unstable as the source of the misery. Look at the consequences of Rwanda - ten years later the whole Great Lakes area of Africa is destabilised by the refugee problems arising from that disaster. Ditto the Balkans. A few years ago even Bangladesh had to deal with a massive influx of refugees after a crackdown by the Burmese junta. Imagine the magnitude of that desperation. Fleeing your home to try and create a better life in Bangladesh!

This is the real context of refugees. There are 24 million of them living in constant limbo. Our connection with that mass of misery is so minute we shouldn't even blink to accept the tiny number that turn up here.

But none of this is about refugees or illegal immigrants, or our creaking social security system, about our jobs or the threat to our way of life. It's all about John Howard and how John Howard sees his place in history. It's about John Howard being re-elected.

True to the polling which has driven this fiasco Howard has plenty of public support for this outrage. But how long will it last as the reality that the problem isn't going to go away sinks in, Howard stands stranded with no real solution to the problem and the knowledge of our international humiliation filters through? And there is still those common-sense Norwegians to deal with as they report Australia to the UN maritime agency, its refugee agency and to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

As Thorbjoern Jagland, the Norwegian Foreign Minister pointed out : 'Australia's attitude to the refugee incident is unacceptable and inhumane and contravening international law.'

How long before the emperor twigs that he has no clothes?


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*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 109 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
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*  International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
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*  E-Change: Training for a Wired Workforce
Education is the entry point into the new economy; but the system still reflects an industrial age view of the world.
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*  Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
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*  Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEUīs Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
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*  History: Struggle and Inspiration
Rowan Cahill argues that it is only through understanding history that we can make sense of the present plight of workers.
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*  Technology: A World Without Microsoft
Heather Sharp argues that all technologies involve political choices and moral values. Computer software is no exception, and it is Bill Gates' choices that dominate.
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*  Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australiaís Oldest Rock Fans review the weekís music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
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*  Satire: Tampa refugees ask to go home: "It's less inhumane than Australia"
The 460 asylum seekers on board the Tampa freight vessel have demanded to be taken back to their oppressive homelands, which they now realise arenít nearly as hostile as Australia.
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News
»  The Meaning of Working Life Ė The Answer is 7.1!
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»  Unions Stand Up for National Soul
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»  MUA Salvages Some Pride
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»  Common Law Report Plea Ė Make It Public
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»  Maintenance Contract 'Could Put Lives at Risk'
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»  Tax Office's GST Scam - 10 Per Cent Off!
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»  Della Moves on Pay Slip Concerns
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»  Authorities Scotch Bra-Burning
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»  Manusafe Decision Faces Appeal
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»  Orange Finally Saved from Closure
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»  Award Win For Telco Workers
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»  Abbott Clears Way for Lower Wages
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»  SDA Defeats 'Obscene' Westfield Parking Fees
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»  Labor Calls On Abbott To Abide By Convention
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»  Nurses Highlight Staff Shortages
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»  Keystone Cops At Wonderland Protest
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»  Call for Change in Award Increases
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»  Green Tin Box Values Gone At Commonwealth
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»  Dance for Independence
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»  Get Ready to Wobble
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»  Activist Notebook
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»  STOP PRESS: ITF says PM Tampa action illegal
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Unite Against Racism
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»  WorkCover Impact
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»  Improving the Debate
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»  Botsman's Satire
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»  MUA - Take a Bow!
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»  Economic Predators
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»  Email and the Waterfront Dispuite
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