|Issue No 109||31 August 2001|
Unions Stand Up for National Soul
NSW unions have called on the Howard Government to treat the plight of refugees on the Tampa as a humanitarian crisis rather than a political opportunity.
The executive of the NSW Labor Council last night endorsed calls by its Secretary John Robertson for the Howard Government to negotiate an international solution to the crisis.
Robertson described the Howard Government's handling of the crisis to date as "unacceptable and un-Australian".
"The Prime Minister is obviously positioning himself for re-election on the back of the talk-back shock jocks.
"People are being incited by the politics of hatred - no one seems to give a toss where these people go, as long as they don't come here."
"Why hasn't the PM picked up the phone to the Indonesian president - he has been spruiking their new relationship, but he has no shown leadership on this issue?
Robertson says it's up to the union movement to stand up for both the refugees and the Norwegian crew of the Tampa, even if this was not a popular position.
ACTU Backs in Senate vote
Meanwhile, the ACTU has supported the Opposition parties' decision to block legislation that would have given Australia extraordinary powers to turn back ships in distress.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says Labor, Democrat and Green Party Senators should be congratulated for their principled stand against the retrospective and draconian legislation.
"Prime Minister John Howard's clumsy and heavy-handed treatment of the refugee issue has become an international embarrassment to Australia," Burrow says.
"The Government's actions in relation to the Tampa threaten to undermine humanitarian operations under the International Law of the Sea.
"The international movement of asylum-seekers is a worldwide problem and no decent prime minister would abandon people at sea. We need a solution that meets international and Australian law. The Government's attempts to override all such legal precedents deserve to be defeated by the Senate."
Burrow says Australian law allows for asylum-seekers to argue their case for refugee status.
"Mr Howard should let these people come safely ashore on humanitarian grounds," she says. "Then Mr Howard should sort out his problem with Indonesia."
Support for Shayan
Meanwhile, the Labor Council has also joined the voiced condemning the federal government's detnetion of assylum seekers within Australia.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson said the plight of six-year-old Shayan Bedraie - who faces deportation with his family - highlights the inhumanity of the current policy.
"It is clear that the processes have fallen down," Robertson says.
"We need an effective system that deals with applications wquickly and transparently, not the system that currently exists which more ressembles a maximum security prison."
Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
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.
Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU´s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
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.
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.
Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia’s Oldest Rock Fans review the week’s music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
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 aren’t nearly as hostile as Australia.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005