Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 112 Official Organ of LaborNet 21 September 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Exit Interview
Michael Costa looks back at his 14 years with the Labor Council to chart the highs, the lows and the bits in between.
*  Parliament: Opening Salvo
In his Maiden Speech, delivered this week, Costa gave vent to his views on immigration, Marx, globalisation and mental health.
*  Scandals: My Evil Twin
Co-conspirator and 'intellectual soulmate' Mark Duffy recounts the legendary 'Leaked Paper' Affair and how its predictions soon came to pass.
*  Politics: An Agent for Change
Former secretary Michael Easson argues that Costa was instrumental in redefining the factional balance in NSW in the wake of the Cold War.
*  Review: The Thoughts of Chairman MC
Neale Towart trawls the collected works of Michael Costa and looks at his love-hate affair with Marx.
*  Factions: Kyoto Sunset
Naomi Steer - the first left-winger to work at Labor Council in decades - recalls how she discovered the real Michael in a Karaoke lounge.
*  History: A Proud Tradition
Former Premier Barrie Unsworth argues Costa enters Parliament as the best qualified Labor Council leader ever to make the transition.
*  Psychology: The Man Behind the Mask
Costa's predecessor Peter Sams argues that behind the bluff facade lay a loyal and caring friend.
*  Seduction: Michael and Me
Chris Christodoulou recounts how Costa convinced him to cross the factional divide and take up residence in Sussex Street.
*  Satire: Ode to Leon
Long-time sparring partner, Peter Botsman submits this lyrical tribute to Costa's career.

A Gesture of our Affection

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Revealed: Anderson Ignored Ansett Early Warnings
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Activists Notebook
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Letters to the Editor
  • In Defence of Kiwis

  • UK Unions Mourn Knox Loss

  • Premature Analysis

  • Belly's Turn

  • Rally for Peace

  • John Wayne is Dead

  • Editorial

    An Iconoclastic Collectivist

    'I'm bored, you bored? Let's do something" So would begin a typical day working for Michael Costa. What would follow would be a frenzy of activity that would ensure that boredom was not an option.

    Costa officially took up his seat in the NSW Upper House last week, after 14 years at Labor Council, the last three as secretary.

    In that time he's also taken on the ACTU, the Carr Government, the Left, the Right, the Daily Telegraph and the Friends of Currawong

    In every blue it's been a battle between Costa's beliefs and the orthodoxy. In nearly every case, it is Costa who has been vindicated by time - be it his criticisms of the Accord, the amalgamation strategy or the Cold War divides within the ALP

    It's been a wild ride, and I for one feel priviliged to have been on board for some of it.

    Michael being Michael, there will be no gala farewell dinner - just a couple of low key events over the next few weeks.

    In the absence of the valedictories, this week's Workers Online carries a series of tributes from colleagues - from both sides of the factional divide which he did his best to bring down.

    It's an apt venue for a tribute, because without Michael's courage (that's courage in the true 'Yes Minister" sense of the word) Workers Online would not be possible.

    He was one of the few leaders I could think off who didn't bat an eyelid at the prospect of a real time journal with editorial independence.

    This was the high-point of a Perastroika which, in his time at Sussex Street, saw Labor Council evolve from the stronghold of the Right to a centrist peak body working for all its affiliates.

    Michael provided much of the intellectual fuel for this transformation - rejecting the Cold War divides as no longer relevant, and searching for a new modus operandi based on ideals over ideology.

    For mine, Michael's defining characteristic is his lack of political fear - if there was a choice between the right position and the safe position, he would always opt for the former.

    While he has been portrayed as an "abrasive firebrand", those who know him realise there is another side, an individual who yearns for connection and comradeship.

    If I had to give him a label it would be an "iconoclastic collectivist".

    Michael Costa left his mark on the union movement in Australia - and on behalf of those across the movement - friend and foe - we wish him well in his new career.

    Peter Lewis


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