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  Issue No 114 Official Organ of LaborNet 05 October 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Thinking Smart
With education a key priority, Labor's spokesman Michael Lee will emerge as a key player in the upcoming campaign.
*  Unions: In the Spotlight
The Public Education Convention placed the spotlight firmly on the performance and prospects of our federal politicians.
*  Campaign Diary: Election Form Guide
So they're off and racing in the 2001 stakes. Right now it's looking more like a handicap, but we're going along for the ride.
*  Education: Applying the Blowtorch
Veronica Apap reports on how teachers are planning to elevate education in the upcoming federal campaign.
*  History: Australia’s Orwell
Stephen Holt argues that the life of Jim Maloney contained echoes of the literary legend's own political journey.
*  International: Brazil Loses Child Labour Warrior
The global trade union movement against child labour has lost one of their brightest forces to a brutal assassination.
*  E-Change: 3.4 The New Governance
In the last instalment in their series on technological change, Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel look at the challenges politics has yet to meet.
*  Satire: Qantas Denies New $7770 Domestic Fares 'Exploitative'
Australia's largest domestic carrier Qantas has rejected suggestions that it's new $7770 fares between Sydney and Melbourne are taking advantage of the airline's recently inherited monopoly.
*  Review: Dark Music for Dark Souls
The term Industrial Music represents a wide variety and coalition of musical forms, Adam Lincoln explains.

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Corporate IT Training in Labor's Sights
A Beazley Government would review the dominance of corporate-based training of IT workers to ensure workers have a rounded skills base, according to Labor's education spokesman Michael Lee.
[ Full Story » ]

Ansett Battle Moves to Top End of Town
The focus of the campaign to save Ansett will move to the nation's top decision-makers with delegations of workers seeking government and corporate commitments to transfer business to the stricken carrier.
[ Full Story » ]

Ansett Families Jeer Howard The Saboteur
Treasury Gardens in Melbourne were packed this afternoon as Ansett workers, families and supporters gathered together to celebrate the survival of the airline in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and the continued cynicism of the Howard Government.
[ Full Story » ]

Ansett Workers Hit the Hustings
Displaced Ansett workers have commenced a grassroots campaign to maintain pressure on the Howard Government to protect their future.
[ Full Story » ]

Email Bullies in Medibank Pay-Back
Union delegates at Medibank Private have been officially 'counselled' for emailing fellow members in the wake of a successful campaign against a family-busting enterprise agreements.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions to Campaign Against Workplace Racism
A public campaign against racism in the workplace has emerged as a key plank of the NSW union movement's response to the terrorist attacks in the US and military action arising out of it.
[ Full Story » ]

WorkCover's Adverts 'Devoid of Meaning'
Unions have called on the WorkCover Authority to withdraw a costly print and television advertising campaign that has seemingly no connection to workplace safety.
[ Full Story » ]

Principals Warn Of Critical Shortage
The teacher shortage in Australia has worsened to near critical levels, warned a national survey of secondary schools this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Nurses Release Federal Policy Proposals
The Australian Nursing Federation’s national executive today released its policy proposals for improving Australia’s health care industry, aged care industry and industrial relations system.
[ Full Story » ]

The Aged Care Monster
Eye-popping Bronny-on-a-stick masks will be popping up all over the place during the Federal election campaign.
[ Full Story » ]

IT Workers Get Union Voice
Workers in the IT industry will for the first time have their own union identity with the launch of the IT Workers Alliance on October 10.
[ Full Story » ]

New Partnership for Sustainable Energy Industry
Unions have been invited to participate in a ground-breaking study into the economic opportunities in developing a sustainable energy industry in NSW.
[ Full Story » ]

One Hundred Strike Over Crane Accident
Over one hundred building workers this week walked off the job over the risk to public and worker safety caused by the spectacular crane accident on the Bovis building site at St Leonards.
[ Full Story » ]

CEPU Official for Telstra Board
The Victorian Branch Secretary, Len Cooper has again nominated for the position of Director on the Telstra Board.
[ Full Story » ]

Qld Casual Workers Pay Increases
Up to 250,000 casual workers employed under State Awards in Queensland received a pay increase this week.
[ Full Story » ]

The Workers United, Need a New Slogan!
Workers planning a major international rally access corporate globalisation are seeking inspiration for some 21st century chants.
[ Full Story » ]

Activists Notebook
All the latest details on actions, workshops and conferences for anyone interested in labour politics.
[ Full Story » ]

Vale: Frank Belan
National Union of Workers state secretary, Frank Belan, O.A.M. passed away this week at Concord Repatriation General Hospital following a lengthy battle with lung cancer.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • The President and the Terrorist

  • Confessions of a Grand Final Loser

  • A Plan for Australia

  • Sleeping on the Job

  • Editorial

    Smart Politics

    It may be a testament to the underlying good sense of the Australian electorate. Beyond all the White Noise of war, terror and fear of the Infidel, most still rank education as their key election priority.

    The positioning of education as the key priority speaks to a yearning from voters for guidance from their elected officials - to nurture the nation's children and maybe even its adults to reap the opportunities of the times.

    As we prepare to go to the polls and the campaign begins to unfold, the voters want more than Fortress Australia and a War on Terror. Their focus on education can be read as a plea for hope.

    But what does an education agenda look like? Surely, it can't be as complicated as the spaghetti and meatballs chart that perverted the Knowledge Nation agenda into an impenetrable thesis.

    The difficulty in selling the Knowledge Nation highlights the political reality that while it is easy to identify 'education' as the issue, it is a far more complex task to address it.

    'Education' is more than just schools and TAFE and universities, although the structures of learning and the funding of institutions are important.

    More fundamentally, it is about is transforming our national culture so that learning is seen as a virtue not a chore, something that we all do every day because we want to, not because we have to.

    So what can a federal government do? A start is to look at the record of the Howard Government because it gives a good indication of what shouldn't be done.

    Funding cuts, more money to private schools, full fee paying to give access to dumb rich kids, cuts to training and sweetheart deals with big business in the place of targeted R&D support.

    Beyond the blatant class politics, the real damage of this approach is that it creates an impression that education is a privilege - something to which individuals must strive to gain access.

    The opposite should be the case - it is in our collective interest to have an educated workforce, able to deal with the complexities of the world and its inherent challenges.

    Labor must attack the issue from the perspective of its traditional base - the working classes who have always toiled to give their children a better life.

    As Michael Lee points out, it's a broad canvass that includes rebuilding the teaching profession and targeting specific areas of need. But it also involves taking pride in our public assets and investing in them to keep them strong

    In a campaign where the headlines will be dominated by images of the international war on terrorism, Howard will attempt to ride the waves of international and domestic fear and loathing to an undeserving win.

    But if Kim Beazley and his team can cut through the White Noise and position education at the heart of the Labor agenda, we might still see the end of the Howard era before it does any more damage to our national psyche.

    Peter Lewis


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