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Issue No. 123 21 December 2001  

The Unmaking of History
The new millennium has got off to an ominous start. The fireworks, circuses and self-congratulation of 2000 were a thing of the past and we were left with the task of redefining ourselves in a new era.


Interview: Braveheart
Labor Council secretary John Robertson looks back on a turbulent year and forward to a dynamic 2002.

International: Global Year in Review
Labourstart's Eric Lee gives his take on a year where the world changed forever.

Unions: A Year at the Barricades
2001 was a year when workers were forced to fight for what they once took for granted.

Technology: Unions Online 2001
Social Change Online's Mark McGrath looks at the advances unions made in web development in 2001.

Republic: Terror Australis
ARM national director James Terrie asks where to now for the Republic?

Economics: 2001: Annus Horribilis
Frank Stilwell looks back at a troubled year and looks forward to the challenges for the labour movement.

Campaign Diary: Melanie and Me
Strewth's Steve Cannane went into the viper's nest on election night and emerged with an ordinary feeling.

Politics: Tony Moore's Final Word
Wide boys, spivs, spin doctors and hereditary idiots have hijacked a once great Australian institution.

Review: You Are the Weakest Program
Cultural theoritician Mark Morey deconstructs the televisual subplots of our collective consciousness.

Legal: The New McCarthyism
The �war on terrorism� declared in the wake of the American events of September 11 dramatically threatens Australian democratic life.


 Unions Take Lead in Refugee Rethink

 Workers Christmas Wish List

 Sparkie Snares Organiser of the Year Title

 Bosswatch Gets International Attention

 Bank Workers Get Serious in 2002

 Qantas's Warfare Agenda Exposed

 Cabin Crew Stand Up for Themselves

 Win for Medibank Workers

 City Council's Tactics Rival Worst in the World

 Dynamic New Start for Musos

 Unions in the Mosh Pit

 Scholarship Opportunity


The Soapbox
Into the Crystal Ball
What will happen in 2002? We asked some of the players in the world of industrial relations to look into the crystal ball.

The Locker Room
The 2002 Workers Online Sports Awards
There may have been no Olympics, but there were some stellar performances in 2001, from madass bad boys to terminated talents, these are the big ones.

Trades Hall
Neale Towart's Labour (Year in) Review
Sporting a Costa crew-cut, a new look Neale looks back on some issues of 2001 that look likely to the centres of debate for unions in 2002.

Tool Shed
Tool of the Year? You're Standing In It
After a year when Australians brought out the worst in themselves, we all stand condemned for a stint in the Tool Shed.

 A Fair Go For All
 The First Bastion
 Tom Collins' Christmas Wish
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Tool Shed

Tool of the Year? You're Standing In It

After a year when Australians brought out the worst in themselves, we all stand condemned for a stint in the Tool Shed.


The contrast with 2000 could not have been starker. A year after we embraced the world in a group hug and an orgy of golden moments, we stand as international outcasts - a morally rogue state who has allowed itself to be manipulated by a calculating leader who put his own lust for power ahead of the national interest. Whether we joined the Tampa cheer squad or were reluctantly cowed into silence in the misplaced hope that our acquiescence would deliver power to Labor, we all stand condemned for our part in the sad farce.

While nations around the world grappled with the crisis of people smuggling and refugees, we alone chose to slam our door on the problem, mobilizing our navy to cast desperate people adrift. After the planes slammed into the World Trade Centre on September 11 we alone allowed the fiction that terrorists were on the boats to take hold. And when it emerged the Howard Government had spread false allegations about asylum seekers throwing their babies overboard, we turned this into an electoral advantage to the perpetrators of the lies.

The events of 2001 betrayed a deep immaturity in the Australian psyche, a strong residue of the historic fear of the Asian hordes and a deep lack of appreciation of our place in the world. The way we were sucked into this fear of the Other exposed the fake smiles and childish excitement of the Olympics as the sham it was. We were not celebrating the world in Sydney 2000, we were just getting off on being the center of its attention. The minute the hard questions were put, we turned in on ourselves.

For Labor the shame is two-fold. Not only did we lack the will to take the principled stand, we allowed Howard to outmanouvre us into a most ignomious of losses. And in the wash-up, what do the remaining representatives do? Gather together to reinvent a party that sits as the moral voice of the ordinary Australian? No, it seeks to trash its historical roots with the union movement to protect its new leader from the Tory gibes of being an ACTU hack. The courage so clearly lacking in the election campaign would have taken a stand for organized labour as a social good; instead Labor has reverted to regard its key asset as a social embarrassment.

The only positive from the year was the demolition of One Nation. The tragedy was that its demise was the result of the appropriation of the Hanson-ite policies by the major parties.

The Khaki election may have passed, but we all carry its legacy. Our challenge in 2002 is to confront issues of our place in the world with more enlightenment, more courage and more heart. For those of us in the union movement, the first step will be to reassert our influence over Labor policy and force a change to the Party's unconscionable policy on refugees. Once we wipe out this sad post-script to the Beazley era, perhaps we will be able to move forward and recreate an Australia that we can be truly proud of, that is comfortable with its place in the world and does not need to refer to medal tallies to gain a sense of itself.

It will be a tough job, but a just penance for a nation that has carried on like a mob of Tools for the past 12 months.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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