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Issue No. 124 15 February 2002  

Chickens Come Home
For anyone who believes in karma, the events of the summer show how bad Australia's is right now.


Unions: Winning the Heartland
John Robertson unveils new research on attitudes to refugees and argues it's time for unions to mount their own propaganda war.

Interview: Swan's Song
Federal ALP front-bencher Wayne Swan expands on his ideas for rebuilding the Party in the wake of the Tampa election.

Corporate: Lessons from Enron
Jim Marr looks at the shock-waves the collapse of a US corporate heavy-weight are having around the globe.

Politics: What We Did Last Summer
We look back over a summer when it all went pear-shaped. Some events, at home and abroad, look set to have ongoing ramifications.

History: Solidarity in Song
Mark Gregory looks back on the annals of labour songs and offers some hints for those planning a tilt at the Labor Council's worker anthem comp.

International: A Tale of Two Cities
New York and Port Alegre are poles apart � but they both played host to important conferences on the future of globalisation over the summer.

Poetry: Nobody Told Me
Labour academic David Peetz commits the Prime Minister's current woes to verse.

Review: Labor and the Rings
Tolkien�s epic tale provides a timely reminder that that there are forces of good and evil in the world � and that they are not necessarily where we expect to find them, writes Michael Gadiel.

Satire: Rafter Named Bermudan Of The Year For Tax Purposes
Australian of the Year Pat Rafter was last night also named Bermudan of the Year, in a simple ceremony held in Bermuda's Parliament.


 Unions' Commit to Battle for Hearts

 Carr on Notice - Expectations Up

 Mad Monk Sides With Angels � Briefly

 Maritime Union Acts on Spy Scandal

 May Day Play-Off for Workers' Anthem

 Burmese Links Shroud Winter Olympics

 New Phone Venture One.Tel In Drag

 Two Million Face Rights Downgrade

 Enron Collapse Hits Share-Owner Agenda

 Corrrigan Snaps Up Rail Bargain

 Kinko Clowns With Workers' Rights

 MPs Face Security Checks

 Telstra's Tragic Delays Of Its Own Making

 Burrow Puts Case to World Economic Forum

 Shangri La Protests Hit Melbourne

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Chinks in the Armour
The ACTU's Michael Crosby argues that Mark Latham's attack on the Labor for Refugees movement is the betrayal of Party values.

The Locker Room
Off-side in Korea?
With the World Cup set to kick off in a matter of months, South Korea's treatment of unions is under the microscope.

Week in Review
Cloak and Dagger
In the first of what will be a regular column, we place the week's labour news into a nutshell.

 In Whose Interests?
 'International Labour's Year in Review' - A Re-View
 Belly's Broad-Side
 Collins Gets Cryptic
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Chickens Come Home

For anyone who believes in karma, the events of the summer show how bad Australia's is right now.

Our cricketers missed the one-day finals, nary a local tennis player made it through the First Round of the Australian Open and our only winter Olympic medal hope did her knee in training!

For John Howard it hasn't been much better, snubbed by the Indonesians, harangued by the UN, ignored by the Americans and now having to face the full ugly picture of how his government lied, spied and cheated its way back into power.

Meanwhile, the Christmas bushfires that engulfed the State seemed inextricably drawn towards seats that voted Liberal - Lindsay, Macquarie, Macarthur, Berowra and Gilmore all copping the heat.

And the ALP continued to tie itself in knots, trying to convince itself its 'me-too' policy on mandatory detention was morally defensible and that the only thing that kept them out of power was too much union influence.

The chickens are coming home to roost and no-one appears very comfortable or relaxed right now.

Cosmic design or otherwise, there's a lot of cleaning up to do if we want to create a society we can be proud to be part of.

Like so often before, it's been left to the union movement to lead the way out of the wilderness, to humanize our refugee policies and immigration policies through its support of Labor for Refugees and commitment to a workplace harmony campaign.

As the Labor Council's polling shows, this is an issue that will require the sort of leadership that political parties seem unable to provide any more, to advocate a position not because it is popular but because it is right..

The refugee issue is not the only struggle the union movement is engaged in - it's currently on the front foot over Reasonable Working hours - while defending workers from latest Abbott attacks via his laughably named 'Fair Dismissals' Bill.

But - despite the criticism of the likes of Mark Latham - it is core union business, because it is about resisting the same politics of division that turns workers against each other and into the hands of the boss.

It is about treating others with the same dignity, respect and compassion that we would see ourselves receive. And in the current climate, these qualities seem pretty thin on the ground.

If only for our national sporting self-esteem, we need to find a better way of dealing with our place in the world.

Maybe the national cricket selectors can teach us a thing or two - when you stop performing you sack the leader. If only it was so easy for the Australian public.

Peter Lewis



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