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Issue No. 131 12 April 2002  

Cry Freedom
If there's a common thread running through this week's issue, it's the continuing crisis faced by workers around the globe confronting the practical reality of Free Trade.


Interview: Cross Wires
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance chief Chris Warren surveys the fluid state of the Australian media.

International: Two Tribes
As the Middle East burns, Andrew Casey shines a light into one of the world's darkest corners.

Activists: Beneath the Veil
A young Afghani woman has travelled to Australia to put a human face on the suffering of her people - and her gender.

Unions: Terror Australis
When push comes to shove, it appears the Howard Government is more scared of the Maritime Union than Osama Bin Laden, Jim Marr reports.

History: A Labor Footnote To The Royal Funeral
Stephen Holt reports that an intriguing Australian connection has been overlooked amidst the supposedly blanket media coverage of the end of the Bowes Lyon era.

Economics: Private Affluence, Public Rip-Off
New Labour's enthusiasm for business is matched only by its lack of business sense, as the private finance fiasco shows.

Review: The Great Hall of the People
In an extract from the latest issue of Labor Essays, the ARM's Richard Fidler looks at the symbolism behind the Republican debate.

Poetry: Waiting for the Living Wage
The Living Wage Case was heard this week. The workers� voices in this poem have been adapted from the evidence presented by low wage earners to the living wage case.

Satire: Israel Recruits NAB To Close West Bank
Israeli security forces have successfully enlisted the expert help of the National Australia Bank to close down the West Bank.


 Baby Company Punts Netball Mum

 Dairy Workers Win Global Breakthrough

 Treasury Modelling Backs ACTU Claim

 Bank Nabs Huge Sales Targets

 Come Clean � Insurance Giants Challenged

 May Day Jam and Toast

 Job Security Win For Cabin Crew

 Workers Gear-up For Pollution Fight

 Shuffling The Deck On The Yarra

 New Push On Workplace Crime

 Super Child Care Win

 Doubts Over Ettalong Wharf Funding

 The Sane Monk Stands Down

 Fabians Debate Refugees

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Unions and the Web � Where to Now?
Peter Lewis argues the time has come to revisit how trade unions interact with workers and how the Web could be the catalyst for such a change.

The Locker Room
Free To Where?
Parents with kiddies who play a bit of sport will have noticed the escalating costs associated with their kids being involved in sport.

Week in Review
The Joys of the Chop
Workers come and workers go, right? Well, it�s the way of the world but while some get stiffed, others are stuffed with obscene amounts �

 Labor and Unions - What About the Workers?
 A Voice for the Shareholders
 Noses in the Trough
 Bugger Off
 Memo: Carmen Lawrence
 Police: Make the Boss a Woman
 Baby Faced Brogden
 Workers Online - Aoteroa
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A Labor Footnote To The Royal Funeral

Stephen Holt reports that an intriguing Australian connection has been overlooked amidst the supposedly blanket media coverage of the end of the Bowes Lyon era.

This link occurred in the context of the Labor Party's pioneering insistence on appointing Australians to vice-regal posts. It was Labor Prime Minister James Scullin who appointed the first Australian-born Governor General (Isaac Isaacs) in 1931. And it was New South Wales Labor Premier Bill McKell who appointed the first native-born Governor of an Australian state (Lieutenant General John Northcott) at the end of World War II.

Northcott's appointment as NSW Governor, as revealed in Chris Cunneen's 2000 biography of McKell, went ahead in the face of stubborn quasi-Churchillian resistance in London.

In 1945 McKell nominated an Australian naval captain, John Armstrong, as the next Governor of New South Wales, a post held since 1788 by Britons. The proposed break with tradition was not appreciated by the British government even though it was now headed by the socialist Clement Attlee.

Additional nominees were called for. McKell duly provided a list of alternatives of whom Northcott was easily the most outstanding.

The Attlee government remained unhelpful. Dominions Secretary Lord Addison sought to frustrate McKell by pointing out that Northcott could not be appointed because he was about to become commander of the British Commonwealth Force in Japan.

Addison went on to tell McKell that King George VI was prepared to make a brother-in-law available for the appointment. This was to add insult to injury because the Queen's brother - the Honourable Michael Bowes-Lyon - was, in the words of Chris Cunneen, "an otherwise obscure, asthmatic businessman".

The Attlee Government's support for Bowes-Lyon was sadly inconsistent with its heroic efforts to transform post-war Britain into New Jerusalem. His only claim to fame was his double-barrelled surname. The British Labour government was trading on his sister's celebrity status as the Boadicea of the Blitz in an attempt to buff up the imperial link with New South Wales.

McKell stuck to his guns. Bowes-Lyon was dismissed as "unacceptable". McKell ended his prospects by getting a fellow Laborite, Prime Minister Ben Chifley, to release Northcott from his military duties. A hostile leak announcing Bowes-Lyon's supposed appointment appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald - which as a matter of principle "strongly questioned" the very idea of a native-born Governor - but this failed to stop Northcott becoming Governor.

McKell's veto of the Bowes-Lyon appointment was meant to underline Labor's historic commitment to national sovereignty. It served its purpose. All subsequent Governors of New South Wales have been home grown.

There is one final politician whose actions need to be commented on. Unpleasant memories have a long shelf life in the House of Windsor but it is never too later to assuage them. By going to London for the Queen's Mother's funeral John Howard, no doubt unintentionally, is in addition to more obvious reasons atoning for the slight paid to her brother by less loyal colonials all those years ago as the sun began to set on the British Empire. Having scuppered the republic he could hardly do less.

Stephen Holt is a Canberra author


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