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Issue No. 133 26 April 2002  

The Struggle Continues
While the romantic image of May Day may be one of international struggle to establish a workers paradise, the reality is far more pragmatic and practical.


Interview: If The Commission Pleases
President Lance Wright marks the NSW Industrial Relations Commission's centenary with an exclusive interview with Workers Online.

History: Protest and Celebrate
Neale Towart scours the globe to discover the spirit of May Day online � the celebration of the eight-hour day.

Unions: A Novel Approach
A union office has been transformed into a library thanks to efforts to provide books for children in detention centres, reports Jim Marr.

Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
Close your eyes and the Mad Monk sounds like a Hare Krishna, but increasingly the world is tuning out from his mantra about IR reform, writes Noel Hester.

International: Never Forget Jenin
Trade unionist Sari Kassis argues the word 'Jenin' now defines Palestinian demands for justice.

Politics: Left Right Out In France
The results of the first round vote for the French presidency have led to mass protests and calls for national unity, Paul Howes reports.

Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Zoe Reynolds travelled to Cuba to discover how Australians are backing a ground-breaking child health project.

Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Tara de Boehmler stumbles upon a juicy trade union sub-plot in the popular GenX TV drama.

Poetry: May Day, May Day
Rapper Swarmy G is one of the finalists in our workers anthem comp with this ode to May Day.


 Shonky Bosses Get Contract Brush

 Kirby Bouquet for Equal Pay

 Deep Pocket Syndrome Stalks IRC

 Court Decision Threatens Thousands Of Jobs

 Safety Summit to Set Accident Targets

 Detention Centre Vets Song Lyrics

 Fat Sheep Dip Into Workers Pockets

 Government Con Drives SA Vehicle Blue

 Dead Worker�s Family Calls for Safety Crime Laws

 Netball Mum Bounces Back

 Aussie Agency Backs War Crimes Call

 Thumbs-up For Union Immigration Role

 May Day Rundown

 DOCS Worker Assaulted In Courthouse

 Queensland Unions Move on Youth Exploitation

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
A Humane Under-Belly
Presenting the annual Kingsley Laffer Lecture, Justice Michael Kirby argues that international human rights underpin Australian industrial law.

The Locker Room
The Hidden Culture of Indigenous Football
Brian McCoy argues that indigenous footballers do not just bring thier skills to the game, they bring their culture as well.

Of Shares and Options
It was a week when Rio Tinto faced its shareholders, Ford faced a backlash and a bid to cap US executive salaries failed.

Week in Review
The ANZAC Spirit?
Jim Marr wonders what the ANZACs would have said about our current treatment of the homeless and needy.

 French Connection
 Gold Star Student
 Time for a General Strike?
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Week in Review

The ANZAC Spirit?

Jim Marr wonders what the ANZACs would have said about our current treatment of the homeless and needy.


As a New Zealander who has chosen to live in, and enjoy, Australia this was a watershed week. As rarely before, questions like why, and on what terms, hovered over the decision.

To proceed, it is perhaps necessary to explain that key motives for crossing the Tasman included improved access to footy and horse racing.

Back then, when the media started giving attention to rusty boats lobbing up on the coast, I have to admit, the first reaction was - what a bloody cheek!

As more background was revealed that required reassessment and the unarguable facts of recent days have turned it on its head.

Two smoking guns have been discovered leaving Australians, considering Anzac Day, a dilemma in terms of how they see themselves and their country.

The first went off with something of a pop as the Senate Inquiry into Children Overboard meandered along its predictable, party political route. It came with revelations that Peter Reith's office had forbidden Government photographers to publish pictures that, in its words, "humanised" refugees.

It wasn't until seven days later that the report from this shot rang around the country with a bang.

The gruesome reality of state sanctioned "dehumanisation" was laid out for all to see when the ABC's Lateline aired a tape shot by management at the Curtin Detention Centre.

Beamed into living rooms, for those willing to see, were pictures of desperate people smashing their heads into the walls of isolation cells, hyperventilating, knocking themselves unconscious, hurling the last vestiges of self-respect to the wind as they wrestled dehumanisation and went down for the count.

These people were Hzaris. There has been no argument, even from Government or its apologists, that they were victims of a brutal Taliban campaign of persecution, verging on genocide. Reports from Afghanistan suggest that while the Government might have changed, their status has not because, apparently, by and large, they aren't considered devout enough in the Moslem department.

Yet, when they flee their persecutors, Australians turn on a welcome that is equal parts degradation, desparation and dehumisation.

The comments of the Government-appointed man in charge of monitoring Western Australia's penal system, that such management oversight would have brought criminal charges in his jurisdiction; and a leading psychiatrist, that the nation was stacking up mental health problems for its future; were damn-near superflous.

Clearly, American-owned ACM which runs the detention centres, needs to be punted, and soon. Not just because it is a disgrace but, more importantly, because Australians need to take responsibility for what is being done in their names.

Obviously, there has to be a rigorous assessment of people landing on these shores. But, surely, there is a better way than replacing names with Alpha Numeric code, then locking them up in the desert, behind barbed wire for years on end.

I really wonder whether our fore-fathers, and don't forget there is still an NZ in ANZAC, would have lain down their lives for state-sanctioned dehumanisation?

It's not the business of outsiders to tell Aussies what they should do on key policy issues, even when they have lived here for years.

All this Kiwi can say, with some reluctance, is maybe there are more important things in life than horses and footy. Didn't think I'd be saying that when I took a punt on life across the ditch.


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