The seldom-sighted Upper House MP has sidled up to Workers Online on several occasions, pleading for a gig in the Tool Shed, apparently a badge of honour amongst the publicity-starved Shadow Cabinet in Macquarie Street, who still subscribe to the philosophy of 'honour amongst rogues'. We have repeatedly told him that it's not that easy - the Tool Shed does not come as a right for every upstart Lib - they have to do something to pay the rent. For Gallacher, 'do something' were the words that proved the biggest hurdle.
If anyone notices Gallacher, they'd regard him as something of a misfit. A former police officer and active member of the NSW Police Association, he prides himself on being the only Liberal front-bencher to have attended a TUTA training course. Whether it was the intricacies of organising that ruined him; or the recognition of an ambitious upstart that the Liberal talent pool was more like a puddle, is unclear. Suffice to say, that he emerged from his union education as a Tory MP.
It is in this guise that Gallagher inherited the industrial relations mantle; first under the leadership of Kerry Chikarovski - then after leading the plot to unseat her under Baby John Brogden. Over this period, Gallacher has yearned the spotlight without ever delivering a single word of policy; a strategy that ensured that the IR debate was dominated by the unions and the ALP - the one's who actually know what it's about.
But at last week's meeting of the Industrial Relations Society, Gallacher finally came out with some ideas. Sure they were free-form, largely ill-informed comments, but they were comments. His thrust? There should be a state-version of the Employment Advocate and non-union enterprise agreements should be able to bypass the Industrial Relations Commission.
Objectionable? Sure. But, against the high standards of union-bashing set by Reith and Abbott it was all pretty lame stuff. Where were the secret individual contracts? Where were the attacks on the independence of the IRC? Where was the vow to hand over the NSW system to the feds? Was this man a Tory or a delo in disguise?
Memo: Michael Gallacher. If you want to spend quality time in the Tool Shed you need to do a lot better than this. You could start by studying Tony Abbott's Five-Point Plan for Perpetual Tooldom. For your benefit we have got our hands on the Mad Monk's blueprint.
1. Play The Man Not The Issue. Any breakdown in industrial harmony is an opportunity for political advantage. Attack 'union bosses'; 'the IR club' and 'lazy job-snobs'; never get bogged down in idle chatter about the best way to civilise the employment relationship. That's for wimps.
2. Unions Are the Enemy: None of this talk of not being anti-union - out with it man; unions are your class enemies and the only reason Labor Governments ever win elections. Hit them and you hit your political opponents. A moment working cooperatively with unions is a moment that could be spent attacking them.
3. Pursue Your Objectives With a Religious Zeal: Extremism works. The columnists love it. Think of what you want to say, exaggerate it, go crazy with it; then open your mouth.
4. Progress Through Chaos: It's not good enough to wait for a breakdown in workplace relations to occur. Make it happen yourself by geeing up mad-arse employers to take the unions on. Then watch the feathers fly and skate in on the back of it.
5. Year Zero Begins Today: The idea that Australia enjoyed 100 years of civilised labour relations is a myth perpetrated by the Left. Tear it down and build a new history - no tribunals, no unions, no awards. 1850 could be tomorrow - and remember productivity was way higher when we sent the kiddies down the mines.
So there you are; the ball's in your court, Mike. Start acting like a madman or stop bugging us for coverage.
As the conservative media and Tory politicians cashed in on Campbell's memory, workers on building sites, public transport, shopping centres and government departments paid tribute to the life of a true radical.
Addressing workers at the Walsh Bay construction site, CFMEU national secretary John Sutton said that working people should not let John Howard hijack his memory.
"Alec Campbell was a proud unionist and it is part of the story that workers should recognise when they remember his passing today," Sutton says.
Campbell emerged from World War One to live a long and radical life. He was a union activist in the Launceston and Hobart railway workshops; an activist with the Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners (now part of the CFMEU); president Australian Rail Union (Tasmanian Branch) - 1939-1941; president Launceston Trades and Labor Council - 1939-1942 and a long-term activist with the Workers Educational Association.
The ACTU and the NSW Labor Council both coordinated memorial services across unions during the week.
HR Manager's Last Post
Meanwhile, Australia Post has emerged embarrassed after being forced to reverse an official rejection of workers calls for a minute's silence.
Union officials wrote to Australia Post requesting that staff be allowed to observe a minutes silence. They received a letter from the Human Resources Department saying this was in line with official Commonwealth Government policy.
It followed a similar rebuff when the Communication, Electrical and Plumbing Union asked for one minute's silence is respect of US postal workers killed from anthrax last year.
When news broke of the rebuff, Australia Post management quickly reversed the decision and denied the letter had ever been written.
"The result is that Australia Post staff in NSW and Vic at least will be allowed (even encouraged) to observe a minutes silence," the CEPU's Ian McCarthy says. "I think that there will be a HR Manager standing at 11am as his arse will be too sore to sit!"
That was the key point to emerge from this week’s Behind The Label launch by NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca.
While the Minister pitched a theme of co-operation between Government, unions, manufacturers and retailers, key players argue his $4 million program will stand or fall on the co-operation of the all-powerful retail sector.
Central to Della Bosca's program is a seven-person Ethical Clothing Trades Council to be chaired by former State Minister, Joe Riordan. It will report next February on whether self-regulation is effective or Government needs to enforce outworker protections through additional legislation.
Two council members, Fair Wear's Julia Murray and the TCFUA's Igor Nossar, told Workers OnLine retailers actions were the key to a better deal for outworkers.
Nossar's organisation is pressing retailers to pick up on the Target Code, under which the national chain provides information that enables unions to track suppliers through an often tortuous contracting chain.
The Government has already recognised the importance of such a mechanism by legislating for outworkers to be paid under the Clothing Industry Award, and to be able to seek redress from "apparent" employers.
Essentially, if immediate contractors do a runner they can claim from the retailer, manufacturer or design house that let the contract.
Nossar says the Ethical Clothing Trades Council will monitor retailers to ensure, at the very least, they don't undercut ethical operators, such as Target.
"We expect the Target deed will become the minimum standard for the retail sector," Nossar added. "Retailers are vital because they have an iron grip on the industry."
Fair Wear has been working on a national code since 1996 but, nationwide, only four labels - Beare & Ley, Qualitops, Australian Defence Apparel and Hunter Gatherers - have signed on.
Murray says only the big retailers have the muscle to enforce compliance.
"In February we will be looking at the effectiveness of self-regulation. That is the time we expect the (Fair Wear) code to become mandatory for the industry," she said.
Retailers concede the Della Bosca initiative has teeth.
Australian Retailers Association policy director, Stan Moore, says his organisation is discussing the union's demand to broaden the Target Code.
"If Government isn't satisfied with developments it is going to go down the regulation road," he admitted. "Our preference is to have a voluntary code but this is a carrot and stick situation."
There are an estimated 300,000 clothing outworkers in Australia, many earning between $2 and $5 an hour in a deregulated system.
Della Bosca said Behind The Label aimed to provide them with direct assistance, while providing incentives and assistance to the industry.
"In time, it will give the community a chance to show their support by choosing ethically made clothing," he said.
Key elements of the Behind The Label strategy include:
- the establishment of an Ethical Clothing Trades Council, including TCFUA, Labor Council, Fair Wear, industry and retail representatives, to monitor developments and advise Government.
- outworkers deemed to be employees and entitled to provisions of the Clothing Industry Award
- outworkers able to recover wages from fashion houses, manufacturers or retailers further up the contracting chain
- these "apparent employers" required to keep full and accurate records of contracting arrangements
- the appointment of additional bilingual inspectors and advisers to the DIR's multi-lingual Clothing Industry Unit
- specialist advisers to help employers with compliance
- enhanced training programs to improve the industry's skill base
- promotion of the Homeworkers Code of Practice
- $4 million earmarked for the program over the next three years
Both the NSW Nurses Association and the NSW Teachers Federation received widespread publicity after commissioning academics to look into the broad issues facing the profession.
Teachers Federation general secretary Barry Johnston says the teachers commissioned an independent report by Professor Tony Vinson because the state government had ignored requests to undertake its own review.
"It appeared to us that announcements such as the restructure of inner city schooling, were being made on an ad hoc basis," Johnston says.
"We were well aware that any independent inquiry may bring down recommendations with which we may have difficulty, but we were prepared for that to occur on the grounds that we were confident the inquiry would support our broader position.
Key elements of the first chapter of the Vinson Inquiry, include:
· a recommended per capita allocation of professional development funds, consisting of $1,200 per annum for country teachers and $800 for teachers in major urban areas;
· a finding that the bleak picture for teacher salaries has largely continued since it was revealed in about 1990;
· a revelation that the fear of complaints is distorting the professional work of teachers; and
· a recommendation for a peer assisted reflection on quality teaching for all plus a remedial scheme for those experiencing difficulties.
Stop Telling Us to Cope!
Meanwhile, the nurses' report reveals nurses are not being paid for the skills and responsibilities they are now required to access on the job and that major changes in the nature of their work is impacting on the nurses' morale.
According to the NSW Nurses Association commissioned report, which was conducted independently by ACCIRT, the major changes include:
· increases in nursing activity due to increased patient activity and no matching increase in staffing levels;
· increased levels of responsibility;
· an increased number of roles performed due to reduced staffing and redefinition of roles; and
· an increased incidence of nurses working outside their areas of specialty.
NSW Nurses Association acting general secretary Brett Holmes says the union "has been aware of these changes for some time and this research scientifically confirms the extent of the impact they are having on the morale and thinking of nurses".
Recruitment and Retention
He says the union supports the report's recommendation that pay rates be increased significantly in line with the new responsibilities. But he says although unfair pay rates are more easily fixed than many of the other factors affecting recruitment and retention of workers this does not mean the other workplace issues should be ignored.
Unions have seized the public debate in both the health and education sectors, releasing independent reports on government policy in the lead-up to the state election.
Both the NSW Nurses Association and the NSW Teachers Federation received widespread publicity after commissioning academics to look into the broad issues facing their professions.
Teachers Federation general secretary Barry Johnston says the teachers commissioned an independent report by Professor Tony Vinson because state government had ignored requests to undertake its own review.
"It appeared to us that announcements such as the restructure of inner city schooling, were being made on an ad hoc basis," Johnston says.
"We were well aware that any independent inquiry may bring down recommendations with which we may have difficulty, but we were prepared for that to occur on the grounds that we were confident the inquiry would support our broader position.
The multi-millionaire not only owns the Gazebo Hotel site at the centre of the dispute but it was his company, Australian Development Corporation, that hired, then fired, 13 backpackers after they refused to continue demolition work without basic safety provisions.
The backpackers, paid $15 an hour all-up, about half the industry rate, are also seeking back pay.
CFMEU spokesman Brian Parker today called on the multi-Americas Cup challenger, who is transforming the Gazebo into upmarket apartments, to face up to his responsibilities.
"This is a classic example of a rich man using his power to exploit labour," Parker said. "It's time he came down from his ivory tower, faced up to the situation, and tried to put it right.
"It's very disappointing that a man in his position would use backpackers from overseas to deny work to Australians, cut wage rates and undermine health and safety requirements."
Parker and CFMEU state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, have both been unsuccessful in efforts to discuss the issue with Fischer at his Elizabeth St corporate headquarters.
Negotiations have begun with a delegated Australian Development Corporation director. Backpackers are still picketing the site near the El Alamein fountain.
The backpackers had been demolishing the hotel for five weeks without safety induction courses or the most basic equipment. Demolition is one of Australia's most dangerous industries.
Since the CFMEU informed them of their rights, WorkCover has issued Improvement Notices, Prohibition Notices and four separate health and safety fines on the Elizabeth Bay Rd site.
Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terrence Cole has not yet taken up the standing invitation to visit the Gazebo and see first hand how safety and tax requirements are routinely flouted by companies seeking to operate with a non-union workforce.
Under the plan, part of a global push to break the Bill Gates monopoly, all state government projects would be required to deploy technology that is not reliant on Microsoft codes.
Instead, it would need to adopt the 'Open Standards' designed to allow a range of service providers to build and maintain IT infrastructure. The move is seen as a major step toward competition within the IT sector.
"When radio began in the 1920s, stations sprang up all over the spectrum," IT committee chair Michael Gadiel says.
"Many of the first stations required you to have special radios to pick them up, because of the characteristics of the spectrum they used to broadcast. We currently face a similar problem on the internet.
"Over time Government and industry agreed on public standards that allowed any radio manufacturer to build sets that could pick up all stations - or at least those that abided by agreed technical standards for broadcasting ... this was the leg up the radio industry needed, and it never looked back."
The policy committee argues that Open Standards have been a way of promoting competition across a range of industries and are now being pioneered on the Internet.
The New Zealand Government has already embraced this policy, publishing the standards it expects its institutions to comply with, with a few to international standards already being managed by independent standards bodies.
The call is one of the key recommendations of the ALP's IT committee, which presented a bi-partisan report to the State Conference.
Other recommendations include:
- ensuring all IT purchases meet legal minimum employment standards
- imposing controls on the use of email surveillance in the workplace
- and boosting funding for Internet and IT literacy programs.
The research found children as young as six being employed to stitch onto soccer balls the names of sponsors such as Adidas and Coca-Cola and, it says, some of the balls could see finals action.
An article appearing in
But the researchers say the lack of appropriate monitoring means child labour is able to continue whether or not companies do it on purpose. It is not unusual for children in Pakistan to stitch five balls a day for less than fifty Australian cents, they say.
In 1998 FIFA and the sporting goods companies it licenses committed themselves by contract to eliminate child labour and implement fair and decent working conditions for adults.
However the Global March Against Child Labour's 1999, 2000 and 2002 reports claim many children in Pakistan and India are still stitching footballs.
They are now conducting an online petition calling for guarantees that child labour will no longer be used in the manufacture of sporting goods, that child workers will be rehabilitated provided with educational opportunities.
At press-time, Labor for Refugees was working towards a bipartisan resolution that would maintain compulsory processing, but with limits on the amount of time seekers could be held without good reason.
A bi-partisan resolution from the largest branch of the ALP will send a powerful message to the federal opposition, currently reviewing its immigration and refugee policies.
But there is still a risk that a factional split over wording will undermine the campaign for reform.
Wosrt Racism Ever
Speaking to a Labor Council-sponsored forum on the issue, former Premier Neville Wran described the attitude in Australia in the second half of 2002 as "racism at its worse - the worst ever seen in this country."
Wran called on Labor to revise its policy to bring it in line with its international commitments, but warned ALP activists it would be a long and hard battle to win community support for the position.
"Getting the debate on an even keel will be a hard slog," he said. "Such has been the fear and mythology developed by Reith and Howard."
"It will take a groundswell of debate, discussion and reasoning to get the debate back on a balanced level."
Speaking at the same forum, NSW Legislative Council president Meredith Burgmann said she had been embarrassed by Labor's position at the 2001 election; but felt the Party had been painted into a corner.
She says Labor needs to address the two big myths in the current debate: that there has been an increase in refugees; and that we have something to fear.
Burgmann says the key to improving ALP policy is to reverse the onus of proof for detainees, so they are allowed to live in the community while their claims are processed, unless they are shown to be a health or security risk.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union state secretary Nick Lewocki drew parallels between the plight of asylums seekers and his own family, which also began their Australian lives in Villawood.
Click here to read Lewocki's full speech
While similar provisions have been side-tracked in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, ACT Industrial Relations Minister Simon Corbell will introduce legislation based on a private member's notice from Labor MLA Katy Gallagher.
Gallagher says she is "extremely hopeful" a Government Bill, amending the Crimes Act, will go before the territory's Parliament next month.
It would apply sanctions, including prison terms and heavy fines, to employers found "grossly negligent" over workplace deaths.
"This is not about people who observe the law. It's aimed at those who know their workplaces are unsafe and do nothing about it," she explained.
Gallagher said industrial deaths were a hidden menace and it was the proper role of Governments to take actions that could save the lives of their constituents.
In calling on the Minister to introduce industrial manslaughter legislation she pointed out that more Australians died in industrial accidents than on the country's roads.
"Yet, there is no industrial deaths toll on our nightly news bulletins, there is no hard-hitting advertising campaign to raise awareness of the issue and, sadly, it is relatively infrequently that anyone is held accountable for a workplace death," she said.
Australia has industrial death rates higher than comparable countries - New Zealand, Canada, the UK, US or Japan.
Gallagher called, in the absence of Federal Government action, for states to take a co-ordinated, national approach in a bid to cut the rate of workplace deaths.
Beefed-up provisions were needed, she said, because corporations and directors could currently escape criminal liability because of the difficulty of applying manslaughter laws to corporate entities, or individuals protected by complicated corporate structures.
Contributions to her notice from Liberal, Green and Democrat speakers left Gallagher confident Corbell's legislation would gather enough support in a legislature where Labor governs as a minority.
Carr is expected to announce the initiative to the Labor Party Conference tomorrow as part of a industrial relations overhaul.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson said reinstatement was the only way to stop a cost blowout similar to that afflicting public liability.
Often, under current provisions, when a worker wins an unjustified dismissal case in the IRC it is found "impractical" to order reinstatement. Other cases are settled on the basis of lucrative cash inducements before the Commission brings down a finding.
The Carr Government initiative should also trim the activities of agents, flooding the system with cases and taking a percentage from those that get up.
One operator, calling itself an "employment and industrial advocate" takes more than the injured worker from small settlements, after tax.
Employment Help Services schedule reveals it grabs $450 of a $1000 settlement with the worker getting $235; and $630 from a $2000 payout with the worker receiving $640.
Christmas Island Workers Union secretary Gordon Thomsom said the island's Phosphates Company was trying to use the 20 visiting crew whose wages were dependent on them returning to their homeland with cargo.
"These poor people are caught in the middle, so our members have decided to put our hands in our pockets and pay their wages," Thomsom said.
He said Christmas Island Phosphates had arranged for the Indonesian ship to visit after being advised of strike action over job security and redundancy issues.
About 100 workers at the phosphate mine refused to sing an agreement that included provisions for forced redundancies and the use of contractors.
The mine has been idle for four weeks and Thomson said the dispute was being prolonged by the company's refusal to discuss a redundacy provision that would see entitlements paid into a trust fund.
Addressing the Institute of Public Administration in Canberra on Wednesday, Abbott made it clear he supported management's absolute right to dictate the agreement-making process.
"If public servants want secret ballots they should have them but ballots ought to decide the substance of how people work not the form of their negotiations. Ballots, in any event, are part of a culture of collective decision-making which doesn't easily co-exist with the maintenance of professional standards and responsibility," explained Mr Abbott.
The long-simmering issue of public sector bargaining boiled over in Canberra on Thursday when the CPSU asked the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to intervene in dispute about the bargaining process in Abbott's own Workplace Relations Department (DEWR).
As a hundreds of DEWR staff paraded before TV cameras outside, Commissioner Barbara Deegan listened carefully to argument before asking the parties to meet again on Monday 27th May.
DEWR staff want to make a Section 170LJ agreement, with direct union involvement, because they believe that process provides the most genuine form of bargaining.
DEWR management argue that union involvement would somehow disenfranchise non-members in the department.
DEWR management have further angered staff by refusing to put the bargaining process issue to a secret ballot, a move which would allow all staff a democratic say - members and non-members.
"The AHA had every opportunity to argue before the Industrial Relations Commission that pubs and clubs had an 'incapacity to pay' during the recent Living Wage case.
After threatening to submit a claim on these grounds, the AHA dropped the matter because it couldn't be substantiated, " Mr Combet said.
In early May the Industrial Relations Commission decided low paid workers deserved an $18 a week pay rise, taking into account the cost to employers."
Mr Combet said the AHA's recommendation to pubs to push up the price of beer by 10 cents was simply an exercise in profiteering.
He said the AHA had also conveniently failed to mention Peter Costello's budget measures which would increase taxes on most alcoholic beverages.
The ACTU has written to ACCC Chairman Alan Fels asking him to investigate claims that the AHA has engaged in misleading and deceptive trading conduct and whether that conduct constitutes unlawful price fixing.
Deal on Discount Grog Sacking
A Bunbury, West Australia, bar worker sacked for giving discounts on beer has reached an out of court settlement with her employer.
The LHMU's WA South West office contacted the worker after hearing about her sacking in the media.
Diana Kozyrski, 18, made headlines when her employer had her charged with stealing $14 by discounting 10 jugs of beer to regulars at the hotel.
Diana says she wasn't given any formal training at the hotel and was following the lead of other staff but her employer still laid charges.
Her lawyer has attempted to have the charges thrown out on the grounds that they are a waste of taxpayers' money but the Magistrate has ordered that she stand trial at the end of May.
In the meantime, LHMU Prosecutions Officer Jeff Rosales says the details of the Unfair Dismissal settlement are confidential.
"This safety net agreement will ensure that no employer in the casino industry can force any worker to accept less than the legally set minimum award conditions," LHMU assistant national secretary, Tim Ferrari said.
The agreement introduces a new skills-based classification structure for casino employees in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.
It covers security and surveillance employees, finance and electronic gaming employees.
Two casinos - Star City in Sydney and Crown in Melbourne - would not agree to a new classification structure proposed by the AHA and LHMU for dealers.
Ferrari said that issue would be subject to arbitration in June if further negotiations failed.
The Federal Hospitality Award has traditionally covered casino employees in Tasmania and Queensland, but has made no specific provision until today for casino employees in New South Wales and Victoria.
The award variation will not have any immediate effect on wage rates for casino employees, but provides a new measuring rod for the statutory "no disadvantage test" for individual and collective agreements between employers and employees.
"Qantas is about to put their security contracts at airports out for tender. The company's dominant position makes them some of most lucrative security contracts in Australia.
"Our members are concerned that these contracts should not be won on just price alone - which means their low wages subsidise the contract process," Jo-anne Schofield, LHMU Airport Security Union, assistant national secretary said.
"Airport contracts should provide the best possible service for the travelling public, for the airlines, and for the workers they employ."
The union is writing to airport security specialists overseas, and around Australia, with a reputation for showing more respect for airport workers, to ask them to tender for the five year contract.
"We have already started talking to a number of security companies here in Australia who want to take the tender off the existing providers," Schofield said.
" Unlike the companies now holding the airport contracts there are a number of major international security companies - who specialise in airport security - who have established positive working relationships with their employees and their unions.
" We would want them to replace our current bosses," Jo-anne Schofield said.
" We are prepared to work co-operatively with those airport security companies who are prepared to provide better security standards, improved quality training and a healthier working relationship with their employees and their unions."
Rallying outside the United Nations' Sydney office many trade unionists, human rights campaigners, students and the general public asked it to stand by its commitment to back a referendum for a free Sahara.
The groups says that while the UN has largely backed the East Timorese push for independence, it is showing clear signs of walking away from the north African nation which was brutally invaded and occupied by neighbouring Morocco in 1975.
Western Sahara Alliance spokesperson Julie Power says the UN promised the Saharawi people a referendum ten years ago but has so far not delivered.
With the Security Council due to decide between four options for the country in July, and the United States backing a hand over of the territory to regional ally Morocco, the Western Sahara Alliance is calling on the UN to "not give in to American military and oil interests, but to stand by the suffering people of a small country who only want their freedom", Power says.
"Following cosy dinners with the King of Morocco, it appears the US President and UN Secretary General may believe that Morocco could somehow be useful in the war on terror," she says.
Thursday 30 May 2002
7.00pm for 7.30pm start
ALP Quiz night
$200 per table (10 people) or $25 per head
Venue: NSW Leagues Club, 2nd Floor, 165 Phillip Street, Sydney
Contact: Sarah Conway, 0415 957 382
MC Mystery Guest Quiz Master
Media Activism and the Internet
Where: Berkelouw Books, 70 Norton Street, Leichhardt
When: 12 June 2002
Start time: 6.30pm
Seminar organised by the Pluto Institute to launch "Future Active" by Graham Meikle - a book about exploring ways in which activists are using the internet to affect social and political change.
Speakers include Graham Meikle and McKenzie Wark.
Cost: $15 or $10 concession.
It is well known that Trotsky supported the Bolshevik Dictatorship & violence and the closing down of the
Russian Parliament where the majority overwhelming majority voted for other parties.
Working people, all people were subject to the rule of a police state.
A model produced as an example for Hitler and other Fascist countries to copy..
Gulags or Concentration camps to remove innocent people started there.
Hard fought for Democracy is the shortest, surest and least costly road to a better future just as it is the best investment for the development of a better political future for wage earners needs.
Democracy and advanced new Governments are inextricably intertwined with the democratic process.
Whoever one chooses to dance with refuse a Trotsky who was a violent participant in past crimes. The wall went down ten years ago on that failed cruel mess.
Democracy and parties that are devoted to the interest of wage earners are what are required. Dance with parties that will be democratic on the inside and do not stack their branches but are ruled by the membership and not power cliques.
Mr. O R T Docks
Thousands of Australian internet users welcomed Optus's entry into the broadband market, and rejoiced in their uncapped (but reasonably regulated) service. In brief, Telstra capped downloads at 3 Gb per month, and Optus offered about 18 gb, which was very reasonable.
It was understood that heavy users would receive a warning if they got close to the limit, and would be cut off if they exceeded it. Optus provided a graphical display of each user's usage, called NetStats, which allowed us to see how we were going, and enabled us to back off a bit on the downloads if we were getting too high. The price we paid for Optus broadband was very reasonable (for me, anyway) and I was happy to recommend the service to friends and clients.
Now the bastards have decided to downgrade their service to the Telstra level, as of July first 2002. (I should point out here that my usage very rarely exceeded 3 gb, but that when it did I was happy to be an Optus subscriber rather than a Telstra subscriber).
It may be that SingTel has ordered Chris Anderson to make this miserable change, but he should have told them to get fucked and concentrate on running their services in their own country. Leave Optus.com.au to Australians (or Yanks in Chris's case) who know what the market wants. If these people believe for one minute that the future of broadband lies in shrinking the service rather than expanding, or at least maintaining it, they must certainly qualify as major tools.
loved the article on David Foster, our local and national hero! Please , please couldn't we have had a photo of the big man himself instead of I don't know who.
Australian Axeman's Hall of Fame and Timberworks,
PS World wide sport of woodchopping was formalised AT lATROBE tASMANIA IN 1891.
When you mention politicians or other public figures in your articles, it would help readers if you made their names clickable (to the persons email address.) e.g Tony Abbot [email protected] I would like to tell him what I think, and I'm sure many other readers would too. It is not hard to do, and it could get results.
Ed's Reply: Nice idea - if only we had the technical know-how!
While much of Mark Lathams pontifications have much validity, there is not an ounce of originality within them.
His latest scribble "A New Agenda for Political and Industrial Labour.", is nothing more than a hastily reheated political fast food , gorged down and then publicly regurgitated as a wonder food for the masses , some of resembling a swill for swine and the rest smelling of rotting corpses in the closet.
What revelations he continues to surprise us with, who except Mark would have observed the party continually raking over old debates, and its determination not to change its style of politics, we certainly have a seer of quantity here, if not quality.
Does mark have visions of implementing some innovative "Blarisms" , well perhaps , some brain food or a good makeover may be in order , including the projection , of the bile of vile , as he condemns his enemies , at least his new role model , "Simon of Cyrene" . Oh! I am a wag; it is "Simon of ACTU"
His continued mantra of "New", this, and "New", that, and "New", the other are nothing but the sound of a rasping Bastard File attempting to scratch into a tempered electorate. At least Simon has made the effort to discard his "bovver boy", persona, and if his budget response is any example, he has almost succeeded, and I for one am considering becoming a sheep again.
As for some of his philosophies on organised labour, they scare the living daylights out of me , and I personally have and continue to advocate the reform of corrupt trade unions , for the benefit of not only their members , but the nation.
His rejection of the blue collar worker surprises me. Is not his electorate composed of a great number of these disadvantaged Australians?
But it is true that the party must broaden its base and continually monitor the changing socio-economic status of the electorate, particularly in marginal seats such as Lindsay in Western Sydney.
His pseudo political courage is nothing other than the display of a camp follower who has just missed the Camel Train, and now protesteth his commitment in the hope that they will stop and let him on board, too late Comrade, perpetual motion is just that, "Perpetual".
To make Mark Latham's desertion of this constituency clear he says that the
Labor Party "needs to find new issues, new constituencies and new ideas on
which to campaign".
But of course, the old adage "That one mans rubbish is another mans treasure ", applies also here, and Mark has publicised some excellent ideas from overseas.
>From the "UK", is the modernising of the party and a more equitable representation basis for members?
>From all right wing socialists, that socialism should not interfere with capitalist production or any other machination of which the lowest common denominator is socialise the debt and privatise the profit.
He still kids himself that free trade is better for the people?
Rather than continue with a litany of negative comparisons, I can sum it up in one positive, If Mark could just retract his remarks about Tony Staley.
He would make an excellent cabinet Minister.
"In John Howard's government"
In reply to Peter Lewis' excellent editorial, in which he points out that the Union Movement is already a decade along the road towards modernisation, while Simon Crean has only just picked up on the term "modern," I would suggest it is a plus that at least the Parliamentary Leader of the ALP has actually updated his vocabularly.
We all know that, in order to win the next Federal election, Labor has to present to the people of Australia a clearly defined policy, that is readily identifiable as a positive alternative to the Coalition.
A great many people say to me that there is no longer any significant difference between Labor and the Coalition. This was brought home to me when I was handing out "How To Vote Labor" leaflets on November 10 last, at the strongest Liberal polling place in the whole of Australia: St Martin's Anglican Church, Killara, Sydney.
While the Greens were not able to spare anyone to hand out leaflets, they had left a box there for anyone who wanted this choice. A number of elderly voters, especially women, asked for a Green's leaflet, which I was happy to give to them.
What many people probably don't know is that it was the Greens preferences that helped our excellent Labor candidate for the seat of Bradfield, Kathie Blunt, to defy the Nation-wide swing of 1.5 - 2 % towards the Coalition, and turn Bradfield from the second safest to the third safest Liberal seat in Australia. In fact there was a minute positive swing, an a two party preferred basis, towards Labor in the seat held by Brendan Nelson.
The fact that the Coalition is running shit scared of failing to make a fourth term, was clearly evidenced when the Minister for Finance, Nick Minchin, toted the idea of an amalgamation of the Liberal and National Parties.
The future for any kind of democracy in Australia is utterly dependent on Labor ousting the Coalition at the next Federal Election. A unified front representing ALL factions of Labor MUST be established within the next 2 1/2 years.
What utter hypocrisy and bad wagon hijacking displayed by politicians and their ilk on the death of Mr. Alex Campbell, the last Australian survivor from the "Great War"
For years all sides of politics have bit by bit reduced the state benefits provided to these veterans, particularly the disabled.
Why is it, that this individual has been placed on a pedestal as a war hero, Mr. Campbell, displayed no attributes that were not displayed by the majority of his comrades?
The use of individuals as "Icons" , to worship is another indication of the demise of the nation , and what depths have we reached when we need to beatify an individual whose only claim to fame is that he outlived his contempories , this public worship of a man is more blasphemous than Aharons "Golden Calf .
The belligerent insinuation by commentators that any one who did not agree with the waste of productive time, in stopping work for one minute in memory of Mr. Alex Campbell, under the guise of a memory of unless massacres inflicted upon a nations youth is akin , to "Spanish Inquisition" ,imposition of beliefs on others.
While, Mr. Campbell, in all probability was a very nice person, I fail to see how the expense of a State Funeral and 19, million minutes of national stagnation are justified.
My own Grandparents, were victims of the massacres with on the paternal side , my Grandfather and his brothers being members of the Ulster Volunteer Force ,and on the maternal side members of the 16th Division of the Irish Volunteers , where on the 1st of July 1916 , 1 man in 3 of the 36th Ulster division were killed or died from their wounds , so I can relate to the emotion of this War.
But in the case of Mr. Campbell, his claim to fame is nothing other than being wounded along with millions of others of all nations, he is the last Australian survivor, and he is being used as just another icon to worship for a nation that has no God, but man made ones.
This is in no way a personal reflection on Mr. Campbell, but the misuse of his death which included, just over one year military service in 103 years of life , as an pseudo reflection the nation.
This one minutes silence being paid for by employers, would be much better used if every person who wanted to pay their respects should contribute their wages for this minute to legacy , an organisation which over the past few years find it extremely difficult raise funds for legatees.
I am also certain , that John Grey Gorton , who was in all probability , was more important to Gough Whitlam , than John the Baptist was to Jesus , had a more positive impact on the Australian Nation that 100 Alex Campbell's , who tugged the forelock , said yes "M'Lud" , and accepted their lot in life as being cannon fodder for the games their betters played when bored.
Below is a reference to the history of the establishment of Mayday.
The police killing of 6 workers on May 1 1886 is a reminder that the cops breaking our Workers Comp picket of Parliament House last year and their assault on M1 2002 protestors is no historical anomaly. John Robertson - the cops are traitors to the working class, sure they are union members under Labor Council coverage but their job at the end of the day is to oppose us upsetting the bosses' applecart.
PS Dear Editor - I hope you don't caption this letter as "hate mail". It was patronising and not in the spirit of solidarity when you did this to the recent AMWU and CFMEU members letters re mayday.
"The History of May Day
May 1st or May Day has been International Workers' Day since the late Nineteenth Century, when the International Working Men's Association (the First International) declared the day to be a holiday to commemorate those people who became known as the Haymarket Martyrs. Haymarket Martyrs
The modern celebration of May Day evolved from the campaign by the Knights of Labour for the eight hour day in the United States and Canada in the mid-188O's. At that time, workers were being forced to work anywhere from 10 to 14 hours per day. On May 1st, 1886, national strikes took place in both countries involving over 250,000 workers in support of this campaign, however, in Chicago, police attacked and killed six striking workers.
The next day, at a demonstration against this police brutality in the city's Haymarket Square, a bomb exploded among the police cordon killing eight officers. Eight striking trade unionists were arrested and tried for murder. The trial focused as much on their politics as it did on the allegation of murder and four were eventually convicted and executed in November 1887. They became known as the Haymarket Martyrs.
Declaration of Holiday
In Paris in 1889 the First International met and declared May 1st as an international working-class holiday in commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs. Ironically, given its origins, it is now recognised in nearly every country in the world, with the exception of the United States and Canada.
In Ireland, the first Monday of May was declared a Bank Holiday by the then Minister for Public Enterprise, Ruairi Quinn TD, in 1994, in honour of May Day and those people who have campaigned and continue to campaign for workers' rights."
Teacher, Sir Joseph Banks High
NSWTF Councillor for Canterbury-Bankstown
by Peter Lewis
Nike is making a public statements that it's changed its ways. What's Nike Watch's response to this?
Well up until very recently we would have said that the company's basically been responding on a public relations basis. The changes they had made were pretty marginal, they hadn't addressed the key issues of union rights and wage levels. That's up until very recently. Very recently they've started to make some changes that look to us like a step forward.
The monitoring organisation that they're involved in has changed the way they operate. The organization is a joint operation between companies including Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Levis, Patagonia and some human rights groups in the US - including churches, lawyers committees, the National Consumers League and a couple of other groups. Up until now that institution has not been at all credible, the companies have chosen which monitors entered the factories; they paid the monitors to visit the factories; there's been no reports from individual factories only general reports to the company.
In April they announced some major changes. They bought in a new Executive Director who has a background in the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa and has been working for the ILO for the past 15years doing factory audits. He and his staff are now going to be choosing the factory monitors, they are going to be paying them and there are going to be releasing reports for each factory. So for us, that looks like an important step forward, an important step towards the kind of demands we've been making. But it's very early days and we need to see how that's going to play out in practice before we formally make a public response praising them. It's also important to note that those changes in themselves aren't going to be enough to fix the problem.
Currently the Fair Labor Association only externally monitors 10 per cent of factories each year. So each Nike factory is only visited once every 10 years by external monitors. They are reviewing that and that may change. But even if it doubles and it's every five years you have still got the question of what happens if the factory tries to bust the union between the five-year period. So you need a really affective accessible complaint mechanism that workers can access immediately if union busting or serious labor abuses occur. Now that's under review, the sort of complaint mechanisms that are going to be available. But certainly the old system was very bureaucratic and wasn't at all accessible to workers.
What would you need to see for you to say Nike Watch has done its job it's time to move on to something else?
Well I don't know that we could ever say that, but certainly if there's a few things that for us would be a key indication that the companies are serious about these issues, they are:independence and transparency of monitoring; commitment to a living wage; complaint mechanism that workers can access; training for workers, so that they get education about what rights there are available under these systems; and finally; we want union involvement in these kind of programs.
The Unions in the US were initially involved in the Fair Labor Association but they pulled out in 1998, because the companies wouldn't agree to a credible system. If the Labor Association were going to change enough for the unions to get back involved, that to us would be a big sign that it was serious about the issue.
There is a border question, is it actually possibly for Global Capital to be ethical? Isn't it just a race to the cheapest free trade zone?
It has been a race to the cheapest free trade zone, but I don't think it necessarily has to be that way. The market are not made up of people, they're social constructions as much as they're economic constructions and what we hope, not immediately but in the next 10-20 years, is to start to build a big enough consumer activism and ethical investment activism to start creating economic incentives for companies to start to operate in a way that respects workers' rights. And industries like sportswear are good places to start because the company spends much more on building their reputation and brand than they do on labor costs.
Their average shoe which would sell for $80, $1 or $2 of that would be labor costs and up to $5-$6 would be marketing the brand, sponsorship. So with a company like Nike's you can damage their reputation and that's their most important asset. And if you can make it so that their reputation is dependant on having decent labor conditions than there is an economic incentive that goes beyond the increase in labour costs. So our argument is the way capitalism works, particularly the way brands are so prominent, is that we can start to change labor costs which are very much a small part in the overall costs change.
Nike's obviously an easy target because they have such a high profile, but how do you extend that sort of brand consciousness and consumerism beyond just Nike and Reebok?
That's obviously a big challenge. What we've been waiting for in this campaign is for some of the companies to take genuine steps forward so that we can start to distinguish between them. With these recent changes in the Fair Labor Association it looks like that's at least starting to happen. We can no longer say that those companies like Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Levis are exactly the same as companies who aren't involved in those sorts of projects.
That means we need to find the campaign needs to move to a new level and find a way of rewarding companies who make some progress and putting pressure on other companies to join them, while at the same time maintaining pressure for improvements to continue it.
There's a group called the Clean Clothes Campaign in Europe which is a network of 200 Unions, human rights groups and community groups and their looking at a project which they are going to possibly call "Human Rights Marathon". So they'll have a big consultation with human rights groups and unions around the world. They'll set up a bunch of criteria that they want companies to meet and the companies will get a certain number of steps along this marathon. Then they'll release yearly race updates. So if a company commits to a living wage and starts implementing it they might move 30 steps down the road, if they commit to respecting union rights and respond positively in favour of union rights they might get another 20 steps and so on.
So we're trying to get companies competing against each other and trying to build a constituency of consumers who will award companies who make some progress, while at the same time doing in depth research that shows that all the companies have a long way to go. That's the new direction we're looking at to try and keep pressure for more change and to broaden it out.
The big challenge though is to get people to make their consumer decisions based on that information. How do you even start to change that sort of behaviour, you're up against this multi-million dollar industry that's meant to get people to dictate the way they're going to consume - how do a bunch of human rights activists break through that?
I think the way information technology is changing, which obviously works good online if taken advantage of, is a powerful way of getting information out to people. A small example is this guy Jonah Peretti in the US who had an email exchange with Nike where he tried to get "sweatshop" emblazoned on his shoes. That was huge. He just emailed a friend who emailed a friend who emailed a friend. The Financial Review estimated 11 million people would've read it. He even appeared on US morning television debating Nike about it.
So the way people are connected by email and the Internet makes this kind of information very easy to determinate in a way it was impossible before. I think there is, certainly amongst a percentage of the population who are concerned about human rights already, a real demand for that kind of information and a demand for how they can use their consumer power and reflect things positively. Obviously it's only optimistically at 10-15% of the population who are in that category. But even that is insignificant enough to start affecting profit margin.
I guess one idea that you hear floated around that is something like a "no sweat" logo that has as much allure as the Nike "swoosh. Has there been any research or any experience into how affective that sort of strategy could be?
The problem is that most of the research is done by the companies because they're the ones with the money and what they say is that people care about these issues but not enough to change their buying patterns, not enough to spend a bit more money. There has been other research that suggests otherwise and that's been funded by NGOs. Basically, the test is going to be to get it happening and to see how people respond. Obviously FairWear is starting up this "no sweatshop" label for clothes produced in Australia and that's going to be a significant test for that kind of labelling. Internationally I think, I have reservations about a "no sweatshop" label for a goods produced anywhere in the world because a company like Nike looking at 900 suppliers it's very hard to say that all the factories are good. It only takes a couple of stories exposing shop conditions to undermine the whole credibility of the label.
So I'd prefer in terms of international context, the Marathon or Rating system which gives an idea as to the companies' progress and what steps they're taking rather than saying give me a stamp and say everything is made in good conditions. But the "no sweatshop" labels in terms of Australian production will be interesting.
As a community campaigner what's your evaluation of the performance of the Union movement in the anti-sweatshop campaigns?
I think in Australia the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union has been very supportive, we've worked closely with them on a couple of different campaigns, on worker tours and so on. At the international level I think unions follow rather than lead on this issue. I think there were pretty powerful and effective activism done by grassroots networks and quite small groups that unions were quite hesitant to get involved. But as the unions have seen how effective it's been in getting media coverage and mobilising people they have started to get much more involved.
So if you look in the US the union movement there has started to set up their own website "Behind the Label" with regular stories. They're trying to mobilise more people. They've just started to put resources into local trade union organisations in Indonesia so that they can document problems in their factories in a way that's going to be interesting for a few western audiences and all the audiences. So while the Union movement has been slow to respond to this issue they are increasingly getting involved and that's been really positive.
Well it really came out of more a political campus version in America didn't it? And it was seen as almost a challenge to the established Unions there?
That's not entirely true. A lot of the students that were involved in the student end of the movement had been part of the major project in the US that the AFL-CIO ran - internships for students in unions. A lot of those students were politicised by a program that was run by the mainstream union movement, but then they we saw these students themselves take the issue a lot further and a lot faster perhaps than the mainstream unions had been. The Nike campaign started in 1991 by this guy Jeff Ballenger who was working for the AFL-CIO, he was a bit of radical in the overall US labor movement and seen as a bit peripheral by some, but certainly he was operating within the movement when he started the campaign.
What about the response of Government, particularly labor governments in Australia. There seems to be a feeling that policing sweatshops is almost impossible in that they can move very quickly, outworkers are even harder. What could the Government be doing if it was really serious about dealing with the sweatshop industry at home and abroad?
Well at home, the NSW Department of Industrial Relations is announcing this week a major new strategy on outworkers. And my understanding is they're putting significant resources into increasing factory inspections, employing more inspectors that speak the languages that homeworkers speak, putting a lot more resources into policing, putting a lot more pressure on companies to be part of the kind of voluntary "no sweatshop" label scheme or else that's when the Government will introduce much more intrusive legislation. And from what I've heard from FairWear, although they haven't got everything they wanted, that has been an important step forward and a major kind of lobbying achievement over a number of years. So I think the steps that the Government are taking are positive.
In terms of an international level, the kind of things we were looking for is a kind of commitment to getting companies to agree to key labor standards but also enforcement of those labor standards. The Australian Government has indicated that they have no intention even exposing Australian companies who aren't doing that. And there needs to be a much more aggressive approach of funding research into how multinationals are operating overseas. Having surprise visits by independent monitors, publishing a report and setting up the kind of worker training and complaint mechanisms that are going to allow workers themselves to report on labor abuses.
Finally, looking into the crystal ball, if your campaign is successful, what's it going to be like in 20 years time? What sort of clothes are we going to be buying and were are we going to be buying them from?
In terms of where we are going to buy them from, I think a lot of them are still going to be bought from countries that are industrialising. And I think that that's not a bad thing. I think Indonesia and China and Vietnam are countries that desperately need employment and our hope is that those jobs will stay there but will become decent jobs with unionised workforces and those workforces will be part of development in those countries which means increased international economic activity and wealth for both them and us.
In terms of how they'll be produced, well as I said we hope they'll be produced by unionised workforces who negotiate collectively across boarders, who participate in decisions about how production occurs and is human rights are respected and get adequate leisure time so they don't have this kind of situation where they're forced to work 60-70 hours a week just to achieve a basic existence income instead of decent income where they can raise a family and be able to enjoy leisure time as well as work time.
When Alec Campbell, The Last Anzac, died last week at the age of 103, he was the subject of obituaries around the world.
Most of what was written about him centred on his World War 1 military career which spanned less than a year.
For about six weeks during this brief career, Alec was at Gallipoli. He arrived too late for the worst of the disastrous campaign, and he missed out on the legendary night-time evacuation. According to his own accounts, he never even killed one of the enemy. For the most part he did the dangerous job of ferrying drinking water from the beach to the front line troops.
Alec was 16 years old at the time, and looked it. The Launceston born boy lied about his age to enlist and claimed he was 18. The hungry war machine gobbled him up. In later years he talked about the lure of adventure and travel promised by the war.
He once recalled how he spent his brief time at Gallipoli. The object was to simply to survive.
Severe illness and medical complications cut short his military career. Prior to being repatriated to Australia in 1916 he spent time recuperating in Egypt. Here he enjoyed the sites, and was twice charged for breaking military law; for being drunk, and for being Absent Without Leave.
Alec arrived home aged 17, changed by the reality of war. In later years he considered his safe return was one of the best things that happened to him.
Thereafter Alec rarely talked about the war and his military experiences. When a book titled The Last Anzacs was published in 1996, Alec was not mentioned. He had become the invisible Anzac.
But someone dobbed him, and between 1996 and 2002 as the ranks of Anzac survivors thinned and his own health failed, he was targetted. Powerful nationalist and martial forces iconised him as The Last Anzac. But as Alec once pointed out, there was nothing really extraordinary in being the last; simply, he had been one of the youngest at Gallipoli.
During this transformative process a great deal of the real Alec Campbell went into the dustbin of history. The brief military service of the boy became the sum total of the man.
So who was Alec Campbell, apart from once being a boy soldier?
Well, it was a crowded life. In South Australia, New South Wales, and Tasmania he was variously a jackaroo, carpenter, railway carriage builder, mature age university student, public servant, research officer, historian; he married twice, and fathered nine children. Alec was also an amateur boat builder, self-taught navigator, and a Sydney-to-Hobart yachtsman during the early years of the race. He also enjoyed hunting, and somewhere along the line did some boxing.
Politically and industrially Alec was a socialist, a trade unionist, and an anti-fascist. During the Spanish Civil War he considered going to Spain to join in the fight against the fascist forces of General Franco.
One of his daughters has described him as an "enthusiastic" unionist "who put everything into it". During the 1930s he was an active unionist in railway workshops in Hobart and Launceston. Later he was active in the Workers Educational Association. The conservative press regarded him as 'a Red'. In the Launceston local council elections of 1941 he campaigned with union endorsement for slum clearance, low rental public housing, anti-pollution measures, and anti-monopoly measures
Alec became President of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Railways Union (1939-1941), and of Launceston Trades Hall Council (1939-42). In those tough industrial times, he was known to be quick-tempered; sometimes his fists did the talking.
Over the years, people Alec worked with included the extraordinary peace activist Lady Jessie Street, and fellow ARU identity Bill Morrow, anti-conscriptionist, life-long peace activist, and an ALP Senator (1947-1953).
In 1999 Alec voted for an Australian republic, believing it was time Australia stood on its own two feet.
Alec thought war was a futile activity, and devoted much of his life to the cause of peace. He reasoned that as political solutions always followed wars, people should cut to the chase and get on with the political solutions without the slaughter.
Vale Alec Campbell (1899-2002). Lest We Forget.
Soldiers need to be mates and exhibit solidarity for their very survival. Unionists, whilst not being in the extreme physical danger that soldiers must face in war, have through their history shown the same qualities in acting collectively to right wrongs against workers. Unions have also been at the forefront of actions to prevent the wars that soldiers have to face.
The last ANZAC, Alec Campbell was a unionist who spent many years working for a more socially just Australia. John Howard wants us to honour him as a great soldier and symbol of the ANZAC legend, the black armband view of Australia's past that he finds acceptable. As working people we should celebrate Campbell's proud history of working class activism, and also honour unions and soldiers who acted together to defend Australia.
Campbell was a strong opponent of conscription, and so were the unions in World War I, much to the disgust of the Labor Rat Billy Hughes. Unions also waged a campaign against conscription in 1939 when the UAP government was trying to send Australian soldiers to Europe. For example, the Broken Hill Labor Defence and Anti-Conscription League ran a strong "Defend Democracy Defend Australia No Troops for Overseas" campaign. The ACTU and the Labor Council of NSW also ran strong campaigns against Menzies and the NSW government.
The theme in 1939 was the attack on civil liberties. As the Labor Council pamphlet put it
"Freedom of the press, free speech and free assemblage, are objects of savage attacks by the State and Federal Governments.
Cabinet Ministers have urged gaol and disenfranchisement for labor leaders. They have assailed clergymen for expressing sentiments favouring peace, and threats are issued daily to those who consider the preservation of democrative rights and decent living standards as essential for Australians."
Shortly after, Menzies introduced the Supply and Development Bill, the National Registration Bill and the Defence Amendment Act. The Emergency Committee of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions had a pamphlet prepared by a Committee of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties consisting of Maurice Blackburn, J.V. Barry and Brian Fitzpatrick.
They pointed out that the compulsion the government had in mind meant for military and industrial purposes. The act could force workers to make the choice between submitting to tyrannical bosses at their workplace and enduring all sorts of degrading conditions, or being sent thousands of miles away on war service. It could emasculate trade unionism until the unions become nothing better than company unions.
This pamphlet was issued on 26 June 1939. Later on after the Japanese entered the war and the threat to Australia was more immediate, the unions did support the war effort, with the communist influences perhaps he most active and determined to actually undermine some conditions on behalf of the national (and international ie Soviet Union) good. The non-communist unions were much more concerned to not let the war effort be an excuse to undermine workers rights.
The Labor Council showed that it was keeping a close watch on the issues with a pamphlet called "Workers' Wages-Soldiers' Pay-Profits" written by research officer Jack Lindsay.
They were concerned at how business interests were attacking the federal Labor Government's attempts to limit profits to 4% during the war (which they backed down on). Business used the same old excuses and the mainstream press played its usual role in backing them up. As the Daily Mirror put it, "effort has still to be stimulated by reward."
As Lindsay put it, "if the shareholders were not satisfied with receiving the liberal percentage profit allowed to them as non-producers, then, of course, they could have supplemented their incomes by going to work in a munition factory, where there is a great need for workers.
It may be noted that while wages were pegged long ago no taxation would have been collected under the government's profits tax scheme until the middle of 1943."
Lindsay spelled out that "the soldiers and the Trade Union Movement have the same interests because the great majority of soldiers came from the ranks of the working class."
Also, Lindsay went on to point out that "the Australian soldiers during the last war [1914-18] were members of the highest paid army in the world, because the unions had achieved a higher level of wages in the country than in others, and because they fought successfully to maintain the principle of voluntary enlistments."
"If the working people in all ranks of life, including the middle classes, are thoroughly united behind a progressive war policy, we will be able to play our part in Australia towards defeating the fascist hordes."
The press tried to bring out class divisions, arguing that the soldiers were poorly paid, whilst the civilian workers were highly paid. They did not look at business profits. The unions demanded that the Menzies government increase the soldiers basic wage (which he didn't) and ensured that the Curtin government did, very soon after coming to office.
POST WAR RECONSTRUCTION
Lindsay also brought out a theme that was repeated and developed by the ALP and the labour movement over the next few years: the shape of Australian society after the war.
"We will also be in a better position to eliminate the large monopolist exploiters in the post-war period", he wrote.
One such pamphlet was "Union Policy For Our Fighting Cobbers" a policy adopted at a conference held in Sydney on 16 May 1943, with representatives from 6 labor councils, 56 trade unions, 32 shop committees. these were represented by 316 delegates, and the returned soldiers' organisations sent 29 official observers.
"The Conference was held because --- Australia's fighting forces, which have fought with outstanding valour on battlefields all over the world, have all claims to the best possible conditions during their period of service, and their future well-being must be the first consideration of the Australian people." The conference adopted policies of improving conditions for service people, and strengthening links between men and women and industry and service people. This would lay the basis for united action to solve the problems of the post-war period in the interests of worker and soldier.
Business and anti-Labor forces were seen as waging a strong propaganda campaign against this unity, by exaggerating the impact of stoppages and suppressing news about the war effort of unions.
On ensuring good union relations with workers the conference resolved that"
1. Trade Unions should maintain contact with members in the Forces-per medium of letters, sending of journals, provision of comforts
2. Unionists should retain full membership rights while serving in the Forces.
3. Unions should organise social activities for service members in all centres.
4. Factories and Unions should adopt Units of Forces for the purpose of supplying comforts, etc
5. Union support should be maintained for Red Cross and Prisoners of War Fund
6. More fully to inform servicemen and workers of respective activities, speakers from the Forces should be invited to attend Union meetings, and workers from factories and Union leaders should speak at military camps.
7. Country centres (particularly those with Trades and Labor Councils) should attempt to establish hospitality huts, organise socials, etc., for troops camped in the vicinity.
The conference emphasised extending the role of welfare committees in the services, promotion of those in service based on ability, and extension of army education services to all services. Also they pushed for improvements in the pay of women in the services based on the work they did. So men and women doing the same job should be paid the same.
The big issue of repatriation was also addressed. They pointed to the terrible way diggers of 1914-18 were treated after that terrible conflict, which lead to a great deal of poverty and social unrest.
1. Demobilisation must be carried out in a scientific manner, efficiently and speedily. Where difficulties of finding employment are encountered adequate maintenance must be provided.
2. The Government should make a survey of fields of employment likely to be available after the war and further extend the present educational system within the Army. In the light of the survey a scheme of vocational training for discharged men and women should be put into operation.
Pensions were a big issue as the conference saw that Australia as a nation had an overwhelming obligation to those returning who were suffering mentally or physically.
Also free medical treatment should be provided, adequate housing conditions ensured, and a comprehensive land settlement scheme put in place, with agricultural training and co-operative arrangements between new farmers. National infrastructure schemes of water and solid conservation were also urged.
All these issues were ones vigorously argued for by Alec Campbell, as Rowan Cahill points out in his article in this weeks Workers Online.
"Alec was active in the Workers Educational Association. The conservative press regarded him as 'a Red'. In the Launceston local council elections of 1941 he campaigned with union endorsement for slum clearance, low rental public housing, anti-pollution measures, and anti-monopoly measures."
These themes were all echoed in the ALP government's actual plans. Eddie Ward outlined his views at the annual meeting of the East Sydney Federal Electorate Labor Council on 9th March 1945 and published as "The Rehabilitation of Ex-Servicemen". Also a Labor Digest of March 1945 on "the strategic role of the Australian army" laid out an impressive policy covering airline, slum clearance, industrial development in the steel industry, forest policies, labour education an the future of arbitration. Ben Chifley, as Minister for Post-War Reconstruction produced a pamphlet of three articles on Full Employment, International Co-operation, and Social Security before the end of the conflict. It was produced by the Dept of Post-War Reconstruction and titled Planning For Peace.
These themes were all part of the post-war welfare state that gave strong emphasis to employment, rights of ordinary Australians and welfare. All these themes have been under attack since the time the present Prime Minister entered federal parliament. This is the man who makes lots of noise about the ANZAC spirit, a spirit which he seems to feel embodies sacrifice by the ordinary soldier and citizen, who are to fall back on their own resources and who are also expected to fulfil obligations to the nation, whilst the government and corporate elites keep the profits of their efforts rolling in one direction only.
What went wrong with the information revolution? Two years ago it seemed unstoppable - the world as we knew it was going to change. Industrial age institutions were going to wither, large corporates and governments were opening up and hierarchies were going to collapse. Why did it all go so horribly wrong?
The answers to this question are many and varied. Perhaps our naïve optimism made us susceptible to the hype of the media, feeding wild expectations that would inevitably remain unfulfilled. This generated the perfect environment for charlatans like Jodee Rich and Brad Keeling to manipulate people, taking advantage of the optimistic environment to profiteer.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the early stages of the information revolution have been a failure because the technology was not able to live up to the rhetoric of those who promoted it. What has become clear is that the IT sector must get its house in order, if the promises of the prosperity of the information age are to be achieved.
The real story of the information revolution so far is that, as a society, we have invested billions in computer systems that rely on proprietary standards. Current IT systems are frequently unreliable, expensive, won't communicate with each other and leave us locked in with a single provider.
The big players, who have no interest in broadening the market or committing to common standards, hugely dominate information technology service provision. They have each developed their own standards and systems. This situation has suited them because once an organisation has sunk an initial investment into to particular system, then changing to a different provider means abandoning that investment.
The big players like Microsoft have avoided locking into common standards because they enjoy such a dominant position in the IT market that their own standards are often adopted as the universal standards anyway.
Other organisations, if they are to compete, must try to anticipate in which direction the big guys will move - but the wrong decision could send them under. Smaller organisations are therefore forced to follow - excluding them from competing in large sections of the market.
A big part of the solution is open standards. Currently independent international bodies are setting a range of standards in relations to information technology and the Internet. But if nobody adopts these standards then the big players will move in their own direction forcing everyone else to follow.
The questions for Labor is - what reforms are necessary to achieve a healthy and competitive IT sector and how can we create an environment that promotes these reforms. This means using the buying power of the government to drive open standards into the market of IT service provision.
Governments would benefit from policies supporting open standards because they would gain the benefits of interoperable systems, in addition to creating a marketplace for the contestable supply of IT services. In the longer term this would ensure that there are a range of IT providers that support open standards and are able to apply for tenders for such work in both the public and private sectors.
Such a policy would assist in creating a healthy IT culture in Australia by putting the smaller players on an equal footing with the Microsofts and the IBMs.
The New Zealand Government has already implemented such an agenda, setting out standards that are in line with international norms that it expects its agencies to comply with. The New Zealand government IT standards may be found on the Internet at http://www.e-government.govt.nz/docs/e-gif-v-0-9/index.html.
This weekend the annual conference of the NSW Branch of the ALP will debate a policy that would commit the NSW Labor Government to the development and support of open standards for all Government IT projects.
This is the first step in what in the long term should become the policy of the all Australian Governments.
The IT bubble burst for a whole range of reasons. Until we are able to work out why - and correct the problems of the past we will not be able to achieve the just and fair society that the Information Age offers - Open Standards is just one step along the way. As such, it is a worthy and timely policy for the labour movement to adopt.
by Andrew Casey
But it is the trade unions - and their associated political parties - which are playing a key formative role in moulding the future of the continent.
In the last two months well-organised unions, with popular backing, have called out massive numbers of their members to back general strikes in Argentina, Peru and Venezuela.
Meanwhile in Ecuador and Colombia para-military thugs have tried to hold back this popular union wave by shooting and killing union activists and rank-and-file members.
Immediate international support for the workers in Ecuador is crucial. Below you can find a link to a web-site giving ideas of how you can help.
But in Brazil the hugely popular former trade union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva - popularly known as Lula - is tipped by opinion polls to become the next President at the October elections leading the militant leftwing Workers' Party
A common thread throughout all the union protests is the role of the International Monetary Fund - and the economic proscriptions it is forcing onto South American governments.
There is no little irony in the fact that it is the South American trade union movement who are the principal organisers of the struggles against the proscriptions of the Washington-based IMF.
Many of these same unions, during the Cold War era, were the playthings of the CIA.
But they are now organised and mature enough to cut loose from their former Washington spy masters, and now are fighting the new group in Washington trying to master their national countries.
There are plenty of Boys-Own spy stories of how the CIA set up trade unions throughout South America, and put CIA people in to work out of local trade union offices - or out of the regional offices of international trade unions.
Since the start of this week a growing union campaign - which started with picketing of banks by bank workers in regional areas - has swept over Argentina.
Because of the economic crisis in that country Argentina is at the centre of the working class turmoil in South America.
On Wednesday thousands of striking union workers marched on the presidential palace denouncing the government's handling of the country's deep economic crisis.
The demonstration on the downtown Plaza de Mayo was the first large union protest against President Eduardo Duhalde since he assumed office in January, after deadly street riots forced his predecessor from power.
Some 4,000 angry union workers and the unemployed thumped on drums and thrust banners in the air decrying Duhalde and his efforts to win billions of dollars in bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Argentina's second-largest trade union confederation, led by teamster's leader Hugo Moyano, organized the protest. Moyano called on the government to raise worker salaries and ignore the IMF's demands for further spending cuts.
In Peru President Alejandro Toledo pleaded with his opponents "Let me work, for God's sake" as he battled the hostility of workers and braced for the biggest strike of his 10 months in office.
The workers and unions are angry that the President - who had got into power with the support of unions - had broken a promise not to privatize the electricity companies.
Nearly 55 percent of Peruvians scrape by on $US 1.25 a day or less. Unemployment and underemployment top 50 percent, and only the mining industry is showing real health as the economy battles back to growth.
Worried about the strike the President called out more than 90,000 police officers to control the demonstrators and tried to scare people from participating by suggesting leftist Maoist guerillas would hijack the strike - something which in the end did not happen but may have kept some people from joining in the protests.
Union organisers say Toledo vowed during the campaign not to privatize generators Egasa and Egesur, whose sale has been delayed three times and is now set for mid-June. The government hopes to net at least $156 million, a chunk of its 2002 privatization goal of up to $800 million, but political opponents say it has attached "bargain basement" price tags.
Alvaro Cole, head of the CITE union, said workers across the country backed the union's call for strikes because of their anger that the government had collapsed to IMF pressures and was selling off the generators.
Earlier this month an attempted coup against the three year old left-wing government of Hugo Chavez failed - the coup came after a three day general strike organized by a union-business coalition angered at what they saw as the increasingly anti-democratic and authoritarian regime.
Chavez was hugely popular among the poorest people of Venezuela. He dressed himself up in the aura of revolutionary heroes like Che Guevara and was close to Fidel Castro.
However he was offside with many trade unions as he tried to force elections and displace existing union leaders with his own hand-picked supporters.
Chavez campaigned long and loud for the "destruction" of the main national trade union centre the Confederation of Venezulan Workers (CTV). He suspended collective bargaining in the public sector and the petroleum industry by decree.
He threatened to freeze union bank accounts and promoted the formation of a parallel "Bolivarian Workers' Front."
Chavez's attack on the CTV culminated in a December 2000 referendum on internal union governance in which all citizens--including nonunion members, such as business people and the military--were allowed to vote.
This referendum was condemned by the ILO and by the international trade union movement. In the end Chavez failed very publicly when the vast majority of the population simply abstained from voting.
During a massive demonstration, supported by the CTV, more than 150,000 people marched through the streets of the capital Caracas shooting broke out between pro- and anti-Chavez supporters - it is unclear who started the shooting, and exactly who was killed.
However recent reports suggest the shooting was started by a far right extreme political grouping known as Bandera Roja. and, despite earlier reports, most of the deaths and injuries were not among the anti-government demonstrators but from among the 5000 unemployed and poor people who enthusiastically came out to support the pro- government, pro-Chavez counter demonstration.
This shooting became the excuse for the military coup.
While Chavez and the trade union leadership in his own country did not see eye-to-eye union leaderships across South America immediately came out and condemned the attempted coup.
Under pressure from the ILO and international union grouping the Venezuelan government last week issued a statement that it will respect trade union rights .
Venezuelan labour minister María Cristina Iglesias last Friday said she accepted that the country's labour law should be changed so as to lift some current restrictions on trade union freedom.
This is in line with recommendations made by a mission from the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO), which visited Venezuela last week.
It is in the huge but very isolated plantations of Ecuador that we hear of some of the most violent struggles going on by workers demanding decent pay and conditions.
This week reports seeped out of how Ecuador's banana workers have come under violent attack as they fight for basic rights.
Early on the morning of May 16, between 3-400 hooded men - some of them armed -assaulted workers on strike on the Los Alamos plantations which produce for the Ecuadorian company Noboa, which owns one of the best-selling US banana brands, the Bonita brand.
According to reports received by the foodworkers' union international - the IUF - some one dozen workers were wounded, including gunshot wounds. The workers' homes were looted and women were abused.
Reports identified a company vehicle as having accompanied the attackers. The workers fought back and detained some 40 of the attackers until police eventually arrived. The strike continues
The attack followed earlier threats by private "security guards" against banana workers on strike for union recognition at the Danish-owned Rio Culebra plantation, which produces for the transnational Dole. On May 15, thugs told the workers to abandon their struggle or face assault by a larger "security" contingent the next night.
These violent attacks come in response to the largest upsurge in union activity in decades in Ecuador's banana plantations, where past repression has virtually eliminated unions. In February, over 1,400 workers at seven plantations producing for Noboa struck in support of their demands for overtime pay, health care benefits and centers, decent wages, and union recognition, specifically the right to affiliate to FENACLE, the union federation seeking to organize the plantations.
In response to the strike, 124 union supporters were fired and hundreds of workers on short-term contracts were not called back to work. The unions' registration application was initially denied - on the spurious grounds that the workers are not directly employed by Noboa - but on April 26 recognition was granted when the unions reapplied for registration as working for the three companies that manage the Alamos plantations and sell to Noboa.
Ecuador's banana workers, through their action, are now launching the most determined challenge in decades to the companies' exploitation and repression. They are fighting for banana workers everywhere, seeking to halt the race to the bottom and lift standards throughout the industry. Your support is urgently needed.
Please visit this IUF website to find out what you can do. by Click here.
At least 191 union activists were murdered in Colombia last year. Since the beginning of 2002, over 60 more have been slain. The great majority of these killings have gone uninvestigated and unpunished.
Colombia is the world's most dangerous country in which to be a trade unionist.
This week there were a number of international unions protests organised to support unionists in Colombia.
The protesters called on Colombia's government to act to halt the wave of killings, abductions and disappearances. And, they said, they must act now.
That was the clear message brought to the Colombian Ambassador in Brussels who during the week met a delegation of Belgian and international trade union leaders.
As demonstrators chanted in the street outside, the delegation presented the ambassador with a letter detailing just some of the recent crimes against Colombian trade union leaders.
Persecution against the Colombian trade union movement has become "serious, systematic and persistent," the letter points out. While the crimes against trade unionists rarely result in prosecutions, some leaders of the oilworkers' union USO have themselves been brought before Colombian courts in trials that are "marked by repeated serious violations of the minimum rules of due process and defence rights". The unions suggest the appointment of a special official within the Colombian prosecutor's office. The official's task would be to ensure that any trials against USO leaders are conducted fairly.
The unions' letter goes on to condemn the escalation of the armed conflict in Colombia. While this has undoubtedly led to violations of trade union rights and other human rights, such breaches cannot be seen as "a natural consequence of the existence of the conflict."
The letter calls for a resumption of dialogue and negotiations with the guerrillas in Colombia, "leading to a cessation of hostilities and a humanitarian agreement that lays the basis of a solid and lasting peace process". The European Union should continue to stimulate such negotiation and dialogue, the unions say. At the same time, responsibility for ending the persecution of trade unionists in Colombia rests with the Colombian State. The letter also stresses that the special Colombian forces set up to protect energy industry installations must operate under proper legal and constitutional control.
"The Ambassador was quite open and candid," ICEM General Secretary Fred Higgs told the demonstrators just after the delegation emerged from lengthy talks inside the embassy. "The Ambassador said that corruption, due in particular to money from the drugs trade, had reduced the ability of the Colombian State and judiciary to act. We pointed out that this was no excuse for permitting the murder and abduction of trade unionists, and we assured him that the international trade union movement would continue to monitor developments in Colombia very closely. He promised to relay our letter to the Colombian President and Government, and to communicate their response."
To applause from the crowd, Higgs described Colombia's trade unionists as "heroic" and urged the global trade union movement to continue supporting them in every possible way.
If you want to keep up to date with what's going on in trade union affairs in Latin America wny not visit LabourStart's South America and Central America pages - available in both English and Spanish.
Anger, frustration, even a touch of bitterness - these are the emotions that tumble out when you spend a couple of hours with Employment National staff in western Sydney.
Their organisation, once the Commonwealth Employment Services, had its death warrant signed in Peter Costello's seventh budget.
Under its previous guise, the organisation boasted 12,000 workers, committed to placing unemployed Australians in jobs. The 650 survivors will go next June.
Government has washed its hand of the unemployed, leaving private enterprise, mainly charities turned businesses, to match job seekers with vacancies and take hundreds of millions of dollars out of federal funds for the honour.
Out west, the remnants of the Employment National workforce is mad as hell.
Catherine, a veteran of 20 years beginning with CES, insists she and her workmates have been misled.
"A lot of us have come to the view that Employment National was set up to fail," she explained. "This Government always wanted to hand out the work to its friends in the charities but kept us going to keep up appearances.
"We know for a fact that we are making money, millions a year, but they are going to close us down.
"It was a difficult decision to come here in the first place but we believed them when they said we could keep working for the unemployed in our area."
She, and dozens of others, turned down lucrative redundancy offers chase 1700 jobs with the new organisation.
They were vetted by an employment agency before being told they had work on conditions they had enjoyed in the public service.
The alarm bells started ringing when they were forced, against their wills, to sign AWAs.
"It was take it or leave it," Catherine explained, "they said, if you want a job you sign an individual contract."
In the first contract round, Employment National wiped the floor with its competitors. The second, however, followed massive lobbying from the booming welfare industry and, lo and behold, "charites" turned the tables.
Deprived of almost all the lucrative "special assistance" contracts under which Government puts bounties on the heads of hard-to-place job seekers, Employment National shrunk.
Now Catherine fears for her future. She doesn't know whether to take a pay out or put in for a return to a shrinking public service.
It is not that, though, that drives her anger.
She bristles at Government's attitudes to the unemployed, arguing her daily experiences make a nonsense of claims the outlook is brightening.
Casualisation and lengthy stand-down, she claims, allow statistics to mask reality
People who might only get five or six hours work a week no longer show up amongst the unemployed and thousands of Ansett worker, tipped out of jobs before Christmas, haven't registered yet either.
"We have good personal relationships with the people in our area," Catherine says. "It is a thrill when you help someone into a job, it makes what you are doing worthwile.
"But the situation is getting worse all the time. People are angrier, much angrier, when they come through the door.
"Previously, they had one point of contact, now they are sent from provider to provider. They can be sent to Mission one day, Work Directions the next, then, maybe, IPC.
"At every stop there is red tape, more forms to fill in, and all they want is a job."
She is also worried by a marked demographic change. More and more, her clientele is mid-40s plus, coming from a manufacturing sector decimated by the encouragement of low-wage imports.
"It's sad, very sad," she says, "most of these people have given more than 20 loyal years to a single employer. They have proved themselves in the workplace but, the fact is, employers discriminate.
"They say they don't but we know if we send a 50-year-old for a job the odds are against him, or her.
"Government has made it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of age but it's all for show.
"Employers get around it by insisting on faxed resumes or written job histories. I tell people not to go back beyond the mid-80s, just to give themselves a chance."
Interestingly, there is still a bond between many of the people who worked together in the old CES. Four years down the track they still hold regular reunions.
Some have been with the big church providers, Mission Australian and the Salvation Army, and moved onto smaller operations.
They also fear for their jobs, seeing an unbreakable alliance between the corporate arms of the mainstream churches and the likes of John Howard and Abbott, who share their social and philosophical views.
"We are heading towards a duopoly," one woman says. "You watch, Mission and the Salvos will end up with the vast majority of contracts after the next tender.
"They're not charities any more. Government has turned them into big businesses and these tenders are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
"If this competitive tendering ends up with just two providers you have to wonder why they didn't keep the bloody CES in the first place.
"They've gone around in a bloody big circle and spent millions of taxpayers dollars in the process."
Someone points out a notice in the local paper. Mission Australia is offering employers inducements to take-on their clients. Golf clubs, flat screen TVs, DVDs, hi-fi systems, holidays and Grace Bros vouchers are all up for grabs under the Mission Rewards Program.
Nobody will convince Catherine that Abbott hasn't driven the process from day one, for ideological rather than practical reasons.
She points to a ministerial press release in which he claimed that she and her workmates lacked the empathy and Christian principles of their church-based competitors.
At first she wanted an apology but decided the cards and letters from grateful clients were a better response.
"At least they mean what they say."
Between them, Employment National offices at Parramatta, Penrith, Blacktown and Campbelltown are still registering more than a thousand additional job seekers every month.
When they close next year the Federal Government will add another 650 victims to the unemployed register. It's direct contribution to that figure, since taking office in 1996, is well over 100,000.
It's part of the reason Catherine insisted on anonymity.
"You can't trust them. We've been lied to from day one," she says.
"I will probably need to try and get a job back in the public service. If they knew my name I don't think I would have any chance.
"They don't tell the truth and they don't much like it when others do, either"
The Business of Strangers follows the story of a successful businesswoman who has been to paradise but has never been to her. That is if the carefully manufactured perfection of endless hotel rooms, starched designer suits and worldly success can constitute paradise.
For Julie Styron (played by Stockard Channing) it has come close. Julie is a woman who has come from hardship and yearns for the security she lacked as a child. She alone is all she depends on and it is her own hard work that has brought her to the top of her field.
Yet no matter how far Julie comes she never feels safe, content or able to relax her tight controlling grip. Whenever her sense of control is challenged, she lashes out. This is how she comes to sack on the spot her assistant for turning up late for an important presentation. Not that the assistant, Paula (played by Julia Stiles), is fazed. For her this was only ever a "money job" anyway.
But despite Julie's worst fears that she herself is on the verge of getting the sack, this is one woman going nowhere except to the highest echelons of her company. Far from wanting to get rid of her, the organisation promotes her to CEO. This is a move that so surprises Julie, it throws her into inner turmoil as she grapples to understand what it means in the context of her life.
Enter once more young Paula whose brash style and flair for the controversial helps Julie do just this. Paula appoints herself as a veritable judge and jury to Julie, while steering her through an intense psychological drama that enables her to finally step outside her comfort zone.
What ensues is a sometimes funny, often challenging and ultimately exhausting string of events that exposes the protective web of illusions Julie has wrapped around herself until now. Like her hotel window that cannot be opened, Julie might well ask if its purpose is to stop her from breathing the fresh air or to keep her from jumping.
This film does not judge as erroneous Julie's sacrifices for the sake of her career. Instead it exposes the level of sacrifice women sometimes find it necessary to make in order to achieve success in the top levels of male dominated organisations. Nobody forced Julie to make her decisions but she is so used to "getting stepped on because she has tits" it is understandable that the course her business survival instincts have navigated for her has left little room for a personal life.
Her hard work has paid off but she has traveled so far from her essence in the process that she feels she has lost touch with herself and lost touch with life. She reveals that quitting her job is no longer an option because "if you take away this job, I don't know what you got".
In this sense her predicament is not one restricted to women. Male and female workaholics throughout the world are susceptible to suffering to this inner numbness from time to time. It is when it becomes a way of life that it becomes truly dangerous.
Fortunately for Julie she is able to reconnect with herself in time to see it as an issue. Once identified as such she also finds a few answers.
Fortunately for the sake of the business world the answers do not necessarily involve quitting her job, settling down and raising a family with some 1950s caveman type.
And hopefully now that Julie is CEO of the company things will be done a little differently. Since waking up to the dangers of too much work and not enough compassion, workers under her care will hopefully be treated a little better. This is a boss who must surely now understand the importance of reasonable hours, appropriate leave arrangements, counseling, support and of having no fear of summary dismissal for missing just one bloody meeting, no matter how important.
The Business of Strangers is not shy about falling back on a few cliches but it also gives the moviegoing public credit for having the intelligence to draw their own conclusions and make their own judgments.
It provides a choice between trust and fear: two perceptions that can completely alter the experience of life as well as the enjoyment of this movie. It also presents a perplexing picture of a world in which many have allowed the pursuit of material gain to provide an illusion of control at the expense of enjoying an organic existence.
Three out of five stars *** (grow your own)
by David Peetz
Some people have suggested that the explosion has been due to lawyers, and their willingness to do anything for a buck....oh...So, you're a lawyer, eh? Well, look, um, this guy whose name appears on this page, he didn't really write it. His name's just appeared here by accident. Must be a problem with the website. Actually, I don't think I'd even bother to read any further if I were you. You wouldn't find it at all interesting...
THE LAWYER'S LAMENT
I'll tell yer of what 'appened as I walked along me way,
Down on the Queen Street mall out on a bright an' sunny day.
I chance upon a friend of mine, a friend who's far from poor,
A gentleman who earns his crust by practising the law.
'e's wearing his black gown and wig, as if 'e were mid case,
But most of all 'e wears a grimace right across his face.
I thinks "now, is the problem, that me old mate's just so tense,
From arguing, soliciting and totting up expense?"
So I says to 'im, "what's brought you down to this poor state of grace
That has you wearing this 'uge frown, why right across yer face?"
Now it ain't often you see a lawyer gag and nearly choke,
Till he says "it's all them scientists, those blokes in them white coats
They're buying up the lawyers, the ladies and the gents,
And using us in mazes and in weird experiments"
Now I'm all shocked, I says to 'im "ow could things come to that?
Ain't them the sorts of things for which they've always used them rats?"
"They'd rather use solicitors than rats, those bloody voyeurs,
In part because there's not as many rats as there are lawyers.
What's worse..." 'e 'angs 'is 'ead and says "it's sad but true,
There are some things, no matter what, that a rat just will not do."
So if you see a pack of lawyers, bustling in a race,
You'll maybe find one later, cheesy grin across 'is face.
'e'll be the one who's fastest, smartest, or whate'er they please.
Just don't ask 'im what 'e 'ad to do to get 'is brief of cheese.
by The Chaser
"It's an extraordinary loss," sobbed Costello. "A $6.20 loss to us per drug prescription, to be precise."
The Treasury Department, who have worked for five years squeezing Australia's elderly and disabled to the point that the Government makes profits from them, held a minute's silence to commemorate the 28% hike in pharmaceutical benefits they would have enjoyed had Campbell managed to hang on a few more years.
Several Treasury hacks are said to have shed tears when they recalled the copious amounts of asthma medication they were denied exploiting because of his death.
They then honoured a humble memorial for the extra $188 per fortnight they would have reaped when the Budget successfully downgraded Campbell from the ex-servicemen's pension to the Newstart allowance.
"But it's so much more than simply fiscals," said Costello. "It's the long-established Aussie tradition of mean-spirited Treasurers ripping off the less fortunate that has died a little death today. But we will remember."
Costello presented a short but respectful tribute to Campbell, drawing attention to his long years of service for his country, concluding, "It's a shame that such a glorious Australian would have given up the fight in his country's hour of need, just when we could have profited most from him."
As the PM jets home from China trade talks to make the funeral and the Daily Telegraph runs its own campaign to translate jingoism into circulation, the real Alec Campbell would be turning in his grave.
As he said to CFMEU official Scott McLean, just a few years ago: "I wonder if Howard would give me a State Funeral if he knew what I really stood for".
As Rowan Cahill details, Campbell was a trade union activist who served as an elected official in Tasmania and put energy into the Workers Educational Association.
We're not prepared to say that Alec was a card-carrying Communist; but we have him attending CPA meetings and, according to one history, acting as a strongman for rebel Labor Senator Bill Morrow.
This is not the story the PM or the Daily Telegraph is honouring this week; they don't want us to look beyond the baby-faced water carrier who survived the horrors of Gallipolli. For them the legend begins and ends in the heat of the battle.
But surely it's relevant that after enduring this horror, Campbell lived the life of a true radical; scathing of war; politically active in support of the rights of workers, fighting for a better world.
How much more resonance would the ANZAC story carry if it focused - not just on the courage on those thrown into an unwinnable battle by Imperial forces - but on the transformation of so many of those who endured?
If the ANZAC was founded on the larrikan spirit - why don't we ever talk about the way this spirit imposed itself on the Australia political debate, particularly on the Left?
And shouldn't we be asking how Campbell and the Diggers who fought the Turks with a legendary mutual respect, respond to Australia's current debate about the 'border protection crisis'?
Wouldn't they see similarities in the way they were whipped into a nationalistic fervour with the current manipulation of public opinion that has seen desperate refugees transformed into terrorists?
National icons are delicate things; they tend to built on truths that are easily hijacked into cliches.
To really honour the ANZAC legend we need to scratch the surface, cut through the myths and look at the full story. That should be Alec's Campbell's legacy.
Friends, I am proud to be here tonight for a number of reasons. First because of where I come from, secondly because of whom I represent, and thirdly because it gives me the opportunity to restate my basic beliefs about justice and human solidarity, which as any unionist knows, are the only real way people can bring about a better world.
My parents were refugees from Poland who fled Germany and arrived in Australia in 1951. I have recollections of the Villawood Migrant Hostel, without razor wire and guards, as our family struggled with language difficulties and sought employment. I also remember we were free to leave the hostel and have outings to visit friends
HOW DIFFERENT IT IS TODAY!
My parents like so many others who arrived here in similar circumstances struggled to make a better life for their family and I am a beneficiary of their efforts, and of the fact that Australia welcomed us all.
I went to work in the NSW Railways in 1963 in an industry that employed thousands of refugees and migrants from Europe who were later joined by refugees and migrants from South East Asia, Middle East Africa and Latin America. As RTBU NSW Branch Secretary, I am proud to represent these workers and unionists-Our union membership almost looks like a UN General Assembly roll call and our officials, both honorary and full time reflect that diverse background, although not as much as we would all like.
What I want to say on the issue of an appropriate response by the political and industrial wings of the labor movement on this issue reflects important things about my personal history, the workers I represent and my views on labor movement solidarity.
THE CAMPAIGN WAGED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE LAST ELECTIONS, AND WHICH CONTINUES UNABATED TO DAY, IS, AS THE PREVIOUS SPEAKERS HAVE SAID, SIMPLY A DISGRACE.
It is the kind of campaign that observers of the political Right have long noted about the conservatives
They always seek to divert people's attention from the real issues facing working people.
They always attempt to deflect people's feelings of insecurity and anger onto the weak, the marginal, the dispossessed, in other words, the outsiders of our society.
They are tactics that my parents and their generation from Europe would have been familiar with through the thirties and into the war. However for us here tonight, and particularly the union movement, the point is how to tackle this campaign of slander and denigration against asylum seekers.
The first point is that if we decide that this is a disgraceful campaign, and we want to defeat it, we have to make up our minds that we will debate the issues squarely within our unions, and in the wider community.
IT IS NO GOOD FOR A FEW LIKE MINDED PEOPLE TO SIT HERE AND AGREE THAT WE ARE DISGUSTED.
To debate the issue we need to understand why people at the moment and during the elections were so receptive to the lies and slanders - in other words we need to understand our opponents' objectives and develop a counter approach that exposes the campaign for what it is-
A DIVERSION FROM THE REAL ISSUES.
Some have said and written that because a majority of people think something is OK, then it is self defeating to take up debate to oppose it.
I disagree with that approach, because on this issue, the departure from both justice and ordinary human decency has much wider ramifications for the community than just slandering asylum seekers from the Middle East.
As a trade unionist, I, like every other unionist who must deal with federal workplace industrial legislation know that this government has a history of trashing international conventions to which this country is a signatory.
When the Howard/Reith industrial legislation was carried, a committee of ILO experts found that the legislation was in breach of the international conventions concerning the right to collectively bargain and the rights of workers to effective representation by a trade union.
I am not surprised that they have now trashed our legal obligations under the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the subsequent protocols. This government has 'form' in relation to the trashing of human right conventions, and so their approach to asylum seekers is not surprising to me.
But I know that trade union rights are human rights and so I know that an attack on human rights in any area will eventually mean an attack on workers rights and their rights to effective and independent trade unions.
My point is that trade union leaders must oppose these breaches of the rights of asylum seekers, not only because it is right and just to do so, but because it is in the collective interests of every worker, every trade unionist, and indeed of every ordinary citizen of this country.
WORKERS UNDERSTAND THIS MORAL VERY WELL--IF I DON'T FIGHT FOR YOU AND YOURS WHEN YOU ARE UNDER ATTACK, WHO WILL BE LEFT TO FIGHT FOR ME AND MINE WHEN WE ARE UNDER ATTACK?
The next point is that we must never fail to remind our members that this government has spent millions of dollars in this and previous budgets on giving handouts to the wealthy, while taking away from the needy to pay for it.
THAT IS THE ISSUE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM.
Of course people are scared and insecure
Just look at the facts for workers today:-
§ a third of all workers are casuals or temporaries,
§ people's entitlements aren't guaranteed when their employer goes bust (unless of course one of the directors is John Howard's brother),
§ people are frightened of unemployment.
In my view it is the fear of competition in the labour market that drives a lot of this fear and hostility.
The sooner we in the labour movement start raising the issue that there are 8 job seekers for every job available in this country, the sooner we can get the real issues back on the agenda, and go on the offensive, instead of being defensive about a proper and humane approach to asylum seekers.
Let me say here that I support the need to check the identity and any criminal records that may be needed of any person that seeks to live among us.
But why do the necessary checks and so on for people who come here in leaky boats take three years, and if you arrive here flying first class with the intention to stay, you are waved through like a long lost cousin?
As others have spoken and written, these necessary checks do not need to take three years more like three weeks and under no circumstances should families be split up, women and children put in camps, and people denied the most basic rights, even rights enjoyed by convicted criminals in this country.
Others have catalogued the outrages of this policy at length and in detail so I don't want to repeat what has already been said.
What I do want to point out on behalf of trade unionists, is that the fight for the rights of asylum seekers, and their claims under both international law and the claims of ordinary human decency are very much the business of the trade union movement, because if we don't see that the treatment of these people is indicative of the way workers who are in unions will be treated next, we are fooling ourselves.
As a trade union official and a citizen I know the importance of honouring agreements freely entered into.
There is no worse demonstration of bad faith than to walk away from your obligations in that regard. As I said earlier, this government has form on rejecting its obligations.
To those who say this doesn't matter because it is popular I say this-
The next time my members, or any trade union member for that matter, has to appear before the Commission to face an application by the employer that they have breached some agreement or other, could I please invite all you people who say agreements don't matter, to come on down, tell the Commission it doesn't matter, argue our case for us, and don't charge us a cent for your efforts-
Is that a flock of pigs I see flying above us?
Which football club has 25 000 members who can't vote?
File this one under only in Sydney. Where else would club spirit be measured in market capitalisation?
Apart from speculation as to possibility of an alleged relationship between Eddie McGuire and Michael Malthouse's daughter, the best question doing the rounds in the
AFL at the moment concerns Swans Chief Executive Officer, Kelvin Templeton.
Would Kel survive if a Swans member stood against him in a ballot of the Swans' rank and file?
I know that the CEO isn't elected anywhere else, but Kel is the off field face of the Swannies, in much the same way as elected presidents are in other clubs Eddie McGuire at Collingwood, John Elliott at Carlton, etc. The president of the Sydney Swans could be a blow up doll for all I know.
Rodney Eade will be placed on the sacked coaches' list before the end of August.I mean, it's easy to sack the coach. It saves having to admit that your playing staff isn't up to it.
There are still two games to go but the Blues put a creditable performance in the opening Statement Of Onanism encounter at the Olympic fiasco memorial that was inspiring for all those concerned.
Apart from the television extravaganza that allowed everyone to watch The Simpsons on Channel 10 and switch back to Channel Packer in plenty of time for the kick-off, the most bizarre part of the exhibition was the minutes' silence for the last ANZAC.
In a military society like ours it's easy to forget that people contribute more to life than merely being cannon fodder for our economic betters. In this instance it has escaped the media's attention that the protagonist was an active and committed trade unionist and peace campaigner. When was the last time we had a minute's silence for workers murdered in the quest for profits at the footy?
The World's Largest Sporting Event takes place in those traditional footballing nations of Japan and South Korea over the next three years or so.
The World Cup is also on Channel Packer sometimes, with the rest of it spread across the Les Murray network
Les Murray from SBS is my favourite Les Murray of all, but where the hell does that accent come from? Is Les the quintessential multicultural Australian?
The World Cup opens with a vote on Sepp Blatters' leadership of the world game, which should be the most interesting tussle of the whole extravaganza.
Will Sepp survive? Will North Korea stage a pitch invasion of South Korea?
Will the next India v Pakistan test series be decided by a nuclear strike? There are plenty of questions this week, and very few answers.
Timeo Philo Et Donum Ferenti
Sheet Maker Folds Jobs
Linen and bathroom product company Sheridan will cut 70 jobs from its Adelaide plant. The company says the Adelaide job losses resulted from the closure of Sheridan's printing plant in Hobart. Sheridan says a changing marketplace and future changes to world trade structures are other factors in the job cuts. It is reducing its manufacturing workforce and would get more products from overseas. Last November, Sheridan cut 53 jobs in Adelaide and warned of more job losses.
Lower Tariff Would Kill Tyre Industry
Australia's largest tyre maker, South Pacific Tyres, would have to close its remaining factory if automotive tariffs were reduced below 10 per cent after 2005, the company has warned. SPT has already closed three plants and consolidated its remaining operations at its Somerton, Victoria, site following inundation of the tyre market by wave after wave of cheap imported tyres in recent years. And the Ford Motor Company, while not throwing doubt over its local operations, has warned that the risks associated with any reduction in the proposed new tariff would "significantly outweigh any marginal benefits that would accrue". SPT employs about 4000 people, 500 in manufacturing.
No Frills Franklins Back In Business
The iconic Franklins name will live on with South African supermarket giant Pick `n Pay relaunching the chain along with its `No Frills' products. While the major Australian retailers who helped themselves to large chunks of Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd's Franklins business merged the operations into their own stores, Pick `n Pay is keeping the Franklins name. The No Frills range will be the key driver for the 69 store NSW-based chain with some products and ingredients changed and packaging upgraded. Dairy Farm's 287-store Franklins chain was sold off in a $300 million carve up last year, with the majority handed to independents including through Metcash. The remainder went to Woolworths, Foodland and Coles Myer.
Open May Soon Close
Almost exactly a year since One.Tel went belly-up, another Packer and Murdoch telecommunications play appears to be headed for the scrap heap. Open Telecommunications is believed to be on the brink of financial collapse, after its managing director and chief financial officer both quit yesterday. The telecommunications software developer informed the Australian Stock Exchange that the resignations of managing director Colin Chandler and chief financial officer Shane Hodson were effective immediately. Open's undoing has been its failure to win a major contract in more than a year, as it struggles to withstand the telecommunications industry downturn. The company lost $43 million last year, a sharp turnaround from the $11 million profit made in 2000.
Reprimand for ACCC over Fines
A Federal Court judge has rebuked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for not aiming high enough when asking courts to sanction fines negotiated with errant companies. In an unusual dressing-down for the ACCC, Justice Mark Weinberg indicated that it had pulled up short when it requested that Colgate Palmolive be fined a total of just $500,000 for two breaches of the Trade Practices Act. The maximum penalty was $10 million on each count. He suggested that the fine levied might not be sufficiently bruising to dissuade big companies such as Colgate from breaking the law in future.
Newcastle Steels for Industry Revival
Newcastle is set to become a steel producer again, with the New South Wales Government giving approval to the first stage of a new $1.8 billion steel mill. The Protech Steel Mill, to be built on Newcastle's Kooragang Island, will eventually create more than 1,000 jobs. NSW Planning Minister Andrew Refshauge says the $650 million first stage of the project, a cold mill facility, will create 700 construction and 360 full-time jobs. The cold mill should be operating by the latter half of 2004, producing 520,000 tonnes of coated and painted carbon steel per year for the building industry.
Government Compensates for Green Protest
The Federal Government has given Southern Pacific Petroleum a $36 million handout to the company which was struggling because of environmental protests.
The ignited the battling company's shares, sending them 22 per cent higher in early trade. The Brisbane-based company said the Government's decision to "reshape" the existing excise rebate arrangements on oil produced from the Stuart oil shale project was "far-sighted and significant" for Australia's reputation. The move was necessary after Australia's four refineries refused to take the product. Although none stated a reason it is believed to be based on Greenpeace protests.
Nike Claims It's Now Clean
US sporting apparel giant Nike claims has lifted its game since coming under attack in 1997 over the working conditions of its workers in developing countries. Nike vice president for corporate responsibility Maria Eitel, currently in Australia, is now trying to get her message across to the public that Nike is doing the right thing by its workers in third world countries. She says Nike is attempting to fast track the education of its global management about human rights issues and why it will benefit their business. This includes allowing independent monitors to make spot checks of Nike factories in free Trade Zones.
Free World Leaders Aint Cheap
President George W Bush is a millionaire at least nine times over - but he's still behind his second-in-command. In financial disclosure forms filed with the Office of Government Ethics, the president and first lady Laura Bush reported assets between $US9 million and $US19 million ($A16.4 million and $A34.7 million), most of it in a blind trust. Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, reported between $US23 million and $US70 million ($A42 million ($A128 million). Before returning to government, Cheney was chief executive of Halliburton, an oil services firm based in Dallas. Among his assets, Bush listed his 633 hectare ranch near Crawford, Texas, valued between $US1 million and $US5 million ($A1.8 million and $A9 million). Cheney listed undeveloped real estate in McLean, Virginia, in the same value range.
When Howard claimed Australia is generous by giving East Timor a 90% share of the royalties--what he forgot to mention is that it is only for one of the three oil and gas fields off the Timor Sea--Bayu-Undan.
Under the terms of the treaty, East Timor is not getting a 90% share of the gas field of Greater Sunrise which is three times the size of Bayu-Undan--it is only getting an 18% share of Greater Sunrise and no share at all in the oil field of Laminaria/Corralina.
The treaty continued to maintain a joint petroleum development zone--the JPDA. Its boundary is based on the same boundary as 'Zone A' of the now defunct 1989 Timor Gap Treaty with Indonesia. It favours Australia because it recognises Australia's use of the continental shelf seabed boundary rather than the internationally accepted median-line (half way) boundary between the two coastlines.
East Timor under international law is entitled to its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The whole of the JPDA including at least 80% if not the whole of Greater Sunrise, and 100% of Laminaria/Corralina should fall within East Timor's EEZ--if the median-line and eastern and western lateral boundaries are recognised and applied.
Under the terms of the treaty--the revenue sharing in the JPDA is 90:10 in favour of East Timor but no revenue sharing in Australia's EEZ. We therefore have a classic situation here of: 'What's yours is partly mine. But what is mine is wholly mine.'
At stake is an estimated tax revenue--expressed in cumulative dollars of the day of $US50 billion from the three oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea-- Bayu-Undan with a gas reserve of 175 million barrels of LPG, 229 million barrels of condensate and 66 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), returning an estimated tax revenue of US$12 billion from 2005 to 2030; Greater Sunrise with a gas reserve of 300 million barrels of condensate and 177 million tonnes of LNG, returning an estimated tax revenue of US$36 billion from 2008 to 2050; and Laminaria/Corralina with an oil reserve of 198 million barrels, returning an estimated tax revenue of US$2 billion from 2000 to 2012.
East Timor will also miss out on the estimated thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in industrial spin-off because the gas will be piped onshore to Darwin instead of East Timor.
Howard claimed by giving East Timor a 90:10 split of the oil and gas revenue in the JPDA--as opposed to the 50:50 split with Indonesia under the 1989 Timor Gap Treaty, Australia has been fair and generous to East Timor.'
However East Timorese opposition MP Eusebio Guterres disagrees.
'How can you give away something that does not belong to you?' Eusebio asked.
According to Eusebio if East Timor claims its rightful maritime boundaries and EEZ--all the oil and gas fields of Bayu-Undan, Greater Sunrise and Laminaria/Corralina should belong to East Timor.
Australia and East Timor can still agree to share the Timor Sea's oil and gas resources--using a formula that would benefit both parties.
'It should be East Timor, not Australia who should be dictating the terms of any agreement,' Eusebio said.
Eusebio also pointed out the oil field of Laminaria/Corralina has began production and has in the past two years returned a tax revenue of US$650 to Australia.
'If East Timor has had its own EEZ, that money should rightfully belong to East Timor,' Eusebio said.
A spokesperson for East Timor's Prime Minister, Alkatiri said the treaty was only an interim one--it would allow Bayu-Undan to proceed as plan and begin production by 2005. East Timor would still be pursuing its rightful maritime boundaries and is confident of victory. He also believes by the time Greater Sunrise begin production around 2008, East Timor's maritime boundary would have been settled with at least 80% if not the whole of Greater Sunrise would fall within East Timor's EEZ. And under such circumstances, he felt the treaty was fair and the best deal East Timor could get for the time being.
When asked why East Timor did not just conclude a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering only Bayu-Undan, his reply was they wasn't any possibility or opportunity for that to take place.
The treaty was conducted in secrecy and behind closed doors by only a handful of people. And throughout the negotiations, Australia behaved like the typical school boy playground bully and took advantage of East Timor's economic and strategic vulnerability.
East Timor was also forced to conclude the treaty because the US$360 million bridging aid the donor countries promised for the next three years was conditional to the treaty being concluded and signed.
Although the treaty does not prejudice East Timor from seeking its maritime boundaries--the decision by Attorney-General Darly Williams and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in March to exclude Australia from the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), can only--as pointed out in the editorial of the Sydney Morning Herald of 17 May: '...raise suspicions that Canberra is withdrawing the only avenue of appeal effectively available to East Timor, given the unequal diplomatic weight of the parties.'
By signing the treaty, many local MPs and international legal experts fear East Timor has jeopardise its changes of getting a bigger share of the oil and gas revenue of the Timor Sea--we could end up in a situation where East Timor might be successful in obtaining its rightful maritime boundaries but loosing out on getting a bigger share of Greater Sunrise.
To ensure Australia maintains its claim of the EEZ, the 'dirty tricks department' has now been put into full swing. On 22 April, a month after the announcement of Australia intention to withdraw from UNCLOS, the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Ian Macfarlane released 81 offshore petroleum exploration acreage for bidding.
Hidden among the bids is an area known as 'NT02-1'--latitude: 9° 24' 54.87", 9° 59' 54.87" longitude: 128° 20' 04.35", 128° 50' 04.34". This is just outside the JPDA and adjacent to Greater Sunrise--an area which East Timor is contesting as within its rightful seabed boundary.
According to a UN source who do not wish to be named, East Timor had an understanding with Australia after the signing of the 5 July 2001 Timor Sea Arrangement that: '...the Arrangement does not authorise or permit, and cannot be construed as authorising or permitting, Australian exploration or exploitation of petroleum in areas outside the JPDA that are on the seabed claimed by East Timor.'
Howard's and Downer's spin doctors are working overtime. But no matter how much spin they make, they cannot escape from the fact that the gas and oil fields of Bayu-Undan, Greater Sunrise and Laminaria/Corralina belong to East Timor.
As pointed out by Eusebio, you cannot give away something that does not belong to you.
The oil and gas fields in question is not Australia's to give away--they belong to East Timor. It is up to East Timor to decide how much if any they would like to give away to Australia.
As pointed out in the latest bulletin of La'o Hamutuk--The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis: 'Canberra played a significant role in derailing East Timorese political independence from 1975 to 1999. As East Timor's independence is now imminent, Australia cannot be allowed to undermine the new country's future.'
East Timor is the poorest nation in the region. Australia must therefore not frustrate East Timor's rightful claim to its maritime boundaries and its rightful share of the oil and gas fields of the Timor Sea.
Guess what? There's an election looming in NSW. How do we know? Well, the telltale signs are all about us.
After three years in the melting pot, John Della Bosca announces a multi-pronged approach to protecting tens of thousands of outworkes. Self regulation is given nine months to deliver before an Ethical Clothing Trades Council recommends whether or not regulations are required. That report is due in February, approximately one month before the Carr Government goes to the polls.
Then, after years of building super highways across and below the city, Carl Scully bows in the direction of public transport. Plans to introduce bus-only lanes on Parramatta and Victoria Rds will be a serious incentive for commuters to leave the wagon in the garage.
The Government takes another step in the right direction by flagging a tax on the windfall profits of developers who benefit from state provision of road or rail links.
Taken together, they could just about prise a smile of Wayne Bennett.
Corporate rights are increasinly interfering with yours and mine. We all know about the millions of people who die in poor contries each year because patents-driven drug companies refuse to allow access to generic products. On a much more prosaic level, a Federal Court ruling gives enormous power to the elbows of Australian media companies big and rich enough to win rights auctions.
Popular comedy, The Panel, is at the centre of a judgement which rules Ten used Nine's footage "unlawfully" on 12 occassions. The worrying element being that these clips were not screened for their news or information value but to illustrate comic concepts. Amongst the infractions were footage of the Prime Minister singing Happy Birthday and former NSW Origin prop, Glenn Lazarus, doing a cartwheel - very appropriate, he wasn't the only one.
Hey, now here's one for the records, a paid-up trade unionist and a female, at that, has snuck her way onto the Business Review's Rich List. Yes, drum roll please, Nicole Kidman, known for her Actor's Equity involvement, registers at the $112 million mark, er, largely, one suspects, because of the terms of her divorce from some American bloke.
She is, however, a long, long way short of the Billionaire Boys Club where Mr K Packer still rules supreme with an estimated $5.9 billion nest egg.
Big Kezza is one of two in the top seven to have substantial interests in poker machines which would come as no surprise to another of the fabulously weathy, John Singleton, who blew $150,000 backing Queensland to beat NSW after the TAB refused to let him get set for a million.
What do Victorian AMWU secretary, Craig Johnston, and Queensland captain Gorden Tallis have in common. Both reckon their respective sin-binning are a bit stiff.
Johnston, of Johnson Tiles "run through" fame, faces a string of charges, including threatening to kill, while big Gordie is left cooling his heels as team-mates succumb to the Blues.
At least, Big Gordie has the Bill Harrigan factor to plead in mitigation.
Everywhere you look the world is populated by Odd Couples. Alfie Langer and laugh-a-minute mentor Wayne Bennett spring to mind as, on the other side of the fence, do Gus Gould and Super League spruiker Laurie Daley, but really, they pale alongside the African adventures of rock star Bono and US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.
The pair is committed to ensuring development aid finds its mark.
Bono, comes from the Fair Trade corner while O'Neill, formerly a corporate high flyer, couldn't be drier if he was on fire.
They're on the third week of their African odyssey.
Last, and very likely least, comes news from the House of Bush that journos accompanying the US president, on tour in Europe, are being told to lift their sartorial standards.
The White House press code puts the blue line through polo shirts, jeans and shorts and advises the female of the journalistic species that skirts, falling below the knee, are in.
Not a mention of objectivity or balance, understandable given the president's war on terror. This week the White House maintains the rage with separate warnings that another terrorist attack is "almost inevitable"; that terrorists will get weapons of mass destruction and "not hesitate to use them" and the Big Guy's own assessment that his country's enemies are "nothing but a bunch of cold blooded killers".
Wonder if he gets his media advice from the mob who used to run the ARL's State of Orgin campaigns?