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Issue No. 138 31 May 2002  

Demonising Unions
There's a common streak running through the Liberal Party's prosecution of its witch-hunt of the building industry unions and the federal ALP leader's push to reduce the influence of trade unions within the Party. That's the view that unions are on the nose.


Interview: The Star Chamber
CFMEU national seretary John Sutton surveys the limited progress of the Cole Royal Commission.

Politics: The Odd Couple
After spending years yelling at each other, a couple of young factional players started talking to each other in the name of refugees.

Tribute: I-Conned
A rogue priest and Philip Ruddock have combined to leave master artist, Rados Stevanovic, living in a suburban park, as Jim Marr reports.

Media: Audiences Before Politics
The real challenge facing the new managing director of the ABC is how to make audiences central to what the national broadcaster does, argues Tony Moore.

International: The Off-Side Rule
It may be kick off time at the World Cup but unions in South Korea and around Asia are using the world�s biggest sporting event to focus attention on workers� rights, as Andrew Casey discovers.

Economics: The Fake Persuaders
Companies are creating false citizens to try to change the way we think, writes George Monbiot.

History: Terror Tactics
As the Howard Government prepares terror legislation to ban organisations, Neale Towart remembers a similar attempt at censorship in the name of security.

Poetry: Food, Modified Food
That old school yard joke "what do you get if you cross a ... with a ...?" is becoming startlingly true. The latest development is a featherless chicken.

Review: Spiderman Spins Out the US
Red Pepper's Rick Giombetti scales the big screen and puts Spiderman in his place, flying in the face of right wingers who would claim the Marvel Comic legend as their own.

Satire: England's World Cup Disaster: Star Hooligan Breaks Foot
The English World Cup 2002 campaign is in tatters after star hooligan Gerard Wilson of Chelsea broke his foot.


 Cole Suffers Credibility Crisis

 Councils Armed To Drown Sweatshops

 Miners Win Record Payouts

 Bracks Crew Not Family Friendly

 Time to Charge Directors

 Waterfront Truth One Step Closer

 Speedy Flow-On for NSW Workers

 Star Sin-Binning Prompts Inquiry Call

 New Chief Puts ABC Back In The Picture

 Getting it Wrong on Training

 Gravy Train Gets Richer For Max and Mates

 Reward For Delegate Who Stood Up

 Casino Workers Hit Mat Leave Jackpot

 Drug Haul Sparks Security Warning

 East Timor�s MPs Take Australia On

 ACTU Officials Denied Visas Into Fiji

 Commemorate 100 Years of Votes for Women


The Soapbox
Modernising Labor?
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues that genuine reform of the ALP would go beyond the 60-40 rule, to increase the voice of unions within the Party.

The Locker Room
Juego Bonito
Forget the dour contests of the Premier League and Serie A, it�s the World Cup which transforms football into the beautiful game. Noel Hester analyses the form.

Week in Review
He Who Pays The Piper
Money comes in all colours but, in politics, the hue is usually blue, as Jim Marr discovers �

Rich Pickings
Australia's wealthiest were on display this week as BRW released its annual Rich 200 list.

About Last Night
The CFMEU's Phil Davey, on an APHEDA -Union Aid Abroad delegation to Palestine, recounts his experience trying to get back to his hotel after dark.

 Simon and the Creanites
 In Defence of Latham
 Swans A Pathetic Con-Job
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A rogue priest and Philip Ruddock have combined to leave master artist, Rados Stevanovic, living in a suburban park, as Jim Marr reports.


Stevanovic, with the support of the CFMEU, is on a one-man strike with his painstaking restoration of Blacktown's Serbian Orthodox Church, St Nicholas', just months away from completion.

Why? Because he's become another victim of an immigration regime that doesn't follow through on the thousands of work visas issued each year. Besides, the church can hardly go out and get someone from Work For The Dole to finish the job.

In his mid-40s, Stevanovic is an iconographer of international repute. He holds double fine arts degrees from Belgrade University and studied his ancient craft in Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Greece, Spain and Portugal before completing a scholarship in Norway.

Prior to his homeland being bombed beyond recognition he had painted the insides of 10 Yugoslav monasteries, some of which were 700 years old.

In 1997 he came to Australia to visit his sister in Blacktown. News of his presence spread throughout the Orthodox community and it wasn't long before the priest at St Nicholas' was onto DIMA about the possibility of a special work visa.

The cleric could envisage the inside of his western suburbs church being transformed into the equal of most anything in Europe, a job that would take the best part of five years.

Clearly, we're not talking a ladder and a can of Dulux here. The walls and ceilings of traditional Orthodox churches are covered in intricate Byzantine frescoes - real Michaelangelo stuff.

It was a toss-up for Stevanovic whose wife and two children were still on the family farm, 140km south Belgrade.

But, having already turned down a professorship to remain a working artist, it was the state of his homeland that swung the issue. Today, in Serbia, there is not enough money for penicillin, let alone gold paint and most places of worship have been ruined. Prior to leaving, Stevanovic had found himself restoring the works of others, rather than creating his own.

He set about St Nicholas' with enthusiasm, covering the walls with his finest handiwork and spending more than a year, flat out on scaffolding, applying intricate designs to the ceiling.

But, early on, when the priest gave him a disused hall, without bath or shower, for his paint and told him it would double as his living quarters, the seeds of doubt were planted.

They flowered as promised cash continually failed to materialise.

In the four and a half years before being referred to the CFMEU, Stevanovic says, he received $30,000 in ocassional stipends and a good $20,000 of that went back into buying paint and equipment for the job.

He has kept himself going by turning out dozens of small, wooden icons outside the 70-80 weekly hours he has devoted to St Nicholas'. One of his best customers has been a priest from the nearby Catholic church.

The work at St Nicholas' has been praised by church and community leaders but Stevanovic insists there won't be another lick of paint until wages and entitlements have been sorted out.

CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, calls the situation "another Ruddock outrage", comparing it with the eight Hindu stonemasons the Minister's department had working at Helensburgh for $110 a week.

"We don't blame the Serbian church for this situation. The Federal Government is facilitating the abuse of this man's skills while trying to drive down the wages and conditions of Australians," Ferguson says.

"They let in as many as 15,000 people on working visas each year but don't follow them up. Everyone knows about the temple stonemasons but these highly-skilled people are just the tip of an ice-berg."

Construction companies, Ferguson says, bring in Chinese and Koreans on 12-month visas then send them home to be paid in their own currency at Chinese or Korean rates.

"It's a rort and this Government is encouraging it," Ferguson argues.

So where does all this leave Stevanovic? In a hut in a Blacktown park working on a mural, depicting the history of the region, he will donate to the local council.

He wants to bring his wife, son and daughter to Australia and, armed with four or five contract offers from around NSW and Queensland, has applied for permanent residence.

That way, at least, he would attract Australian wages and conditions when he embarks on his next masterpiece.

Besides, argues a man whose work has already been finalist-listed for Australia's prestigious Dobell Prize, he has the skills and experience to make a contribution to this country's artistic development.


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