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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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Labor for Refugees



The Odd Couple

By Jim Marr

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

Tattersall & Howes


They say the camera doesn't lie but Labor Right operator Paul Howes and the Left's Amanda Tattersall locked in an embrace on the national news. Hang on just one minute!

Even at their tender years Howes, 21, and Tattersall, 25, carry the wounds and some of the baggage, from life in the no-holds-barred ring that is Labor's factional battleground.

Eighteen months earlier their respective families had been on opposite sides of a torrid tussle for Labor's federal candidacy in the must-win constituency of Richmond. Tattersall's sister-in-law was campaign manager for the candidate that rolled Howes' mother-in-law.

Factionalism, NSW-style, is tribalism.

That's what made the Tattersall-Howes success on immigration policy at last weekend's NSW Labor Party conference remarkable. For once, well twice if you recall the 1997 resolution on power privatisation, the tribes sublimated their desires for ritual clubbing to unite on policy.

Members beat the machine by breaking down factionalism, just as they had five years earlier.

Amongst other things, their successful resolution, called on the Party to:

- replace mandatory detention with mandatory identification followed by community accommodation

- open access to counselling, schools, TAFEs, language courses and health services to refugee applicants

- close regional detention centres such as Curtin, Woomera and Port Hedland

- reject the system of Temporary Protection Visas

Labor for Refugees emerged from rank and file embarrassment at the "me too" line on asylum seekers their party took to last year's election.

The movement began with branches at Paddington and Newtown and broadened when it became clear its aims were shared by the Labor Council, a traditional bulkwark of the NSW Right.

Council secretary John Robertson was an outspoken champion of Labor For Refugees, drawing personal fire from the likes of Right wing front bencher Mark Latham.

On January 22 the factions formalised their organisation, giving Tattersall and Howes as co-convenors, the task of developing policy all could sign off on.

The reactions of the pair, back then, reflected opinions and prejudices formed before they were.

"I only knew her to yell at during Young Labor Conferences. I didn't really think I would get on with her," Howes admitted.

She, on the other hand, found his manner off-putting.

"I just remember him, from five years earlier, as a Trot, standing up and ranting at meetings. When it came to that, he was up there with the best."

Their dealings, in the beginning, were businesslike but as conference drew nearer, so did they.

In the final two weeks, their original, agreed resolution underwent change after change as federal politicians, unions and factional heavyweights weighed in with this objection or that.

More than once they sailed close to disaster.

"Paul just wanted a resolution that would go through. I was more precious about the language because I wanted a clear statement of principle" - Tattersall.

"There was a lot of patience and a lot of biting of tongues," - Howes.

During working hours, Tattersall virtually moved out of Upper House president Meredith Burgmann's office to the Labor Council where the odd couple re-tooled the form but clung to the substance.

For a time, on the Friday afternoon, it seemed the whole exercise had been for nought. The Left reckoned the Right was selling out while the Right suspected the Left wanted a blue so it could demonstrate its purity, once again.

Howes and Tattersall insist both suspicions were ill-founded. Around 9pm they got the nod from every powerbroker they could think of.

Imagine their shock at 4.30 on Saturday afternoon when they learned that, despite their best efforts, the powerful International Relations Committee had rejected their amendment.

Tattersall rushed from her seat at the back of the Town Hall auditorium to join Howes in front of the stage. What the hell was happening?

Powerbrokers met out the back and proceded, metaphorically-speaking, to crack skulls.

When the issue returned to the floor Robertson was as good as his word, delivering a powerful plea which Tattersall matched in tone and substance.

Two more speakers then delegates spoke, overwhelmingly.

That night, euphoric delegates dined and drank across factional lines. Tattersall got back from her grandmother's birthday dinner to join Left comrades drinking with Robertson and Howes in a Chinatown hotel.

But, when hangovers cleared, had anything changed?

Both are inititally defensive. This was an issue that went across factions, or as Tattersall would have it "the best people and the worst people were in both factions".

"I believe in the Right faction because it is the best group to govern the state," Howes says, "the Right has a head as well as a heart."

"The whole history of Labor Party conferences," according to Tattersall, "is one of the Left putting up brilliant motions but not having them supported."

Hmm... then the experiences of the past five months appear to kick in.

Howes believes trade unionists will lead an inevitable loosening of the factional straitjacket. Already, he argues, they are finding more in common with each other, across the divide, than with machine people from their own factions.

It's not something Tattersall, who tossed in a Young Labor leadership position out of "disgust" with rampant factionalism, is about to disagree with.

"Honestly, I have faith in the Labor Council because it played an impressive role on this issue. It delivered on everything it said it would," she says.

"John Robertson has committed himself personally to breaking down factionalism and, on my experience, I'm willing to work with him on that basis.

"The ALP is vulnerable at the moment because its policies are poll driven rather than membership driven. This exercise was promising because it showed how members, and important party institutions, could come together to demand better policy."


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