||Issue No. 138||31 May 2002|
Interview: The Star Chamber
Politics: The Odd Couple
Media: Audiences Before Politics
International: The Off-Side Rule
Economics: The Fake Persuaders
History: Terror Tactics
Poetry: Food, Modified Food
Review: Spiderman Spins Out the US
Satire: England's World Cup Disaster: Star Hooligan Breaks Foot
Cole Suffers Credibility Crisis
Councils Armed To Drown Sweatshops
Bracks Crew Not Family Friendly
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
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 Locker Room
Week in Review
In Defence of Latham
Swans A Pathetic Con-Job
Labor Council of NSW
The Mad Monk made the brazen play this week, announcing he would use the External Affairs power to override state unfair dismissal laws and impose his own regime. It's the latest play in his long-running crusade to strip dismissal rights from millions of workers employed in small business. Long-time Lib watchers could not escape the irony that Abbott was advocating a tactic normally scorned on by the Conservatives, using an international treaty as the basis of domestic law-making. Indeed, it was his predecessor, Peter 'Mad-Dog' Reith who proclaimed: "we will not have Australian laws for Australian written in Geneva".
Then again, the conflict between principle and base politics has never been much of a dilemma for the Mad Monk. But now he's on a roll, how about opening up the entire Workplace Relations Act to international standards. This would see a national scheme of paid maternity leave enacted forthwith; unions would be allowed to levy bargaining fees and unions would be allowed to negotiate industry-wide agreements. All are rights enshrined in International Labour Organization conventions. Of course, this would require a consistency beyond the power of our hero.
Abbott's been skirting around the Shed for some time now. Last week he expanded on his idiosyncratically homely contention that the workplace was "like a family". Abbott says he likes to think of the world of work as a neighbourhood where workers and managers live in harmony. When someone disturbs the peace, he says, you need a policeman, not an "umpire". "I reject the cricketing metaphor [of Australian IR] where there are two players - one winner, one loser - and an umpire in the centre adjudicating," Abbott told practitioners at the IR Society of NSW convention which had as its theme, "The umpire reaches 100."
"I think often the umpire has too often been a player, which just isn't cricket," Abbott went on to proclaim. "I prefer the metaphor of the neighbourhold where workers and managers get along with each other, except on the rare occasions when they fall out, when you need a policeman as well as a mediator." Needless to say, in an audience that included commissioners from the federal and NSW industrial relations commissions, Abbott's homespun wisdom wasn't well received.
Then there were the wage negotiations within Abbott's own department. When workers in the Department of Workplace Relations voted overwhelmingly for a union-negotiated agreement, Abbott went public with his insistence on a non-union deal. The Monk whipped up his own deal and told his department to take it or leave it. The workers opted for a third option - to stuff it where the sun don't shine.
As for the Cole Royal Commission, suffice to say we had prepared an extensive expose, only to be told it would be in contempt. All we'll say is that $60 million could go a long way towards policing the taxation, immigration and safety rorts that dog the construction industry.
Abbott's been taking to monitoring the Tool Shed in recent times; generating all sorts of levity on the Treasury benches when he quoted from our missives against Labor luminaries. We challenge to give equal time in the House to the Liberals. It won't take long, just four short words: "I am a Tool"
Nominate a Tool!
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