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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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Tool Shed

Constitutional Terrorist

Tony Abbott has assumed control over this week's Tool Shed after attempting to seize control of state law for the purpose of trashing workers rights.


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"


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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