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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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Cole Suffers Credibility Crisis

Independent polling of CFMEU members nationwide highlights the credibility crisis afflicting the Cole Commission on the eve of its Sydney hearings.

Sixty six percent of CFMEU respondents told Melbourne-based pollsters they believed the Royal Commission into the Building Industry was �politically motivated�, while 55 percent said it was established to �crush unions�.

The rank and file sentiment reflects concern across the union movement that the commission is a one-trick pony, driven by the anti-CFMEU sentiments of Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott and his controversial Office of the Employment Advocate.

National secretary John Sutton says while the Commission has been set up to examine serious criminality and corruption in the industry, it has spent no time getting to the bottom of any of those kinds of allegations.

"Ninety-Nine per cent of the public resources used to date have been used on largely irrelevant petty disputes in the industry," Sutton says.

"From what I've seen of their allegations, very few of them would even get a hearing in the Industrial Relations Commission, let alone be the substance of a Royal Commission."

Under the carpet

Sutton spoke after commissioner Terrence Cole announced that while he would continue to air anti-union claims in open court, wider issues would be diverted to discussion and issues papers.

These include:

- Health and Safety: "The Commission proposes to address this critical issue otherwise than through public hearings."


- Security of Payments to Sub-Contractors: "The Commission will seek to draw together the work of the various state governments ... it is likely the commission will invite interested particpants to confer to see if agreement can be reached on best practice."

- Tax Rorts and Phoenix Companies: "The Commission expects to receive a report and submission from the Taxation Office in the near future. This will be tendered as an exhibit..."

- Workers Comp Avoidance:

- Avoidance and Underpayment of Worker Entitlements:

- Abuse of Migrant Labour: "On the avialable information to date, it would appear to be insignificant... The Commission is seeking the advice of DIMA."

While the above issue were being removed, by and large, from public exposure, the CFMEU NSW branch was served with an 11-page discovery order, requiring everything from financial records to the personal diaries of clerical staff.

It has hired two additional fulltime workers to comply with the commission's demand.

Hunt For Anti-Union Witnesses

Sources close to the Office of the Employment Advocate say its staff numbers have been boosted in a drive to get anti-CFMEU witnesses before the commission.

Commissioner Cole sparked further controversy last week when he decided to relitigate claims dismissed by the Federal Court in 1999.

In that case Employment Advocate, Jonathan Hamberger, was blasted by a judge who ruled a CFMEU organiser had been "set-up and illegally taped" by two "untrustworthy" businessmen.

The commission's review of the case will be conducted by government solicitor, Craig Rawson, who represented Hamberger in the 1999 proceedings.

The counsel briefed by Rawson in that case, Nicholas Green, QC, is also attached to the Cole Commission.

Government enriching of high-profile legal operators has raised Parliamentary scrutiny.

The Senate Estimates Committee revealed that $60 million dollars has been set aside for the Cole Commission, compared with $29 million for investigations into the HIH collapse, Australia's largest.

The Committee also heard the Howard Government had committed $19.1 million for lawyers fees and expenses, headed by the $660,000 salary being paid to Cole.

The commission employs 135 fulltime workers with Cole's earn just pipping the $613,000 it is paying a media adviser.

Cole is on record saying workers would be happy to earn 14 or 15 percent less than they are receiving now.

Woman Offers DNA Test

Meanwhile, a Sydney solo mother has volunteered to take a DNA test after learning the commission would hear a backpay claim she brought against a cleaning contractor was motivated by her "relationship" to the Chilean wife of CFMEU NSW secretary Andrew Ferguson.

The allegation has been made by former Hi Lo Cleaning boss, Ed Wallace, one of dozens of employers and contractors interviewed in preparation for the Commission's Sydney hearings.

Chilean immigrant Patricia Silva was backpaid more than $2000 two years ago. She said she was "amazed" by the claim going before the commission.

"I knew I was being ripped off so I went to the union. I was a member, I paid my ticket," she said.

"This man got very, very angry because I told other women they weren't getting what they were entitled to either. Some of them went to the union as well and I think he had to backpay 10 or 12 of us.

"I am not related to Andrew Ferguson or his wife and I will take a DNA test to prove it. All we knew about Mr Ferguson is that he was good for the workers."


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