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Issue No. 147 09 August 2002  

A Call to Action
While there has been a lot of angst, anger and no shortage of tub-thumping over Simon Crean's push to cut union influence in the ALP, the end result of the Hawke-Wran review is that it is a call to action for unions to reclaim their party.


Interview: Save Our Souls
Labor's superannuation spokesman Nick Sherry expands on his recent discussion paper into the industry.

Unions: Rats With Wings
As the Cole Commission continues to sidestep safety, another Sydney building accident puts workers at risk this week, Jim Marr reports

Bad Boss: If The Boot Fits
Royal Commission favourite and S & B Industries top dog, Barbara Strong, carts off this week�s Bad Boss nomination.

History: Political Bower Birds
Rowan Cahill looks at a new resource detailing the fading history of the Communist Party of Australia

International: No More Business as Usual
Global unions are stepping up their campaign against corporate rip-offs

Corporate: The Seven Deadly Sins of Capitalism
Shann Turnbull outlines a new set of rules that should govern capital in the post-Enron environment

Industrial: Stiffed!
A backyard horror story has left funeral workers worrying about mooted changes to industry regulations, Jim Marr reports

Review: Prepare To Bend
If it�s a feel good flick that you want, Bend It Like Beckham is sure to satisfy on every level, writes Tara de Boehmler

Satire: Bush Boosts Sharemarket Confidence: Shares his Cocaine Stash
President Bush has rushed to re-establish confidence in the US market by distributing cocaine from his own Presidential stash to Wall Street.


 Mainstream Media Vacates IR

 Ten Click Walker 'Unfit for Work'

 Unions Push for Baby Nest

 Casino Workers Overtime Jackpot

 Abbott�s Task Force �Rank Hypocrisy�

 Shipping Policy Blamed for Reef Damage

 Dropping The Ball On Training

 Combet Pushes Consultative Vehicle

 Maternity Leave for Pacific Workers

 Hit List of Forced Closures

 Magistrate Endorses Health and Safety Rights

 Contracts a Thorn in Workers' Side

 Fringe Success for Workers� Pick

 Activists Notebook


Workers on Film
Last issue we asked you for your ideas on a union film script to match Ken Loach's The Navigators. Here are the best responses.

The Soapbox
Driving Together
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet argues that the Australian car industry needs a partnership between business and labour.

The Locker Room
Dogs And Underdogs
Phil Doyle explains why losers are half the equation in each and every sporting contest

Week in Review
Filfthy Rich and Claptrap
While Labor and the Democrats are tearing themselves to shreds, Little Lachie and Rich Ray address the main game �

Muddy Waters
It was a week when the Prime Minister washed his hands despite mounting evidence that the corporate world is out of control.

 Fraser No Workers' Hero
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Week in Review

Filfthy Rich and Claptrap

By Jim Marr

While Labor and the Democrats are tearing themselves to shreds, Little Lachie and Rich Ray address the main game �


Paul Keating's biographer calls it the end of liberalism but, really, we're in the era of applied bastardry as Lachlan Murdoch and Ray Williams testify in separate but simultaneous court appearances.

These are the men who set the tone, the standards, which Government and the media try to impose on the rest of us.

Scion of a scion, Murdoch, is mightily pissed about One.Tel going to the commercial grave along with hundreds of millions of News Ltd dollars but, on a principle, he stoutly defends the avarice of those who lost his loot.

Just weeks after News Ltd insisted that vulnerable clerical workers leave the protection of a collective agreement for miserable AWAs, its chief executive says his company was happy to see Jodee Rich and Brad Keeling paid $15 million bonuses.

Murdoch, a member of the One.Tel board, said he hadn't asked whether the payments had been approved by shareholders, nor had he wanted to know how they were treated for accounting purposes. It has since transpired they were hidden in the company accounts.

Murdoch was asked whther he considered it "greedy" or "unreasonable" for Rich and Keeling to receive the $15 million bonuses, on top of six figure salares.

He said he did not, and that really is the nub of the issue.

Raised in the US, with a silver spoon in his mouth and wealth and power at his fingertips, he clearly has a different understanding of the word "greedy" than the vast majority of Australians.

Unfortunately, in the space of a few short years, it is the Murdoch/Williams view of public morality which has gained ascendancy. Not least because outfits like the Labor Party and Democrats are terrified of falling foul of the rich and increasingly powerful. It's the sort of policy/principle/gumption vacuum that gives oxygen to the likes of One Nation.

While Little Lachie was defending his big business brothers in the Federal Court, Williams was telling the HIH Royal Commission how the other one hundredth live. And, in truth, they have a great deal in common.

In the final year before HIH sunk in a lake of red ink, leaving insurers and investors marooned, Williams spent $2.4 million on corporate entertainment and $4.6 million on executive bonuses.

The Royal Commission - no, not the one bagging building workers for negotiating $2 an hour site allowances, stupid - heard that in 2000, alone, the insurer's four most senior executives spent $30 million on "discretionary" matters.

Discretionary spending was undoubtedly one of Williams' strong points. In one three-week period he managed to chomp his way through $9000 on dinners at three up-market nosheries.

He had a lavish marble bathroom, with spa and gold taps, installed in his Melbourne office, way back in 1981.

When one of Ray's favourites, accountant Stuart Korchinski, left the company Williams tossed an additional $75,000 into his payout to bring it up to $910,000. Korchinski had previously benefited from a $158,000 bonus and the company writing off a quarter million housing loan. Oh, and when he shot through, HIH sold him the SAAB convertible he had become attached to for $1000.

But, as the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out, in the end, the man Williams was kindest to was Ray Williams.

In March, 1998, he was granted a 17 percent wage hike to take his annual "earnings" beyond the million dollar mark.. In that year, staff received no wage increase at all.

In 2000, when Williams' base earn hit $1.12 million, there were no staff bonuses, but that didn't stop him and his fellow executives showering themselves with extras.

The Murdochs, Keelings, Richs and Williams give the term bonus a whole new meaning.. In the eight months before HIH collapsed, owing $5.3 billion, management bonuses controlled by Williams amounted to $7.3 million.


Prime Minister John Howard tells a Sydney business lunch that Australian corporate behaviour is essentially healthy and ethical. For that reason, he says, the Government will not intervene to ensure more acceptable standards are adhered to.

Howard concedes that corporate governance is on the minds of country men and women but argues it is "not as important as the monthly mortgage bill or the Commonwealth Games".

Meanwhile, his Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, tells Australian seamen they are overpaid and under-worked. Abbott applauds ANL's decision to seek damages against maritime workers opposed to having their jobs sold to cheap foreign crews.

Abbott also suggests he knows the outcome of the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, hinting at legislative moves to try and weaken the bargaining power of the CFMEU.


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