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Issue No. 150 30 August 2002  

Shut It Down!
The CFMEU�s legal bid to have the Cole Royal Commission closed down seeks to prove legally what any dispassionate observer has worked out for themselves: the whole show is biased.


Interview: Australian Worker
AWU national secretary Bill Shorten gives his take on the relationship between the wings of the movement

Unions: Morning Ambush
Rowan Cahill joined the Dayson workers as they took their fourteen week dispute to the doors of an American corproate giant

Cole-Watch: Grumpy Old Men
When the Cole Commission declared closed its second innings in Sydney last night, lasting memories centred around the hands played by two grumpy old men, Jim Marr reports.

International: Arrested (Sustainable) Development
Unions fronting up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development are making clear their views that development can never be considered sustainable unless social justice is made a top priority, reports Tara de Boehmler.

History: Illegal Alien
As we remember the shameful way we turned away a group of people escaping the horrors of a dictatorial regime, the treatment of Egon Kisch by the UAP Government in 1935 highlights yet another.

Economics: The Trouble With PPPs
The Uni of NSW's Christopher Shiel explains why the state's current flirtation with Public Private Partnerships is an ongoing joke

Poetry: Is This 'My Country'?
On the anniversary of the Tampa, and with the help of Dorothea Mackellar and Peter Dodds McCormick, Worker's Online travels back a year to contemplate those moments when eyes were closed to the nature of the Taliban regime.

Review: Garage Days
Mark Hebblewhite reviews a new Aussie flick that brings the indie music scene to the big screen


 Bias Case Clears First Hurdle

 Eight Weeks Only for Bomb Survivors

 Justice At Last for Woodlawn Miners

 Labor for Refugees Put Acid on Crean

 Canberra Cash Linked to Hall of Fame Stoush

 Osama Poster Sparks Controversy

 Underwear Obsession Prompts Rehab List

 Community Workers Win Lifeline

 Mad Monk Staff in 'Mad Hatter' Protest

 Qld Health Win Pay Rise

 Education Forum To Spark Public Debate

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
Is Simon the Likeable?
The United Firefighter's Daryl Snow is back to give the ALP and political leaders in general an almighty hosing down

The Locker Room
A Modest Proposal
This NRL salary cap has come in for some debate recently, with many following the lead set by the Murdoch Media and calling for administrators of the game to throw the baby out with the bathwater, writes Phil Doyle.

Week in Review
World Domination
They�re right funny critters those Yanks who get their hands on the levers of power and we�re not talking, funny ha ha, here, Jim Marr writes�

The Costello Two-Step
Treasurer Peter Costello's two faces were on display this week - ducking and weaving from enforcing corporate accounting standards while upping the push to cut corporate tax

Always Listen To The Wind
Bernadette Moloney & John Hartley report from a conference aimed at getting reconciliation right

 Tony Moore is a Four Letter Word
 Choral Classics
 Sleeping Giants
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The Costello Two-Step

Treasurer Peter Costello's two faces were on display this week - ducking and weaving from enforcing corporate accounting standards while upping the push to cut corporate tax

Costello Washes Hands of Corporate Muck

Treasurer Peter Costello this week shied away from directing the corporate watchdog to chase up companies that failed to disclose shares and options paid to senior executives. Twenty two 22 of Australia's top 100 companies are breaching the Corporations Act by not disclosing details of options allocated to their executives. But he ducked and weaved when asked in Parliament whether he would direct the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), using his power under Section 14 of the ASIC Act, to investigate the alleged breaches. Unlike colleague Tony Abbott, Costello says he wants to wait until after the HIH Royal Commission reported next February before implementing changes to lift audit standards. This rejects advice from Melbourne University Professor Ian Ramsay that the government could make changes to lift audit standards immediately, using proposals in the report he gave government last October. (Source NineMSN)

... But Moves to Cut Corporate Tax

Costello seems more proactive when it comes to cutting corporate tax rates. With the chorus of Australian companies threatening to go offshore growing louder in the wake of James Hardie's move to the US, the Government has outlined several proposals to cut corporate taxes for both local and foreign investors. Compared to OECD economies, Australia's corporate rate is low - lower than in Japan, the US, Canada and New Zealand - but it is high compared to some of its fiercest competitors in Asia, including Singapore and Hong Kong. Among the options being canvassed is a suggestion to let Australian companies maximise the allocation of imputation credits on foreign sourced income for the benefit of local shareholders. For instance, the government could reintroduce dividend streaming, despite the Government's attempt to crack down on the practice over the past five years. (Source: SMH)

AMP's Batchelor in Options Tangle

AMP chief executive Paul Batchelor was in a spin this week over a push to extend his potentially lucrative options package. Mr Batchelor was given 1.3 million options priced at about $15.83 when he took on the top job at AMP in 2000 With AMP shares now at $14.31 Batchelor made a bid to rework the package. But amidst cries from the media and investors, the Board rebuffed the plan, leaving Batchelor wioth options egg on his dial. (Various Sources)

HIH Fat Cat Had It Easy

No such problems for HIH chief financial officer Dominic Fodera, who managed to negotiate a $1.8 million cash signing on fee. In a statement tendered to the HIH Royal Commission, Dodera says when he joined HIH on September 1, 1995, the income component of his package (about $400,000) was close to what he was getting as an audit partner at Arthur Andreson .To compensate for the extra risk, he did a deal with HIH's Australian managing director, Terry Cassidy, to give him the cash equivalent of 500,000 HIH shares, or about $1.8 million. His statement says he had no idea until the royal commission that the board was unaware of the terms of his package. (Source: The Age)

Welfare for Sugar Industry

They may not like dole-bludgers, but canegrowers have` no problem holding out their caps for taxpayer subsidies. The industry has scored a package of around $100 million, following a $60 million assistance package just two years ago. The subsidies have been approved despite warnings from the nation's largest sugar consumer, Coca-Cola Amatil, has warned against a government levy on sugar that a levy could double the price of domestic raw sugar, driving users to overseas markets. (Various Sources)

Westpac Swallows BT

Westpac has announced the major acquisition of funds management company BT Financial in a deal worth $900 million. Westpac has confirmed it will buy BT Financial from the US-based Principal Financial Group, making the bank the fourth largest retail funds manager in Australia. There is speculation that the integration of the business into Westpac will lead to about 200 job losses. (Source: ABC)

Former Enron Executive Pleads Guilty

A former Enron finance expert has pleaded guilty to money-laundering and fraud, becoming the first Enron executive to admit to a criminal role in the collapse of the giant energy company. Michael Kopper has also said he will cooperate with prosecutors as part of a plea agreement. The deal with prosecutors requires him to surrender $12 million obtained illegally in his dealings with Enron on behalf of the off-the-books partnerships; $8 million of the total will go to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in a separate settlement.SEC lawyer Luis Mejia says the money, to be paid within 30 days, will go to "Enron victims", who may include shareholders and former employees. (Various Sources)

NAB Loans Linked to Enron Schemes

The National Australia Bank was involved in a controversial $US400 million ($737 million) deal with the scandal-ridden Enron Corp, now under the spotlight in two class actions filed in the US on behalf of thousands of Americans who lost money in the company. The deal, given the name Firefly, is described in one of the legal claims as a scheme to move hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowings off Enron's books in 1998 and 1999. A claim filed in Houston by America's leading class action lawyers, Milberg Weiss, describes Firefly, along with other similar schemes, as "manipulative devices". National Australia Bank's involvement in the Firefly deal has only surfaced after hundreds of confidential internal bank documents were released by a congressional committee investigating the Enron scandal a few weeks ago. (Source: SMH)

Warning! Warning! Fraudsters detected!

Finally, after automating much of the finance industry, we may be on the verge of cyber-auditors. Given the reliability of the human variety, it may be a step forward. Professor Robert Jensen, who teaches information systems at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, says there are "more than enough incentives" for accounting firms and companies to create automated auditing aids using current technology. He envisages individual transactions having cyber "tags" that could not be removed and which automatically spotted attempts to cook the books. He believes that within five to 10 years the business world and accounting firms would be forced to develop much better automated systems for auditing. (Source: Bloomberg)


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