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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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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.

The union's legal play may seem out of left field, but Commissioner Cole has invited the challenge by recommending the establishment of an industry task force based in Sydney before allowing the NSW branch of the CFMEU to test evidence on which the recommendation was made.

While it's unlikely that the Commissioner will find himself biased, sit tight for some interesting exchanges in the federal and possibly even the High Court.

What is at stake is the executive's powers to use the legal system as part of a concerted political agenda, issues that go to the very heart of our Constitution.

We've been saying it for some time and now the justice system will be given the chance to make its judgment: the Cole Commission is a fundamental subversion of the Royal Commission process.

Royal Commissions have special extra-judicial powers because they are inquiries to uncover the truth. In contrast, the Cole Commission has been conducted in a manner more consistent with a pursuit to prove a particular theory.

Throughout the CFMEU has been cast in the role of defendant: officials ambushed by allegations from Counsel Assisting, evidence from disgruntled sub-contractors and former officials selectively delivered and all the while no right of cross-examination at the time allegations are made.

The Commission has played for maximum media effect, some journalists being briefed about allegations against CFMEU officials before the union's own lawyers.

The feeling from union members who have viewed proceedings is universal exasperation as the good name of their union is clinically dragged through the mud.

And the winners? Well, the Howard Government obviously, who can embark on another round of union bashing. Plus the building industry that will see the one effective police of industrial and safety law neutered.

As for ordinary building workers, like the 10,000 who rallied outside the Commission this week their jobs will be more dangerous and less secure as a result of the Abbott-Cole agenda. They're the one's who are going to get hurt - and they're beginning to realise it is them, not just their union, who is being set up for the biggest sucker punch in recent political history.

It would be an incredible and historic victory if the application as upheld but make no mistake: this legal challenge is no stunt. This Royal Commission has struck at the heart of our democratic system by sidelining the very processes designed to ensure our democratic rights.

In a national interest that goes far beyond picnic days and accounting systems, beyond the criminal conspiracies to take over an honest union, beyond even the ambitions of a certain Tory minister: close it down!

Peter Lewis



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