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Issue No. 155 04 October 2002  

Wrong Way, Go Back
The weekend machinations over the structure of the ALP are in danger of missing the fundamental point: Labor�s current malaise is caused not be an excess of core values but through a deficit.


Interview: The Wet One
NSW Opposition industrial relations spokesman Michael Gallacher stakes out his relationship with the union movement.

Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Virgin Mobile is sexy and funky, right? Well, only if those terms have become synonyms for dictatorial or downright mean.

Unions: Demolition Derby
Tony Abbott likens industrial relations to warfare and, like a good general should, he is about to shift his point of attack � from building sites to car plants, reports Jim Marr.

Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
For the powerful, consumerism equals freedom, and is all the freedom we need, writes James Goodman

Politics: American Jihad
Let�s get real. The origins of modern Islamic terrorist groups are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Langley, Virginia not Baghdad, argues Noel Hester.

Health: Secret Country
Oral history recordings are an inadequate tool in trying to find out what happened to Aboriginal stockmen and their communities on cattle stations in Northern Australia, writes Neale Towart

Review: Walking On Water
On the 20th anniversary of the first AIDS-related death, Tara de Boehmler witnesses the aftermath of losing a loved one to the illness in Walking On Water.

Culture: TCF
Novelist Anthony Macris captures life on the shop floor in this extract from his upcoming novel, Capital Volume II

Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
The University of Queensland has sought to join the ranks of union-busting companies like Rio Tinto in trying to sack the president of the local union - and made the mistake of thinking they were dealing with an array of acquiescent academics.


 Corrigan Fires Shot in Rail Showdown

 Fight Begins For Long Weekends

 Experts to Arrest Drug Test Outbreak

 Jobs Auction Hitting Bank Workers

 Libs Pledge Moderate IR line

 Workers Kick Grand Final Goal

 NSW Screws Down Lid on Funeral Scams

 Hilton Strike Break Plans in Tatters

 Detention Centre Workers Demand Safety Search

 Religious Teachers Win Legal Coverage

 Pressure Builds on Parking Sting

 US Docks Lockout Hits Sea Trade

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
I Walk The Line
American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has weighed into the Hilton Hotel dispute with this special message to the workforce.

Mekong Daze
Union Aid Abroad's Phil Hazelton fires off a missive from Laos where he is spending a year working with the community.

Month In Review
Bush Whackers
It was a month where the world teetered on the brink of peace, no thanks to the leader of the free world, writes Jim Marr

The Locker Room
The Laws Of Gravity
Phil Doyle goes looking for the fine line that separates sport from an exercise in time-wasting

Snouts in the Trough
It�s AGM season in the corporate world, and deal after shady deal is being exposed as highfliers treat company accounts like the proverbial honey-pot.

Songs of Solidarity
There has been a proud history of pro-worker tunes dating back to the early days of the 20th century, which will be continued in a new CD, writes Dan Buhagiar.

 Jacks and Jills
 Shame on Murray
 Use or Abuse of Long Term Casuals
 Speaking in Tongues
 Casual Days
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Wrong Way, Go Back

The weekend machinations over the structure of the ALP are in danger of missing the fundamental point: Labor�s current malaise is caused not be an excess of core values but through a deficit.

Listen to the Conference rhetoric and you'd think that by cutting the formal union influence in the Party, Labor will somehow become a champion of the people. Talk to the workers of Australia and you get a very different story.

The Transport Workers Union has just completed focus groups - members of the contracting Labor heartland - asking them about their attitude to the ALP.

The findings reflect similar surveys for the ACTU and other unions: working people have lost faith with both sides of politics and are crying out for a champion.

Here's what the TWU members had to say:

- "Personally, I think Labor and Liberal are so close now it's not going to make any difference"

- on Labor politicians: "they've got a good looking CV, they've got a university education and they just want to get elected to that cushy job in Parliament. They don't care too much about the worker."

- and "I reckon there's a lot of union members who say you're not doing anything for me, I'm giving my vote to an independent.

In this context the challenge for Labor is not to water down its commitment to core values, but strengthen them.

With corporate excesses reaching breaking point, a war for Oil in the Middle East and increased pressure in the workplace Labor should be killing it.

That it's struggling, is directly linked to the reluctance of the parliamentary wing to move from safety first, white-bread, middle of the road, me-too policies.

That is why the formulation of refugee policy is such a fundamental issue. It is about the way Labor does politics.

Last election, Labor played its biggest card - cashing in its moral soul - in a desperate effort to win an election. It was a turning point for a party of principle; a statement that winning was everything.

This is the end-point of a slippery slope that frames every policy debate as a political opportunity and casts all principles as expendable.

Unionists and rank and filers have a similar agenda: they want a successful party, but they want a leader who is prepared to take a few hits, even a few falls, to ensure that when they attain power they have an agenda consistent with Labor values.

They don't want a political fix dumped on them and into a Parliament that is devoid of principle, compassion and integrity. In short, they want a genuine say in the Party's direction.

The real test for Simon Crean is his ability to create a political platform for Labor voters. There is a heartland out there wanting to vote Labor; they just need a reason.

Peter Lewis



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