||Issue No. 167||21 February 2003|
Scales of Injustice
Interview: Agenda 2003
Peace: The Colour Purple
Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
Solidarity: Workers Against War
Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
International: Industrial Warfare
History: Unions and the Vietnam War
Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Poetry: Return To Sender
Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
The Locker Room
Who Let The Troops Out?
Wagga Wagga Calling
Ode to Johnny
Scales of Injustice
Not so Jim Marr's book 'First, The Verdict - The Real Story of the Building Industry Royal Commission', which will be launched Monday by one of the CFMEU's most unlikely supporters. We can't reveal his identity yet, but it could be a story in itself.
Regular Workers Online readers will be familiar with Jim's coverage of the Cole Commission. While mainstream media outlets took the Commission's carefully constructed spin, Jim dug deeper.
And what he uncovered should concern anyone who cares about a fair go in contemporary Australian society:
- witnesses unwilling to criticise the CFMEU were not called to give evidence,
- Counsel Assisting the Commission made allegations of serious criminality that, after widespread media coverage, were shown to be unfounded
- and serious criminal behaviour by employers, including Commission witnesses, was largely ignored in public hearings .
In short, the Cole Royal Commission was a $60 million political witch-hunt that selected evidence on its capacity to embarrass the CFMEU.
What use the Howard Government makes of the final report will be interesting; the word around town is that bullets could be headed in unforeseen directions - but that's the history of Royal Commissions aimed at the union movement.
But what is already apparent is that Tony Abbott's fishing expedition for corruption and lawlessness within the construction industry has not caught any big fish.
Abbott's mantra of 'lawlessness' sounds alarming, but has mainly been focussed on his contention that industry wide bargaining breaches the Howard-Reith workplace relations laws.
His fetish for individual contracts hit a new high-point last week when he threatened to withdraw funding for research to universities that failed to force their academics onto AWAs. We've always argued that Abbott's IR was a dangerous experiment - but this is going too far!
So, on the one hand we have taxpayer dollars funding an attack on organised labour while, on the other, we have cash inducements to force workers off collective agreements
For a party that professes a laissez faire philosophy, this is a very hands on approach to government. But the Howard-Abbott crowd have never been liberal, they are Tory through and through, who see the State as a tool for maintaining the prevailing power imbalances.
As Marr's book vividly portrays, the Cole Commission was just the most heavy-handed example of this ethos.
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