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Issue No. 167 21 February 2003  

Scales of Injustice
The Cole Royal Commissionís final report will be handed to the Howard Government this week, although its public release will be strategically delayed for maximum political capital.


Interview: Agenda 2003
ACTU secretary Greg Combet looks at the year ahead and how a union movement can keep the focus on the workplace at a time of global crisis.

Peace: The Colour Purple
Local communities across Australia are taking stands against war by displaying purple banners. Jim Marr visits one.

Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
As Workers Online took its annual break, the world kept turning Ė at an increasingly alarming velocity.

Solidarity: Workers Against War
Joann Wypijewski reports on how union locals in the USA are fighting the hounds of war at home.

Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
With all the talk of terror, the Howard Governmentís Achilles heel is its tolerance of Flags of Convenience shipping , writes Rowan Cahill

International: Industrial Warfare
Scottish freight train drivers have already acted to disrupt the war effort in the UK with crews of four freight trains carrying war supplies to ports walking off the job, writes Andrew Casey

History: Unions and the Vietnam War
The Vietnam experience steered some unions towards social activism for the first time. Unions are today key players in the anti-war movement, writes Tony Duras.

Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Mark Hebblewhites looks at two summer movies that tap into different sounds of American culture - white boy rap and motown blues.

Poetry: Return To Sender
Resident bard Divd Peetz discovers that Elvis has become the latest shock recruit to the peace cause.

Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
CIA Director George Tenet announced today that the agency has begun recruiting future enemies for the year 2014.


 Cole Commission: The Rort Goes On

 Penalty Rates Under Attack

 Abbott Brushes Ripped Off Aussies

 Overworked Seamanís Painful Hangover

 Australia Snubs International Body

 Women Attracted to Unions

 Murdoch Hacks Dropping Like Flies

 Peace is Union Business

 Qantas Takes Big Stick to Cabin Crew

 Sheltered Workshop in Orange Squeeze

 Carr Govt Commits $13m To Safety

 Monk Puts IR in Test Tube

 Concreters Bury Six-Day Week

 Graincorp Boss in Cyber War

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Getting On with The Job
Premier Bob Carr chose Trades Hall as the venue to launch Labor's IR policy for the upcoming state election.

Justice in Bogota
Sydney lawyer Ian Latham knows how to pick them. Heís gone straight from the Cole Royal Commission to justice Colombian-style.

The Locker Room
Heart Of Darkness
There is a school of thought that there is, in fact, only one World Cup - and it doesnít involve cricket, writes Phil Doyle.

Danger Mouse
John Howard's politics have trapped him into supporting an unpopular war. He is in political trouble, Leonie Bronstein argues.

 This Means War
 Who Let The Troops Out?
 Wagga Wagga Calling
 Ode to Johnny
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Letters to the Editor

Who Let The Troops Out?

Who gave authority for our troops to be sent to Iraq or any other country for that matter?

Clause 68. of the Constitution says; "The commander in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the Governor-General as the Queen's representative".

I wrote to the G-G when our troops were sent to Afghanistan and his reply was" The title of Governor General is purely titular and he has no power to order troops anywhere".

This being the case, just who is sending our troops overseas and on what authority?

John Howard referred to "our constitutional arrangements" on the 7-30 Report when he used Bob Hawke as his example of executive authority from the first Gulf War.

Our constitution was written when Queen Victoria ruled and the Governor General was her representative.

When the constitution was developed we took a lot of the USA's constitutional arrangements on board.

In particular, the convention of the separation of powers, which is designed to prevent any of the three arms of government (namely, the Executive [prime minister and inner cabinet], the Parliament [The Queen, the Senate, and The House of Representatives], and The Judiciary [the High court]) having untrammelled power, one over the other.

Under our constitution the people are sovereign and so a decision of this magnitude must have the legal authority sourced from the people. This must be done to ensure that people sent to war on our behalf are given the protection of law relating to their actions and to their subsequent injury or disease cannot be weaselled by future governments as has been disgracefully done by successive governments to the Vietnam Veterans and their widows, since 1983 and our most recent fatality in Afghanistan.

We therefore need to make it absolutely clear where the legal authority to make this most serious decision has its roots.

The authority to make the decision to go to war has moved to the point where now, John Howard is behaving more like a president of a banana republic. He has, it seems, more personal authority than George Bush who must get his authority to proceed to war from Congress.

In other words, we find ourselves drifting into a constitutional limbo. A change to our constitution will be the only way to prevent us handing unlimited power to the Prime Minister of the day, when the office of the President of the USA has restraints placed on it.

It seems to me that we need to call an immediate referendum to amend our Constitution so that the people retain sovereignty by voting on the question of going to war. Or the Parliament decides in a sitting of both houses and the Governor General issues the mobilization order.

John Ward

10 Grosse Road


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