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Issue No. 170 14 March 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Coke or Pepsi?
And so the battle of the NSW political brands enters its final week – and at times it seems more like the Coke and Pepsi Taste Challenge; only this time the brown syrupy liquid is power.

F E A T U R E S

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Interview: League of Nations
ICFTU general secretary Guy Ryder on the war, core labour standards and why Australia is an international pariah.

Industrial: 20/20 Hindsight
A retrospective analysis of the Accord is needed to help develop future strategies. Is it worth trying again? And if so, what would need to be different?

Organising: On The Buses
A new rank and file leadership team is standing up for the harried bus driver in the run-up to the NSW State Election

Unions: National Focus
A gaze around the country reveals some inspiring and innovative organising initiatives, a fruitful connection with young workers in South Australia and some typically robust industrial campaigns reports Noel Hester.

History: The Banner Room
On the eve of it’s refurbishment, Jim Marr ventures into one of Trades Hall’s best kept secrets; the room that houses relics of labour’s halcyon days.

International: The Slaughter Continues
Chilling new statistics from Colombia's main trade union confederation CUT: nine trade unionists assassinated in the first two months of this year.

Legal: A Legal Case For War?
Aaron Magner looks at the legal implications of the crusade of the Coalition of the Willing

Culture: Singing For The People
When there’s a struggle for social justice, when a war is brewing or rights are being eroded, the first ones to pen, paper and protest are often the folkwriters.

Review: The Hours
On the eve of International Women’s Day Tara de Boehmler follows the tale of three women who would rather choose death than a life devoid of personal choice.

Poetry: I Wanna Bomb Saddam
Scarier than Star Wars, the latest weapon to be deployed in the battle for Iraq is the Singing Dubya.

Satire: Diuretic Makes Warne's Excuses Look Thin
Australian cricketer Shane Warne today admitted that he was still feeling the after effects of the diuretic he tested positive to.

N E W S

 Travelex Wrong-un Stumps Staff

 No Utopia In Lifetime Contracts

 Della Renews Jobs Pledge

 Chef Roasts Double Standard

 Howard’s Navy – Aussies Need Not Apply

 Bank Lockout Mars Peace Day

 Intrepid Tourists Buck ILO Bans

 Whistle Blown on Second Hand Rail Safety

 Back-Packers Used to Break Hotel Strike

 Qantas for High Jumps

 Burrow Calls for New Family Formula

 Central Queensland Sucks on Roche

 Cabbies Hail Fair Deal

 Smoke Free St Patricks Day

 Workers Flush on Poo Pay

 Activist Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Workers Friend
Shock jock Alan Jones snubbed his Liberal mates to bucket the Cole Royal Commission and launch Jim Marr's book

The Locker Room
Boer Bore Boring
In the face of oppression Phil Doyle falls asleep in front of the TV

Guest Report
Dead Labor
The Hawke and Keating legacy is John Howard, Leonie Bronstein argues.

Seduction
Hands Off, Tony
John Della Bosca argues the NSW Industrial Relations System gives his State a competitive advantage.

Bosswatch
Groundhog Day
Another year, another round of corporate excess. Bosswatch returns from its summer slumber to find the same old dogs up to the same tricks.

L E T T E R S
 Addicted to ANZUS
 A Plea for Legal Action
 Accord Reconsidered
 Johnny's Green Card
 Veto The War
 Law and Order
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Tool Shed

Boy Blunder


One-time moderate NSW Opposition Leader John Brogden has bludgeoned his way into this week’s Tool Shed with a textbook Tory assault on working people.

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It was too good to last. A Liberal leader who actually believed in liberalism, standing to the Left of our centrist Premier and promising the status quo on industrial relations. His IR spokesman Mike Gallacher talked up his worker creds and promised that the NSW system would remain intact, testimony to the broad support of employers and employees after John Fahey's disastrous experiment in deregulation turned the state system into a dog's breakfast.

Then came the election campaign; where the lad with the big teeth struggled to gain any traction. As polls slipped, the corporate dollars dried up and the Libs reverted to type, and turned to the Right in a desperate bid to hold onto their heartland. It has not been a good campaign for young Jo-Bro. Carr has elevated campaigning to a new level, conquering the women's vote with magazine lift-outs and Helena's endorsement - "if I can put up with him, so can you"; trumping the Libs on education and health; and forcing the Libs so far out there on law and order that they appear to be frog-marching in colourful uniforms. And who could forget his wonderful own goal on drugs? Fuelled by mock outrage at the Greens' loosely worded harm minimisation strategy, the one time supporter of safe injecting rooms takes a stand by ... delivering Port Jackson to Labor.

Nowhere has the panic of a campaign off the rails been more obvious than in their policy on industrial relations. From a considered and minimalist position to a raving right manifesto that makes Tony Abbott look like a peace-maker. We wonder if they ever intended releasing it to the public (as opposed to a select corporate audience), until the Daily Telegraph's Matthew Denholm rang Gallacher and asked him what his policy was. Gallacher committed the ultimate political gaffe in a campaign - he told the truth. And what a truth he told - employees would have the 'right' to vote unions out of workplace agreements; providing employers with a mechanism to run US-style recognition ballots.

These types of ballots have been the bread and butter for US 'industrial consultants', brought into workplaces on a mission to de-unionise. In recent years it has also been the structure that has provided the spring-board for US unions' much-vaunted organising campaigns, strategic actions based around recognition ballots. Ironically, these have successfully re-invigorated many workplaces as union sites. But it does not mitigate against the basic contradiction to Liberal philosophy - the Brogden plan would actually strip union members of their right to be represented in negotiations. Neither does Brogden endorse the other side of the US recognition laws, the right of unions that win recognition ballots to levy bargaining fees for non-members, a necessary corollary of the free market ethos from the States.

Once the policy was outed, Brogden had the option of ruling it out or running dead. Instead he hit the airwaves singing the ultimate cliché of the Tory run out of ideas, the "union strongarm tactics" line. With no evidence to back his case he sounded like one of the counsel assisting the Cole Commission as he set up the straw 'union bully boy' and blew it down. It's the same lazy rhetoric that has seen his workers compensation policy attack 'compo cheats', raiding the funds of the industry health and safety schemes to harry injured workers.

Brogden came to the leadership promising to be a small 'l' liberal but under the pressure of a campaign he should never have expected to win, as he emerged as something altogether more odious: just another Tory opportunist prepared to kick workers when they've run out of all their other ideas.



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