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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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Letters to the Editor

Accord Reconsidered


Re-considering the Accord

Your editorial(Issue No 169 - 7 March 2003)is both thought provoking and timely. The viewpoints of Leonie Bronstein and Neale Towart also struck a familiar note. I did my Local Government studies at University back in the early 1990s. On reviewing the Industrial Relations literature of the day, I could not help feeling that the Labor Party did themselves and the workers a great disservice by going down the economic rationalist path couched in terms like 'micro' and 'macro' economic reforms'.

The sterility of economic rationalist thinking is only matched by the paucity of evidence of any causal relationship between 'micro' economic reform and 'macro' economic change. If economics had started out with economic history first and then followed by economic theory, Western democracies like Australia would not be in the bind that they are in now. The Labor Party's throes of grappling with a GST to fund the shortfalls of multinational corporation taxes in the running of a welfare state, is a by product of this misguided thinking.

As John Ralston Saul of 'Unconcious Civilization' fame has opined, two decades into a social experiment that has gone horribly wrong is a very long time. Corporate values which have contaminated government continue to hold sway. This is very much reflected in the emergence of a New Right in the ilk of Tony Abbot and John Howard. Newt Gingrich in the USA is the archetype of this band of copycats.

With the 'machinery of government' reforms in NSW under bureaucrats like the late Dr. Peter Wilenski and in Canberra under John Keating (no relation of Paul Keating)in the 1980s and the 1990s, the civil service has since been picking up the pieces. If Chinese imperial history has taught us anything, it is this. The easiest way to undermine a country is to undermine its civil service. When that happens, governance gives way to corporate greed.

In today's context, does it surprise anyone that the captains of industry give themselves obscene pay packets whilst they preside over corporations with a track record of sacking workers to prop up the long term dwindling value of shareholders' funds? Yet we get more government 'newspeak' reports in the likes of Wallis. Business school graduates do not have bigger brains than philosopy graduates. We have too many 'bean counters' but not enough thinkers. We have to bring back 'Nugget' Coombes from the dead if honest government is to be resurrected.

Professor Pusey did his research some years ago to show the same dullness of our civil servants in Canberra. Around the same time one correspondent for a leading newspaper even commented that the 'mandarins' in Canberra were about the most mediocre in Australia's post war history. The Chinese civil service used to get only the best brains to manage the country. This was done through a rigorous selection process such as formal examinations and submissions of original thinking.

That sort of ethos persisted for two thousand years until it had to face the aftermath of the Opium Wars in the 1840s. Before that 'mandarins' or scholars held centre court and social justice was meted out in the name of the Emperor. Next down the line were the peasants, then came the artisans. The lowest of the low in Chinese society was the business class.

Ironically, the 'social pecking' order was turned upside down after the Opium Wars simply because British 'drug lords' needed middlemen to push opium to the populace. The business class soon acquired such wealth unseen previously that they were able to buy their way into the civil service without even having to pass any examinations. We see parallels in Western democracies today in the form of political advisors. When business people advise politicians how to govern, the natural fallout is deregulation, cutbacks on welfare and small government.

The toppling of the Chinese scholar gentry was the precursor of the Chinese diaspora that continued for 150 years to this day. Just before all these upheavals were taking place in Chinese society, the British had appreciated the marvel of the civil service examination system that powered the Chinese dynasties to heights of cultural, naval and military achievement. The Chinese civil service model was transposed on Westminster. But very little acknowledgement is given to the fact that 'Rule Britannia' rested on a civil service system essentially copied from the Chinese.

It is unimaginable that the Labor Party during the time of Bob Hawke and could have condoned anti-intellectual freaks to wreak irreversible damage to the social, intellectual, phychic and natural capital of this country. The Labor Party has forgotten its history. It was the diaspora of the Chinese at the turn of the previous century awash with Social Darwinist thought, that the Party's founders sought to protect the quality of worklife of 'fair dinkums'. The lesson for today's leaders of the Labor Party is that 'bite the hand that feeds you, and you'll be sunk'.

Y. K. Yau


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