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.
The ASU Services Union sought support from the pair as Travelex carved thousands off staff pay packets while handing over millions to associate itself with cricketers, racing car drivers and yachties.
Long-serving Wollongong consultant Jean Laurent is at the centre of a stitch-up which sees Travelex hanging onto bonuses staff have already earned under reworked conditions it imposed last year.
Laurent finished with the company in March after six years of unblemished service. Its thankyou took the form of refusing to pay her more than $2900 she had earned over the previous 12 months.
Laurent told Workers Online bonuses, for beating budget, were part of workers' terms of employment. However, British-owned Travelex hangs onto 50 percent of everyone's bonus every quarter and refuses to honour any of the entitlement if an individual fails to hit budget in a single quarter.
What cost her though was another company rort - it won't pay the money already earned if you resign prior to payment. She gave notice in Februay and Travelex snaffled the 50 percent of her bonus earnings from the last two quarters of 2002.
"Travelex will not be paying any further reward payments to you. I understand that this decision may disappoint you ..." it wrote in something of an understatement.
Laurent found herself more outraged than disappointed.
"That's my money," she said. "I don't expect payment for the quarter in which I finished but I do expect to be paid what I have already earned.
"There are a heap of issues there. Some individuals worked more than 100 hours of unpaid overtime between February and March this year, then they declare the bonus scheme will be self-funded, now they won't even pay out the 50 percent they hung onto.
"Meantime, they are putting millions into the Australian cricket team, Formula One racing and the America's Cup."
ASU organiser Lauren Hutchens has asked both Gilchrist and Lee, who have personal sponsorship deals with Travelex, to intervene on their member's behalf. She has also drawn the matter to the attention of the ACB.
Lauren is seeking advice on the possibility of putting the matter before the IRC or a small claims tribunal.
Unions are warning young workers that the contracts, covering workers at Utopia records, are a clear restraint of trade and should not be signed.
Workers Online has received the contract from the father of one of the workers, who sent the contract to his union for advice.
Under the contracts workers must agree to the following Post-Termination of Agreement clause: "The Employee shall not in the central business district of Sydney (being bound by postcode 2000 and 2001) be engaged (whether as a principal, partner, employee, director or consultant) in any business activity directly or indirectly in competition with Utopia Records Pty Ltd."
While exclusion clauses are used to prevent high-paid executives jumping to competitors, the idea of binding lowly paid retail workers is a first.
"What next? McDonalds preventing workers going to Hungry Jacks?" asks NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson.
"This contract would not even pass the Employment Advocate, which is probably why they haven't tried to convert it into an Australian Workplace Agreement.
"My advice to anyone receiving such a contract is not to sign and contact their trade union."
Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca made the commitment at a public conference last week after the Carr Government’s industrial relations policy had been silent on the issue.
The undertaking had been a centrepiece of public sector policy for the first two terms of the Carr Government, ensuring NSW workers aren't subjected to the sorts of wholesale job cuts that occurred under the Greiner and Fahey Government.
The Public Service Association and other key public sector unions see this as a key guarantee, ensuring workers will be retrained and redeployed rather than thrown on the scrap heap.
Della Bosca publicly committed the government to the letter sent to then Labor Council secretary Michael Costa by then Industrial Relations Minister Jeff Shaw before the 1999 State Election.
"The Carr Government remains committed to the general principle of no forced redundancies.
"Given this principle, the Government recognises its responsibility to both employees and taxpayers to ensure public servants affected by necessary changes within the public sector are redeployed to productive work.
"Often successful redeployment involves adding to a person's skills or complete retraining. It requires a joint and concerted effort from government, employers, unions and staff."
O'Sullivan says Della Bosca's verbal undertaking is good enough for him.
"While I would have preferred this commitment on paper, John Della Bosca is an honourable man and I know his word will be his bond," PSA general secretary Maurie O'Sullivan says.
The pair were paid thousands of dollars in a confidential settlement, after claiming six-figure underpayments, by Manly eatery Ribs and Rumps.
Government immigration policies, however, have taken the shine off their victory. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMIA) has given them until tomorrow (Saturday) to quit the country because they are no longer sponsored by Ribs and Rumps owner, David Diamond, himself a South African ex-pat.
"We are very, very disappointed," Khumalo told Workers Online. "We lived in Australia for four and a half years and had started new lives here but because our employer did the wrong thing we have to leave.
"It is a bad thing, my friend, because it wasn't us who breached any Australian laws but we are being forced out while the person who did breach the law is allowed to stay and prosper."
Khumalo said he had enjoyed Australia and would try to get a visa so he could return.
His argument reflected submissions made by Labor Council and the CFMEU officials in submissions to both Minister Philip Ruddock and his department.
Council assistant secretary Chris Christodoulou, said Section 457 visas were routinely used to "exploit guests and put pressure on Australian wages and conditions at the same time".
CFMEU secretary Andrew Ferguson there was no monitoring of the wages and conditions of imported labour and "when these people are brave enough to ask questions there are no sanctions available to dissuade unscrupulous employers".
He said the "effective expulson" of Khumalo and Ndlovu was a "classic example" of the unfairness of the regime Ruddock presided over.
Workers Online understand that the chefs' legal representatives, Reg and Ros Bartley, were continually frustrated by that unfairness in trying to win a settlement for their clients.
It is an issue they will address in letters to the Government and legal papers they are preparing.
Reg Bartley thanked NSW unions for their assistance in getting "some justice" for his clients.
"We were going around in circles, being frustrated at every turn until the Labor Council and CFMEU got involved," Bartley said. "It's our opinion that if they hadn't organised demonstrations in support of our men they would have got no money at all.
"At least, after four and a half years they have got some money to take home to their families."
This startling revelation was made to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in Sydney this week.
MUA secretary, Paddy Crumlin, told the committee Howard Government support for the continued demolition of Australian seafaring, through its green light for foreign crewed Flag of Convenience operations, stood in stark contrast to the line taken by key allies Britain and the US.
Both those countries have identified a strong domestic merchant marine as a key element in their defence strategies. The union submission drew attention to that situation with official statements from Washington and London.
"American commercial crew and US-flagged ships are necessary for the national security of our country. They provide the manpower and equipment necessary to transport vital supplies and personnel around the globe in times of national emergency," Representative Ike Skelton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, explained.
"The Jones Act," he went on, "helps to provide a basic manpower pool of US mariners that can be utilised in times of emergencies, and there is no substitute for that."
Skelton was explaining a 1999 decision to commit US$10 billion to merchant marine shipbuilding and operating over the following 10 years.
In one of its four main points the Blair Government's Defence White Paper, issued in 2002, said it was necessary to: "encourage UK ship registration, to increase shipowner identification with the UK, to improve our regulatory control of shipping using UK ports and workers and to maintain the avialability of assets and personnel that may be needed in time of war."
Transport Minister John Anderson, on the other hand, is presiding over a declining Australian merchant fleet with a diminishing associated skill base.
The MUA argues this is down to Anderson's ideological commitment to Single Voyage Permits which have seen an explosion in the number of foreign-crewed Flag of Convenience ships muscling in on Australia's coastal trade at the expense of vessels employing Australians.
The union also tendered a personal letter of thanks from Interfet Commander, Peter Cosgrove, for the support MUA members provided to the Timor operation.
While thousands of workers across NSW marked the day by calling for a peaceful resolution, Westpac management at their Concord Service Centre closed the door on union reps claiming peace was not ‘union business’.
The lock-out of Finance Sector Union organiser Gabi Wynhausen angered the 100 workers and marred an otherwise positive day of symbolic events for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.
Among the Unions Work for Peace Day events:
- public transport workers wore purple badges
- local government workers declared Taronga Zoo a peace site
- dozens of mass meetings of building workers were held
- fire station flags flew at half mast
- and peace services were held at schools, hospitals and other workplaces.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the day's events had given unions a chance to stimulate debate and awareness at a workplace issue.
"I totally reject Westpac's assertion that peace is not union business," Robertson says. "workers have a right to discuss the issues of the day at work - and there is no more pressing issue at present."
Robertson congratulated all employers who allowed their workers to take symbolic action, saying it put Westpac's mean attitude in stark relief.
"I would think Westpac customers would be horrified to learn that this is their attitude towards purely symbolic action."
Despite a call by the International Labour Organisation for all member countries to cease trade with Burma, Australian travel companies Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel, say "bad luck we're coming anyway".
Travel company bosses Tony Wheeler of Lonely Planet and Darrell Wade of Intrepid Travel say things are getting better in Burma and that the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest last year is high on their "positive signs" list.
But the democracy movement inside Burma - including Suu Kyi - are appealing to Westerners to observe the ILO boycott as a means of maintaining pressure on the regime.
Reports from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions from October 2002 indicate that forced labour is actually increasing. And reports from an ILO officer in Rangoon just this week indicate that plans by the military to end forced labour are not yet adequate or plausible. There are also extensive reports of the use of rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minority women and children.
The travel gurus argue that they've been to Burma and spoken with people on the ground who are overwhelmingly in support of tourism in Burma. But who were Tony Wheeler and Darrell Wade talking to?
For many people in Burma their only connection with tourism will be as forced labourers on tourism infrastructure projects.
Intrepid Travel is a market leader in small group adventure travel, leading groups from Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand on tours in Asia, Russia and the Middle East.
The company withdrew from operations in Burma after consulting with stakeholders in 1999, running its final trip to Burma in January 2000. Intrepid's commitment to "Responsible Travel" is used as a key marketing strategy and the company emphasises its respect for the social, cultural and environmental aspects of the destinations it visits.
Intrepid Travel has recently announced that it will resume selling holidays to Burma. We are looking to send a strong message to them that we disagree.
Please consider writing to Intrepid Travel Director, Darrell Wade, about
the company's recent decision to resume selling holidays to Burma.
A suggested draft email follows:
Dear Intrepid Travel,
I am deeply concerned to hear that you are about to resume selling holidays
to Burma. It is impossible to operate in Burma without providing hard
currency and legitimacy to the corrupt military regime. You will be helping
to fund a regime that routinely uses rape, torture, murder and forced
labour to oppress its own people. Democracy leaders in Burma have said that
the time is not right for tourism in Burma.
If you are concerned for the people of Burma, please listen to the people
who represent them. Please reconsider, don't go back to Burma.
Send your message to:
11 Spring Street
Fitzroy VIC Australia 3065
Telephone: 1300 360 667
Facsimile: +61 (0)3 9419 5878
email Darrell Wade, Director of Intrepid Travel
For more information about the issue of travel to Burma, visit
Marking International Rail Safety Day, the RTBU says it will recommend a new Independent Rail Safety Agency be set up when it makes its submission to the McInerny Inquiry into the Waterfall accident.
Under the RTBU plan, the Agency would be separate from existing rail authorities and report to State Parliament annually, with an audit of the entire network every two years.
The submission also calls on the Department of Transport to employ qualified Rail Safety Inspectors who would visit work locations and conduct random safety inspections of passenger and freight trains.
Inspectors would be empowered to issue infringement notices and cancel unsafe trains until appropriate safety standards are in place.
The RTBU says that the deregulation of track and access of rail operators onto the NSW rail network the current standards will not meet further safety requirements.
The submission has been released as the RTBU continues to seek guarantees from the Carr Government that it will not hand the state's freight rail network to the Commonwealth.
An independent report by BIS Shrapnel has found that this proposal would compromise public safety, cost jobs and leave the NSW taxpayer exposed to up to half a billion dollars.
The Millennium Hotel is where Kylie Minogue regularly stays when she is in Sydney but it is probably best-known for its heritage listed iconic 1960s Coca Cola neon sign which looks down Williams St from Kings Cross.
The ACTU is supporting the LHMU's demand for a better redundancy package for the 150 hotel workers.
"The hotel management is turning the building into a 97-apartment complex - with a penthouse valued at more than $9million," Boyd says. "But they are trying to get away with paying their workers less than eight weeks retrenchment pay while most Sydney workers get around 16 weeks in retrenchment pay,"
The union will ask the Immigration Department to check that all the backpacker strike-breakers have their working visa papers in order.
"At least some of the backpackers saw through what management were doing and gave the hotel a shock by walking out in sympathy with the low-waged workers," he says.
The union members are angry that the Millennium has put on the table an offer which is less than that which Hilton Hotel workers received late last year when that hotel shutdown.
FAAA International secretary, Johanna Brem, noted Qantas had set itself apart from other companies by indicating it wanted to introduce tests in consultation with employees. On that basis, and its commitment to education, she expressed "cautious optimism".
However, Brem said, any arrangement should be measured against three criteria. Would the regime - measure impairment, or just record detection; what would be the standards adopted; and, how would the independence of the testing authority be guaranteed?
Brem said the FAAA would look to be part of an agreed union response to the Qantas proposal co-ordinated by the ACTU.
The company's initial approach sets it apart from a string of other employers who have sought to impose alcohol and drug testing on their workforces.
In Melbourne, this week, defence contractor Tenix backed away from a showdown with unions that could have compromised work on its $6 billion ANZAC frigate contract.
After IRC intervention, Tenix agreed not to try and introduce its random testing policy until conciliation talks had been held in the AIRC. Members of the AMWU, AWU and ETU had planned rolling stoppages from Wednesday and Tenix, the company of choice for Peter Reith, had responded with threats of seek damages in the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, a disability services worker has been stood down by the House with No Steps, for refusing to undergo a test for suspected marijuana use. The worker was stood down on February 24 and the union notified a dispute to the NSW IRC, which has been set down for hearing next week.
Speaking at the National press Club this week, Burrow throw down the challenge to policy makers to take work and family issues out of the 'women's' pigeon hole and see it as a broader political issue.
Burrow says there needs to be a 'revolution' to make 21st Century workplace family friendly, but fears that progress to date has been piecemeal.
While family friendly entitlements like paid maternity leave are part of the equation, Burrow says child-care, working hours and taxation laws all impact on the ability of families to balance their responsibilities.
She also says employers have much to gain in embracing more flexible practices for working parents, with higher retention rates and more productive employees.
CFMEU activists will take that message to North Queensland Cowboys footy fans as part of their escalating campaign to force Roche into meeting industry standards on wages, conditions and safety in towns like Coppabella, Central Queensland.
The company has won mining contracts in the Hunter Valley and outback Queensland on the back of its stragegy of substantially undercutting entitlements enjoyed by miners. Three months of campaigning has resulted in Hunter Valley contractors signing up with the CFMEU Energy Division and the union is now shifting its organising focus to Coppabella where, it says, the situation is even worse.
"Their operation is classic boom and bust except for the fact that there is no boom for towns like Coppabella," CFMEU organiser Troy Burton says.
"They undercut competitors on wages and conditions then bus in contractors from outside, putting them up in old-style camps, rather than have them live in the local community.
"The upshot for these towns, already struggling for survival, is an increased threat to their services. Roche moves in, strips the local resources and moves on.
"We are looking at substantially increased hours, and donga-style accommodation. There is no room in the Roche equation for families or the commitment to a town that they would normally bring."
Roche is aggressively promoting individual contracts as a mechanism to defeat existing wages and conditions. A key element of its strategy is to bus-in and bus-out an itinerant workforce.
It has signed a 15-year contract to operate the Coppabella Mine.
Burton said unionists were buoyed by the success of their Hunter Valley organising campaign and pleged active resistance to Roche's stragey wherever it set up operations.
"We will follow them wherever they go," he pledged.
Delegate Richard Sullivan hailed a Labor Government initiative that will extend IRC coverage to 3800 cabbies in country NSW. The regulatory change is contained in Industrial Relations policies released by Premier Bob Carr at a Labor Council meeting last month.
Sullivan and workmates were gobsmacked when their bid to be allowed to use air-conditioning in the middle of summer spluttered to a halt after employer representatives pointed out they had no right to put the case before the state's industrial umpire.
They were also seeking the return of flag fall monies kept by the company. The TWU estimates Port Stephens drivers are owed around $50,000.
Fifteen workmates struck over the issues for two and a half days last October. A delegation headed by Sullivan, TWU official, David Evans, and local MP, John Bartlett, put IRC recognition on the Carr Government agenda.
"We believed we had the same rights as everybody else," Sullivan said. "It came as a bit of a shock when we were told we weren't even allowed to put our case.
"Our problems still haven't been resolved but at least this recognises we have a right to be heard. That has to be an improvement on where we are at the moment."
Current regulations deny IRC rights to drivers outside metropolitan Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.
The TWU is conducting an organising drive amongst rural cabbies, arguing that wage rates, holiday pay, workers compensation and health and safety are issues across the industry.
An forum for drivers, featuring union, industry and government speakers, will be held on Sunday at 96 Tudor St, Hamilton.
Ireland's political leaders have agreed on legislation which will see all workplaces smokefree including pubs and bars by the end of the year.
"That means if Australia's Irish pubs and clubs want to be authentically Irish," says SmokeFree '03 coalition spokesperson Terry Noone of the Musicians' Union (himself of Irish descent), "then they should go smokefree at least for the day - and hopefully for good."
Moves towards clean air status by Irish pubs and clubs in Australia (such as smokefree areas and special nights) have been met with customer approval - none reporting any loss of trade.
"Going smokefree would be a great step forward for our hospitality venues," Noone says.
"It would be welcomed by thousands of hospitality employees, including entertainers, who are now working in unhealthy conditions, breathing polluted air for several hours each day or night.
"These workers are enduring dangerous conditions which would not be expected in any other industry. Governments should legislate to protect all workers and create a level playing field for all workplaces, including pubs and clubs.
Noone says it's clear under Occupational Health and Safety laws and the recent Sharp vs Port Kembla RSL case that employers have an absolute duty of care to provide safe workplaces. It's time they met this responsibility - and Irish pubs could lead the way.
"We're even offering a song appropriate to the occasion - a reworking called When Irish Eyes Are Smiling (It's Because We've Gone Smokefree). We're hoping our members will be able to sing it in Irish venues across the land on St Pat's - preferably in tune."
The dispute arose in last August over an allowance payable to workers who handle animal faeces at Taronga Zoo.
The Zoo stopped paying the allowance in July 2002, resulting in bans being placed on the removal of animal faeces from the zoo by the workers.
The Decision from Deputy President Sams forces the Zoo to pay workers the allowance whenever they handle animal or human waste.
The Zoo was arguing that the allowance was only payable when workers were handling human waste.
Australian Workers Union state secretary Russ Collision said the decision is significant in the fact that it forms a precedent for all public sector workers who handle animal waste.
"This is not pleasant work and it is appropriate that it is recognised as duties beyond the general" Mr Collison said.
"I congratulate the AWU members for standing firm during this long-running stink."
Viva La Republic
On the 1st April, the ARM is holding their major fundraiser at Pavilion on the Park in the Domain from 6-9pm. We have a host of great prizes, Ignatius Jones crooning a few tunes and special guest actor Geoff Morrell aka Mayor Col Dunkley from the ABC TV series Grass Roots. (See Monday's The Guide in The Sydney Morning Herald)
Help us raise funds and get things done! We want an Australian as our Head of State!
Come along to the ARM Function see Mayor Dunkely (aka Geoff Morrell) and make this the biggest shindig ever seen this side of Arcadia Waters Shires.
No Development application is required, simply visit our web site at http://www.republic.org.au/ARM-2001/news&events/events.htm for further details.
Concert for HOPE
in support of The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA (supporting Palestinian refugee children in Lebanon)
Featuring the Foveaux String Quartet, Imvano Trio, Robin Wilson and Maria Stojakovich performing
Brahms, Saint Saens, Puccini, Verdi, Beethoven and Mozart
7.30pm (Bar opens at 7.00pm)
Friday March 28
The Studio Theatre
Corner of Whitehorse and Newman Streets, (near Newtown Station) Newtown
The Chifley Research Centre and The Evatt Foundation
invite you to attend a joint public lecture:
Public Participation in the Political Process
COMBATING APATHY - LESSONS FROM THE UK
Matthew Taylor is Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR),
Britain's leading centre left think tank.
Until December 1998 he was Assistant General Secretary of the UK Labour Party. During the 1997 General Election he
was Labour's Director of Policy and a member of the Party's central election strategy team. Matthew has been a county
councillor, a parliamentary candidate, a university research fellow and the director of a unit monitoring policy in the
health service. He is a regular broadcaster and contributor to newspapers and journals, and has written pamphlets and
book chapters on the record of New Labour; state funding of political parties and wider issues of party reform;
democratic renewal; multiculturalism and community cohesion; modernisation of Government; the role of local
councillors; and family friendly working.
6.00 -7.30pm •Thursday 27 March 2003
JUBILEE ROOM •NSW PARLIAMENT HOUSE,SYDNEY
Admission $10;Concession $5 (no bookings required,payment taken at the door)
For more information contact The Chifley Research Centre at [email protected]
or The Evatt Foundation on 02 9385 2966
It is time we overcome our National addiction to the ANZUS alliance. An alliance must be reviewed according to how our ally is behaving.
There is a serious problem for US expansionists and that problem is called North Korea.
By being allied closely to the US and by supporting it we, in effect, make North Korea our enemy. North Korea is an enemy Australia cannot endure. That state posseses intercontinental ballistic missiles. It posseses at least 50 conventional submarines (Romeo and Whiskey class) capable of firing missiles over 1000kms. Already it is making a forceful military claim to its territorial waters.
Even armed with conventional warheads just one of these submarines could potentially destroy all of Australia's major ports. If war broke out in North Asia US bases such as Guam and Okinowa would certainly be attacked. If the US proceeded to bomb North Korean cities nuclear weapons could be used by both sides.
Such is the power of modern weapons that the war could be over in a matter of days.
The international situation is this. North Korea has an alliance with China (1961). The US has alienated its own NATO allies and Russia by preparing to invade Iraq. In fact, the US's military commitment to Iraq, which includes all six of its Aircraft Carrier battle groups is being seen as an opportunity in Pyongyang.
We must not allow ourselves to become the victims of US propaganda and its self generated myth of invincibility. We should not readily believe that the US can fight two major conflicts at once, as it claims.
Futhermore, we must not delude ourselves into believing that the things described above are no longer possible in a more enlightened world. Said Clauswitz "War is politics by other means". Unfortunately that is still how elites and regimes around the world think and act.
Our political leaders owe it to us to disclose fully the military situation based on the intelligence they have which we pay for. It is nonsense, in a democracy, to say that fundamental military facts should be witheld from the public. This is a crucial time for Australia.
For all the talk of "no war", I am writing to ask you to consider, and if possible do all you can with human and financial resources at your disposal, seeking legal action in the Australian court system to directly stop the current move to war against Iraq. I am hearing, at last, an increasing number of talk shows discussing the legality of a war without UN approval. Yet the point seems to be, that once there are dead bodies and screaming injured people on the ground, there may be a case for war crimes prosecution against western leaders.
I can not believe that the talk has not moved to using the judicial system to prevent such crimes. While the concentration of talk seems to be to do with the role of the International Criminal Court, an obvious point is barely touched on. If the Australian government attacks another country, without any constitutional authority, the government, or those responsible for committing our forces to a war, will be committing crimes under Australia's domestic Crimes Acts. Further, the active planning of such a war amounts to a conspiracy to commit those crimes. The threat alone of such a war also amounts to a crime, even if the victims are not within Australia's borders. Prima facie cases can easily be argued.
There must be at least two possible courses of judicial action.
The first would be to seek an injunction to prevent the PM and his government from continuing to threaten an ultra vires war. Any Australian citizen should have standing to request such an order, given that every Australian will suffer (and is already suffering) the various costs of war.
The second would be to prosecute the PM (asap) and others for a number of crimes already committed, including conspiracy to commit murder. Clearly the PM has no intention of killing individual Iraqi citizens, though such a result will be the obvious consequence of a war. There can be few cases where reckless disregard for life can be so obvious. Without power to order an attack, any consequent death is a murder. There is no protection for the PM if he acts without lawful authority, and there is no need to resort to war crimes legislation to mount a prosecution.
Prosecution for existing crimes can and should be put into the hands of all state and territory DPPs. If the DPPs do not act, then the option is available for individual citizens to prosecute. A joint presentation from your, and other organisations may be sufficient impetus for the DPPs, hopefully in unison, to consider the bases for prosecution.
If you mean what you say about avoiding a war; if you believe that such a war will lead to war crimes; if you do not want to shout at deaf ears until blood appears on our TV screens once again, then please act on this letter. Please use whatever resources or contacts you can, to at least put the PM and the cabinet on notice of the above possibilities.
I obtained your email address from the internet after seeing your organization as a signatory to the no-war petition put to the senate last September.
I do not need a reply as I hope that what I have written speaks for itself, though my contact details will be provided on request.
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
With live-to-America John Howard smirkingly signing up for the Bush doctrine of assassination and judicial murder, can it be long before he is admitted to the Inner Sanctum, the White House prayer breakfast?
It is widely believed that the President and the lovely Miss Condoleeza Rice devote these meetings to practical matters - perhaps tearing the un-American and clearly communistic Sermon on the Mount from a few pallets of Bibles.
As they passed each copy to Australia's PM, with keen lawyer's eye and a trusty craytex he could cleanse Leviticus 20 of the non-core commandments, i.e, those concerning murder, theft, bearing false witness and coveting thy neighbour's ox.
When does he get his Green Card? We're all waiting.
Peter Ian (Jack) Ridout Woodforde
TODAY I WILL VETO HOWARD'S WAR
Today I will stand up against the Howard Government and apply MY veto against the war through acts of peaceful, civil disobedience.
Today I will act to frustrate and deny its warmongering.
I will thwart its military aggression and crimes against humanity.
Today I will act non-violently to obstruct the use of weapons of mass destruction against the innocent people of Iraq.
I will exercise my right to defy the Power that has stifled parliamentary debate, ignored the will of the Australian people, and shown contempt for the Constitution and traditions of our democracy.
Today I will demonstrate that I am a free person although my Prime Minister is a slave and accessory to the war crimes of the President of the United States.
Mr John Howard has forfeited, through his criminal actions against humanity and offences against international law, any right to my loyalty or obedience.
Today I exert my right to veto the Prime Minister's insane and dangerous plans for military aggression and his denial of democracy, freedom, justice and peace and law.
I join with other people of peace and goodwill to defy those who at present hold and misuse the trappings of Power and to oppose them in every possible peaceable fashion in the cause of Peace and in the name of Humanity.
Today I stand up to resist with all my faculties that Power's arrogance and appropriation without justification of my right to live in peace with the peoples of the world.
Weapons of mass destruction will not make me, or my brothers and sisters, falter in our purpose to render the warmongers humble and to defeat their bloody ambitions.
Today I will veto John Howard's war.
In consideration of the Hue and Cry from candidates from all political
parties on issues such as the environment and Law and Order, one can only look on with bewilderment at the outrageous hypocrisy and disregard for our legislation as displayed by some politicians, particularly in regard to self interest promotion.
On a recent drive along Forrester Road Lethbridge Park, I was astounded at the myriad of political posters nailed or otherwise attached to public property namely telegraph poles. These poster were not only distracting, they were visually polluting and from my understanding illegally placed.
It is my understanding that these posters were not only in breach of the Summary Offences Act 1988, but also the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912 section 151b.
While my own state electorate area of Penrith appears to be free from this blatant vandalism under the cover of an election, one must ponder on the selective application of our law in this particular area, by all those entrusted and paid, to ensure adherence to our law.
I wait with bated breath to see if the current one-upmanship in the Law and Order stakes results in a prosecution of the offenders.
Summary Offences Act 1988 (Section 9)
A person shall not -
a) affix a placard or paper upon any premises; or
b) willfully mark, by means of chalk, paint or any other material, any premises, so that the placard, paper or marking is within view from a public place, unless he or she first obtained the consent, if the premises are occupied, of the occupier or person in charge of the premises or, if the premises are unoccupied, of the owner or person in charge of the premises.
Maximum Penalty: 4 points
Parliamentary Electorates and Elections ACT 1912 -41 Section 151B Exhibitions of posters.
(2A) A person shall not post up, or cause to be posted up, a poster:
(a) on or within any premises occupied or used by, or under the control or management of :
(i) the Crown, any instrumentality or agency of the Crown, or any statutory body representing the Crown or any other body prescribed by the regulations as a statutory body representing the Crown, or
(ii) any local authority, or.....local authority means a council or a county council within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993
Local authority means a council or a county council within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993
Poster means any electoral matter printed, drawn or depicted on any material whatsoever and where any electoral matter is printed, drawn or depicted in sections, such sections, both severally and collectively, shall be deemed to be a poster.
Premises includes any structure, building, vehicle or vessel or any place, whether built on or not , and any part thereof.
The prescribed size means an area that is not more than 8000 square centimeters.
Both sides want you to believe they are tough on crime and support nurses and teachers; and they're spending millions telling you how they'll spend millions doing exactly what their focus groups tell them you want them to do. That's how modern marketing works.
Of course, the union movement is loyally backing the brand it created, though with an enthusiasm dimmed somewhat by the battle over workers compensation and stalled progress on key issues like labour hire, casualisation of the public sector and the thorny issue of rural rail.
Few unions are openly backing Labor; while union resources are committed to targeted seats with financial and logistical support, this is has become a love that cannot be spoken.
But despite the blandness of the campaign and the imperiousness of Labor's political leadership, the union movement offers its support and endorsement of the Carr Government with good reason.
As the Tories let slip in the heat of the election battle, a Coalition Government would attack unionised labour in a way never before contemplated in Australia through the use of 'union recognition ballots' which would strip members of the right to be represented by their union in wage negotiations.
Meanwhile, for all its faults, the Carr Government can point to a harmonious industrial relations framework that has delivered real benefits to the broader community, not least the oft-cited achievement of an Olympics delivered on time and under budget.
And, despite appearances, the Carr Government has pushed the envelope in the important area of purchasing policy, with landmark codes requiring the Department of Public Works and Services to look at a firm's industrial practices before awarding it lucrative contracts.
It's just that the government has been at pains to keep these good deeds out of the media for fear they may upset the corporate horses that are bankrolling the current advertising orgy.
It's this gap between genuine progress for working families and the carefully constructed public message that has made it hard for unions to sing this government's praises. In a battle for the middle ground, the best parts of Labor must remain hidden.
The temptation for unionists is to say a pox on both the big parties' houses and vote Green; but the only winner will be John Brogden and his radical IR agenda.
In contrast, a third term Carr Government will have the sort of political authority that few could command. The challenge for the broader labour movement will then be to build on the successes of term two to mould a Labor agenda we can be proud to support in four years time.