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Issue No. 173 04 April 2003  

The Fog of War
As the War Without a Mandate proceeds apace, any notion of a domestic political agenda has become surplus to requirements.


Interview: Picking Up The Peaces
Walk Against the War Coalition convenor Bruce Childs outlines the challenge for the peace movement in the lead up to Palm Sunday.

Unions: The Royal Con
Jim Marr argues the Cole Commission can only be taken seriously by people kept ignorant of the way it actually operated.

National Focus: Around the Grounds
Unions maintain the pressure for peace as the upcoming organising conference takes on added significance, reports Noel Hester.

Economics: The Secret War on Trade
Overseas-based multi-nationals are coming after our film industry, electricity, water, pharmaceutical benefits and even childcare. Or are they? Nobody knows, as Jim Marr reports.

International: United Front
Workers and their unions around the world have possibly never been as united in their commitment to campaign together against the War in Iraq, writes Andrew Casey

History: Confessions of a Badge Collector
Bill Pirie has one of the largest collections of trade union badges in the world. After 20 years the collection now numbers some 6,000 badges.

Politics: Stalin�s Legacy
Fifty years ago last month Josef Stalin died. How could it be that a democratic and socialist revolution produced one of the monsters of the twentieth century, asks Leonie Bronstein.

Review: Such Was Not Ned�s Life
The life of Ned Kelly is what we in the world of journalism term a �ball tearing yarn� so why have writers of the movie adaptation felt so impelled to dress it up with fiction, asks Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Osama's Top Recruiter
Through our extensive intelligence networks, we have managed to track down the top recruiter for the global terror network of Osama bin Laden.

Satire: Woolworths CEO Denied Bonus After Company Posts Profit
Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett was devastated today to report an 18.3% rise in profit under his management over the last year.


 Cole Launches Civil Rights Assault

 Protests Target Arncliffe �Shocker�

 Commerce Swallows DIR

 Abbott, Bosses Turn Guns on Low Paid

 Fat Cats Should Justify Salaries - LHMU

 Black Humour for a Dark Issue

 Minister on Threats, Coercion

 Bosses Stonewall Union Dues Ruling

 Private Hospitals Pay Out on 15 Percent

 Councils on Hotel Workers� Agenda

 Sharon Hammers Israeli Workers

 Shangri-La Blue Ends

 Inaugural Orwell Awards

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
Factional Free-For-All
Chris Christodoulou looks at the fallout from the selection of the new Carr Ministry and what it means to the factional warlords.

The Locker Room
The Best Season Since Last Year
Phil Doyle goes trudging through the mud in search of the heart of the matter beneath the corporate biffo

Books on Bombs
In times like these, reading inevitably turns to America and war. Chris White wades through Pilger, Chomsky, Eco, Moore and Vidal.

Postcard from Harvard
Labor Council's Michael Gadiel was elected to give the valedictory speech to this year's Harvard Trade Union Program.

 The Rule of Law
 Trots Bomb Back
 Tom's Turn
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The Fog of War

As the War Without a Mandate proceeds apace, any notion of a domestic political agenda has become surplus to requirements.

Instead, we see a government attempting to slip through legislative nasties under the cloak of combat, while using the war as an excuse to stall any semblance of a progressive social agenda.

At least that's how Tony Abbott plays the war game. There he was this week, slipping through changes to outlaw bargaining fees, twisting the arms of Democrat Senators who realise a federal election is the necessary next step on their journey to extinction.

He's also been flexing his muscles as he cashes in his $60 million investment in union-bashing (otherwise known as the Cole Royal Commission), to threaten essential state services if they don't embrace his neo-con industrial agenda.

But that's not all; the commitment to the war means there's no longer any money for the Prime Minister's much anticipated work and family package; meaning the bullets raining on Iraqi families are coming directly from the pockets of our working mums.

And then there is the final salvo, employers this week claiming that the economic uncertainty caused by the war meant that a wage rise for our lowest paid was out of the question. No prizes for guessing where this bright idea came from!

This is what happens when a nation's attention is diverted. The demand for good government disintegrates in the face of the 'crisis' abroad; administrations that have run out of ideas bask in the actions of their military.

All of which makes the efforts of the peace movement in mobilising mainstream opposition to the war all the more vital; with the upcoming Palm Sunday rally a key test of the campaign's longevity.

Unlike most political struggles, the anti-war movement began with a critical mass. Our challenge is not to build support for our cause but to hold it. The leadership of the various religious groups has been conspicuous. Palm Sunday is their day.

That the movement has had disagreements over the past week has been disruptive, but should not detract attention form the main game: keeping pressure on John Howard to bring our troops home and ensure the UN has control of any post-war reconstruction.

At the end of the day, it is our effectiveness in maintaining pressure on the Howard Government that will determine whether the substantial effort of all involved in the peace movement has been expended in an effective way.

Peter Lewis



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