The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
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
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees



Cole Launches Civil Rights Assault

Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terence Cole has gone outside his terms of reference to push for draconian changes to the Royal Commissions Act.

Cole wants the Government to boost the already sweeping powers of extra-judicial inquires whilst curtailing the rights of individual citizens. He underpins his prescription with calls for large fines and long prison sentences.

Civil libertarians are most concerned by a recommendation which would require "any person" to provide a "statement of information" about his or her "knowledge" to a Royal Commission. Similar provisions, requiring all-embracing statements rather than answers to specific questions, were at the heart of the notorious US phenomenon that became known as McCarthyism.

Failure to provide such a statement, or omissions, would leave the maker open to fines or imprisonment.

In a related move, Cole wants the power to prohibit Australians from disclosing the fact that "he, she or it" has received a summons or even spoken with a Royal Commission investigator, "subject only to the right to disclose this information for the purpose of obtaining legal advice".

This provision would have silenced voices of dissent that have embarrassed his Commission with claims they had made sworn allegations of illegalities against non-union parties only to be told their testimonies were not wanted.

Cole wants this point reinforced by $2000 fines and two-year prison sentences.

Another significant broadening of Royal Commission powers, already much wider than in the UK or New Zealand, would be achieved by acting on his recommendation to whittle away judicial overview related to terms of reference.

The Commissioner recommends "that no challenge may be made to a notice of summons on the basis that the information sought does not fall within the Terms of Reference of a Royal Commission, except on the basis that the notice or summons is not a bona fide attempt to investigate matters into which the Commission is authorised to inquire".

At essence, witnesses or parties would be required to answer questions, provide information, or supply lists even when the information fell outside the Commission's terms of reference.

Another recommendation could come to be known as the Kingham provision. The Commissioner was greatly displeased, even enraged, by the Victorian CFMEU secretary's refusal to supply a list of dlegates who had undergone training and the names and contact details of trainers.

Cole referred Kingham, who argued it was important to protect the privacy of rank and file activists after learning he had been followed around Melbourne and Commission officers had had access to his and his family's bank accounts, for prosecution under the existing Royal Commissions Act which provides for six months jail or a $1000 fine.

Cole wants those sanctions boosted to a $20,000 fine or a five year prison sentence for anyone failing to answer questions or produce documents.

All-up the Royal Commissioner is seeking 11 changes to the Act. His report provided the Government with five paragraphs of explanation.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties secretary, Cameron Murphy, said his organisation "totally opposed" Cole's wishlist.

"There is no demonstrated need for increased fines or sanctions," he said. "Royal Commissions are nothing more than a witch hunt. As they exist, they go against the grain of all the principles of natural justice."


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 173 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online