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Issue No. 175 24 April 2003  

Domestic Relations
As the fog of war lifts and attention returns to the domestic phase we find a Federal Opposition imploding as the Prime Minister prepares for the final putsch toward what he sees as his historical mission.


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.


 Medicare Bombshell – Bosses To Pay

 Another Cole Man Bites The Dust

 Cheap Indian on Telstra Menu

 Legal Tussle Looms Over Email Laws

 Recycled Training Stitch-Up Exposed

 Contractors Code Fires a Blank

 Sweet Talk – Big Business Style

 Bosses, Workers Unite on Grey Threat

 ANZ Workers Want Cut of Billion Dollar Profit

 Time for Death Penalties

 Union Exhibition for Wollongong

 Nurses in Staffing Stand-off

 North Coast Jobs Saved

 Super Success in Pilbara

 Howard Attacks Education - Again

 May Day Festivities


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.

 Tom's Cunning Plan
 Robert's Conquest?
 Success Breeds Contempt
 Join the Dots
 Still Walking
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Domestic Relations

As the fog of war lifts and attention returns to the domestic phase we find a Federal Opposition imploding as the Prime Minister prepares for the final putsch toward what he sees as his historical mission.

With John Howard's self-appointed date to consider his political future fast approaching, the federal ALP should be applying maximum political pressure on him to end his dismal and dangerous rule.

Instead, it is as though they were begging him to stay on, secure in the knowledge that the hardline conservative agenda that he spent so long hiding, can finally flower in the broad daylight.

Howard has already succeeded in killing off the Republic, halting the drive towards Reconciliation and removing our regional interests from Asia to create a US-sponsored Fortress Australia.

Domestically he has introduced the GST,launched the most concerted attack on organised labour ever witnessed, rivalled only by his assault on welfare recipients.

He now turns his attention to the remaining two legacies of the Whitlam and Hawke-Keating Governments: universal health care and access to higher education.

With Medicare, Howard's oft-quoted ambition to gut Medicare is within his grasp; by lifting restrictions on the fees GPs can charge so that only the Medicare rebate is a universal right, Howard will have killed universal health care by stealth.

What this means for workers is almost inevitably a US-style system where there are two tiers of labour market, those with access to health care as part of their salary package and those who are forced to rely on a substandard public health system.

Of course, those with access to private health care will be those with access to higher education - the other target in the Howard cross-hairs.

The threefold agenda of full tertiary fees, research funding tied to a radical IR agenda and voluntary student unionism, combine to create a user-pay system where the wealthy can buy their way into degrees and knowledge becomes a line item on the balance sheet.

Both agendas will be a focus of the upcoming Federal Budget session and will become political issues when enabling legislation hist the Senate.

Community alliances are already building around both issues, but the big questions remains whether they will find an effective political advocate who will not only oppose the Howard agenda but propose their own ideas.

Having just witnessed a state election where health and education - as personified by nurses and teachers - were the dominant issues, it's hard to see how Howard can be in anyway comfortable

That he is, is partly due to the War on Iraq, but also the failure of Labor's federal leadership to stake out its territory beyond that of defender of the status quo who will wait for the political tides to change to surf back into office.

At the end of the day, the federal ALP leadership should be a question of who has the grunt - intellectually, politically and popularly - to translate these issues into electoral capital and force Howard to retreat into retirement.

It's more than a battle for the next term of government, it's a fight for the gains that previous Labor Governments made for ordinary Australians - those same Australians who no longer see the ALP as their party.

Peter Lewis



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