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Issue No. 178 16 May 2003  

Shit Sandwich
It took a few well-chosen comments by the sole Howard Government minister with a grasp on reality - or at least a penchant for a bit of takeaway - to blow Peter Costello’s Federal Budget to pieces.


Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney’s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week’s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney’s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

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.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.


 Costello Whacks Women

 Abbott Picks Fight with Nurses

 Simon Slams Big End

 Hands-Off Howard Loses Seamen

 Safety Net Slips Disabled

 Clerks Put Boot In

 Bank Hold-Ups Expose Compo Failings

 Low Paid Dirty on Lawyer

 WIN Tactics a Big Turn Off

 ABC Jobs On Line

 Della’s Dallying Could Cost Miners

 Ministers of Misinformation Scoop Orwells

 Death Squads Strike

 Currawong Cottages Waiting for You

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who’s counting.

Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.

 Ron The Tool
 In Defence of Tom
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Tool Shed

Let Them Eat Junk

The Minister For Hungry Children, Amanda Vanstone, takes up a place in the tool shed this week after telling it like it is.


Food buff Amanda Vanstone had her fingers on the pulse when she let the world know that $5.00 would be lucky to buy a sandwich and a milkshake.

Vanstone, who showed a surprising lack of understanding of what exactly a sandwich and a milkshake costs in the real world, was celebrating the governments generosity in the area of welfare.

"Five dollars - hell, what will it buy you?" said the Minister for Relentless and Grinding Poverty, Senator Vanstone. "A sandwich and a milkshake if you're lucky."

And how lucky are we to have this Federal Government? If it wasn't for bad luck we'd have no luck at all.

While welfare - or caring about anyone who earns under $500 000 a year - is obviously not the Federal Governments strong suit it was enlightening to see that they do have a grasp of the new math. Henceforth it is understood that $5 is not being too generous while $4 is - well, at least according to Federal Treasurer and Prime Minister in waiting and waiting, Peter Costello.

It certainly was a generous budget if you are on the BRW Rich List and your offspring are too thick to get into Law at Sydney Uni. Now you can buy them a seat at a good firm while the great unwashed watch their living standards, health system, education and the environment all go down the tubes.

Indeed the upper echelons, who to the unenlightened merely appear as parasitic larcenous thugs, will have a tad more than the $5 being shoveled at those welfare recipients that curtsy correctly. With their $11 tax cut they can look forward to being able to splash out on the corkage at Scully's.

This is what is known as a responsible budget.

As well as offering dietary advice to the less fortunate the Marie Antoinette of Australian politics, Senator Amanda Vanstone, has defended the government's responsibility while not actually indicating who is responsible. When it has been established just who is responsible people can look forward to charges being pressed.

Vanstone urged Australians not to blow their $4 on Milkshakes, Sandwiches Pate De Fois Gras or Larks Uvulas; or even most of an AMP share. In these hard times when so many Australians are doing it tough, the Minister for the Deserving Poor asked Australians to think of those in greater need, and to give their tax cut to the banks.

According to South Australia's answer to Mother Theresa, by repaying our mortgages sooner we can now look forward to the board of directors of the National Australia Bank being able to rescue their children from the threat of poverty - on Hayman Island. This is certainly a slap in the face for those that think that the Minister for Breaking The People's Spirit doesn't care.

Our tool of the week is correct in suggesting that $5 for those on welfare is next to useless, but I doubt that they'll be dropping it on a sandwich and a milkshake - most will put it towards trying to get the kids new shoes before winter sets in.


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