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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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Simon Slams Big End

Big business would no longer be able to write off multi-million dollar golden handshakes to CEOs under measures in the Federal ALP’s alternative budget.

Unions see Opposition leader Simon Crean’s promise to hold companies more accountable for the money they pay their executives as an important first step to addressing corporate excess.

In his Speech in Reply Crean promised to end the 30 per cent tax deductibility for companies making redundancy payments over $1 million.

He also vowed to force executives to disclose their pay packages in full, including their share options and strengthen shareholders' rights by giving them a vote on these packages when they are unfair and unreasonable.

The comments come on the eve of the release of a ground-breaking report commissioned by the Labor Council of NSW into executive pay.

The report - 'The Bucks Stop Here' - by academics John Shields, John O'Brien and Michael O'Donnell examines the performance of companies in view of the salaries they pay their CEOs.

A forum on the report will be held next Friday, May 23 at the Carlton Crest Hotel. Speakers will include John Shields, Opposition treasury spokesman Bob McMullan and shareholder activist Stephen Mayne.

For more details contact Mark Morey at email:[email protected]

Crean's New Deal

Other highlights of Crean's Budget in Reply, where he cast the ALP agenda as a 'New deal' for working families, included:

- doubling penalties for companies breaking the Corporations Law.

- cut tax the superannuation contribution tax from 15 per cent to 13 per cent.

- Oppose increases in university fees and block queue-jumping by full-fee paying students

- And, commit funds to rebuilding Medicare bulk-billing, with incentives to doctors who do not charge up front fees.

The ACTU welcomed the measures, saying Simon Crean's plan would help rebuild a fairer society by improving the living standards and opportunities of working people.

"Low and middle income earners in particular will benefit from free GP visits, cheaper medicines and lower education costs," ACTU President Sharan Burrow says.

"Giving people access to bulk billing regardless of their income would restore an essential element of Medicare and save families on average incomes from paying hundreds of dollars a year in extra GP co-payments under the government's plan.

"Stopping the 30% increase in the cost of essential medicines under the government's changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will especially benefit working families experiencing chronic illness."


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