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Issue No. 180 30 May 2003  

Headless Nation
So the Governor-General has voted himself out of the Big House, recognising that his capacity to discharge his duties as Head of State had been fatally compromised by the skeletons in his Yarralumla closet.


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.


 Sanitarium Casts Democracy into Hell’s Fire

 Mouse that Roared

 Abbott: Look After Number One

 Entitlements Revamp – Acid on States

 Strong Stuff – Commission Star in Court

 Think Before You Drink

 Maritime Hero Takes Final Journey

 All Ding but No Gong

 Aged Care in Terminal Condition

 Strathfield Joins War on Shonks

 AMWU Returns to the Fold

 Green Jobs In Offing

 Register for Action

 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.

 Language Most Foul
 Unions Deserve Reputation
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Headless Nation

So the Governor-General has voted himself out of the Big House, recognising that his capacity to discharge his duties as Head of State had been fatally compromised by the skeletons in his Yarralumla closet.

The clamour over the G-G has been driven by the media fascination with sex scandals, the justifiable desire by child protection advocates to expose past cover-ups and Dr Hollingworth own ham-fisted attempts to deal with the controversy.

But what strikes me is how little impact this very public debate has had on the lives of the Australian public he serves.

The Yarralumla crisis has dominated news at a time when significant changes to our way of life are being proposed by a Prime Minister intent on imposing his conservative blueprint on the nation before he leaves the job.

They have pushed the assault on universal health care and accessible higher education off the front pages and nightly news bulletin in a manner so effective, it could not have been calculated.

Yes, the Prime Minister has been exposed yet again as a leader who can not take responsibility for his decisions; but this is mere collateral damage for a leader who is unlikely to face the polls again.

The irony is that the man who saved the constitutional monarchy from the Republicans has now profoundly weakened it through his ill-advised decision to appoint a conservative member of the clergy.

And having ballsed up once, he now refuses to take counsel on the replacement; again exposing the absolute rort that his effusive support for the monarchists cynical campaign against the 'politicians Republic' always was.

While some are spinning the Hollingworth resignation as the fillip to the Republican cause it has needed since the 1999 referendum, I'm not so sure.

The affair has clearly identified again the need to develop a workable mechanism of appointment and removal of our Head of State from office.

But it will take more than a sex scandal to convince Australians that the constitutional status of their Head of State has any impact on their quality of life.

Republicans need to use this event as a catalyst to write a broader story about our national identity, our integrity both diplomatic and economic. All the things that Howard would have us defer elsewhere, along with our sovereignty.

We need to tell a story about how a nation which stands on its own feet would not bow to a Bush or a Blair, make peace with our indigenous population and comes to terms with our unique environment.

Until we are prepared to do so, let's be honest about our constitutional status, stick with the British Royal family and continue to defer to America on everything else.

Peter Lewis



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