John Howard wiped the smirk off Peter Costello's face this week when Howard announced that he would stay on as Prime Minister until he was removed by a coup or hell froze over.
Howard, of course, had no other option but to remain as leader when internal Liberal Party polling showed that Costello was running a close second to a bag of rotten fish guts in the popularity stakes.
Costello, who comes from a class of men that firmly believe that their right to rule is an inherited genetic trait not to be sullied by mere detail such as competence, ability or the minutae of democracy, had dreamt of inflicting himself upon an unsuspecting public since his days as a snitching little trotskyite at university.
Fresh from describing four dollars a week as generous, our Fagin like Treasurer was visibly shaken when he faced the media with all the poise and gravitas of Shane Warne. While his obvious discomfort has brought delight to millions of Australians who actually have to work for a living, Costello's naked ambition will now, no doubt, begin to reveal itself in increasingly erratic behavior from the lying, treacherous fiasco that is the Federal Government.
"I have always put the interests of the party and the nation ahead of my own personal interests and I've been very disciplined about that and I will continue a professional, productive relationship," said Costello with a straight face.
Costello, who will go down in history as 'the man who wasn't there', will probably be overlooked for leadership in the long term in much the same way that John Howard's great idol, Elisabeth Windsor, has hung on to power to keep her loopy son off the throne. Howard, in keeping with a monarchist theme, will probably hang on until he becomes so corrupt, stagnant and cankerous as to make Tony Abbott appear an electable proposition, thus allowing the Australian people the opportunity to have Abbott and Costello running the country and reveal once and for all what a bunch of clowns the Liberal Party really are.
When Howard made his non-core promise that he would step down when he was sixty four it now appears he was, in fact, referring to the treasurer.
Naked ambition is an ugly thing. Treating the working public as dupes and expecting them to rubber stamp deals done in high places is always likely to backfire. What Costello was smoking when he thought he had the ability to lead this country is anyone's guess, but it gives an insight into the delusions that grip our power crazed Treasurer. His psychosis in this regard is not only alarming but probably also clinical. Anyone with a guffawing laugh like Costello's shouldn't be left in charge of a tennis club, let alone the country.
This embarrassing tale of glory without power could only have emerged from a government so sullied and shameless as the current regime. Our Tool Of The Week is a hapless goose who is not even trusted by his own leader (and we use the term leader loosely in this instance).
Well may our Tool Of The Week be depressed about his lot in life, but it pales into insignificance when compared to the depressing thought of him ever becoming leader of this country.
The CFMEU and AMWU this week blew the cover on a hush-hush Allianz campaign to wash its hands of millions of dollars owed victims of dust-related diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Allianz is lobbying vigorously for "occupational claims" to be moved from the Dust Diseases Board to the Workers Compensation Commission. Success would see compensation settlements capped, claims die with the victims, and allow Allianz to shift remaining liability onto the public.
Angry AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, warned the state Government acqueisance would buy a fight.
"Bob Carr has got a lot to answer for over workers comp but he will have a lot more to bloody answer for if he is even contemplating cutting the benefits of victims of these diseases," Bastian said.
"Wharfies, construction workers, metal workers and many others know what it is like to lose a comrade to mesothelioma. It's a horrible, painful death, very hard on the family at the time, and not easy to overcome."
Bastian lashed Allianz for accepting premiums over more than 20 years then trying to shift the burden. He accused it of chasing a "windfall profit".
"This company accepted premiums from asbestos and lagging manufacturers for many years. These funds were invested and the company reaped the profit. The company made a calculated business decision that the number of people it needed to compensate would be less than the profits.
"Allianz has access to the same actuarial information that we do and the bottom line is they made a bad business decision. Their clients killed more people than they estimated," Bastian said.
CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said his union had been made aware of the same industry gossip. He called the proposal "totally unacceptable".
Leading industrial barrister Adam Searle was stunned by the prospect. Searle, chief of staff for IR Minister Jeff Shaw, when Dust Diseases legislation was toughened in 1998 said any watering down would be "disgraceful".
He described diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma as "fast onset and destructive, offering a narrow window to hear and resolve claims".
He said Shaw had been moved to act because of a "concerted campaign by insurance companies to delay claims until victims died and their access to general damages died with them."
Unlike most accidents, Searle explained, victims were generally elderly and often retired, meaning general compensation was a much more significant component of settlements than the economic loss factor which generally dominated.
"This would represent an enormous disgrace," Searle said. "On the day it went through Parliament in 1998 it got glowing write-ups as well as the support of all cross bench MPs."
Labor Council is seeking assurances from state government that it will not entertain Allianz's claims.
CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, confirmed his union had given Dennis Building and the Department of Housing seven days to settle or both would be subject to pickets.
Ferguson also confirmed claims made by the detainee, held at Villawood for the past 21 months, that his union had secured a $25,000 back pay settlement for another Dennis Building employee last year.
Industry sources say the company only agreed to that settlement because its state government contract was up for review at the time.
Company principals are claiming the detainee never worked for Dennis Building but in a letter, translated from the original Korean, the claimant has set out times, dates, names of fellow employees and even their phone numbers.
The letter from Villawood asks the union to secretely contact a former workmate, and permanent resident, but warns - "However, if other fellow know they will stop to meet you.
"Contact carefully ... please find out all the facts and help me."
Ferguson said initial investigations suggested the man had worked for the builder for more than 12 years, without attracting super payments or redundancy entitlements.
Workers Online understands the Korean also suffered serious eye and leg injuries during his time as a builder's labourer without attracting workers compensation payments.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is warning that the US-Australia free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Trade in Services would both threaten local entertainment and arts.
Currently federal legislation mandates a quota of Australian-produced content on television, with federal funds supporting its production.
If these were ruled out by a Free Trade agreement it would spell the end of locally produced drama, comedy and children's television MEAA NSW secretary Jonathon Mill told the Labor Council.
Mill said the United States was the only country in the world that could produce television content without some form of regulation or subsidy.
The Labor Council has given its full backing to the Alliance campaign, with affiliates agreeing to distribute details through workplace delegates.
"We need locally produced drama to tell our stories, define our place in the world," Mill says. "If we allow our culture to be traded away we are destroying something basic in our society."
Mill says one of the difficulties in understanding the threat to Australian culture is that the talks are being held in secret. What is for certain though, is that once a deal is struck all future governments will be bound.
The Alliance is also calling on the Howard Government join 53 other countries including the UK, Canada, new Zealand and France to join the International Network on Cultural Policy, which is developing a charter to protect cultural diversity in the face of the free trade push.
The MEAA is convening workshops around the nation to support their 'Free to be Australian' campaign. Full details at their special campaign website: http://www.alliance.org.au/free2baustralian
Aviation Minister John Anderson confirmed, this week, that Government would not support industry demands for a 28 percent fall in crew-passenger ratios but FAAA official, Daryl Watkins, is warning of a re-think when memories dim of the near disaster on a Melbourne-Launceston flight.
"Those guys were heroes," he said of union members Greg Khan, 38, and Denise Hickson, 25, "they prevented a serious incident.
"Arising from this incident we have been working hard with Martin Ferguson's office on the issue and Anderson has stated it (staffing) won't be changed but, give it a year, and it will come up again."
Airlines had been pushing hard for a reduction from one crew to 36 passengers to a crew member for every 50 customers. Anderson appeared to be on the brink of green-lighting the proposal before a man attempted to crash Qantas Flight 1737 last month.
Armed with filed down 15cm wooden stakes and what appeared to be a silver aerosol can, he attempted to take over the plane mid-flight. Crew and passengers fought to overcome him, with Khan being stabbed through the neck and Hickson slashed across the face.
Watkins said the incident bore out the union's argument that crewing was a central safety issue for air travellers.
The decision of the NSW IRC, ruled that workers employed by Adecco working at Kellogg�s Botany warehouses must be paid the same wages as Kellogg employees.
It puts into practise proposals to link labour hire wages with host conditions that the Carr Government has been sitting on for more than three years.
Unions see the ability of labour hire companies to undercut the wages of host employees as a major driver of the industry. If wages are linked, they argue, companies have less incentive to do away with secure employment.
In case before Justice Patricia Staunton, the National union of workers challenged the decision of Kellogg to contract out its logistics arm to Mayne Logistics, who then sourced labour Adecco.
When Adecco and Mayne sought to apply wages and conditions different to Kellogg, the NUW sought to vary Kellogg award to flow those conditions automatically on to Adecco employees
While Justice Staunton wouldn't amend the Kellogg award, she did make a new award to guarantee employees of Adecco the same wages as Kellogg employees
"Given the commonality of work being performed, I believe it is only fair and reasonable that the employees in the distribution section of the Company's operations at Botany should be paid at the same rates as those persons engaged by Kellogs as casual workers," she ruled.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the ruling is an important step towards the movements goal of getting labour hire workers to be paid to the host employee.
The ten workers, members of Optus� SAP IT team, have been told they will lose their performance bonuses if they don�t train the Singaporean workers who will take their jobs.
The workers, who have been with the company for six to ten years, have also been denied retraining in recent months as Optus moved to nintegrate its purchase of SingTel.
"The workers are distressed and hurt by their treatment from Optus" says Alice Salomon, Branch Organiser with the Communication, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU). "Their treatment exposes the sham of Optus as a good employer"
Optus have been coy about the employment conditions of the Singaporean workers. It is not known if they will be paid the same rates or what visas they hold.
What is known is that the Singapore SAP team are currently in Australia after being flown over for a month of "knowledge transfer".
"Is this what we have to expect for the future of work in Australia? Whenever companies are bought or merged, we lose our jobs here?," Salomon says
In 2000 hundreds of unionists marched through the streets of Orange to save Elecrtrolux and then lobbied the NSW Government for vital mfunding to keep the factory open.
But now the same company is at the forefront of a radical campaign by the Australian Industry Group to trick workers into signing non-union agreements.
The Australian Workers Union says the tactics have amounted to 'union-busting' and include:
- negotiating directly with workers at lunch time barbeques rather than through the official negotiating committee.
- having police throw union officials off the site while coordinating legally protected action
- restricting delegates who are on the negotiating committee to their work stations
- spreading lies throughout the community about the progress of the negotiations
- conducting secret ballots
AWU's Matt Thistlewaite says that the attitude of Electrolux is a slap in the face for the workers who took a stand for the company's future.
"Electrolux has joined the AiG in a campaign of 'pattern resistance'," Thistlewaite says. "While employers whine about unions mounting pattern bargaining they seem happy to block every reasonable suggestion we are putting forward in the current wage round."
Thistlewaite said the AiG has instructed employers across the west of the state to reject any increase above four per cent of wages; any improvement to long service leave; any contribution to NEST to protect entitlements'; any improvement to carers leave and any superannuation contribution improvements.
Speaking for the first time since the 1999 West Hoxton accident that left him and workmate, Alan Milson, battling for their lives and facing years of surgery, the ETU member called the cutbacks "wrong and unfair".
"There will be genuine people, like myself and Al, injured or disfigured in the future, who will lose out because of the changes they have made," Ware said. "That is wrong."
In some ways, he said, he had been fortunate because he was injured before the Carr Government forced its changes through and had been compensated under the old regime.
Ware was awarded $2.6 million by the Supreme Court. His lawyer, Terry Goldberg, estimates anyone similarly injured and disfigured today would lose $1,276,000, nearly half that amount, to changes authored by Industrial Relation Minister John Della Bosca.
The Supreme Court awarded Ware $450,000 for future economic loss and $488,000 for home and other care necessitated by severe burns, the amputation of his arm, extensive plastic surgery, lifelong high blood pressure, heart problems, and ongoing neck, shoulder, hand, knee and leg injuries. Neither of these compensations is any longer available.
He would also have taken substantial cuts for losses already incurred and "medical and other expenses".
His payout has already been defrayed by medical bills, legal costs, reimbursing workers comp for all its payments and, three years after the incident, he faces further complicated surgery.
His prosthetic arm costs $25,000 and batteries to operate it are $650 a throw. He has had to change cars because he is restricted to automatic vehicles with power steering.
Most significantly, Ware has put money aside for potential advances in surgery and prosthetics that would improve his quality of life.
Researchers, for example, are working on an artificial limb that could offer wrist movement, estimated cost at this point, $100,000. Through a lifetime, you might need four, five or six. The ultimate would be a prosthetic that gave five-finger dexterity.
Ware lives life as it is but he is interested, thanks to Workers Comp pre-Della Bosca, in medical developments that could make it better for him and his family.
"I have got to invest that money for the future," he explained.
Labour Council will review the practice, established by employer demand in the late 1980s, when fees on personal accounts were minimal. Since banks picked up millions of forced customers, however, they have rocked them with a vast array charges
The big-five Australian banks extraced billions of dollars off customers in fees alone, last year.
The NSW Nurses Association urged action on the charges after members complained about fee hikes in tandem with branch closures that have severely restricted personal access to their wages.
Several unions negotiated clauses requiring employers to foot bank charges in the wake of compulsory direct crediting but those compensations have failed to keep pace with steepling fees.
To get their message across, CPSU members delivered a specially prepared bottle of "Bin 3000" wine to CEO Ziggy Switkowski.
Bin 3000 is described on the label as a rather harsh drop with '...a coldness of heart, matured in an oak boardroom and featuring a lack of compassion, consideration and vision.'
The CPSU's Stephen Jones says the rally was part of a growing campaign of opposition to Telstra's rampant job slashing.
"Telstra staff are saying enough is enough. How can a company which continues to make record profits, $3.6 billion last year, justify these cuts. Apart from the effect on employees and their families, the cuts have impacted on Telstra's services to customers. And they're increasing charges" said Jones.
As part of the campaign, CPSU activists are targeting footy fans at tonight's Kangaroos v Richmond game at Telstra Dome in Melbourne.
"The Telstra Dome holds more than 45,000 - which is 5,000 less than the number of people Telstra have axed over the last decade. So as punters look out across at the stadium tonight, we hope they'll get a sense of the scale of Telstra's relentless job-cutting program.
More info: www.cpsu.org/telstra_campaign
Branch secretary, Nick Lewocki, confirmed lawyers would be studying a Telegraph editorial over the weekend that accused his union of "contempt" for the Waterfall Inquiry, "attempting to control the flow of evidence", and "deceitful behaviour".
A fired-up Lewocki defended his organisation's actions, particularly over advice given an injured guard, to Labor Council delegates.
"Our membership is frustrated and angry," he said. "We do not have contempt for the Inquiry, nothing could be further from the truth. This union has fully co-operated to ensure that what needs to come out of the Inquiry comes out of the Inquiry.
"We look forward to the Inquiry's recommendations to make sure that the Railways are safe for the people of NSW and our members.
"Mr van Kessell, our member, the guard, was seriously injured. He was in hospital shocked, and in great pain when the police chose to ask for a statement. We simply advised our member he should clarify under which powers the police officer was requesting the statement be made."
Lewocki said van Kessell could have been required to give evidence to a police inquiry, a coronial inquiry, under the Rail Safety Act, by the employer, or, by the special commission set up to investigate.
Mr van Kessell, he said, had come to the inquiry now, not because the union had asked him not to but because he had been in hospital and couldn't attend earlier.
Lewocki said careful examination of the transcripts failed to bear out anti-union claims aired by the newspaper.
Diana Ivanovski said she protested to management but her complaints fell on deaf ears.
"They made a decision that, regardless of my condition, I would be docked leave without pay. I had to log off [the computer] when I went to the toilet and then log back on again when I came back so they could monitor it," she said.
"They have said 'we shouldn't have done that', but it's too late now - the damage is done. It placed a lot of stress on me and my family," said Diana.
Diana contacted the CPSU, who chased Stellar for the $100 docked from her wages over two months.
But CPSU spokeswoman Larissa Andelman said that it is more than just the money that is at stake, that people should be outraged by the firm's behaviour.
"People like Diana work hard and do a good job for these companies. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," she said.
"What happened to her is all too common in the call-centre industry,"
Ms Andelman said the CPSU is working closely with call-centre staff to expose "these appalling management practices" and shame employers into making the industry a better place to work.
"We applaud Diana's courageous decision to speak out. The more often these practices are exposed, the less likely they will happen in the future," she said.
Mrs Ivanovski wants a written apology from Stellar, which operates a call centre service for Telstra, before she returns to work. She said she was made to feel guilty for being pregnant.
"In the job you talk constantly on the phone and your voice dries up and in my condition you drink because the baby needs water. But I felt that I couldn't drink at work because I would have to go to the toilet," said Mrs Ivanovski.
Stellar spokesman John Zisis told Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper that the company had made a mistake. "The human resource people said it was an error and an apology was made," he said.
Both Tian Chua and Hishamuddian were detained without trial, together with four others--the ISA Six--under the notorious Internal Security Act (ISA) in June 2001, for planning to topple the government through militant means--charges they all denied.
'We feel relief, but it is not yet freedom. The freedom will come when the ISA is abolished,' Tian Chua said.
'There are many more, more than 100 people still detained in Kamunting under the ISA. Until this law is repealed and put in the graveyard we will continue to fight,' Hishamuddian added.
They were part of the 'reformasi' group campaigning for the release of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibraham when they were arrested and detained.
Tian Chua is a vice president of the opposition party--Keadilan, headed by Anwar Ibraham's wife Wan Azizah, while Hishamuddin Rais is an activist and Malaysiakini columnist-cum-filmmaker. Both have lived in Australia--Tian Chua studied at the University of NSW and Hishamuddian was in Australia briefly in the late 70s.
In a surprise move, their two years detention were not extended by the Home Minister--the Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.
Tian Chua and Hishamuddin were informed of their release from the ISA late on Sunday 31 May. But their released had to be delayed until they appear for bail applications in the Kuala Lumpur court to face separate charges of unlawful assemblies. Their charges will be heard later in the year.
Tian Chua and Hishamuddin thanked their supporters in Malaysia and abroad for their support. They believe international pressure and the increasing awareness in Malaysia were the key to their release.
'I am very glad and I would like to thank everyone in Australia for their solidarity,' Tian Chua said. Tian Chua is confident the solidarity that have been built on the ISA campaign will continue in all other aspects so that 'Australia, Malaysia and all other South East Asian nations will unite together to create a zone of peace and human rights.' Tian Chua hopes to make a visit to Australia soon.
Fatima Mahfoud is visiting Australia and New Zealand to garner support for independence for her North African homeland that has been under the control of Morocco for the past 26 years.
Mahfoud will outline the history of the struggle, highlighting the plight of Saharawi people who have been forced to live in refugee camps controlled by the Morrocans.
"The closest parallel in recent years was the plight of the East Timorese under Indonesian rule," Mahfoud says. "We do not have the right to teach our culture or our language; we ware treated as second class citizens in our own land.
The West Saharans have been working for independence through the United Nations, with former US Secretary of State James Baker playing a mediating role.
But fears are growing that with the breakdown of UN processes in the lead-up to the war on Iraq, the ability to deliver on Western Sahara could be compromised.
"The hope of my people is that Western Sahara can become a rallying point for the international community to rebuild consensus after the turmoil of recent times," Mahfoud says
The Sydney talks follows meeting with MPs in Canberra and New Zealand, with meetings in Melbourne to follow.
Hear Fatima Mahfoud speak:
- Sydney Uni Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, 10 June 12.30 - 2.00 pm
- Public Meeting at Sydney Trades Hall, Goulburn Street 10 June 6 - 7 pm
- Politics in the Pub on Friday 13 June, 6 - 7.45 pm
A forum with the ALP IT and Communications Committee Open Source: Where Should Labor Stand.
Hosted by the Minister for IT, Hon. John Della Bosca and will be addressed by a range of speakers from Industry, media and academia.
What is open source? Will it revolutionise IT or is all just hype? Can government policy influence the market to promote Australian jobs? The forum will explore and consider whether there is a role for Labor in the debate.
Details: 7.00pm on Wednesday 25 June 2003, in the Theatrette at NSW Parliament House.
CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL FOR THE SAFETY OF AUNG SAN SUU KYI AND FOR ALL DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS IN BURMA
The Burmese community will hold a candle light vigil on Friday to remember the many people of Burma who were deliberately attacked and killed by members of the junta-backed Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA)and hardened convicts disguised as monks on 30 May, 2003 in Upper Burma
We will be remembering
a.. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who sustained serious injuries
b.. U Tin Oo and National League for Democracy (NLD) members whose whereabouts have not been disclosed by the Junta,
c.. the families torn apart under Burma's brutal military dictatorship;
d.. The political activists who have died in prisons, in the torture chambers and in the slave-labor camps.
e.. The ordinary people of Burma who have been impoverished by their rulers.
Information received from reliable sources is that 70 people have been killed and more than 200 of National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders including Vice-Chairman U Tin Oo and General Secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and supporters were seriously injured. Following the attacks, they have been held incommunicado. All senior NLD leaders in Rangoon and other cities have been put under house arrest and all NLD offices have been sealed and shut down.
"Today Burma is rapidly heading towards political, economic and social crises. People of Burma are likely moving towards confrontation. If it is so, it is critical that international community moves swiftly to support
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the population or we will see another massacre", said Dr, Myint Cho, Media Spokesperson of the Burmese community.
The Burmese community in Australia asks the free people of the world to use their freedom to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of Burma.
The candle light vigil will be held at St. Andrew's Church Square, next to Sydney Town Hall on Friday, 6th June, from 6:30 pm.
Dear Workers Online,
Ross Gittens last Saturday repeated his mantra about globalisation and its supposed benefits for the underdeveloped world. He, also as usual, slammed environmentalists and the left for opposing globalisation, saying they preferred to keep the poor poor rather than ruin the environment.
A paper blowing holes in the World Bank reports that claim inequality is lessening should be Gittens required reading for the next few weeks, rather than the tiresome economic rationalist documents he usually relies upon that are pushed his way by Treasury, the Productivity Commission, free traders like Alan Oxley (who also sent us a missive about the US Australia free Trade Talks).
George Monbiot points us towards the paper by economist Sanjay Reddy and the philosopher Thomas Pogge demonstrates that the World Bank's methodology is so flawed that its calculations cannot possibly be correct.
Monbiot says "the Bank's calculations suffer, the paper suggests, from several fatal deficiencies. The most obvious of these is that its estimate of the purchasing power of the poor is based on the measure of their ability to buy any of the goods and services an economy has to offer: not only food, water and shelter, but also airline tickets, pedicures and personal fitness training. The problem is that while basic goods are often more expensive in poor nations than they are in rich ones, services tend to be much cheaper, as the wages of the people providing them are lower.
If, for example, one dollar in the US can purchase either the same amount of staple foods that 30 rupees can buy in India, or the equivalent of three rupees' worth of services (such as cleaning, driving or hairdressing), then a purchasing power parity calculation which averages these figures out will suggest that someone in possession of 10 rupees in India has the same purchasing power as someone in possession of one dollar in America. But the extremely poor, of course, do not purchase the services of cleaners, drivers or hairdressers. A figure averaged across all the goods and services an economy can provide, rather than just those bought by the poor, makes the people at the bottom of the heap in this example appear to be three times richer than they are."
The Bank would derive a far more accurate view of the purchasing power of the poor if it measured only the costs of what they buy, rather than those of what richer people in the same economies buy. Complete figures do not yet exist, but Reddy and Pogge's initial calculations, based on the cost of bread and cereals, suggest that the Bank's analysis might have underestimated the number of the world's people living in absolute poverty by some 30-40%.
As the service sector expands in poor nations, the Bank's figures will create the impression that the purchasing power of the poor is increasing, whether or not their real economic circumstances have changed. The same false trend is established by a shift to the service sector in rich nations, as one dollar there will then buy a smaller proportion of the total of available goods and services. The RELATIVE purchasing power per dollar of the people of poor nations is increased by this measure, even though their absolute cost of living remains unchanged. When house prices boom in New York, the shanty-dwellers of Lusaka appear to get richer."
Worse still, the World Bank does not even include China or India in the survey it conducted, so approximately one third of the world's population was left out, the two most populous nations on the planet.
The lesson for all the globalisation gurus is that they have nothing to base their claims of declining poverty as trade expands on. What we have instead is evidence from real people in all countries of the world whose standards of living, rights, quality of water, food and clothing are suffering as multinational companies and a rampant US military assert themselves.
Contra Ross Gittens and many others, anti-globalisation protestors are the true internationalists, seeking equality and fairness, not blood and money.
Gittens article was in the Sydney Morning Herald on 31st May 2003
Monbiot paper is entitled Rich In Imagination. First published in The Guardian 6th May 2003
You and the labour movement are making a big mistake in attacking Abbott in this way. It's a left version of the conservative's negative campaign. There is an antidote to negative campaigns (its called continuous policy development) and Abbott is starting to make major in-roads in traditional left spheres of influence because of his innovative ideas about social enterprise. This is ignored while you attack him as a Satan.
I can only see harm for the left and the labour movement from this
strategy. I don't believe Labor and the Left should ever employ negative campaign tactics.
The conservatives are so far ahead at a national level because they have the capacity to run negative campaigns (Howard) which the left and labour movement have no capacity to counter. They also have policy development blooming in areas (Abbott) where the left and labour are no where to be seen.
Is this stuff even on WOL's radar screen?
I would like to comment on Bob Gould's "open letter" which appeared in issue 176.
The full text of my article "NOT IN YOUR NAME INDEED" in 'The Australian' may be viewed on the Left pro-war website www.lastsuperpower.net/
I supported the US-led war against the Iraqi regime because I oppose fascist dictatorships of any kind, including those originally established by the US itself. I do not accept the logic or the morality of the viewpoint that says one should not support the US overthrow of such a regime because the US helped create it in the first place.
A genuine Left position supports the overthrow of fascism by force when necessary and recognizes that bourgeois democracy is qualitatively better than semi-feudal despotism. A social revolution is underway in the Middle East.
Bob Gould says that "It is clear the Iraqi people will attempt to take advantage of the fall of Saddam Hussein to achieve freedom of speech, basic trade union rights, (etc)".
Saddam, of course, did not "fall". He was toppled, overthrown, and now his state apparatus is being dismantled and replaced. This was only possible because of the US-led war. Modernization and democratization of the region has been the US goal all along. Freedom of speech, etc., are part and parcel of that process. The first non-Ba'athist newspaper to be distributed in Baghdad after the regime's defeat was the 'People's Path', published by the Iraqi Communist Party.
The civilian casualities of the war were equal to about a month's tally of murder under the Saddam regime. Bob Gould represents a pseudo-Left position which objectively served, and was applauded by, the regime.
Your readers may also like to read the article "WAR FOR PEACE? IT WORKED IN MY COUNTRY", by Jose Ramos Horta, published in the New York Times on 25 February, which argued against the anti-war movement. The URL is: http://usinfo.state.gov/topical/pol/arms/03022504.htm
It is right to rebel against reactionaries,
email: [email protected]
Surely not!Your report that the ACTU and employers both agree that older workers need to be kept in the workforce is abhorent to me. That they both agree that younger workers should be denied jobs because some older worker wants to stay on until age 99 (and probably die at their desk)and that they both agree that older workers should be kept in employment, instead of retiring, is disturbing.
This country is rich enough for all to retire at 45. It's just about priorities. And hidden agendas-why else do employers and unions want to keep workers working?
Motivate the young to train and do the jobs and let those over 45 retire and really enjoy life!
"You have not to pass sentence for or against a single man, but you have to take a resolution on a question of the public safety, and to decide a question of national foresight.
Congratulations on your well written editorial "The Game's Up" Workers Online issue 179, 23rd May 2003.
An article which was a call to arms , and basically calling for review and possibly regulation to prevent the blatant theft of resources private and public, by the corporate robber barons.
This while an issue that is still relevant - is one , that is no longer positively malleable without a reactionary and possibly physical conversion through the confrontation of these parasites and predators , these bloodsucking leeches who appear to be not rewarded on merit, but on claptrap coiled as credible patois.
Who are these people and how do they worm themselves into such financially rewarding positions; through their vicious and voracious use of the vernacular?
A well coiffured silver lecher once conned us with honeyed words into an accord that did not work with a socialist government, so how it could work with a free market government.
Conspiracy theorists will claim ; this is the New World Order , and that a new Illuminati has evolved , that the Masons have been revived , or the Jesuits have gained control of mankind through a Club of Rome , and the G 8 are really Rosicrucians seeking the meaning of life , now while there may be some veracity as to a think tank role by these entities or their ilk , at times generating some useful thought , which may or may not be cherry picked by Corporate Mavericks , the key to this recurring generational phenomena is plain old everyday greed , universally referred to as healthy competition but in reality is no different than that - of a Christians to the Lions scenario fortunately this too shall pass. These depraved industrial, economic and social aberrations being transplanted in the workplace with the morally bereft doing as always, what they believe to be the bidding of their hypocritical masters, those who may have the clean hands but the corrupt minds, those who transgress against their own as cannibals, and then deny any knowledge of the acts of bastardry and or worse carried out in their name and/or under their patronage.
This is a perfect example of the need to learn from history, in an effort not to repeat our mistakes, sadly we are , in many circumstances , being lead by inarticulate, impotent , and insular incompetents who may or may not have read the text books, or who , without question or thought , are playing out the roles allocated to them in childhood - their success in these roles dependent not on ability or merit but on the acceptance of the assumptions of their knowledge , or willingness to obey those already ensconced in power , positions maintained by ensuring that those capable of thought or ability are excluded from the inner circle , a recipe for eventual disaster.
In simple language, it is a political correct attempt at the excision of the healthy and the cultivation of the deformed.
These are those that refuse to acknowledge that the Emperor is wearing no clothes , these are those that are incapable of independent thought , these are those that thrive on the politics of division , these are those that are unable to see the commonality of humanity through their personal prejudice be it of; Gender, Race, Religion or Intellect , in fact these are the people that seek out the differences rather than the similarities , then urbanely but with continual futility , except on the most oppressed of society , attempt to project their perversions on those that they would attack.
They then, as in the case of P. Kennedy, play with puerile adolescent semantics in an attempt to justify their perverse though processes...having said that, I must admit, it was less than five years ago that I was drawn into such a web of deceit while employed with Sydney City Council in their Libraries, where I experienced an abuse of person, denial of process and am now with a firm conviction in my mind that I have been wrong for 50 years of my life in opposing Capital Punishment.
The ALP and many in Trade Unions are experts at tactics such as this, with the faceless puppeteers still controlling the parliamentary party or the front bench of Trade Unions.
Sadly, the Union movement and the ALP is now deficient of the Heroes that myths are made of, these soldiers of fortune, as is not only their nature but their necessity, are following leaders who will lead to war against injustice, any injustice even be it perpetrated by fifth (or filth) columnists within the Union Movement rather than grovel at the altar of Corporate Acquiescence.
The ruins of some of these once powerful Unions are now populated with political and corporate sycophants, as is much of contemporary society, which throughout the ages has taken the Kings shilling and turned to feast on their own .A perfect example at extinguishing dissent, would be the massacre of the McDonalds at Glencoe.
These are fearful individuals who gain power through a mealy mouthed obsequious pandering to the lowest common denominator , these being described through the eons as the 'Plebs' , 'Serfs' , 'Servants' , and I use these descriptive terms not to denigrate but only as common language.
These are the people that choose serfdom, for what ever reason, some through fear, some through laziness, and some accepting it as their birthright, and in times of change and turmoil this provides a safe haven, a feeling of belonging not to a proud nation but a protective pack bullied by a usually belligerent dog, and there are many of those within all shades of politics.
Make no mistake , the contemporary 'serf ' is as well looked after as the ' serf ' of the middle ages , although there was a less commitment required from the medieval 'serf'.
Serfs worked the land and produced the goods that the lord and his manor needed. This exchange was not without hardship for the serfs. They were heavily taxed and were required to relinquish much of what they harvested. The peasants did not even "belong to" themselves, according to medieval law. These lords, in close association with the church, assumed the roles of judges in carrying out the laws of the manor.
Serfs lived in crowded living areas (1-2 room). Serfs had many obligations to lord in exchange for protection. They turned over all crops to the lord, and paid for using the lord's stuff by giving some crops from their own strips of land. Serfs worked about three days a week for the lord, and they practiced crop rotation they were always available for military service for the whimsical conflicts of their master...
A serf could not leave the manor with out the master's permission. They could be told who to marry, but they did have some rights - their kids couldn't be taken away. Serfs had simple diets and traveling minstrels and entertainers came to the manor. Serfs rarely left the manors, knew almost nothing of the outside world, and usually didn't rebel.
Has anything except the changed faces of the Master and ability of the Department of Community Services to remove children from the home changed?
I think not?
In the Middle Ages the Lords of the Manor were the high wage earners and those in the increasingly powerful Church, two complimentary powers in an alliance which only began to wane in the second half of the 20th century when during the 1950's and 60's a dismantling of the established structure began with the transference of the mythology from spiritual to secular and materialistic. This is how the new Corporate Church has set in motion a radical change of thought through all echelon of society for it is only through myths and epics are linked in the human psyche, and that they are cultural manifestations of the universal need to explain social, cosmological, and spiritual realities.
This assumed authority through the theft of property was stamped on society by way of large Castles, Manor Houses, Churches, Cathedrals and Courts edifices that would and were intended to overwhelm, this intimidation not being limited to Western Society but can be ascertained by the legacy of edifices from Egypt to Ecuador, from Greece to Galway or from Thailand to Turkey.
If one even gives a cursory but critical glance to the corporate edifices and the accompanying symbols emblazoned on these new Cathedrals , in front of which the employee is compelled to kow-tow or be excommunicated , then laughter at the similarities to 1930s Jeeves and Worcester English farce would be the rational response.
The new Lords of the Manor, Bishops, Popes and other sundry snake oil vendors are the corporate dealers in Human Flesh, they are as morally bankrupt as slave traders, taking advantage of those weaker than themselves, they continue to ignore the pain of this humanity to accommodate the illusory and temporary personal pecuniary profit.
You, as the Editor of a well read publication, have in your hands the power to revitalise, renew or in extreme cases reinvent the myths of the Labor Movement, there are almost 20 million individual stories in this great land and all are intertwined, it is your responsibility to disseminate these tales and link them with an attractive socialist history from the past, links people to whom all workers not only can, but would want to identify.
Even the most passive worker who may not want to fight for their rights, and will even deny supporting industrial action for their own benefit, does not identify with the sycophantic Union or Organiser. They while publicly denying association with Union radicals, in their secret Walter Mitty world of dreams admire these sometime lunatic Crusaders of the labor movement.
We also need more politicians in the style Billy Hughes, Eddie Ward, Jack Lang, John Gorton, or Jim Killen.
There is also room for activists who may not always play by the rules, if only to ensure the symmetry socialist politics.
The Labor Council should take a leaf from the " Corporate Bastards Book of Dirty Tricks" , and form a committee of volunteer labor activists to investigate these outrageous behaviours from corporate and political mavericks, inviting them to properly convened and authorised public hearings offering the accused and the accuser in public forum to lay their allegations and defence submissions would be solicited from the community.
These could be published in a yearly report as committee findings as to alleged offences.
As for my personal thoughts as to the views of those that have condemned me, I concur with Giordano Bruno:
"Perchance your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it."
They like Canute, cannot hold back the tides, Que Sera Sera ...........
Sir William Deane agrees with many of us out here in not only what is wrong with the Federal Liberal/National conservatives but also what is wrong with the current Federal ALP for not standing up to Howard Ruddock Anderson Abbott and formerly Reith in allowing them to get away with the lies and distortion of facts as they have to suit their own ideological agenda.
As has been written and spoken many times before when the Federal ALP return to their traditional roots,values and give hope to their long suffering disillusioned supporters with policies of vision and fairness they will be back in power not in opposition.
Thank God for Sir William Deane.
Steven Presley .
I read with interest reflections on the meaning and experience of May Day. Indeed, working people have a culture beyond that of the interest group and we need to reflect upon past struggles and identify with such whilst looking to the future. The Conservatives are attempting through legislative trickery to convince working people that self interest is enough:That the greedy deserve more than the needy. Solidarity is not a cliche, it is a concept with meaning. Keep up the struggle.
Please allow me to reply to the person signing him/herself as "Te Kooti" in issue 180, who made a vicious personal attack on me, simply because I dared to object to reading profanities. If Te Kooti's letter was intended as a joke, it is a very weak and unfunny one.
If meant seriously, it is the most twisted, far-fetched and paranoid "reasoning" I have ever seen. Apparently my polite request to avoid reading profanities makes me a violent racist! I am still trying to work out how I am guilty of "blackmail" (extorting money by threatening to reveal a secret).
It is Te Kooti who is the racist, condemning and abusing me on the basis of his/her totally ignorant assumptions about my race and ancestry. It is Te Kooti who uses language as "a weapon to self-righteously intimidate", using words which I guess 99% of your readers do not understand. Te Kooti joins other racists who claim a totally unfettered "right to freedom of expression" to justify racial vilification and other evils.
I apologise to anyone who used profanity in Workers Online simply because s/he was denied an education. But it is far more likely that they pepper their articles with four-letter words in the mistaken belief that it makes them sound "working-class".
Not that it is anyone's business what my background is, but for Te Kooti's information, my ancestors are working class, what s/he calls "riff raff", but did not use profanity. Nor did working class heroes like Chifley and Curtin and many others who educated themselves despite great hardship. Certainly neither I, nor as far as I know any of my ancestors, ever dispossessed anyone of their land, language or self-esteem or prevented anyone being educated. On the contrary, my parents struggled for aboriginal rights long before it became fashionable. If my mother, the daughter of a cleaner and a wharfie (who was forced to hump his bluey around the country when he was summarily sacked with no reason, no severance pay and no dole), should meet any of these chardonnay socialists who think profanity makes them working class, she would wash their mouths out with soap.
I showed Te Kooti's letter to a Maori friend of mine, and she said Te Kooti is "porangi" (crazy). I suggest Te Kooti stops using twisted logic in order to invent and abuse imaginary enemies, and help me in the real world struggle to involve more women in the labour movement. Women (and many men) ARE repelled by profane language, not because they "have a satisfying life", but because other men use it intimidate them with its suggestion of violence, and to convey a fake "working class" blokeyness.
The problem with the current manoeuvrings is that both sides of politics seem to be driven by a myth the idea that Howard is unbeatable; but it is a proposition that doesn't stand up to scutiny.
In 1998 Kim Beazley got tantalisingly close to making John Howard a one-term leader; despite the landslide of 1996 there were only a few seats in it.
Then in 2001, Labor fell victim to their own conservative strategy and the unprecedented and cynical manipulation of public opinion by the incumbents.
Since then, we have had a war that is looking increasingly like a bad case of Wag the Dog; the fall of a head of state the PM hand-picked himself; and looming attacks on health and higher education.
That Howard is now celebrated as some sort of national hero, shows how fatuous and bereft of principle modern politics has become.
And that Labor does not appear capable of launching a sustained challenge underlines serious structural weaknesses in the party.
As those within Labor circles continue to ruminate on Beazley or Crean, I've framed my own question. If your loved one's life depended on a Labor victory at the next election, who would want to lead the party? I bet you one thing; the answer you come up with will be neither of the two main protagonists.
The fixation on leadership by both parties misses the broader point; they are both expressions of a process that stifles talent, ideas and momentum.
The parliaments of the nation - both state and federal - are over-populated by a class of hacks who have moved from student politics to a job in parliament, to a seat, without ever having to come into contact with the real world.
The Liberals use polling to identify issues that will divide Labor's two bases - the Whitlamite middle classes and the traditional working class.
And Labor? It uses polling to develop bland messages that trick these two groups into thinking they have something to gain for voting for the party that used to represent their interests.
And when they win elections, as they have around the states, they slip back into a conservative agenda of 'managing for re-election'.
It's no coincidence that both these major parties have preselection systems controlled by factional warlords; disenfranchised rank and file members who are leaving in droves and youth wings in total disarray.
As the major parties have corrupted, the only drive in Australian politics over the past decade has come from One Nation on the Right and The Greens on the Left.
Disagree with them and call them loonies if you like, but you can't deny that their focus on issues creates real energy around their political agenda, the sort of energy that can create real change.
One only has to think of the anti-war rallies and the poll position the Greens held there to see an alternate model of politics in its emryonic stage.
Compare this with the way the ALP succeeded in tying down and stifling the Labor for Refugees group, bulldozed the unions on the 60/40 issue, seeing the rank and file activism around policy as the threat to business as usual.
For both major parties, this week's focus may sum up their real problem - it takes more than a figurehead to lead a party; and when you've lost your base, your ideology and your way even a figure as bereft of ideas, principle or vision as John Howard can begin to look good.