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Issue No. 184 27 June 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

To the Victors The Spoils
Revelations that private American lawyers, rather than the ILO, will rewrite the labour laws of countries levelled by the American military vindicate the warnings of those concerned by US unilateralism.

F E A T U R E S

History: Nest of Traitors
Rowan Cahill uncovers a ripping yarn that could redefine the way we look at Australian involvement in World War II.

Interview: A Nation of Hope
Former PM Bob Hawke bemoans the demise of industrial relations but takes heart from the prospect of peace in the Middle East

Unions: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on a soap star rebellion, Howard’s plans to renuclearise South Australia, more historical atrocities in the north, the redundancy test case plus more in the monthly national wrap.

Safety: The Shocking Truth
It’s every power worker’s worst nightmare – and it happened to Adrian Ware. In a flash of voltage, his life changed forever, as Jim Marr reports.

Tribute: A Comrade Departed
From Prime Ministers to wharfies, the labour movement paid tribute to Tas Bull this week. Jim Marr was among them.

History: Working Bees
Neale Towart looks at a group of workers who got sacked so their boss could keep making the Bomb.

Education: The Big Picture
The NTEU’s Dr Mike Donaldson and Tony Brown join all the dots in the current debate around higher eduction.

International: Static Labour
Ray Marcelo argues there’s another side to the recent furore over Telstra’s use of cheap Indian IT contractors.

Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Frank Stilwell argues that Peter Costello’s latest budget plumbs fiscal policy to new depths.

Technology: Google and Campaigning
Labourstart’s Eric Lee argues the latest weapon for campaigning could be the humble search engine.

Review: Secretary With A Difference
Looking for a new job can be hard enough, without having to worry about sadomasochistic bosses and the threat of being spanked for forgetting to cross your ‘t’s, says Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Minimale
The Labor Party leadership is in the news again, inspiring our resident bard David Peetz to song

Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
John Howard released a controversial policy statement today, arguing that the Senate be abolished in favour of a device measuring noise from the gallery of the House of Representatives.

N E W S

 Rail Chaos Looms

 Electrolux Blows Fuse at Fundraiser

 ACM Loosens Handcuff on Democracy

 Sick Call on Mum’s Job

 Now For Industrial Shock and Awe

 Brian Miller – Working Class Hero

 Dynamite: Howard Handout for Rorters

 Family Case to Nurture Mothers

 Militants Lock Out Another 600

 Tipping the Turtle – Fijian Style

 Carr Goes Private

 Wages Blemish Sound Budget

 Westie Takes On Westfield ‘Hypocrisy’

 Eleventh Hour Reprieve for Women's Centre

 Activist Notebook

C O L U M N S

Politics
It’s Our Party
Long time union watcher Nicholas Way looks at the changing dynamics between the industrial and political wings of the labour movement.

The Soapbox
Grass Roots
In his Maiden Speech, new MP Tony Burke argues that the ALP’s union links are nothing to be ashamed of.

Media
Opinion Forming Down Under
Evan Jones condemns the mainstream’s media coverage of the War on Iraq and the damage it is doing to our national psyche.

The Locker Room
Location, Re-Location!
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a club, writes Phil Doyle

L E T T E R S
 In Defence of Cuba
 The Story in General
 Thinking of America
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Tool Shed

No News Is Good News


Senator Richard Alston takes up a seat in the Tool Shed this week after he stopped kissing Rupert Murdoch's posterior for long enough to announce that he was taking what remains of Telstra down to the pawnbrokers.

*****

The Minister for Electronic Dooverwackies and Pretty Pictures, Richard Alston, continues to show himself as being out of his depth after stepping on a rake a couple of times this week - over Telstra and the Federal Government's attempts to privatise its information services to Rupert Murdoch.

Not content with the highest concentration of media ownership this side of Burma, Alston has embarked on an attempt to put a dagger through the heart of what remains of media freedom in Australia.

Despite his attempts to buy off a number of independent senators, the latest change to the media ownership laws were amended in the senate. The provision that a media proprietor (read Rupert Murdoch) cannot own every media outlet available was deemed unacceptable by Alston.

Heavens! Without Rupey on side this lying, cheating disgrace of a government may actually be help up to some scrutiny in the way it treats ordinary Australians as a cash cow for its rich mates. If Alston gets his way we can look forward to the dumb xenophobia of FOX News and the New York Post becoming standard fare. Intellectually challenged media players such as pontificating serial lunatic, Piers Akkerman and blowhards like Paddy MacGuiness will pass themselves off as informed debate. Australia deserves better.

This is the man who believes the ABC is "anti-American". Since when is it incumbent on an Australian government minister to defend another country's interests? His frustration at anything approaching robust debate of government policy is astounding. Open debate is obviously something to be stifled, which is in keeping with his desire to limit media diversity in Australia.

The dumbing down of the news-media is in Alston's interests of course. This way he may be able to keep up with current affairs.

It was a stroke of genius by Howard to select a Minister for Information Technology who would struggle with programming a VCR, thus eliminating any leadership threat from the anyone abreast of the cutting edge of technology today.

While Alston is obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer it is his deficiencies in grasping the fundamentals of technology that make him a perfect patsy to flog off a major piece of publicly owned infrastructure to the highest bidder. After all, it would only be fair considering that what loosely passes as Telstra management loaned him a Plasma screen TV so that he could keep in touch with the issues that affect ordinary Australians.

Anyone who owns a telephone knows that the problems with Telstra are not solely the provision of broadband services to "the bush". Many people can't get a decent service in metropolitan Sydney. The problem lies in Telstra's slavish devotion to the market and gouging its customers ahead of providing a decent, affordable and accessible standard of service.

Alston knows that a privately owned Telstra will abandon any pretense of owing the community anything in the way of a service obligation. Telstra staff will be slashed further so that the telco's senior execs can grow fat on their unearned bonuses. Of course we can't expect Alston to be concerned by this as has already stood by while Telstra treats its staff like so many cattle at the saleyards.

Meanwhile, as Australians are increasingly frustrated with the standard of service they receive from telcos, Senator Alston sits there dribbling out of both sides of his mouth.

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate is a tool of the highest order. At least Judas, after betraying his fellows, had the decency to hang himself. Alston will merely pocket the pieces of silver in a shameless attempt to buy this shoddy administration a further term in government.



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