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Issue No. 195 12 September 2003  

Coalition of the Swilling
As the world stopped to mark the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks and its horrendous human toll, attempts at writing new rules for global trade were hitting their own immovable object


Interview: Crowded Lives
Labor frontbencher Lindsay Tanner talks us through his new book on the importance of relationships and why politics is letting the people down.

Activists: Life With Brian
Work by men like Brian Fitzpatrick is exposing new Australians to old truths. Jim Marr reports

Industrial: National Focus
A showdown looms in Cancun, Qantas gets bolshie, casual and lazy in its response to aviation challenges, and long festering disputes fester on in Victoria and Tasmania reports Noel Hester in this national wrap.

Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Trades Hall is preparing for a major facelift but first, Jim Marr reports, it must bid farewell to the colourful bunch who have populated its dusty corridors in recent years.

Economics: Beating the Bastards
Frank Stilwell looks at some of the proposals for building a fairer finance sector.

Media: Three Corners
So its come to this. Four Corners, one of the world's longest running television programs is now under pressure from an ABC Executive that is less cultural visionary than feral abacus.

History: The Brisbane Line
Percy Spender was Menzies' foreign minister, but, Neale Towart asks, was he also prepared to serve as Prime Minister in a Japanese controlled Australia?

Trade: The Dumping Problem
Oxfam-CAA helps set the scene for this month's World Trade Organisation in Cancun.

Review: Frankie's Way
In The Night We Called It A Day Frank Sinatra learns 'sorry' Down Under is a loaded word and refusal to say it when due will lose fans in important places, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Teachers Attack National Stitch-Up

 Safety Off The Rails

 Lion King Delivers for Kids

 Five Grand Extra for Unionists

 Telstra Gets Curry for Take Aways

 WTO Trips on Cancun Hurdle

 Workers Kicking Goals

 Dial NRMA for Stuff-Up

 This Is Your Operator Freaking

 Millionaire Takes Candy from Carers

 Working Women Get New Voice

 Community Burns Rubber Giant

 Grass Roots Campaign Beats Bush

 Unions-Council Strike ‘Clean Hands’ Partnership

 Call For Campaign To Save Bush Trains

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Staking Our Territory
ACTU secretary Greg Combet argued for a fairer Australia in his keynote address to last month's ACTU Congress.

The Locker Room
Seasonally Agisted
Spring is a season when a person’s thoughts turn to…horse racing. Phil Doyle reports on the fate of nags and folk heroes.

Beyond the Block
We are wild about the people who live in The Block but not too interested in those who are on the streets outside, writes Michael Rafferty.

The Westie Wing
Workers friend Ian West MLC, reports form the Bearpit about a project to raise awareness about trade unionism amongst young people.

The Awkward Squad
Paul Smith meets one of the new generation of British union leaders who is taking the ball up to the Blair spin team.

 Life Wasn’t Meant To Be Frankie
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Coalition of the Swilling

As the world stopped to mark the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks and its horrendous human toll, attempts at writing new rules for global trade were hitting their own immovable object

On it surface the Cancun talks have little to do with the shocking loss of life sustained two years ago, but that the stalemate over market access has prompted a farmer to stab himself to death must give some pause for thought.

As the liberal West struggles to understand why Islamic fundamentalists continue to turn themselves into human missiles, even the most fervent anti-globalist would be looking at the sacrifice of Korean farm leader Lee Kyaung-have and asking themselves 'why?'. I know I am.

Way too much has been written about 9/11. The events that have unfolded since show how little this chatter has led us to anything approaching comprehension.

But what can be stated is that gross inequities in power and wealth create the climate where extremism flourishes; throw in a fundamentalist doctrine and you have a potent brew.

The same heady mix can be found at Cancun, the latest round of the World Trade Organisation talks where the ringleaders may preach free trade but do so in the knowledge that their masters are not really serious about pulling down the barriers.

As our man on the ground in Cancun, Peter Murphy, points out, while 21 developing nations representing half the world's farmers may have created an alliance to create a fairer trade in agriculture, their chances of getting support from the West are slim.

On the issue of attacking Iraq the US and Europe may have been at loggerheads, but on the far more enduring issue of trade they are as one.

Protection for wealthy farmers - and the right of their governments to dump subsidised produce on to world markets - is regarded as a right that won't be bargained away.

Unlike the Coalition of the Willing, John Howard and Australian farmers are locked out of this club. Australia's problem is that - unlike the group of 21 - while we argue for market access for our farmers, we don't really want to upset the applecart.

As our pursuit of bilateral agreements show - for us its about getting in on the racket not about rewriting the rules for admission.

For all we care farmers in developing nations, like Mr Kim's South Korean colleagues, can continue to at best struggle and in some cases starve, unable to compete with the First World beneficiaries of protection.

And if the Cancun meeting is futile and the dumping and protectionism continues and the WTO remains a joke and if more people see death as the only form of protest left, then we should not cry foul.

Peter Lewis



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