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Issue No. 198 03 October 2003  

The Monk Off Our Back
It should come as no surprise that Tony Abbott has been dragged from his workplace relations portfolio just as his $60 million assault on the CFMEU finally unravels.


Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Rugby League Professionals Association president Tony Butterfield on his battle to deliver a collective agreement for NRL players.

Unions: National Focus
In this month’s national wrap: Noel Hester meets a heavy hitter talking up open source unionism, truckies front the suits at Boral’s AGM, tales of corporate bastardry and Medicare birthday revelry.

Industrial: Fools Gold
Unions have thrashed out a string of protocols with the NSW Labor Government. Some, now, are questioning whether they are worth the cheap, imported paper they are written on, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.

History: The Gong Show
In late September the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) celebrated 75 unbroken years championing the rights of workers in the coastal Illawarra region 80 kilometres south of Sydney, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics: The Hawke Legacy
The election of the Hawke Labor government twenty years ago holds some salient lessons for today’s Labor Party, writes Troy Bramston.

International: Sick Nation
As Australia celebrates 20 years of Medicare’s universal health coverage the crisis facing American workers in need of medical care is a useful reminder of what we’ve got – and what we stand, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Closed Minds
Philip Mendes looks at the political influence of right-wing think tanks, their financial backing and asks why the left hasn’t been able to get its ideas out there.

Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

Poetry: One Size Fits All
There once was a man from the Lodge - Who tried hard, our poems, to dodge... Resident bard David Peetz is back!


 Concrete Boot for Democracy

 Picketers Get Blue Ribbon Result

 ICAC Call at Mudgee Abattoir

 Telstra on Charges

 Unis Walk Over Federal Bullying

 IRC Shoots Rooster that Quacked

 Ugly Australian Riles Timorese

 Medicare Gets Abbott For Birthday

 Business Council Opposes Salary Vote

 Rail Workers Call For Self Defence

 ACT Leads On Industrial Manslaughter

 Thumbs-Up for Awards Binding Subbies

 Entitlements Crash into Hangar

 Blackouts on NSW Horizon

 State Govt Told To Clean Up Contracts

 Would-be Presidents Face Union Probe

 Activists Notebook


North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Soapbox
The $140 Million Patriot
It would be hard to imagine a steeper slide from hero to zero than the experience of Richard Grasso, the now-deposed head of the New York Stock Exchange. writes Jim Stanford.

Bush's Bad News Blues
The Bush Administration is cooking up a new campaign 'to shine light on progress made in Iraq', writes Bill Berkowitz.

The Locker Room
A Tale Of One City
Phil Doyle gazes into the crystal ball for signs of life, and finds that somewhere the horses are running in the wrong direction.

With Banners Furled
There is no better account of the glory that was the annual Labour Day marches than that given by Kylie Tennant in Foveaux, her fictional account of life in inner Sydney in 1912, the year she was born.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite Macquarie Street MP, Ian West MLC, reports on the world of NSW politics.

The Cancun Wash-Up
The dramatic collapse of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month has been followed by a deafening quiet from Geneva, Brussels and Washington, writes Peter Murphy.

 A Hard Act To Follow
 Which Boss?
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Medicare Gets Abbott For Birthday

Prime Minister John Howard has celebrated Medicare’s 20th birthday by foisting Tony Abbott onto the national health system.

As workers around the nation held birthday parties for the public health system, the PM was hinting that a massive revenue windfall of $3 billion would go to tax breaks for the well-heeled rather then to repairing the haemorrhaging health system.

Unionists rallying outside the Prime Minister's Gladesville electorate office cut a Medicare cake in the hope the scheme would enjoy another 20 years of good health.

Meanwhile, shadow health minister Julie Gillard shared cake with building workers at the massive breakfast Point development, reminding them that Medicare was not the government's to takeaway.

"Medicare is not John Howard's, Medicare is your's, paid through by the wage rises you gave up under the Accord and the Medicare levy you pay today," she said.

She made the comments on the day Tony Abbott took over the health portfolio as part of a major front bench reshuffle that sees former Aged Care Minister Kevin Andrews move to workplace relations.

No Tears for Abbott

Few in the union movement were sorry to see Abbott moved the Health portfolio.

"It's hard to imagine anything worse than Tony Abbott's human-incendiary-device approach to workplace relations which has turned the construction industry into a battleground," CFMEU Construction National Secretary John Sutton said.

"His aggressive and expensive ventures like the $60 million dollar Cole Royal Commission and his over-top-Building Industry watchdog-legislation, launched a couple of weeks ago, have done nothing to build on the successes of the industry.

"So we can only say 'Good riddance' to Tony Abbott as Workplace Relations Minister."

Australian Workers' Union National Secretary Bill Shorten expressed his sympathy for the sick people of Australia.

Who's Next? Asks CFMEU

Meanwhile, the ACTU launched a print and radio advertising campaign that will run in every state over the next month warning all workers about the impact of the federal government's proposed building industry legislation.

Launching the ads, ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said that the union movement was committed to alerting all workers about the government's agenda.

"This government started with workers on the waterfront, then they targeted construction workers," he said.

"We now see them threatening university staff, and it is very clear that the agenda of the new industrial legislation is not about making the building industry more productive, it is about setting new low standards for workers' rights in Australia."

The advertisements will run over the next month coinciding with the consultation stage for the legislation and will continue when the legislation is debated in federal parliament.


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