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Issue No. 204 21 November 2003  

Holes in the Net
The Medicare debate may be clouded by the minutae of the health delivery system, but it really boils down to an old-fashioned ideological battle between user-pays and state responsibility.


Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. It’s all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.


 US Giant Attacks Aussies

 Exposed – OEA in Kids Scandal

 Left-Right Flattens Abigroup

 ANZ Cops Fine Over Robbers

 Classroom Stoush Gets Personal

 Seven Workers Pass "Intelligence" Test

 Stop Press: Coal Strike

 Nurses: MedicarePlus Points to America

 ‘Joel’s Law’ Gathers Momentum

 Skilled Picketers Confront Patrick’s

 Yahoo Censors Union Ad

 Labor’s Cotter Court ‘Faking’ It

 TAFE Puts Best Foot Forward

 Wharfies, Actors, Seafarers Unite

 Debus Gives Up On Lawyers Picnic

 Nelson Backdown Not Enough

 Online Pay Check



The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the ‘creative partnership’ between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

 Jack Lives Here
 Saving Jobs
 Public Transport A Bit Rich
 The Smirker
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‘Joel’s Law’ Gathers Momentum

The push for employers to face criminal sanctions for negligence leading to workplace deaths has accelerated with the Carr Government appointing an expert panel of lawyers to advise it on improvements.

Announcing the inquiry, Commerce Minister John Della Bosca Della Bosca acknowledged the 'heightened level of community concern' generated by the recent death of 16-year Joel Exnor had prompted the review.

Della Bosca appointed the four-person panel, as the NSW Upper House voted to refer the issues of workplace deaths to a special inquiry.

The panel will examine the most effective ways of strengthening occupational health and safety laws, including:

The possibility of an additional offence of a breach of duty resulting in death,

Appropriate penalties,

Defences available to directors,

Factors to be considered by the courts when sentencing offenders, and;

The appropriate court to deal with these prosecutions.

The panel will be comprised of Peter Hall QC, Adam Hatcher, Professor Ron McCallum and Adam Searle. Della Bosca says that once he had received their expert advice the Government would consider legislative amendments in early 2004.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson welcomed the review, saying it showed that a united union movement to could deliver meaningful change for working people.

"NSW unions have been pushing hard for industrial manslaughter and today's announcement shows that campaign is beginning to bear fruit."

Robertson says NSW unions will participate in the Upper House inquiry, including involving injured workers and families of workers who have died on the job.

Canucks Clinch Corporate Kill Law

Meanwhile the Canadian parliament has passed a union backed corporate killing law that holds corporations, their executives and directors criminally accountable for deliberately putting workers' lives at risk.

United Steelworkers' national director Lawrence McBrearty said the passage in the Senate of the 'Westray Bill' is a victory for working people, 11 years after the death of 26 miners at the Westray coal mine in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.

"Our union has fought long and hard for this legislation," says McBrearty. "Our activists lobbied every federal politician in two separate parliaments to get their support for a law to amend the Criminal Code of Canada."

"I am deeply proud of our members and of everyone who supported our efforts... While their loved ones will be forever remembered for the terrible tragedy that killed them, the families of the Westray miners can also be proud of the fact that there will be 'no more Westrays'."

Fundraiser for Joel

Finally, a fundraiser is being held this Sunday for the family of Joel Exner -the 16 year old who died last month from a fall on his 3rd day working construction in Western Sydney

The fundraiser runs from 4pm Sunday arvo at the Gaelic Club (just near central) and features some great bands (five in all!) all for just $10


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