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Issue No. 204 21 November 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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

 Activists

C O L U M N S

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

Sport
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.

Politics
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.

Postcard
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.

L E T T E R S
 Jack Lives Here
 Saving Jobs
 Public Transport A Bit Rich
 The Smirker
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

TAFE Puts Best Foot Forward


Scores of TAFE students from across the state presented a giant pair of thongs to state treasurer Michael Egan on Wednesday November 19, inviting him to "take off his Versace loafers and to walk a week in their shoes".

The rally outside state parliament was in response to massive fee increases announced in the last state budget. TAFE teachers and students are alarmed that the fee increases will have a severe impact on and flies in the face of ALP policy that calls for free access to TAFE courses.

The students and teachers want the decision to raise fees reversed.

"Fees will range from $350 to $1650 next year, a rise of around 300% in some cases," says Linda Simon, Secretary of the TAFE Teachers Association. "We have carried out surveys across the state, and thousands of students are saying that these fees could stop them completing their courses in TAFE. It certainly looks like the Carr government has continued to target those who most need their support, including many women".

"The government is participating in a deliberate dumbing down of the community. Instead of encouraging people to gain additional qualifications and to aim for better jobs and expanded career opportunities, this state government is pricing courses beyond the means of ordinary people."

The rubber thongs contained stories of how Egan's fee hike will affect the educational opportunities of many students.

Egan is refusing to meet with the NSW Teachers to discuss the issue.

"A delegation of TAFE students will meet with the Minister for Education and Training on Thursday. We hope that he is more receptive to their issues," says Simon.

A recent study by the Federal government shows that NSW TAFE fees are amongst the highest in Australia, particularly at the Diploma level.


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