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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

Debus Gives Up On Lawyers Picnic


A move by the state government to change the rules of the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) to allow appeals to the NSW Court of Appeals has been abandoned after a strong reaction from NSW unions.

The proposal was first mooted by opposition legal spokesperson Andrew Tink, and then emerged from the office of Attorney General Bob Debus.

Unions slammed the bid, pointing out that the move would see a sharp escalation in the cost of workers trying to achieve justice, with unions having to engage Senior Counsel to fight appeals in the supreme court. It would also have opened an avenue for employers to stall rulings of the IRC by challenging them in the Supreme Court.

"The IRC is a specialist tribunal for working people. To take it away and make it more expensive for working people is not on,' says Barry Johnson, Secretary of the NSW Teachers Federation. "You'd have to wonder why the government sought to bring this in without consultation."

Johnson pointed out that the IRC had made a lot of important decisions about equity, something that may not be an issue in the wider legal system.

"The NSW Government should provide the Industrial Relations Commission with the necessary resources to alleviate excessive workload," says Johnson.

"This is nothing short of a downgrading of the IRC," says Wayne Forno of the Transport Workers Union. "Unless you've got the money it's very hard to fight the big end of town."

"Debus might want to consider who formulates policy. Him and his government, or Andrew Tink."

The Transport Workers Union was concerned that the shift in jurisdiction would have placed many small owner-drivers at a disadvantage in battling unfair contractual arrangements.

The move would also have seen some Occupational Health and Safety prosecutions shifted to the Supreme Court of NSW.


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