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Issue No. 206 05 December 2003  

A New Mark for Labor
Few of us who care about the future of the labour movement would not admit to a surge of hope and sense of excitement following the election of Mark Latham to the federal parliamentary leadership.


Interview: Muscling Up
Laborís Craig Emerson discusses how the changes to his partyís leadership will impact on the industrial relations agenda.

Unions: Thinking Pink
Whatís the difference between a Nursing Home and an Aged Care Facility? More than semantics, according to nurses worried Australia is woefully unprepared for the crash at the end of the baby-boom cycle, writes Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Global Bully
If nothing else, US-based call centre giant TeleTech is consistent. After being nosed out of last yearís Bad Boss gong it is back, bigger and badder than ever in its search for Tony honours.

Unions: National Focus
In this national round up by Noel Hester, Hugh McKay tells us how the young are sticking together in a bewildered society, the gongs get handed out at the ACTU awards and there is a chance to win as a worthy wordsmith.

Economics: Friend or Flunkey?
On New Years Day as you look at the wine stains and tread on a soggy puddle on the carpet, will you look for the phone and call a cleaner? Gabrielle Meagher gives a few ethical dilemmas to confront before you make that call.

History: Young Blood
Youth is no barrier to political leadership, as the 37-year-old John Watson proved 100 years ago, writes Neale Towart.

Industrial: Living For Work?
Mark Hearn reports from a recent conference addressing the dilemma of work, citizenship and community.

International: Fighting Together
The international trade union movement is launching a Global Unions HIV/AIDS campaign to combat the spread of the virus.

Poetry: Medicare Plus Blues
Is the Government's new health plan a plus for Medicare? Asks resident bard David Peetz

Review: Human Racing
Seabiscuit is a great horse movie but more than that it serves as a powerful metaphor for the importance of living for the future while maintaining passion and compassion in the present, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Peeking Dicks in Pickle

 Lights Out on Cheap Labour

 Blackout Hangs Over Sydney

 Contractors Hang Up on Telstra

 Uni Workers Too Smart For Minister

 Employer Bullies Vie For ĎTonyí

 South Coast Deal to Build Movement

 TeleTech Safety Rep Vows to Fight On

 Corporates Urged to Come Clean

 MP Too Busy For Teachers

 Bosses Block Good Shops Code

 Engineers Ground Safety System

 Workers Win At Safety Meet

 Merger Threats

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Dear John
In his 500th piece of activist journalism, long-term Workers Online contributor Rowan Cahill sends a personal message to our prime Minister.

The Locker Room
Retired Hurt
Every innings comes to an end, some too soon, and others not soon enough, writes Phil Doyle.

Wedge Watch
Labor's Craig Emerson puts the spotlight on the Howard Government's politics of division.

The Westie Wing
Workers Friend Ian West MLC is back with his monthly round-up from Macquarie Street.

 Feds Ignore Building Deaths
 Bob Gould On Kicking The Liberals Out
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Tool Shed


In the tradition of Doctor Strangelove, loopy Liberal Senator Robert Hill rides a missile into the Tool Shed this week after committing Australia to spending a bucketload to protect us all from a threat that isnít there.


Ahhh, the Star Wars Program, how's that for a bit of nostalgia?

When the most dangerous US President in living memory starts gasbagging on about putting man on the moon again you can be sure that their conga-line allies here are also searching for a decent distraction from a deteriorating electoral situation.

In a week that has seen new ALP leader Mark Latham show a lot of go, the Federal Government has been desperately scrambling around trying to find a wedge to portray Mark as being 'soft on terrorism'.

Given that the Star Wars Program is allegedly able to protect us from inter-continental ballistic missiles, exactly what relevance it has in protecting us from car bombs is immediately unclear.

Nevertheless the government has released Senate attack puppy, Robert Hill, to save us all from whatever the latest peril is this week.

The rather inappropriately named Defence Minister let the cat out of the bag by admitting that there isn't really a threat after all.

So what is Robert Hill doing spending taxpayers dosh looking in a dark room for a black cat that isn't there?

I think most Australians can safely assume that the Federal cabinet has collectively lost its marbles and that Hill is no exception. Either that or our defence priorities are decided by some flunkey in Rumsfeld's office, as no other nation is queuing up to get on board this pie in the sky project.

Luckily though the technology is incredibly suspect, and the election of a Democrat US president will pull the pin on this nice little earner for the arms industry, and see a move towards far more trivial priorities such as health care, education, the environment and living standards.

In the meantime though Hill is happy to shovel money at this Emperor's New Clothes project despite the fact that there is no current credible threat. Hill is fond to bang on about security but our Tool of the Week seems to think this equates with his own party's electoral fortunes.

It should come as no surprise that all this should emanate from a man who views those Australian's who put their lives on the line for this country as a nice photo opportunity. Bobby Hill is no Napoleon, more of a General Custer, with his latest no-brainer highlighting how out of his depth this man is. One use he could put his position to is finding out what from the Navy what are the appropriate procedures when on a sinking ship.

Our Tool of the Week will have to take a break from the conga-line for a while and find his security under the protection of the sturdy Tool Shed roof.

If Robert Hill had a scrap of honesty left he would paraphrase Jack Kennedy: "We do not choose to do these things because they are easy, but rather, we choose to do these things because they are good wedge politics."


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


Ship of Tools - All the tools in one shed!

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