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Issue No. 208 13 February 2004  

All The Way With FTA?
Question marks over the bi-lateral Free Trade Agreement with the USA have only begun to scratch the surface.


Interview: Trading in Principle
AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, a key figure in the Labor movement, discusses the big issues - from Mark Latham to Pavlovís Dogs.

Unions: While We Were Away
While Workers Online was washing sand from between its toes and enjoying an Indian summer at the cricket, there was a reality show chugging relentlessly away in the background, Jim Marr reports.

Politics: Follow the Leader
Workerís Online tool man, Phil Doyle, dives into the ALPís Darling Harbour love-in and nearly drowns in treacle.

Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
The CFMEU has come up with a killer nomination to kick off our 2004 hunt for Australiaís worst employer.

Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
British academic, Kevin Doogan, sets the record straight on casualisation and warns unionists about the dangers of scoring an own goal

History: Worker Control Harco Style
Drew Cottle and Angela Keys ask if it's worth rememberinng the 1971 Harco work-in.

Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
The 1998 maritime dispute threatened to tear many a family apart but Katherine Thomson's Harbour tells the tale of at least one that it brought back together - albeit reluctantly, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Rail Safety Back On Track

 Commuter Headaches Continue

 Ban "Ruthless" Operators - Judge

 Telstra Provokes Jobs Fight

 Taskforce Ignores Million Dollar Rorts

 Musos Tune-Up for Election Rock

 Chubby Fingers in Timorese Pockets

 Postal Workers Wrap Boss

 Aussie Sites Doing the Business

 Feds Abandon Aged

 TAFE Stands Over Poor Students

 Round the World on Aid

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Dog Whistlers, Spin Doctor and Us
John Menadue argues the "better angels" of the Australian character are having their wings ripped off by an ever-expanding group dedicating to keeping the public at arms length from our decision-makers.

Something Fishy In Laos
Phillip Hazelton fishes around in Vientiane, Laos, and looks at the impact of Bird Flu on those relying on feathered friends for survival.

Magic Realism
Phil Doyle discovers that literature and sport may have more in common than you would think

The Westie Wing
Trickle, flood or drought? Workers friend Ian West, MLC, is wet, wet, wet on the issue of bilateral Free Trade.

 Reality TV
 TAFE Support
 State Of Confusion
 History Lesson
 Generation Angst
 Give Them A Medal
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The pompous little foolís days look numbered as the truth, and time, catch up with our Tool Of The Week, Johnny Howard.


The year of the monkey doesn't look like being a high water mark in the career of our lame-duck Prime Minister, John Howard.

The National Embarrassment is an increasingly desperate man, forced to play catch up as his nemesis, Mark Latham, sets the Federal political agenda.

Last week he tried to portray Latham as Mr Flip Flop, only for that epithet to blow up in his face as he did a 180-degree turnaround on parliamentary superannuation. The self-styled man of steel is actually a jellybacked man of rubber. His misplaced sense of his own importance didn't allow him to bite the bullet and impose his new rigorous standards on himself of course; he'll be desperately clinging to his own golden parachute, and the way things are going he'll be using it sooner rather than later.

This intellectual pimple is a classic do-as-I say-not-as-do leader. Who can forget the lavish Italian hotel room; his record spending on plonk; Or his need for two houses - ironically while many of his fellow Australians are struggling to hang onto one.

This from someone who portrays himself as some kind of suburban everyman! Yeah, right.

Australia's worst Prime Minister in living memory is more than likely headed for the high jump the way things are going. He is a thoroughly discredited figure who for years has made a living out of lying.

In his desperation the Godfather of Gormlessness has stooped to some pretty gutless opportunism in his time. We've had the map of Australia on the 7.30 report showing the aboriginal takeover; the 'never ever' GST; non-core promises; the Tampa garbage; his appropriation of One Nation's agenda; the complete rubbish that formed the basis for taking the country to war in Iraq; beating up on public schools; and on and on ad nauseam.

Unfortunately being loose with the truth has a way of catching up with people, as it is now with Mr I-Wasn't-Told. Not since Alan Bond's trial have we come across someone who was so lacking in knowledge as to what was going on. His notion of what laughably passes as leadership is entirely devoid of accountability. And this man is running the country? God help us all.

He has never led a government of much substance. The end result is that his government's policies from health to education to the workplace are a shambles as he scrambles to make decisions on the run. He'll be rolling out the pork-barrel in election year, but will anybody seriously be buying? The fact that Abbott and Costello are the next in line in the talent gives readers some appreciation of how bare the government's stocks are.

This is a man who has truly demeaned us all. If Mark Latham is offering the 'ladder of opportunity', then little Johnny offers us the 'ladder of opportunism'.

Just how much of a joke this pathetic little man has become became clear over the summer when he accused Latham of being "loose with the truth". This was met with sniggers and bemusement rather than anger or dismay. The man is losing his grip.

Now that he's under pressure we start to see him out and about with pre-school kiddies, which is a truly scary thought.

In thirty years of public life Howard has managed to move from kissing babies to photo opportunities with four year olds. At this rate he would have to live to be 300 before we could get him to address issues to adults.

He has obviously managed to assume the mantle of Head of State, with his beloved Governor-General all but invisible. Fair dinkum, Photo-op Howard would attend the opening of a wound!

His megalomaniacal fantasies may suffer a reality check if his increasingly rattled and erratic behaviour continues. The way things are going our Tool Of The Week may well step down prior to the next election, something he should have done thirty years ago.

This Gimp for the Big End Of Town won't be missed - let's just hope he doesn't hit himself on the door on the way out.


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.


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