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Issue No. 212 12 March 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

Unfriendly Fire
The decision by Rail Corp to invoke Peter Reith’s hardline industrial laws against NSW rail maintenance workers could cause more casualties than intended.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Baby Bust
Labor's Wayne Swan argues that the plight of our aging workforce is only one side of our demographic dilemma.

Safety: Dust To Dust
Failure by authorities to police safety in the asbestos removal industry is threatening the lives of members of the public, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

International: Bulk Bullies
An extraordinary five month struggle over affordable health care, by nearly 70,000 Californian supermarket workers, has just come to an end, writes Andrew Casey.

History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Green Bans saved a piece of bush before they saved much of the Sydney’s built environment, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Tim Anderson reveals Australia’s second betrayal Of East Timor is playing out before our eyes.

Review: The Art Of Work
Workers and westies are being celebrated as the cultural icons they are thanks to two Sydney exhibitions reminding us there is a world of art in the everyday, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Wondering where the next porkie is going to come from? Resident bard David Peetz knows.

N E W S

 Bring It On Costa

 Dodgy Tests Cost Drivers

 Peeking Dicks Roasted

 Serial Killer Cops Fine

 Printers Defy Age

 Actors Bucket "Crap" Deal

 Burrow Lashes Independents

 Perth Loses Ugly Fight

 Ambos Bans -Free Rides

 Millions Rung Up on Telstra

 AWU Publishing Coup

 Deliveries Scratched

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Iraq and Your Mortgage
How high interest rates go will be a key issue in 2004 and if you are looking for a clue, there's no better place to look than the war in Iraq, writes Michael Rafferty.

Sport
Hang Onto the Day Job
Show someone else the money, says Phil Doyle.

Politics
Westie Wing
Ian West shows why Eveleigh Street’s not so far away from Macquarie Street

Postcard
Don’t Give Up the Fight
Get Up, Stand Up is the logo of choice on a popular range of subversive condoms. Ken Davis from Union Aid Abroad reports from Zimbabwe’s second city

L E T T E R S
 Bring Back Gough
 Seven Good Reasons To Save Medicare
 Naked Leading The Blind
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Tool Shed

UNHEALTHY TOOL


Meg Lees earns a stint in the Tool Shed this week after making everyone heartily sick last week by turning Medicare into Mediocre.

*****

Some extraordinary egos have paraded in public life in recent years, but none have tipped a bucket on working people so much as the Claytons Liberal Senator for South Australia, Meg Lees.

Is poor Meg just John Howard in a frock?

The woman who gave us a GST on tampons was at it again last week, signing off on a deal that will gut public health insurance and

Meg stormed off out of the Democrats some time back, spitting the dummy when she couldn't get her way.

She backed up this excellent example of being a team player by setting up a party in her image. O one remembers the name of her party any more, and why should they? We'll never hear from it again after the next federal election.

This is the same discredited buffoon who campaigned on the basis that a vote for her was a vote against the GST, only to roll over and inflict the GST on Australia at the first opportunity.

Meg bangs on about improving Medicare, but what part of the word universal doesn't she understand? Listening to her you'd think she'd discovered a cure for AIDS, but in fact what she has delivered is something in the order of 0.1% of the national income to be thrown at turning Medicare into a charity program.

Thanks to Meg, Tony Abbott's mates in the rich people's health care system will now be rolling in it, while working Australians are bled dry by these parasitical vampires. The private health sector, from the health insurers to the private hospitals that piggyback off our tax dollars, are designed to turn people's misfortune into a profit.

Health care should be about making sick people well, not making sickos wealthy.

Meg either has a philosophical objection to working families getting decent affordable health care, or she is a moron.

Howard used to stain his sheets dreaming of dismantling something that gave working people affordable health care. He threw the psychopath Abbott at the health portfolio to try and dismantle it. Abbott should get back to ripping wings off flies and beating up on cripples, he seems to enjoy that.

If Meg thinks that these clowns are doing anything except engaging in a cynical exercise in pulling Medicare to pieces then she's dumber than she looks.

If she seriously thinks that this package will improve the lot of families that are already struggling to find a GP who bulk bills then it must be a wonderful planet she lives on, and certainly very different from planet Earth.

The real issue is raising the rebate for doctors who bulk bill to something approaching reality.

Meg may think she's improved Medicare, rebadging the new charity driven outfit as Medicare Plus. The only thing that s missing from this package is provision for paupers' graves and workhouses for people to work off their health bills.

All this pointless palaver about safety nets ignores the fact that Medicare IS a safety net. If Meg thinks it needs a safety net then maybe it's because Medicare as it exists is underfunded and being run into the ground by the bozos that run the shop at the moment.

Meg can go into the Tool Shed until she shows signs of remission, and develops a human side to her blinkered worldview and starts to understand what this Federal Government is doing to working Australian families.

Medicare plus? It's enough to make anyone sick.



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