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Issue No. 214 26 March 2004  

The Security Shift
As the War on Terror spirals out of control, the political dynamics of security are starting to shift – and those banging thee drums of war may become the unlikely casualties.


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.


 Terrorism: Workers In Front Line

 ‘Racist Throwback’ on Rail Project

 Green Light for Council Code

 Underground Mines a Time Bomb

 Teachers Delete Email

 Bush Uses Burma Sweatshops

 Family Mourns Dead Worker

 Call Centre Shocker

 Bosses Touched Up With Wet Lettuce

 Andrews Throws Last Dice at CFMEU

 Smelter Contractors Clear Air

 Activists What’s On!


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.

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

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

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

 More On Green Bans
 But Will He Get the Trains To Run On Time?
 Uniting For Peace
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The Security Shift

As the War on Terror spirals out of control, the political dynamics of security are starting to shift – and those banging thee drums of war may become the unlikely casualties.

Where once it seemed all a conservative leader had to do was elevate the threat of terror to bump themselves up a few points in polls, the time has finally come when the public wants to stop being scared.

Fast realising that it is impossible to bomb a faceless enemy into submission, our so-called statesmen are slowly beginning to be held accountable by a public unpacking the assertions of their leaders.

George W Bush has this week been battling testimony from his own counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke that he ignored the threat of Al-Quaeda as president and then swiftly contrived to make Iraq the enemy in the days following the September 11 attacks.

The feverish push to discredit Clarke shows an Administration beginning to look just a little vulnerable, not helped by the on-going Iraqi quagmire that former US weapons inspector David Kay has denounced as a 'mistake'.

A similar exercise in shooting the messenger has been occurring in Australia, where the Prime Minister has been sprung heavying his chief of police for stating the bleeding obvious - our blind following of US military adventurism has made us a greater target of terrorists.

Like Bush, Howard can read the shift in the air - for all their show of military might their citizens are not feeling safer and - like the shell-shocked Spaniards - they are starting to look for a more sophisticated response from their leaders.

But this is only part of the story. More people are beginning to look behind the rhetoric and question how government decisions are really impacting on national security.

A case in point was the Deputy Prime Minister's hairy-chested announcement last weekend of how he had discovered that Australia's ports were a potential entrance point for terrorists.

To those in the Maritime Union who have been fighting against Flag of Convenience shipping for years this came as less than a revelation.

They've been the one's trying to warn the public that stacking our coastlines with Liberian flagged ships, crewed by workers on third world wages at a time of international turmoil may not be the most prudent sort of public policy.

Unfortunately, these warnings have fallen on deaf ears - indeed the government has extended the policy so that even our domestic shipping routes are now serviced by ships and crews that we know absolutely nothing about.

So it must have come as quite a relief to the MUA that the government will review maritime security in our ships and ports.

As with so much of this ill-defined war, the stated intentions seem to be undermined by the policy of deregulation that this government has been ideologically duty-bound to pursue.

This is where conservative governments ultimately hit a brick wall on security - they spend their time breaking down global rules - on currency exchanges, trade, the environment, shipping and even global security - and then wonder why they lack the capacity to impose order.

The Social Democrats like Kerry and Latham know the only way we can move forward is to accept that unilateralism and bilateralism are flawed doctrines - that until we rebuild our global institutions we have no hope at all.

That's their appeal to an electorate that still rates terror as a key issue. And that's the security doctrine that has the neo-cons like Bush and Howard running scared.

Peter Lewis



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