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Issue No. 216 16 April 2004  

Joining the Dots
At first blush there appears little connection between the Howard Government’s handling of the War on the union movement and the War on Iraq – until you realise the key players come from the same team.


Interview: Terror Australis
The Howard Government has just discovered the nation's ports are a terrorist target. The International Transport Federation's Dean Summers has been warning them for years.

Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Hidden in the Australian Workers Union Sydney office is a mild-mannered industrial officer who once strutted the international cricket stage, writes Jim Marr.

Industrial: The Hell of Troy
On the basis of a couple of hours in the witness box, Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terence Cole described Troy Stratti as "credible". Six men who, together, have known the company director for the best part of 50 years beg to differ.

Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Traditional unions are rediscovering the power of grassroots organising. Paddy Gorman reports from the coal face.

Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
Evan Jones argues that economic policy making has been narrowed and rendered mechanistic and antiseptic.

History: Vicious Old Lady
Despite its Liberal leanings, the Sydney Morning Herald has never been shy of bashing unions, writes Neale Towart.

International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Thailand must end its crackdown on Burmese fleeing rights abuses in their military-ruled homeland, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Review: War Unfogged
Want to go to war but not sure where to start? Look no further than Errol Morris' latest doco-drama for the definitive 11-step lesson plan, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: TAFE
A TAFE student struggling under the weight of fees shares his wordly wisdom


 Weekend Warrior Outed

 Dick’s Got Form

 Mum Burned By "Barbecue Stopper"

 RSL Bombs Vets

 Sweetener for Sugar Pills

 Death Highlights Risky Business

 Casual Affair On The Buses

 Athens Update: Dying Games

 Nuns Run Amok in Cessnock

 Roving Commission for Safety Reps

 Workers Order Ziggy on Toast

 Divers Down

 Activists What’s On!


A Voice for Peace
Palestinian trade union leader calls on militants to lay down their arms while the ICFTU protests harassment of Palestinian union leader.

The Soapbox
The Double Standard Bearers
Nicholas Way argues that when it comes to collective action, the Howard Government has different views depending on whether you are a unionist or a small business.

The Locker Room
The Fine Print
While the result mightn’t be everything, it does make the back of the newspaper more interesting, as Phil Doyle reports.

The Westie Wing
Ian West crunches the numbers in Macquarie Street and finds virtue in deficit.

 Sick Pay
 Tom’s A Furphy
 Rolling in Clover
 More War And Peace
 Invisible Workers
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Joining the Dots

At first blush there appears little connection between the Howard Government’s handling of the War on the union movement and the War on Iraq – until you realise the key players come from the same team.

On one level Workers Online's revelations about the lawyer who penned the report dismissing a senior security officer's claims that Australia's military intelligence had become fatally politicised, is nothing more than a bit of insider gossip.

We don't know Army Reservist Colonel Richard Tracey (aka Dick Tracey, QC) and we cast no aspersions over his objectivity as a lawyer or integrity as a human being.

So he made a motza hammering the CFMEU at the Cole Royal Commission, so he has been an honoured guest of the HR Nichols Society - everyone is entitled to earn a living.

But we do make the observation that links between Colonel Tracey's work on the Cole Commission, speeches to the HR Nichols Society and work for the military create some intriguing lines of connection to the Howard Administration.

What we find intriguing is that the Howard Government would look to the man it paid to try to demolish its trade union enemies to deal with what can only be described as a national security crisis.

This speaks to a larger story - John Howard's slavish support for an ultra-conservative president and his determination to do anything to justify that position.

His version of the US-Australia Alliance is about more than military adventurism - it is about two political soul mates doing all they can to shape their nations in their own images.

You only have to look at Bush's domestic agenda to see the attraction of his politics to Howard - abolition of overtime as a legal right for eight million workers, actively promoting outsourcing and contracting out of jobs and placing onerous new financial disclosure requirements on unions. It makes Howard's waves of IR reform look like the work of a rank amateur.

Government as a tool for securing control of cheap oil whatever the cost is consistent with government as tool for driving down the rights of the worker - it's all in the name of the ultimate ideal: the profit motive.

And this is the real dynamic that binds current US-Australia Alliance: a closed circle of elite interests, whose tentacles of influence run deep into government, the public service, the legal profession and even the media.

It's only when you join the dots with names like Tracey's that the picture becomes coherent.

Peter Lewis



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