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Issue No. 217 23 April 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

Textor Messaging
Those responsible for communicating the union movement’s message to the public met in Melbourne this week and invited none other than John Howard’s master pollster to give his perspective. The spooky thing was his message to unions was an optimistic one.

F E A T U R E S

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

N E W S

 "Slave Labour" in WA Revolt

 Vaile Orange – 200 Punted

 Right Turn Ends in Court

 Premier on Track to Nowhere

 Bosses Unite Against Holidays

 Miners Stand Up to "Bullies"

 All Out in the Gong

 Zoo Poo Stink

 Feared Beard in Shipping Scare

 Mayday … Footy Player Celebrates

 Teachers Roll Up for Discipline

 De-Skilling Australia

 Activists What’s On!

C O L U M N S

Postcard
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.

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

L E T T E R S
 More Than Cricket
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Tool Shed

CASH FOR TOOL?


Professor David Flint talks his way into the Tool Shed this week as the deregulator’s regulator.

******

The hopelessly conflicted Professor David Flint took time off from his Canute like effort to stop Australia becoming a republic to offer what laughably passes as a defence of his actions as head of the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

Despite what it may seem the ABA is not, in fact, a Liberal Party retirement home.

Flinty does well when he manages to keep a straight face while describing the ABA as a regulator. Who or what it regulates is not immediately clear; it certainly isn't the media.

When shock jocks around the country showed all the principle of a Deloittes marketing consultant and touted their beliefs to the highest bidder in what became known as the 'cash-for-comment' scandal, the ABA promised a severe lashing with a wet lettuce to anyone who continued the practice.

Then it emerged that the Parrot, Alan Jones, had a rather interesting arrangement with his employer, the Macquarie Network, in which it appears Jones, in a Damascus like conversion, finds Telstra is even better than sliced bread.

This happens around the time that Telstra comes to an arrangement with the Macquarie Network worth the GDP of a small African country.

The ABA reasoned that the telecommunications giant was not paying the money to Alan Jones, but to the Macquarie Network, where Alan Jones holds a significant financial interest.

So, according to the ship that the good Professor Flint runs, Telstra wasn't buying Alan Jones' opinion at all.

It remains unclear as to whether Flint also maintains equally credible belief in the Tooth Fairy.

Flint believes that this "is the normal sort of arrangement where somebody, an advertiser, decides to sponsor a program by paying the station".

The fact that the public may become misinformed about the activities of a corporation that has no qualms about running our telecommunications infrastructure into the ground, shipping jobs offshore and trying to ditch it's majority shareholders - the Australian Public - appears to sail sweetly over the head of good Professor Flint.

But this is hardly surprising from this stiff lipped son of Empire.

Flint is on the record as saying that the market is the best way to regulate media and that media owners do not dictate editorial policy - as we saw recently at the Murdoch shindig in Cancun, Mexico. That was where Rupert's editors got the line direct from Condaleeza Rice on the need to keep saving Iraqis by bombing them to bits.

No, Murdoch doesn't tell his editors what the line is, not at all. Well, not in Dave Flint's happy world.

Just because Flint is the sort of congenital moron who populates the conservative end of Australia's political spectrum doesn't mean that he can't have an opinion on the media.

It gets a bit more than dodgy though when he's left as the regulator - a bit like letting Dracula regulate the Red Cross. Luckily though, he's decided not to regulate anything.

Which is hardly surprising given that he doesn't even appear to be able to regulate his own brain. This is the inbred pseudo-aristocrat who was born with an entire silver service shoved in his mouth, who then has the temerity to write a book called The Twilight Of the Elites, where he does a pitiful job trying to savage those he calls The Elite.

The Elite, in Flint's world, appear to have only one thing in common; they disagree with one, David Flint. He would have been better off calling it The Twilight Of David Flint's Credibility.

Our Tool Of The Week would do us all a service if he not only resigned from public life, but from Australia as well.

Declaration of interest: The Tool Shed is not sponsored by any private corporations and it's only financial arrangement is with the Hurlstone Park TAB



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