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Issue No. 217 23 April 2004  

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.


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


 "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!


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.

 More Than Cricket
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Feared Beard in Shipping Scare

An independent expert has backed up claims by maritime workers that terrorist network Al Qaeda could easily infiltrate Australia.

The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies warns that lax security and widespread fraud mean that the al Qaeda network could infiltrate the ranks of the world's 1.2 million seafarers.

"It will be relatively easy for al Qaeda to have their agents pose as seafarers and at some point take command of a ship," Institute spokesperson Michael Richardson told participants at a maritime seminar.

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) demonstrated how easily fake papers for crew members can be bought when it bought a First Officer's certificate from Panama in 2001 for its General Secretary David Cockroft, who has no shipboard training or experience.

"The flag of convenience (FOC) system allows potential terrorists into our waters," says the International Transport Federation's Dean Summers. "I think its generally accepted everywhere in the world now, that al Qaeda, Bin Laden and a whole range of other terrorist organizations around the world get a lot of money from piracy and from running ships."

Summers says that, according to the international security community, around 20 vessels are run by al Qaeda.

"They cannot identify the beneficial owners," says Summers. "Why? Because one of the key features of the FOC system is that it provides owners with absolute anonymity."

"There could be vessels in our ports right now that are beneficially owned by terrorist organisations."

Richardson said modern ships are highly automated and can be operated by crews of fewer than 20. This means it would take a small number of well-trained terrorists to seize command of a big ship and turn it into a floating bomb.

Singapore has warned that recent piracy attacks in the narrow Malacca Straits have been conducted with almost military precision and fears links have already been developed between pirates and terrorists operating in the region.


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