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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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Education

De-Skilling Australia


Tens of thousands of Australian youngsters are being turned away from TAFEs as Australia faces a "skills shortage".

The news comes after the Federal Government brushed TAFE teacher representatives in Canberra recently.

The Federal Minister for Education Science and Training, Dr. Nelson, could not accept an invitation to attend the recent Vocational Education and Training Round Table involving teachers, industry representatives and politicians. He agreed instead to attend the National TAFE Council set down for later in the week, but pulled out at the last minute.

"I find it truly frightening for the Australian workforce that that there is no thought through concept [from Government]," says Linda Simon, Secretary of the TAFE Teachers Association and Federal TAFE President. "How can people have a career? How can we develop industry? How will Australia be able to compete in the world market?"

Simon has slammed Nelson, claiming he "doesn't care" about education, and that his policies will lead to "half-trained" workers.

Teachers estimate that, despite the looming skills shortage, unmet demand for TAFE is around 50,000 places nationally, and that funding this demand would go a along way towards meeting the skills shortages.

"The Minister appears to see the answer as shorter apprenticeships and specialised apprenticeship pathways," says Simon. "Translated this means less education and training, and less multi skilling. The Government has come up with a short term solution that will disadvantage Australian workers and industry in the long term."


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