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Issue No. 219 07 May 2004  

The Mouse That Roars
A number of campaigns this week show how web campaigning is reaching a level of sophistication that is transforming it from a gee-whiz fad to a potent industrial tool.


Interview: Machine Man
It’s regarded as the most powerful job in the Party, but new NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib wants to build a bridge with the union movement.

Unions: Testing Times
Unions are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing, but they do want to see real safety issues addressed, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
FreeSpirit forked out a motza for a whiz bang internet presence then disappeared right off the radar – once it was nominated as our Bad Boss for May.

Unions: Badge of Honour
Surry Hills is home to one of the world’s finest displays of union badges thanks to Bill "The Bear" Pirie and a supporting cast headed by Joe Strummer, Mark Knopfler, George Benson, Annie Lennox and other seriously big noises.

National Focus: Noel's World
Shrill bosses bleat over minimum wage rise, union spinmeisters congregate in Melbourne and Tassie’s nurses take the baton from their mob in Victoria reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Economics: Safe Refuge
A humanitarian approach to refugees and an economically rational one?? I’d like to see that. Frank Stilwell did, when he went to Young in NSW to look into the impact of the Afghan refugees on temporary protection visas who came to work for the local abattoir

International: Global Abuse
Amnesty International have joined the chorus against the violation of trade union rights in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

History: The Honeypot
To the Honeypot come those individuals anxious to get their hands on instant wealth. So it was in the early days of Broken Hill, wrties Grace Hawes in this homage to the mining town.

Review: Death And The Barbarians
This new take on coming of age films focuses on the coming of death and the dignity and maturity it can inspire among those touched by it - though not always easily in the overcrowded Canadian public health system, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers some of the unfolding mysteries of talk back radio.


 Casual Affair Costs Family

 Dob a Driver Strikes Out

 Crash LAME’s Smoking Gun

 Axe To Fall On Skippy

 Internet Replaces Crayons

 Young Lives Crushed

 Feds Move Goal Posts

 Telstra Baulks at Two Percent

 Crane Death Brings Fine

 Worker Breaks Unwritten Law

 Private Nurses Short Changed

 RailCorp Wrecks Weekend

 Thunderbirds Are Stop

 Activists What’s On!


The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 1
Dr David McKnight, from the University of Technology, Sydney presents a new frame for looking at the competing ideas within Social Democracy.

The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 2
David McKnight concludes the paper he presented to the ‘Rethinking Social Democracy’ conference, in London, April 15-17, 2004.

Out On A Limb
Phil Doyle becomes the first Australian journalist to state that the Olympics will be called off.

The Westie Wing
In the latest episode, Ian West explores what Disraeli called "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

Message from America
Searing snapshots from a landscape of uncertainty have plunged the Bush Administration into deeper crisis, writes WorkingForChange's Bill Berkowitz.

 Justice For Victims Denied
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Activists What’s On!

Pig On a Spit - Safari Picket

The famous CFMEU safari restaurant picket is now a nightly picket!

The CFMEU are conducting a picket of the Safari restaurant to get the owners to pay entitlements owed to workers (the owners are also builders). The Safari restaurant is in King Street Newtown. Picket is nightly (and every night until they pay up!). From 6pm. All welcome.


An exhibition of banners, badges and posters produced by trade unions, and original artworks by Jeff Rigby highlighting the strong historical role unions have played in the creation and conservation of our built environment, whilst May Day materials emphasise the workers' achievements in gaining and maintaining the rights and conditions of those who built it. From: 1st May to 16th May 2003 at Braemar Gallery, 104 Macquarie Rd, Springwood Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10.00am to 4.00pm


Dear Fair Wear supporters,

Over the last 6 weeks Fair Wear has been educating Fashion Week designers on the benefits of accreditation to the Home worker's Code of Practice in order to get them to sign the code.

We are now into Fashion Week and only one designer, Allanah Hill, is in the process of getting accredited. Two others have expressed an interest. However the overwhelming response from the fashion design world has been: "Go away, we don't care."

Typical responses to our approaches are:

"This has nothing to do with me, I contract with a manufacturer to make the garments and they provide to me under contract. I have nothing to do with what your talking about."

The Australian public don‚t care how the clothes are made so long as they can get them at the right price and they don‚t care so long as it makes them look or feel good.

Fair Wear is combating this "ignorance is bliss" attitude by taking outworkers messages direct to the designers themselves, to the heart of the rag trade in Surry Hills. We will be gathering outside Akira Isogawa HQ at 2-12 Fouveux St Surry Hills on Wednesday the 12th May lunchtime, at 12.30.

Please bring a friend, your enthusiasm and a good strong singing voice and together we'll make this one Fashion Week Hangover the designers will not forget!

See you there!

Integrate Health and Safety or Perish

ACTU Seminar, 12 and 13 May 2004 Carlton Crest Hotel, Haymarket, Sydney


"Every Step Counts" - Landmine Action Week

14th to 23rd May 2004 NSW Launch of Landmine Action Week Where: Martin Place Sydney Date: May 14th When 11.15am Show your support by * placing a shoe on the shoe pyramid * sign the postcard petition * learn how we can eliminate landmines * see a landmine detection demonstration * listen to music Lets eliminate Landmines - every step counts Visit the website contact the campaigner [email protected] phone 0407 463 779

Feminism in a neo-liberal age


Research Initiative on International Activism

'Women around the world are organizing in a common effort to end poverty and violence against women. What could be more important?' Judy Rebick, Canada.

Public Lecture: 'Feminism in a neo-liberal age', Judy Rebick

Respondent: Eva Cox, UTS

When: 19 May, 6pm

Where: Gallery Function Centre, Level 6, Tower Building, UTS Broadway

Access: Entry by donation, disabled access

Information: 9514 2714,

Judy Rebick is in Australia to attend the Brisbane Social Forum. Her visit to Sydney is supported by the Research Initiative on International Activism at UTS.

About Judy Rebick

Judy Rebick is one of Canada's best-known feminist and socialist thinkers. She is a regular broadcaster for the Canada public broadcaster, the CBC. For years, she co-hosted a daily CBC television show called 'Face-off' (a hockey term): a half-hour of debate between leftists and rightists on current events. She is best known for her commentary on the status of women, and on alternatives to economic rationalism in Canada. Currently she publishes the web-based news service - 'Rabble' - a lively forum of critical politics. The magazine brings together a range of columnists, including Naomi Klien and Michele Landsberg, challenging mainstream media.

Rebick was previously President of NAC, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, when it was a vibrant umbrella group of over 600 women's organizations. She came to the NAC from the pro-choice movement , working with medical doctors, some jailed for their efforts, to establish abortion clinics in Canada.

Judy Rebick is also an academic. She lectures on Women's Studies at the University of Toronto and in 2002 became the first CAW Sam Gindin Professor of Social Justice at Ryerson University, Toronto - a professorship funded by the Canadian Auto Workers trade union and named in honour of the economist and activist Sam Gindin. In her book, Imagine Democracy, she draws on her experience in activism and politics to show how a democratic society can work. She is currently working on an anecdotal history of feminism in Canada.

On the new feminism

Rebick's CBC contributions often address feminist issues. Against claims in the mainstream media that feminism is dead, 'that the women's movement has two feet in the grave', she speaks of a 'new wave' of feminist organizing and action. Analysing the upsurge against corporate globalization, in Seattle in 1999 and since, she finds women at the centre of the rebellion 'now raging around the world'. Rebick sees women on the march the world over. This unprecedented wave of feminism reflects a worldwide feminisation of poverty.

For her, neo-liberalism is the prime culprit. Government cut-backs and privatization directly attack the status of women. As she argues, 'What women have gained in legal rights over the last 20 years, they are losing through ham-fisted economic and social policy. The gap between rich and poor is growing and the face of the poor is overwhelmingly female. Cuts to health care, education and public services hit women hardest as they are the majority of workers in most sectors as well as the unpaid workers who take up the slack when public services fail. Cutbacks to shelters and rape crisis centres, as well as the cuts to social supports, are making it more difficult for women to leave violent situations.'

The story is familiar, and shared across many contexts. She highlights the resulting impact on women in Canada and worldwide, that ensures women now make up two-thirds of the poorest of the poor. For Rebick, the solution is in the hands of women. In Canada, the womens movement improved the lot of middle class women, but had little impact on poor women. The 'new wave' of womens movements, she argues, is focused on poverty.

The Women's March Against Poverty, which took place in Quebec in 1995, was a source of inspiration. Organised by the Quebec Women's Federation, '850 women marched for 10 days from Montreal to Quebec City to win nine demands related to economic justice. Fifteen-thousand people greeted them at the end of the march.' The Quebec march inspired the World March for Women, held in 2000, which saw the Canadian Labour Congress and the NAC marching with the Quebec Women's Federation to the national capital in Ottawa. The World March culminated at the UN building in New York, with a highly symbolic action by over 3000 womens organisations from 145 countries, demanding an end to womens poverty.

For Rebick, the World March invigorated feminist politics, creating 'an enthusiasm and energy that I haven't seen for 20 years in the women's movement'. At the time she quoted Gloria Steinem saying that 'Seattle is the women's movement', arguing the World March of Women bore this out. For her, the March signaled 'a global struggle to put the brakes on a system of savage capitalism that is leaving the vast majority of women and children of the world in its wake.'

On fundamentalism

With the 'War on Terror', Rebick has made a direct connection between opposing corporate globalisation and opposing fundamentalism. In her ZNet article, 'Anti-Globalization | Anti-Fundamentalism', she refuses the choice between corporate globalization and fundamentalism. She argues both are 'devastating for women', charting 'a third path, based on equality, democracy and respect for diversity' - demanded by women in 1995 at the UN conference on women in Beijing.

For her, neo-liberal globalisation creates the preconditions for fundamentalism. It removes economic stability and undermines cultural autonomy. Markets and Westernisation are confronted by theocracy and Fundamentalism, 'whether Moslem, Hindu or Christian'. One anti-Women orthodoxy replaces another.

The third option though, is also on the agenda, brought alive by anti-globalisation movements 'in the belly of beast', and by the World Social Forum (WSF) process in Porto Alegre, Brazil. As the WSF addresses poverty feminisation, reproductive rights and violence against women, it becomes a vehicle for this agenda.

Yet the alternative path is fraught with dangers. The media abuse that confronted Sunera Thobani - former NAC president - when she criticized US foreign policy post-September 11, shows how the new strong-arm politics has closed down the possibility of dissent, especially for women, but most especially for women of colour. This, though, is also a sign of the possibilities. As Rebick notes: 'The vitriol aimed against Thobani was a sign of how dangerous an anti-fundamentalist, anti-neoliberal women's movement, integrated with the anti-globalization movement, is for the powers that be.'

A vision for our times

Perhaps the best example of Rebick's vision is her article on International Womens Day that appeared in Rabble in 2003. Railing against the new militarism, she offers an anti-militarist feminist vision for today:

'Disarming won't be enough. We need a regime change. Men have held on to the levers of power long enough. Their continuing monopoly on power is the biggest threat to world peace, environmental sustainability and, in fact, the survival of the planet. There is no alternative. We will not relent until they step down so that women can take over.

'The feminist movement set its sights on overthrowing the patriarchy back in the 1960s. We understood that the rule of men over women may have been maintained by economic domination and myths of romantic love and male superiority but, ultimately, it was held in place by the threat and the reality of violence. The same violence, economic domination and myths of racism maintained the rule of European countries over their colonies. All domination is rooted in violence and the threat of violence. That is why war is fundamentally a feminist issue...

'On this International Women's Day, let's celebrate the centuries-old women's struggle for peace and against male domination. And let's make sure this anti-war movement practices the politics of non-domination and anti-oppression. Because as long as any of our relationships are based on domination, we will never end the most extreme form that domination can take and the one that lies beneath all the others.'





Summary by James Goodman, Research Initiative on International Activism, UTS. Judy Rebick is also speaking at an ALP forum, on 'Reclaiming Democracy', with Doug Cameron from the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union, at the LHMU, 187 Thomas Street, Haymarket, 18 May, 630pm.

Labor for Refugees meeting with Carmen Lawrence

Date: Friday 4 June 2004 Time: 5.30 - 7pm. Place: Meredith Burgmann's Office President's Dining Room Parliament House Sydney Aim: Debriefing after ALP National Conference Please advise [email protected] if you wish to attend so that we can organise numbers for the alcohol and nibbles which will be supplied.

Popular Education Activism & Organising

Education is a key to developing activists and active members of organisations. The new activist educator is an organiser, teacher, consultant and theorist. What methods are being used today to equip activists to build social movements? Does activist education reflect a democratic agenda or is it largely instrumental? How do we know if educational practices are working? Are new theories of learning be utilised? This is the second of a three forum series looking at different education, organising and activist strategies being used by movements and organizations pursuing social justice and change agendas. Union activists, environmental campaigners, community advocates, educators and grassroots campaigners are participating in the forums. The forum will actively engage participants in discussing and analysing different experiences. Case Studies Date: Friday, 18 June 2004 Time: 9am - 1.30pm Location: Centre for Popular Education University of Technology, Sydney Jones St, Broadway (Old Fairfax Building) FEES - $30 for one forum; $50 for two forums For further details contact Lee Malone (02) 9514 3861, Daniel Ng (02) 9514 3843 or Tony Brown (02) 9514 3866 email: [email protected] For updates go the Centre for Popular Education website


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