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Issue No. 220 14 May 2004  

Motherhood Statements
There is a term for political statements that are so bland they have lost their meaning � terms that no one could disagree with, designed to win the support of all people at all times.


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.


 Big Bribe Misses Battlers

 West in Great Leap Backwards

 Cheques in the Mail

 Bullets Foul Childcare

 Thanks Bob - Lawyers Tuck In

 Watchdog Barks for Workers

 Budget Brushes Elderly Blueprint

 John Sutton�s Fine Idea

 Teachers Unified in Out(r)age

 Qantas Hits Panic Button

 Lights Out At MCG

 Richs to Rags Warning

 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.

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Tool Shed

A Fistful Of Votes

Peter Costello smirks his way into the Tool Shed this week after delivering a budget that sets out to prop up the shabbiest government that money can buy.


"The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away."

- Tom Waits

The Opposition-Leader-In-Waiting-And-Waiting-And-Waiting delivered yet another budget that mirrors the Liberal Party's ideology that the central role of government is to allow its mates to stick their snout in the public trough.

It was illuminating that this government, whose morals appear to exist at the same level as Malcolm Fraser's trousers, used the hoopla and showmanship of budget night to try and slip a few quick ones past while no one was watching.

On budget night they introduced the legislation to "reform" the Parliamentary superannuation scheme. This classic piece of doublethink at once acknowledges how outrageous the current scheme is - so far from community standards that it needs NASA to keep track of its orbit - and yet keeps its rather, ahem, generous provisions for the incumbent seat polishers.

Mind you, more than a few of the government members will need to call on their super in the not too distant future the way things are going.

The sheer disingenuousness of calling up a tactic that was last used in the dying days of the Fraser Government beggars belief!

This whole shabby exercise is steeped in irony - our Tool Of The Week coming to the aid of his flailing leader, Howard; the man whose job he so desperately and obviously wants; using the same tactics that Little Johnny tried to use in 1982.

Let's hope it is just as effective.

You would think that after that effort, they would get it right the second time around, but no.

With tax cuts aimed at the 30% of Australians who earn more than approximately what the Howards spend on wine each year, this sad parody of a government has singled out as to who it is there to represent - and it ain't battlers.

No doubt those that are down to their last three cars are doing it tough, and those who are missing meals each week should make sacrifices so that the fittest can survive. It is Pete's way.

One can only admire Costello's ongoing commitment to ensuring the survival of the species through a bit of social Darwinism.

He may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he does not flinch from setting firm priorities.

He enthused over the importance of spending $64 million on letting the destitute know where the nearest workhouse is. Also, setting the Centrelink repo men onto those who cannot predict their future incomes down to the last cent - despite the fact that it's probably three fifths of stuff all to start with - is another stroke of policy genius.

It is good to see Pete encouraging the advertising industry to help out the millions of Australians for who are set to miss out on his economic miracle.

Well, it saves them the trouble of having to spend that money on actually relieving the situation of the millions of Australians who actually live on $15,000 a year or less.

Luckily this exercise in fiscal panic isn't sullied by spending the surplus on something trivial like education, health or the national infrastructure. Why do that when you can plonk the lot on red 36 and see how the wheel spins.

It's a bit rich for our Tool Of The Week to wander around the country playing Midas after suddenly finding billions of dollars down the back of the lounge after crying poor for the last eight years.

Hopefully this fiscal turpitude is the last we have to put up with from a man who's foray into public life has been a great loss for all concerned, not just those on $52K a year or more.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


Ship of Tools - All the tools in one shed!

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