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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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Big Bribe Misses Battlers

Peter Costello�s "family" budget will put more cash in PR spinners� pockets than aged care training and underwrite an explosion in "backyard" childcare.

These are just two of the anomalies identified by analysts as building workers point to the government dedicating five times as much to "attacking" unions as to protecting lives.

The ACTU has slammed the budget for "squandering" a record surplus while still failing to save Medicare, public education, or make childcare and other basic services more affordable.

"The tax cuts are outrageously unfair - handing $42 a week to the richest 10% of Australians," says ACTU President Sharan Burrow. "There is no tax relief at all for 70% of working Australians earning less than $52,000 a year."

Burrow described the budget's family package as poorly designed, unbalanced and disappointing.

"The one-off payments to families are a cover for the badly managed family payments system that is trapping parents into debt,' says Burrow.

Aged Care Left To Spin

Melbourne-based aged care worker Bella Millar said staff would be disappointed that more was not being done to improve the care of the elderly.

"We try to provide the best care we can but we are constantly rushing and not being able to give the quality of care we would like," she said.

HSU national secretary Craig Thomson said the budget did not require a single operator to lift their staffing levels, pay higher wages or improve the quality of care.

Mr Thomson also questioned why the Federal Government had failed to adopt the recommendations of the Hogan Review for a massive increase in training and education of staff to address the shortages in the industry.

"In fact more is being spent on PR spin to sell the package than on training by the department in the next financial year," says Thomson. "Aged care providers will get substantially more money but it is not tied to improving care standards.

"A report produced for the Federal Government last month showed that less than 20 per cent of staff have enough time to properly care for residents."

Childcare - No Help For Working Families

"This government is doing nothing to help the thousands of families desperately waiting for quality long day care places," says Jo-anne Schofield, LHMU assistant secretary. "There is nothing to address the structural issues of affordability of child care places and the quality-monitoring of child care centres."

"The government cannot assure mothers that they are monitoring and delivering quality places for our children."

The LHMU has also slammed the Federal Government's "failure" to support low-wage childcare workers.

Attacking Construction Unions A "Waste"

Meanwhile the CFMEU is appalled at Treasurer Peter Costello's decision to "waste" five times as much attacking construction unions than it is prepared to spend addressing safety.

"Poor safety management costs the construction industry $190.3 million a year, but Peter Costello is not prepared to invest in effective measures to improve the health and safety record of one of Australia's most important industries," says CFMEU National Construction Secretary John Sutton

"The $21.7 million allocated for the Federal Safety Commission contrasts starkly with the $105 million the government is prepared to waste attacking building unions and workers who pursue collective bargaining agreements."


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