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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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Bullets Foul Childcare

Australia�s biggest child care company is splurging $200,000 on the Brisbane Bullets basketball franchise while rejecting pay increases for adults earning less than $12 an hour.

The facts came to light when ABC Learning Centres executive director, Michael Kemp, told a work value case in Melbourne his company would not reconsider its Bullets sponsorship to lift carers� pay.

Liberal Party-linked ABC has expanded quickly under Federal Government's policy of moving childcare from community to for-profit control. It runs more than 300 centres around Australia, paying youth carers as little $5.99 an hour.

Entry level adults get $11.90 an hour while fully qualified employees, backed by two-year childcare diplomas, earn $14.14 before tax.

ABC is opposing the work value case being run by the LHMU in Victoria and the ACT. The union is claiming $17.51 an hour for workers with diplomas and $13.38 for adults without tertiary qualifications.

"These people are being left behind while others in the industry are getting extremely rich," LHMU industrial officer, Sue Bellino, said.

"Unfortunately, we still have to fight an attitude that childcare is baby sitting rather than education during key developmental years."

Former Liberal Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Sallyann Atkinson, chairs the company's board while party heavyweights, Andrew Peacock and Jeff Kennett, also have close associations.

Its managing director is Eddie Groves, listed by BRW as Australia's fourth-richest man with an estimated personal fortune of $146 million. Groves is suing the childcare workers union for damages over comments made during the wage dispute.

Kemp confirmed in evidence, last week, that the company was on track to post a $20 million after tax profit this financial year.

An ABC Learning Centres representative told AAP its Brisbane Bullets sponsorship was part of an ongoing commitment to clients. She said putting that money into carers' wages would boost individual earnings by 63 percent "a week".


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