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Issue No. 221 21 May 2004  

Wage Fixing
The Premier’s attempt to cajole the NSW Industrial Relations Commission - and his subsequent eleventh hour bid to reopen wage negotiations - is about a lot more than the teachers' pay claim.


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.


 Chalkies Draw Line In Sand

 Porkies Leave Shearers In Tents

 Dust Flies In Asbestos Blue

 Joel’s Law One Step Closer

 BHP In Hedland Horror

 Occupation Focuses Anglo Minds

 STOP PRESS - Mitsubishi Carves Up SA

 Ties That Bind

 Fair Play At The Olympics

 Rally Demands Boss’ Head

 Nurses Stake Aged Claim

 Labor To Roll Up Sleeves

 Feds Take Axe To Safety

 AWU Remembers 9-11 Victim

 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

Family Values

This week highflying South Australian Liberal MP Trish Draper gets a junket to…the Tool Shed!


Ah, what a fine thing an open transparent democracy is. We must try it sometime.

Our Tool Of the Week demonstrated how to politically shoot oneself in the foot this week by trying to muzzle media outlet Today Tonight who were rather keen to run a story about her recent fact finding.

Trish Draper is just one of many politicians who have found themselves out and about fact finding. Finding facts is one of the things politicians do. Apparently there are a lot of facts to be found in five star hotels.

In fact, our Tool Of The Week ran up $10 000 worth of facts on her jaunt to Europe with her...umm...friend.

Draper is not just a Tool simply for taking a "friend" on a taxpayer funded junket, or even because the government closed ranks to defend her rather dubious justification of same. But it is rather bizarre to then keep details of that trip a secret from the very people that paid for it - the Australian taxpayers.

Could it have something to do with the fact that her "friend" is now assisting police with inquiries into another matter?

Many working Australians wouldn't mind finding a few facts themselves, the facts they are aware of being none too palatable.

Special Minister for State, Senator Erica Betz, green lighted the trip with a spokesperson claiming that the government doesn't go around and audit people's personal relationships.

This will be refreshing news to the millions of Australians on disability pensions, unemployment benefits, and the like - as well as members of the defence forces, all of whom have their personal relationships open to much auditing by the Federal Government. There is a range of punitive measures for those who don't comply with this state sanctioned sheet sniffing.

Draper's defence is just part of the stream of hypocrisy oozing out of the Federal Government, which obviously has one rule for the poor and another for its mates with their snouts in the trough.

This is without even getting into how Howard would have reacted if Draper's partner had been of the same gender.

Democrats Senator Brian Greig told the whistleblower website that the Federal Government certainly wasn't supportive of these types of arrangements.

"It's true that the Remuneration Tribunal recently changed the guidelines to recognise my same-sex partner for the purposes of travel entitlements, but it's my understanding (yet to be tested), that this ruling applies only to domestic travel, not international, and it does not seem to apply therefore to overseas 'study tours'."

Greig had complained to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which found in favour of the same-sex partner, but the Federal Government still did nothing.

"It would seem, according to the Government, that a casual fling from a neighbouring suburb has greater rights than a long-term partner living under the same roof," said Greig.

Let's hope that Draper made the most of her European junket, as she's unlikely to be the Federal Member for anything after the next election.

Draper first adopted the moral high ground when she called for a ban on the 1997 film adaptation of the Nabokov novel Lolita.

One can only admire our Tool of the Week for her consistent position on free speech - she obviously knows what's best for all of us, and she's the one who's going to have it.


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!

View our Gallery of Tools

Nominate a Tool!

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Your Country: Your State:
The Tool you wish to nominate:
Type why you think this person should be Tool of the Week here:


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