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Issue No. 222 28 May 2004  

The New Radicals
Many of us lament the fact the Labor Party has little these days to do with labour; some even whimsically remember how the Liberals were once liberal; but evolving world events are now putting a lie to that most enduring of political labels ‘the conservative’.


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.


 Why Cole is a Merry Old Soul

 Fight Breaks Out of Schoolyard

 Child Care for a Song

 "Back Off" Call To Death Inquiry

 Carr No Mussolini

 Sweet Box-all for Ballot Bureaucrats

 Unions Fire Up

 Beattie Papers Over Stink

 Glue Bullies Come Unstuck

 Johnnie Tugs the Rug

 Bank Jobs Under Spotlight

 Federal Muzzle for Shareholders

 Unions Earn $19 For Low Paid

 Fashionistas Go Fair

 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.

 Howard The Chucker
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Why Cole is a Merry Old Soul

It’s official, Terence Cole trousered nearly $1.3 million for 19 months work on the Building Industry Royal Commission, including an "extraordinary" $237,000 in taxpayer-funded expenses.

CFMEU secretary, John Sutton, said the final figures, revealed by Federal Minister Philip Ruddock this week, showed how out of touch with the industry the Royal Commissioner had been.

"It probably explains his suggestion that construction workers would be happy to keep working for 14 percent less than EBA rates," Sutton said. "I'd wager that there would be plenty of building workers content to earn the extraordinary $237,000 he got for accommodation, allowances and expenses alone."

Workers Online understands that amount was bumped up by rental of a luxury house while the Royal Commission was in Sydney, Cole's home town.

Unions described the Cole Commission as "one-sided", "biased" and a "witch-hunt". A CFMEU move to have Cole stood down for "apprehended bias" was rejected in the Federal Court.

Cole brought down a 23-volume report that the Federal Government used to introduce legislation to Parliament that would severely curtail the rights of building workers and their unions.

By regulation, the Howard Government established a Building Industry Taskforce, headed by controversial former policeman Nigel Hadgkiss, that has drawn accusations similar to those levelled against the Royal Commission.

Much play was made of a "secret" volume penned by Cole that neither accused persons nor their legal representatives were allowed to see. Both Cole and former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, said it made findings about behaviour that "might" have been "illegal".

So far, that volume has not led to a single prosecution.

The ALP got the final Cole Commission figures under a freedom of information request.

They revealed that 14 lawyers, including Cole, swallowed up $13 million and the total cost of running the commission topped $66 million..

Cole's final haul of $1,299,853 was made of $1,052,574 in salary, travel costs of $17,203 and expenses totalling $237,650.

Other Commission millionaires included John Agius, SC, $1.576 million (expenses $109,000); Lionel Robberds, QC, $1.329 million ($61,000) and Richard Treacey, QC, the man whose report bailed the Government out over the Security Intelligence scandal, $1.039 million.

Nicholas Green who led the legal attack on NSW building workers pocketed $971,194, including $44,606 in expenses and allowances.

Sutton called the "lawyers' picnic" a waste of taxpayers' money.

"At a time when working men and women face higher medical, education and housing costs, it's outrageous that our Government can pay 13 barristers $11 million to generate propaganda," Sutton said.

"How many safety inspectors could've been employed to enforce standards on construction sites for that sort of money? That might have made a difference and saved some lives."


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