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Issue No. 223 04 June 2004  

Last Year�s Model
Economists keep telling us things have never been better, all the economic indicators say so. Which sparks the obvious question: why are so many of us feeling so low?


Interview: The New Democrat
Canadian activist Judy Rebick explains how she's using lessons from Brazil to rebuild the labour movement.

Bad Boss: The Ugly Australian
Prime Minister John Howard is in California spruiking the "merits" of this month�s Bad Boss nomination �

Unions: Free Spirits and Slaves
International capital demands guest labour � legal or illegal � as a way of beating down wages and conditions and, as Jim Marr discovers, the Australian Government seems happy to oblige.

Industrial: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on another workplace death (we-will-not-RIP NOHSC), heartburn for the Canberra consensus and all the action from around the states in our national wrap.

History: A Class Act
The problem of forgetting the primacy of class in favour of other ideas of community is highlighted in a new book, writes Neale Towart

International: Across the Ditch
NZ Nurses Union leader, Laila Harr�, is in Sydney this week, comparing notes with the Australian Nurses Federation and seeking transTasman support for New Zealand�s highest profile industrial campaign.

Economics: Home Truths
Sydney University's Frank Stilwell argues that tax policy is driving the housing boom.

Review: No Time Like Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is one part Grim Reaper of the environmental movement and two parts fictitious fable dramatically window dressed with extreme special effects, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Silent Note
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers the current public service motto � "Don't tell the Minister!".


 Trade Deal a $47 Billion Dud

 Ground Staff Spread Fashion Wings

 Ghan Raises Trans-Continental Stink

 Union Busters Bank on Labor

 Witnesses Face Casual Duress

 Rail Workers Cop �Beer Nannies�

 Sun Shines on Green Bans

 Big Business Plan to Cripple Compo

 Money Can�t Buy Me Love

 Federal Election in Doubt

 Safety Defects Plague Adelaide

 Police Investigate Assault Claim

 Activists What�s On!


The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part I
The Australia Institute's Clive Hamilton questions the assumptions underlying a society that defines happiness in dollar terms.

The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part II
Clive Hamilton concludes his analysis, looking at how more and more Australians are pulling back from a marketplace that is no longer providing the goods.

The Locker Room
Sack �Em All!
Phil Doyle puts his job on the line, but doesn�t everyone these days?

The Westie Wing
The NSW Government has an agenda on the table but the test is finding innovative ways to finance it, writes Ian West

 Liberal Laugh
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Tool Shed

The Tool On The Hill

Senator Robert hill shuffles off to the Tool Shed this week after an outbreak of truth laid the government low.


The fact that John Anderson is running the country this week is pretty scary, but even scarier is the fact that mild mannered weasel Senator Robert Hill is responsible for the defence of the shop on an ongoing basis.

Australia's answer to Donald Rumsfeld has been touring the country doing his impersonation of someone who actually has a clue, saving us all from the yellow peril, or whatever the latest foreign threat is.

What exactly that threat is remains unclear, as no one from the Department has briefed the senator yet, but as soon as he gets a whiff we'll be the first to know.

Last week saw a disturbing development for the former Environment Minister, when a breakdown at the Departmental level saw information getting out.

This sort of thing never happened when he was cutting down trees and watching Tuvalu sink beneath the waves.

No doubt our Tool Of The Week is working furiously to ensure that this unhappy accident does not repeat itself and those responsible will receive the appropriate discipline.

Bob has been distracted of late by some photos that don't look good for any country that has its John Hancock on the Geneva Convention and the good Senator has gone to great pains to stress that Australia had nothing to do with anything incriminating.

Obviously not to the sort of pains that the guests of George Bush at the Abu Ghirab holiday camp have gone to, but certainly he doesn't approve of that sort of abuse, or even getting caught committing that sort of abuse, which is worse.

As far as he can ascertain, and this is by no means certain, and remains to be clarified by the Defence Signals Directorate, our close friends in the Pentagon and other members of the coalition of the willing and some junior clerical staff over at the Department, the problem appears to centre in the vicinity of Iraq, and without limiting any of the generality of the foregoing, the Senator is seeking to be well appraised of certain facts and insinuations regarding events in the aforementioned nation which may or may not have happened, and even if they did he wasn't there and if they didn't then no one told him anyway.

Or something along those lines.

Apparently the war that our Bob is prosecuting works like this:

If it's good news we did it; if it's bad news they did it; if it's terrible news our allies did it; and if the news that is culpably atrocious then the head of the Defence Department did it.

Yes, the South Australian Senator is a regular pocket dynamo and, despite being out of his depth and drifting out to sea, maintains a nonchalant superiority regardless of the fact that the jury is still out on whether or not he's still in full possession of his faculties.

But he is carrying on the fine tradition of Australian sacrifice that was so effective in keeping China British.

Our Tool of the Week has managed to prosecute this war, which has been one success after another, while juggling the position of Leader of the Government in the senate, although leadership, especially the responsibility side of things, appears to not be the good Senator's strong suit.

As for government, well, nothings showing on the radar there either.

Mind you, he does cut a fine figure when he stretches back with his arms over his head like he's watching the tea session of the fourth days play between Tasmania and South Australia Second XI, which is where he'd no doubt rather be.

Underachieving megalomaniacs like our Tool Of the Week have to satisfy themselves with the lesser glory. Even so, he till gets to play soldiers and sign Australia up to rather expensive missile defence systems that don't exist yet, but they are effective against the sort of chaps that want to destroy the right of one percent of the population to own fifty percent of the countries wealth. And that's important.

As Senator Robert Hill says, it's important to stand for something.

Just ask the 90% of Iraqi prisoners who were picked up by accident...


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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