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Issue No. 224 11 June 2004  

The Passion For Power
Arguably Midnight Oils’ greatest ever song ‘Powderworks’ starts off with the apocalyptic warning "there’s a shit storm a-coming."

The Passion for Power
Arguably Midnight Oils’ greatest ever song ‘Powderworks’ starts off with the apocalyptic warning "there’s a shit storm a-coming."


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 Harré, 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!".


 Making Plans For Nigel

 People Importer Wants Indemnity

 Desperate Ambos Turn to Copper

 Victims Dusted in Asbestos Row

 Delos Bang Victory Gong

 Teaching 12 Percent Tougher

 Now Carr Faces Medical Bill

 Officers Hurt in Transit

 Support Unit Makes Canberra Debut

 Winter Beds Breakthrough

 Workers Wait For Bread

 HoWARd the A**sLIcKEer

 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

 Godbotherers Descend On Poor
 Sick Of This Job
 Office Junior’s Secrets
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Tool Shed

Think Tank Tool

One time James Hardie boss, Alan McGregor, will no doubt be happy to take up his place in the asbestos lined Tool Shed this week.


James Hardie shares went south last week as the rest of the market headed north.

The company, whose claim to fame was flogging killer asbestos, lost its way after a report revealed that its liabilities from its asbestos disease and death it has wreaked on the community is actually $1.57 billion, not the $293 million placed in the asbestos fund when it was established in February 2001.

We all know how easy it is to mess up the budget by the odd $1.3 million or so.

So who was running James Hardie in February 2001 when they were struggling with their maths?

None other than our Tool Of The Week Alan McGregor AO, who has gone on to duller and more mendacious things since he signed off on Hardies' piece of fiscal fertiliser.

One can only guess at what AO stands for, as it very probably isn't Adults Only, but no doubt those grappling with mesothelioma will be aware of which part of McGregor's anatomy it refers to.

Our Alan is now a "Distinguished Fellow" at that lovable community friendly think tank, the Centre for Independent Studies, an organisation he has also has the pleasure of being a director of.

Obviously the Centre for Independent Studies thinks that poisoning people and leaving them with a slow, lingering painful death is the distinguished thing to do.

Which should come as no surprise from a bunch of troglodytes who engage in the intellectual equivalent of ripping the wings off flies.

McGregor has some good company: that miserable old prune Hugh Morgan (another complete AO) is also a distinguished fellow.

So what do the good folk at the Centre for Independent Studies get up to when they aren't clubbing cripples or reading Mein Kampf?

They had a good whinge earlier this year about the fact that these newfangled divorce laws mean that the good wifey can no longer be considered a piece of the husband's personal property. They've also been banging on about PNG not handing all its mineral wealth over to white boys who went to the good schools.

These people are as dry as a John Clarke sketch, but with none of the wit. They like the free market, as long as it costs. They know the world would be a better place, but only if we could pay workers in salt.

The Centre for Independent Studies is none of the three.

We wait with baited breath for McGregor's loony outfit to release their report on why emphysema is good for people, and how those who earn less than $200,000 a year don't really deserve to live anyway.

Our Tool Of The Week must have felt pretty clever when he signed off on the move of the John Hardie show to Holland, leaving the liabilities buried in the backyard for the next tenant.

Anyone with half a brain could see that James Hardie was going to be facing huge liabilities as the disaster of asbestos

Unfortunately McGregor doesn't have half a brain - but he does have the sort of contacts that can only come from having a good Cambridge background.

Which is probably why he is Chairman of those old slave drivers Burns Philp & Co. Ltd. He also had a sit at drug dealers FH Faulding & Co Ltd.

Which is just as well, maybe they can give him some advice on the best way to treat Asbestosis.

That can help this scion of the idiot-rich as he comes to terms with the death that his company has wrought on this country.


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.


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