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Issue No. 225 18 June 2004  

No Place Like Home
Little by little, the truth is seeping out; a judicial inquiry into James Hardies Industries corporate restructure is exposing a scandal of dramatic proportions.


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!".


 Multi Bets on China Card

 Community Flags Reconciliation Push

 Nigel’s Ad Values Questioned

 Medal for "Jobs Vandal"

 Schoolies Earn Thousands

 Westbus Drives Over Entitlements

 Circus Owners Cut Up Rough

 Fireys Slam Adelaide "Death Traps"

 Job Slasher Faces Spam

 Sixty Stations Face Axe

 "Sickies" to Join Dinosaurs

 Mr One Percent on Notice

 Stink Over DJ’s Bogs

 Aussie Kids Die on the Job

 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

 Flexed To Death
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Tool Shed

Task Farce

The Federal Government’s anti-union attack poodle, Nigel Hadgkiss, takes a stint in the Tool Shed this week following his bizarre report into something that he can’t tell us about.


For nearly two years our Tool of the Week has been running around like some demented loon in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there.

Now he's finally handed down what is supposed to be a report, although what it is a report into is hard to say.

With a budget of nearly ten million and a staff of 47 you'd think they'd be able to come up with one single shred of evidence for the public record, but no. This farce of a report, which could have been written in half an hour by a staff of one, appears to be the work of a rather fevered imagination.

Maybe Hadgkiss is on the same medication as his boss, Kev the Rev. Whichever way, his report is an embarrassment for all concerned.

"Too many Australians trying to earn an honest living have become victims of the industries blatant disregard for the law," says a breathless Nigel.

Yes they are mate, they're called workers, subcontractors, the thousands of members of the industry that are ripped off, underpaid, injured, stood over by screaming bosses, humiliated, forced to work in shit and worse and more.

But it'll be a cold day in hell before you manage to get Nigel no-friends to give a fat rat's clacker about working people. After all, in his world workers are expendable. For Nigel safety is not an issue.

Neither is workers money being stolen by employers.

There are some glaring omissions in Hadgkiss's report. He doesn't mention how the Task Force uses secret tape recordings and operates a slush fund in order to gather this spurious evidence against building unions.

Hadgkiss makes some amazing remarks about "criminal" behaviour in the industry, but he's not referring to the murderers that sacrifice young lives in the workplace. In fact, it's hard to see who he is referring to at all, as most of his "information" comes from an anonymous 1800 number. You'd hate to see someone hang on Hadgkiss's brief.

Not one of the five areas of concern raised by Nigel through his "back door whisper" sources concerned safety.

His report claims that air-conditioning in worksheds Tasmania is a "minor OHS issue". Well, maybe we'll turn the air-con in the Tool Shed off and dump him in the middle of a Taswegian winter and see how he enjoys sitting in a fridge.

It's typical that mercenaries like Hadgkiss see safety only as something to squeal about when it costs the boss money. When workers lose their money Hadgkiss conveniently handballs it off to another department or a state agency, which shows how fair dinkum Nigel is about enforcing a "rule of law". It's one rule for the boss and another rule for the workers. The whole issue of underpaid entitlements was worth only half a page in a 22-page report.

Hadgkiss's "report" is full of glossy unattributed quotes. Despite $9 million spent he can't name names about any of these allegations, apart from a few pathetic indirect references to John Sutton.

Well, Nigel, here's some names for you to consider:

Joel Exner

Dean McGoldrick

R. Ramakrishna

Kow Chey

They are all workers who have died this year on NSW building sites. The first three are all teenagers. The last two were working illegally.

Nigel Hadgkiss can make-believe all he wants in the Tool Shed this week while he protects the murderers in the industry, all he's done so far is make Inspector Clouseau look like Perry Mason.


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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