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Issue No. 226 25 June 2004  

US Forces
The concerted and increasingly personal campaign by the Howard Government to portray Mark Latham as anti-American is built on some dodgy premises.


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!".


 Hadgkiss Sinks Boot into Safety

 Put a Job in Your Trolley

 Della Puts Cleaners Through Schools

 Freespirit Severs "Slavery" Link

 Luna Fringe Targets Fun

 Labour Warriors Fall

 Canberra Six in Dock

 Lobbyists Look for ALP Spine

 Tree Plan Faces Axe

 Sydney Water to Drip Feed Public

 Safety Nosedives At JetStar

 Irritable Desks on March

 Howard Backs Union Model

 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

 Lest We Forget
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Tool Shed

Est Maximus Tool

Brendan Nelson takes up his position in the Tool Shed this week after giving us all a lesson on what the government’s priorities are in the field of education.


Just exactly what planet Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson is on remains unclear this week after his bizarre outburst over the fundamental issues that face the nation's schools.

In the middle of a cold snap you would think this might be adequate heating in the many demountable classrooms around the state, or the fact that schools don't have enough paper or library books.

But no, our Tool Of the Week got right to the heart of a matter during an announcement that education funding would be linked to schools flying the flag.

"Some schools haven't even got a school motto!" cried Nelson in horror.

Having a school motto is something that is of significant practical benefit to, well, Brendan Nelson.

The Christian Brothers Old Boy is obviously impressed that many of his private school educated colleagues in the coalition have achieved remarkably well, despite having the I.Q. of a house plant.

Nelson is no fool, and he's got a certificate to prove it. He knows that without their school contacts most of these chaps would be struggling to hold down a park bench, let alone a seat in Parliament.

And what do all these private schools that offer such good employment prospects have in common? They have a motto!

Despite the fact that it's doubtful whether one in fifty people could remember their school motto they remain, in Brendan Nelson's eyes, the key to a modern well-rounded education.

Other foolish people may suggest that being able to read and write may be of some use in the educational process, but Brendan, along with his boss, know that what this country needs is a good swift dose of some snobbish irrelevance.

No doubt Brendan could help out those schools by providing them with a motto. Given the Federal Government's attitude to those who aren't related by marriage to the Downer family, or come from good stock, it would be easy for Brendan to think of something appropriate for the nation's public schools.

Why not 'Freedom Is Slavery'? Or 'Centrelink Awaits!'

They say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but that would be selling Nelson short, as he is considerably worse than a scoundrel. Only a complete Nelson could wrap up an education policy that sets out to re-establish a snobbish two-tiered education system with some pointless nationalistic hubris.

Is it any wonder that Nelson and his ilk have this sort of 'colour-by-numbers' approach to education? After all, they have a quaint nostalgic view of offering all kiddies the chance to experience Tom Brown's Schooldays, complete with jingoistic nonsense like flying the flag.

I guess it is only natural given that Brendan spent the best five years of his life in the fifth grade.

The scary part is that young Nelson is taking all this very seriously.

"We're sick and tired of reports turning up at home, which are meaningless with politically correct jargon," continued a breathless Nelson, who obviously prefers his own brand of political correct jargon.

The irony of all this is the mountain of red tape that will be generated as schools have yet another hurdle to jump before they can continue to be underfunded.

Brendan is an interesting chap with a rather colourful past. The one time member of the ALP has had more political positions than the Karma Sutra, yet it reveals the paucity of talent in the ranks of Australia's neo-conservatives that this intellectual midget can be touted as a potential future leader.

Meanwhile, the rest of us in the real world can only look on in fascination as our Tool Of The Week continues his bizarre and erratic intellectual orbit.


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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