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Issue No. 232 06 August 2004  

Tarnished Rings
As our athletes approach the starting line in Athens, it is interesting to reflect on how the world has changed since Sydney was the centre of a global group hug just four years ago.


Interview: Trading Places
New ACTU International Officer Alison Tate cut her teeth delivering aid to developing nations through APHEDA. Now she is helping chart the global union agenda.

Safety: Snow Job
James Hardie has been drilled into our collective consciousness as a story of power, greed and immorality. It is also, as Jim Marr reports, a tale of human tragedy.

Politics: In the Vanguard
Damien Cahill reveals how neo-liberal think tanks have been at the forefront of the corporate assault upon trade unions and social movements in Australia.

Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Don�t get between Sydney sparkie Semir Pepic and a gold medal in a dimly lit alley, writes Tim Brunero.

Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
Perfect Porker, Darren Vincent, brings a history of meat worker shafting to this month�s Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europe�s big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours � without any recompense, reports Andrew Casey.

History: Under the Influence
Was John Kerr drunk when he wrote and signed the letter dismissing Edward Gough Whitlam from the Prime Ministership in 1975? Geraldine Willissee investigates.

Economics: Working Capital
Where superannuation fits, where it fails and what we should we do about it. Neale Towart gives the tough answers.

Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
There's many a must see moment in Mike Moore's new flick but beating the propaganda machine at its own game wreaks havoc with wearied bullshit detectors, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
When Flood washed away the PM's sins, the truth was once again left high and dry.

Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
During a recent visit to an elderly relative in a nursing home, I was waylaid by an ancient gentleman who insisted I listen to what he had to say, writes Rowan Cahill.


 Stink Rises from Hamberger

 ALP Embraces Collectivism

 Bully Drives Deckhand into Drink

 Fighter in Cancer Link

 Tunnellers Dig in for Safety

 Seconds Out in Newcastle

 Vale Josh Heuchan

 "Betrayal" Sparks Election Rethink

 Councils Wedge James Hardie

 Great Southern Death Rattler

 Libs Desert "War Criminal"

 Casuals Take Over

 ALP Star Hits The Waterfront

 Activists What�s On!


The Westie Wing
The Labor Governments in each State must take the lead to stop the abuse of corporate law in Australia in the absence of action from the Federal Government, as the Inquiry into James Hardie�s has highlighted, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Cleaners Deserve Our Support
It's time the state's cleaners were given some support, loyalty and long service leave, writes Chris Christodoulou.

The Locker Room
Half Time At The Football
Phil Doyle wants to have his pie and eat it too.

Faithful Servant
Frank Mossfield was one of the labour movement�s quiet achievers. Former Labor Council secretary Michael Easson pays tribute.

Lessons From East Timor
Just back from a study tour to East Timor, National Reserach Officer with the Construction division of the CFMEU, Ben Stirling, writes about the experience for Workers Online.

 An Officer And A Teacher
 Tom Goes Asexual
 Road Rage At Work
 Democracy In Action
 Asbestos Bastadry
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Tool Shed

Free Tool Agreement

John Howard takes up his rightful place in the Tool Shed this week after the wedger became the wedgie.


The Free Trade Agreement turned out to be none of the three this week when the Napoleon of Kirribilli was caught with his pants down.

The Prime Miniature had made much of the issue, wanting to rush the deal through before anyone had seen the fine print. His used car salesman effort fell flat when he showed his true loyalties lay with US pharmaceutical companies, rather than Australia's sick and unwell.

Here is a leader who places the interests of George W's "base" above that of his own fellow citizens.

No doubt he was hoping his colleagues thought Big Pharm was where John Anderson lived.

However much he tries to hide it, Australia's most incompetent and dangerous Prime Minister in living memory is no friend of a regulated, accessible and egalitarian health care system.

He has done his level best to dismantle Medicare, so it must stick in his craw that even that hotbed of Trotskyite revolution, the Australian Medical Association, has told him to pull his head in.

Even the suits from the big end of town have told him to cut his losses and accept he is beaten.

The little fella was forced off into a bizarre argument about Patent Law, presenting legal advice from a totally compromised public service about the ALP's proposed amendment, sight unseen.

It's a brave lawyer indeed who'll provide advice about a document sight unseen, but this is the sort of quality advice our great leader encourages from our administrators.

Of course many working Australians know that this deal has nothing at all to do with trade, free or otherwise. As one of the few economists who isn't in the pocket of the handful of millionaires set to benefit from foreclosing on what remains of Australia's manufacturing sector pointed out, the projected benefits do not even pass the "laugh test".

The FTA was all about Howard using the political capital built up from killing innocent Iraqis to appear suitably statesmanlike alongside the Clown from Crawford, George W.

History will remember Howard offering this brave new FTA world alongside Chamberlain offering "peace in our time".

Howard would have signed anything. Even a deal that offered every Australian firstborn to be boiled down to make soap.

Why else would he have made Mark Vaile trade minister? The guy couldn't negotiate a roundabout, let alone a trade deal.

Remember how we were never going to sign a deal that didn't include our agricultural sector?

This was all about giving Howard's ego a tickle before he went to the polls. Many working Australians, especially those in manufacturing, know this deal is a dud whichever way you look at it. Howard just wanted to look like the big man he isn't, and paint his opponents as un-American.

Now that shrill declamation is wearing decidedly thin with an electorate that is waking up to this overrated suburban solicitor.

Watching Howard squirm out of this one will be interesting.

With Lord Downer of Baghdad heading off to North Korea to start World War III no doubt Little Johnny will be scraping the bottom of his barrel of wedges. Whatever he comes up with, don't be surprised if it smacks of those things that make George W. Bush's administration such a "great" Australian ally.

With friends like these, who needs terrorists?


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