||Issue No. 232||06 August 2004|
Interview: Trading Places
Safety: Snow Job
Politics: In the Vanguard
Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
International: Cruising For A Bruising
History: Under the Influence
Economics: Working Capital
Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
The Locker Room
Tom Goes Asexual
Road Rage At Work
Democracy In Action
Free Tool Agreement
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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