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Issue No. 234 20 August 2004  

True Lies
While the Prime Minister's penchant for the porky finally appears to be catching up with him, perhaps the biggest lie of his leadership remains largely unchallenged.


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
Donít 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 monthís Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europeís big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours Ė 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.


 Hardie Chiefs Dodge Findings

 Virgin Wants Them Young

 RTA Counts Cheapie Cost

 Miners Trump Rio Gold

 Suits Star in Big Steel

 Boffins Back Sweatshops

 Tony Winner Bags an Ernie

 Bush Fires Up

 Kiwis Unfriendly, say Aussie Bankers

 CPSU in Pay Cut Territory

 Brains Over Buns Claim

 AIG Backs "Cowards"

 BHP Makes A Killing

 Schools Fight for Equity

 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 Hardieís 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 movementís 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.

 Howard Minor Goes Bush
 Dummy Spitting
 Tom Relieves Himself
 System Screws Workers
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True Lies

While the Prime Minister's penchant for the porky finally appears to be catching up with him, perhaps the biggest lie of his leadership remains largely unchallenged.

That was his solemn pledge in the months leading up to the 1996 election that 'no Australian workers would be worse off' under a Howard Government.

It was a line the media swallowed hook. line and sinker, effectively denting the campaign by the ALP and unions to unpack his industrial relations agenda and show how deregulation would harm working Australians.

Eight years on the lie stands and continues to be perpetuated: that labour market deregulation delivers better living standards for workers.

On the rare occasions the Tories are pressed to explain how this is so they speak of the 'freedom' to take up casual jobs, the increased job opportunities created by freeing small business of their legal obligations and the increased economic activity caused by lower labour costs,

To this the Howard Government has dedicated itself to 'reforming' industrial relations system - stripping back the powers of industrial relations commission, promoting individual contracts and leading the most vicious attack on unions in the nation's history.

And it is in the execution of this blueprint that John Howard's lie is exposed.

Australians are working longer, they are more likely to be in casual or part-time work, they have fewer rights to take industrial action than before John Howard became Prime Minister.

But these are all value calls; now the Australian Bureau of Statistics has put a dollar figure on the extent of the PM's lie.

Data released this week shows a fall of half a per cent in total earnings over the last quarter, proof of a surge in low paid jobs.

Other research is equally as damning.

Earlier this year, the ABS found there had been a statistically significant widening of the gap between rich and poor in recent years.

Recent research by Dr Peter Saunders of the UNSW also shows that since the election of the Howard Government in 1996, Australia's top income earners have received almost half the benefit of all economic growth and that their income has increased more than eight times that of the poorest income earners.

While the PM trots out his unemployment figures, he ducks the reality that two out of every three net new jobs created in the last three years paid less than $600 a week - less than $31,200 a year.

Meanwhile, almost one million Australians are working overtime but not being paid for it. This is an increase of almost a quarter since 1996.

There are now more than 2.2 million casual workers - an increase of 22 per cent since 1996 while part time jobs growth continues to outstrip full time jobs growth with no full time jobs created in the last month but an extra 21,600 part-time jobs.

More than 28 per cent of the total workforce are now in part time work and yet research shows there are more than 600,000 part time workers wanting more hours of work.

As for equality, CEOs get a reality cheque 74 times average weekly earnings and golden parachutes on failure, while the numbers say that the more you pay the executive the worse the company performs.

The numbers add up to a lie every bit as stark as the 'never ever GST', the children overboard and the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The truth? Howard's Australia has delivered a shift in wealth from the middle and working classes to the corporations and elites off the back of a workforce working longer for less and stripped of their rights.

If you believe that Australian workers are not worse off under a Howard Government, then you'd believe that signiing an AWA was an act of personal empowerment.

Peter Lewis



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