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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
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.


 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 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.

 Howard Minor Goes Bush
 Dummy Spitting
 Tom Relieves Himself
 System Screws Workers
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Hardie Chiefs Dodge Findings

James Hardie shareholders are being asked to rubber stamp executives’ latest compo bid without access to Jackson Inquiry findings about their possible misdeeds.

Asbestos sufferers and unions are demanding that the company postpone shareholder meetings, including the AGM, set down for the week before David Jackson, QC, makes his findings public on September 21.

Asbestosis sufferer, Bernie Banton, urged Australians to be wary of the line being run by new chair, Meredith Helicar, who stepped into the role after predecessor, Alan McGregor, received unfavourable mentions at the Inquiry.

"This company has a history of saying one thing and doing another," Banton warned. "The fight is not won because Hardies is so slick and slippery it is hard to deliver the knockout punch.

"Last week they got enormous publicity for saying all victims should be compensated. All their media, since, has back-tracked from that position.

"They have scheduled their shareholder meetings to cover up anything about their treatment of asbestos victims that may come out of the inquiry."

Helicar has been apologising all over town to asbestos sufferers likely to be dudded by the company' 2001 corporate restructure but continues to run her predecessor's line that only a state-run scheme will deliver a fair go.

Months ago the company was adamant it had no legal or moral obligations to Australians dying of asbestos-related diseases, beyond what was left of the $293 million it deposited with trust fund, MRCF.

Hardie had assured the Supreme Court and the sharemarket that Australian creditors would have access to $1.9 billion in partly-paid shares. Barely a year later, directors rescinded that arrangement, leaving a compensation hole estimated at $2 billion.

On the final day of the Jackson Inquiry, after copping a public relations flogging, it agreed to wider funding, conditional on a "statutory" scheme.

Unions and asbestos groups expect Helicar to seek shareholder endorsement of that stance in the days before Jackson's findings are released.

But Banton says veteran director Helicar's round of media mea culpas should be taken with a grain of salt.

"She had 12 years to be sorry," Banton said. "Now she is saying - all victims should be subject to a scheme -Hardie has been scheming against its victims since 1995."

AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, said the proposal was what James Hardie had wanted from the beginning - the state to underwrite compensation payments to Australians killed by contact with its products.

"Hardies and their insurers want a capped statutory scheme because that is the best outcome for their share price," Bastian said. "That has been their position since day one. Their motivation has always been their share price, rather than the victims.

"James Hardie is not the victim in this scandal."


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