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Issue No. 235 27 August 2004  

Gold Fever
So this is our most successful Olympics ever. Our athletes will return from Athens with their biggest ever haul of medals, more winners per capita than anywhere on earth. If all this is true, why does it all feel so empty?


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.


 Crane Topples at Death Probe

 Treasury�s "Scary" Power Play

 Aussie Idol on the Farm

 Email Volley Defends Delegate

 Hardie Slow on the Uptake

 Meatworkers Go Full Monty

 Sydney or the Bush

 Delta Blues

 Badge of Honour Signals Row

 Libs to Trump Court

 Project Champions Working Poor

 Jobs Victory on the Border

 Scabs in the Valley

 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.

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Tool Shed

Blue Murder

Meredith Helicar, Chair of the Death Company James Hardie, takes up a seat in the fibro Tool Shed this week after showing wonderful corporate responsibility by denying everything, including the truth.


Meredith Helicar is either an incompetent Tool or a devious Tool.

This week the CEO who enjoys her "full confidence" was caught telling yet more porkies about Hardies, claiming that they had nothing to do with the industry of death, and if they did it was only a little bit, and besides, other people where doing it as well.

This all came out in a letter floating around to Hardies' valuable US Customers - who seem to be a lot more valuable than Hardies' dying former customers and employees.

Of course for Hardies it's like saying, "let's pretend nothing happened in Baryulgil". Baryulgil being the NSW North Coast town where asbestos was once mined by Hardies, largely by an indigenous workforce who were then left to die while Hardies plastered their name across Parramatta jumpers.

Fancy claiming that you were just a bit player in the human tragedy of asbestos when you have a market share of up to 90 per cent. What kind of idiots do they think we are?

Of course they were caught out and decided to withdraw their letter, crying innocent, or at least only a little bit guilty.

Which is serial behaviour for this bunch of leeches on the social body.

Every time they've tried to get away with one of their scams to weasel out of looking after the people they poisoned they've been sprung, and then they've pleaded that they are truly, truly sorry.

They claimed they phased out the use of blue asbestos once the link with mesothelioma was "firmly established, but didn't say that James Hardie companies continued to manufacture asbestos products for many decades after health risks were clear.

What do they expect, a medal?

Helicar is on the record as saying "we can't rewrite history"; well their letter to their US customers gave it a damn fine attempt.

"We have obligations to our shareholders," says Helicar - as if a pile of greenbacks is worth more than someone's father, mother, sister, brother or child.

This sort of mindless market driven spin doesn't wash.

It's pretty obvious that these cynical dealers in death wouldn't be trotting out these no-brainers unless they'd been hauled before the Jackson Inquiry in the first place.

As asbestos victim Bernie Banton pointed out, the only scheme that Hardies are interested in is the scheming they do to avoid their responsibilities to their fellow human beings.

And whose at the top of this steaming pile of human excrement? Why, step forward Meredith Helicar, Chair of the Board at James Hardies and someone who, by her own admission, cares more about share prices than dying fellow human beings.

Helicar, who is trying to position herself as some 'break from the past' was on the board that signed off on their Dutch treat for Hardies asbestos victims. Then she has the hide to claim that she was "truly, truly sorry" that the company had short changed dying asbestos victims.

The only thing that she's "truly, truly sorry" about is getting caught.

There's a word for people like Meredith. People who profit from other people's misery; these dealers in death who produced mealy mouthed obfuscations to avoid their very real responsibilities. - maggots.

The scary thing about Helicar is that one of her previous Directorships includes the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

Which is a bit like leaving Ivan Milat as chief warden of Goulburn Gaol.

She has also sat on the board of the NSW Treasury Corporation (no surprises there) and HIH Claims Support Limited.

So with Hardies she gets the Trifecta.

The Directors, including our Tool Of The Week, only acted after the share price headed south and it started to impact on their share options, share holdings and bonuses of management and the board.

Australians will be spending the next fifty years or more dealing with the nightmare of asbestos, let's just hope we don't have to share too many more years with grubby slime like our Tool Of The Week, Meredith Helicar.


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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