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 crane and a light vehicle came to grief at BHP Billiton’s Yandi mine in the same week that barrister, Mark Ritter, took evidence from 36 employees in three days.
Another 20 Yandi mineworkers have indicated they will tell the safety investigator their stories when he returns to the north east Pilbara.
Yandi hit the national headlines when contractor, Henry Walker Eltin, locked 120 workers into the camp, sparking "deprivation of liberty" claims to police at Newman, more than 120km away.
Henry Walker Eltin is running an aggressive campaign to lure workers onto AWAs, and is forcing newcomers to sign individual, non-union agreements.
That issue was highlighted when three workers lost their lives at BHP Billiton Pilbara operations in May.
ACTU organiser, Will Tracey, said incentive-based AWAs, pushed by the minerals giant, had produced a culture of productivity over safety.
Union demands for an independent inquiry into BHP safety standards led to Ritter being appointed by the WA Government.
More than 30 workers were scheduled to give evidence when the investigator arrived in Newman, this week. An apprentice was crushed at nearby Ore Body 25, also operated by Henry Walker Eltin, earlier this year.
Ritter moves to Port Hedland, next week, where he will hear from former workmates of former AMWU delegate, Cory Bentley, who was killed at the company's Port Nelson iron ore facility.
At Port Hedland, he is also expected to take statements from workers at the nearby Boodarie hot briquetted plant, where a massive explosion killed one man and left three others fighting for their lives in a Perth burns unit.
BHP Billiton has yet to resume production at Boodarie, where around 750 people were employed prior to the shutdown, and, last week, expressed interest in a new iron ore plant to be built in India.
The world's largest mining company has just announced a record profit of $3.38 billion for its international operations.
"That's not surprising," Tracey told Workers Online, "our experience is that BHP is about profit, profit and more profit, with very little regard for safety in the workplace."
TCFUA secretary, Barry Tubner, is urging the Carr Government to stamp on Treasury mavericks just days after forcing a u-turn from the department over procurement policy.
"Treasury is a law unto itself and the government needs to get a grip on it," Tubner said. "It has the power to over rule our codes of practice and agreements without reference to unions, departments or even the Ministers, and that's scary.
"It says there are too many codes and it is engaged in simplification. It sounds like Peter Reith all over again."
Tubner said Treasury had unilaterally taken around 100 pages of negotiated procurement agreements, designed to ensure the state wasn't underwriting shonks or sweatshops, and reduced them to one paragraph.
When relevant departments and even Ministers had been approached, he said, they knew nothing of the process.
"Essentially, with clothing, it approves any supplier who can get a stat dec to say he is honest. That is not protection, it is not Labor Party policy and it is not what we negotiated," Tubner said.
Treasury backed away from its guidelines after being confronted, last week, by a Labor Council delegation, including representatives from the TCFUA, Transport Workers Union and CFMEU.
Treasury Chief of Staff, Michael Coutts-Trotter, confirmed the old guidelines and codes would apply "until we have settled on alternative arrangements".
"The reinstatement of the guidelines will also be included within the procurement process maps on the Treasury website," he said.
The Australian Workers Union (AWU) and the Australian Hotels Association have joined forces to launch the Neil Noll – Daniel Croker Award calling on people to put forward ideas to improve farm safety.
The award is named in part to honour the memory of Noll's father, who was killed in a farm accident.
It is also a tribute to Daniel Croker, who was19 when he died following a fall from a horse.
The award was instigated by AWU officials Mick Madden and Glenn Seton to deal with the growing problem of farm accidents.
"Five years ago there was a rural fatality every 26 days," says Russ Collison from the AWU. "Since then there's been 40,000 jobs lost in the country and now there's a death every 23 days, so it's obviously going in the wrong direction.
"Over the years rural workers have breasted the bar at the end of the day where a number of good suggestions have been made. The problem was that was where they stayed.
"We're offering a cash prize of $20,000 for the best initiative, invention or suggestion to save lives on NSW farms.
"We believe there's be plenty of interest."
The award has the support of Neil Noll's wife and sons and Daniel Croker's family.
The competition will be promoted on Sky Channel and contestants will be able to enter through local hotels.
Noll, who hails from Condobolin, launched the safety award at Orange last week.
Collison praised the Australian Idol runner-up for backing the award.
"After meeting with Shannon and his family I can say that they are the nicest and most genuine people. At the launch he signed autographs for hours and was never flustered once," Collison said.
"All I can say is the wrong bloke won."
The competition is open until February next year when a committee will pick a winner who will be announced at the 2005 Golden Guitar Weekend in Tamworth.
The contractor axed John Bastow after he returned from sorting out purchasing problems on the Eurocopter, Defence’s replacement for its Blackhawk fleet, at the company’s Ryde operation.
Now the AMWU is asking supporters to blitz ADI bosses with emails supporting the long-time union activist's right to earn a living.
"They distorted their redundancy selection process to neck John because he was an effective union delegate," AMWU official, Robyn Fortescue, said.
Fortescue says ADI "bodgied the process" to rid itself of the union's T & S Division assistant secretary.
She said, prior to the assessment, ADI set up a new purchasing system. It didn't allow Bastow to attend information meetings and then denied him training.
"At the same time, when they were facing contract penalties, they transferred John to Ryde to help them out of a big hole. He did that and they rewarded him with redundancy," Fortescue said.
Initially, ADI asked staff to volunteer for redundancy. Although volunteers matched required numbers, it still marked Bastow's card.
Fortescue said the company had previously refused to recognise Bastow as a union representative on its Garden Island health and safety committee.
The AMWU has launched unfair dismissal action against ADI - a joint venture between Transfield and France's Thales Group.
Fortescuse says the company has become "very anti-union" since the French arrived.
Emails supporting Bastow and opposing the company's actions are being directed to human resources manager, Gerald Richardson, and purchasing officer, Isabelle Centofanti, at:
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, said it appeared the company had learned little from its battering before the Jackson Inquiry that heard evidence it had engaged in a sophisticated disinformation campaign.
"It is astonishing after James Hardie has been through the Jackson Inquiry in New South Wales that the company would still be sending letters to suppliers in the building industry, making claims that were patently wide of the mark," Combet said.
The letter sought to defend the company's asbestos record at a time when unions and local authorities were urging boycotts until it agreed to compensate Australians dying from contact with its products.
The communication with the industry claimed James Hardie subsidiaries AMABA and AMACA were only two of around 150 defendants and accounted for just 15 percent of future likely claims in Australia.
In fact, James Hardie was Australia's leading manufacturer of asbestos products.
Its American-based CEO conceded to the Jackson Inquiry that claims against Hardie were substantially higher than the number facing any other defendant.
Uncontested evidence stated that James Hardie was now implicated in more than 40 percent of all claims before the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal.
The Hardie letter said the company had phased out blue asbestos once the link with mesothelioma had been "firmly established" and it stopped using asbestos entirely well before last year's ban on its use.
But, Combet said, it didn't say that James Hardie companies had continued manufacturing asbestos products for "many decades after health risks had become clear".
Combet said it was time for the company to come clean.
"James Hardie should end the spin and stop this superficial marketing exercise," he said.
The ACTU wrote to James Hardie, last week, demanding withdrawal of its letter and threatening Federal Court proceedings.
The company's Australian general manager, James Chilcoff, agreed to stop further distribution of the letter.
Meanwhile, NSW Labor Council has blocked the use of any James Hardie products on the renovation of its Goulburn St, headquarters.
The move followed decisions by more than a dozen NSW local authorities, including Sydney City, Leichhardt and Newcastle, to ban Hardie's products until it agrees to pay full compensation to sufferers of asbestos-related lung diseases.
The furore over Hardie's corporate behaviour began when the AMWU blew the whistle on a 2001 restructure that saw it relocate to the Netherlands. It promised the NSW Supreme Court it would leave assets of $1.9 billion behind for the use of creditors, including asbestos disease sufferers.
In 2002, directors cancelled that arrangement without informing the court, NSW Government, sufferers or unions.
CEO Macdonald argued the Netherlands-based operation had no legal or moral obligation to dying Australians.
The Jackson Inquiry was told that James Hardie subsidiaries would fall more than $2 billion short of being able to meet expected compensation claims.
Bikers will hold two shows of "adult entertainment" to raise money for the fund, established this month by the Meat Workers Union.
"We're talking about a significant amount of money," says Grant Courtney, Tasmanian branch secretary of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU). "They will be donating the door sales and a percentage of the bar sales to the victim's family."
Matthew Hudson, 16, was killed at Blue Ribbon Meats earlier this year when a forklift rolled on top of him.
Courtney said the worker's father had just received a $4800 funeral bill.
The union is encouraging people to contribute to the fighting fund to help relieve the situation the family finds itself in.
Donations can be made by calling the union's Launceston office on (03) 6331 7233
Hudson's school friends are also planning their own under-18's fundraiser.
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club will hold a fundraiser at their Invermay Clubhouse on September 11.
The following week, the strippers will be on at the Rebels Motorcycle Clubhouse at Kingsmeadows.
More than 300 Department of Primary Industries staff will rally outside State Parliament to protest the attack on jobs and services in country NSW.
The rally will take place at 12 noon on Tuesday, August 31, outside State Parliament in Macquarie Street, Sydney.
"The Government has taken $37 million from this year's budget, and $58 million next year. So far it all seems to be coming from jobs in rural communities," Public Service Association Assistant General Secretary Shane O'Brien says.
Mr O'Brien said staff were angry that the Government was fixing its political problems in Sydney at the expense of country public servants and rural economies.
"This is the worst type of political opportunism. The Government is taking millions out of country NSW where its support is traditionally low and pumping that money into Sydney's vote winning areas", O'Brien says.
"Hundreds of efficient workers are being thrown on the scrap heap in areas where alternative employment is hard to come by just so Carr and Egan get out of gaol on Sydney trains and hospitals," Mr O'Brien said.
Staff members affected by the budget cuts will be bussing in to Sydney from as far away as Deniliquin and Grafton, where along with Temora and Narara the Government plans to close research stations forcing staff to relocate or lose their job.
"The days of public servants being political pawns are over. The PSA and staff will campaign up to and beyond budget day to secure a fair share for country departments and country staff," O'Brien says.
The Public Service Association (PSA) has slammed the move, revealed in letters pressuring staff not to exercise rights to nine-day fortnights.
The letters threaten "a potential impact on your appointment into any future positions", "a potential impact on you continuing in your current role" and promise "Delta will endeavour to find meaningful work for you, but may not be able to in the longer term".
The letter concludes with "while these are the foreseeable consequences, I cannot predict what other impacts there may be should you elect to work a nine day fortnight".
The PSA has been outraged by the move by the state-owned corporation.
"Senior management within Delta Electricity unilaterally decided to increase working days for all employees not on shift work," says PSA official Steve Turner. "Unions began fighting this and it was believed that this settlement reached before deputy president Harrison was agreed to by all."
"Delta has subsequently gone to various union members who were to revert to a nine day fortnight and has systematically harassed and intimidated those members."
The workers were called into meetings where they were forced to face a number of managers on their own. Here they were threatened with consequences if they did not agree to work the hours set out by Delta - in contravention of the decision of Deputy President Harrison of the NSW IRC.
The move amazed worker representatives when it came to light.
"Delta are obviously a bright bunch," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "While it is laughable that they would put it in writing, it's also disturbing that they would think that they would get away with it."
The news came as the NSW Labor Council announced plans to launch its Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter at the Sydney Opera House on September 8.
The Charter is designed to assist workplaces to eliminate bullying and harassment at work.
The move by RailCorp bosses was slammed as "provocative" by rail unions and prompted signal staff to threaten action in solidarity with their colleague
The Combined Rail Unions badge day was otherwise hailed as a success by rail unions representing 16,000 workers across the NSW system who have been frustrated by RailCorp management's refusal to negotiate a new agreement that offers a fair outcome for rail employees.
Transit Officer and Rail Tram & Bus Union (RTBU) delegate Fred El Bahou was "harassed" and confined to office duties after refusing to remove his badge.
Signallers informing the RTBU that they would take action unless the delegate was released back to duty wearing the badge as he sought to do.
Across the network station workers, ticket sales staff and other workers wore the striking yellow badges. Loco drivers stuck poster-sized stickers of the badge on the front of trains operating across the system.
The badge day was designed to send a signal that rail workers were committed to a fair and equitable outcome from current enterprise bargaining negotiations.
Reports from delegates indicate an overwhelming support for the campaign from the public.
"We've been negotiating since April and we haven't even reached agreement over core issues, says Nick Lewocki from the RTBU. "Since January promotion has been stymied because RailCorp can't even get their management act together."
"They've cut weekend services 30% and saved $15 million by cutting the Grafton to Murwillumbah rail link and now they are saying we have to fully fund our pay increases."
RailCorp has proposed a 12-month agreement offering a 3% pay rise on the condition that employees co-operate with rail rationalisation - a move that would see hundreds of jobs lost across the state.
Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews, this week, committed a re-elected Coalition Government to re-writing the industrial rulebook to make it clear AWA employees would not have on-the-job access to union advice or assistance.
"This is the Howard Government bending over again for its friends in the mining and resources lobby," the CFMEU's Joe Macdonald said.
"Rio Tinto abd BHP want to run non-union operations where workers don't get a collective say in wages, conditions or safety standards.
"Peter Reith, Tony Abbott and all the rest argued AWAs would enshrine freedom of choice. Now, not only do workers get no choice about whether they are employed on AWAs, but the government will legislate to make sure they don't have the choice of approaching union officials at their workplaces.
"The whole argument for AWAs is a big lie."
Macdonald was speaking days after the CFMEU used its federal court breakthrough to win a 36-hour week and substantial increases for 600 workers on Rio Tinto's Dampier port upgrade.
At least 100 AWA employees of a contractor joined the Dampier action and will benefit from shorter working hours.
"Once we got to the AWA guys and showed them how they were being screwed they joined the campaign," Macdonald said. "That's what Andrews, Rio Tinto and all the rest are scared of - workers making informed choices."
The CFMEU blasted a hole in the government's strategy to deunionise workplaces when the federal court ruled, last month, it could access AWA employees of anti-worker activist, Len Buckeridge, at Burrup Fertilisers.
The court heard uncontested evidence from 40-year industry veteran, Alan Kuret, that the OEA had registered a fraudulent AWA in his name, although he had never seen, let alone signed, the document.
Justice French described as "surprising" OEA evidence that it registered electronically-submitted AWAs outside the 21 days allowed by law.
The court learned that Buckeridge's company bound sub-contractors to employ AWA labour only.
Andrews has not responded to a CFMEU challenge to investigate the OEA and companies that commit fraud.
The four-year Low Pay Project brings together the LHMU and three state labor councils with university researchers and one of the country's leading charity organisations.
LHMU national secretary, Jeff Lawrence, said his organisation and the Brotherhood of St Laurence were increasingly advocating for the same constituency.
"The growth of low-paid and precarious jobs has made low-paid workers the new working poor," he said.
"This alliance will build a strong understanding, and a strident voice, to debate the growth of low-paid jobs in service industries, and the implications for our workplaces, households and communities."
The project is being funded by participating organisations and the Australian Research Council to the tune of $511,000 over the next four years.
Researchers will study the spread of low-paid work around Australia and the Project will organise forums on the topic.
The Low Pay Project was formally launched in Adelaide, this week, with several LHMU members in attendance.
Millions Missing in WA
Meanwhile, in Perth, the LHMU is threatening legal action against the WA Government in a bid to recover millions of dollars it says are owed to teacher assistants.
State assistant secretary, Sue Lines, says workers who should have received $5000 back payments from the Education Department have been fobbed off with amounts between $700 and $1000.
Lines says up to 2000 workers are being dudded because the Department is refusing to honour an agreement made with the union. Some individuals, she said, were losing up to $10,000.
"The department has refused to back pay union members working with special needs children in line with our agreement," she said. "It has failed to pass on rises and back pay amounting to millions of dollars."
Lines said if the "shambles" wasn't resolved, the LHMU would launch prosecutions.
NUW and AMWU members went back to work, this week, after the company backed down on its decision to dump the trades assistants, procurement officers and vehicle repair officers.
The AMWU took Tenix to the federal court, after last year, winning permanency for a group of tradespeople who had also been employed as fixed-term casuals.
"Tenix tried to use these people as pawns in industrial strategy. It didn't work," AMWU organiser, Rob Leonard, said. "They terminated them after giving the union an assurance that they would all join the permanent staff.'
As part of the settlement, Tenix agreed to pay all 300 locked out workers a $450 bonus and to immediately upgrade the classifications, and wages, of more than 70 staff in the first step towards a new classifications system.
Albury-Wodonga employees had been pushing for the agreed structure for more than three years.
"The most important thing was that everyone went out together, stayed out together and went back stronger," Leonard said.
Rural Press flew the out-of-towners in to do the jobs of printers fighting for a better EBA deal after industrial action prevented the printing of last Thursday's paper.
Suddenly, around 6pm on Tuesday, with picketers dodging forklifts and police, the company's presses shut down and the imported workers were escorted from the sight.
AMWU organiser, Greg Warren, said the sight had lifted workers' spirits, halting production on a range of south and east Gippsland community titles.
"The boys shamed them out of there," Warren said.
"The scabs were escorted out by police and some of them apologised. They said they hadn't known they were scabbing, it was not what the boss told them."
Rural Press offered the printers annual increases of 2.5 percent over three years. Warren said it had been two years since their last wage movements.
"Our boys aren't greedy, they are good hard-working printers," Warren said. "All they wanted was four, four and four but the boss told them to go and get nicked."
The AMWU is seeking 127 order against the company, alleging its La Trobe Valley lockout is illegal.
The case is set down for hearing in Melbourne today.
Boycott and Picket the Safari Restaurant
SUPPORT UNPAID SUBCONTRACT BUILDING COMPANIES IN THEIR CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE
How can you help? Boycott the Safari Restaurant, Sign our Supporters Petition, Make a donation to the campaign and Picket nightly from 6.15pm - 28 King Street, Newtown.
National competition for students - term 3
The Australian Council of Trade Unions' Worksite for Schools website (www.worksite.actu.asn.au) is currently running a national competition for school, TAFE and RTO students - Your Dream Job.
To enter, students must write about the job of their dreams. There is $100 for the student winner, $50 for 2 runners-up, and $25 for the winner of the special effort category.
The competition closes Friday 22nd October 2004. More information and an entry form can be obtained from the Worksite website - http://www.worksite.actu.asn.au
Please call 1800 659 511 (toll free) or email [email protected] if you have any questions.
hoWARd the arseLIcKEr
-Written by D.B.Valentine - Directed by Mark Cleary
-The Edge Theatre - Cnr King & Bray Sts Newtown
-Advance previews Wed 4th & Thurs 5th August.
-Opening Friday 6th Aug to Sunday 29th Aug.
-Time: 7.30pm (tbc)
-Bookings 9645 1611 or www.mca-tix.com
-More info go to: www.newtowntheatre.com.au click on "The Edge"
Republican Film Night - Tuesday 31 August 2004
Further details at
Timor Sea Justice Campaign
On Monday 30 August a public event will be held at Leichhardt Town Hall in Sydney to commemorate the 5th anniversary of East Timor's historic referendum vote in favour of independence. The event includes film screenings, a public forum on local government initiatives and an information session taking place between Australia and East Timor to establish seabed boundaries and allocate revenue from rich oil and gas deposits in the Timor Sea. Doccos and films 2-4pm, Local Govt Forum 4-6pm, Timor Sea Oil and Gas Forum 6-8pm, and After Party 8pm-10pm. Details, Peter Jennings APHEDA (02) 9264 9343 or Jefferson Lee AETA (02) 9519 4788.
An Hour Of Power
Can the power sector save us from Climate Change? And would it if it could? Find out at a free debate moderated by Premier Bob Carr from 6 to 7pm Monday 6 September at Coles Theatre, Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo. Full invitation with map and speaker details available from
RSVP is essential to reserve your place. Email your details to [email protected]
APHEDA 20th Anniversary Celebration Dinner
Join APHEDA to celebrate 20 years of international solidarity from 6.30pm to 7pm Wednesday 8 September at Petersham RSL Auditorium, 7 Regent Street, Petersham. There will be live music, a fabulous, MC, an auction, and a decision two course meal. Free parking. Tix $50 per person or $450 for a table of 10. For details and bookings call Sally from APHEDA on (02) 9264 9343.
Helen's War: Now Showing
Postgraduates for Peace are holding a screening of Helen's War: Portrait of a Dissident - an award winning documentary made by former University of Sydney Arts-Law student Anna Broinowski. It profiles Anna's aunt, the trail-brazing anti-nuclear campaigner since the 1970s, Dr. Helen Caldicott, as she resurfaces to take on the Bush administration in the post 9/11 world. Anna Broinowski and Helen Caldicott will speak at the free screening from 6pm Thursday 2 September. RSVP: [email protected]
Films, Politics and Learning Conference
Organization: OVAL Research, Faculty of Education, University of Technology
6 & 7 Dec
These nights aim:
- To bring together radical film-makers, radical film buffs, and radical educators.
- To inspire educators about ways they can use film in their work.
- To inspire film-makers about ways they might facilitate learning about politics.
- To foster discussion and advocacy about this field of practice.
We are seeking videos and films under 2 categories:
1. Agitprop: protest, guerrilla, activist, political, subversive short films /videos.
2. Participatory film-making: community films/videos as social intervention. The only format accepted is DVD.
Send copies with entry form to Celina McEwen, The Centre for Popular Education, UTS, PO Box 123, BROADWAY NSW 2007 AUSTRALIA. Deadline for entries is September 30, 2004. Entry forms can be downloaded from www.cpe.uts.edu.au/pdfs/FPLentry.pdf
For further information email Celina on (02) 9514 3847 or [email protected]
Make A Diff For Nix
Conservation Volunteers Australia is offering a range of weekend and week-long projects that the environmentally inclined can assist on around the state and throughout the country. From wildlife projects to clean-up bees, find out more at http://www.conservationvolunteers.com.a
Great profile by Jim Marr on Bernie Banton and his campaign against James Hardie.
The smartest thing Hardie has done recently is to appoint the PR dream spin merchant Meredith Hellicar. She sounds so reasonable.
As my grandfather used to say, don't listen to what they say, watch what they do.
Could it be the swimmer who castigates herself as a loser for only winning a bronze? Or was it the sick fascination with an egocentric runner's knee? Or was it the spectacle of a rower who physically collapses being branded a quitter by both her team mates and the national media?
All these are symptoms of an alarming shift in Australia's attitude to this Olympics - a shift that may have been some time coming but has ramped up to a new level.
Where once the Olympics were about the competition, now they only seem to be about the winning.
And those who return home without a bag full of medals are no longer regarded as 'Olympians'. Instead they wear the heavy mantle of the loser.
When did we cross this line?
Maybe it was after the Montreal Games in 1976 when we returned home without a single gold and the outpouring of national angst prompted our government to throw millions at elite sport.
Maybe it was after Sydney 2000, when we basked in the global attention knowing we could never experience that magic again.
Or maybe it's been a slower burn that is about a whole lot more than sport, more an embracing of a cultural ideal that places competition and conquest as the ultimate in human endeavour.
There is much to be said for competition. It pushes us to be our best - running faster, jumping higher, thinking in smarter ways.
But there is an underbelly that is not so positive; by its very nature the winners are defined by those they vanquish.
How this can be the working model of a society that gives everyone a stake is beyond me? Unless we celebrate participation over victory, we are never going to create a world where we can all feel good about ourselves.
And that's what I see as the tragedy of Athens 2004 - a society based on the principles of egalitarianism and mateship is now consumed with creating idols, renovating homes and winning gold medals.
It will take more than a legislative amendment to protect Australian culture from the American juggernaut. As these Olympics have demonstrated, it may already be too late.
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