Rodents across the nation were offended this week when they were compared with the most dangerous and incompetent Prime Minister in living memory by Liberal attack Poodle George Brandis.
George denied that it had ever happened of course.
Yes, it was unthinkable that anyone could ever consider that the Prime Miniature was capable of living up to the lofty values of a rodent.
Brandis has form for opening the mouth before the brain is engaged.
This skulking lawyer of a man has ensured that he's Hadleyed whichever way he turns.
His stature as the defender of the Governments race baiting strategies have been diminished somewhat from his stating of the bleeding obvious.
Brandis, a well known Costello booster, first let his feelings about Little Johnny become known during a trip to Cuba, where a few rums loosened his tongue and he spoke volubly of the Dear Leader's obvious shortcomings to Labor pollies sharing his junket.
Brandis kept a straight face as he denied the allegations, contained in a statutory declaration by colourful Queensland Liberal identity Russel Galt.
Brandis countered with the masterstroke of producing his own statutory declaration.
Unfortunately this battle of the stat decs couldn't overwhelm the sniggering that was going on behind Brandis's back.
Ironically it has been the lawyer's lawyer Brandis who has been trying to defend the indefensible in the Senate's Truth Overboard Inquiry, and thereby extract Howard from the excrement he now finds himself in.
All that our Tool Of The Week managed was to get pulled into the mire himself.
Nonetheless Brandis continued on with gritted teeth trying to discredit Mike Scrafton - an effort that had all the gravitas of a deflating pool pony.
Why Brandis just didn't say "yes! I admit it! It's what everyone is thinking!" isn't immediately obvious. Why he decided to show loyalty to a bloke who has been quite happy to leave him hanging out to dry is curious to say the least.
Especially when the man he is trying defend makes used car salesmen look positively virtuous.
Of course all the "I have full faith in Senator Brandis" claptrap was trotted out, which is right up there with "the coach has the full support of the board" in terms of credibility.
One can only assume that Brandis was taking the PM seriously when the lying rodent said that he wanted to campaign on trust.
That statement left Australians rolling around in peals of laughter that could be heard all the way to the ballot box.
Thanks to our Tool Of The Week we now have a Liberal we can trust - George Brandis, who speaks the truth when he says that the Prime Minister is a lying rodent.
The first Liberal TV ad of the election campaign has been sprung for distorting apprentice numbers, promoting calls for a correction.
The ad, broadcast nationally last week, claimed that apprentice numbers had tripled under the Howard Government to more than 400,000. In fact, latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research shows only 133,376 traditional apprentices are undergoing training in Australia.
The party political ad went to air as business representatives and economists predicted skills shortages would stunt Australia's economic growth.
ACTU president, Sharan Burrow, is calling for an immediate correction to be broadcast.
"The so-called apprenticeships that the ad refers to include short-term traineeships in fast food chains, fish and chip shops, juice bars and bakery franchises," Burrow said.
"These traineeships have no structured training and many are taken up be existing workers, leading to suggestions of employer rorts to obtain wage subsidies.
"It is wrong for John Howard and Peter Costello to pretend a 12 or 18 month traineeship for a kitchenhand in a fast food outlet is a commitment to apprentice training. It is dishonest."
The figure used by the Liberal Party in its advertising includes short-term trainees as well as traditional apprentices. The Federal Government labelled short-term job trainees in shops and fast food chains "new apprentices" and the Liberal Party has rolled them into its published apprenticeship figures.
The ACTU predicts apprenticeship shortages of around 25,000 a year will cost the country up to $9 billion over the next decade.
It calls the federal "new apprenticeship" program "seriously flawed" because it offers employers of four-year trade apprentices the same $4125 subsidy received by employers of burger flippers on one-year traineeships.
Unions argue that poor wages for trade apprentices is another problem the government has failed to address. They say an 18-year-old entering a manufacturing apprenticeship is paid $100 a week less than a fast food trainee.
ADI has applied for an exemption from the state’s Equal Opportunities Act so it can sack or transfer employees to comply with requirements attached to specific multi-million dollar US contracts.
Unions WA has been formally joined to the company's application and AMWU secretary, Jock Ferguson, is promising to fight ADI every step of the way.
"This application is a direct attack on Australian values and the Australian way of life at the instigation of a foreign power," Ferguson says. "It's industrial apartheid, it's outrageous and it is unacceptable because it reinforces negative racial stereotypes."
People born in at least 20 countries, including China and Vietnam, are barred from working on specified US defence contracts, by order of the President, but the ADI application would allow it to deny employment to anyone not born in Australia or the US.
Ferguson said not only does ADI want the green light to bar people on the basis of race or nationality, but it has also put forward a proposal to make staff wear distinguishing badges and to publish lists of employees and their birthplaces.
The American demands wouldn't just apply to ADI's US defence contracts but to Australian organisations that, in turn, had contractual relationships with the US armed forces.
ADI concedes the American requirements would rule out nearly 40 percent of its current Perth staff of around 220.
"This is John Howard and George Bush imposing American values by demanding that our state and federal laws be over-ridden," Unions WA secretary, Stephanie Mayman, says.
She says victory for ADI in the Equal Opportunities Tribunal would be hollow if it could not prevail apon the Federal Government to change its Workplace Relations Act that also forbids discrimination.
Western Australian Equal Opportunities Commissioner, Yvonne Henderson, will also oppose the ADI bid.
The case will be heard later this year.
Media reports suggest that ADI has already been granted an exemption from Victoria's anti-discrimination law and that it is applying to dodge the rules in NSW, Queensland and South Australia.
National president, Julius Roe, confirmed that a substantial chunk of his organisation’s election spend would go to the Greens in recognition of their "consistent support for issues that will make a difference to our members and their families".
Roe highlighted the positions taken by Bob Brown's party with regard to free trade and industrial relations.
The AMWU will also make contributions of up to $10,000 to 16 individual ALP candidates who have supported union members on free trade and manufacturing jobs.
Roe is urging union members to get involved in the campaign to evict John Howard from the Lodge.
"This Government is the most anti-worker in Australia's history," Roe says. "It is in the interests of all our members, and their families, that it is defeated on October 9.
"It has betrayed Australia's economic, cultural and political independence by putting George Bush's interests ahead of our own. The war in Iraq, and the US Free Trade Agreement were clear examples of that."
Roe conceded the AMWU had been "very disappointed" by ALP support for Howard on free trade, particularly after the Senate committee it dominated listed dozens of concerns.
However, he said, AMWU national councillors, had identified four key policy areas - health, education, industrial relations and industry policy - where members would be better off under an ALP regime.
Roe said ALP stances on Medicare, public education, apprenticeship training, industry planning and "redressing the balance in the workplace" put it "light years" ahead of the Coalition.
He described those issues as "central to the wellbeing of working Australians".
AMWU national councillors are asking activists, delegates and rank and file members to do what they can in the lead-up to polling day. Anyone able to lend support to the ALP or Greens campaigns should contact their state union office.
Meanwhile, NSW Labor Council will invite Greens IR spokesperson Kerry Nettle to address delegates in the build-up to the election.
Secretary John Robertson said delegates should understand that unions with members on federal awards would be "in much worse positions" if Greens and Democrat senators hadn't rejected the most "draconian" aspects of the federal government's workplace wish list.
Robertson said an ALP speaker would also be invited to speak to delegates in the election build-up.
In opening submissions this week, the ACTU said to would call working mums like Annette Rowlands and Helen Walker who will testify how they left their jobs because they were unable to arrange care to match the requirements of their jobs.
ACTU advocate Cath Bowtell told the Australian Industrial relations Commission that the ACTU claim for a set of family rights would benefit working women, business and the national economy.
'The applications for more time together for parents in the first few weeks after the birth of a child, extended parental leave and part time employment for parents of preschoolers provide, in effect, a detour around the collision black spots," she said.
"They allow parents, especially mothers, to avoid the inevitable head-on.
"By keeping those mothers attached to the labour force and in their pre-maternity jobs they assist in ensuring that her labour market trajectory is not diverted so far off-course, nor slowed to such an extent, that regaining the momentum becomes impossible."
Key elements of the case are:
- An increase from one week to eight weeks in the amount of the parental leave that can be taken simultaneously at the birth of a child.
- An extension of the total amount of parental leave available to families from one year to two
- A right for parents returning from parental leave to return to their job return part time up until their child reaches school age.
- A right for employees to request to change their working hours or place of work to meet their caring responsibilities and a corresponding obligation upon employers to try to accommodate requests.
- A right for employees to request up to 6 weeks unpaid leave, which may be accompanied by a wages averaging system, and a corresponding obligation on employers to consider to unreasonably refuse these requests. o
- And access to paid and unpaid family emergency leave.
The carrier washes two or three planes a day at Sydney Airport to save millions a year on fuel burn as clean planes use up to three percent less fuel.
The airline profits further by selling the service to other airlines.
In addition, Qantas jets dump 3000 litres of drinking water at Sydney every day from onboard tanks.
Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association Federal secretary David Kemp says the "waste" water should be pressurised and re-used.
"When Sydneysiders are shortening their showers and sacrificing their gardens Qantas is just squandering water, they need to do their bit," says Kemp.
Soapy water from the "plane wash" is collected with conventional liquid industrial waste and hauled from the site for disposal.
As well as dirt and detergent the water contains trace amounts of fuel, hydraulic oil, and grease. These could be removed for reuse.
The bank has been sitting on the news that its Sydney head office was riddled with asbestos since late last year, with the Finance Sector Union (FSU) claiming that the bank failed to relocate staff because of the costs involved.
The FSU has called for an immediate evacuation of the Martin Place site and a nationwide asbestos audit of all ANZ workplaces in the wake of the discovery, which they claim is typical of the bank's complacent approach to workplace safety.
"Surely it is now proven that asbestos is not safe," says FSU National Secretary, Paul Schroder. "We are deeply concerned that they are more concerned about property costs and business disruption than people."
"This is particularly alarming when you consider that on the ANZ Board we have the head of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission and a director of James Hardie NV - two people who should know better."
The FSU has put ANZ on notice and written to each state based OHS authority to alert them of the problem.
The news follows revelations that asbestos and vermin are threatening children at a hospital childcare centre.
Parents at the Yaralla Child Care Centre have formed an action group after threatened demolition work at the Concord Repatriation Hospital placed the childcare centre at risk.
Parents and unions; including the NSW Nurses Association, the CFMEU and the Health Services Union joined forces to halt demolition scheduled for this week.
"Given the recent media attention regarding the possible devastating consequences of exposure to asbestos I am at a loss to understand why this demolition could be allowed to proceed without proper safety precautions," says NSW Nurses Association general secretary Brett Holmes. "Especially when there are 52 children per day potentially exposed to hazardous substances."
The current site already has a higher than acceptable level of lead content in the soil."
Unions and parents are calling for the centre to be relocated as a matter of urgency prior to any demolition being commenced.
The mayor the Blue Mountains is outraged by the news and has backed Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) calls for the operator of the Indian Pacific service, Great Southern Railways, to fix the problem immediately.
"The railway line is close to residential areas," says Blue Mountain Mayor Jim Angel. "We don't like it."
Railway workers say that Great Southern Railways, who also operate the Ghan and the Overland, use old-style drop toilets and want them dumped, saying they are a health risk to rail track workers and the general public.
In a related development RTBU workers in Victoria have threatened strike action unless action is taken to fix the problem immediately.
"Great Southern Railways are using old rolling stock on their trains that include the Indian Pacific," says RTBU national secretary Roger Jowett. "Great Southern Railways has done very well since the opening of their Ghan service to Darwin, they should be able to fix this."
Great Southern Railways has a plan to convert their carriages to a retention system over the next three years but the RTBU is calling for immediate action by the operator.
"There needs to be a sense of urgency," says Jowett.
"Given the obvious health dangers of faeces we are calling for WorkCover to investigate this issue."
Reports from WA suggest DIMIA has "suspended" Freespirit's right to "sponsor" guest workers after Workers Online blew the whistle on its treatment of 29 South African tradesmen.
Former clients have reported the suspension but Immigration officials and the company, itself, were in "neither confirm nor deny" mode, last week.
Freespirit boss, Paul Rigby, ignored repeated Workers Online requests for information on his company's status, delivered through both his Sydney office and his WA public relations representative, Errol Consedine.
A Canberra-based DIMIA spokeperson at least returned our calls.
"We can't comment on the status of individual companies due to privacy," she said.
"When breaches are suspected we will carry out investigations and, where it is found a breach has occurred, the company will be asked to respond. Consideration will then be given as to whether their sponsorship arrangements should be cancelled."
Freespirit hit the headlines when Workers Online revealed, in April, it was paying imported boilermakers, pipe fitters and welders effective rates of $10-13 an hour.
AMWU WA secretary, Jock Ferguson, called the operation "pyramid labour hire" and described it as a threat to the living standards of every worker in Australia.
The South Africans walked off sites around the state to protest their treatment by Freespirit. One, a boilermaker, said he had been earning around $13 an hour at Port Hedland, alongside Australians getting $44 an hour for the same work.
Another, Ronald Oliveira from Johannesburg, likened their situation to "slavery".
One worker who went public was sacked from his job at a Perth engineering shop the following day.
Others said they were being charged 144 percent interest on $5000 upfront loans to cover airfares and immigration paperwork.
When Freespirit eventually agreed to discuss the workers' situations it demanded indemnities against backpay claims, filed by the AMWU, from each of the South Africans.
The AMWU helped tradesmen who wanted to see out their four-year working visas to ditch Freespirit and sign up with alternative sponsors.
Other organisations linked to the exploitation of South African workers included the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Johannesburg-based ABA.
Seven thousand school cleaners will walk off the job for an unprecedented four days because the Carr government refuses to guarantee their jobs.
The government is negotiating new school cleaning contracts with companies who have no obligation to retain current employees or to pay redundancy entitlements if workers are sacked.
Many cleaners have been working in the system for over 10 years.
LHMU Cleaners Union secretary Annie Owens says school cleaners are especially vulnerable because many are poor and from non-english speaking backgrounds.
The strike action comes after a plan to rope parents into cleaning duties was rejected by the community.
A poll of 400 parents across the state showed only three percent of parents would definitely volunteer to clean schools.
The cleaners and their supporters will rally this Wednesday at State Parliament. Busloads of protesters from around regional NSW are meeting other workers at the Archibald fountain at midday. For bus information call 1800 021 901 toll free.
To get regular updates about the campaign visit
Or click here to send an email protest to the Carr Government:
Australia's biggest company has informed thousands of employees they can only have "certainty" in their "employment relationships" if they sign up to the individual, non-union agreements.
The CPSU is advising members to sit on the offers and accusing the company, which has shed more than 50,000 jobs in the past decade, of "shedding crocodile tears".
"It is a bit rich for Telstra to suddenly express concern for employees' job security, given the corporation has axed 50,000 jobs in the past decade, 15,000 of them in the last four years," the union website advises recipients of the latest push.
It was responding to a letter from the company's group general manager, Bill Scales, that expressed "concerns" about ALP policy to abolish AWAs on the expiry of existing contracts.
Scales said Telstra's new AWA campaign was driven by its commitment to ensuring "employees have certainty in their employment arrangements".
The CPSU says Telstra isn't just pitching to existing AWA staff but also bidding to sign over workers on collective agreements prior to the election.
It advises Scales to "take a chill pill" and accept the election result.
ALP front benchers Craig Emerson and Lindsay Tanner have waded into the argument, demanding that Telstra come clean on what Labor policy would mean for AWA employees and end its scare campaign.
"Labor calls on Telstra to make it clear to employees that any condition of employment that can be in an AWA can also be in a collective agreement," Emerson said.
The latest question and answer document circulated to Telstra managers supports ALP and union claims that AWAs are not individually negotiated agreements but take-it or leave-it positions generated by the employer.
Telstra managers are told to tell employees "no" if they asked whether or not they can vary wording in company AWAs.
"Whatever the second A in AWA stands for, in Telstra's case, it is certainly not agreement," Emerson said. "Perhaps it's acquiescence."
Dozens of young drivers have lodged their concerns with a Unions NSW hotline.
Among the stories:
- Jason, a volunteer officer in the Air cadets. He volunteers his time to do training of other cadets on weeknights and often does not drive home until 10pm.
- Laura a uni student who works part time in bar work at a bar often does not finish work until 1-2am. May restrict her ability to work to fund her studies.
- Daniel, a musician whose band starts most gigs at 9pm and finish anytime up to 12am. "If I cant drive to gigs I wont have a job."
- Jenny, working in sales and marketing, often have dinner with clients as part of her job.
"All these young drivers have legitimate reasons to be driving at night" Labor Council secretary John Robertson says.
"I think this indicates that the government may need to look at its curfew proposal and understand the way it may affect the lives of some young workers."
These and other stories will form the basis of a submission from the NSW Labor Council to the government as part of the consultation process around the proposed curfew.
Any other young drivers who believe the curfew will be a nightmare for them can call the Unions NSW Hotline on 1800 688 919.
Electrical Trades Union NSW state secretary Bernie Riordan says he has received legal advice that the High Court decision would not over-ride bargaining fees t proposed in a series of agreements in the NSW power industry.
"Under NSW law workers have the right to levy a small fee on colleagues who refuse to join the union but benefit financially from their work," Riordan says.
"Our members see such a principle as a simple matter of user pays - unions spend thousands of dollars negotiating increases that benefit all workers and it is only fair that those who do not join should contribute in some small way.
"It is ironic that the laws of the political party that professes to be about choice denies workers the right to opt for this user pay arrangement."
The ETU is currently involved in a special case to extend bargaining fees into a NSW award after more than 90 per cent of the Country Energy workforce voted in favour of the principle.
That case is due to be heard by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission over the next month.
This year it's 'the nothing note', building on the awareness the Prime Minister professes to have for key issues of controversy.
Maritime Union of Australia branch secretary Robert Coombs says he'd watched the Howard Govt buying votes with tax cuts and pork barrelling, so the union thought they would hand out money too.
"PM John Howard says he knows nothing about children overboard, transport minister John Anderson knows nothing about the dangers of ships of shame, foreign minister Andrew Downer knows nothing about torture in Abu Ghraib, treasurer Peter Costello knows nothing about spending the health budget on political advertising and smear campaigns so we've now got a note for the 'I know nothing government.'"
MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Garrett says that Mr Howard made the promise in 1996 that no Australian worker would be worse off' under his Government, but since he came to power, the workers of Australia have been subjected to anti-worker and anti-family policies.
"The Deputy PM says a vote for Labor would mean handing the wharves back to the maritime unions," he said.
"We say another term of the Howard Government would mean more mass sackings, job insecurity and casual jobs. We welcome the October 9 election and eagerly anticipate a change of government for the betterment of the Australian people."
Funny money is a proud and popular union tradition going back several decades.
Boys' warning comes on the eve of the World Energy Conference to be held in Sydney this week.
Over 2800 of the worlds' energy ministers, union officials, and corporate representatives will meet to discuss future trends in the energy industry.
Premier Bob Carr will chair one plenary session focussing on green issues.
Australian Services Union official Greg McLean says privatisation of energy services in Australia would lead to the community and workers bearing greater costs.
"Past privatisation has reduced services because profit rather than quality service is the sole motive for the corporate world. Profits are then moved offshore to the countries in which shareholders live," says McLean.
"In other countries this has lead to crucial decisions being made in the boardrooms of New York, Paris and Hong Kong.
"And if our crucial infrastructure deteriorates businesses will stop investing in Australia because we can't guarantee our power supply, because we don't own it," he says.
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@example.com if you have any questions.
Sudan Peace March
Sunday 5th September, 2004
Hyde Park Fountain at 11.00am proceeding to Martin Place
Speakers include: Hugh Riminton,Nightline Chanel 9; Stuart Rees, Centre for
Peace and Conflict Studies; David Lokosang, Sudan People's Liberation
Movement; Safi Hareer, Darfur Union in Australia; Rev Bill Crews, Exodus
Rally - NSW Rape Crisis Centre
Monday 6th September 2004
Queens Square, Macquarie Street Sydney
(outside the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, near Hyde Park Barracks)
In NSW less than 1% of sexual assaults lead to a conviction.
Increasingly those convicted are appealing on minor points of law.
For most women their cases do not get to court because she has no chance of
success under the current legal system.
To prove her story the woman has to submit to cross examination which aims
to degrade, humiliate and shame her.
The NSW Criminal Justice system is
letting Women down.
Immediate changes to the current justice system.
Formation of a high level task force to propose a new system for
investigating sexual assault which is fair, just and respectful.
Anne Cossins, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of NSW
Tanya Plibersek MP, Federal Member for Sydney
Lee Rhiannon, NSW Member Legislative Council
Karen Willis, Manager, NSW Rape Crisis Centre
Sandy Goldstone, Counselling Co-ordinator, NSW Rape Crisis Centre
Kath Haines, Football Fans Against Sexual Assault
Free Film Night
The Wilderness Society are putting on a Free Film and Information Night.
There will be two films,
"Wildness" (about 50 minutes) is the story of two of Australia's greatest wilderness photographers
Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis
The second film is 10 minutes and shows the situation with logging of old-growth forests in Tasmania featuring a soundtrack by John Butler.
It's free and a great way to find out more about one of Australia's special environmental areas - Tasmania.
Where - Waverley Library 32-48 Denison Street, Bondi Junction (off Oxford Street heading away from the Junction towards the city)
When - Monday 6th September 7pm
For more information: contact The Wilderness Society 9282 9553
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 http://www.wwf.org.au/climate/powerswitch_debate.pdf RSVP is essential to reserve your place. Email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
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@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Congratulations and thank you for your Gold Fever editorial. The enemy is the corporate, hard headed, victory at any cost, win win win, neoliberal, wipe put the competitor, don't give a stuff about anyone else, everyone is an island, culture.
Your editorial sounded so true to me. I could never be as eloquent as you but you have expressed my thoughts in your words. I am very disappointed in
the "winning at all costs mentality". Bring back cooperation!
Why does it all feel so empty? Isn't this a bit much? How did you even reach this conclusion? Jones was disappointing (again) and understandably bitter. Pittman's effort was gutsy, even if the newspapers and tv turned the whole thing into a saga. The rowers were bitter at having seen 4 years of hard work go down the toilet because of something that should never have happened. Perhaps your criticism should be directed towards the media and to the casual pundits who wouldn't give a stuff about sports at any other time of the year, but who feel the need to give their two cents. And why the reference to the Americans? Next time, stick to industrial relations.
I became profoundly sad when I skimmed your piece in Workers Online summarising the Olympics. We've been around this discussion several times before and I think I recalled you appearing to soften your aggression towards the Sydney Games after you returned and saw how uplifted we all were. It seems you've regressed.
I regret I've only been to two Olympics - Munich and Sydney - because they are two of the most uplifting fortnights of my life. Just to be around positive, fit, young and healthy people, who by the end of it look changed for the better, is a great feeling. It is also where these people first meet and interact with similar types from cultures that we insular Australians usually don't come across. As an internationalist I think that can only be good.
It is the sporting media that fixate on nationalism and channel readers onto the league tables of medals. I can remember when there was far less concentration on this. Of course some parts of the non-sporting media will still grasp at negatives like the women rowers but avoid the shining faces of successful and non-successful competitors. To me, the sight of Hicchem El Gouroug wide-eyed in wonder at his achievement at last, followed by him kissing his own baby and finally in unashamed tears getting his medal was the peak. Why not write about that rather than the ordinary tabloid rubbish?
The Greeks have withstood years of barely concealed racism from journalists about their ability to get the thing on. In Athens today there will be five million positive people surrounded by sublime sporting architecture and the serenity that comes when you know that you and your comrades have achieved something wonderful. Just like we felt four years ago, when until the flame got to Sydney, we were deluged with negativity from the Fairfax press about costs, trains, chaos, corruption, drugs etc. etc. Beijing will be next to cop it for another three and three quarter years.
So endeth the diatribe. I know you saw the light (ever-so-reluctantly) after you witnessed the effect on Sydney so I am ever-hopeful. I trust you will come to believe that us ordinary people do like to hear and read about great things happening and don't really get improved as people by an unrelenting bilge of negative reporting.
In 2001 it was a carefully constructed fear campaign which effectively morphed the collective anxiety about globalisation and economic insecurity into the myth of border protection; driven along by the children overboard lie which, as is still emerging, the government milked mercilessly despite advice from the highest levels that their was no substance to the charade.
This time around the big fear campaign is around interest rates and the spectre of fanciful percentages not seen since the Hawke-Keating government completed its grand economic restructure which, more than anything else, has delivered Howard and Costello the platform for a stable economy that they claim as their own.
The big lie on interest rates is as dangerous as border protection; under Howard and Costello home prices have sky-rocketed, helped along by a tax regime that rewards property speculation and a banking system prepared to underwriting previously unacceptable levels of personal debt.
In 1996, the average loan for first home buyers was $94,400 with average monthly loan repayments of $891; while the average mortgage for all borrowers was $97,600 with average monthly loan repayments of $922.
By June 2004, the average loan for first home buyers was $204,000 with average monthly loan repayments of $1,448; while the average mortgage for all borrowers was $202,700 with average monthly loan repayments of $1,400
This is Howard and Costello's legacy - and perversely this is what makes their scare campaign so potent: a percentage point in interest rates today has the practical effect of five points in the early nineties; the entire property market would collapse long before interest rates got anywhere near 18 per cent.
That is why the Reserve Bank and whatever government is in power would never use interest rates in the way Keating did ever again; the benefits it delivered in a period of profound economic transition would be disastrous at this point in time.
That has not stopped Howard milking it for all its worth - and now that commercial television has ditched its requirement for truth in political advertising, look forward to the full symphony in the coming weeks.
Thankfully, unlike children overboard where the truth was controlled within government, we are beginning to hear some economists and business commentators exposing the lies about 18 per cent interest rates..
Anyone lucky enough to see the respected finance journalist, now irreverent morning talk show host David Koch take Howard on this week would take some hear that the truth may prevail this time.
For those who missed out there was this exchange:
KOCH: Okay, just finally, a quick bone to pick with you. This campaign - A vote for Labor is a vote for 18 per cent interest rates. That is the greatest load of hogwash, with respect.
PRIME MINISTER: I haven't specified 18 per cent...
KOCH: Some of your colleagues have in their letter box drops around their electorates have done so.
PRIME MINISTER: What I do say is that a Labor Government is more likely to deliver higher interest rates because it runs budgets into deficit and it also runs an industrial relations policy that will weaken productivity.
KOCH: So can you guarantee that interest rates will not rise if you are re-elected during your next term?
PRIME MINISTER: I can guarantee that interest rates will always be lower under a Coalition Government.
KOCH: No, can you...?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm telling you...
KOCH: You can't guarantee it - that's the point.
PRIME MINISTER: No, what I am guaranteeing to you is what I've just said. That's what... I mean, David, you don't put words into my mouth. I'll tell you what I guarantee, I guarantee that interest rates will be lower under a Coalition Government than they would be under a Labor Government. Isn't that fair enough...
KOCH: Standard & Poor's, the big international credit rating agency, said this week that no matter who gets elected at the federal election it does not see a AAA credit rating under threat.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's good, that is good. I don't want to...
KOCH: Which is a testimony to Labor policy...
PRIME MINISTER: No, but I ask the Australian people to look at what has happened over the last eight and a half years. Are you denying that interest rates have fallen sharply over the last eight and a half years? Nobody can deny that. And what I'm saying is, you compare that with the likelihood of a Labor Government spending into deficit, as previous Labor governments did, running an industrial relations policy...
KOCH: It's a whole new team.
PRIME MINISTER: It's a whole new team, but they still adore the same people. Mark Latham's great mentors are Paul Keating and Gough Whitlam.
As they did in 2001 the ALP has the facts on their side, it's just that the truth is a lot more complex than the scary lie.
The media preparedness to take on Howard and ensure they are not manipulated in the way they were with border protection will have a big bearing on the outcome of this election.