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Issue No. 238 17 September 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

Going Gangbusters?
The Prime Minister has put the economy front and centre in this election campaign, asserting - without a hint of irony – that he is the only one to trust with the national economy

F E A T U R E S

Interview: True Matilda
Former senior bureaucrat John Menadue coordinated the group of 43 calling for truth in government; and now he has bigger fish to fry.

Politics: State of Play
Are all political parties the same? Workers Online tries to cut through the jargon to compare the major parties' approaches to key policy areas.

Industrial: Capital Dilemmas
Public Private Partnerships amount to privatisation by stealth. Or do they? Jim Marr investigates.

Unions: Rhodes Scholars
Tim Brunero discovers how the Electrical Trades Union is doing its best to ease the national apprentice crisis.

National Focus: Rennovating the Lodge
Noel Hester previews how unions will be fighting the federal election - on the ground and online.

International: People Power
Over the next four years there is a real potential a major struggle will take place for workers’ rights and the creation of truly democratic unions in China., writes Andrew Casey

Economics: A Bit Rich
Who Gets What? Why? And So What?, Frank Stilwell reviews the BRW's Rich List

History: Mine Shafts
It's 25 years since Nymboida passed the baton to United, writes Peter Murray

Safety: Sick Of Fighting
Former RAAF engineers could be sitting on a health time bomb, Tim Brunero reports.

Organising: Building a Wave
Community groups, unions and social movements all practice organising, wrties Tony Brown and Amanda Tattersall.

Poetry: Anger In The Bush(es)
How dare any Liberal suggest that the Prime Minister is a lying rodent! Resident bard David Peetz reports on the outrage that this slur has justifiably caused.

Review: The Battle Of Algiers
Tim Brunero writes The Battle of Algiers is a coldly objective, almost scientific anatomy of revolution.

Culture: The Word On The Street
Phil Doyle reports on how the Australian working class experience lives on through the words of the remarkable Geoff Goodfellow.

N E W S

 Mind Games Off The Rails

 Kodak Blurs Jobs Picture

 Whistleblower Stitched Up

 Ranger Incompetence Saves Lives

 Skelton in Telstra Closet

 Capt Cook Discovers Flexibility

 Optus Opts Out

 Hardie Lemon in Orange County

 One Rule for Qantas

 Mum Takes on Bullies

 Costa’s Train Crash

 TV Clash Using Visual Ammunition

 Mormons In Asbestos Blue

 Apprentices Lose Out

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Hail to the Metro-Sexual!
If the cultural shift required in the workplace to give greater security to working families was broadly accepted the ACTU would not be locked in an adversarial Work and Family test case argues Sharan Burrow.

Politics
The Westie Wing
In his latest missive from Macquarie Street our resident Parliamentary commentator, Ian West, walks us through issues around the PBS.

Postcard
How Bush Lost His Wings
Tracking the National Guard Career of the Fatuous Flyboy from New Haven, Jeffrey St Clair.

The Locker Room
The Name of the Game
Phil Doyle wonders whether we are barracking for the sponsor or the team.

Postcard
Women to Women
APHEDA-Union Aid Abroad is working to create opportunities for Palestinian women living in Lebanese refugee camps.

L E T T E R S
 The Abbott Youth
 Invest In Dignity!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Optus Opts Out


Unions have warned that there is a potential for state based workers compensation schemes to collapse if there is a move by big employers to opt out of schemes such as NSW’s WorkCover.

The claim follows a move by telco Optus to move to a national scheme amidst warnings that a move away from the state based workers compensation may not necessarily be a cheaper option.

"Like James Hardie the big companies are trying to get out of their obligations," says NSW Labor Council Occupational health and safety officer Mary Yaager. "Following the collapse of HIH workers should be very wary of moves by big companies to self-insure.

"The problem with big companies opting out is that it will put a lot of pressure on small business."

Labor states have stepped up their battle against moves by big companies wanting to switch out of state workers' compensation schemes and self-insure.

An application by Optus to become the first company to make the move has been frozen until after the October 9 election following a row between the Victorian and Federal governments.

Actuary David Zaman warned that there was a lot of speculation surrounding moves by companies to leave state based compensation schemes.

"Each organisation would have to analyse their employment structure," says Zaman. "It is not necessarily a cheaper option.

"Underlying administration costs for state based schemes are small compared moving to a national scheme."

Administration costs have been cited by some large companies as a reason to move away from state based schemes.

Zaman said that instead of giving companies opportunity to move out of state based schemes the Federal Government could address the Social Security system being used to prop up state schemes that do not adequately support injured workers.


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