||Issue No. 239||24 September 2004|
Interview: True Matilda
Politics: State of Play
Industrial: Capital Dilemmas
Unions: Rhodes Scholars
National Focus: Rennovating the Lodge
International: People Power
Economics: A Bit Rich
History: Mine Shafts
Safety: Sick Of Fighting
Organising: Building a Wave
Poetry: Anger In The Bush(es)
Review: The Battle Of Algiers
Culture: The Word On The Street
The Locker Room
I Say I Say I Say II
Vote Early, And Often
No Surplus Of Generosity
It's baby-kissing season and no one is safe.
The latest piece of jibber to emanate from the mouth of Dear Leader Howard is his $900 offer for apprentices to buy a box to keep him in.
At this stage it remains unclear whether or not he is referring to a core or non-core Toolbox.
Apart from the fact that Howard doesn't even seem to know what an apprentice is, he is obviously unaware that most real apprentices already receive a $1000 tool allowance, courtesy of decades of work by Australian trade unions.
And all this from the same dropkick who thinks that starving TAFE of funding and removing from industrial awards conditions that regulate the proportion of apprentices in workplaces are good ideas.
Getting Howard to understand the realities facing Australian working people is a bit like getting a house brick to understand Euclidean geometry.
Maybe Howard is under the impression that an apprentice is one of those charming people who keep Donald Trump company on the show seen on Channel Packer.
Either that or he thinks that the word 'apprentice' is some management jargon meaning 'cheap labour'.
The confusion is understandable. After all, no one told him what an apprentice was, or if they did he cannot immediately recall the specifics.
Which is why, on planet Howard, an apprentice can mean someone who is flipping hamburgers or stacking shelves.
In fact less than a third of the 400,000 apprenticeships the Howard Government claims it is currently supporting are actual trades apprenticeships.
One can only marvel at the sort of leadership that would rather see future generations working in McDonalds rather than value-adding manufacturing or engaged in technical innovation.
Why bother about a $9 billion skills shortage when you can run around the country like a headless chook promising to make the old feel young and the young feel old.
Yep, there'll be no holes in donuts if Howard gets elected.
This man will do anything, even hug a tree, if he thinks there's a vote in it. He has all the principle of a pawnbroker, but with none of the charm.
Combine his appropriately labelled Tool Box 'initiative' with a foreign policy announcement earlier in the week, which looked like it was written by the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club, one has to worry about leaving our Tool Of The Week in charge of a tennis club, let alone the country.
But diplomacy, the workplace, or even running the country has never been Howard's strong point.
His great forte has always been saying whatever he's had to say to save his sorry backside, regardless of whether or not it approximates the truth.
Nevertheless it should come as no surprise that our Tool Of the Week wants to get onside with tradespeople, after all, a once over of his policies shows that there's a screw loose in there somewhere.
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