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Issue No. 240 01 October 2004  

The Premiership Quarter
After spending the past month with a decidedly sinking feeling, thereís a whiff of hope and expectation that the Howard era could actually be coming to an end.


Interview: The Last Bastian
AMWU state secretary Paul Bastian has been at the centre of the three year battle to bring James Hardie to account.

Unions: High and Dry
Jim Marr unpacks the recent High Court Electrolux decision to test whether the ruling matches the media hype.

Security: Liquid Borders
The Howard Government loves to trumpet its national security credentials but a close look at its record in shipping sinks the myth argues MUAís Zoe Reynolds.

Industrial: No Bully For You
Phil Doyle reports on how bringing dignity and respect to the workplace is undermining bullies.

History: Radical Brisbane
Radical Brisbane extends the 'Radical City' series into the Red North. Two experienced activists, academics and writers turn South East Queensland history on its head.

International: No Vacancies
More than 1400 hotel union workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, are on strike at four major hotels in San Francisco, California, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Life After Capitalism
A situation that all anarchists dream of? Michael Albert has been more than dreaming., writes Neale Towart

Technology: Cyber Winners
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks at a good news story of global online campaigning that has delivered a victory.

Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Teaser: Wondering why the polls are all over the place? Ask our resident bard and psephologist.

Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Voice of Southern Labor highlights the role music played in the 1930's US textile strikes, but more than that it provides a lucid insight into the roots of modern capitalism and some truly organic organising, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Kev Cooks the Books

 Black Hole In Libs Kids Plan

 Xerox Copies Waterfront Tactics

 Hardies Asbestos Woes "Snowballs"

 Air Fleet Grounded By Job Cuts

 Musos Lung For Better

 Customs Officers Declare

 Dumbing Down The Trades

 Pacific National Sidetracks Hunter Jobs

 Witch Hunt For Whistleblower

 Black Diamond Deaths Spark Mining Inquiry

 Pensioners Strip Over Pension Strip

 Activists What's On!


True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues Itís Time Ė for an IR reality check.

The Westie Wing
Much work has been done in the past to ease the plight of clothing outworkers in New South Wales. It's time to step up the pressure, as sweatshops and clothing contract work are thriving stronger than ever, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Who Started the Class War?
Evan Jones looks across the Australian political landscape and asks who are the real class warriors?

The Locker Room
First Past The Post
Phil Doyle is coming up in class and is all the better for recent racing

Westie Wing
Our favourite state MP returns for his monthly Macquarie Street wrap.

Positive Action
Australian unionists are helping give hope to Filipino workers living with HIV/AIDS.

 Donkey Vote
 Problem Solved
 How To Run Society
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Black Hole In Libs Kids Plan

A half billion dollar black-hole has emerged in Coalition childcare costing with the ACTU disputing the governmentís projected take-up rate for its childcare tax rebate.

The news comes as an ACTU and childcare unionsí survey revealed that almost half of all parents were prevented from working because of a shortage of childcare places.

Figures show childcare costs have risen by almost a third in the last two years while the take up rate for the rebate has also been underestimated by at least 120,000 children.

"Already under pressure over its massive pre-election spending spree, the

Coalition is trying to cover up the full cost of its childcare rebate,' says ACTU president Sharan Burrow. "

John Howard has already back-flipped over allowing wealthy families with nannies to claim the childcare rebate and now he is trying to mislead Treasury and hoodwink the public as to the true impact of his election promises."

"The ACTU calls on the Treasury to take these factors into account in the costing it is due to make public by Tuesday 5 October. The Coalition should also release full details of its proposal for independent scrutiny."

ACTU modelling estimates a shortfall of up to $575.2m in the costing of the Coalition's childcare tax rebate over only two and half years of operation; while Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that childcare costs for parents have risen 31.8% in the last two years alone, six times the general rate of inflation.

"The Coalition is also misusing the 'Charter of Budget Honesty' by requesting

Treasury cost the rebate on the basis that only 575,000 families will benefit - a gross under-estimate - and by failing to identify 'behavioural responses' such as rising costs & a lift in demand," says Burrow.

Many independent experts have already commented that the rebate is likely to push up demand for childcare and lead to a jump in fees.

No Care = No Job

Meanwhile, the ACTU-LHMU survey revealed that for 52% of respondents a lack of childcare is limiting the number of hours they can work while almost a third were unable to return to work after maternity leave.

"These results highlight the need for a national rescue plan that applies to all sections of the childcare industry," Greg McLean, Assistant National Secretary of childcare union ASU.

The survey revealed that the childcare shortage was impacting on families with waiting lists of more than 12 months common and high staff turnover and inadequate facilities also featuring as major concerns.

"High staff turnover is a direct result of the low wages for childcare workers," says Helen Creed, National President of childcare union LHMU.


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