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Issue No. 244 29 October 2004  

Raking Over The Tea Leaves
Prepare yourselves; you are about to enter the Twilight Zone, a strange world where logic collapses in on itself, where enemies are new friends and assets become liabilities.


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 MUA’s 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.


 Cameron Flags Fightback

 Latham on Union Mat

 Union Shelters WA Roofers

 Bosses Trip on Electrolux

 Drivers Derail Game Boy

 Asses Get Carrot

 Families Pay More For Homes

 Commonwealth Banks on Sackings

 Back Gong Back in Gong

 "Joke" Fine Death Boss

 Division Over Hardie Laws

 Activists What's On!


True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues It’s Time – 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.

 Honesty Is the best Policy
 Nothing To Stand On
 It’s The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
 Dear Mark letter
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Letters to the Editor

It’s The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

I invariably make incorrect predictions (or perhaps that should be "hopes" about the outcome of federal elections.

But this year I was expecting one of three possible scenarios:

The government returned with a smaller majority;

A hung parliament, which would require one or other of the major parties to form a coalition with a minor party;

A landslide victory for Labor.

Alas, as usual, I was way off the mark. But I daresay no one was more

surprised at the outcome than John Howard himself. He could have called a double dissolution election at any time in the past 12 months, with several of his pet policies having been rejected at least twice by the senate.

I was figuring that he was not confident of winning such an election, and so deferred the poll to the latest practicable time. It had to before the US election, because if Bush loses that, then this would go against Howard.

That said, I would guess that no one in the federal parliamentary Labor

Party, from Latham down, nor committed Labor voters could have anticipated such a disastrous result.

But how disastrous is it?

Well of course it means that Labor will have to wait at least three years or even six to stand a chance of forming a government again.

But in terms of what is favourable for Australia and Australians, perhaps another three years of Howard government may not be the terrifying prospect which dedicated Labor members and supporters feel it inevitably will be.

And why do I say this? Because the bulk of Howard‚s policies have been borrowed from Labor in the first place. As I see it, this started about 18 months ago with the leaking to the media of a personal memo from Liberal President Senator Stone, to John Howard, suggesting to him that the electorate perceived him as: „mean, sneaky and out of touch.‰

Howard responded immediately by introducing legislation after legislation that was specifically geared to appease any disquiet from that section of the populace that was drifting away from him.

And where did he get these policies? More than likely from the Labor party‚s website, as they were typical Labor type policies.

Well he was pretty safe for some time after that, because of Simon Crean‚s abysmal performance as leader of the opposition. Crean introduced no new legislation, and confined himself to harping about the "deficiencies" of the government.

Well that factor was factored out of the equation almost a year ago when

Mark Latham won leadership of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party by a margin of one vote.

Well of course I don‚t know whether Latham was self-seeking or sincere in his ongoing support of Crean up to that time. But if he HADN‚T backed Crean, he most likely would never have made it to the front bench in so short a time, which proved to be his springboard to leadership of the party.

And then began the election campaign to end all election campaigns, as for all practical purposes it commenced from the day Latham became leader of the opposition. In the first two weeks he did more than Simon had done in two years, which of course resolved any doubts in the minds of anyone who had actually believed that Crean was a competent leader.

So Latham started to unravel his policies, which were radical and original.

And from that time right up to a day or so before the election, Howard played catch-up with Latham, mirroring his policies or trying to outdo Latham on some of them.

Suddenly Medicare, which the Liberal party had been trying to dismantle from the day Fraser replaced Whitlam in 1975, became a priority for Howard and Tony Abbott -- trying hard to rebuild Medicare and make the system even more tempting than the original ingenious concept introduced by Gough Whitlam.

And so it was with every policy that Latham announced -- Howard set out to match it, or present a more appealing alternative.

So, if Howard sticks with his election promises, most of his legislation will be quite similar to that which Labor would have introduced had it won the election. And what about those policies that are quite dissimilar to Latham‚s, like industrial relations? Well Howard‚s policy on these issues may well turn out to be more productive than Labor‚s.

But what we can be assured of is that Howard will lose all interest in old growth forests and Kyoto, and will most likely water down his election promises, giving the excuse that changes in world economy have meant that he must be more frugal with his giant surplus budget, which he squandered recklessly in his obsession to win that fourth term and make his place in history.

It can also be taken for granted that he will continue to be subservient to America, no doubt at great expense to the welfare of Australia, as was his insane determination to follow his buddy, George Bush, into that illegal and stupid invasion of Iraq.

Time alone will tell, but reflecting on the issues I have mentioned, he may not actually totally destroy Australian society as most Labor supporters feel that he will.

Now this is not to say that I like the bugger -- the compulsive, unrepentant liar who is far more concerned with his own obsession for recognition and power than with what may be best for Australia and Australians.

However, if -- and that‚s a big if -- he actually does fulfil most of his election promises, Australia may actually survive and even prosper.

And there STILL may be some really good news when the counting of votes for the senate is completed (possibly before this letter is published.)

On the last count the Greens looked like picking up that critical balance-of-power seat in the Senate.

But it might be even better if Family First wins the crucial seat. Visit their website and you will see that this fledgling party has policies covering all issues, and many if not most of these policies are NOT in accord with Howard's.

Julian Hancock

[If you have enjoyed my comments, you may care to visit my website from time to time for the most important news items and comment -- and if you do, please click on the "E-Mail" tab on the Contents menu and send me your feedback.]


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