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Issue No. 245 05 November 2004  

What’s In a Name?
McDonalds is doing it, IAG has done it, James Hardie desperately needs to do it – and now the Labor Council of NSW is doing it, re-working its brand to meet the changing demands of their markets.


Interview: The Reich Stuff
Robert Reich has led the debate on the future of work – both as an academic and politician. Now he’s on his way to Australia to help NSW unions push the envelope.

Economics: Crime and Punishment
Mark Findlay argues that the present psychological approach to prison programs is increasing the likelihood of re-offending and the threat to community safety.

Environment: Beyond The Wedge
Whether the great forestry divide can ever be overcome or whether it is best sidestepped for the sake of unity and sustainability in other areas is up for debate, writes Tara de Boehmler.

International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews show us How To Kill A Country

Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Nick Lewocki from the RTBU lifts the lid on the shonky science behind RailCorp testing

Politics: Labo(u)r Day
John Robertson lets fly at this years Labor Day dinner

Human Rights: Arabian Lights
Tim Brunero reports on how a Sydney sparky took on the Taliban and lived to tell the tale.

History: Labour's Titan
Percy Brookfield was a big man who was at the heart of the trade union struggles that made Broken Hill a quintessential union town writes Neale Towart.

Review: Foxy Fiasco
To find out who is outfoxing who, read Tara de Boehmler's biased review of a subjective documentary about corrupt journalism.

Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
Brothers and sisters! Praise the Lord! Brother George has saved the White House from an invasion by infidels, writes resident bard David Peetz.


 Unions Dump Labor

 Shearers Brush Woolly Mammoths

 Girls Should Be Short Changed

 Sydney Turns Down Volume

 Minister Rides Collie

 Staff, Trees Weather the Blame

 Offshore Embassy for Families

 Visy Paper Folds

 Workers Unplug Power Cuts

 Silverwater Offers Porridge

 Environment Wiped Out In Dubbo

 Justice Eludes Kariong Staff

 Nelson Flags Another Raid

 Five Steps to Sanity

 Activists What's On!


The Locker Room
In Naming Rights Only
Phil Doyle has Gone to Gowings

The Soapbox
Homeland Insecurity
Rowan Cahill tells us how the Howard Government’s appointment of Major-General Duncan Lewis to head up the national security division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has received little critical comment, until now.

The Westie Wing
New proposed legislation in NSW provides a vital window of opportunity for unions to ensure they achieve convictions for workplace deaths, writes Ian West.

 Too Young
 Let's Start A New Party
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Tool Shed

Late Running Tool


Our Tool Of The Week is waiting in the Tool Shed and if he's waiting for a train he may be in there for some time.


Now the misguided amongst us may think that a railway system is something that is used to transport large numbers of people between various places using a device known as a train.

The aforementioned train arrives and departs from the various places, referred to as stations, at pre-designated times according to a system known as a timetable.

This is to assist the previously mentioned large numbers of people, known as passengers, to travel between the stations referred to above.

Unfortunately this rather quaint notion of what constitutes a railway system is not in keeping with the visionary management of our Tool Of The Week, RailCorp CEO Vince Graham.

Graham has a rather unique approach to transport management - mainly by dispensing with the transport element, and then also getting rid of the management angle as well.

On planet Graham a railway system isn't necessarily about stations or trains, and it certainly isn't about passengers.

Rather, a railway system appears to be about allowing a small group of people, known as managers, to hang on to rather significant salary packages while coming up with increasingly Byzantine ways of making life a misery for as many of their fellow citizens as possible.

The guiding principle for Graham's team of over-achievers is not to actually have a rail system that conforms to some specious notion of actually providing a service, but rather it is about saving money.

The key to Graham's genius appears to be that, if he continues with this rather unique approach to the concept of public service, there will be no rail system at all, thus saving a very large sum of money.

This, of course, would free up significant amounts of capital that can be then spent on boosting the salaries of his brilliant management team and save them from the tedious process of actually employing people, having to look after trains, stations, rail track and passengers, etc.

Now, in order to do this, Graham has had to employ some pretty slick management strategies.

Our Tool Of The Week has ideas about how he can best implement his vision and in the end he appears to have used both of them.

They are brilliant in their simplicity, if not their implementation.

The first strategy is to lie.

Make up all sorts of excuses and attribute responsibility to people who are not in a position to defend themselves. Rant hysterically about the situation until everyone is thoroughly confused. Boldly state that there is a need for change when there is none, and then implement some half arsed idea that some drunken executive came up with on the back of an envelope after a long lunch at one of Sydney's more fashionable eateries.

The second, and final, plank of what may be termed Vision Graham is to blame everyone and everything else in the universe if anything goes wrong.

Whether or not the person, thing or circumstance is actually to blame is irrelevant. The core strategy works as long as nobody is blaming him.

When both are used together we get brilliant explanations such as the falling trees causing disruptions last week.

This is despite the fact that it is more than just philosophers who are asking if a tree falls on the rail system, did it ever really exist?

All of this substance, or at least what passes in lieu of substance, in Graham's vision can be exemplified by a certain alleged incident that really goes to the heart of the sort of intellect, or at least what passes in lieu of intellect, we are dealing with here.

Our Tool Of The Week is a Penrith lad and allegedly he took it upon himself to crow loudly in Penrith's Red Cow Hotel one evening, allegedly about how he was going to do this, that and the other thing to rail workers when he had the chance.

This, that and the other thing appearing to not be particularly pleasant according to reports, especially if you were a rail worker who was interested in something approximating a decent job.

Nonetheless Graham allegedly crowed on with his opinions, which is his right in a free and democratic country.

The only problem was that the Red Cow Hotel is located directly opposite the Penrith Railway Station.

And the pub was full of rail workers.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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