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Issue No. 247 19 November 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

In Defence of Jeff
Those of us who know and have worked with Jeff Shaw over the years have found the unfolding spectacle of his very public fall from grace profoundly distressing. Surely they have the wrong guy.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Activists What's On!

 Union Baiter on Charges

 Commuter Champ Backs Workers

 Late Night Threats in Perth

 Corporates Gobble Apprentices

 Fleas Get Thumbs-Up

 Packer Perishes in Blue

 $5000 Bill for Teen

 Miners Plunge Before The Beak

 Cops Raid Press

 Christmas Sack at Broken Hill

 Admin Staff Exposed

 Teachers Swallow Lolly

C O L U M N S

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.

Parliament
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.

L E T T E R S
 Backbone Derail Causes Paralysis
 Shawly we’ve heard enough
 Decline of The American Empire
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Miners Plunge Before The Beak


An incident where four miners plunged 150 metres down a mineshaft will finally see the light of day in court.

Four men were inside a transport vehicle when a steel cable snapped, sending them plunging down the mineshaft. Three of them jumped clear as it picked up speed and the fourth rode the run-away vehicle 150 metres to the bottom of the shaft, miraculously suffering only cuts and bruises.

Miners have described as "too little too late" a move by the NSW Department of Mineral Resources to prosecute former mine owner Powercoal over the incident that occurred at the Wyee mine on the NSW Central Coast in 1999.

"The Department of Mineral Resources record of prosecution is woeful," says CFMEU Mining Division president Tony Maher. "Their Queensland counterpart is the only one with a worse record.

"They've never prosecuted anyone.

"The NSW Department didn't even have a prosecution policy until 1998 when the union forced them to have one after the Gretley disaster.

"Mining has seen 2,500 deaths and only three successful company prosecutions and one instance where an individual was prosecuted."

"There's either an awful lot of acts of god or there's some significant breaches of mine safety."

Miners claim that the department generally only prosecutes when a death is involved, with many near misses and serious incidents going unpunished; a move that has been likened to "shutting the gate after the horse has bolted".

These incidents have left miners maimed with missing limbs and serious body injuries.

An investigation by the department into the Wyee incident found the faulty cable had been reported to management five months earlier, but it was not replaced as recommended.

The four miners involved were lucky not to have been killed in the incident.

Had the rope snapped on the return trip the transporter would have been carrying a large number of miners ending their shift.

The department's move to prosecute Powercor in the Industrial Relations Commission comes as a sentencing decision is expected soon over the Gretley disaster.


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