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Issue No. 250 21 December 2004  

Beyond The Law
Despite the all-engulfing gloom emenating from our political wing right now, 2004 comes to an end on a strangely upbeat note for the trade union movement.


Interview: The King of Comedy
John Robertson looks back on a year when his comic genius was finally realised.

Unions: Ten Simple Rules
Accepted wisdom has unions all but retired as serious players in the Australian game. A glance through the major industrial stories of 2004, however, suggests improved footwork, and a commitment to boxing clever, might herald a comeback, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Rampant Indivdualism
CFMEU National Secretary John Sutton gives his take on a year when the political debate took a turn to the Right.

International: Global Struggle
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks back on a year when the struggles for labour increasingly crossed international lines.

Economics: Cashing in the Year
Look back in sorrow or look back in anger? By any standards 2004 has been a hell of a year, writes Frank Stilwell.

History: Grass Roots
Worker solidarity in Australia in the first century of invasion can give us inspiration and clues for our upcoming battles, writes Neale Towart.

Review: Cultural Realities
In 2004 popular culture shifted from reality television to reality movies, and swapped last year's light-weight subject matter for the slightly more substantial, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Y-U-C-K
Workers Online resident bard David Peetz takes inspiration from The Village People for his latest prose.


 Unions Make Hardie Pay

 Hadgkiss Gives Mourners Grief

 Mum Gets "Hopson’s" Choice

 AWAs Crash on Broken Hill

 No Fun in the Sack

 Tax Office Draws Blood

 Origin Prop a Union Hit

 Good Guy Wears Black

 Security Crisis at Sydney Airport

 Biscuit Bosses Crumble

 Ardmona Urged to Can Racism

 Bomber Predicts Big Bang

 Stolen Wages Cut

 Tomorrow the World…

 Bosses Sack WorkCover

 Activists What's On!


The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2005.

The Soapbox
Scrooge Was Right
Christmas has been cancelled this year, writes our US correspondent Brooklyn Phil.

The Locker Room
The Workers Online Sports Awards
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the Twentieth Century, Phil Doyle dishes out the gongs for all things great and small in the world of sport during 2004.

The Westie Wing
Our favoutrite MP looks for a positive spin on the year at NSW Parliament

 Costa’s Hike Unfare
 Temporary Arrangements
 The Price Of Tea In China
 Cry For Me, Argentina
 Ho Bloody Ho
 Right Is Wrong
 Business As Usual
 All In The Family
 Swing Left Wishful Thinking
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Tool Shed

Tool Bar

The Tool Of The Year is a man whose wit and intelligence is only matched by his compassion.

Over the year the idiot factory in Canberra has thrown up some extraordinary Tools.

But none have surpassed the efforts of Charles Wilson Tuckey, a man who has for decades demonstrated consistency, dedication and application in being what can only be described as a Tool's Tool.

He began his career early as a publican in the Carnarvon where his contribution to reconciliation came at the end of a piece of steel cable, which he applied to one of his patrons during one of his notorious acts of affection.

The man who makes Bob Katter sound like an intellectual took this caring sharing attitude into public life, inflicting himself on the rest of the country using a brain that was as empty as the great sprawling Westralian plains he represents.

When the colourful Western Australian racing identity was not trying to get a family member off a traffic offence by using Commonwealth letterhead, he was railing against the South Australian government for being a bunch of dope addled hippies. Either that or he'd be off in the corner, gibbering like a crazed Howler Monkey, about how environmentalists and commos were bringing about the end of the world.

Even Dear Leader Howard had to punt Tuckey after a cabinet shuffle.

Maybe he's finally been in the sun too long or decided to change medication, but whatever it was Wilson "Iron Bar" Tuckey decided to turn 2004 into his year of Tool Virtuosity.

Wilson began the year by attacking wheelchair bound Labor MP Graham Edwards, who had both legs blown off in Vietnam.

Tuckey, a national serviceman who had too much to offer the country to actually engage in war himself, was convinced that Edwards was milking the public purse in much the same way Tuckey himself would - given the chance.

Even Howard was embarrassed by Tuckey's jealousy, which is saying something.

Embarrassment, or even reason, is not Tuckey's strong suit.

Tuckey kept up the vitriol, despite everyone else's discomfort, succeeding only in destroying the Federal Governments ham fisted attempt to do a U-turn on Veteran's policy.

While the phrase "barking mad" came to mind, the best was yet to come.

After fulminating on the rights of people to hunt down environmentalists and kill then in their sleep Tuckey got back on his feet long enough to defend poor old James Hardie.

Hardies, according to Iron Bar, had been vilified merely for lying about the fatal nature of a product they willingly marketed. For Wilson progress demands sacrifice, and if a few hundred thousand people get killed along the way in the pursuit of profit then that's the price we have to pay.

For Wilson, killing off people who are obviously members of the working classes is obviously something to be applauded - and if the death is a slow painful one by asphyxiation then all the better.

Even the Tories guts churned at the thought of defending the indefensible.

While many think that death by slow strangulation would be rather appropriate for a bottom feeder like Tuckey as luck would have it he continues to steal oxygen from his fellow human beings.

Most of us mere mortals would think it was hard to top the James Hardie effort, but not Iron Bar.

He'd just removed his foot from his mouth for long enough to take in much needed oxygen when he announced that dear Leader Howard, now that he's passed Bob Hawke's record, would now go on to pass Robert Menzies 16 year reign.

With the support of such wonderful examples of humanity as Wilson "Iron Bar" Tuckey, how could it be otherwise?


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.


Ship of Tools - All the tools in one shed!

View our Gallery of Tools

Nominate a Tool!

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