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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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Letters to the Editor

Swing Left Wishful Thinking

I enjoyed Tom Bramble's article on the contradictions in Howard's economic miracle, however I think he is overly optimistic regarding his claims of a major shift towards the left politically.

As much as I would love to see it happen, I don't think it is happening. You can drive a truck through some of the examples he uses. For instance his claim of people preferring greater services rather than tax cuts. This has been a polling phenomenon for the last decade, but it has never been translated into electoral reality. This may be because no major party has ever actually campaigned on it, but I don't think that is the sole answer.

It is a similar argument to the constant prediction of the rise of environmental issues as a decisive election issue. This happens every 3 years (especially with the so called 'rise' of the greens), but it is not true. This election we saw the major parties put forward significantly divergent environmental policies. There is no evidence that the ALP's 'progressive' stance on water and forestry issues won votes. If anything we lost two seats in Tasmania, lost a lot of votes in regional Victoria and NSW in return for a slight increase on the North Shore. Does this mean we should not pursue these policies? No not necessarily, but they can't be the be all and end all of campaigning.

His claims of the "...rise of the Greens (now polling 20-30 per cent in inner city Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne) is similarly inaccurate. The whole third force movement is a furphy. In no seat did the greens get close to 30 percent. In the seat they were most favoured to win, Melbourne, they got 19%. They got around 20% in Sydney, Grayndler and Cunningham where they had the resources of a sitting member). In Brisbane they got around 9%. They also failed to meet their predictions of the Senate vote (only winning 2 additional spots instead of the 6 claimed by brown).

Their actual performance is mediocre at best. They basically cannibalised votes from the democrats. The combined democrat/green vote was 8.43% (Greens 7.19%) which was far less than 2001 (10.37), just above 1998 (7.27) and roughly the same as 1996 (8.5%). They are not the third force, just a rehash of the democrats.

As for the popularity of Michael Moore and John Pilger, they are preaching to the converted. They are enormously popular with the left, but how effective are they in persuading normally apathetic or conservative citizens?

The anti-war rallies were incredible. But can anyone claim that they were a big feature of the campaign?

We had John Howard firmly committed to our involvement in Iraq and closely identified with Bush. We had Latham who had abused Bush and stated that he would bring the troops home. Yet this did not translate in the campaign. Look at Andrew Wilkie's failure in Bennelong.

So I think Howard is facing huge economic questions over the next three years, but I don't quite see a huge resurgence in the left. That is up to us and other comrades to try and change.

Pat Conroy


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