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Issue No. 254 04 March 2005  

Thatís Our Team
Hereís a test. Hands up all those who watched the news last night. Who can remember the weather forecast for tomorrow? What about the forecast in Perth?


Interview: Dot.Com
Evan Thornley was a labour activist. Then he rode the tech wave. Now he's home with new ideas on how Labor can win the economic debate.

Workplace: Dirt Cheap
In her new book, Elizabeth Wynhausen learns how hard it is to live on the minimum wage.

Industrial: Daddy Doesnít Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegasí tells the story of the loss her young family has felt since her husband was killed at work, and the need for justice for families who fall victim to industrial manslaughter.

Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
Big Business's agenda for Australia has gone from loopy to mainstream at the speed of light, writes Neale Towart

International: From the Wreckage
Working people across Iraq are struggling to build their own independent unions Ė and are successfully organising industrial action on the vital oil fields as well as in hotels, transport outlets and factories, Writes Andrew Casey

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Meat and Three Veg
A new book recounts the impact of the Depression on women workers, writes Neale Towart,

Savings: Super Seduction
Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Federal shadow treasurer Wayne Swan unveils Labor's new economic doctrine.

Poetry: To Know Somebody
This week saw an appointment to the ABC Board that was even more breathtaking than that of Liberal Party figure Michael Kroger. Resident Bard David Peetz celebrates the occasion with a reworking of an old Bee Gees hit.

Review: Off the Rails
A new play on the impact of rail privatisation in Britain has a poignant message for Sydney commuters, writes Alex Mitchell


 Rev Kev: Innocent Shall Be Guilty

 Itís Official - Taskforce "Hopeless"

 Hollywood For Tropfest Evictees

 Miner Problem for Feds

 Students Driven to Sleep

 Brogden Dances On Graves

 Let Them Drink Beer

 Traffic Fines Parked

 The Airline That Flew a Kite

 Hundreds Resist Porridge

 Experts Back Better Childcare Pay

 Mushroom Mums Win

 Rotten Fruit Exposed

 Workers Sue Rumsfeld

 Activistís Whatís On


The Soapbox
The Big Picture
Think about this: It takes 150 tonnes of iron ore to buy a plasma TV, writes Doug Cameron.

The Locker Room
Reducto Ad Absurdo
Phil Doyle offers advice for the lovelorn, and finds that things are getting smaller

New Matilda
Work is In
The rise and fall of the working hours debate in france is relevent to Australian workers, writes Daniel Donahoo and Tim Martyn

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP surveys the upcoming conservative centralist collective attack.

Postcard from Harvard
Australian union officials making the annual pilgrimage to the Harvard Trade Union Program learnt that, at least, they are not alone, says Natalie Bradbury.

 Stay Terra Firma on Tax
 Janetís Job No Victory
 Royal Finger Lickers
 Will $20 Restore Carr?
 Two Ideas
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Tool Shed

The 200 Million Dollar Man

The man who planned to turn the Kimberley into an antipodean Venice gets bogged in the Tool Shed


Colin Barnett came a cropper this week.

His grand plan for canal tours to the Kimberley left the Western Australian public less than whelmed.

Barnett announced his plan in an attempt to promote himself as some sort of visionary.

Unfortunately his visions were actually mirages.

When everyone picked themselves up off the floor and the laughing subsided it appeared that the cost would be the equivalent of a NASA programme, and share a similar orbit.

While Col assured everyone in earshot that his feet were firmly on the ground, his plan to ship dehydrated water from up north led some to draw other conclusions.

It was an intellectual dynamism not seen since the Parrot began to take his medication again.

Even so, "mad" Col Barnett had a plan for what to do with the said water when his unique take on the Tories trickle-down policy was implemented.

The water was to be used for water cannon that could be turned on unruly elements in WA.

Such are the heights to which a law and order debate will plumb.

It was also convenient that the company that was going to build the aforementioned canal also produced a handy range of water cannon that could be thrown in as a job-lot.

And what was going to pay for this extravagance?

The firm fiscal management that we have come to know as the hallmark of the Liberal Party.

Barnett - the man with a plan, the man who was going to make the young feel old and the old feel young, the man who would ensure that there was no holes in donuts and a policeman in every bedroom - had budgeted his vision down to the last cent.

Unfortunately he was out by a few billion cents.

Barnett is living proof that Peter Costello is not the only Liberal who can't count.

But it would be churlish to quibble over his budget being out by the odd several hundred million or so.

It was a common mistake. I'm sure we've all lost $200,000,000.00 down the back of the lounge from time to time. It's an easy mistake. Why not let him run the state?

Maybe it was a dirty tricks campaign? Black propaganda? In which case Colin Barnett can go down in history as the only politician to run a dirty tricks campaign against himself from out of his own office.

No doubt what was needed to get to the bottom of the matter was a canal probe.

Col's biggest problem, however, appears to be that no one actually wanted him to become Premier, least of all his colleagues in the Liberal Party.

At least Col did show the extent of Howard's electoral magnetism. He took every opportunity to stand beside dear leader Howard, flashing his goofy grin, and it appeared to be not worth much. The SS Barnett still sunk.

The Tool Shed salutes Colin Barnett: the visionary genius who managed to bring division where there could have been unity, chaos where there was once order, and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.


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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