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Issue No. 256 18 March 2005  

Planet Common Cents
The current debate around the federal government’s move to ban compulsory university service fees exposes more than a pathological hatred of all things ‘union’.


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 Doesn’t Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegas’ 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 – 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


 MaxiRort in Ballarat

 Beer Boss’ Want Froth

 Facts Ruin Costello’s Story

 Uni Burns Book Man

 Strong Pulls Pianist

 Terminator Runs Away

 No Choice for Small Business

 Scully On Run from Cops

 Picketer Wins $190,000

 Wheat Board on Sea of Shame

 School Raids Condemned

 Tangled Web Weaved

 CASA Cans Safety

 Radioactive Relay Race

 Activist’s What’s 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.

 Poor Prose Praised
 Fabulous Fan Mail
 Skilled Tools
 Nelson ‘Solves’ Skills Crisis
 Loyalty Nonsense
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Tool Shed

Voluntary Tool

Education Minister Brendan Nelson chooses to place himself in the Tool Shed


The good Doctor, Brendan Nelson, has upped the ante in the Federal Government's crusade against godless collectivism.

Before he joined the Coalition of the Billing, as the more ideological members of the medical set like to see themselves, Nelson himself was a student who managed to struggle through a fee free university system with the assistance of a student union.

Then Brendan went on to bigger and better things, shifting from the Hippocratic Oath to the Hypocritic Oath in his role as federal president of the Doctor's union, the Australian Medical Association at the age of 35.

Nelson was seen as a dangerous Bolshevik by some sections of the Melbourne Club because of his penchant for sporting a rather dashing earing.

It was feared in some circles that he was 'Not One Of Us'.

Since then he's had to cover a lot of ground amongst the less broad-minded elements of the conservative class (i.e., all of them) to prove his worth.

And what better a way to prove your worth than to be a foot soldier in the war on the evils of the U word.

He is now able to join the tradition of such mentally stable luminaries as Stanley Melbourne Bruce, Joh Bjielke Petersen, Peter Reith, Tony Abbott and serial pest Peter Hoare.

It is a blinding model of efficiency that the Australian Liberal Party is able to synthesise sixty years of philosophy into three words: Unions Are Bad.

So one can see the delight that the good doctor must have felt when he discovered that there were, in fact, unions on his very own bailiwick.

He discovered that there were student unions!

What's more they were offering such diabolical North Korean style tyrannies as subsidised food and child care, socialised medicine and support for students on low incomes!

Now our Tool of the Week could stick his chest out in cabinet - just like Peter Reith used to do - and say that he too has found a union that can be driven out of existence.

The Minister for Keeping Riff Raff out of University has been rather pleased with himself as a result of his kneecapping student services.

He has been wondering around selling his idea as being about choice.

While at first glance Nelson's policy appears to be about getting people to choose to not go to university unless they're related to someone on the BRW top 100 list, it is I fact about something of even deeper significance for ex-union boss Nelson.

Apparently it's all about people's right to choose the sausage roll of their choice.

One can only stand back in awe of a man who realises that the key issue in tertiary education in this day and age, the key issue determining whether or not Australia remains a clever country, is the price of a sausage roll.

Someone should really get a blueprint of Brendan Nelson's brain - it will be useful if ever we need to build a moron.

It's great to see that the government is not blinded by ideology or is worried that their arguments

Heaven help us when Federal sports minister Rod Kemp discovers Rugby Union


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