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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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Activist’s What’s On!

Anti-war action in Sydney, and global, this weekend

March 20

Parramatta - 2pm, Palm Sunday rally and march for peace and justice for the Iraqi people. Prince Alfred Park, cnr Church St and Victoria Rd, servcie and multi-faith prayers for peace. March at 2.40pm to Parramatta town Square. Speakers: Bishop Kevin Manning, Doug Cameron (ACTU), Prof Stuart Rees (Sydney Unio Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies); Mr Fayez Lababedi (Arab Council Australia); Rose Jackson (Sydney Uni SRC). Performance: Susan Andres & Shimmer, Urban Guerrillas. MC Genevieve Lemon. Organised by Sydney Peace & Justice Coalition (

Sydney City - noon, Hyde Park North. Speakers: John Pilger, Senator Kerry Nettle (Greens); Kaysar Trad. March to Belmore Park. Organised by Stop The War Coalition.

This coming weekend will mark two years since the U.S.-led bombing and

invasion of Iraq began. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found; no

compelling reason for the war was ever given. Yet more than 1500 U.S.

soldiers have been killed, more than 11,000 wounded; 100,000 Iraqis are

dead, and the country remains gripped by horrifying violence, with no end in


Despite saying Australia would not increase its presence in Iraq after the invasion was over, Prime Minister Howard announced a month ago that an extra 450 soldiers will be sent to southern Iraq to replace the 1200-strong Dutch force that has been withdrawn.

This is a political deployment, aimed at Australia's relations with the Bush Administration and the Japanese government, not the best interests of the Iraqi people.

Global actions against the war

All over the United States, and all around the world, people will be

converging through the March 18-20 weekend to protest the war and

occupation, mourn the losses, and demand immediate U.S. withdrawal from

Iraq. More than 365 activities in at least 45 states are already listed on

our calendar at

The March 18-20 weekend will feature an array of vibrant events ranging from

marches and rallies to silent vigils, civil disobedience actions, interfaith

services, musical and theatre performances, and art exhibits. Events will

take place on main streets and courthouse squares, alongside highways and

bridges, in public parks and in front of military recruiting stations, at

statehouses and Congressional offices.

Some examples:

· Marches, rallies, vigils, and nonviolent civil disobedience actions

in Juneau, AK; Atlanta, GA; Wilmington, DE; Appleton, WI; Springfield, MO;

Amarillo, TX; and elsewhere, with many of them focused on military

recruitment centers.

· Interfaith memorial services in Des Moines, IA; Chicago, IL; New

York, NY; Portland, OR; and elsewhere. These are being organized in sync

with a call by Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq, a new UFPJ-supported


· A major regional mobilization in Fayetteville, NC, home to Fort

Bragg. With military families and veterans at the center of the organizing,

this will be a powerful and historic protest. Activists from as far north as

Minnesota and as far south as Florida are organizing buses to attend this

event. For more information, visit the website of the North Carolina Peace

and Justice Coalition,

After two years of pointless and costly war, the anti-war movement is more

determined than ever. And with increased organizing by military families,

veterans, faith-based communities, and young people who are resisting

predatory military recruiters, the movement is growing broader and more

diverse each day. Join us in taking action this weekend to bring the troop

home now!







* RUGS and a spare blanket or length of cloth with which we will form the word NO as a giant 'patchwork'.


white ribbons are a symbol of our grief for all those killed in Iraq and our desire for the war to end. White is the symbol for peace in many countries around the world and the symbol of mourning in others.]

NO war

NO erosion of human rights

NO troops in Iraq

NO Australians in Guantanamo Bay

NO mandatory detention

NO forced deportations

NO deaths in custody

"Measuring Social Results"

NCOSS is holding a half day seminar to look at how the social impact of Government and Corporate performance is, or should be, measured.

When: 9am to 1pm, Monday 21st March

Where: Sydney School of Mechanics and Arts, level 1, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

Cost: $80 ($50 for NCOSS members)

further info:

Sydney: Is Government Delivering a Livable City?

What sort of city should Sydney be? What challenges does it face? And is Sydney a sustainable and livable city?

The NSW Fabian Society is conducting this seminar with:

Craig Knowles (Minister for Infrastructure & Planning)

Julia Finn (Lord Mayor of Parramatta)

Professor Peter Newman (Murdoch University)

The seminar will be chaired by Sean Kidney, Executive Member of the NSW Fabian Society.

When: Wednesday 23 March from 6.00pm - 7.30pm

Where: Theatrette, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney

Cost: Free

Watson Remembered

The Sydney Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History in association with the Business and Labour History Group, School of Business, Sydney University, will present Ross McMullin speaking on "Chris Watson and the World's First National Labour Government", the subject of his recent acclaimed book (2004). Ross will look at the astonishing press abuse this government received, and examine its record, achievements and its place in history. Wednsday March 23, 6pm, ACIRRT Training Room, Institute Building, University of Sydney. Admission Free. For furter details contact Rowan Cahill (02) 48 612323 or .

The controversy of one man - Kisch in Australia

When Czech journalist and peace campaigner Egon Erwin Kisch (1885-1948), came to Australia in November 1934, he challenged a conservative Lyons government, caused a media sensation and won the hearts of many


The renowned political activist will be remembered in a new exhibition - Kisch in Australia - opening at the State Library of NSW on 14 February 2005.

The exhibition tells the story of the man who publicly defied the government's ban on his entry to Australia by jumping overboard at Port Melbourne (breaking his leg) in his determination to reach the Australian public with his message of anti-Fascism.

According to State Librarian & Chief Executive Dagmar Schmidmaier AM: "The fascinating story of this extraordinary man will be brought to life through original items from the Library's renowned collection, including Kisch's hand-written notes used in his public speeches."

The exhibition panels also include newspaper reports of the controversy surrounding his arrival, rare protest posters campaigning for Kisch's release and letters written in defence of Kisch's freedom.

Dr Heidi Zogbaum, author of the recently published Kisch in Australia: The untold story (Scribe, 2004) said, "Kisch had the ability to give rousing speeches with limited English and drew enthusiastic crowds wherever he went."

"Kisch was convinced that his ban was the result of Nazi pressure on the Australian government," said Dr Zogbaum, "but he was quite wrong. The newly appointed Attorney-General, Robert Gordon Menzies had staked his reputation on keeping Kisch out of Australia."

After his return to Paris, Kisch worked tirelessly on behalf of his fellow writers who had fallen victim to the Nazi regime. Upon the fall of France in 1940, Kisch managed to escape to Mexico. He returned to Prague in 1946 and died of a massive heart attack in 1948.

"The memory of Kisch is kept alive in Germany through the renowned Egon Erwin Kisch Prize for journalism, which honours the "reporter of truth" in a most fitting way," said Dr Roland Goll, Director of the Goethe-Institut, Sydney, who initiated and is supporting the exhibition.

Kisch in Australia is a free exhibition in the State Library's Picture Gallery from 14 February - 24 April 2005. It will then travel to the Migration Museum in Adelaide.

Community Organising School

In light of the re-election of the Federal Liberal Government, reflecting on and increasing our ability to organise and work across movements is vital. We can gain strength if we learn new strategies for working with people from different sectors and experiences.

The Community Organising School 2005 is a part of a broader project that seeks to link experienced organisers from a variety of movements, including community organisations, the union movement, environmentalists and social justice movements, to learn together and to build our collective strength.

Details of the School

The School will be held at Currawong (Pittwater training facility) from Sunday April 3 to Wednesday April 6 2005. It is the first of a variety of cross-movement, capacity building projects to begin in 2005.

People attending the School will learn, share and build organising techniques for expanding our capacity and effectiveness for social change in Sydney and NSW. It will run sessions to draw out experiences and lessons on effective organising and social change practices from participants.

The School‚s residential accommodation only allows us to provide 40 places and we are aiming to have a very diverse range of participants in the school. For this reason we are asking people to go through a registration process. If your or your organisation is interested in participating in the school, we request that you distribute the attached registration form to individuals in your organisation, or to other organisations that you work with, and encourage them to register for the School. Registrations are due by Friday 11 February.

The registration fee for the school will be approximately $300 per person (including three and a half days of training, accommodation and food). However we do not want costs to prevent people from registering. If your organisation cannot afford this cost, please indicate this on the registration form. We are seeking sponsorship from larger organisations to subsidise the costs of others. Please do not see costs as a barrier to attendance.

The Community Organising School is the culmination of a year-long discussion between union organisers, community organisations, adult educators and environmentalists. While the School is the first public project, it will be one of many opportunities provided to reflect and learn about community organising. To find out more about the School or to discuss how you can participate in this exciting and timely project feel free to contact either:

Tony Brown, Centre for Popular Education [email protected] 9514 3866

Christine Laurence, Western Sydney Community Forum [email protected] 9637 6190

Melanie Gillbank, Search Foundation [email protected] 0403 051 606

Amanda Tattersall, Unions NSW [email protected] 0409 321 133

Community Organising School Committee

C/- Centre for Popular Education, UTS

PO Box 123

Broadway 2007


Community Organising School

3- 6 April 2005

Currawong, Pittwater


To increase our ability to organise and work across movements in order to build cross movement collaboration, by:

o providing the opportunity for organisers and activists to share their experiences with other organisers and activists working in different fields

o identifying differences while examining commonalities and opportunities for working together

o learning, sharing and developing organising techniques for expanding our capacity and effectiveness for social change

o discussing different approaches to strategic campaigning and community organising

The School will draw on the experience, knowledge and expertise of those attending.

Are you organising for social and economic change?

Concerned at the growing power of employers, the state and big business?

Concerned at the state of advocacy and activist groups to influence the agenda?

Wanting to turn the tide and re-build grassroots capacity in local communities and the workplace?

Wanting to build cross movement collaboration?

We are seeking organisers working in/with:

social movements,

young people,

environmental advocacy,

resident action

trade unions

popular arts, cultural development and education

migrant communities,

community organizing and development organisations

student organising

who are committed to working for social, economic and environmental justice.

What's in it for you?

The School will:

bring together organisers and activists from across different sites of activism who are focused on developing new ways of working to build strong and effective organizations,

enable participants to meet, learn from and work with organisers in different fields of practice,

provide an environment where organisers from a range of backgrounds can develop mutual respect, understanding and knowledge,

develop networks as a continuing resource of skills, expertise and influence, and

challenge you to think and act differently.


The program will run from Sunday afternoon April 3 ˆ Wednesday April 6 2005. The Community Organising School is a residential weekend; applicants must be available to attend the entire event.

Union Aid Abroad APHEDA raffle

The annual Union Aid Abroad APHEDA raffle is on again. There are wonderful prizes including an around the world trip for two and the proceeds go to UAA-APHEDA's work to help build human rights, workers' rights and justice in developing countries. If you can sell a book of tickets to friends, family and workmates please contact UAA - APHEDA on tel. 1800 888 674 or by email [email protected]

The raffle closes on June 2nd with the winner drawn on June 16th.


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