||Issue No. 261||29 April 2005|
Lest We Forget
Interview: [email protected]
Unions: State of the Union
Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Legal: Leg Before Picket
Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Health: Cannabis Controversy
Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
History: Politics In The Pubs
Review: Three Bob's Worth
Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
The Locker Room
Lest We Forget
On the one hand, we see our Prime Minister presiding over the solemn Dawn Service at Gallipolli, squeezing every ounce of political capital from the sacrifices of our forebears.
On the other we see one his key ministers, Kevin Andrews, helping employers hijack the workers memorial day, blaming the victims of workplace accidents for their own misfortune.
It was a tacky and disrespectful play from a government with too much power in its hands; a government that is marching to the tune of an employer lobby itself lurching further to the Right, driven by ideologues like Peter Reith's old henchman Peter Hendy, the author of this week's outrage.
My question is how can you extract so much political capital from respecting one group of dead Australians, while trashing the memories of another group of dead Australians?
As Premier Bob Carr observed at this week's Sydney ceremony: "our wealth is based on the graves of workers who have perished; especially before there was decent OH&S. You don't get those things without giving trade unions rights."
In this context, aren't these workers just as deserving of respect from those they built the nation for as our fallen soldiers?
Adding insult to the death and injury, is the substance of the employer proposal - to remove the notion of strict liability in occupational health and safety.
The effect of this change would be that where an accident occurs, instead of this being proof of an employer failing to provide a safe place of work, it would spark a legal attack on the behaviour of the unfortunate victim of the accident.
It is the legal of equivalent of the principle "Guns Don't Kill Ducks, Ducks Kill Ducks".
And it wasn't just ACCI desecrating workers' graves this week. Career One's Kate Southam opined that the reason we work unpaid overtime is thanks to the 'Anzac spirit'.
Maybe, Kate's not that far off the mark. After all, if the ACCI plan to neuter OH&S laws gets up, going to work will be a bit like navigating a minefield.
And Kevin Andrews is still working on laws that will turn industrial relations into trench warfare, with unions blocked from workplaces and workers on minimum rations.
It was no coincidence that the last Anzac, Alec Campbell, who died in 2002 amidst much national media hype, was also an active unionist who served as president of the Launceston Trades Hall.
The link between service to country, mateship and workplace unions has always been strong, but it is a reality this government would expunge from the history books.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we should remember them.
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