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Issue No. 263 13 May 2005  

A Fistful of Dollars
And so the great political debate of our time has become who gets the money and how quickly they can pocket it – the Howard Government’s latest application of the base art of wedge politics.


Interview: Fortress NSW
NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca on how to win the battle for workers rights - and save the state system.

Unions: Fashions Afield
With new anti-sweatshop creations being paraded at this year's Australian Fashion Week, is equity the new black and are sweatshops the new fur? asks Tara de Boehmler.

Industrial: Pay Dirt
John Burgess argues that the flow-on effect from changing the minimum wage could be more than we bargained for.

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: Big Day Out
Neale Towart looks back on the events that created the May Day heritage.

International: Making History
Hundreds of aid organisations, charities, trade unions and religious groups have formed a global alliance called “ Make Poverty History”.

Economics: The Fear Factor
The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning, argues John Spoehr

Review: The Robots Revolt
New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The idea of a corporations power that could cure any ill has inspired our resident bard, David Peetz, to verse.


 Bikies Needle Heroines

 Bosses Play China Card

 Giant Collapses on Ankle

 NAB Cuts More Than Jobs

 Left Footers Kick Back

 Oh Brother, Tim Plays House

 WA on the Block

 Patrick Fails to Hide Asbestos

 Budget Hits Civil Rights

 Combet Launches Shark Attack

 Childcare Wage Grows Up

 US To Drain More Aussie Brains

 Dictators Beg Eric To Stop


The Soapbox
May Spray
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson delivered the annual May Day Toast - and warned it is no time to be comfortable and relaxed.

The Locker Room
A Rucking Good Time
Phil Doyle reveals many things, some of them useful

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, is back to regale us with inside goss and intrigue from the Bearpit.

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WA on the Block

John Howard’s backers in the energy industry have unveiled a multi-billion dollar plan to rip jobs and opportunities away from WA families.

Woodside Petroleum, last week, confirmed it wants fabrication on its latest North West Shelf gas processing plant done offshore.

It wants skilled labour on Train Five, as it is known, split between low-wage operations in Indonesia and Thailand. Woodside will then have the plant broken down and shipped to the Burrup Peninsula in kitset form, robbing the state of another thousand construction jobs.

Woodside has already sent the multi-million dollar engineering side of the contract to Reading, England, where nearly 200 people are working on it.

AMWU state secretary, Jock Ferguson, says the "greed" of the energy giant is unacceptable.

"Energy companies are operating as a cartel to deny work and opportunities to Western Australians, and deprive our state of vitally-needed skills," he said.

"The Howard Government doesn't give a damn about local content because it still gets its resource consents.

"But we do give a damn and so do the people of WA. We want a share of the wealth these companies are getting from our natural resources.

"We have told Woodside we are coming after them and we mean it. Our members won't stand by and watch WA being screwed by people who have no loyalty to anything except the bottom line."

The AMWU has established campaign committees in the state's north west, south west, and Perth. Based on delegates, and members, they are building links with local communities.

Industry analysts suggest the export of Train Five fabrication will cost WA more than 2000 direct jobs, most of them for skilled trades people.

Ferguson says the necessary workforce already exists in WA. Train Four, a virtual replica, was brought in on time and budget, by John Holland and CBI.

Ferguson says energy multi-nationals have got their heads together and developed a strategy to cut Australians out of high-value work. They have designated London, Houston and Yokohama as preferred engineering sites; South East Asia for low-cost manual labour; London, Zurich and New York as preferred financial centres.

Woodside says $900 million worth of the $2 billion Train Five project has been ear-marked for local content.

But Ferguson says the claim is misleading as much of that figure will be spent on civil engineering.

"At the moment, you can't import holes in the ground. But, given their track record, it is something they are probably working on as we speak," he said.

The Woodside project is being viewed as a testing ground because other mineral and petroleum operations, including BHP, have similarly large-scale projects on their drawing boards.

The minerals lobby is a key backer of the Howard Government, especially its radical industrial relations agenda.

Woodside Offshore Petroleum is a conglomerate of Mitsubishi Mitsui, Shell, Chevron Texaco, BP, BHP Billiton and WA-based Woodside - some of whom are players in the aggressively anti-worker Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WACCI).


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