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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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Budget Hits Civil Rights

Money that doesn’t end up as personal tax cuts will be used to undermine the civil rights, with the Treasurer tripling the funding for the organisation set up to harass building workers,

More than $24 million will be spent on secretly taping workers, suspending their right to silence and taking away their rights to hold industrial or political meetings.

CFMEU construction division national secretary John Sutton said the Building IndustryTaskforce budget has blown out from $9 million last year to $23 million for 05/06.

And the Government has allocated an additional $24.13 million to set up a new body, the Australian Building and Construction Commission to deny building workers the civil rights enjoyed by other Australians.

Sutton says the Government is prepared to waste $40 million over the next year on these organisations to rob building workers of their rights - and warns it will become the model for anti-union workplace laws across the nation.

"Already we have seen the Building Industry Taskforce run a series of discredited court cases, drawing judicial censure at their heavy handed tactics, including the secret taping of workers and employers," Sutton says.

"The Howard Government has already made it clear it considers the building industry a laboratory for the rest of the Australian workforce. The irony is that it is our tax dollars that are now paying for this dangerous social experiment."

Taking With One Hand

Meanwhile, unions with members who may look like budget 'winners', should not to be taken in by the fistful of dollars.

"Our preliminary analysis shows that all of the value of the $6 tax cuts will be eroded by continuing bracket creep by the time of the next election," Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten says.

"If the Budget had followed the AWU's policy, then it would have provided far greater investment in public health, education and infrastructure, especially for regional and rural Australia."

Shorten says tinkering at the edges of a rotten system is no substitute for the comprehensive reforms required to build fairness, incentive, and competitiveness into to our tax system for the long term.

"We've got the highest taxing government in Australian history - they've taxed us an extra $24 billion more this year than when Mr Howard first came to office in 1996," Shorten says.

"Despite having the best trade advantage for 50 years, we still have record foreign debt. This budget is adding to Australia's problems by fuelling further consumption instead of savings and therefore reliance on overseas debt."

Read the Fine Print

And aged care operators are ripping the heart out of aged care by up to $21.6 million a year - according to an extraordinary revelation buried inside this year's Federal Budget.

The federal government's under resourced auditing of aged care homes will claw back $63.5 million a year over the next three years.

LHMU Aged Care Union National Secretary, Jeff Lawrence, says the Federal Government will only provide enough money for most homes to be checked only every second year.

" If the government can claw back $63.5 million from shonky operators by casual irregular spot-checks imagine what they could collect if they audited care providers more frequently," Lawrence says.

The LHMU wants the Australian Government to increase the accountability of aged care providers, after all taxpayers are the primary source of income for these homes.

" It's time we got to the bottom of what is the real cost of delivering a determined benchmark of care, Lawrence says.

"It's time aged care providers became accountable for the tax payer funds they receive, it's time the Australian government starts to shine the light on aged care.


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