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Issue No. 264 20 May 2005  

Conviction Politics
In modern politics even ideology has become a matter of convenience; look no further than the principle that Ďthird partiesí need to be removed from the workplace.


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 ď Make Poverty HistoryĒ.

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.


 BHP Gets Decision to Die For

 Howard Turns to Water

 PM Noses into Pinocchio Territory

 Protest is Childís Play

 A Baloney Deal Under Fire

 Decapitation Witness Dudded

 Newsroom Bullies Make Headlines

 Nelson Takes Axe To Brains

 Council Unhealthy for Families

 Top End Leader Backs Unions

 A Storm In Every Port

 Greens Go Rights

 Activistís Whatís On!


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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A Baloney Deal Under Fire

Abalone "slave ship" operators are blocking efforts to check the welfare of Ukranian and Chinese workers afloat off Port Lincoln.

Husband and wife team, Leslie and Peter Wahlqvist, had 30 Aussie seafarers axed from the Destiny Queen, late last year, and replaced them with Ukranians and Chinese who arenít allowed to set foot on Australian soil.

The MUA and ITF have been trying to check their wages and conditions, since they set sail from China six months ago, but say every effort has been blocked by owners of the abalone processing operation.

"We don't know what's happening because we can't get to them," ITF spokesman, Dean Summers, said. "She refuses to let us on board.

"They dumped Australian workers when they had the vessel reflagged under a flag of convenience.

"To the best of our knowledge, the Ukranians and Chinese are held out there, within sight and smell of land, for up to 12 months. They don't have visas to come ashore and can't call family or friends.

"We wrote to the company and offered to go on board, at our own expense, to check on the conditions of the people we represent but she refuses, point blank.

"Our understanding is they have set themselves up to dodge tax, wages and human rights. Effectively, it's a slave ship."

The Destiny Queen is moored less than 20km off South Australia, in the Spencer Gulf, just far enough away to ensure Ukranian and Chinese employees do not require Australian work visas.

It doesn't need a foreign flag permit because it doesn't travel from port to port.

Chinese and east European crews are among the world's lowest paid, earning as little as $525 ($US400) a month. ITF agreements provide for monthly minimums of $US1500.

Workers Online understands the abalone is processed and sold by Destiny Abalone, a Hong Kong-based company with an Adelaide address. Leslie Wahlqvist is chief executive and a director.

But the vessel and crew, apparently, are controlled by Hong Kong-registered, Destiny Shipping, of which her husband, Peter Wahlqvist, is a director.

We attempted to ask Leslie Wahlqvist about her company's wages, conditions, registration, immigration, tax, and health and safety arrangements but she refused to answer.

"At this point in time, the company policy is that we are not making any comments," she said.

There has been no federal government move to question her modus operandi but sustained union pressure has brought attention from its South Australian counterpart.

Transport Minister Patrick Conlon confirmed the Destiny Queen appeared to have "found loopholes" and suggested cabinet would move to close them.

He said state government officials would board the vessel to check compliance with existing laws.


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