Ah, poor old Dollar Sweetie can't seem to take a trick these days.
First of all, the only person to take up his policy of staying on in the workforce after retirement age is the one bloke he was hoping would retire.
Next, he is telling us that the best way to help the disadvantaged amongst us is to give them less money.
Then he comes out of the closet and claims he is the definitive working class man.
Despite the fact that most people would answer 'none of the above' to the Smirkin' Mirkin's claim to be either a worker, classy or manly the good people down at the ABC decided to humour him with a bit of intro music earlier this week.
To the strains of Jimmy Barnes' 'Working Class Man' the potato with a comb over took his place behind the microphone.
"I love The Boss," declared Pete in his newfound role as the Working Class Hero on $200,200 a year plus benefits.
Unfortunately it wasn't The Boss.
The Boss, as any working class man knows, is Bruce Springsteen - an American songwriter noted for his bittersweet observations of the sort of life you don't often find in the leafy inner-eastern suburbs that old mate Costello hails from.
Jimmy Barnes, a singer who hails from Adelaide's Northern Suburbs - from Elizabeth, was performing the song. Elizabeth is a place that also bears little resemblance to the leafy suburbs of inner eastern Melbourne.
It's the home of a big Holden plant, the Central Districts footy club, and a lot of people that didn't spend their younger years prosecuting confectionary factory workers for sticking by their mates.
They actually spent a lot of their years working. And when they aren't working they're defamed by the likes of our Tool Of the Week for being lazy bludgers. Costello wouldn't be able to find his arse from his elbow without these people building, fixing, cleaning and doing the millions of jobs that actually serve some use in this country.
Bible bashing bludgers from comfortable private-school backgrounds who are born with a complete silver service shoved down their gob are probably best advised not to swan around the country handing people six dollar tax cuts or a kick in the guts and then declare that they're just an ordinary Joe and working class like you and I.
At best, it makes you look like a Tool.
The sad reality is that Costello wouldn't know the working class if he tripped over one. Which he wanted to do at Blacktown earlier in the week, but unfortunately his minders created an invitation only affair to protect him from getting lynched.
It's not very edifying to see a man who has devoted his life to denying the existence of the working class try and pretend he are one.
Perhaps all this waiting and waiting to be Prime Minister is beginning to unhinge him - further.
No doubt we can expect him to embrace further the theoretical nature of the Working Class. We await his contribution with his theory of Diabolical Hysterical Materialism.
"From each according to their ability. To me and my rich mates according to what we bloody well want."
The AMWU and Asbestos Victims Association of South Australia are demanding urgent state government action in the wake of BHP Billiton’s challenge to a former employee’s right to gain compensation through the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal.
Thousands of South Australians, infected while working at BHP or James Hardie, could be ruled out of quick, relatively low-cost, compensation by a High Court decision that forces Trevor Schultz to seek redress through the South Australian Supreme Court.
BHP unsuccessfully challenged Schultz's right to access the Tribunal through the NSW Supreme Court but succeeded on appeal to High Court of Australia.
"This could be a major blow to South Australian asbestos sufferers and their families," Victims Association secretary, Terry Miller, warns. "BHP has obviously run this case because it believes it will have to pay victims less.
"The other serious problem is time. Many asbestos disease sufferers don't have a lot of it and the South Australian court system is clogged up.
"Traditionally, we have had access to the NSW Tribunal but there is a big question mark over that now. We have been trying to get our own Dust Diseases Tribunal set up for some time and this makes it urgent."
There are more than 600 new mesothelioma cases diagnosed in Australia every year and South Australia has the second highest per capita rate of asbestos disease in the world.
The majority of mesothelioma sufferers die within 12 months of diagnosis.
Miller fears the BHP "victory" could impact on thousands of South Australians who suffer a range of asbestos-related conditions.
Just last weekend, former BHP Whyalla employee, Bill Ewins, died, after successfully running his compensation claim through the Supreme Court.
He had been awarded nearly $200,000 but never saw the money.
"It's some small consolation to actually see the cheque and know your family is provided for," Miller said. "It gives a lot of our members a sense of closure."
He described NSW's Dust Diseases Tribunal as "not perfect but still world's best practice".
It's advantages, he said, included its speed, relative informality, and the size of payouts awarded to victims and their families.
"Because of BHP's actions we need urgent change and that's what we've told the government."
BHP Billiton more than doubled its half-year profit to last December to an Australian record of more than $3.5 billion.
In a shock announcement, this week, the Commonwealth announced states that haven’t signed off on its construction industry code would be denied their shares of the national $2 billion water fund.
The water contract, drawn up by National Water Commission chief executive Ken Matthews, requires states to agree to a union-busting construction industry agenda that will ...
- promote non-union AWAs (Australian Workplace Agreements)
- make it illegal for building workers to participate in industrial or political action
- severely restrict union access to building sites
CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, said the Howard Government was prepared to see farmers become "collateral damage" in its war against building workers and their familes.
"Anyone who has spent any time on the land knows that water is too precious a commodity to play politics with," Sutton said.
"At a time when government's budget coffers are full, it has made a woefully inadequate commitment to our national water crisis. Now they are load infrastructure commitments they have made with irrelevant industrial relations baggage.
"What the government is saying is, if you do not attack the rights of workers, you will not get any water."
Queensland Natural Resources Minister, Stephen Robertson, said his government had been misled.
"We signed up to the national water initiative thinking it was a true partnership," Robertson said this week. "There was no mention of conditions at the time, but now the Commonwealth is imposing draconian conditions."
US aerospace giant, Boeing, this week used Howard’s laws to stand down Williamstown maintenance engineers pressing for a collective, union-negotiated contract.
The 45, a clear majority of Boeing's 60-strong maintenance workforce, were stood down after the company received written confirmation they wanted to be employed on a collective agreement.
The company's retribution came as the Prime Minister assured a Liberal Party gathering in Brisbane "it will never be the policy of this government to deny people a choice".
AWU secretary, Bill Shorten, said the Williamstown stand-off put the Prime Minister's credibility on the line.
"Unless he comes out and supports the RAAF workers' right to choose, he will be shown to have lied," Shorten said.
"There are thousands of workers, all around Australia, whose right to choose a union agreement is being denied by this federal government and its supporters."
Shorten said Boeing had acted after the engineers imposed a paperwork ban but the whole argument revolved around their rejection of Boeing's individual contract employment model.
"They are professionals who want to continue regular maintenance of the RAAF FA-18 jet fighters they work on," Shorten said. "But Boeing is refusing to let them.
"A clear majority of Williamstown workers have expressed their democratic preference for a union agreement instead of unfair individual contracts. Boeing should respect their freedom of choice and their democratic right to a collective agreement."
The AWU says Boeing's individual contracts were "inferior, unfair, discriminatory and secretive".
It says they pay some workers, up to $2 an hour less than others doing the same alongside them.
Tax Cut Rort
Meanwhile, John Howard's steelworkers are being dudded by his ideological commitment to individual contracts.
Less than a month after the Prime Minister said Treasurer Peter Costello's budget tax cuts were aimed at steelworkers, a group of NSW steelworkers has taken exception to individual contracts that would eliminate the federal government's $6 a week largesse.
A majority of Kurri Kurri workers, employed by Signode Strapping, are opposing individual contracts that would leave them a minimum $7.87 a week worse off than a proposed union agreement.
The union agreement is the same as the company already applies to employees at its Victorian operations.
The AWU's Mark Stoker said the $7.87 differential was a "best case scenario" under individual contracts that leave half the annual wage movement to the company's discretion.
The union agreement also includes income protection insurance not provided in Signode's individual contracts.
The funsters will perform alongside big name entertainers and comedians at Sydney Olympic Park as working people and their families enjoy their "Last Weekend’.
Event organiser and Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says the August 7 event should be a great family day with clowns, rides and stalls to entertain the kids.
But he says it would also have a serious purpose, sending the message that time with the family would be one of the big casualties under the proposed changes to work laws.
Under plans expected to be unveiled this week, the Howard Government is targeting workers rights in four key ways:
- reducing the minimum wage by taking control away from the independent AIRC
- drastically cutting awards and removing key conditions from all workers
- removing dismissal and redundancy rights from all workers employed in businesses with less than 20 employees
- removing bargaining rights, making it harder for workers to join unions and actively promoting secret individual contracts.
"The bottom line is that work rights and the pillars that support secure families and that if you attack these rights you end up attacking families," Robertson says.
"It's only apt that our energy is put into a major event that puts quality family time front and centre in this debate."
The Last Weekend will be the culmination of a three month campaign to raise awareness about the attack on workers which formally kicks off this Friday with a state wide hook-up of delegates over Sky Channel.
A series of campaign events are planned over the coming months including:
- 'The Things Fall Apart' on conference on June 3 where leading academics will chart the impact of labour market deregulation on families and the community.
- The national week of action -
- The state wide stop work meeting, broadcast via SKY channel - July 1
- Lobbying government Mps in marginal seats
- Community action days targeting junior sports events.
Robertson says the aim of the campaign in NSW is to mainstream the message that reducing work rights weakens families, the community and the economy.
"This is a low road agenda that will leave more and more families struggling to have a decent quality of life."
For more on the national campaign go to http://www.rightsatwork.com
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 aren’t 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.
Construction Union secretary, Andrew Ferguson, says injured workers have fewer rights than criminals beaten in gaol.
In February, Daniel Reeves fell three metres onto concrete landing alongside the decapitated body of his workmate. The 28-year old was left with a fractured spine and severe psychological injuries.
Because of the way NSW compensation law is structured, medical specialists cannot combine psychological and physical injuries to determine if a worker meets the 15% incapacitation threshold needed to make a claim for damages.
"I was a hard worker, but since the accident I have been told I will never return to manual work," says Reeves. "I received serious back injuries, as well as the psychological trauma of seeing a workmate killed, but my lawyers have advised me I cannot sue for compensation."
Andrew Ferguson from the CFMEU has slammed the system that "shows complete contempt for injured workers, placing them at the bottom of the scrapheap."
"Someone injured in a car crash, or even a criminal beaten in gaol, would have the right to sue and could receive a larger payout for pain and suffering," says Ferguson. "They could also get their lost wages and medical expenses covered, something Mr reeves is forced to pay himself."
Grant Wakefield is another injured worker who has seen a deposit he had saved for a house whittled away since he was injured at work.
"I'm definitely worse off," says Wakefield. "I'm on half as much pay, and it will be at a standstill for the best part of tenyears."
Wakefield considers himself 'lucky', as he was able to find another job through contacts, but knows that many other workers in a similar predicament simply don't have that option, and that employers are loathe to employ injured workers.
Rita Mallia from the CFMEU is disturbed by the aggressive approach taken by insurers, who are pressuring injured workers; threatening to cut off benefits and putting them on programs akin to Centrelink's 'Dole Diary' system.
"It is three years since the changes to Workers Compensation where the government said that no worker would be worse off," says Rita Mallia from the CFMEU. "That's clearly not the case."
"These people are stuck on a treadmill. There is no justice for these people."
Constant deadline pressure and the promotion of people with writing rather than people skills have been blamed for exposing journalists to bullying and intimidation.
The West Australian newspaper is the latest to come to the attention of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance after a member reported ongoing threats of physical violence and verbal abuse.
Worksafe has issued a warning, saying the paper's failure to comply with anti bullying laws exposed journalists to workplace illness. The health and safety authority also ordered it to display a formal notice outlining the health risks that bullying posed.
"Sleeplessness , anxiety, fear of coming to work, making mistakes, vomiting, alcoholism, mental breakdown, depression and car accidents" are just a few of the symptoms of bullying at work, says MEAA's Michael Sinclair-Jones.
"Bullying behaviour is common in newsrooms and we have had a number of complaints this year," he said.
Sinclair-Jones said bullying policies only worked if people were trained in how they worked.
The journalist is now on stress leave.
"Howard has come out in print and said that his government is going to smash the NTEU," says NTEU state secretary Chris Game. "They are going to cut dissent and cut debate.
"This is not just about higher education. This is going to filter through to any area where Federal Government funding is used."
Game singled out health and local government as two other areas where Federal Government funding would be tied to introducing individual employment contracts.
Unions NSW Secretary John Robertson blasted the Federal Government as "hypocrites" over the move to link between funding and AWA's.
"This exposes how ideologically driven these people are," says Robertson. "For years they have said that the employment relationship should be free from third party intervention.
"Now they're introducing third party intervention themselves.
"This is a government full of hypocrites, using funding to beat people into submission."
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) rejected claims by education Minister Dr Nelson that further workplace reform is needed in the higher education sector so that universities can attract and keep top academics.
"While Minister Nelson claims his workplace reform proposals are all about rewarding high flyers, the detail doesn't bear this out," says Mr Grahame McCulloch, NTEU General Secretary. "In fact, his key proposal is that AWAs must prevail over the conditions in an Enterprise Agreement - the sole legal effect of which is to ensure AWA conditions can undercut those in an Enterprise Agreement."
Newcastle Jobs On the Line
Meanwhile, NTEU members at Newcastle Uni expressed deep anger at the breach of the University's enterprise agreements, with management announcing that 450 positions would be abolished.
"For the past forty years The University of Newcastle has responded to the needs of the Hunter. Staff and the Newcastle community are being left out to dry now that Canberra is running the agenda for this University." Says NTEU Newcastle Branch President Associate Professor Wayne Reynolds. "How did a $3 million deficit become $29 million deficit and why does the University need to eliminate such a large deficit in one year?
The Council boasted it was a family friendly employer in the job ad that netted the man but has now back-flipped on a commitment to let him condense his work from five days a week to four.
Development and Environmental Professionals' Association secretary Ian Robertson said the employee was told during his job interview that if he worked five days per week for a year he could then apply to work a four-day week.
One year later the offer no longer stands and the matter has been lodged in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, resulting in a recommendation he work his 35-hour week over four days for a three month trial period.
Despite the trial's success Robertson says the man was refused the opportunity to keep it up on the basis the Council does not have the resources as its team of environmental health officers are required to inspect food outlets, sewage and other complaints throughout the week.
A flexibility for work and family clause contained in the Local Government (State) Award says the Council may agree on flexible work and family leave arrangements to enable employees to attend to work and family responsibilities. It also says councils shall not unreasonable withhold such agreements provided operational needs are met.
"Bankstown Council's ad boasted of family friendly provisions for part-time and full-time work and it continues to boast in its ads - but the reality is certainly not evident in this instance."
"If parents - and particularly men - want to participate in this kind of involvement it should be encouraged."
"This is precisely the kind of dispute that we will not be able to run any longer if Howard has his way with the industrial relations system."
DEPA will meet with Bankstown Council again next week.
Unions NT has won a wide-ranging commitment from the NT Labor Government to reject individual contracts on the eve of an expected election announcement
The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Claire Martin, has committed her government to supporting unions as Country Liberal Party leader Denis Burke refused to give any such commitment.
"With more than 95,000 workers in the Territory, the Labor Government can play an important role in defending decency for working people," says Irene Monro, LHMU NT Secretary. "Before Canberra's changes are rolled out we will work with the NT Government in a campaign to educate and inform the broader community about the effect of the proposed changes."
As well as not introducing individual employment contracts for Territory employees Chief Minister Clair Martin is supporting the right of entry to workplaces for union officials.
The agreement also contains provisions to not contract out Government services and to maintain union payroll deductions for its entire workforce.
Discussions are continuing with the NT government on six other points including job security, participating in the media unions info stalls at Labor MLA's shop fronts, community education, supporting union campaigns, joint strategies and Calling on all NT employers to resist the Howard Government's workplace agenda.
They are suspicious over moves to tie the takeover to the government's industrial relations agenda.
"This has little to do with trade and all to do with the governments agenda," says Robert Coombs from the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). "Australian ports, especially the coal ports, are some of the most productive and efficient ports anywhere in the world.
"All we can do to improve productivity is to put money into infrastructure."
The MUA is questioning why the Federal Government isn't investing in infrastructure; instead using a "carrot and stick" approach to the states to tie funding for ports to its radical workplace agenda.
"I tend to agree with Paul Keating, who said 'never get between a state Premier and a bucket of money'," says Coombs. "We utterly oppose this proposal."
The MUA believes that the federal government is trying to get a third operator onto Australian ports at "any cost", a move that could dramatically affect stevedores and port worker's employment arrangements in the industry.
Unions have called for an urgent meeting with NSW Ports Minister Michael Costa over the issue.
The forum has been welcomed by both Union and Greens Members, Greens MLC and Industrial Relations Spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said today.
"This forum will help mobilise community opposition to the Coalition's new industrial regime. Even though Howard will shortly take control of the Senate he cannot stop the growing opposition to his plans," Ms Rhiannon said. "The wider community that attends this forum will be able to get first hand information about the attacks that the Howard Government has in stall for working people," Ms Rhiannon said.
The Public Forum - Workers rights, union rights, your rights - will be held on 2-5 pm Saturday 18 June 2005, Tom Mann Theatre, Sydney
Speakers include -
and community and other union representatives.
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.
The Wages of Spin
From the company behind the smash hit stage production of the
"Children Overboard" Inquiry, CMI: version 1.0 presents
The Wages of Spin
Does it matter we went to war on a lie?
Sydney: May 20 - Jun 5 Canberra: July 20 - 30
> "You went abroad in our name on a just cause.... Thank you from Australia." - John Howard
> "Nobody knows, nobody has asked and nobody even tries to establish what the level of casualties might be. That is true, isn't it?" - Senator John Faulkner, Senate Estimates Committee
> There is no point in producing information that may be misleading or unhelpful." - Defence Minister, Senator Robert Hill, in response.
Last year Sydney's version 1.0 went overboard with its surreal and gut-wrenching CMI (A Certain Maritime Incident), taking the transcript of the Senate's "Children Overboard" Inquiry as a performance text. Now the company has turned its attention to the war on Iraq, and the fabricated (and shifting) justifications for it, with a new show, The Wages of Spin (Performance Space, May 20 - June 5).
The Wages of Spin is political theatre, version 1.0 style - playful, surreal, visceral and tragic, with no easy answers. There may be casualties. There certainly will be liberties taken with the found texts. So, in the words of a thousand arts journos and a thousand PR hacks, what can the audience expect to see? Expect to see kittens in gift-wrapped boxes, flag gags, fake blood, shock-and-awe slapstick and Benny Hill-esque puns about weapons of mass destruction. Expect to laugh... until you're confronted with the horrors of POW interrogations. Expect to see some serious grappling with the horrific possibility that the Right may have been right... the war may have been a good thing.
The Wages of Spin plays to Sydney's chardonnay set at Performance Space (May 20 - June 5), before entertaining Canberra's political elites at The Street Theatre (July 20 -30). Bookings: Sydney, 02 9698 7235 or [email protected], Canberra 02 6247 1223.
Artists Performer/Devisers: Stephen Klinder, Deborah Pollard & David Williams Dramaturgy: Paul Dwyer Outside Eye: Yana Taylor Lighting: Simon Wise Video: Sean Bacon Sound: Gail Priest Producer: Harley Stumm
Sydney Performance Space, 199 Cleveland St Redfern. 20 May - 5 June (Wed - Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm) Tix $25/20/15. Bookings: 02 9698 7235 or [email protected]
Canberra The Street Theatre, Cnr Childers St & University Ave. July 20 - 30 (Tue - Sat 8pm + 2pm matinee, Sat 30th) Tix $29/24. Bookings: 02 6247 1223
Media Info Harley Stumm 0411 330 654 or [email protected]
Print-friendly Attachment contains more info about version 1.0 & the artists
Tim Anderson on Civil Liberties
Dr Tim Anderson understands like almost no one else in Australia what hysteria about terrorism can mean.
On 13 February 1978, a bomb exploded in a garbage truck outside the hotel housing delegates for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting, killing three men. The Prime Minister ordered out the army, the media called for a crackdown ... and Tim Anderson spent over eight years in gaol for a crime he did not commit.
In this special meeting, Tim offers his unique perspective on why the erosion of civil rights under the war on terror should concern us all.
Other speakers include Margarita Windisch from the Socialist Alliance and Melbourne Stop the War Coalition and Les Thomas, the brother of Jack Thomas, who currently faces trial on 'terrorist' offences, on the basis of evidence gathered under duress in a Pakistan military prison with no access to a lawyer.
Tuesday 2 June
7pm RMIT Kaleide Theatre
360 Swanston Street City
Organised by Justice for Jack Thomas Campaign
O409 399 429/ O3 9639 8622
For more on the Anderson case, see http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/hilton.html
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA Study Tour
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA is inviting applications for of East Timor a study tour between July 17th and 24th. The ideal participant will be active in the Australian trade union movement, deeply committed to international solidarity, and keen to investigate the effectiveness of APHEDA projects in East Timor. An ability to have fun and enjoy warm weather is also a must!
The cost of the study tour is $2,050 which includes airfare ex-Darwin, accommodation, in-country transport, interpreter services, breakfasts and the study tour itself. For more information about contact Thomas Michel (02) 9264 9343, 0410 814 360
This was the Tory mantra for close to a decade as rampant labour market deregulation edged its way from the netherworld of the HR Nichols Society into the mainstream of Australian politics.
This principle held that a fundamental freedom was the right for a company to deal directly with its workers - or in some cases on it's workers - without the intervention of any external players, that is, a union.
It was a principle underpinned by a fiction, that workers and employers are equal parties at the bargaining table, notwithstanding the fact the employer may be a global conglomerate and the worker may be an individual with a couple of kids and a mortgage that had grown a third head.
To get around this, the theory went, the worker was somehow 'empowered' by the very act of sitting down one on one with their employer; a position famously described during the landmark Weipa dispute by comeback advocate RJ Hawke as 'psycho-babble'.
It is true that this has been a very successful frame for de-unionising large sections of the Australian workforce; offering short-term pay premiums to induce workers to shift to contract.
But equally sizeable sections of the workforce have chosen not to 'empower' themselves in this way, leaving the Tories with the unpalatable reality of a functioning trade union movement.
Their solution? Look no further than construction industry where the government has developed a 'code' that makes it virtually impossible for unions to operate effectively.
While the code has no legal force - it contains restrictions that would never get through the court system - the federal government has begun tying federal money for building projects to state's signing the code.
That push became a shameless shove this week when it was revealed that the Canberra would now withhold funds earmarked for alleviating the water crisis unless states agreed to banish unions from unrelated projects.
And if using drought-stricken farmers as hostages is obnoxious, it is no worse than starving our universities of funds if they don't push academic staff onto AWAs.
Now we learn that Kevin Andrews wants to take it even further - requiring agencies to consider a contractor's prior workplace reform record - that is its union-busting credentials - when putting work out to tender.
Let's be clear, the Federal Government is saying that the tax money we pay will only be distributed if states impose a certain model of workplace relations on employers.
There are a whole set of conservative principles that are being trashed in this power play, 'freedom', 'choice' and, of course, 'liberalism' itself.
And so the circle is complete - the Howard Government is your new third party in the workplace, imposing its will on entire industries to force workers onto contracts - all in the name of removing third parties.
And we wonder why people are cynical about politics.