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Issue No. 268 17 June 2005  

Courting Public Opinion
This weekend marks a significant step forward in the evolution of union campaigning, with the launch of $8 million in advertising to hit the Howard Government where it hurts – in the lounge rooms of middle Australia.


Interview: The Baby Drought
Social ethicist Leslie Cannold has delved into why women - and men - are having fewer children. And it all comes back to the workplace.

Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
David Peetz uncovers the truth behind the latest statistics on earnings under Australian Workplace Agreements.

Workplace: The Invisible Parents
Current government policies about work and family do not reflect the realities of either family life or the modern workplace. writes Don Edgar.

History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
The Big Fella, Jack Lang, gives an eyewitness account of the last time Conservatives tried to dismantle Australia’s industrial relations system.

Politics: All God's Children
The battle for morality is not confined to Australian polittics. Michael Walzer writes on the American perspective

Economics: Spun Out
The business groups are feeling cocky. The feds have announced their IR changes, business says they don't go far enough. What a surprise, writes Neale Towart

International: Shakey Trials
Lyndy McIntyre argues the New Zealnd IR experiment provides warnings - and hope - for the Australian union movement.

Legal: Civil Distrubance
Tom Roberts argues that there is more at stake than an attack on building workers in the looming legsilation.

Review: Crash Course In Racism
Paul Haggis flick Crash suggests that when cars collide the extent of people's prejudices are revealed sans the usual veil of political correctness, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: You're Fired
New laws will leave bosses holding the whip and workers with a Raw Hide, writes resident bard David Peetz


 Insults Hertz

 Andrews Bends Over for Big End

 Boeing, Boeing Gone

 Cobb & Co Punt Parkes

 Corporates Arm Firing Squad

 Quad Gets the Brush

 Practical Joke Costs Police

 Unions Target Soap and Grunt

 US Backs Terrorists

 Royalty Held Hostage in WA

 Bad News Rising On AWAs

 Workers Exercise Choice

 Howard Scores Own Goal

 RailCorp Shocker

 Activists Whats On!


The Locker Room
Ashes to Dust
In which Phil Doyle travels to distant lands in search of a meat pie, and prepares for the joys of sleep deprivation

The Westie Wing
Ian West lists the Top Ten reasons why workers in NSW can gain some solace from having the Labor Party sitting on the Treasury benches…

The Soapbox
Dear John
In response to this year’s Federal Budget, Bishop Kevin Manning wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard

 Wandering In The Wilderness
 Once Upon A Time In America
 The Truth Is Out There
 History Repeats
 Cash Cow On Private Tax Farm
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Courting Public Opinion

This weekend marks a significant step forward in the evolution of union campaigning, with the launch of $8 million in advertising to hit the Howard Government where it hurts – in the lounge rooms of middle Australia.

While the idea of delivering union members' hard earned money to the media moguls may be difficult for some to take, it is an opportunity to put forward a clear message to the public, undiluted by the biases of the mainstream press.

Having been involved in the development and production of the advertisements I may be a little biased, but I think they represent a quantum leap in the way unions confront a political battle.

First, the scope of the campaign: $8 million is a significant advertising buy - more than half the buy for major party in a federal election, or the sort of spend a middling corporation would invest when launching a new product.

And it is only the first phase of a sustained campaign that will roll out over the next 12 months, as anger grows at this blatant attack on basic rights that we have taken for granted for far too long.

Second, the focus of the campaign which has one simple objective: to raise awareness about the changes - the threshold first step to building community opposition to the Howard Government.

And you won't see the word 'union' mentioned once. These advertisements focus on the lives of working people and the clear, quantifiable able rights that they will lose under the new laws.

Third, the use of advertising outside the traditional electoral cycle to raise political issues: most organisations wait until an election is called to bombard the electorate with their information.

Part of the thinking of this campaign is to use the time outside this cycle to raise awareness about an issue - rights at work - and elevate it into an issue that will shift votes come election time.

No one suggests that these advertisements will in and of themselves shift the Howard Government from its course. But they will be backed by industrial and community action that creates the momentum to give the paid media real firepower

Now there will be a number of union members who see this sort of campaigning as a soft option - that the only way to stand up to the changes is through strike action.

But think about this - an average worker forgoes $200 a day when they go on strike; an action that makes those involved feel good but invariably turns public opinion against their cause.

This major advertising campaign is being funded by a levy on unions of $3 per member. Get a sense of the impact of this and then times it by seventy - and dream about that sort grunt the movement can have if we channel our anger strategically.

Peter Lewis



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