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Issue No. 269 24 June 2005  

Truth In Advertising
In the past seven days we have witnessed the unprecedented spectacle of a Howard Minister attempting to campaign on ‘Truth’. That it has come back to bite him on the bum is the clearest proof yet of some eternal notion of justice.


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


 Choice Bro, Andrews Unmasked

 Rev Kev’s Big Stick

 Grass Roots Flourish

 Academics Give an F

 Feds Invoke Feared Beard

 Mum Gives Johnny the Slip

 Hadgkiss in Family Friendly Assault

 Slick Operator Goes Down

 Tassie in Grip of Chip Strip

 Elderly Boss Gets Cranky

 Army Used To Privatise Phones

 Dangerous Vic bosses face slammer

 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

 Good outlook at Hertz
 Foxtel’s folly
 Stuck for words
 More care, less scare
 Do or die time
 China throws in Mao’s towel
 Don’t strike out strikes
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Truth In Advertising

In the past seven days we have witnessed the unprecedented spectacle of a Howard Minister attempting to campaign on ‘Truth’. That it has come back to bite him on the bum is the clearest proof yet of some eternal notion of justice.

That was the plan of attack by Kevin Andrews when he saw the union movement's TV ads - designed to raise awareness about the havoc that the attack on workers' rights will wreak on the Australian way of life.

'Liar, liar' was the cry from this minister of an Administration that has given the world some of the great moments in post-modern reality - including non-core promises, children overboard and the GST.

Andrew's arguments, consistent with his strategy for pushing through these attacks, was to create a smokescreen of legal jargon to claim that these sort of things could never happen to workers.

There were a couple of flaws with this logic: first, as the ACTU legal advice clearly demonstrates, the ads were legally sound; and second, the sort of employer aggression depicted had been going on for years already.

But the Truth can work in mysterious ways and the ink on the release was barely dry when it emerged that workers in Andrews' own department were being subjected to the sort of coercion Andrews was claiming the ACTU had made up.

As Greg Combet observed in the storm that followed, the ACTU really only needed to get a camera in Andrews' own department to film their ads.

Meanwhile, instead of dousing the flames Andrews has been feeding the fire, floating ideas like a 40 hour week and a six month pay freeze

I suspect we won't be hearing much more from Kev for a little while; the PM is moving in and bringing the professionals with him.

Already there are rumours that the Liberal Party's advertising agency will be paid $20 million to 'inform' the public of the 'benefits' of the industrial relations changes.

There is no doubt these guys are good - they have proved masters at tapping into the fears of the people and wedging their political opponents.

But you have to wonder how they'll sell this one - happy bosses 'free' to fire workers? Smiling families on lower wages? Workplaces liberated from the union?

No matter what they spend, what they don't have is the personal commitment of the thousands of workers who will take part in the Week of Action of the next seven days; people who are taking a stand not just for themselves, but for their children and their children's children.

They won't have the support of the broader community, from churches to sporting organisations who - when the conversation starts - already know deep down the damage that further labour market deregulations will cause our communities.

In short, they won't have the Truth - and that has to stand for something.

Peter Lewis



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