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Issue No. 273 22 July 2005  

Split Infinitives
As unions across Australia put up a united front against the Howard IR assault, events across the Pacific serve as a warning of what can happen when individuals start going one out.


Interview: Battle Stations
Opposition leader Kim Beazley says he's ready to fight for workers right. But come July 1, he'll have to be fighting by different rules.

Unions: The Workers, United
It was a group of rank and filers who took centre stage when workers rallied in Sydney's Town Hall, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: The Lost Weekend
The ALP had a hot date, they had arranged to meet on the Town Hall steps, and Phil Doyle was there.

Industrial: Truth or Dare
Seventeen ivory towered academics upset those who know what is best for us last week.

History: A Class Act
After reading a new book on class in Australia, Neale Towart is left wondering if it is possible to tie the term down.

Economics: The Numbers Game
Political economist Frank Stilwell offers a beginners guide to understanding budgets

International: Blonde Ambition
Sweden can be an inspiration to labour movements the world over, as it has had community unionism for over 100 years, creating a vibrant caring society, rather than a "productive" lean economy.

Training: The Trade Off
Next time you go looking for a skilled tradesman and can’t find one, blame an economist, writes John Sutton.

Review: Bore of the Worlds
An invincible enemy has people turning against one another as they fight for survival – its not just an eerie view of John Howard’s ideal workplace, writes Nathan Brown.

Poetry: The Beaters Medley
In solidarity with the workers of Australia, Sir Paul McCartney (with inspiration from his old friend John Lennon) has joined the Workers Online resident bard David Peetz to pen some hits about the government's proposed industrial relations revolution.


 Centrelink to Cheat Workers

 Foot Soldiers Get Blisters

 Feds to Lift Voting Age

 Taskforce Plastered

 Paint It Slack


 Hadgkiss in Safety Failure

 Freedom to Starve

 Police And Thieves

 Feds Make Asbestos Blue

 Scabs Farewelled

 Capital Idea Under Threat

 Masterton Homes Crumbles

 Activists Whats On!


The Soapbox
State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson lifts the lid on ‘The Nine Myths of Modern Unionism’

The Locker Room
Wrist Action
Phil Doyle trawls the murky depths of tawdry sleaze, and discovers Rugby is behind it all.

To Hew The Coal That Lies Below
Phil Doyle reviews Australia's first coal mining novel, Black Diamonds and Dust.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite State MP, Ian West, reports from Macquarie Street that the Premier is all the way with a State Commission.

 Frame Up
 Keep the Faith
 Life on a Low Wage
 Seeing the Trees For the Wood
 Carnival Comes to Town
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Letters to the Editor

Frame Up

The Left in America are rediscovering the language they previously used that has now been captured by the Right to distract people from voting for their own economic interests. It's time we in Australia re-learnt the art of FRAMING THE DEBATE.

For the past forty years or so the Left in America have been losing ground to Republican Right in their core constituency: the average American. Ever since Keating, the same has been happening in Australia with regards to the Labor Party being the traditional party of the working class now holding less low income federal seats than the Liberal Party alone.

What went wrong? the language of framing. The simplest way to explain language is basically to set the terms of the debate on an issue. For example, in America the Republicans introduced a bill into Congress to ban what they called 'Partial Birth Abortion'. When the average person hears that, they more than likely imagine a gruesome image of a baby being killed whilst half born. The term was a frame and was another word for 'late term abortion'. However because every Conservative media outlet kept repeating it along with all the Republican Congressmen, it soon became mainstream and replaced late term abortion. Unfortunately our side, the Democrats, failed to realise this and started using the term 'partial birth abortion' when they were trying to argue for a woman's right to choose. The right wingers had defined/framed the issue as 'you are either for or against partial birth abortion'. The Democrats failed to realise this and argued within this frame.

To the average person watching the Left arguing to support 'partial birth abortion', the left come across as complete monsters. Even the average pro-choice person saw it that way because most people did not know what the term meant.

When John Howard began framing Paul Keating as an 'elitist' and won over the majority of those on the bottom of the economic ladder, he reframed the debate away from economics and onto social issues, and our side unfortunately played right into it. By taking economics off the table in terms of what differentiated us with the Liberals, and only seemingly remaining different on Social Issues, we took away the major reason for these people to vote for us.

Given that most people on the lower end of the economic scale are economically left and socially conservative, the Liberals now became a match made in heaven for the conservative 'working class'.

John Howard is a master at framing and reframing. When Mark Latham had him cornered as untrustworthy due to being caught out as a liar, Howard REFRAMED the issue of trust to associate it with his 'record' on interest rates. This is exactly how he launched his campaign when he called the election. "This campaign is about trust. Who do you TRUST, to keep interest rates low?"

One recent major mistake the Student Unions have made in their campaign against Voluntary Student Unionism is accepting the frame of the government - introducing VOLUNTARY Student Unionism. When our side argues against VOLUNTARY Student Unionism, we are implying that students should be forced into it. No one likes to be 'forced' into anything. Every time we used the term VOLUNTARY Student Unionism we were arguing against ourselves and kicking our own goals. What we perhaps should have done was to frame it as 'dismembering student communities'. "We are against DSC".

This article is by no means proposing that Labor and the general Left go back to the old days and forget how much many of the reforms gave the nation the prosperity it is enjoying today, but what it is proposing is that we need to be careful with our language. We need to win back our traditional base, and we need to frame the Liberals for what they are - supporters of the big end of town elite, at the expense of the average Australian.

Other frames which we could benefit from:

With the Senate falling into Conservative hands for the first time in a long time, John Howard is going to push through MANY measures which will harm the average Australian. Every time the Howard government tries anything slightly controversial, the Progressives can be their and label the government "arrogant and out of touch". "After winning all those elections, the Howard government has become arrogant and out of touch".

To see how the grass roots of the Left in the States are reframing visit here or google 'framing'.

Highly recommended book: "Don't think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate" By George Lakoff now available in Australian bookstores, or




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