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Issue No. 273 22 July 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Centrelink to Cheat Workers

 Foot Soldiers Get Blisters

 Feds to Lift Voting Age

 Taskforce Plastered

 Paint It Slack

 Howzat!

 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!

C O L U M N S

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.

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

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

L E T T E R S
 Frame Up
 Keep the Faith
 Life on a Low Wage
 Seeing the Trees For the Wood
 Carnival Comes to Town
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Foot Soldiers Get Blisters


Howard Government backbenchers feeling the heat over their attack on workers rights are beginning to break ranks in the face of local campigning.

As the ACTU and ALP prepare a legal challenge to the government's plans to use $20 million in taxpayers funds to sell the changes, local MPs are attempting to go to ground or back away from them altogether.

Louise Markus, Federal member for Greenway, is just one of a number of Coalition MPs attempting to stave off community concern about workplace law changes.

Markus had been dumbfounded when questioned about the changes by electrician Anthony Hack in June. Hack had popped into Markus' office to find out more about the changes and was told they would benefit him by making things "simpler".

When Hack pointed out that simpler meant having 42 matters in his Award reduced to six Markus changed tack, saying that AWAs were the way to go because her husband had one.

Other Liberals seem more reticent about their position with member for Lindsay, Jackie Kelly, Liberal senator Ms Fervanti-Wells and member for Eden Monaro, Garry Nairne, all refusing invitations to talk to workers face to face about the changes.

But thier National Party colleagues seem even less enthusiastic about the changes with Member for Page, Ian Causley calling for a rethink on the policy after workers rallied outside his Lismore office.

"In the party room this is something we're going to have to have a look at," says Causley, who admitted to media that he believes in unions and would fight any proposals that killed off collective bargaining.

Newly elected Queensland Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has already ruffled feathers, including those of Treasurer Peter Costello, by expressing his concern about the government's proposals.

And Queensland National Party leader Lawrence Springborg says his party is not alone in rejecting the industrial relations proposals.

"It's not only the Queensland Nats that have this problem, it's the WA Libs, it's the South Australian Libs, it's the WA Nats and it was 60 per cent of the delegates at the Liberal Party federal council meeting last month that had similar concerns," he said.

Ads Illegal

Meeanwhile, The ALP and ACTU have threatened a High Court challenge to the Federal Government's multi-million dollar IR advertising campaign if the Coalition cannot show the expenditure has been properly authorised.

Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and the peak union body have engaged Melbourne law firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman to investigate the validity of the campaign's funding.

Roxon says the plans could breach s83 of the Constitution - groyunds for a High Court injunction against further advertisin

The Federal Government has not denied reports that its second wave advertising could cost as much as $20 million, but according to Roxon, there is no obvious line item in the Federal Government's May budget authorising such expenditure.


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