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Issue No. 274 29 July 2005  

The Heart of the Matter
Senators Steve Fielding and Barnaby Joyce are right to quibble over the futures of Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day.


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.


 Carr Fingers Feds

 Boeing Scabs Take Flight

 Billion Dollar Blow Hards

 Door Closes on Foot Soldier

 Andrews Ropes In Footy

 Gooooood Morning Sydney!

 Posties Bite Back

 Choice Myth Busted Again

 Vale HT

 Dumb and DEWR

 Combet: Business Can't Be Trusted

 Telstra Burns Bush

 Detective on Death Site

 States of Disunity

 A Turbulent Decade


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.

 Don’t take your Gunns to town
 Yankee Panky
 Poetry in motion
 Losing the faith
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Tool Shed

Unfairness For All!

There'll be no smoko break from the Tool shed for Peter Costello this week.


The sweating heaving frame of Peter Costello lurched from the cabinet room, smoke billowing out of the door behind him as the groans and cries of his colleagues emanated from the interior.

"More!" Cried Costello, his face contorted into a grinning rage. "More! I must have more reform!"

"She cannot take it, Peter!" cried the wavering voice of Kevin Andrews, who was nervously toying at his ecclesiastical collar. "She's going to blow!"

"More!" Roared Costello. "I must have more reform!"

Andrews shrunk back from the demented treasurer, cringing as Costello leapt forward once more into the cabinet committee...

A lovely glimpse into life after John Howard retires, or finally disappears up George Bush's fundament, was revealed to us all during the week when the increasingly erratic treasurer blessed us all with his finite wisdom.

Just how finite it is became apparent with a generous self-assessment of his own unfair dismissal proposals.

Readers will be pleased to hear that Peter thinks they're tops. In fact, he doesn't think that unfairness should be limited to just small to medium to rather large employers with under a hundred wage slaves, but his munificence should be extended to all employers, so that every Australian can share in the benefits of unfairness.

The argument that sacking people creates jobs has deeply impressed the Australian public. As has Costello's proposition that most of us don't want holidays, or even a break for that matter.

The Australian public is very forgiving by and large, and many would have noticed that Peter's statements came after he had spent some time in the tropics, and his departure from the script could have been put down to a mild case of Beri-beri, or Ross River Fever. They were certainly received with about as much enthusiasm.

Peter was up in the tropics gritting his teeth as Dear Leader Howard was playing GI Joke in Baghdad and Lords, so no wonder getting someone out of a job has been playing on our Tool Of The Week's mind.

The laugh-a-minute Costello show showed further intellectual alacrity by pushing a line that ran at about 180 degrees from what his hapless colleague, the Rev Kev Andrews was saying.

While the Rev was taking a big breath and attempting again to sell what has fast become a big bag of rotten fish guts, Peter was up in the tropics, catching a tan, grinning like a loon and gibbering into anything that looked like a microphone that we needed workplace reform to fix the economy.

It was a tad embarrassing that the economy that needs fixing is the same one he is assuring us is humming along nicely under his capable guidance.

While this split-personality economy may match Peter's own psychological state, it has become somewhat disconcerting for the rest of us. Let's just hope our Tool Of The Week isn't being left alone with sharp objects for any length of time.

While many of us have grown used to Peter's increasingly erratic mutterings as John Howard has stayed on and on and on in the job, most of what he gibbers on about is considered to be about as engaging as shower mould.

But this exceptional effort over the past week, where he went on the record as saying that he wanted to give people the power to lose their holidays and meal breaks, has been truly remarkable.

It's the closest we've got to anyone in this government publicly acknowledging that negotiating as an individual in the workplace is the 900-pound gorilla at the kitchen table.

What do you say to a 900-pound gorilla sitting at your kitchen table?

Whatever the 900-pound gorilla wants you to say.

"You'd be foolish if you took away that right to negotiate," says Peter.

Which is exactly what the trade union movement is arguing.

Apart from Peter saving the trade union movement a lot of time and money by being an excellent argument as to why these changes should be dumped, he is also a wonderful character study should anyone wish to sketch a character of a man unraveling in the public gaze.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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