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Issue No. 274 29 July 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

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

 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

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
 Don’t take your Gunns to town
 Yankee Panky
 Poetry in motion
 Losing the faith
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Legal

Billion Dollar Blow Hards


Unions and the ALP are in the High Court trying to staunch a leakage of public funds that has cost Australian taxpayers a billion dollars.

They placed their demand for accountability on political advertising before the court, after Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, snubbed lawyers' letters seeking authorisation for his $20 million spend on behalf of Canberra's beleaguered workplace agenda.

Shadow Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, said the Howard Government has spent almost a billion dollars on "information to citizens" since it was elected in 1996.

The taxpayer-funded IR campaign, however, she argued, was fundamentally different because there had been no parliamentary authorisation.

"The Constitution makes clear that the Government can only spend money that Parliament has given it," Roxon said.

"This is not some constitutional technicality, it goes to the very heart of our parliamentary democracy."

The action, which opened in Melbourne last Wednesday, asks the High Court to block further public spending in support of workplace changes that will green-light unfair dismissals, drastically reduce basic entitlements, and allow employers to force workers onto secret, individual contracts.

It has been filed on behalf of Roxon and ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, and names Andrews and Finance Minister, Nick Minchin, as defendants.

It seeks a ruling that the spend is illegal under sections 81 and 83 of the Australian Constitution.

The case breaks new ground because it will see the court examine what boundaries should be placed around party political spending of taxpayers' money.

Roxon argues government's move to rush forward the defence of its workplace agenda is different from previous advertising splurges because, rightly or wrongly, they had been ticked off by Parliament.

"The details of Mr Howard's extreme industrial relations changes have not even been announced, let alone put before the Parliament, but that hasn't stopped the Liberal Party putting its hands in our pockets," she said.

"Even though he now controls both houses of parliament, Mr Howard is not above the law."

The Prime Minister over-rode his Workplace Relations Minister to rush his defence onto television, radio and print after polls revealed community campaigning, led by unions, was inflicting serious political damage.


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