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Issue No. 277 19 August 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Weasel Words
We are living in an era where words are not always as they seem, and where language is used to shape the world rather than just describe it.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: On Holiday
Historian Richard White looks back on the Aussie vacation - and finds a way of life is under threat.,

Unions: One Day Longer
Nathan Brown travels to the Boeing picket line and find a group of workers with a steely determination to stick together.

Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Jim Marr plays the Howard Government's industrial relations spin job on its merits.

Politics: Spun Out
Canberra’s latest campaign underlines the need for controls over government advertising, according to Graeme Orr and Joo-Cheong Tham

Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
Evan Jones explains how the way we purchase alcolohol reflects the type of economy we live in.

History: Taking a Stand
Neale Towart looks at two books that chronicle how to build community support against social injustice.

International: The Split
Amanda Tattersal outsider's account of an insider's shake-out at the AFL-CIO Convention 2005

Legal: Pushing the Friendship
George Williams argues that the federal government’s constitutional powers are not sufficient to enact a comprehensive national industrial relations scheme

Poetry: Simple Subtractions
The latest blitz of taxpayer-funded advertising has revealed a crisis of arithmetic in government ranks has moved resident bard David Peetz to prose.

Review: Sydney Trashed
Sydney band SC Trash are on a mission to give new life to folk and country music – and the politics of common sense. Nathan Brown had a beer with them

N E W S

 AWAs Bully the Sisters

 Busted: Howard's 14 Percent Furphy

 Top End of Town to Write IR Laws

 New Laws Make Green Bans History

 Hardies Dodges Responsibility

 Blokes Wouldn’t Cop Child Care Wages

 MPs Duck As Unions Hit the Road

 Profits Do Not Mean Security

 Dodgy Wagons Rolling In

 Telstra: Death By 1,000 Cuts

 Andrews Shafts Employee Safety

 Indon Rail Workers Roll Paycut Plan

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, goes away for a couple of weeks and look what happens…

The Soapbox
The Last Weekend
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson's speech to the Last Weekend - how the Howard government laws will undermine the Ausrtalian way of life.

The Locker Room
A Concept Is Born
In which Phil Doyle helps the proponents of the vision thing across the road.

International
Workers Blood For Oil
A new book by Abdullah Muhsin and Alan Johnson lifts the lid on the bloody reality of US backed democracy for Iraq's trade unions

Postcard
London Post
During his recent stay in London IEU industrial officer John Shapiro was living only a few hundred metres from the site of one of the bomb blasts.

L E T T E R S
 Capital Terror
 Think of the Kids
 Let’s Talk
 Stupid Sale
 The Meal
 Stand Your Ground
 Convenient Flagellation
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Top End of Town to Write IR Laws


The Howard Government has trucked in lawyers from some of Australia’s biggest union-busting firms to draft its new industrial relations laws

Amidst rumours of tensions and confusion within the federal Attorney General’s Department, corporate law firms have seconded offices to provide the briefing instructions to the government.

Firms that have been called in include Freehills, Phillips Fox, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Minter Ellison, Blake Dawson Waldron and Clayton Utz - the firms that service Australia's biggest companies, who through the BCA have been leading the push for wholesale deregulation.

They have been called in at a time where the government bureaucracy is struggling to give affect to the Prime Minister's sweeping changes.

Workers Online understands the government is so paranoid about details of the legislation being leaked, that different teams of lawyers are drawing up different versions of the new Act.

There are also serious concerns about the constitutionality of the changes, with a growing body of legal opinion that the changes will be vulnerable to a High Court challenge.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says that shipping in corporate lawyers to write IR laws is "a bit like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank".

"The fact that no law firms that represent workers have been asked to contribute to the process shows where the priorities of this government really lie."

Mr Robertson also questioned how firms that had wrote the Act would not have an advantage in cases over the laws' application.

Police Force Will Lack Bite

As the Howard Government struggles to hold back growing concerns that the laws will attack workers rights, it was this week revealed the government will beef up its Office of Workplace Services, to protect workers from being bullied into signing AWAs.

But an analysis of the work done by the agency currently charged with protecting workers rights, the Office of the Employment Advocate, gives little grounds for confidence that workers will be protected.

"The OEA's record shows that they do not take an even-handed approach between employers and unions," Robertson says.

"There has been a single, solitary prosecution against an employer for sacking an employee on AWAs since 1999."

"If this is the model of a worker-friendly government body, then very few workers will be reassured."


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