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Issue No. 281 16 September 2005  

Marked Territory
If the mountain of pre-publicity is indicative of its content, the Latham Diaries will read a little bit like a sausage cookbook; full of grisley details about the makings of something we would rather take on face value.


Interview: Polar Eclipse
Academic David McKnight challenges some sacred cows in his new book "Beyond Left and Right".

Industrial: Wrong Turn
Radical labour reform is on the horizon but some workers, like Sydney bus driver Yvonne Carson, have seen it all before, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Star Support
It wasn't just families who backed workers' rights at The Last Weekend, but a bunch of musicians who set the tone, writes Chrissy Layton.

Workplace: Checked Out
Glenda Kwek asks you to consider the plight of the retail worker, and shares some of her experiences

Economics: Sold Out
The Future Fund and industrial relations reform are favourite projects of the PM and the Treasurer. Both are speculations on the future and the only guarantee with them is that you will be worse off, writes Neale Towart.

Politics: Green Banned
The impact of new building industry laws wonít be confined to one industry, writes CFMEU national secretary John Sutton.

History: Potted History
Lithgow is a place with a proud history as a union town. The origins of broader community solidarity lie in the early industrial development of the town and the development of unions. The Lithgow Pottery dispute of 1890 was a key event.

International: Curtain Call
The curtains have opened for East Timorís young theatre performers, thanks to a Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project.

Review: Little Fish
At last! An Aussie film with substance, suspense and a serious dose of reality, writes Lucy Muirhead

Poetry: Slug A Worker
In a shock development, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, gave a ringing endorsement to the poetry pages of Workers Online, writes resident bard David Peetz.


 Flexibility - Bush Rates Slashed

 Seamen Marooned on Tassie

 Families Win Refuge in Tamworth

 Catholics Nail Andrews' Heresy

 IR Changes a Beach

 Drama Queen Applies Gloss

 Peace a Security Threat

 OEA Flicks Fraud Case

 Auto Workers Drive Union Win

 Bush Adds Insult to Injuries

 Job Vandals Cash In

 Lib Heads Witch Hunt

 Sydney Water Damned

 Super Blue Warms Up

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Families First
New Senator Stephen Fielding turned a few heads with his Maiden Speech to Parliament.

The Locker Room
The New World Order
Phil Doyle declares himself unavailable for the fifth and deciding test.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, reports from the NSW Government's Safety Summit

On The Bus
A bright orange bus travelling the state has become the focus of the campaign against federal IR changes. Nathan Brown was on board.

 Dinosaurs Bite Back
 Killer Culture
 Who Cares?
 Do the Bus Stop
 A Touch of Honesty
 Boss Made Me Sick
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Marked Territory

If the mountain of pre-publicity is indicative of its content, the Latham Diaries will read a little bit like a sausage cookbook; full of grisley details about the makings of something we would rather take on face value.

Politicians complaining about politics is a bit like a soapie star complaining about the paparazzi; they enter the game with the eyes wide open and exploit the very things that they later claim are exploiting them.

Watching the interview with Andrew Denton last night was a little like watching a car approaching an intersection with the brakes failing, you can tell there's going to be crash, you just don't know who is going to get collected.

On its face Mark Latham says he has turned his back on a dysfunctional world of politics to spend time with his family. If this were the real story, we could only wish him well.

Yet under the bonnet is an engine in meltdown, a series of vendettas and paybacks based on anecdotes and hearsay, leading him to the inevitable conclusion that the ALP is unfit to hold office.

The crumbling of almost all Latham's personal relationships is in itself a sad thing, but the knock-on effect of these personal paybacks could be even more tragic.

Think about it. This week we had the Coalition in meltdown, National Party MPs voting for a sale of Telstra even as the proposition was unravelling between their eyes - the ultimate betrayal of rural Australia.

Lined up next is industrial relations, an assault on working rights breath-taking in its extremism, providing not just a threat to the labour movement, but the potential to reunite its wings in common purpose.

Into this milieu waddles the man who, more than any other, has got Labor into this mess, letting forth a stream of vitriol that can only be calculated to damage the party.

When pressed on this point by Denton, Latham was disingenuous - while claiming he was acting to clear his own name for his sons and wanting to tell the public the truth about politics, there is no way one can ignore the context.

And thus, the man who bemoans the fact that society has become too individualistic uses his standing within his own family as a justification to trash the only structures, for all their faults and foibles, that have sustained the collective.

This is the real tragedy of the Latham Diaries: at a time when the labour movement is facing its biggest onslaught in generations, this individual chooses to settle personal scores.

It is this repudiation of the collective, rather than any individual insult or broken confidence that damns the former Labor leader.

Yes, the Latham Diaries expose problems in the political process, foremost that an individual with Latham's fragile ego could be voted leader.

Peter Lewis



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