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Issue No. 282 23 September 2005  

Highway To Help
After five weeks, five and half thousand kilometres, and 40 regional town meetings attended by thousands of regional workers, the bright orange Rights at Work bus has finally come to rest.


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.


 AWA Threat - Soy You Later

 'Drama Queen' Court Out ... Again

 Work Law Refugee Turns On Howard

 Police Force Choice

 Low Blow in Ňd Wars

 Free Lunches to Cost Wal-Mart

 Robbo in Swan Song

 Howard Mines Pockets

 Star Chamber Faces Eclipse

 Mums Teach School a Lesson

 Sleepless In Seattle

 Safety Blitz After Accident

 Mushroom Mum Gets Satisfaction

 Builders Skirt Apprentice Claim

 Howard Threatens Wage Umpire

 Gunns Trained on Free Speech

 Activists Whatís 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.

 Fair Play
 Latham Lament
 Missed the Mark
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Tool Shed

A Hartsuyker Born Every Minute

It's so good that even the bad bits are good, says our beaming Tool Of The Week


In Coffs Harbour they have a big banana; his name is Luke Hartsuyker.

Last Tuesday night he shared his wisdom with us, which didn't take long.

Luke is the National Party member for the Federal seat of Cowper on the NSW Mid North Coast.

As such he will vote on the government's proposed new Masters and Servants Act, which isn't the scary bit.

Luke attended a meeting held over the issue of whether or not it was a good idea to let employers pay their staff with a rock and a shiny thing if they wish, which, while being alarming, is not the scary bit either.

The meeting was well attended and many of his constituents expressed more than a little bit of alarm at the prospect of watching their job security become rather mortal; scary, but not the scary bit here.

Luke addressed the meeting, calming everyone down by saying we needed to work the country harder and be more competitive with China and India; extraordinarily alarming if it means we take on the working standards of either nation, but not as scary as it could be.

After opening and closing his mouth and emitting sounds for ten minutes Luke sat down again, much to everyone's relief.

No one who is in that room will have that ten minutes again, which is a shame, for in that ten minutes they learned only one thing, and that was just how blissfully ignorant the good member for Cowper was.

Then came the scary bit.

During a Q&A, after Luke's great contribution to intellectual flatlining, he told the assemblage that the prospect of being on an individual contract was a boon to local workers.

Luke expanded on this unique take on economics by saying that workers in service and hospitality industries are in a "strong bargaining position" when it comes to negotiating their pay and conditions.

While one of the attendees politely described Mr Hartsuyker's contribution as "a joke", the rest of the room was incredulous.

How could somebody so blindingly stupid possibly have enough intelligence to remember to breathe.

While Hartsuyker's diminished intellectual capacity may reflect on the National Party and its unhealthy obsession with animal husbandry, it nonetheless remains a fact that it is he and his political allies that will determine the fate of all Australians in the workplace.

That is a scary thought.

Someone who is so devoid of intellectual ability that he thinks that we will become a nation of fast talking negotiators like his mates over at the Westpac Bank must have a genius that can only be described as subtle.

Still, there is no such thing as a useless person. Hartsuyker could always come in handy if we could get a blueprint of his brain in the event that we needed to build a moron.

Hartsuyker is keen for income to be linked to productivity.

A curious idea given that any measure of his efforts to protect or improve the lot of his constituents would see his income heading south faster than a newspaper truck on the Pacific Highway.

That, of course, would entail Hartsuyker having to abandon his long cherished principle of being a bottom feeding hypocrite, something the National Party excels at on the Mid North Coast.

Working people voting for the likes of these clowns is about as smart as a Turkey voting for Christmas.

Still, our Tool Of The Week invokes an old political adage:

You can fool some of the people some of the time.

You can fool all of the people some of the time.

But you can't fool anyone if your arguments make about as much sense as Tony Abbott's family tree.

For Luke, who has never done a days work in his life, the truth is going to get pretty scary.


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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