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Issue No. 282 23 September 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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 won’t 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 Timor’s 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.

N E W S

 AWA Threat - Soy You Later

 'Drama Queen' Court Out ... Again

 Work Law Refugee Turns On Howard

 Police Force Choice

 Low Blow in Åd 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 What’s On!

C O L U M N S

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.

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

Postcard
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.

L E T T E R S
 Fair Play
 Latham Lament
 Missed the Mark
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

'Drama Queen' Court Out ... Again


Nigel Hadgkiss” Building Industry Taskforce is running a political agenda on behalf of the federal government, according to a senior Brisbane lawyer.

Brock Miller, a partner with Quinlan Miller and Treston, made the allegation after the Taskforce pulled three coercion prosecutions, halfway through hearings, in the Federal Court at Brisbane.

Miller likened the actions, against building industry unions and BLF organiser, John Lund, to old-fashioned show trials.

"The proceedings were a travesty of justice," Miller said. "They amounted to the federal taskforce trying to win political points for the federal government.

"The claims related to alleged incidents in 2003. The trial was set down for hearing months ago but on no fewer than seven occasions the Taskforce amended the allegations it wished to put before the court.

"The federal government has deep pockets and, I would estimate, this action probably cost the parties close to $100,000, before it was abandoned."

The case turned on a memorandum of understanding between head contractor, Barclay Mowlem, and the BLF that sub-contractors should be parties to enterprise agreements.

Hadgkiss' agency pulled the cases after the employer it was championing, Brant de Hennin of The Tile Connection, admitted, under cross examination, that he had not told the truth about the status of his employees.

It's 11th-hour withdrawal denied respondents the opportunity to recover any of the costs spent in defending themselves over the last two years.

The allegations came one week after Hadgkiss, armed by Canberra with a suite of new coercive powers, launched an overtly-political report into the activities of his agency.

Hadgkiss recycled Tony Abbott's contention that if construction industry earnings could be slashed to the level of the largely unionised domestic housing sector, everybody would be better off.

"The Taskforce," he wrote, "has strived to help decent, honest building and construction industry participants eradicate un-Australian, lawless behaviour ..."

Hadgkiss illustrates every page of his document with unsourced quotes designed to damage the reputation of trade unionists.

Page 4's contributor says "One rotten egg in the industry and it's the unions"

Other large-print quotes, generally taking up a full third of a page, include:

- "the unions keep moving the goal posts"

- "Unions have more power than the police, but they don't have a uniform."

- "There isn't a site you can get on without being members of the union or having an EBA."

- "Something has to be done about this. You can't have CFMEU stewards and delegates walking around with the sort of power."

- "Stop union thugs from doing what they're doing."

- "Nobody can take the unions on."

- "Unions insist on having industrial unrest."

CFMEU assistant national secretary, Dave Noonan, says the vague, unsourced allegations are part of an orchestrated campaign.

"The report is a mish-mash of part-truths, half-truths and untruths designed to smear construction workers and their union," Noonan says.

"This campaign has nothing to do with the rule of law. It is about holding down the living standards of building workers and their families.

"Hadgkiss is a drama queen and he is doing his masters' bidding."


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