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Issue No. 283 30 September 2005  

Revenge of the Footy Dads
The release of the second wave of ACTU TV advertising last weekend continues to take the debate around industrial relations into the broader community Ė and specifically the nationís footy grounds.


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.


 Brazilians Score at Rocky

 PM Discounts Fair Go

 Centrelink Crashes Internet

 On Yer Bikes

 Road Toll Off The Rails

 Part-Timers in Bank Heist

 Itís Eight Against Eight

 OEA Says Plaque You

 Kez and Rupe Tighten Grip

 Feds Get Blank Cheque

 Rev Kev Absolves Killers

 Turning Business Upside Down

 Stink Over CountryLink Shrink

 Nurses Brush Sick Offer

 Men Make Permanent Choice

 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.

 Four Cornered Rat
 Hrowadís Meixd Msesgaes
 Caveat Emptor
 Shop Front
 Petrol Price of War
 Unionist Slain
 Last Long Weekend
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Tool Shed

The Demolition Man

John Howard is making the final play of his Prime Ministership with all the subtlety of a handyman who has inhaled a little bit too much of the polyurethane.


Australia is John Howard's shed and if he wants to renovate it, he'll damn well do it his way, with his tools, in his own good time. Who needs a plan when you've got a vision!

If things are getting a bit lose over at the minimum wage bench, just whack out the screwdriver and screw it tighter and tighter and tighter.

If there's a few looses edges over by the unfair dismissals, no worries, the sledgehammer will get rid of them; anyway, that breeze coming from where the floor used to be gives some good circulation.

And if all these shelves and cupboards, keeping things in order, get too confusing, just whack out the hammer and bash it all into little individual bits. Far easier to clean up individuals after all, just sweep them up and put them in the garbage.

John Howard's performance on Four Corners this week was the actions of an arrogant man with too much power who no longer feels the need to conform to the normal rules of politics.

First, as ABC reporter Sally Neighbour conceded in the online forum after the show, Howard forced her to agree to run his interview completely unedited before he ordained to talk about his IR changes.

Having secured free rein, Howard gave Australia the political equivalent of a brown eye - refusing to respond to critics, instead falling back on his well-worn mantra of standing by his dubious record and refusing to guarantee workers would not be hurt by the changes.

The fact that the ABC failed to challenge the PM on his record - particularly his claim of 14 per cent real wages - when independent analysis shows all the benefit is at the top end of the labour market - was a major failing of the program.

But even where the challenges came - such as when one of the experts, academic David Peetz, pointed that AWAs will only reduce labour costs and do nothing to productivity - a point conceded even by employer apologists for the changes like Heather Ridout - Howard just shrugged it off.

How's this for gibber? "If you run your firm more efficiently, then productivity is lifted. And higher wages result because if you make higher profits and you want to maintain that higher efficiency, you'll pay your workers more so they'll contribute more. It really is getting it at a workplace level, rather than having arrangements imposed from on-high or in some kind of pattern across an industry."

It wasn't just that the emperor was exposed as having no clothes, he seemed to be taking delight in streaking!

I wonder if Australians really appreciate what a dangerous period we are entering - a leader with full mandate, no serious plans of contesting another election, with the means to fulfil a lifelong ideological obsession.

If you think letting Dad lose with the tools in the backyard is dangerous, you aint seen nothing yet.


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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