||Issue No. 285||14 October 2005|
Howard’s Secret War
Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
Hooray for Robots
Good Guy Done Bad
The Secret Weapon
Australian workers have a secret ally in the battle for workplace rights - a man so committed to shifting public opinion that he's unleashed a big business spray on our religious leaders on the basis that, wait for it, they lack compassion.
Hendy has everything required for small screen attention - the beginnings of a comb over, a fruity plum around the vowels, the rhetoric of an escapee from a Charles Dickens novel and all the charm of a critter more used to spinning his webs in a dark corner.
When Hendy gushes forth, you have to sit up and take notice. It's like watching one of the early rounds of Australian Idol.
The man who honed his tact riding shotgun for the political road accident that was Peter Reith - through dogs, balaclavas ,phone cards and all - turned in one of his best pieces of work this week when he hoed into Australia's religious leadership.
After Archbishop Peter Jensen spoke out against the looming attacks on workers rights, joining just about every major religious leader in the nation, the high priest of big business seemed to think he had committed a mortal sin
Hendy's sermon went like this: "How can they look in the face of some 500,000 unemployed in this country and say that they will oppose reforms that will assist these people to get jobs. If that's compassion, I don't know what compassion is about."
It was an interesting foray into morality for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an organisation which, to this point in its chequered existence, has stuck religiously, and wisely, to the secular.
Hendy the eco-rat went feral in the absence of a skerrick of economic evidence that the changes will create jobs and a conga line of economists warning it will drive wages down, particularly for lower income earners.
Compassion will play particularly interestingly in the broach church that is modern Australia when Hendy bobs back-up to front the next item on business' agenda - big tax cuts for corporations and the super rich.
When it comes to the economic low road, Hendy, it seems, is a true believer.
His previous contribution to the debate was his contention that proposed workplace changes didn't go far enough.
So what is it with Hendy?
Well, we have a theory ... Long time readers of workers Online may recall us floating the idea that Piers Akerman was an enter-ist - http://workers.labor.net.au/32/d_pierswatch_plant.html - that his right-wing rantings were so extreme they could only be the work of a provocateur, designed to undermine the Right by taking their arguments to absurd levels of self-parody.
Hendy, it seems, is a disciple of the school, even if his ruse is more elaborate. It was not only until I wandered into John Robertson's office this week that I realised how masterful it is. Jutting out of his closet was a strange suit, complete with mask and comb-over - a zip-up, strap-on Peter Hendy!
The truth is emerging - each time the unions are struggling to make a point, Robbo dons the suit and calls a presser; bowls up some ridiculous doggerel and, hey presto, the balance shifts back to the workers! Simple and effective, with just the right tone to have the Fortune 500 club think he's one of their own.
He's even got them kicking into the union campaign. High flyer Geoff Dixon wrote out a cheque this week, without even noticing that the Peter Hendy suit was slipping off. After all, he expects employer reps to have two heads, four hands and a hole where the heart should be.
So relax when Hendy fronts up to the media, remember he is on our side and recognise him for the post-modern genius we have created.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online