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Issue No. 285 14 October 2005  

Howard’s Secret War
There are two wars being waged against Australian workers right now.


Interview: Under Fire
Michael Crosby outlines his agenda to save the movement – and explains why Australians have nothing to fear from the SEIU.

Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Wal King, Allan Moss, Roger Corbett, Chip Goodyear, Michael Chaney and David Murray have lots in common, writes Jim Marr.

Industrial: Un-Australian
Labour lawyer Clive Thompson argues the changes to IR are fundamentally at odds with the national tradition of consesensus.

Economics: The Common Wealth
As the policy wonks debate the future of our cities, Neale Towart mounts a simple argument: It’s the real people in a society, stupid

History: Walking for Justice
The Eight Hour Day, a very Australian celebration, had its origins in New Zealand it seems, writes Neale Towart.

International: Deja Vu
A group of trade unions have walked away from America's peak council, again. Labourstart's Eric Lee was there.

Legal: The Rights Stuff
Terror laws have sparked a fresh debate on a Bill of Rights - and workers have a bigger stake than ever before, writes Rachael Osman-Chin.

Review: That Cinderella Fella
Russell trades the phone for mitts in an inspiring cinematic slug-fest. Nathan Brown is ringside

Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
Mel Cheal asks who Howard thinks he is kidding to the tune of the ‘Dad’s Army’ theme song.


 Call Centre Dials Up Future

 Greenfields Become Cotton Fields

 PM Endorses Billy Boy Tactics

 Stats Go Missing

 Paper Tiger in Protection Racket

 Thugs Are Go!

 Usual Suspects Bite Employers

 Pay Boss Opposed Living Wage

 Tele Enlists Boss’ Family

 Entitlements Go AWAy

 State Employees in Limbo

 Activist’s What’s On!


The Soapbox
No Place For A Woman!
Doreen Borrow spoke to the Public Service Association’s women’s conference in September about her experiences of working life that span seven decades.

North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Locker Room
In which Whatsisname slams the recent poor form of Thingummyjig.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West MLC, gets all casual in his latest missive from the Bear Pit.

 JWH's Inspiration
 Hooray for Robots
 Government's Dream
 Come Clean
 Good Guy Done Bad
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Tool Shed

The Secret Weapon

Stop hissing when big business spokesman Peter Hendy comes on the television; just thank the lord his on their side.


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 - - 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.


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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