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Issue No. 286 21 October 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Lord of the Lobster Legs
It was probably only shame that prompted the Prime Minister to drag himself away from a $250 per head fundraiser to meet with a group of emergency workers in Wollongong this week. But, this in itself may be a development.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Family Grieves an Enterprise Worker

 All Quiet in Dandenong

 Hotline Gets Wires Crossed

 High Flyer Crashes Families

 Bolt Strikes Lecturer

 Good Heavens - Della Plays Santa

 Maori Take Challenge to Canberra

 Drips Fail Water Test

 Hardie Shuts the Door

 Hadgkiss Threatens Protesters

 Army Fires Salvo

 The Munro Doctrine

 IR Sparks Emergency Call

 Tassie Jobs Hit By Truck

 Canberra Coy on Promised Statements

 Inquiry to Speak No Evil

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

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.

Postcard
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
Disaster
In which Whatsisname slams the recent poor form of Thingummyjig.

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

L E T T E R S
 Sacking For Dummies
 DIY Tool
 Thus Spake Sydney Uni
 Morgan’s Way
 Vote 1 Dictator
 Howard’s Choice
 Buying peace Of Mind
 Coolies Bullish
 Unfair ads
 Rev Kev Speaks
 Politicians
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Letters to the Editor

Morgan’s Way


An open letter to Hugh Morgan, AC, President, Business Council of Australia.

Dear Mr Morgan,

I am writing I regards to your interview on John Faine‚s program, on 774 ABC Melbourne this morning. Please excuse my ignorance of economic theory, but I understand your argument to be as follows: The Federal Government‚s Industrial Relations agenda is necessary for the health of the Australian economy, and must be implemented straight away. And also, in order for Australia to be competitive internationally, we need to lower taxes for business, and for higher income earners as well.

I have a number of concerns with your position. The proposed Industrial Relations reforms are justified by yourself and the government, among others, on the grounds that we need to „tighten our belts‰ to ensure the long term prosperity of the economy. For decades, perhaps even since politics began, we have been told that we need to „tighten our belts‰ for this reason. The argument goes that we need to sacrifice wages and conditions, to bring about prosperity in the future (there are other forms of the argument, but they say much the same thing). It seems to me that this future has arrived. We have record economic growth, and enormous budget surpluses, yet still we are asked to tighten our belts further. And it is only some of us who are being asked to do so ˆ those of us with the least wealth to begin with. This brighter economic future, for which we are making these sacrifices, is beginning to look like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But not for some. The people!

who you represent ˆ the C.E.O.s, senior management and so on, are experiencing unprecedented levels of wealth.

This brings me to the second part of your position ˆ tax cuts for business and the wealthy. You argue that we need to do this to be internationally competitive. But to what ends? If being internationally competitive means I have to get poorer while the rich get richer, then what benefit is this to me? And what will the wealthy do with this extra money? Buy themselves a third or fourth car, while I struggle to put petrol in my twenty year old Sigma? By their children a replacement mobile phone or a trip to Europe, while I struggle to feed my children? I understand that these points that I am making are emotive, but these are the direct consequences of your proposals, and as such, you need to address these issues.

The reality of the proposed Industrial Relations reforms is that they will push a great many working people below the poverty line. And you support this, and at the same time argue for even greater tax concessions for the rich. We have had a relatively peaceful and prosperous society in recent decades, and this peace and prosperity is due in large part to the egalitarian nature of our workplace laws, and wealth distribution systems. But the seeds are now being sewn for the kinds of class divisions that have been mostly absent from Australia for the better part of fifty years. And with all due respect, you seem to be in favour of this.

The cynic in me would suggest that what is really going on, is that given the coalition‚s control of both houses of parliament, the rich and powerful have seen their chance to grab as much wealth for themselves as possible. And it falls on you in your role, to provide the justification for this.

I challenge you to show me that I'm wrong.

Matthew Price.


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