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Issue No. 287 28 October 2005  

A Sick Set of Laws
The Howard Government’s inexorable push to strip workers’ rights continues; despite the warnings of unions, churches, community groups, labour market economists and now, epidemiologists.


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.


 Howard's Fatal Laws

 Saving Private Buy-In

 PM Scoffs at Wollongong

 Commo Bank in Denial

 Family Values

 Johnny Fails Comprehension Test

 Dole Bludgeoning - Andrews Comes Clean

 Jason Turns Leave into Leave!

 Halfback Puts the Boot In

 Business, As Usual

 Terror Laws Strike Fear

 Asbestos Giants Claw Back Compo

 Staff Told to Take a Hike

 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.

 Rung Out
 PM's Fatal Flush
 Sign of the Times
 Labor's Love Lost
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Saving Private Buy-In

Taxpayers have lost billions of dollars because of a flawed method of calculating Public Private Partnerships, according to research commissioned by Unions NSW.

The report by Centennial Consultancy finds that State Governments have been biased in favour of projects carried out by private consortiums because of a fear of public debt. As a result private companies are able to retrieve large returns, 16% in the case of the Cross City Tunnel, at taxpayer's expense.

Authors Professor Bob Walker and Betty Con Walker argue that past and present governments, in evaluating a series of projects, have attached an incorrect risk rating to major projects, meaning the public sector's superior capacity to finance debt is not taken into account.

"In effect, the public sector is being forced to fight with one hand tied behind its back because its one area of clear advantage - the cheaper rate of attracting finance - is discounted by those making the decision," they said.

This was particularly devastating, "when NSW taxpayers lost $2.5 billion because of an incorrect calculation of risk over the Fahey Government's sale of the State Bank."

Government guidelines that evaluate the risk of cost blowouts are not applied equally to Public and Private sector proposals, particularly as Private sector proposals change after the initial go ahead is given.

"This is what happened with the Cross City Tunnel," Professor Walker said in the report, "the contract shows initial costings for a shorter tunnel when a longer and more expensive tunnel was built." The report includes criticism of the Sydney Airport Link and the M2 Motorway.

Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, called on the NSW Government not to proceed with any new PPPs until a review of the process was carried out.

"We have seen how taxpayers lose out with the current Cross City tunnel contract - but an even bigger concern is the process of deciding whether some of these projects should ever go ahead."

"If all we are doing is shifting viable public sector projects into the hands of private consortia and deferring the pay day for the taxpayer, then the model needs a real re-think."


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