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Issue No. 289 11 November 2005  

The Great Repression
In a rare outbreak of candour in Federal Parliament this week we have seen the Prime Minister admit the five-day week is going out the door and his leader of business, Tony Abbott, blow kisses across the House.


Interview: Public Defender
The CPSU's Stephen Jones has confronted the Howard Government's IR agenda at close quarters.

Legal: Craig's Story
An inquest in western NSW is a cautionary tale of the use of AWAs, writes Ian Latham

Unions: Wrong Way, Go Back
The WorkChoice legislation sends Australia down the wrong economic road by smashing the instittutions that have made it strong, argues Greg Combet.

Industrial: WhatChoice?
The Howard Government has shown itself to be the master of illusion, writes Dr Anthony Forsyth

Politics: Queue Jumping
The changes to industrial laws, betray a new vision of Australian society, writes James Gallaway.

History: Iron Heel
Conservative governments using laws to take away basic civil rights. It's nothing new, writes Rowan Cahill

Economics: Waging War
When was the last time you heard an Australian politician talk about incomes policy, asks Matt Thistlethwaite

International: Under Pressure
The push for UN intervention in Burma is intensifying, following a report by Vaclav Havel and Bishop Desmond Tutu into slave labour.

Poetry: Billy Negotiates An AWA
More and more people are meeting Billy, the hero of page 15 of the WorkChoices booklet, including our resident bard, David Peetz

Review: A Pertinent Proposition
Nick Cave's "Australian western" touches on some themes still relevant today, Julianne Taverner writes.


 Nobody Expects the Construction Inquisition

 Howard in Redundancy Raid

 States Sidestep Wage Hurdle

 Catholics Bless Day of Action

 PacNat Bids to Railroad Future

 Feds Authorise Invasion

 Howard Censors Workers

 Sol Plays Dumb Card

 Boycott Hangs Over Hardie

 Directile Dysfunction

 Pirates Face Kofi Break

 Miners Don’t Dig Safety Levy

 Keep the Spirit Alive

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Men and Women of Australia
What makes a perfect speech? Michael Fullilove has scoured Australian history to find out.

The Locker Room
The Hungry Years
Phil Doyle gets the feeling we’ve been here before

From Little Things
Paul Kelly's song about the battle for land rights misses one important character, writes Graham Ring

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at Public Private Partnerships, and wonders if we should all just drink rum…

 Just AWBul
 Convict Costello
 We're Just Serfin'
 Take Warning
 Smells Familiar
 Howard's Gas
 Andrews' Operandi
 To the Shredder
 Stop Violence
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Nobody Expects the Construction Inquisition

Perth building workers were barred from choosing their legal representatives during the first week of secret interrogations held by John Howard's Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The decision forced at least one worker to go before investigators, armed with sweeping coercive powers, without any representation.

The performance has been labelled a "disgrace" by the CFMEU which is calling for the head of ABCC Commissioner, John Lloyd.

"What we saw in Perth this week was an insult to any concept of democracy or justice," CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, said.

"They are values Australians have fought for and we are not prepared to see them trampled by John Lloyd, or anybody else. He should either resign, or be made to resign."

The Commission was established by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, to investigate possible breaches of new building sector industrial laws, and to prosecute alleged offenders.

As part of its brief, it can compel rank and file workers to attend secret interrogation sessions where they are denied the common law right to silence.

Individuals who fail to attend, refuse to answer questions or produce demanded documents, can be jailed.

The Commission held its first interviews in Perth, where the federal government has made no secret of its intention to smash the CFMEU.

Eight rank and file building workers were dragged before Lloyd's sidekick, Nigel Hadgkiss, who had set up a Williams St office to look like a court of law, stationing himself behind the judge's bench.

Each proceeding opened with a warning that revealing the contents of any questions, answers, or documents seen, to anyone outside the hearing, was forbidden.

Workers were then grilled, for hours at a time by a Counsel Assisting, backed by a government solicitor, with Hadgkiss, "ruling", from his bench, on points of law.

"It is unbelievable," WA branch industrial officer, Karen Scoble, told Workers Online. "Hadgkiss sits in the judge's position and over rules our lawyer's submissions."

It was Hadgkiss, a former federal policeman who became a political activist with the disbanded Building Industry Taskforce, who barred workers from using their chosen legal representatives.

At 9am, on the second day, he ordered Perth lawyer, Jo Boots, out of the interrogation room, on the grounds that she had already represented another person, employed by Leightons on the same job.

Hadgkiss reiterated that "ruling" at 2.30pm, when Boots appeared with another worker, informing her she could not even make submissions on behalf of anyone else from the Leightons project.

Hadgkiss cited a National Crime Authority ruling for his decision.

Scoble said Hadgkiss and Lloyd were running the federal government's political agenda of portraying industrial action as criminal activity.

"They are applying rules, invoked to break organised crime, against individuals who haven't done anything wrong and are not even alleged to have done anything wrong," Scoble said.

"The whole process is about intimidating rank and file union members by subjecting them to star chamber proceedings that trample on their basic civil rights."

Scoble said if Lloyd and Hadgkiss, continued to bar lawyers from representing more than one person, costs would "increase massively" and, eventually, people could be interrogated without any legal support.

"One of the jobs their investigators are crawling over has more than 400 employees," she said. "This law gives them the right to interrogate every one of those people and there aren't that many lawyers in Perth."


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