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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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Sol Plays Dumb Card

Telstra’s decision to slash research and development staff is the latest step towards a ‘dumber’ carrier and nation, according to industry observers.

In a move that has prompted the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia to call for federal government intervention, the planned sackings of hundreds of local scientists clears the way for more outsourcing of highly skilled and professional jobs overseas.

Telstra has confirmed its restructuring of its R&D will result in hundreds of job losses, but denies reports it is closing its main lab at Clayton in Melbourne in a matter of weeks.

But acting APESMA chief executive Geoff Fary is not convinced.

"Telstra can dress it up any way they like, but the fact of the matter is they intend to transfer most of its functions throughout other labs and the majority of people at Clayton are facing redundancy," he says, adding he suspects other Telstra R&D labs will also be effectively closed in the near future.

"We need to save jobs and also to ensure Australia remains competitive and innovative in our research and development efforts," he adds.

"60 to 70 percent of telecommunications R&D is now done in China and India where highly educated people are very cheap," says telecommunications analyst Paul Budde.

Budde says the effective closure of Telstra's Clayton R&D facility would be an acceleration of the demise of high-level telecommunications research in Australia.

"Around the world in the 1980s Telstra's R&D teams were considered world leaders," says Budde, adding that the Clayton team in particular were renowned for their research into solar powered telecommunications, something he says had commercial possibilities in countries such as Saudi Arabia and areas with unreliable electricity supplies.

However, Budde says Telstra began curtailing its elite R&D in favour of lower level research in the mid 1990s.

"Recently the research at Clayton has been all about the needs of corporate customers, such as the network needs of banks and mining companies," he says, adding Telstra will ultimately loose its race to compete with other telcos around the world if it continues to merely compete on price rather than building innovative products and services.

Under the leadership of American CEO Sol Trujillo, Telstra becomes the latest large Australian employer to consider the outsourcing of professional and highly technical jobs overseas.

Last month Qantas threatened to outsource over 3000 highly skilled maintenance and engineering jobs to other countries in an effort to meet cost-cutting targets.


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