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Issue No. 290 18 November 2005  

The Long March
Half a million Australian workers turn out for the largest industrial protests the nation has ever seen, an old style symbol of resistance linked by new world technology, opposing laws from another galaxy.


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.


 Aussies Shrug Off Threats

 PM Executes Back Flip

 National Rally Boosts Local Action

 Restaurateurs Do a Runner

 St Hilliers No Angels

 Penalties Frozen on Sundaes

 Slammer Threat for Operators

 Sunday Light on IR Shadows

 Sol Dials Up 12,000 Scalps

 Boss Likes Women 'Work-Hardened'

 Bread Winner on $9 an Hour

 King Goes the Gouge

 Jo Jacks Up

 Currawong Funds for IR Battle

 Howard Joins IR Rogues

 Arnie Terminated

 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…

 Driven to despair
 What lucky country
 Swimming with Sharks
 Save Our Culture
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Letters to the Editor

Driven to despair

It's about time the labour movement raised the issue of (increasingly) poor driving wasting time and petrol, increasing petrol prices and costs to businesses, and giving the employing class another excuse for attacking working conditions. But look at who the main offenders seem to be; the best drivers in my experience are professional drivers such as ambos and Sydney buses, but the worst are the arrogant and selfish well-to-do. We pay for their complacency, while their attitude to simple and easy to follow road rules ("protected by law"?) indicates how weak that "protection" will be under new industrial rules. Please find below one of my two submissions to Senate enquiry, which deals with this issue:

There's one developing menace in modern society which must seriously affect business efficiency and productivity, which if properly addressed (primarily, by people taking responsibility for their own actions) may obviate the "need" to unfairly reduce labour costs. The fact that it has not yet arisen in debates, let alone been any announcement that it has been the subject of a Govt study, tends to prove the move to cut labour costs (as if humans were commodities like any other) is driven by a dangerous underlying ideology, where business efficiency and productivity is not as important as enslaving working people.

The menace to which I refer is the increasingly poor driving ability of modern urban motorists (most businesses today rely on road transport directly or indirectly). In my daily experience the main offenders appear to be trades vehicles (ie small business operators), cars driven by people who appear to be from the management strata (some of their cars even have "executive" marked on the outside), and SUV/4WD operators (especially mothers dropping off/collecting children from private schools) - those the Liberal Party represents and for whom the new laws benefit. Workers' pay and conditions will be driven down to sub-standard while these people continue to endanger life and limb, waste other motorists' time, and waste everybody's petrol.

The sort of poor driving practices that are becoming increasingly prevalent include:

* using mobile phones (I add to this point - this practice is illegal; what hope have we for a fair go from employers when clearly they have difficulty complying with even the simplest laws?)

* non-use of indicators

* non-use of head-lights (especially dark and grey or silver cars at dusk)

* inability to stay wholly within a lane (causing unnecessary delays for those behind them)

* too great a distance between cars when stationary in traffic

* not paying attention to what's happening on the road around them, especially when first in queue at a red light

* driving too slowly (a major cause of traffic jams)

* disregard for most traffic laws so as to not wait their turn in traffic like everyone else (pulling out then butting in, crossing double lines, disobeying road signs, etc etc)

* stopping in prohibited areas to drop off/collect people/things, or just to look at a street directory, or take a phone call

* queuing across intersections

* sadly, the list goes on

The whole attitude of these drivers seems to be that either the law does not apply to them, or they've made a commercial decision to risk the penalty for non-compliance (an indicator of their attitude to the paltry "protections" in the industrial law). I believe it has arisen in recent years because it follows from an increasing arrogance amongst the employing class. I don't see any reason why attacks on working conditions should even be considered until these people start taking responsibility for their own actions draining on the efficiency and productivity of the rest of the community.

Jon Shapiro


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