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Issue No. 291 25 November 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

International Relations
Globalisation drags up all sorts of contradictions, none the least the attitude of nation states to international law, as show by events in Australia this week.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Senators Back Rorters' Charter

 Families Last in WorkChoices

 Howard Loses Poll Position

 Printers Stamp on Low Paid

 Tough Men Back CFMEU

 Kiwis Fly into Starbucks

 Vale John Ducker

 Iemma Drives Hardie Bargain

 Memberships on the increase

 Uni Union Shown The Door

 In a Flap Over Flu

 Job Cuts Threaten CBA's Bottom Line

 Blackouts as Bosses Cut Deep

 Barnaby's Choice

 Wal-Mart Exposed

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

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

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

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

L E T T E R S
 Demonise the Laws
 Name and Shame
 Unite and Fight
 The Worker's Best Friend
 What Choices?
 Stop the Corporate Rot
 The Telemarketeers
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Howard Loses Poll Position


Months of strategic trade union campaigning are being cited for the drastic plunge in John Howard's approval ratings.

Twin polls, run for the News Ltd and Fairfax organisations last week, saw Howard's approval rating drop to its lowest levels in nearly five years.

More significantly, the Herald poll opened up the possibility that his government could be rolled by a rejuvenated Opposition, putting Labor ahead of the Coalition by a massive 58-42 margin in two-party preferred terms.

The Liberal-National vote was down six percent, while support for the ALP jumped seven percent.

The results, which would have seen the Coalition crushed in an election, were mirrored in a Newspoll that had the Coalition trailing 46-54 in two-party terms.

The polls recorded the most dramatic political shifts in a single month, since 2001, and the largest fall in the Coalition's share of the vote in the nine and a half years of the Howard regime.

Howard struck out badly when respondents in the Herald poll turned their attention to workplace change. Sixty percent expressed "dissatisfaction" with his agenda, based on the destruction of collective bargaining and hamstringing trade unions.

The polling, by both news organisations, was done the week after half a million Australians attended protests against "Workchoices" legislation.

Commentators, from across the spectrum, put the Coalition poll reversals down to industrial relations and the planned sale of Telstra.

Howard reacted to the reverses by dropping his long-practised routine of "refusing to be a political commentator".

``It seems obvious to me that the major reason for the turnaround in the Government's fortunes in both polls is the unease in the community about the workplace relations changes,'' he admitted.

Howard appears to have been blind-sided by union campaigning against his radical rewrite of workplace rules.

Instead of snap strikes and rowdy protests, they have orchestrated a community campaign, highlighted by peaceful mass rallies, and under-pinned by effective, targeted advertising.

This month's mass rallies were a case in point, with religious leaders, entertainers, academics, rank-and-file workers, and politicians sharing the microphone with union leaders.

Union members have taken the issue to their churches, sports clubs, schools, neighbourhood meetings and commuter carriages.


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