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Issue No. 293 20 December 2005  

Waves of Destruction
2005 was the year book-ended by two waves of destruction - the first causing untold suffering across the Indian Ocean; the second reawakening our darker angels on beaches closer to home.


Interview: Back to the Future
James Gallaway collars Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, on threats, challenges and opportunities.

Unions: A Real Page Turner
Jim Marr glances through Workers Online’s 2005 news stories and finds there is more one way to skin a Rat

Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
Rachael Osman-Chin profiles a white collar union that is having some almighty blues.

International: Around The World In 365 Days
It was a year of online activism, as LabourStart's Eric Lee reports

Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Jim Marr tackles a champion.

Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
The Your Rights At Work campaign has been a big part of this year and, as Phil Doyle reports, it is making a difference.

Politics: The Year That Was
Frank Stillwell looks at year that saw the politics of fear; and finds many reasons to be very afraid.

Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Evan Jones asks if the Neo Liberals are taking us back to the future

Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Nathan Brown ignores Oasis and decides to look back in anger after all

Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Nathan Brown digs through his voluminous dirt files and comes up with the top 10 grubs of the year.

Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
James Gallaway on the Way, the Truth and life according to Brian.


 Melbourne Burns AWAs

 Corporates Defend Costello

 Speaker Won't Talk

 Bank Pays on Dodgy Contracts

 Plan to Save Jobs

 Harper's Bizarre Excuse for Failure

 It's Not Fair: Business

 Workers Walk As Warnings Wiped

 Teenager Hit With Shrapnel

 Pay Day “Unlawful”

 Tassie Rail Win

 Professionals Fear for Their Kids

 Boss Pings Rorters Charter

 New Ways to Take a Share

 An Hour of Need

 Boeing Steals Christmas

 Trouble at the Mill

 Activists What's On


The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2006.

The Soapbox
The Things People Say
It was a year of quotable quotes, reports Phil Doyle.

The Westie Wing
Ian West checks the rear vision mirror on 2005, and plants his foot down

The Locker Room
The 2005 Workers Online Sports Awards
After years of being overlooked by selectors at club, representative and national levels, Phil Doyle and Jim Marr, agreed to hand out our 2005 sports gongs.

Postcard from East Timor
In East Timor entertainment also spreads an important message into the community

 Pension Pinching
 Free to Rat
 Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
 Proportion, Not Distortion
 Corp That!
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Corporates Defend Costello

Big business is defending Treasurer Peter Costello from allegations he lied to Parliament about the real affects of Workchoices.

The Australian used Freedom of Information searches to blow apart Costello's insistence that he had not received Treasury advice that undermined key Government claims for its radical IR rewrite.

Costello assured Parliament no 'secret' Treasury advice existed.

He was being question about evidence given by Treasury official, David Tune, who said Costello had been provided with advice on the economic ramifications of Workchoices but declined to be specific.

"It was so secret that this report had not been written," Costello smirked. "Not only was it so secret that it had not even been written, it was so secret that it had neither been written nor released which, I have to say, was one of those top-secret things."

But the Australian revealed a Treasury executive minute on workplace policy had been sent to Costello on October 6. It warned proposed changes would deliver smaller wage increases for low-income earners than the present system, and that productivity would fall in the short-term.

Further, Costello was advised, effects on employment growth would not be "huge" and the impact on productivity growth would be "slow" and "difficult to quantify".

The information, delivered a month before Workchoices was forced through Parliament, undermined government assurances it would lead to higher wages, increased productivity, and more jobs.

Those claims had been forced down Australians throats in a wall-to-wall advertising campaign funded by $55 million taxpayer dollars.

Opposition leader, Kim Beazley, and ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, have both accused the Treasurer of lying.

Combet said the revelations left any remaining Workchoices credibility in tatters.

But Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss, Peter Hendy, has ridden to Costello's defence.

Hendy represents big business interests and has been an outspoken advocate for workplace changes that green-light unjustified dismissals, sideline collective bargaining, hamstring trade unions and give the Workplace Relations Minister the ability to declare any negotiated clause "unlawful".

"I don't think, on the face of it that he (misled Parliament) because they appear to be ministerial briefing papers for cabinet discussions," Hendy rationalised.

Despite Hendy's support, Costello, a founder of the extreme Right Wing HR Nicholls Society, goes into the Parliamentary recess with a credibility problem.

Revelations about his "top secret" IR advice came hard on the heels of being outed for the appointment of a tax dodger and large Liberal Party donor to the board of the Reserve Bank.

Costello backed the appointment of Adelaide multi-millionaire, Peter Gerard to the bank, despite Australian Tax Office concerns that his companies had dudded the public purse over a number of years.

It was revealed that, prior to the appointment, Gerard had poured seven-figure sums into Liberal Party coffers and had been canvassed as a possible national treasurer for the organisation.

In resigning from the bank, last month, Gerard admitted his settlement with the ATO, which came after his appointment, had been for more than $75 million.

He thanked the Howard Government for its support.


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