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Issue No. 293 20 December 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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

C O L U M N S

Predictions
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.

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

L E T T E R S
 Pension Pinching
 Free to Rat
 Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
 Proportion, Not Distortion
 Corp That!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Harper's Bizarre Excuse for Failure


John Howard's Fair Pay Master was moaning about the concept of a “living wage” while his trading company was going bust, putting dozens of Aussies out of work.

Ian Harper was a director of Australian Derivatives Exchange which had its trading licence revoked in March 2001. At the same time, Professor Harper was preparing a paper for investment bankers that argued Australia would have a healthier economy if sweatshops had been legal, last century.

He established his "Fair Pay" credentials with a stinging attack on the thinking behind the 1907 Harvester decision that established the principle of a basic, or living, wage.

"Employers in the sweatshops of lower Manhattan were not obliged to raise wages to 'fair and reasonable' levels," Harper wrote. He said while this meant a greater gap between rich and poor in the US, it gave that country a leaner manufacturing industry and a stronger economy.

It is a line of thought run by the extreme Right HR Nicholls Society and the Business Council of Australia which, this year, argued "fairness" should not be a factor in wage setting.

Harper ripped into the Harvester Judgment, which defined a fair wage as being sufficient to keep a family in a civilised condition, as a direct cause of Australia's comparatively weak manufacturing industry. He blamed it for the eventual sell-out of Harvester to Canadian multi-national Massey-Ferguson.

"Australia may have lost more than a homegrown harvester - we may have passed up the chance of owning a multinational agricultural equipment manufacturer!" he wrote.

Fifteen years after the judgement, the owner of the Harvester company, Victor Mackay, was still railing against the living wage decision.

"God did not make men equal - it is no use trying to pretend He did, or to make laws as though He did, or to pay people according to their requirements instead of according to their services," he wrote in a letter dated March 10, 1922.

Eighty nine years later, Harper endorsed that philosophy.

At the same time, he was a non-executive director of Australia Derivatives Exchange, which went into administration after just a few months of trading. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission revoked the company's license to operate an exchange.

The Federal Government said it was aware of Harper's history when Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews appointed him head of the Fair Pay Commission in October.

"What this shows is that Professor Harper has a real understanding of business and the operations of a company," a spokesman for the Minister said.


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