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Issue No. 295 17 February 2006  

Please Explain
It may become the defining irony of the Howard Era that a government that rode to power on the skirt of One Nation and hung there on the bridge of the Tampa is now opening our borders to hordes of low paid guest workers.


Interview: Court's in Session
As the silks line up to challenge WorkChoices, Jeff Shaw is fighting for his own legacy - the NSW IR system.

Industrial: Whose Choices?
The Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation has been dissected by lawyers and the commentariat; now it's the turn of political economists.

Politics: Peter's Principles
Forget John Howard. The force behind WorkChoices is Peter Costello. The Prime Minister-in-waiting has devoted a lifetime to undermining the security and living standards of Australian families, Jim Marr reports.

Environment: TINA or Greener?
What does the greenhouse effect and legislation to control workers have in common, asks Neale Towart

History: Its Not Just Handshakes and Aprons
Power. They have it, we want it. Friendly societies tried to keep it for working people, writes Neale Towart

International: US Locks out Jose' Bove
The US Government has refused to allow France's most famous farmer Jose Bove into the country to address a conference

Education: No AWA - No Job
The Howard Government has given the Australian community its first view of the future by forcing new staff at Ballarat University to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement if they want a job, writes Jenny Macklin.

Culture: Jesus was a Long-Grass Man
The writings of a Middle Eastern theologian may provide guidance to those grappling with indigenous issues, writes Graham Ring

Review: Charlie the Serf
Nathan Brown takes the sledgehammer (and sickle) to Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory.


 Local Jockey Odds Shorten

 Conscience II - RU4 Aussie Jobs?

 Online Porkies Spark Class Action

 Captain Cook Discovers WorkChoices

 Skippy's Escape Breaks Law

 PM's Pay Day

 STOP PRESS - 262 Day Strike Set To Finish

 Strike Sticks it to Glue Boss

 Fair Pay Chief Wages War

 Millionaires Score Tax Break

 Memo Costa: Remember Your Roots

 Gate Crashing Gourmet

 Australia Mum On Basic Rights

 Filipinos Pay for Packed House

 Son of Wal-Mart Pinged $2M

 Trust Me, I’m a Unionist

 Activist's Whats On!


The Soapbox
Hitler in Bowral
Political censorship has made its wasy to the sleepy Southern Highlands, wrties Rowan Cahill.

The Locker Room
No Laughing Matter
Phil Doyle tries to take Australian sportspeople seriously, and fails.

The Westie Wing
Ian West is mistakenly sent an advance copy of John Winston Howard’s Little Blue Book of Australian History…

 AWB Kickbacks to Iraq
 The Black GST
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Local Jockey Odds Shorten

Aspiring jockeys are the latest group of young Australians to see their career opportunities traded off to fee-paying foreigners on short-term working visas.

Last year more than a quarter of apprentice jockeys in NSW were young Asian riders shipped in under an arrangement with a Gold Coast-based training centre, according to the Australian Jockeys Association.

AJA chief executive Paul Innes says the shift away from local apprentices is an ongoing issue that is cutting back scope for locals and creating serious safety concerns on the track.

Last year, 20 of the 75 jockey apprentices were from Asia, predominantly from Japan. They enter Australia on work visas, paying up to $30,000 to be trained at TrainTech on the Gold Coast. They are then indentured to local trainers, often for a full four-year period.

Innes says while the AJA has no problem with the Asian riders, the system lacks transparency, with questions about why the imports are being taken on at the expense of locals.

He also says there are concerns that the young riders lack language skills, an essential element to riding safely in a tight pack.

"We have had discussions with Australian Racing Board tand expressed our conceens about the future of the industry.

"We need to have a transparent process around training, regulating and assessing apprentice riders.

Further concerns were raised last week when Racing Victoria announced it was importing a group of Turkish apprentices to ease what it described as a 'skills shortage'.

Innes rejects the idea there is a skills crisis in racing; just that young Australians are not being given the opportunity to pursue a career in racing.

Dough! More Jobs Go

The jockeys case follows hot on the heels of revelations that bakery chain brumbies was planning to import Vietnamese bakers into the country on guest worker visas.

Commenting on those revelation, which the employer said was explicitly to get around unions, ACTU president Sharan Burrow put the following questions to the Howard government.

* How many temporary worker or business visas are being issued by the Government?

* What steps have employers taken to demonstrate that local workers are not available?

* What wages and employment conditions are used to assess whether overseas workers are not being exploited and are not undermining the pay and entitlements of local workers?

* What checks are the Government making about the qualifications of the sponsored workers?

* What access do temporary workers have to independent help from unions and other agencies to ensure they are being properly paid, have the appropriate qualifications and are aware of the relevant health and safety requirements?

* Who is overseeing the program and ensuring abuses do not occur?

Other recent cases that have involved either the abuse of foreign workers or Australians being denied job opportunities, include:

* The Immigration Department is currently investigating allegations that US Vice President Dick Chaney's former company Halliburton imported Indonesian workers to work 12 hour shifts for 80 days without a break digging ditches at its gas operations in the South Australian desert.

* Foreign workers being treated like slaves in well-known Canberra restaurants. The workers were recruited from the Philippines and 'sold' to their employers for $6000 to $8000. One of the workers said she was underpaid, worked 'dangerously excessive workloads' and her employer refused to give her medical treatment when she suffered third-degree burns.

* Unions have also raised concerns about the case of 34 Croatian and Slovenian workers who have been issued with temporary labour visas to build a paint shop at Holden's plant at Elizabeth, SA - an area which has high unemployment

These overseas worker abuses highlight the ugly side of the Howard Government's deregulated job market," Burrow says.

"The Prime Minister needs to intervene immediately to first make sure that employers look to fill these jobs with Australians. He then needs to make sure any temporary worker is paid decent wages and conditions."


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