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Issue No. 296 24 February 2006  

Sad Sacks
It has been a sad spectacle watching a Labor Government run down public servants, as they have in NSW this week.


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.


 Taskforce Shrugs Bashed Teen Worker

 Abattoir Blues

 Car Plant Puts Pedal to Metal

 Call Me Now: Rev Kev

 Fat Boss Sings

 Unions Back After This Break

 Public Cuts Must Be Last

 Apprentices Grow Up

 ‘Castle Win Keeps Trains On Track

 Chicken Worker Stuffed

 ‘Revolving Gangplank' at Sydney Ferries

 NSW Councils Short $21 billion

 Activists What's 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…

 Lest We Forget
 For Whom the Toll Bells
 Unfinished Business
 Labor Sells Hydro
 Stop the Hordes
 Packer Whacker
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‘Revolving Gangplank' at Sydney Ferries

Up to half of Sydney ferries were out of action last week due to a “revolving door” management and maintenance, according to workers who maintain the iconic fleet.

"Over the past five years we have had no less than ten managers and three State Ministers for Transport responsible for Sydney Ferries," says NSW AMWU Secretary Paul Bastian. "Every time there has been a problem, the manager resigns or is sacked. A new manager comes in with an entirely different style and priorities to the last manager.

"So effectively there has been no management at Sydney Ferries."

Bastian pointed out that an "army" of highly paid consultants accompanies each new minister and manager, each making their own set of recommendations on strategies, budget cuts and priorities that are often in conflict with the last consultant's advice.

Bastian says that the end result is no long term planning or strategy at Sydney Ferries.

"On the advice of one of their consultants, ten years ago Sydney Ferries halved their maintenance workforce," says Bastian. "Since then there has been a revolving door of contractors rather than a well trained, stable workforce.

"At any one time, up to almost half the maintenance workers could be contractors, working on out dated equipment, without the training and experience they need.

Bastian says the travelling public has a right to expect the highest possible standards of safety and reliability from Sydney Ferries.

"That's not possible unless the Government is committed to providing stable management, a long term strategy and a well trained permanent maintenance staff."

The latest manager, announced this week, is Waterways chief and former navy fleet commander Rear Admiral Chris Oxenbould, who will take charge of Sydney Ferries for six months following the departure of Sue Sinclair after just 21 months as chief executive.

Sydney Ferries has an annual maintenance budget of $22 million.


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