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Issue No. 297 03 March 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Howard's Decayed
Geoff Dixon is shorthand for the Howard decade.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Mum Rains on Howard's Parade

 Aussie Rorts on Korean Tele

 Hardcorp Romp: All the Goss

 Holiday Win for Thousands

 Della Exposes Rip-Offs

 Robbo Heffered

 Commission Plugs Job Cuts

 Sweatshop Workers Hit the Catwalk

 Libs Beg For Worker's Dosh

 Skills Base Up In The Air

 Bakers Deal Short On Bread

 Captain Cook Runs Away

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

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.

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

L E T T E R S
 Belly Tells It Like It Is
 What's Going On?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Editorial

Howard's Decayed


Geoff Dixon is shorthand for the Howard decade.

Ya what?

Yup, we could have nominated Sol Trujillo, Whats His Face or any other Business Council of Australia worthy but, for the purposes of demonstrating how Australia has changed under John Winston Howard, one high flyer will do.

Geoff Dixon manages an airline.

He does not fly, maintain or build airplanes. He doesn't even serve the drinks. Like those who do, however, he is a hired hand.

Geoff Dixon is not an entrepreneur. He doesn't risk his own money or assets but manages those of shareholders, on their behalves. And this last point is important because Geoff Dixon definitely doesn't manage on behalf of employees or the Australian public.

This, despite like Trujillo, being in charge of a business that owes its market position to once having been owned by the Australian public.

Geoff Dixon "earned" $6.1 million, last year, up $3.7 million on his 1995 salary. He strongly backed Work Choices, Howard's legislation to hold down the minimum wage, slash job security and speed-up the share of the economy being transferred from ordinary families to a tiny minority like, well, Geoff Dixon.

But, let's leave Mr Dixon alone for a minute, and move to the man of the moment.

To win back-to-back elections is a feat, to rack up four on the trot is exceptional but, then again, there has to be a difference between beating the Brisbane Broncos in a grand final and finding yourself on a winning lap, courtesy of the Naromine Nevilles. But that is a story for another day.

History's report card will include Australia's effort in helping East Timor throw off tyranny but it must also deal with the undermining of Medicare, Children Overboard, SIEV X, weapons of mass destruction, Work Choices, razor wire, and the state of Aboriginal Australia.

The politicisation of the public service, demonisation of the ABC, castration of independent science and prostration before Washington are relevant, as well.

And life under John Howard will never be understood without references to mates and fellow travellers like John Elliot, Trevor Flugge, Rob Gerard and Stan Howard.

All of these factors leave a big question mark over the place of honesty and accountability in Australian society after a decade of a government whose first political principle appears to have been "plausible deniability".

From day one, Howard has maintained that he has governed for all Australians but that just might be the biggest porky of the lot.

Let's say one of his backers, Geoff Dixon, for example, had a problem. He might want to slash Qantas' costs, for shareholders, and the sake of his own bonus. In his sights could be nearly 3000 Australian families whose breadwinners are skilled, long-serving maintenance workers.

Given that Howard's Australia runs a massive balance of trade deficit, it is clear that their skills would be integral to solving that problem.

You've known John Howard, PM, for 10 years. Who do you think he would use his position and power to back-in?

Jim Marr


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