||Issue No. 297||03 March 2006|
Interview: Court's in Session
Industrial: Whose Choices?
Politics: Peter's Principles
Environment: TINA or Greener?
History: Its Not Just Handshakes and Aprons
International: US Locks out Jose' Bove
Education: No AWA - No Job
Culture: Jesus was a Long-Grass Man
Review: Charlie the Serf
The Locker Room
What's Going On?
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?
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