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Issue No. 298 10 March 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Home Truths
The truth has been breaking out in all sorts of strange places this week.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Workers Online speaks to the ACTU's Union Organiser of the Year, Greg Harvey from the RTBU, who has been using cutting edge ways to communicate with a blue-collar workforce spread across five states.

Industrial: How Low Is Low
Neale Towart looks at the much hyped link between minimum wages and employment

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Govwernment has begun rolling out workshops to inform employers on how to use WorkChoices. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Bad Medicine
Nathan Brown reports on how Australia Post’s dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameron’s demise may be premature

Economics: Long Division
Kenneth Davidson looks at a successful political strategy

International: Union Proud
A University of California librarian calls for union labels to increase worker visibility

Politics: Howard’s Sick Joke
Phil Doyle looks at an attack on one of the great achievements of the union movement

Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
That mob in parliament house seems to be hopelessly out of touch with Indigenous Australia. So much so, that Graham Ring wonders if the House on the Hill is becoming a ‘cultural museum’.

Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.

Culture: News Front
If the owners are selling off papers, perhaps the unions should buy them says Mark Dobbie.

N E W S

 Wipeout: Minchin Surfs New Wave

 Scoop-idity: How The Truth Was Nicked

 Howard's Bastard Under Lock and Key

 Bank Shops Skilled Workers

 Debnam Dogs on Libs

 Jacko: "I'm Bad"

 Computer Strike Could Crash System

 Builders' Cleavage Strikes Gold

 Andrews Cops Legal Buffeting

 Brough Love for Women

 CFMEU Aids Escape

 Hunt on for Asbestos Crims

 Unions Counsel Queen

 Guests Get Pizza Topping

 Download a Pollie

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Henderson’s unique take on history

Parliament
Westie Wing
Will Westie's Wings be clipped, or will the Hills Angels repent and deliver?

The Locker Room
The Heart Of The Matter
Phil Doyle rolls up the red carpet and celebrates the death of an old foe

L E T T E R S
 Howard, My Part In His Downfall
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Howard's Bastard Under Lock and Key


Billy has been locked in the closet for months and the federal government shows no sign of letting him out.

Billy was the callow youth who nailed the Prime Minister's “choice” lie in the lead up to Work Choices.

Conceived as a star of the campaign to sell radical workplace change, Billy became a serious embarrassment, and was shunted into storage, where he remains today.

Canberra is sitting on nearly six million WorkChoices booklets, apparently embarrassed to put them into the public domain.

Part of a $55 million taxpayer-funded advertising blitz, the publications are gathering dust at private warehouses in Sydney and Brisbane.

Most look set to remain there for a long time yet, while taxpayers fork out $8000 a month to keep them on ice.

The situation was revealed by Department of Employment and Workplace Relations official, John Kovacic, at a Senate Estimates hearing.

Kovacic confirmed the 68-page booklets were supposed to have been distributed prior to the federal government passing Work Choices into law, last December.

But, the Senate Committee learned, only 217,000 of more than six million copies were ever released.

The publications have been a constant source of embarrassment to the government since it was revealed the first run had to be pulped after the Prime Minister's Office insisted the word "fairer" be used to describe legislation that removed unfair dismissal rights and choice of coverage from millions of employees, and severely curtailed their rights to collectively bargain.

Then there was Billy, who de-bunked the whole Coalition sales pitch.

"The AWA Billy is offered explicitly removes the award conditions for public holidays, rest breaks, bonuses, annual leave loadings, allowances, penalty rates and shift/overtime loadings," the booklet gloated.

"The job offered to Billy is contingent on him accepting an AWA."

The graphic example led to the use of the verb to billy, as in 'government comes clean on its plan to "billy" young people out of holidays, allowances and overtime'.

The Prime Minister went on national television to try and defend his treatment of Billy. He said it was reasonable to cut his entitlements because, in the example quoted, he had been unemployed and had had somebody bargain on his behalf.

When he was asked to confirm the same would apply to "many, many people", irrespective of personal circumstances, the Prime Minister refused to answer.

Disowned, Billy has been left in the "care" of Salmat Document Management Solutions. Kovacic was unable to say when he would be released.


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