||Issue No. 303||21 April 2006|
Interview: Head On
Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
Industrial: Vital Signs
Economics: Taxing Times
Environment: It Ain’t Necessarily So
History: Melbourne’s Hours
Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
Review: Pollie Fiction
Poetry: The Cabal
The Locker Room
Lying Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them II
What Tax Cuts?
Belly Says It’s Time
A Word Of Warning Stop
Well That Clears That Up Then
Fleas Leave Andrews Scratching
Under media pressure, spearheaded by union revelations, Andrews wilted, last week, but only succeeded in muddying the waters by citing irrelevant workplace laws.
The Minister told the ABC that investigators were no longer prosecuting breaches of Section 127 of the Workplace Relations Act so they could concentrate on enforcing his new regime.
"It was my melancholy duty to point out that these prosecutions were never taken under section 127," AMWU Queensland secretary, Andrew Dettmer, said.
"They were high-profile prosecutions of working people who objected to living for eight weeks in shit. And they had the endorsement of the Minister's office."
"The truth is this government didn't need any more bad publicity for its treatment of workers.
"John Howard didn't want another round of horror headlines , so he told Kevin Andrews to shut down his prosecutions, for a while.
"There is no doubt that, under his laws, Australians can be prosecuted and fined for objecting to uninhabitable living conditions."
Only last month, Andrews' office was vigorously promoting the court actions.
A spokesman for the Minister backed the Moranbah prosecutions and promised similar actions "would be pursued across the country".
Andrews' Department hired expensive Melbourne lawyers to track down and prosecute 72 people who had objected to "fleapit" conditions in their central Queensland camp.
It sought fines of up to $20,000 against each individual and a $100,000 fine against the AMWU.
Last month, it won a standover in the federal court, so it could track down everyone who had been involved in a three-day stoppage that won improved living conditions.
Unions went on the offensive accusing the government of declaring "war" on workers.
Dettmer told the media the prosecutions were "vindictive".
"John Howard is telling Australian workers that they must accept vermin-infested accommodation or they will be pursued and dragged before the courts," he said.
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