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Issue No. 304 28 April 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Canaries in the Coalmine
It was one of the defining symbols of the industrial era and the tenuous nature of working life – the bird in the cage whose expiration was a miner’s early warning that things were not OK.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Head On
John Buchanan has been warning that WorkChoices would be a car crash. Now he surveys the damage.

Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
CFMEU Mining national secretary Tony Maher lets fly at the new industrial laws.

Industrial: Vital Signs
In his new book, Craig Emerson argues that destroying unionism will not be in Australia's long term interests.

Economics: Taxing Times
Frank Stilwell argues that there are progressive alternatives to the slash and burn approach to tax reform.

Environment: It Ain’t Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourne’s Hours
Neale Towart reluctantly pays homage to Victoria's celebration of the eight hour day.

Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
John Howard is deciding more and more foreign workers should come into this country - without the rights of citizenship, writes John Sutton,

Review: Pollie Fiction
For someone barely 25 years Sarah Doyle has an enviable track record in theatre behind her.

Poetry: The Cabal
Poetry returns to Workers Online with this rollicking ode to employer power.

N E W S

 Hit Run Mum Bats For Son

 Revealed: Bosses Told To Blame Howard

 Amber Light for Pay Cuts

 Andrews Backs Armed Hold Ups

 New Front on High Court Attack

 Homer Takes Rights to India

 Tunnel Vision a “Disgrace”

 Mining Vigil at Day of Mourning

 Dad's Death Revisited

 Canberra Confidential, Andrews on the Run

 Rock Solid Tony For Sale

 SA Boss Not Trusted With Kids

 Army Declares War On Workers

 Unions Take On Space Invaders

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

Politics
Democracy in Action
Former NSW Premier Neville Wran's speech to commemorate 150 years of responsible government.

Politics
The Westie Wing
There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Soapbox
From Chaver to Cobber
John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

Postcard
Postcard from New Orleans
Mark Brenner surveys the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina on the regions workers.

The Locker Room
My Country Right Or In Lane Five
Phil Doyle observes the golden shower at the recent Commonwealth Games, and asks what it means for the last great unpredictable drama.

Obituary
Vale Bill Hartley
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill Hartley never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets, writes Bob Scates.

L E T T E R S
 Win in the Post
 Belly Battles
 Answer is Easy
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Rock Solid Tony For Sale


Aussies will benefit from the privatisation of the country's largest health insurer, according to the man who delivered the “rock solid, cast iron” guarantee on Medicare thresholds.

Health Minister, Tony Abbott, put his credibility behind the sale of Medicare Private, last week, in the face of warnings from workers and health professionals that the public would be screwed, again.

CPSU rep, Lisa Newman, warned workers and consumers would lose on the deal.

She predicted it would hasten job losses, particularly in rural and regional Australia, and accelerate the pace of insurance premium increases.

"There will be more benefits for insurers than consumers," Newman said.

Opposition Health spokesperson Julia Gillard said premiums were likely to increase more rapidly because of the sale.

Australian Medical Association president, Dr MJkesh Haikerwal, predicted Medicare Private policyholders wouldn't be the only losers.

He said whoever bought the state-owned insurer, which returned a $130 million profit last year, would fund the purchase with higher premiums, and all privately-insured Australians would face higher fees because of lessened competition.

However, Abbott said the latest asset sell-off, expected to fetch around $1 billion, would benefit policyholders.

Abbott made his name as a health pundit with an "absolutely rock solid, ironclad commitment" that a re-elected Coalition government would not raise Medicare threshold levels.

Less than six months later, Prime Minister John Howard broke the promise, by announcing the Government was cutting back its Medicare safety net.


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