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Issue No. 304 28 April 2006  

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.


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.


 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!


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

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 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.

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.

 Win in the Post
 Belly Battles
 Answer is Easy
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Activist's What's On!


Following is information on the May Day Event closest

to you:


May 1. Brisbane



May 7 Sydney

May 1 Newcastle

May 6 Wollongong and Shoalhaven


May 7 Melbourne


May 1 Geelong 4pm Geelong Trades Hall


May 1 Hobart Petitioning Member for Bass


April 29 May Day March and Picnic


May 7


May 1 5pm Darwin, Wood Street to Esplanade, Food and

Bar Facilities

Seditious Intent

Short Film Collection

Online now at

Seventeen short films - some sad, some funny, some gentle, some illuminating - from the slick to the raw and edgy, ranging from fiction, faction, animation, claymation, subverts to adverts - they make up the exciting web-based SEDITIOUS INTENT short film collection site.

The collection is the result of a call to filmmakers across the country to "create a short film (from 30 secs - 5 mins) that responds in some way to the Australian Government's draconian new anti-terrorism laws".

When we initiated the project, we knew it wouldn't prevent the

anti-terror laws from being implemented. However, 'SEDITIOUS INTENT' is

aimed at keeping the discussion alive and enabling filmmakers to

participate in actions that provoke debate that leads to change.

We have partnered with EngageMedia(, a group distributing video stories about social justice and environmental issues in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. We are proud to be their first collection.


It all started back in October 2005. The Australian Government wanted to set tough new Anti-Terror laws, which included laws that would affect the expressions of the creative community.

So, we decided to spark a response from the Australian filmmaking

community. The first message was sent out on the 31st October 2005.

Back then, sedition was going to be part of the laws and 'seditious intent' was defined as an intention to effect any of the following:

* to bring the Sovereign into hatred or contempt;

* to urge disaffection against the Constitution, the Government of the

Commonwealth or either House of the Parliament;

* to urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure a change to any matter established by law in the Commonwealth;

And it seems the lobbying by Australia's creative community has had some impact. The Government has made some amendments to its Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005. Though still highly problematic, sedition must now be linked to the urging of force of violence, in order for it to be a crime. See the web page about terror laws for more details.


With the country on the edge, what can one person do?

A new Australian play crashes through at the Old Fitzroy in April with a story of

intrigue and crisis in personal and public life. Political Fiction, by Geoffrey

Sykes, is a parable of Australia now, in which hope and despair are pitted

against each other... with surprising results.

A disgruntled member of the government, a young singer and a free thinking staffer in

Foreign Affairs. Their journey, through sex, power, intrigue, betrayal and - finally - clear

vision, is a graphic exploration of what faces us all in our fallible attempts to relate to the

wider world.

Political Fiction plays and replays with the myths that control our public world ˆ when the

country is on the brink, what can one person do?

Playwright, documentary-maker and academic, Geoffrey Sykes has put words in the mouths

of some of Australia's finest actors and has written for some of our most provocative

exhibitions and theatre events including those at the National Gallery, Art Gallery of NSW,

MCA and the Powerhouse Museum.

Directed by Robina Beard (NAISDA, Ausdance, Belvoir, Adelaide Festival) and starring

Sarah Doyle, Alan Popely, Karen Cobban and Marc Kay, Political Fiction moves at pace

from Australia to South America and back as conspiracy brings people together, then blows

them apart...


April 18 to May 6


Cnr Cathedral and Dowling Streets, Woolloomooloo

Tues-Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm

Tickets $27 ($19 concession)

Book (02) 9294 4296 or online at

Beer Laksa and Show deal (from 7pm) $33

Cheap Tuesdays and Previews (April 18 and 19)

Presented by Southview Projects

Struggles, Scabs and Schooners is Back

29th April 2006 from 1:30pm.

This year it is all about the history - and ongoing battles - of working class women. Join us for stories, memories, hope, singing and beer.

Tickets are $30, which includes dinner.

If you wanna get on board the bus (walkers are welcome & free), please let us know ASAP - you'll have a confirmed seat if you get us the money before the day - please make cheques payable to the PROUD TO BE UNION COMMITTEE INC (send to Struggles, Scabs & Schooners - c/- FSU, PO Box A2442 Sydney South 1235).

RSVP to Chris ([email protected] or 0438 898 198) or Sian ([email protected] or 8222 3346) for more information.

May Day Toast

Monday, 1st May at 6pm at Souths Leagues Club

Tickets cost $30 each and are available from Jaime Midson on 02 9264 5024

The Take

As part of May Day week AMWU NSW is screening THE TAKE to raise funds for the ZANON FACTORY WORKERS so they can finish their documentary "Heart of the Factroy".

You can be part of international trade union solidarity by coming to our screening on:

Wednesday 3rd May 6 pm AMWU Granville 133 Parramatta Rd Granville

Friday 5th May 6pm Tom Mann Theatre 136 Chalmers St Surry Hills

Entry by donation $10

APHEDA will have DVDs, inlcuding THE TAKE for sale.

Plus East Timorese woven art.

Food and drink will be on sale.

Rock the Block music festival Saturday May 6

The 'Rock the Block' Festival, on Saturday May 6, 2006, boasts 5 hours of non-stop music, from rock and hip-hop to acoustic and electronic pop, as well as the Blackscreen Indigeneous film-series.

The festival is being put on to raise money to refurbish a community dance studio at the Tony Mundine gym, and will play host to well known acts such as Wire MC and Andorra, as well as nationally recognised acts like Combat Wombat and Ozi Batla, from the Herd.

Other acts include Indigenous acoustic musician James Henry, Tribal Ashes, the Urban Guerillas, Jesse Morris and the Project and Gisele Scales.

The festival also includes the Australian Film Commission's Blackscreen film series, including a wonderful documentary on Sydney's original Black theatre, from the 70's, and a number of moving and beautifully shot recent productions, such as 'Green Bush' featuring David Page.

Rock the Block will kick off in Lawson St Redfern at 1pm, although people are encouraged to come a bit early if they want to grab some lunch before the music starts.

The festival is a family day with kid's entertainment provided, along with the music and films. Entry is by donation, with a discount drink and sausage ticket for those who donate.

Please contact Lani at the Aboriginal Housing Company on 9698 9249 or Joel Beasant at [email protected] for more information.

Rock the Block is an alcohol-free event.

Melbourne Declares Peace on the World

National Peace Conference Invitation

Thursday, May 25, 7pm

Public Meeting, Storey Hall, RMIT, Swanston St, City

Saturday, May 27 Registration from 9am

Maritime Union of Australia, 46 Ireland St, West Melbourne

The conference seeks to foster better international connections and

develop a clearer coherent national strategy for peace. It will coincide

with tours by significant international players in the peace movement


Hassan J'umar: President of the Iraqi Oil Workers Union, Cindy Sheehan,

from Goldstar Families for Peace, USA. Sabah Jawad, Iraqi Democrats

Against Occupation. Dr Salam Islmail, From Doctors for Iraq, Muslim

Association of Britian and Stop the War Coalition.

Cost :

$50 for one or two delegates,

$20 (waged observer) $10 (unwaged observer)

Conference Dinner Saturday $20 waged, $15 unwaged

Contact the conference roganising committee on:

Phone: 0418 316 310

Email: [email protected]

Mail GPO Box 1473, Melbourne VIC 3001

May Day March and Rally

Sunday 7th May at 11am at Hyde Park North

More info from Warren Smith on 02 9264 5024


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