The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 307 19 May 2006  

Open for Business?
While our focus in recent months has rightly been on the federal political arena, the first skirmish in the battle for rights for NSW workers will occur at the state election, due in just nine months.


Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Reverend Jim Wallis is leading a crusade to take the moral debate into the public arena.

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Government has begun a series of workshops to sell its WorkChoice vsision. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Lockout!
Jim Comerford’s eyewitness account of the 15-month Lockout of 10,000 New South Wales miners in1929-1930 records the inside story of Australia’s most bloody and bitter industrial conflict

Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Professor Ron McCallum argues the WorkChoices laws are built on a fundamental fiction.

Politics: Labor Pains
Labor has dealt itself out of the crucial workplace relations debate by failing to articulate a credible policy alternative to Howard’s new WorkChoices legislation, argues Mark Heearn and Grant Michelson

Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Evan Jones pays tribute to John Kenneth Galbraith, a big man who never stopped arguing that economics should serve the public good, not create public squalor.

Corporate: House of Horrors
Anthony Keenan takes a tour of Sydney’s notorious, Asbestos House, courtesy of Gideon Haig.

History: Clash Of Cultures
Neale Towart with a new take on Mayday through the words of a punk icon

International: Childs Play
An ILO report into Child Labour shows some progress is being made to curb this gobal scurge .

Culture: Folk You Mate!
Phil Doyle dodges Morris Dancers to find signs of Working Life at the National Folk Festival in Canberra over the Easter Weekend.

Review: Last Holeproof Hero
Finally, a superhero who has worked out how to wear his underpants. Nathan Brown ogles V for Vendetta


 Laughing All The Way To MacBank

 Perth Apartments Go Like a Bomb

 AWAs - Just Say No!

 Andrews Puts Contracts on Families

 Safety Laws Mine New Depths

 Builder Threatens Homes

 Beazley to Halt Maxi-Scam

 Umpire Stumps Minister

 Worker Dumped Over Casual Affair

 Councils Trash Workers

 Union Journo Escapes Fiji

 Canucks Crash Howard’s Party


The Soapbox
Albo's Meltdown
Labor's environment spokesman Antony Albanese argues that Chrernobyl is one reason why the ALP should stand firm on nuclear.

The Locker Room
A Sort Of Homecoming
Phil Doyle plays to the whistle.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West reports from Macquarie Street on some strange collective acction.

 Psychometric Testing for Bullies
 Pleased with Beazley
 What is Working Class
 National Day of Protest
 Tax Cuts
 Independent Contractors
 Drought Proofing
 Higher Profile for Labor
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees



Open for Business?

While our focus in recent months has rightly been on the federal political arena, the first skirmish in the battle for rights for NSW workers will occur at the state election, due in just nine months.

The NSW election pits a three-term government with a new leader who wants to maintain state industrial powers against a three-time loser with a new leader who want to hand those powers over to Canberra.

On Work Choices, the NSW government has done all it should; led the charge amongst the states to shore up the state system, passed legislation to make it harder for a hostile takeover and run the constitutional arguments through the High Court.

NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca, in particular, has read the politics and connected the dots from IR to family values, creating clear differences between the government and an Opposition that will toe the Canberra line.

If only the battle lines for the March election were this clear.

The X factor is a perception being driven from within the government itself that the Labor Government is exposed on the economy. Driving this fear is the fact that a short-term, cyclical deficit is budgeted for next year.

To put this into perspective, this shortfall will represent less than half of one per cent of the state's GDP and is linked to a downturn in the property market, a decision to scrap a number of taxes and, to its credit, a decision to pay public servants decent wages.

These numbers have created something of a panic at Macquarie Street, with our much loved Treasurer sharpening the knife for job cuts and looking for anything not nailed down for privatisation.

Forget that the biggest political issue facing the NSW Government is a perceived erosion of public services due to under-investment over many years by treasurers desperate for surpluses, the focus of all political angst is the budget bottom line.

This mindset has driven a shift in broader messaging and policy: the 'Open for Business' catchphrase being seen as defining motif of the Iemma Administration.

It is this attitude that seems to be behind an ill-conceived push to water down occupational health and safety laws, ending the strict liability requirement on employers at the behest of the business lobby.

That the discussion paper on changes that would make it much harder to prosecute negligent managers and directors was circulated as the Beaconsfield rescue was in full throttle is an unfortunate coincidence.

The broader political question though, is why choose now to cuddle up to an employer lobby that is still licking the cream of its lips after the WorkChoices coup d'etat?

Regular Workers Online readers will be familiar with the analysis of American pollster Vic Fingferhut (see issue 272), developed over four decades of research, that the frame of the debate decides elections.

In simple terms, conservative parties win elections on the economy - regardless of the merits of the policies; left of centre parties win on services delivered to people.

While there could be a case that budget trimming is needed to neutralise the economy attack from the Conservatives, there is no logical argument for making a crusade out of it.

Next time the Treasurer does a victory lap around cutting jobs, don't think of it as economically smart, it's just politically dumb, handling the Opposition the playing field that suits it best,

State Labor has its winning election strategy - workers rights and public services; the less focus on the budgetary heroics and the interests of the business community over the coming months the better for all of us.

Peter Lewis



*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 307 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 19 May 2006

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online