The-has-been-that-never-was surfaced again this week, putting 'conflict' back in the phrase 'conflict of interest'.
Ziggy Switkowski, fresh from his success with the Telstra share price, has been appointed as Officer of the Wedge for the master of the pointless distraction, Dear Leader Howard himself.
Howard correctly pointed out that Uncle Ziggy is "a proven person in the commercial area".
He omitted to elaborate that what Ziggy had proven was his ability to send a share price a long way south and take a gold plated telecommunications network and replace it with two tin cans and a piece of string.
Ziggy is a nuclear physicist, but it is kind of reassuring that he ended up as a telecommunications executive, anyone as incompetent as Ziggy would be downright dangerous left alone with a nuclear reactor.
After he screwed up his job at Telstra, Ziggy escaped the lynch mob by landing himself a gig with the cuddly folk over at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, who recently produced a report that - surprise, surprise - found out that nuclear power is a jolly good thing.
Which is a bit like Bookmakers holding an inquiry into whether or not gambling is a good thing.
So, in the interests of providing people with a distraction from various wheat board scandals, penny pinching and the new slavery laws, Dear Leader Howard turned to Ziggy to head an impartial inquiry into a foregone conclusion on whether or not we would buy a really, really big microwave oven.
Luckily Ziggy is apparently keeping what he calls an open mind about the foregone conclusion. This is a relief, as someone from a parallel universe like Ziggy could come up with something very imaginative in the area of power generation left to his own devices.
Whether or not Ziggy is keen on building something that will wipe out an area the size of Albury-Wodonga and render it uninhabitable for 75,000 years is a moot point.
Howard is no more interested in having a debate about nuclear power than he is interested in Morris Dancing, what he really needs is a toothless attack dog to savage the anti nuclear lobby with a wet lettuce and get some good old fashioned green baiting back in the papers to stop all this reality that is creeping in.
And Ziggy is the perfect man for the job - Smithers to Howard's Monty Burns.
If they were interested in policy development - which they're not - we'd have a debate about all the energy alternatives, including harnessing hot air from failed Telco executives, surely an inexhaustible energy supply if ever there was one.
In the meantime Ziggy Switkowski And the Spiders From Mars will go through the motions, calling for submissions, holding panels and generally making themselves useless.
Luckily the taxpayer will foot the bill, which saves the Federal Government from having to spend more money on fluff and bubbles like infrastructure, education and hospitals, when we know that what we really need is another inquiry with a foregone conclusion.
Perhaps we could have an inquiry into how much taxpayers dosh can be pissed up against the wall creating a wedge in order to distract people from the fact that Ziggy's erstwhile masters are robbing the country blind.
Hanssen brushed repeated pleas for female facilities until the teenager quit, her boyfriend said.
"I asked Hanssen twice, in person, to provide a female toilet and told him the conditions were disgusting," labourer Josh Denford, told Workers Online.
"Eventually, I wrote him a letter and stuck it on the windscreen of his car but nothing happened.
"Kelly was the only woman at Terrace Rd and she had to share a toilet with 100 blokes. It was completely unfair."
Personal accounts of Hanssen horrors have started to filter out of WA since an anonymous employee poured cold water over the magnate's defence of his working conditions, last Friday.
A posse of journalists saw the labourer tip a mug of water over Hanssen and ask him how he liked working in the rain, during a media conference, outside one of his apartment projects.
Hanssen, an activist supporter of Canberra's IR agenda, has been at the centre of controversy since he was sprung importing Filipinos and Chinese, and working them seven days a week a week for around half what a WA construction worker would get.
Locals he does employ come through Construct Labour Solutions - formerly Tricord Personnel and, before that, Tricord Realty - and are classed as "independent contractors".
The manoeuvre allows Tricord, and Hanssen, to undercut other builders by absolving themselves of insurance, super, holidays and other liabilities.
According to the CFMEU, almost all workers that Construct provides are young and green, yet when skilled workers call Construct's employment ads in the West Australian, they're told that there's no work available in the Perth CBD. And the arrangement also muddies the water with regard to OH&S responsibilities.
But it wasn't just the facilities that drove Denford and his girlfriend away from Finbar Hanssen jobs.
Both suffered accidents at work and came to believe conditions were downright dangerous.
Denford was left swinging five metres above the ground when a crane tagline flicked back and hoisted him by the wrist.
"I was dogging (riding the hook) and rigging. I was loving it but I didn't have any tickets or experience," he said.
"We were lifting a tonne up when the tagline lashed back and hoisted me off the ground. It shook me up quite a bit, I can tell you.
"I had heard of plenty of injuries but the people just disappeared and you never saw them again."
Kelly, who didn't want her surname used, was employed to lag pipes but soon found herself doing scaffolding.
The teenager had a fall and crushed a nerve in her elbow.
Denford said he never held an industry green card until he left Hanssen's employment and completed a course at the CFMEU training centre.
Another Hanssen escapee said he earned $600 a week more since moving to a job covered by a union agreement.
Mike Bacci, 30, slammed the independent contractor set-up as a "complete sham".
He revealed that Construct made massive deductions out of wages that were already well shy of industry standards.
Workers are promised flat payments of around $23 an hour for 50-55 hour weeks, he said.
But Tricord rips back up to $5 an hour to cover insurance, super and expenses.
No standard safety gear is provided. Employees have to fork out for their own helmets, boots, gloves and glasses.
"I'm a bloody labourer," Bacci says, "who wants to contract themselves out as a labourer?
"He's found a scam and he's working it. I got $20 an hour, flat, and out of that they deducted $1 an hour for insurance and I had to pay my own super.
"They had me in charge of a steel fixing crew but I didn't have a clue.
"They give me a pair of nips and a reel, and off I went."
Bacci says those lack of standards could have serious implications for Hanssen projects, down the track.
He knew his way around the industry, especially air conditioning, but says he learned steel fixing by trial and error with minimal supervision.
"I know we made some mistakes but the engineer never checked. It's a bit late to go back when they're up to the fifth floor," he said.
Bacci lasted five months and warned others to think twice about working for the company, even as a stop-gap measure.
"Experienced blokes just won't stay. I must have seen 40 good tradesmen come and go while I was there," he said.
"Health and safety is probably the worst thing. I was there three months before I had an OH&S induction and it was the storeman who carried it out.
"I went down a hole which wasn't covered myself."
Employees told Workers Online the most visible shortcomings were lack of fall protection and uncovered steel rods.
Foxtel's contracts with Cable installers Silcar (Siemens-Theiss) and ABB will continue until December, even though they were due to expire this month.
The move will see future contracts, believed to be with different companies, fall under the Federal Government's impending Independent Contractors Act.
CEPU Organiser Shane Murphy said it was a cynical ploy by Foxtel, which is jointly owned by Telstra, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Jamie Packer's PBL, to keep down the conditions of sub-contractors.
"Foxtel had a fright when subbies fought together during the last attempt to slash wages three years ago," Murphy said.
In 2003, sub-contractors - many retrenched employees of installation companies - were able to fight off an attempt by Siemens-Theiss and ABB to cut job rates by 20 per cent after turning to the CEPU.
But Murphy said the increased price of petrol and other expenses meant the pressure was on to have pay-rates kept up.
"Subbies are doing it tough and John Howard's laws will eliminate any rights they have left to seek a fair deal."
The Independent Contractors Act - due to be unmasked this month - is expected to deny contractors the right to be represented by unions; to declare dependent contractors independent, and to move them out of the jurisdiction of industrial instruments or industrial commissions.
Leon Bulgarelli was one of 14 Townsville staff ferried to hospital by ambulance after a March power surge left him with a burst eardrum and internal haemorrhaging.
He was hospitalised again, last Monday, after being struck at his River Quays desk by another power surge.
The Public Sector Union's Rose Boothroyd said the site has had a history of power surges, with up to eight unreported surges since March.
In April last year, one worker was injured so badly she suffered permanent brain damage.
Boothroyd said the dangerous conditions had inspired people to vote with their feet.
"One year ago, just after the first incident we had close to 170 working in the area - today there are less than 80," the CPSU organiser said. "People are scared to come to work."
Victims of power surges can experience nausea and dizziness, loss of balance, blurred vision, disorientation and memory loss, for up to three months.
"Typically an operator will hear a noise and then get a sensation similar to a static electric shock - but the real damage is done as the current surges through the headset, straight through the ear canal to the inner ear and into the brain," Boothroyd said.
Telstra's Julie-Ann Taylor said initial findings of an investigation showed no problems with the site.
The ACTU is launching a series of TV ads on Sunday featuring real people telling real stories about how WorkChoices has hurt them.
The Cowra meatworkers, embroiled in one of the first WorkChoices battles when their employer tried to sack them and re-hire them on less coin, are featured, as are childcare, retail, council and white collar workers who have all been punted or had their conditions cut as result of the new laws.
A second series of ads features a family confronting the reality of AWAs, before viewers are asked 'how will WorkChoices affect your family'?
Unions also have a raft of resolutions before the conference, addressing issues as diverse as workplace safety, the impact of WorkChoices, the rights of cleaners, planning, skills shortages and manufacturing policy.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has put a number of motions before the NSW ALP Employment and Industrial Relations Policy Committee on the impact of WorkChoices, calling on the NSW Government to review legislation to protect apprentices, union right of entry, holidays and sub contractors, as well as addressing certification of 'guest workers'.
The SDA is proposing a motion that would see Labor governments protect workers under 18 from individual contracts.
The Australian Services Union is also moving to stop contracting out by NSW State Government State Owned Corporations, while the United Services Union is leading a charge against local councils downsizing or outsourcing services to the community.
The NSW ALP conference is scheduled for Sydney Town hall this weekend.
ACTU secretary Greg Combet will launch the TV ads on Sunday June 11 at 12.30pm at the Unions NSW Auditorium in the Trades Hall Building, Goulburn and Dixon Street, Sydney.
The fears were raised when Finlay Engineering boss, Jim Sutton, confirmed his auto components company was going into administration, last week.
He made his announcement five weeks after sacking the shop steward and another union activist, for smirking, then dropping sub-standard AWAs on those left standing.
Twenty five of the 28 remaining staff signed contracts that contained barely 140 words and reduced redundancy entitlements from three weeks a year, to 14 weeks maximum.
The AMWU has asked the Office of Workplace Services to investigate individual contracts that strip employees of around $500,000 they would have been entitled to under their union-negotiated collective agreement.
AMWU Victorian secretary, Dave Oliver, called the move a "rort".
"You only have to look at the sequence of events. He sacks the delegates, introduces AWAs the same day, then closes the door five weeks later with a minimum saving of half a million," Oliver said.
"This is John Howard's new world where genuine agreements can be undercut at will. Where's all the protections he spent $55 million advertising last year?"
When Sutton sacked the delegates, and another worker on sick leave, he gloated, on radio, that Howard's regime had given him unprecedented "control of his workforce".
A community protest forced him to reinstate all three men and, last week, he blamed the AMWU for the closure and job losses.
Oliver called that claim "political grandstanding".
He said mismanagement, lack of investment, and federal government's open door policy to cheap auto components were the real reasons behind Finlay's demise.
Oliver described conditions inside the West Heidelberg factory as "Dickensian".
Other factors that Sutton appeared to have overlooked included:
- His insistence, to the IRC 13 months ago, that he wanted out and the business was on the market
- The fact that Finlay Engineering had been in administration as recently as two years ago
- The agreement of employees to accept a five-year wage freeze
- The fact that, at the time of closure, staff had been whittled down to 28, from around 100, and that only four of those remaining were union members
Fed up with constant staff shortages the railworkers took their campaign to commuters last week, with a leaflet calling on the Iemma government to lift its game.
The campaign follows revelations that up to 25 positions are unfilled at Central, alone.
Railworkers took Railcorp to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in a bid to bring staffing up to standard
Their leaflet pointed out that security at Central was compromised through a lack of staff to monitor CCTV cameras and that frail, disabled and elderly passengers were unable to get assistance when they needed it.
Toilets and other public areas were unable to be kept clean, and there was not enough adequately qualified first aid officers to ensure passenger safety.
"In my 30 years as an official I have never seen it so bad that staff have felt the need to seek commuter support to ensure passenger safety and customer service standards are maintained," says RTBU Branch Secretary, Nick Lewocki. "The state of the toilets is disgusting and a health hazard.
"To leave disabled passengers without assistance is deplorable. To compromise the safety of staff and passengers in this day age is unacceptable.
"If the Government can find billions of dollars to replace ageing infrastructure surely it can find funds to ensure adequate customer services and safety across the network."
Greer Industries used sack-at-will provisions in WorkChoices, to show Karen Palmer the door, last week.
The company, which employs less than 100 people, is allowed to unjustifiably sack staff, under Kevin Andrews' legislation.
However, the AMWU is promising to hold it to account through court action that will argue Palmer has been the victim of age discrimination.
"Karen had a spotless record. She had worked there for 14 years without a warning or any other disciplinary action," organiser Tony Mavromatis, explained.
"She had just overcome a shoulder injury, sustained at work, to get back on the job as soon as possible.
"They told her, and me, she was a liability but have refused to state reasons for her dismissal in writing.
"This is a classic case of a small employer using the new laws to get rid of a person because of her age."
AMWU members protested outside the Coolaroo wire and tube fabrication plant, last week.
Mavromatis said Palmer was standing up to the ordeal well with the support of family and friends.
"Karen's a strong person. She was shocked by her treatment and she is determined to fight back," he said.
Jin Taek Park came to Australia on a working holiday visa and has been doing hour, six day weeks for eight months doing tiling work on a flat rate of $12 an hour.
His employer, Choil Tile Company, did not pay him for his last two weeks.
Workers Online understands Park has recovered thousands of dollars in a confidential settlement following the intervention of the CFMEU.
"As horrific as Mr Park's story is, his case is just one of thousands where guest workers have been imported from overseas and forced to work for a fraction of local wages," CFMEU NSW Secretary Andrew Ferguson said. "This level of exploitation is commonplace and the Government's continued failure to reign in the scheme means thousands of Australian workers remain unemployed while cheap guest workers are being used to slash local wages.
"The CFMEU believes this is a deliberate attempt to lower labour standards in Australia, and we are demanding the government guarantee Australian workers of any background proper training, job opportunities and decent wages."
Project staff disturbed people who had busted locks to gain entry to the offices of the aid organisation, which is supported by Australia's union movement.
An APHEDA supported vocational training centre, Knua Buka Hatene ("Place for learning/knowing" in the local Tetum language) was also damaged, along with several vehicles.
Four East Timorese APHEDA staff are reportedly safe, although fears are held for the houses and vehicles used by the aid organisation's staff.
"I saw the refugees on television last night. They were all crying, the old people and the children. So much that I started crying too. People ran there with nothing, just the clothes on their bodies," says Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA local office manager Elisabeth Lino de Araujo
"This has been a political problem, but those who suffer are the people. People here have worked so hard since 1999 to rebuild their houses, to rebuild their lives, and they have sacrificed so much. They are not ready to leave the refugee camps, they don't want to risk losing any more."
"We are currently receiving daily updates from our staff and partners on the ground in East Timor regarding the security situation there," says Peter Jennings, Executive Officer Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA. "This unrest shows that vocational education and employment generating activities for young males in East Timor is more important than ever.
"We must redouble our efforts and commitment to skills training in East Timor and support our local partner organisations in their rebuilding and reconciliation process."
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA has launched an appeal so that the people of East Timor can rebuild their lives after the recent unrest.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA has a secure online donation form at https://secure.fantasticone.com/apheda/order_form.php
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA is planning to provide additional support to its partner organisations in East Timor to help rebuild infrastructure and restore confidence.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA also operates a toll free number 1800 888 674 or doners can send a cheque made out to APHEDA Inc. with a note saying that it is for the East Timor Appeal.
In the wake of controversial plans by a WA builder to import 170 overseas workers, Vanstone confirmed the guest worker scheme was about holding down union pay rates.
"(Some parties) are opposed to the recruitment drive because it opens up the industry to other pools of employees, which undermines the unions' ability to exploit high wages amid the skills shortage," the Senator told the West Australian newspaper.
Her comments echo those of Gerry Hanssen, the builder who has been given the thumbs up to import 53 Chinese and Filipino guest workers. He says guest workers are used to undermine conditions and wages won by union members.
Hanssen, who has applied to import more than 100 more "guest workers", has admitted he will pay them less than half the current going rate.
Hanssen's administration manager, Dick Smith, told ABC radio another attraction was that foreign workerers did what they were told.
"I'm not saying they're of a lower level of intelligence or anything like that," Smith said. "It just seemed that they could do one task and not want to do something different until they were told to do something different."
The Federal Government and business groups have previously been coy on the issue, defending skilled visas on the basis of companies' inability to find skills in Australia.
Over 80,000 vulnerable Australians could lose services because of Canberra's refusal to match state funding for award pay increases in the community sector.
Services facing the axe include supported accommodation services (refuges) for women, children and families; home and community services, such as meals on wheels, neighbour aid, community transport and home help; and legal services for low-income earners.
Refuges play a vital role in helping women facing domestic violence, while home and community services are a lifeline for many older and disabled people.
The Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) says almost 7000 front line community service organisations in NSW face closure unless the Federal Government follows the NSW Government's lead and jointly funds wage increases for staff.
"The decision by the NSW government to fund wage increases for community services staff will help to keep the doors open of the 7000 non government organisations delivering vital human services across this state," says NCOSS Director, Mr Gary Moore. "However, the commonwealth government has so far refused to spend an extra cent on meeting the Award. This leaves joint funded programs still under threat.
"While Mr Costello sits on a budget surplus of $10.8 billion, community organisations that provide help to people with disability will be struggling to meet legal obligations to their workers.
"Homeless services, women's refuges and free legal services all face the same fate."
NCOSS costs the shortfall for home and community care services at $3.5 million per year for a program that has a total budget of $450 million.
The Australian Services Union has backed NCOSS, slamming Costello's priorities.
"Costello is happy to fund huge superannuation payouts and tax cuts for high income earners but he wont give front line services the money they need to help the frail elderly," says ASU Secretary Sally McManus.
In the wake of the apology, the Commission revealed it had considered contempt action against Andrews for his actions surrounding the NSW State Wage Case.
The full bench said political statements made by Andrews, whilst he was formally intervening in the case, had had the potential to bring the commission into disrepute.
The bench described Andrews' public comments as "ill advised" and "improper".
That matter appeared to have been resolved when the Solicitor General, David Bennett, QC, issued an apology on behalf of Andrews.
It was delivered after the Minister ignored repeated directions to address the substance of its demand that consideration of Unions NSW four percent claim be held over.
However, the Commonwealth has now pulled out of the case, which resumes this week.
NSW IR Minister, John Della Bosca, described the last minute withdrawal as "spineless and deceitful'.
"After demanding to be heard, the Commwealth ignored repeated direction to address the substance of its claim," Della Bosca said.
"They cannot defend the fact that they want to deny low paid workers and their families, in NSW, a wage increase.'
Meanwhile, a DEWR officer has revealed that the feds have already spent $314,441.51 in legal costs to try and block minimum wage movements.
Workplace Relations Policy Group GM, John Kovacic, said that figure would rise as their were still invoices from counsel and solicitors, Blake Dawson Waldron, to come.
While the Australia Government draws ICFTU censure for its attempts to screw down living standards and job security, it barely rates against the efforts of fellow travellers in countries like Colombia, Iraq and Guatemala.
Colombia, again, headed the league table for murdering trade unionists with another 70 lives taken.
The Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights Violations revealed 115 activists were killed in 2005 with the US's closes South American ally accounting for two thirds of the deaths.
The reports says nearly 10,000 people were sacked for trade union involvement, and nearly 1700 were detained.
Some Arabian Gulf countries ban trade unions altogether while Iraq, Iran, El Salvador, Djibouti, china, Cambodia, Guatemala, Zimbabwe and Burma were all pinged for various forms of repression.
In Australia, the report says, new laws deprived the country's workforce of fundamental protections.
"The report reveals disturbing trends, especially for women, migrant workers and those who work in the public sector," ICFTU general secretary, Guy Ryder, said.
"The death toll was slightly less than last year, but we are witnessing increasingly severe violence and hostility against people who stand up for their rights.."
Full report: www.icftu.org/survey2006.asp?language=EN
The figures were contained in a Queensland Council of Unions submission presented to Professor Ian Harper's new low-wage body, in Brisbane.
The analysis showed that if minimum pay rates had simply kept up with inflation, over the past decade, people on the minimum would be about $1.50 an hour better off.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, said the changed arrangements meant more than 1.6 million low paid Australians were suffering an effective wage freeze.
June 7 marked 12 months since the last AIRC annual adjustment and Harper's body shows no sign of boosting rates any time soon.
"While prices continue to go up, the real value of wages for low paid people is going down," Combet said.
"If the Howard Government had not abolished the AIRC's role in setting minimum wages, award workers could now be getting around $20 a week extra to help with the cost of living."
Harper was hand-picked to head the new body by Prime Minister, John Howard, after establishing his credentials as a right-wing economist.
Prior to his appointment he had attacked the concept of "fairness" in minimum wage considerations and argued that America was better off than Australia, economically, because it hadn't tried to suppress sweat shops.
NSW secretary, Andrew Ferguson, says the Advocate, solely responsible for certifying collective agreements, is striking out anything that aids collective representation.
Ferguson is furious about the advocate declaring paid delegate's meetings, organised by Unions NSW, "prohibited content".
The Advocate is aggressive in ruling out paid leave to attend any union gatherings, including safety training, even where employers agree.
But Ferguson says it is wrong, in law, in the case of Unions NSW.
"The legislation is clear. We accept legally we cannot have a clause that allows workers to attend a paid union meeting," Ferguson said.
"But the statute is equally clear about what constitutes a union. Unions NSW is not registered under the act and cannot, legally, be considered a trade union.'
Ferguson said the OEA had put lines through dozens of agreed clauses in CFMEU agreements.
The Advocate, Peter McIlwain, made it clear in Senate Estimates, last week, that he checked collective agreements for prohibited content but not check non-union individual contracts that he knew undercut minimums "protected by law".
McIlwain told the Senate that while no individual contracts had been checked, 250 had been analysed and every one of them scrapped at least one protected condition.
"The Employment Advocate has the final say on anything we negotiate," Ferguson said. "There is no appeal, his say is final.
"If we include anything he doesn't like we face massive fines but he doesn't even check individual contracts.
"It's a complete abuse of process."
An Urgent Appeal From Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA
We need to raise money immediately so that the people of East Timor can rebuild their lives after the recent unrest.
Please send a generous gift to assist local organisations in rebuilding a peaceful, free and productive society in East Timor.
Click here to donate using our secure online donation form https://secure.fantasticone.com/apheda/order_form.php Select East Timor from the drop down menu under 'section C. Once Off donations'.
OR phone our toll free number 1800 888 674
OR send a cheque made out to APHEDA Inc. with a note alerting us that it is for the East Timor Appeal
The recent conflict in East Timor has severely disrupted the day-to-day lives of the population and has been a blow to the confidence of this young independent nation. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA would like to provide additional support to its partner organisations in East Timor to help rebuild infrastructure and restore confidence. Support from donors like yourself can help make this happen.
Union Aid Abroad -APHEDA will need to quickly respond to the needs of local partner organisations in East Timor when they are able to resume their work. These key civil society organisations focus on strengthening vocational skills, developing the union movement, resolving conflict peacefully and informing the population through independent media.
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA's partner organisations are likely to need assistance in the following: Repairing any damaged infrastructure or equipment Replacing stolen or damaged goods Restarting their programs Developing programs that encompass reconciliation and peace building activities using community radio and theatre groups Providing vocational and income generating skills to unemployed young men so they feel they have a share in the future of their community.
You can help by donating:
$1000 - To fund a vocational training workshop targeting young unemployed males $500 - To fund a theatre tour to rural villages to promote reconciliation $100 - To partially fund training for community radio stations on developing programs that support peace building and reconciliation $50 - To help make a gate to secure an office building $30 - To help replace stolen/destroyed office equipment
By donating to East Timor you will be helping the traumatised people of this nation redevelop confidence and hope that their nation can continue to grow and prosper.
You will be supporting programs that equip individuals and communities in East Timor with skills and experiences to create a peaceful, free and productive society.
Your support for the people of East Timor is so important for them at this difficult and unsettling time.
Sydney Trade Union Choir
I am a member of the Sydney Trade Union Choir and wonder if any people out there would be interested in joining. You don't have to be a great singer. The main thing is that you are interested in social justice issues. We do many exciting gigs where like-minded people appreciate the sentiments, as well as venues where people do not. It's exciting and I believe makes a difference. All voices are needed, tenors most of all, but sopranos, altos and basses are all very, very welcome. Come along and enjoy yourself while doing the right thing for your country and your fellow Australians!
pat francis [email protected]
0 Invitation to 'Our Common Wealth' Launch
The launch of the New Matilda Our Common Wealth project marks the beginning of a shift in Australia's public policy debate.
We believe there is a policy vacuum in Australia. Too often policies are ad hoc, thrown together in time for an election campaign or developed in response to the latest political crisis.
It's time for policies based on Australia's long term interests and values.
'Our Common Wealth' sets out the values and principles on which policies should be based. It's an expression of where we stand.
Join Wendy Harmer, as the MC, Quentin Dempster, ABC journalist, John Robertson, Unions NSW, Virginia Young, The Wilderness Society, Professor John Dwyer, UNSW, Professor Denise Bradley, Vice Chancellor, UniSA, and John Menadue AO, Chair, New Matilda, ...in calling for a change of direcation in Australian public policy.
Location: Jubilee Room, State Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney www.newmatilda.com.au Time: 12pm - 1pm Date: Tuesday 13th June
RSVP by Thursday 8th June: p) 02 9211 1635 m) 0432 360 234 e) [email protected]
Public Protest and the Law
UTS:Community Law Centre hosts Public Protest & the Law Workshop with Environmental Defenders Office & Legal Aid - 14 June 2006:
6pm - 7.30pm.
This is a free practical workshop about legal issues confronting people involved in public protest. Hosted by the UTS Community Law Centre in conjunction with the Environmental Defender's Office and NSW Legal Aid Commission.
This workshop is of particular relevance for those wanting to be informed about the rights and obligations concerning public protests.
All participants will receive a free advance copy of the EDO publication "Community Protest and the Law: A Handbook for Campaigners in NSW" (forthcoming).
Fact sheets by the UTS:CLC will also be available.
The workshop will include discussion of:
* Common criminal charges
* Police powers and responsibilities
* Arrest, detention and bail
* Getting legal advice and preparing for court
* Civil liability for defamation and interfering with business activities
Light refreshments will be provided following the workshop.
Building 5 Level 1
University of Technology Sydney.
About the Organisers:
The UTS CLC provides a free legal service for all UTS Staff and Students and is committed to community based legal research, law reform and policy development.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is a community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law.
The NSW Legal Aid Commission (LAC) is the state government agency responsible for providing legal aid and assistance to disadvantaged people in New South Wales.
To register, or for more information, please contact: Tisha Dejamanee, EDO Education Assistant, on 02 9262 6989 or email [email protected]
Banner Making Workshop is mooted for Friday June 16th @2.00pm @ 6 Station Street Katoomba Home of Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre. This workshop is being held in preparation for Your Rights at Work Rally @ Blacktown on 28 June, 2006. This would be a good chance to meet the leaders of Community Groups with a viw to involving them in a belated united effort on Howards IR.
Work, Industrial Relations and Popular Culture Conference
Monday 25 September 2006.
Brisbane Work and Industry Futures QUT, and the Department of Industrial Relations Griffith University are convening a one-day conference that explores Work, Industrial Relations and Popular Culture.
David Pope, the cartoonist behind the Heinrich Hinze cartoons will be Keynote Speaker with his presentation - "Is the pen mightier than s356? Cartoons and Work" (www.scratch.com.au)
We welcome any paper that explores the manner in which popular culture is used by unions, management or policy makers or alternatively, how work and industrial relations is represented within popular culture.
Sub-themes for the conference include: - Policy, Influence and Modern Mediums - Which is Reality, Work or TV? - Popular Music: Is it the End of the Working Class Man? - Working in the Movies: What do we see? - Popular Culture as a Teaching Tool. Call for Papers. Abstracts are due 14 July 2006 Full papers are due 11 September 2006 Location; Southbank, Brisbane.
The convenors would welcome participants to submit proposed titles earlier to assist in preparations. For further information please contact Keith Townsend ([email protected]) or David Peetz ([email protected])
Rekindling the Flames of Discontent: How the Labour and Folk Movements Work Together
A Conference - Dinner - Concert
The Brisbane Labour History Association is holding a Conference/Dinner/Concert on Saturday 23 September. This event will explore the historical relationship between the labour movement and the folk movement in Australia with a particular emphasis on Queensland. Why? To celebrate the history of the interaction between the Folk and Labour movements, and promote its longevity. When? Saturday 23 September. Conference from 1pm. Concert from 7pm.
Where? East Brisbane Bowls Club, Lytton Rd, East Brisbane, Next to Mowbray Park
It is still in the formative stages, but to date the following are confirmed:
1-5pm CONFERENCE (will include music with the presentations):
Doug Eaton on John Manifold & the Communist Arts Group in Brisbane, Brisbane Realists
Bob & Margaret Fagan on Sydney Realist Writers
Mark Gregory on trade union & labour songs/music, nationally/internationally
Lachlan & Sue on international perspectives
5 - 7pm Drinks followed by DINNER
7 - 11pm CONCERT
Combined Unions Choir
Bob and Margaret Fagan
Coast Goes Online
Check out the brand new Central Coast Your Rights at Work Website www.centralcoastrightsatwork.com.au
Sorry this is so long, but you may be interested in the read.
In a recently published (Network Ten, 25 May 2006, 3pm AEST) law judgment, her Honour Judge Judith Scheindler determined against a landlord suing for the cost of a broken bed. Scheindler J ended her judgment by admonishing the plaintiff: �Nothing lasts forever.�
The litigants before her Honour�s Court in the State of New York were icons of New Christian Century America: two young, super-size, self-confident matrons.
The plaintiff was 30s, waved platinum tresses unfolding beyond her shoulders, grey-blue eyes wanting over dimpling pout, a contralto siren to justice, arms� gesturing without pastel chiffons.
Her litigation quarry, the tenant of her furnished room, was the same age, a black woman, hair short, curled, loose and tinted light tips, shaking over giggles at the landlord�s testimony. The plaintiff wanted to demonstrate the black woman was morally liable.
�It looked like, you know, she was playing mambo on the bed,� was the blonde�s testimony. This reduced the defendant and the audience to bending sniggering. Only the white lady plaintiff was unamused. She repeated the mambo insinuation. That was even after the defendant had told how the bed had broken as she had sat on it with her daughter, to brush the youngster�s hair before school.
Neither mother nor daughter was hurt in the fall.
While the defendant was later working away, the landlord inspected her room and on seeing the broken bed, had telephoned the defendant, and demanded reparation, which the defendant refused. She maintained her refusal and moved out, without any rent owing. The claim was merely for the cost of the bed.
The stout blonde plaintiff admitted to Judge Judy that the bed had been broken before the lease. The plaintiff assured the Court her boyfriend, a present brunette prepster, had repaired the bed, sturdily with �solid wood�, which would have withstood all use, except the implicitly reprehensible �mambo�.
From the legal practitioner�s point of view, this is a basic case, with a question of tort in the destruction of the bed, and that question within a further question of the contract of the lease of the furnished room. Contract and tort are two of the species of the genus of laws known as common law. In these long years after 9/11, American and Australian audiences have been assured that common law, especially tort law, has been an instrument of the devil, thus justifying the raft of parliamentary Acts known as �tort law reform�, which have restored global insurance funds.
But common law embraces more than the liability of occupiers. Within the broader ranks of the definitions of common law, as well as contract and tort, there are the laws of the Acts, including the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Australia, and the State of New South Wales, and the Parliaments� licence to publish Bills, the income tax powers, the disposition of properties by testaments, the criminal law, administrative law, and natural justice.
Tort law reform is TV law. It�s law originating from the parliaments as a result of �spin�, or the PR campaigns to influence community and legislator opinion. The resulting paper statutes have meant that ordinary people who get hurt get less money than they did before, and usually you can�t sue the insurance company or Government department. These legislative efforts enshrine a new virtue, �personal responsibility�, which has been invented in this 9/11 legislative frenzy as a standard for other people.
In the case before Judge Judy, the landowner plaintiff was entitled to sue for the cost of the bed property, even though she failed. With tort law reform, such as in New South Wales, and many American States, the black tenant would not have been entitled to sue for her bruises. That�s how personal responsibility works. Black and white.
That personal responsibility has precedent over the common law is patently the parliamentary philosophy, in both Australia and the USA. This new legislative jurisprudence reflects, especially in the United States, the influence of New Christian Natural Law theory, particularly as espoused by the Princeton University McClintock Professor of Jurisprudence, Dr Robert P. George, a distinguished academic and leading American Roman Catholic jurist and author, and Bush appointee.
American First World War Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, in the 1890s, held the professorial chair occupied this past decade by Professor George, who is as well the Ivy League varsity�s Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. The James Madison referred to is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, a signor of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and a co-founder of the Republican Party, as well as fourth President, serving between 1809 and 1817, another graduate of Princeton, when it was known as the College of New Jersey.
Two centuries later, the political jurisprudence of Princeton is firing the zeal of Washington�s lobbies.
According to the Internet�s Wikipedia, �[Professor] George was a principal author of one of the proposed constitutional amendments that would ban same-sex marriage . . .� Professor George condemns abortion vigorously. He decries homosexuality. He is the US President�s legal philosopher. Like President Bush, and many other Americans, Professor George accepts that it is the God of the Bible which guides the United States. He is a member of Opus Dei.
Professor George has a lengthy anthology. He still adheres to his 1998 paper, God's Reasons: The role of religious authority in debates on public policy in which he included this: �In short, many religious people - most informed Catholics and many Protestants and observant Jews - understand reason not only as a truth-attaining power, but as a power by and through which God directs us as individuals and communities in the way of just and upright living. In his formal account of natural law as a participation in what he called the �eternal law�, Aquinas says that although God directs brute animals to their proper ends by instinct, God directs man - made in God's image and likeness and thus possessing reason and freedom - to his proper ends by practical reason through which men grasp the intelligible point of certain possible actions for the sake of ends - goods, values, purposes - which, qua intelligible, provide reasons for choice and action: see St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol
ogiae, I-II, q 91, a 2.�
St Thomas Aquinas lived between 1225 and 1274 in Italy. He is the Roman Catholic Church�s fundamental and foremost legal philosopher.
According to St Thomas: �Consequently the first principle of practical reason is one founded on the notion of good, viz. that �good is that which all things seek after�. Hence this is the first precept of law, that �good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided�. All other precepts of the natural law are based upon this: so that whatever the practical reason naturally apprehends as man's good - or evil - belongs to the precepts of the natural law as something to be done or avoided�: Summa Theologiae, I-II, q 94, a 2.�
Two months after September 11, 2001, Professor George was calling for Americans to go to war, against anyone. For Crisis, an American Roman Catholic forum, the pre-eminent Catholic constitutional lawyer wrote: �In current circumstances, however, the United States and its allies have exhausted every means short of war to deter and disable the forces of international terrorism. The murderous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are powerful evidence that nothing short of war will be sufficient to protect innocent Americans and others from future terrorism.�
Professor George entitled this contribution, Responding Justly to Terrorism. It ended: �Although not all of Bush�s policies are fully in line with Catholic moral and social teaching, he has in his campaign and in the conduct of his office listened respectfully to Catholic voices and sought to learn from the wisdom of Catholic teaching. Indeed, some of his key initiatives seem to be shaped quite directly by principles of Catholic social thought. It is hard to think of a president who has been more interested in what the Church has to say. I hope that in shouldering the profound burden of sending men abroad to kill and die, the president will draw heavily on what the Catholic tradition teaches about principles of justice in warfare. My prayer for him, for our country, and for all who will be affected by his decision is that he will observe these principles strictly. He could do no better for all of us than to do that.�
Professor George profits from private billionaire and Protestant and Roman Catholic pro-life foundation grants, which fund his researches and publications in jurisprudence. Last year, Professor George, and a clutch of his Princeton graduate students, received substantial cash benefice as well as the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation Prize. President Bush appointed the professor to his Council on Bioethics.
Stipends, along with author royalties, accrete to Professor George a private legal practice of the rarest feather, that is, of giving the US Government�s actions moral and legal defense, relying on an unwritten spiritual law, under process of discovery from within and without the documents, the uses of the Ancients.
Professor George enjoys high standing among international Roman Catholics. His lengthy anthology appears on Catholic web sites, including the Ratzinger Fan Club. Former German nationalist youth member, Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI.
According to the Bush Administration�s Bioethics Council�s notes, Professor George enjoys yet another appointment, as he �
This firm of 50 attorneys is headquartered at Charleston, West Virginia, about two hours� drive from the White House and its congressional Rotunda. Robinson and McElwhee clients include AIG, American Electric Power, AT&T, Aventis CropScience, Cabot Corp, Charleston Newspapers, Chicago Title, Citicorp, FMC, Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical, K-Mart, Peabody Energy, USX, and Wal-Mart. The President�s confessor commands prestige.
For the Bush family interests, the view of the Constitution postulated by Professor George offers the prospect of an elevation of the power and immunities of the US executive, compared to the other two branches of the tri-partite American government model, the judiciary in the Supreme Court, and the legislature in Congress.
In his unfolding theses, this professor of thought of law gives Roman Catholic sanctity to the hitherto secular American historical mileposts: Lincoln at Gettysburg, the signings of the Bill of Rights, Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, as well as the Mayflower Puritans landing at Virginia in 1620. From wintry old New England, Professor George finds persuasive natural law spring over the Atlantic and several centuries, direct to sunny Italy, to find in the 13th-century fundamentalist St Thomas Aquinas the reflection of the Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, particularly in his �self-evident� truths.
According to Professor George, �Thomas Jefferson appeals to the law of nature and nature's God in justifying the American Revolution. Most modern commentators agree that the Founders were firm believers in natural law and sought to craft a constitution that would conform to its requirements, as they understood them, and embody its basic principles for the design of a just political order.�
This was in a 2001 talk Natural Law, The Constitution, and Judicial Review published by the Family Research Council, a powerful Washington lobby. Professor George referred to the opinions of another earlier McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, Edward S. Corwin, who in a 1949 speech to international and constitutional law luminaries at Notre Dame University had opined a natural law basis for regarding the US Constitution as more than mere temporary paper statute. This was in the context of preparing the written constitutions of modern Japan and Germany.
Professor Corwin�s constitutional law viewpoint needed to account for the extant jurisprudence of the British positivist John Austin. According to Corwin, just as the uncoded British common law has Divine elements in its misty antiquity and progress, so does the US Constitution, notwithstanding its original limitations.
Half a century later, the current McClintock Professor George is emergent mentor of the jurisprudence of the wannabe American empire. To advance the American nationalist position beyond Professor Corwin�s deference to the English common law, Professor George employs Austin�s positivist measures to steal from the English judges the prestige of the precedents of their Letters Patent. The king�s judges are mere parliamentarians, according to Professor George, of counsel.
�Central to Corwin's account is the idea that the English common law emerged historically as a sort of positive embodiment of the natural law, that is, as a body of law which is the fruit of juristic reason and enjoys its status as law precisely as such. It differs from statutory law inasmuch as its legal status does not derive, as does, say, an act of Parliament, from the sheer will of a lawmaking authority.�
Readers of Professor George�s legal opinions on the Family Research Council web site can also enjoy on another page, a picture of Council members enjoying Oval Office entertainment in the company of the President. There is a link to �Commentary: Judicial Outrage Story # 1,000,000,001�.
Professor George: �From the philosophical viewpoint, however, Corwin's distinction is highly questionable. Common law judges were lawmaking authorities. They, no less than legislators, faced choices between options as to what rules to lay down; like legislators, their stipulations conferred upon the rules they selected the status of binding law. In developing the law of contract, tort, crime, and so forth, they made decisions based in significant measure on judgments as to how the common good of their communities would best be served.�
First Things is a magazine published out of offices on Fifth Ave, New York, by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, which says of itself, �
One such, first published in April 2001, is entitled �What Is Law: A Century of Arguments�. The professor argues the usual suspects: Aristotle, Aquinas, Austin, Bentham, Hart, Hobbes, God. His concluding paragraph predicts the future of American law.
�To stress law�s objectivity and relative autonomy from morality is by no means to deny the Thomistic proposition that just positive law is derived from the natural law. For Thomas himself did not suppose that positive law was anything other than a cultural artifact, a human creation, albeit a creation of great moral worth brought into being largely for moral purposes. Nor did he suppose that a single form or regime of law was uniquely correct for all times and places. His stress on determinationes by which human lawmakers give effect to the requirements of natural law in the shape of positive law for the common good of his community - enjoying, to a considerable extent, the creative freedom Aquinas analogized to that of the architect - reveals his awareness of the legitimate variability of human laws. Whomever Holmes may have had in mind in criticizing those text writers who saw law as a set of deductions from a few axioms of reason, the charge does not apply to Aquinas. In
this, as in so many other respects, the Angelic Doctor was a man of the 20th century and - if I may engage in a bit of prediction and prophecy myself - of the 21st and beyond.�
The Down Under equivalent of Professor George as forthright Roman Catholic natural law theorist is the Melbourne sportsman turned Sydney Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop, George Cardinal Pell, who was naturally or coincidentally in nearby Virginia when Prime Minister John Howard sat down to eat at the Bush White House last month. Cardinal Pell was 80km distant, in Front Royal, Virginia, speaking to graduates of Christendom College.
In a Sydney Sunday Telegraph column on 21 May 2006, Cardinal Pell, or his clerk, wrote: �Political Washington, ruled by the Cheneys and Rumsfelds, is a distant world, and while the billionaires, film stars and ghettos dominate headlines, the secret of America's strength lies in the suburbs and these towns.
�I went for a haircut to Buddy the Catholic barber, a convert in an old shop with a picture of John Wayne on the wall. He explained that �we� the Southerners lost the Civil War and that Southerners were treated nearly as badly as Roman Catholics by the northern secular press. Two of the factors which nourish America's greatness are in evidence in Front Royal: their religious fervour and their commitment to education.�
To the young American graduates of Christendom, nestling in the green bosom of Constitutional America, Cardinal Pell had two messages: one, that Christendom had �nearly� 1,700 years of �positive achievement�, and two, that following 9/11, Christianity had a �new challenge� from Islam. The text of the talk is found at the College website.
Australian readers already know Cardinal Pell brings political clout. St Marys Cathedral, the Sydney Archdiocese�s lovingly hewn ancient sandstone jewel, attracts special grants and exemptions from the Sydney New South Wales Labor Government of Robert Carr and now Morris Iemma, and the Canberra Liberal-National Government of John Howard.
Shortly before the 2004 Australian national Parliament election, former Roman Catholic seminarian and Howard Government Health Minister Tony Abbott met privately at St Marys with Cardinal Pell. The Government afterwards announced a multi-million dollar grant for a new Catholic University in central Sydney, on the grounds of an old Benedictine parish to be renamed Notre Dame, not a kilometre from the world renowned, 150-year old Sydney University. The Cardinal issued a diocesan exhortation to vote for Howard.
Like Professor George, in Washington, in Sydney and abroad, Cardinal Pell adheres to the natural law. Last year, at the Canberra Roman Catholic parish of St Thomas More at suburban Campbell, the Cardinal cited as �more useful today� 19th century papal edicts which condemned any �conscience which rejected God and natural law�.
The Cardinal advocates reforming Australia�s political institutions. Like Professor George, he blames independent judges for many ills, particularly abortion in the United States.
In a 2004 Cambridge University lecture, Cardinal Pell articulated a natural law view, �Conscience: the aboriginal Vicar of Christ�.
According to the Cardinal, �Conscience is not a long-sighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church should cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.�
And, �For these reasons no individual moral decision of conscience, nor, any general conscientious moral teaching, has the primacy ie, is the ultimate judgement or decision. All actions and decisions are judged by conformity to the truth, or even to the Word of God.
�Truth and truth specified as the word of God have primacy. It is interesting that when St Thomas deals with these matters, in his disputed question on truth, it is to a part of our minds called synderesis that he grants infallible knowledge of the human good. Conscientia or conscience is the act of applying that knowledge and this is fallible.�
The word conscience attracts attention among the ordinate of Sydney�s legal professionals, particularly those white wigged and black robed, of counsel, in the equity division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The Court overshadows the City�s Queen�s Square, opposite the convict church of St James and around the corner of the Land Titles Office, to the flying buttresses and millennial spires of St Marys.
Conscience is elementary to any equity cause. The conscience known to Sydney equity lawyers was ancient before England�s 15th century Lord Chief Justice Fortescue. It draws to sources predating Aquinas by more than one thousand years of learned records.
This is the fundamental difference between the jurisprudence of the island of Australia and the USA. Australia, particularly New South Wales, has available a reliable secular juristic inheritance of the power of the conscience of the king as agent of God, the Divine Right. The jurisdiction routinely secures the property of the weak from unrighteous predators, with unremarkable but reasoned, always recorded, regularity. While conscience vitalizes equity, it is available as well in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of NSW.
At the sesquicentenary of the University of Sydney Law School last year, the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the Hon James J Spigelman AC, said this: �Blackstone's Commentaries were the first lectures on the common law ever delivered at Oxford, where he became the first teacher of the common law. For centuries the education of common lawyers was conducted by a medieval apprenticeship system in attorneys� firms or, in the case of barristers, by the Inns of Court, then often referred to as the Third University.� Blackstone wrote his treatise in the second half of the 1760s.
Chief Justice Spigelman is author of papers about the crisis between Westminster and Rome ordained by the unfortunate death in 1170 at Canterbury Cathedral of the Lord Chancellor St Thomas Beckett, in the reign of king Henry II, the first Plantagenet.
�Oxford and Cambridge taught only civil, canon and Roman law until Blackstone. It is not as if that was unrelated to private practice. The jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts was more significant and wide-ranging than common lawyers care to remember,� NSW�s leading juristic officer said.
That jurisdiction and source of power is not available to the United States Supreme Court because of the plain words and circumstances of its founding documents, which expressly reject the incidents of the powers of the office of the king vested by the divine right.
It is this vacuum of sanctity in the United States, above the established forms of equity and the common law, which inspires the flickering candle of the natural law jurisprudence of Professor George, and Cardinal Pell. Their hurdles are formidable. The prize is enormous. That is, to win the right, in the name of Rome and the Republic, to wield with apparent authority the Grace to forgive any presidential lapse. That is not an end in itself. The surrounding jurisprudential miasma in prospect resembles an ecumenical reconciliation between the Pope and his lost but faithful tribes of the Great American Plains.
Another hurdle is that Thomistic Catholicism cannot accommodate five sixths of the world�s immediate population, let alone include all the souls of the faithful, and faithless, departed. Apart from gun laws, another reason Canada is peaceful and the United States is violent is that Canadian judges have a respectable, worked, secular jurisdiction of small mercies, whereas their American counterparts are authorized only to the shrewdness of Solomon.
Before physics� quantum model of elementary particulate, the Dominican St Thomas Aquinas accepted the pre-Galilean geocentric spheres of Ptolemy�s cosmos. He was on the Julian, that is, Caesar�s calendar. Blacks, and whites, and yellows, and browns and pinks were slaves, then, too. The Aquinas Summa was published at the dawn of the Roman Catholic Inquisitions. CSI types of the Inquisition employed other protocols of proof. The Inquisitors were judges appointed by the Pope directly. Significantly, holy orders were an excuse from ordinary inquisition process.
Most different was the trial outcome. Inquisition process presumed guilt. The accused, by the fact of accusation, became obscure to conscience. The only question was expurgation of the shadow. In the United States, this fashion of alternative dispute resolution was engaged most famously in the 17th century witch trials in Shalom, Massachusetts.
The Senator McCarthy-led Congressional inquiries into Communism of the late 1940s and early 1950s exemplify natural law trial process.
Whereas an equity suit might effect forgiveness and remove temptation by relieving the property subject of unconscionable action, natural law simply excludes the offending soul. Professor George and Cardinal Pell want natural law to be the legislated law as well as the constitutional law of both Australia and the United States. Both advocate constitutional change.
Natural law is black and white law. Nonethless, if you read the Summa, you will see natural law serves the eternal law. Aquinas recognized there was something more reflective of the Grace of God than a measured pound of frankincense. He simply wasn�t aware of the Chancery Division.
While Professor George�s Angelic Saint whispered with Aristotle over the vellum at the Vatican, at the outstretched limb of Christendom in misty England, with remnant Druids darkening the western Marches to Wales, king Henry III was finding peripatetic inspiration in the English Roman Catholic king St Edward The Confessor, who died in early 1066, six months before the arrival of William I, and who was canonized a century later. King Edward had strong Saxon and Norman ties. His saintliness inspired the later Plantagenet king to romantic piety, as well as argument over the jurisprudence of the Magna Carta of 1215. These turns of the Conscience vested by right in the king, clarified and recorded by his Lord Chancellor, were available to elucidate a foundation statute, as well as the elder law of Canute borne by the inheritance of St Edward. Because of the various acts of inheritance, this source of jurisdiction of grace is available in Sydney, New South Wales, but not Washington
The Chancery experience has attracted criticism. Dickens for instance, in the first chapter of Bleak House (1853), wrote this of the Chancery Division: �Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth. On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor ought to be sitting here - as here he is - with a foggy glory round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtains, addressed by a large advocate with great whiskers, a little voice, and an interminable brief, and outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where he can see nothing but fog.�
Most international legal science commentators would think first of the Westminster Judicature Acts of the 1870s as a likely interruption to the inheritance in NSW of the Plantagenet chancery jurisdiction. But the jurisdiction came to the antipodes a century before, under the point of the banner staff planted at Sydney�s seaside Kurnell, under command of the king�s commissioned Lieutenant James Cook, RN, on 28 April, 1770, in a mode of solemn enactment recognised by both the Eora people and the traditional of Britain. It was a peaceful day. There was no contract. The Judicature Acts could find no backpacker accommodation at Bondi.
The first paper constitution of New South Wales were Letters Patent of the Crown under Sign Manual in 1787. An endless stream of statutes from Westminster, and in recent decades, from the NSW Parliament in Sydney, has altered and reshaped the State�s nominal Constitution into an unrecognisable document, bar its name.
Independent of the Parliament, the New South Wales Supreme Court maintained the divisional distinction between equity and the common law until 1972 in process, and subsequently in substance, with considerable internationally recognised expertise. In 2006, the equity division of the Sydney Court has commenced its first electronically managed case, where judicial directions of his Honour Justice Ian Gzell QC and parties� submissions are transmitted by email: Hill & Anor v W & F Lechner Pty Ltd  NSWSC 440. Electronic law joins paper, ribbon or rock.
Judicial grace is not the American experience. Note the author�s footnote in Bleak House, where Charles Dickens notes a lord justice remarking, something like: �I didn�t know what to think about this case when it came up 20 years ago, and I am firmly of the same view now.�
Mark Twain�s contemporary relation is: �Lincoln belonged just where he was put.� That was Twain in 1907, not to Abraham Lincoln�s demise, but in praise of the Kentucky birthright of the saviour of the Union.
And that is the common law tradition of American justice, bound to a tragically flawed Constitution by statute and usage, but lacking the eternal jurisprudence to forgive itself.
Natural law lacks the eternity America craves in its strident nationalism. Saluting flags over the slain under sunlit tears does not make a consecrated living body out of any lot of equal voters. That is why common law Judge Judy may only say: �Nothing lasts forever�.
Hypothetically, her Honour Lady Justice Judith Scheindler, KC, of the United Kingdoms of America � a rotational republican monarchy, like Malaysia�s - might have taken the tilt further. Armed with the perogatives, she might have had the jurisprudential tradition to have admonished the blonde plaintiff to the historical shamefulness of the basis of her cause, the notion of property in the outcome of the intimate moments of another of God�s creations.
To foggily recollect somebody or Lord Chancellor Eldon�s admonition: Whoever says there are two sides to every story hasn�t heard the third witness.
By Anthony P. Monaghan*, a retired Sydney barrister, and clerk.
The CFMEU wishes to thank the attendees at the Greens industrial relations forum in Annandale who generously donated $600 to assist five young men who had been exploited by their employer.
The five young Cook Islander's, all teenagers when they arrived in Australia, were regularly beaten by their employer who paid them only $50 a month for two years and forced them to live in his Sydney home.
One of the boys, Sam Kautai, has thousands of dollars in medical bills after he was blinded in one eye, had his jaw and nose broken, partially lost his hearing and was hit with a claw hammer.
The $600 donated will assist these young men as they attempt to rebuild their lives, pay medical costs, undergo training and find new employment with decent employers.
The sad truth is that under the Howard Government's radical work laws many young workers and recent immigrants will suffer similar mistreatment and the hands of greedy employers.
The generous support shown by Inner West residents at last weekends Greens forum proves that despite the cruelty of Howard's workplace laws the community will still stick together to protect the most vulnerable among us.
Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union NSW President
12 Railways St, Lidcombe NSW 2141
G'Day from FRANK
The LETTERS EDITOR.
The CYO, Catholic Youth Organisation was a Catholic Church sponsored Sporting and Cultural group of teenagers.
It was formed after the 1939-1945 war to allow catholic youth to meet and interact with members of the OTHER SEX, and to form long lasting marriages /friendships.
This was post war/pre television/shortages etc., and we had to make our own fun. We conducted football/ netball competitions, ran picnics, sometimes chartering railway carriages to travel to picnic venues.
We also conducted dances and Sydney wide concerts which were held in the Trocadero Ballroom (now defunct).
There were also branch Debutante Balls, where the debs were presented to prominent members of the local gentry.
Hows that for a brief resume.
It was a lot of fun. I met my first wife at one of these functions and we were married for 33 years before she died.
We are not trying to revive the CYO, but just have a good time remembering.
Last year we had our FIRST REUNION for 25 years. It was such a success that attending members asked for another one.
This year it will be held in
DOOLEYS LIDCOMBE CATHOLIC CLUB,
JOHN STREET LIDCOMBE 2141
On SATURDAY 21-10-2006 from 2.00pm until 5.00pm.
Members are then free to either go home or to continue their reminiscing.
If you could find room in your column for this article we would be very grateful.
This function is now open to all former CYO /YOUNGER SET Members, from wherever you belonged, to bring some of your friends with you and renew old memories.
57 YARRAM STREET
LIDCOMBE NSW 2141
Over the years members have lost touch with each other and we are trying to reach as big an audience as possible.
Could you please find space in your column for this item?
message: Like the majority readers of this website I am your average blue collar Australian worker who is also a Union ember .
Having kept myself up to date on all the hype originating from both sides of the political spectrum surrounding new industrial legislation ,I have come to the conclusion that the ACTU should stand alone on fighting Howards attack on us workers . The Labor party will huff and puff hard now to gain our confidence and hopefully that will transpire into votes at the next election , but I believe we will be once again forgotten by them as they have done in the past - Bob Hawke with the airline pilots back in the late eighties . Laurie Beretton introducing enterprize bargaining which destroyed Industrial awards and got the ball rolling towards the mess of eventual AWAs .
Here in SA we just had a election in which the Public Service Union financed a range of TV adds against the Liberals who wanted to trash a large amount of their jobs .What happened almost straight after Labors win ? The Labor Government stabs their supporters in the back and announces PS cutbacks .
As far as Im concerned all these Politicians are the same suit wearing toffee nosed backstabbers . Their carreer paths guide their principles and us Blue Collar workers are paving their path .
Lets stand alone and state our claim , then if a Political Party out there wants our vote - make them sweat for it . We,ve got the numbers , but have we got the guts ?
Unfortunately, I believe we missed a golden opportunity to hit Howard hard by not holding a national strike on Nov 5 last year .
Rallies are nice but ineffective .
Strikes hit the national nerve .
Good or bad they arouse emotion and passion which is what the ACTU needs right now .What is Howard going to do in such an event - throw us all in the can ?
We're hanging on by our finger nails and have'nt got much more to loose. I once read a verse -
Aggression shows .
Here I go needlessly puting my backside at risk again saying it like it is does that.
But this trade union movement and its acheavements is more important than any of us!
On a visit to a big construction site[ it could have been any one of twenty] the youngs view of unionism was exposed, by a handfull.
The combined copys of selected workers online pages along with ACTU storeys on the miners plee to parlement and the shamefull admition that overtime and a whole list had been traded away hit the tables.
Not union produced, to far away from the ofice for that it was one union activists output, more union rubbish! we donnt need unions! our boss is our mate!
rubbish, if we wipe out the past wages would be half of what they are.
If we fail to fight good boss, and some exist, will find shonky brothers comes to town!
No fair pay and cheaper jobs! will good boss go broke? or take on this shonk by being one?
If its not time now for ALL UNIONS to UNITE and stop fighting one another, it never will be!
I have seen casuals once paid $24 plus an hour now paid $17.15! and schooled to fear unions and union oficials!
In the week of action, in every day of every week fight this goverment and workchoices.
Have you ,yes each of you written a letter to every minister? then to your church? to Labor?
Has your wife written to the paper? rang the TV?
Have your children?
See its not hard to be an activist, but its far too easy to do nothing!
ps give the grog up for one day of one weekend while we have them and go to a meeting, please?
oh ok I will have one with you be there.
Disappointed with the open letter from the Beaconsfield miners to the Australian Parliament and the people of Australia.
It opens strongly and the first half delivers a theme that I thought could have been further exploited.
However, the shift to a focus on OH&S, while an extremely important issue does not build on the impact of the earlier emphasis on brother/sisterhood and the value of a strong community and union.
The Beaconsfield miners are in the epicenter of the public's attention and command a lot of emotional respect. A strong commentary from them could have done irrevocable damage to the public relations surrounding the IR laws.
I think it has missed the mark.
Regardless of this critique, why has this letter not been on the front page of every major newspaper or, at least, on the Mel and Kochy show.
My best wishes go to the workers of Beaconsfield and teh whole community. Although it is hard to hold out much hope for them given the history behind the mining company's management practices, which are mirrored by the management styles of hundreds of small and private mining companies around Australia, and the current legal context.
In 1812 the United States of America declared war on the British Empire The War [1812 to 1815] fought on land in North America and at sea around the world, seems to have set the pattern for the bellicose foreign policy profile so much a part of American culture to this day. The British violations portrayed by the United States as the real reason for the declaration of war had ceased by the start of the conflict. The United States, as the aggressor nation, went to war to gain territory. No territory changed hands. The casualties, for the time were considerable and the body count included many civilians.
On September 13th 1814 Francis Scott Key [1779-1843], patriot, poet, lawyer and US attorney for the District of Columbia [1833-41] visited the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay, a strategic inlet of the Atlantic Ocean separating the Delmarva Peninsula from mainland Maryland and Virginia. His purpose there was to obtain the release of Dr William Beanes captured after the burning of Washington, DC. Key succeeded and, being obliged to pass the night onboard ship - for security reasons - found a place in history. He witnessed the shelling of Fort McHenry, one of the forts defending Baltimore.
In the early morning light Francis Scott Key was delighted to see that despite the British bombardment the American flag was still flying over this audacious fort. To capture the moment he wrote the poem 'Defence of Fort McHenry' which became 'Star Spangled Banner'. The poem found popularity with the tune 'To Anacreon In Heaven', written by the English composer John Stafford Smith [1750-1836] in 1780 as a London club drinking song about an old Greek chap who had choked to death on a grape seed. In 1931 'Star Spangled Banner' already adopted as a 'song of honour' by the US army and navy, became the American National Anthem.
In the intervening years the stars have lost their lustre and the banner, ragged and bloodstained, is daily dishonoured by those who wave it most.
In the history of the USA the profligate and contemptuous use of power has become the hallmark of a self-indulgent and narcissistic culture. Internally the nation is coming apart at the decaying seams. Externally the great American dream, now sustained by lies, brutality and aggression, is characterised as the great American nightmare. 'God bless America,' chants the President. 'God help America,' is the desperate and muted response from the once proud inhabitants of the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Say guys, can you see, by the dawn's lurid light,
how proudly we march through the bleeding and screaming,
grim smouldering ruins that we bombed last night,
and death and destruction beyond wildest dreaming?
When our rockets red glare, our bombs burning the air,
gave proof to the vanquished, now our flag stands there.
Say guys, does our blood-spangled banner proclaim,
the American nightmare, our despot's vile reign?
Over smoke-blackened corpses of children we weep,
when the world of TV comes to captures our poses.
What terrible stench through the ruins will creep,
as the wind gently blows, and we wrinkle our noses.
Then the spin-doctors sneer, and our loyal folks cheer,
and the body count grows as our victory draws near.
Say guys, does our blood-spangled banner proclaim,
the American nightmare, our despot's vile reign?
Oh, thus be it ever when, tyrants shall stand
for death and destruction and war's desolation.
Bless us with riches, in this oil-bearing land
praise the lord that we serve and preserve us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, though our cause is unjust,
and this is our motto: 'In George Bush we trust'.
Say guys, does our blood-spangled banner proclaim,
the American nightmare, our despot's vile reign?
Remember the uncounted dead: Chileans, Vietnamese, Kurds, Iraqis, Afghanis, their worlds destroyed by American greed and hypocrisy. Remember the faceless, unidentified torture victims of Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay, and the slaughtered innocents of Haditha and other hidden places. Remember the mounting death toll of betrayed, young, working class Americans who volunteered for military service neither to die nor to kill but to find employment. Remember all those throughout the world united in death by the corrosive culture of the Imperial Empire of the United States of America. Remember the buck stops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
'It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way.' - George W. Bush
'If George [W] Bush were judged by the standards of the Nuremberg Tribunals, he'd be hanged, so too would every American President since the end of the Second World War.' - Noam Chomsky
'If Chomsky's view [on George [W] Bush] holds good then history, as recorded by any reasonable person, will conclude that his co-conspirators Tony Blair and John Howard, accessories before and after the fact, should suffer a similar fate.' - Albert Abercrombie
Finally: Dateline Washington DC: June 2nd 2006. The 43rd President, in response to yet another report of a US military massacre of civilians, has announced that all US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will undergo training in ethical conduct. There are no plans to introduce this training to the White House, The Pentagon or to the American Congress.
Blood Spangled Banner (c) Dermott Ryder
"Sole parents with school-age children able work at least 15 hours a week will have to take jobs that make them at least $50 a fortnight better off, after taking into account the costs associated with working.
..........the changes would make single parents work for as little as $1.66 an hour above their benefits.
"If you look into the welfare-to-work measures, there are quite substantial incentives for employers," Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said."...... Sydney Daily Telegrah 2/6/06.
There certainly is, Kev.... Too right...........at that price.....Buy one get ten free.
You should be able to get a couple of housemaids,one nanny for each of your children, two or three kitchen maids, a valet for your good self, a few hand maidens for the missus ... butler and gardeners ..all for under $100 per week.
Concord West NSW
Take employment. We are this week celebrating unemployment falling below five per cent for the first time in the memory. Praise the lords of deregulation!
But if the federal government keeps changing the definition of employed to push more people off welfare by reducing to just one hour a week the time an employed person needs to be in work to classify as 'employed' does this represent anything more than smoke and mirrors?
And, if we boast the second highest level of casualisation in the developed world, are these jobs as valuable as the full time ones that may have employed a larger proportion of the workforce in the past, giving them the security to buy homes, raise families, have a life outside the workplace?
If we are so short of skilled local that we need to scour the globe for migrant workers to meet labour supply, don't we need to be looking at our labour market's ability to plug the gaps - not just to get bums on seats?
In short, if economists are so smart, why can't we compare the quality of these jobs, the social value of the jobs, or is a raw head count all they are capable of?
Here's another thing that I don't get. If we are indeed, awash in employment and we have more jobs than we can fill then why do need to take unpopular economic measures like cutting workers rights, privatising state assets and sacking public servants in the name of creating more jobs?
I mean, if everyone has work as the economists tell us, then why do we need to keep taking nasty economic medicine to create more jobs that we need to go offshore to fill? Something doesn't make sense.
As for wages, I do get the logic behind the argument that if you push wages down, an employer can hire more workers.
But isn't that the same argument they used to argue to get rid of tariffs? That if T-shirts were cheaper, we could by more? And why is it now that T-shorts are so cheap, the quality is so crap - so that I need to buy a lot more of them? And does the same logic apply to workers?
And I don't get how lower wages make business more productive. Isn't productivity about getting more output from your labour, not making it cheaper?
The other thing I don't get about wages is executive pay - if the theory on workers holds true and we benchmark wages with Beijing and Bombay - why do we keep benchmarking executive salaries with London and New York?
I don't quite get budgets either. Economists are flagellating the NSW Government for going into a deficit of less than half of one per cent of their operating budget for a single year - before going back into surplus again.
I don't get how we can have a federal government with so much cash they get dizzy wasting it, while basic services fail at a state level - and economists think one mob are brilliant and the other mugs, rather than questioning whether we are distributing our taxes effectively.
And I don't who get dictates the solution to a short-term shortfall, is not to borrow a bit, but to sell of public assets like Snowy Hydro or sack the people who keep the system working.
It's the political equivalent of selling off the house and moving into a trailer park, because at least I'll be able to fully fund the caravan and washroom fees out of my weekly pay packet.
And the economic markets stand over our government's like a dominatrix at the wrong time of month, while turning a blind eye to the real economic crisis - the massive, growing national current account deficit.
This is the one that came to fame in John Howard's debt truck before the 1996 election - - these days the figure stands at a grand $ 494 billion - that's about $25,000 debt for every man woman and child.
Why is this sort of debt OK, when a few lazy billion spent by government for such frivolous enterprises as, oh, building schools, hospitals, roads, rail, maybe even a bit of investment in that renewable energy (that has been placed in the too hard basket), deemed to be so evil?
Is it maybe, that the government pays its own debts off - while the people's debt is outsourced to the global banks through credit cards and mortgages - the same banks that employ most of the economists who set the global ground rules?
I'm no economist, but when the world is reduced to a beautiful set of numbers, it seems to me that the people get forgotten and mad ideas like WorkChoices can actually seem logical.
Thank God that people, not economists determine elections. Otherwise we'd have no hope but a Utopia carefully modelled by the economists for the economists, where the only prosperity would exist on paper.