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Issue No. 317 28 July 2006  

Independent of Facts
John Howard's mastery of the big lie was evident again this week.


Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
When the mobs took over the streets of Dili it was the people of East Timor that bore the brunt. Elisabeth Lino de Araujo from Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA was there to witness what happened.

Unions: Staying Mum
Penrith mums, Linda Everingham and Jo Jacobson, are at the heart of a grassroots campaign to boot Jackie Kelly, out of federal parliament. Jim Marr caught up with one half of the sister act.

Economics: Precious Metals
There's a lot of spin around AWAs in the mining industry, but Tony Maher argues all that glitters is not gold.

Industrial: The Cold 100
The Iemma Government has come up with 100 reasons why WorkChoices is a dud, with 100 examples of ripped off workers

History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
This month's Blacktown Rally was not the first time workers had stood up for their rights in the region, writes Andrew Moore.

Legal: Free Agents
Is an independent contractor a small businessperson or a worker? The answer depends upon whether the contractor is genuinely �independent� or not, writes Even Jones.

Politics: Under The Influence
Bob Gould thinks Sonny Bill Williams is a hunk; he reveals all in a left wing view of The Bulletin�s 100 most influential Australians, questioning the relevance of some, and adding a few of his own.

International: How Swede It Was
Geoff Dow pays tribute to the passing of Rudolf Meidner, one of the architects of the Swedish model of capitalism.

Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
These punk rockers are out to KO WorkChoices. Nathan Brown joins the fray.


 Howard Chews Up Lollipop Men

 Ridout: WorkChoices �Revolutionary�

 Voters: WorkChoices Rotten

 Terror: WorkChoices Rule

 Bussies Go Gangbusters

 Strikers Drive Deal

 Australia Faces Jobs Meltdown

 Fat Lady Sings at Opera House

 PM's Pick Burns Fire Fighters

 Spooks Tail Early Risers

 Telstra Boss Gets Crossed Line

 Prof: Fair Pay Should Be Lower

 TNT Snub is Dynamite

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Work Choice: US Military Style
John Howard has learnt a few lessons on workers rights from his Texan buddy, writes Rowan Cahill.

Westie Wing
As Pru Goward slams into the glass ceiling of the NSW Liberal Party, Ian West considers how women are faring under the Howard-Costello Government.

The Locker Room
A World Away
Phil Doyle is pleased that a display of subtle beauty and athletic grace has been overtaken by some good old-fashioned mindless violence

 Balancing Act
 Swimming Uphill
 Help is at Hand
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Independent of Facts

John Howard's mastery of the big lie was evident again this week.

His government had nothing to do with smearing sacked Australians who stood up against WorkChoices. We know this because, according to Sydney's Daily Telegraph, a "Government spokesman" told us so, "saying the OWS was an independent body".

It was a repeat of Howard's disclaimer on prosecutions against 107 building workers in WA. When they were announced, Howard declined to comment on the grounds that his Building Industry Commission was an "independent body".

Similarly, Honest John wouldn't have anything to do with the annihilation of the ABC as a force in news and current affairs. After all, the board of the ABC is an independent body.

All these independent bodies have in common is that the Prime Minister stacks them and gives them their riding instructions.

They are about as independent as an Australian foreign policy would be if it had been crafted in Texas.

So, the bloke's sneaky, surely it goes with the territory?

To a degree, that's true, but in a healthy democracy the tendency to obscure and deceive is countered by an active, independent media.

And that's Australia's big problem. With the ABC trussed up in a corner, there appears little stomach for challenging power or pricking pomposity.

The Terror's handling of the WorkChoices beat-up was a case in point. Firstly, the story was not given to the person who handles the industrial round and would know the surrounding issues.

The facts, in brief, were these:

- the ACTU, according to polls and commentators, has run an effective campaign against WorkChoices

- an important part of that campaign has been a series of adverts, showcasing real people who have lost their jobs and incomes, claiming they have no redress under the new regime

- in some of these cases - including the highly-publicised Cowra Abattoir dispute, where an employer sacked staff so he could undercut a negotiated contract - the facts were not in dispute

- without instruction from any of the individuals concerned and, in some cases without even speaking to them, the OWS appears to have "investigated" their cases and concluded they had no redress under WorkChoices

- the Tele deduced from this that the sacked workers had "only themselves to blame" and the ads they appeared in were a "fiction"

Arguably, the case raised real issues that should have addressed.

Why had a government agency chosen to investigate critical individuals and prepare dossiers on them?

Why had commentary been included about pre-WorkChoices situations over which the agency had no authority?

Why had it purported to make "findings" when, according to the Act, its powers are limited to investigating and, where necessary, prosecuting?

Unfortunately, the Tele didn't think to raise any of these questions.

You couldn't call it fearless or crusading but, if you were John Howard, you might call it independent.

- Jim Marr


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