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Issue No. 320 18 August 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Fixing the WorkChoices Mess
While the Rights at Work campaign has galvanised opposition to the Howard Government’s WorkChoices legislation, the debate about what sort of system should replace it is just hotting up.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: A Life And Death Matter
Macquarie Street and Canberra are squaring off over safety in the workplace, NSW Minister for Industrial relations, John Della Bosca, explains what's at stake.

Unions: Fighting Back
When John Howard's building industry enforcer started threatening people's homes, one couple hit the road. Jim Marr met them in Sydney.

Industrial: What Cowra Means
The ruling on the Cowra abattoir case highlights the implications of the new IR rules, according to John Howe and Jill Murray

Environment: Scrambling for Energy Security
Howard Government hypocrisy is showcased in its climate change manoeuvring, Stuart Rosewarne writes:

Politics: Page Turner
A new book leaves no doubt about whether the faction came before the ego, Nathan Brown writes.

Economics: The State of Labour
The capacity of the state to shape the political economy and thus improve the social lives of the people must be reasserted, argues Geoff Dow.

International: Workers Blood For Oil
A new book by Abdullah Muhsin and Alan Johnson lifts the lid on the bloody reality of US backed democracy for Iraq's trade unions

History: Liberty in Spain
Worker Self-Management is good management. The proof in Spain was in Catalania, Andalusia and continues in the Basque Country, as Neale Towart explains.

Review: Go Roys, Make A Noise
Phil Doyle thought he'd find nostalgia, but instead Vulgar Press' new book, Maroon & Blue is a penetrating insight into the suburban mind under stress.

N E W S

 Spin Bowls Fair Pay

 “Battler” Liberal on Safety

 Radio Rentals Launches Hit

 Under the Pump

 Privacy Goes East

 Which Bank Tossed Out of Court

 Mum Lashes Feds

 Sack Boss a Loser

 Let's Fly AWA

 Star City Bangs Wages Drum

 Prof Offers AWA Lesson

 Howard Stands By His Men

 Wife Miscarries After Attack

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Locker Room
Ruled Out
Phil Doyle plays by the rules

Fiction
Tommy's Apprentice
Chapter One - Tommy and "The Boy"

Politics
Westie Wing
Ian West wonders what might happen if the NSW Coalition actually did win power next March at the State elections.

L E T T E R S
 Love Me Slender
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News

Spin Bowls Fair Pay


John Howard's Fair Pay Commission is defending its move to oursource public consultations to a Melbourne pr firm.

The shock move, which appears to fly in the face of Commisioner Ian Harper's desire to meet a low paid person, was revealed in Wollongong, last Thursday.

Not one of the five commissioners, handpicked by the Prime Minister to examine minimum pay rates, bothered to show up to advertised "public consultations".

Instead, they sent a flak from a Collins St public relations agency, Royce Communcations, to run the show.

The hired hand blocked the South Coast Labor Council from making a public submission on behalf of members and their families.

Last Friday, the Commission told Workers Online its members were too busy to meet Wollongong people.

"They (the commissioners) have had a very busy time consulting across stakeholders," Fair Pay Commission senior communications advisor, Sarah McAdie, said.

"They all have other jobs, and other roles that they play.

"Commissioners will not necessarily attend these meetings. It all depends on their schedules.

"There was never any undertaking that they would be at every consultation."

McAdie denied claims by one person who attended the Wollongong no-show that the Commission had "obviously" run back grounds checks on him.

The press is barred from Fair Pay Commission consultations and to gain entry, individuals have to register seven days prior to hearings.

"The people are googled to give us an idea of who we are talking to," McAdie said.

South Coast Labor Council secretary, Arthur Rorris, said the session had been advertised as an opportunity for locals to put their views to the commission.

"We did everything right because we wanted the voices of the thousands of families we represent to be heard," Rorris said.

"We rang up a week ahead and gave them the names of people attending but when we arrived we found that not one commissioner had turned up.

"We thought they would go through the motions but they are not even bothering to do that.

"Then this fellow from the pr company barred us from making a public submission. In the end, we walked out."

The Fair Pay Commission was appointed to set all award rates in Australia, and the minimum wage.

It took over from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission after the Prime Minister, Workplace Relations Minister and business spokespeople accused that body of being too generous.

The AIRC held public hearings but the Fair Pay Commission will only listen to submissions in secret sessions that cannot be reported.

The Commissioner, Ian Harper, was appointed after arguing that minimum wages were too high.

He once wrote a paper that contended Australia was at an economic disadvantage to the United States because it hadn't allowed sweat shops.

Harper, a committed Anglican, says he want to use the post to do "God's will".

The economist told an Australian Christian Lobby conference, last year, that he didn't know many low paid people.

He repeated that line in a national television interview and said he wanted to meet more battlers.

"I don't meet many low paid people in my line of work, so I've got to find ways of getting to that constituency," he said.

Harper indicated his round of public consultations would be used to provide him, and four fellow commissioners, with that education.


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