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Issue No. 321 25 August 2006  

Crude Politics
It is one of the great mysteries of Australian politics that the Prime Minister has managed to emerge unscathed from one of the most profound geo-political misadventures since history was first recorded.


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.


 Howard Amps Up Repression

 Andrews on the Fiddle

 Robbo Flags Mobile Holidays

 Shop Group Maroons Kids

 Condition Critical

 BHP Confronts Chilean Resistance

 The Thin Yellow Line

 Safety Goes to the Dogs

 Pollies Wings Clipped By Junket Ban

 Technicians Win Action Ballot

 Academics Take Contract Lessons

 Hardie, Ha, Ha - Directors Laughing

 Amcor Sends Hundreds Packing

 Warren Goes to Ground

 Activist's What's On!


The Locker Room
Ruled Out
Phil Doyle plays by the rules

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

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

 Seek and Ye Shall Find
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Crude Politics

It is one of the great mysteries of Australian politics that the Prime Minister has managed to emerge unscathed from one of the most profound geo-political misadventures since history was first recorded.

While Howard's partners in the Triad of the Trying have endured serious political damage from the Iraqi misadventure, the track-suited one strides through the quagmire unsoiled.

With the rationale for war exposed as a lie, an ongoing Civil War morphing into conflict across the region unifying Sunni and Shi-ite factions against the West, Howard has played a decisive role in making the world a more dangerous place.

Perhaps it is the absence of Australian body bags, apart from those that get lost; maybe a reaction to the previous Labor leader's over-blown anti-Americanism; or just a testament to Australia's increasingly insular self-absorption.

Now with the unrelenting upward spiral of petrol prices, surely the game must me up. But there he is shrugging his shoulders, saying petrol price are out of his hands and telling people to fill their boot with an LPG converter.

To his credit, Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd has begun taking on the PM on his Pontius Pilot act, drawing on the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who argues the Iraq war has significantly impacted on global oil prices.

First, it has added significantly to wider instability in the Middle East with a flow-on effect to the risks in investing in oil exploration, extraction and production in that region; and secondly, the fact that Iraq's oil production itself had dropped to less than half its output compared with pre-war production levels.

Academic John Matthews adds detail to this argument in a recent article in Online Opinion.

"Before the war, Iraq was pumping around 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. Before the war, US Vice President Dick Cheney predicted that Iraq's oil output would return to 3 million barrels per day by the end of 2003.

"It has never made it back to pre-war levels, and in January 2006 it was down to 1 million barrels per day, with constant attacks on pipelines and oil installations by the Iraqi resistance.

"A loss of 1 to 2 million barrels per day has not been made up by other oil-producing countries. OPEC is at full stretch, while producers such as Indonesia are falling behind in their race to remain oil independent. This is where the effect of peaking oil supplies may be felt - in the inability of OPEC countries to ramp up their oil supplies in the face of rising prices.

"The makers of the decision to invade Iraq and establish a "democratic regime" - to which John Howard made Australia a party as a member of the "Coalition of the Willing" - cannot escape the consequences of their actions.

"Apart from the debated aspects of this Iraq adventure, such as an increased risk of terrorist attacks (rather than their containment), there is one unambiguous and incontrovertible fact about the Iraq War - and that is the reduction in oil output that has led to rising oil prices."

That's one part of the mystery solved: the more glaring riddle is why the media allows the PM to keeps on walking, when his people can no longer afford to drive.

As industrial relations is the pathway of economic management to the kitchen table, so is petrol prices the way global politics gets a seat. It is a political opportunity that should not be squandered.

Peter Lewis



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