||Issue No. 329||20 October 2006|
Sucking the Oranges
Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Unions: The IT Factor
Politics: Bargain Basement
Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Corporate: Two Sides
International: Unfair Dismissals
History: A Stitch in Time
Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Dancin’ With Mr Vanstone
One would have thought covering a story would be the bread-and-butter of news organisations.
Filipino guest workers paid $27,000 a year - $13,000 less than they were promised - and charged four times the market value to live in a cramped house, under a controversial Government policy, has a touch of news value in it.
What's more, the sacking of some of the guest workers for approaching a union, while the Government preaches the advances to freedom of association in its workplace laws, would have any non-News Limited journalist asking questions.
So you would think it would be quite reasonable for the ABC's Lateline to send a camera crew to one of these cramped houses as the workers prepare to start work at 4am.
But the Minister for Mars Bars, Amanda Vanstone, disagrees.
The Liberal Party-nominated axis of evil had struck again - that unholy duo, the national broadcaster and the union movement.
Van the Man said the fact the workers received calls from - shock horror - their wives while the ABC was there, proved it was a set up.
"Just fortuitously, these things all came together at the time," she said.
This sort of paranoia explains the munchies she must get on a fairly regular basis.
It also explains the kind of muddle-headedness that would have the Minister attacking the union over the story, rather than the company that is responsible for the situation.
Vanny blasted the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union taking the story to the media, saying the union should have come to her personally.
Not because bringing it to the media's attention might make the Government's guest worker program look like a farce.
Rather because Vanny is a big girl with a big heart and is as interested as unions in stamping out exploitation.
That's obviously why she voted for the 21st Century equivalent of the Masters and Servants Act.
It's also why when a Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs report discovered a slaughterhouse in South Australia had rorted the guest worker scheme earlier this year, Vanstone sat on it.
If there's anything the Toolshed does not want to be reincarnated as, it's a DIMIA report.
Or a guest worker, for that matter.
The swim home might be dangerous, but not as dangerous as Amanda Vanstone's offer of help.
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