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Issue No. 331 03 November 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

From Green House to Glass House
History tells us that towards the end of most reigns of power the regime stops listening to the people, stops talking to them and reverts to crushes dissent. Events this week suggest this is where the Howard Government is now.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Common Ground
Nature Conservation Council director Cate Faehrmann on the fight against global warming and how unions and greens can learn from each other.

Industrial: A Low Act
The Low Paid. The Fair Pay Commission knows who pays them. We can do something about it as they will not.

Unions: The Number of the Least
Forget 666 - 457 is looming as the scariest number for Aussie workers and their families, Jim Marr writes.

Politics: The Smoking Gun
Hayek's henchman, Raplph Harris, goes to free market heaven, writes Evan Jones

Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
They are supposed to ensure the wealth of well-being of individuals. Whats wrong with that? asks Neale Towart

Environment: Low Voltage
Nuclear Power and Prime Ministerial pronouncements are seriously short of a few volts, wrties Neal Towart

History: The Art of Social Justice
Tom Martin was a terrific cartoonist and part of a great tradition in labour movement history and culture, swrties Neale Towart.

Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
It pays the bills – usually – but going to work should come with a warning, wrties Jackie Woods.

Culture: A Forgotten Poet
There is little information on the public record about the radical working class poet Ernest Antony, writes Rowan Cahill.

N E W S

 Godfrey Hirst Carpets Workers

 Lies, Damned Lies and the Shirkin' Gherkin

 Guests Share Backpay Bonanza

 Win, Win for Filipinos

 Honey, They Shrunk Our Pay

 No Sex Thanks, We're Asian

 Green Jobs to Beat Climate Change

 They're Going Out The Door

 Medibank Staff Go Under Knife

 Thompson Slams Door on Delo

 Merchant Bankers Pull Entitlements Stroke

 Green the New Black

 Councils Fight Off Shoring

 Acitivists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Robbo Goes Green
John Robertson's speech to the Walk Against Warming

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at a former public institution and its contribution to NSW.

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Editorial

From Green House to Glass House


History tells us that towards the end of most reigns of power the regime stops listening to the people, stops talking to them and reverts to crushes dissent. Events this week suggest this is where the Howard Government is now.

Centre stage has been the Prime Minister's political deafness on global warming - consistently a sneering critic of warnings about climate change even as he blames extreme storms and drought for economic problems.

This week he attempted to paper over his contempt for the issue by throwing a few dollars at solar power. But the $60 million is dwarfed by the $5 billion if the government had joined the rest of the developed world in working together through the Kyoto process.

Howard has ridden shotgun for the Bush Regime, denying the problem and whining about disproportionate cost to Australia, ignoring that the leadership the Australian people want will come at a price.

Instead of being part of the international response to the crisis, Howard lurks like a fringe dweller, throwing grenades like nuclear energy into the debate, but never taking a lead. On greenhouse, he is the consummate reactor.

The Stern Report, again denigrated by Howard, is the rigour to back Gore's slick and inconvenient package, and Howard can't keep ducking - expect some more tokenism but nothing meaningful. A vision for the future he has not.

This contempt for public sentiment is part of a pattern of behaviour, think privatisation of Telstra and Medibank Private, think troops to Iraq, think WorkChoices. This is not leadership, this is - in every case - putting the interests of big business ahead of the interests of ordinary Australians.

And it is not even about having a debate anymore, with control of the Senate the government is winding back the committee process and, when inquiries are held, the bureaucrats are conditioned to give nothing up.

This week we saw this approach in action when the Office of the Employment Aadvocate fronted its Senate oversight committee.

Those with a memory will recall last time OEA was there they gave up their own inconvenient truth - the fact that workers on AWAs were being forced to trade off basic conditions - the conditions warned were under threat in their 'scare campaign''.

What happens this time around? You guessed it, the statistics are no longer collected. If you don't like the truth, don't ask the question.

As for the dissent, Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is brandishing the scalp of Corrine Grant and her Glass House comrades this week. Her crime? Fronting Unions NSW Last Weekend family protest last August where she betrayed her political colours by directing parents to lost children and introducing Tim Freedman. Subversive stuff.

As Workers Online reveals this week, that's not all the Senator has been up to - in Wollongong her public service has been earning the scalp of an ABC radio reporter who had the temerity to interview South Coat Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris in support of ABC industrial action. Some views should not be aired.

But it's a conscious plan, that includes stacking the board with right-wing critics - it's about raisin g the stakes so that people in the public eye think twice before speaking out.

This is shoddy government with no interest in democracy and the will of the people; like the miserable Republicans awaiting their comeupance next week in the US, all they have are cheap and nasty tricks and the payola from their corporate sponsors.

Peter Lewis


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