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Issue No. 332 10 November 2006  

Affairs of State
For those of us on the left of politics it’s been a week where there is more joy in thinking global rather than focussing on the local.


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.


 Abrasive Giant Pinged on Sackings

 Offshoring Good for CV: Qantas

 Records of Convenience

 Construction Lives Going Cheap

 Suncorp in Dee Why Denial

 States Fall to Unions

 Bisshop Looking for Converts

 Guestworkers Off the Menu

 AAPT Hangs Up on Country Jobs

 Super Funds Fight Telstra Perks

 Taxing Times for Compo Cheat


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

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

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Taxing Times for Compo Cheat

Asbestos sufferers and trade unionists are on the brink of finally running compo absconder James Hardie to ground.

The ATO has given the building products giant a favourable ruling on its new asbestos compensation fund, opening the way for billions of dollars to flow to Aussies poisoned by its products.

James Hardie, yesterday, described the ruling as an "important milestone" in delivering on a promise it made to asbestos sufferers, unions and the NSW Government nearly two years ago.

Chair Meredith Helicar told shareholders, in September, the tax status of the fund was the "only substantive issue" standing between asbestos sufferers and Hardie's money.

But campaigners aren't knocking the tops off cold ones yets. They have seen Hardie duck and weave for years in a bid to limit its exposure to the families of dying people.

Asbestos Diseases Foundation president Barry Robson said he wouldn't be celebrating until sufferers saw the colour of Hardie's cash.

"That's when we'll declare an end to the campaign and open a couple of bottles of beer," the former MUA official told the AFR.

Dogged community campaigning, led by NSW unions, saw James Hardie publicly exposed for perpetrating one of the greatest acts of corporate bastardry in Australian history.

The furore centre on a 2001 restructure that saw the building products giant relocate to the Netherlands.

It promised the NSW Supreme Court it would leave assets of $1.9 billion behind for the use of creditors, including asbestos disease sufferers.

In 2002, directors cancelled that arrangement without informing the court, NSW Government, sufferers or unions.

Former CEO Peter Macdonald argued the Netherlands-based operation had no legal or moral obligation to dying Australians.

But the strategy came to grief when the NSW Government put the company's actions under the spotlight of a public inquiry.

After the embarrassment of the Jackson Inquiry, James Hardie negotiated a settlement with parties headed by ACTU chief Greg Combet.

For the past two years it has put off funding its new compensation fund because of the issue of its tax status.


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