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Issue No. 333 17 November 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Altered States
OK, so it wasn't unpredictable to see the High Court bow down at the altar of expanded federal powers this week, but in ruling this way our most senior judges have betrayed something more profound.

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

 Westpac Banks on Aussies, No Joshing

 Coal Miners Go Green

 TAFE Chiefs Want WorkChoices Cut

 “Elephant” Knocks Over Unicentre

 Bosses Strike Fair Deals

 NSW Swings to Rights

 Sparks Fly Over Electrical Interference

 States Quarantine Remaining Rights

 Carpeted Victorians Fight AWAs

 Golden Geese Rule - Have a Gander

 Super Result for Industry Funds

 Smithfield Packers Shelved

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.

L E T T E R S
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News

States Quarantine Remaining Rights


This week's High Court ruling upholding the Howard Government's hostile takeover of state industrial relations will leave nearly one million workers in legal limbo.

As the NSW Labor government moved to quarantine workers from the federal laws, unions placed themselves on a political footing to knock over the laws at the ballot box.

In a decision legal experts warn is the death of states rights, a 5-2 majority of the High Court ruled the Commonwealth could use its corporations power to establish a national industrial relations system.

But while the ruling means that the formal industrial relations powers have been over-ridden, there are still large swathes of the workforce that do not fall under the expanded federal jurisdiction.

State public servants and employees from unincorporated business will not be covered by the WorkChoices laws, meaning that state systems will continue to set their wages and conditions.

To shore up these workers, the NSW Government this week introduced new legislation to protect frontline public sector workers like nurses, TAFE teachers and ambulance officers. It also has new legislation before State Parliament to ensure young people under 18 are brought under the protection of the NSW industrial relations system.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said the decision put an end to more than 100 years of protection of workers rights under the Constitution.

"Every single worker in Australia is now vulnerable to the government's extreme IR laws," Mr Robertson said.

"This result should send a shudder through every nurse, teacher, police officer and every other state employee - your conditions are no longer safe.

"What this decision means is that a campaign to defeat the Howard Government and their unfair laws is more important than ever."

Meanwhile, the Australian Lawyers Alliance warned the decision will erode individual rights.

The ALA's Bob Whyburn said the decision opens the door on the federal government to uses its constitutional power over corporations to encroach into more areas of daily life.

"This decision expands the use of Corporations Power in a way that puts the interests of big business ahead of the rights of individuals," Whyburn says.

"The ALA is concerned the decision will embolden the Commonwealth to take more power away from the states, particularly in areas like workers compensation and Occupational Health and Safety where state laws offer greater protections for individuals.

The ALA endorsed the views of dissenting Justice Michael Kirby who accused majority of the Court of ignoring the "repeated negative voice" of the Australian people who, through repeated referendums, voted against extending the power of the federal government with respect to industrial disputes.


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