||Issue No. 356||21 December 2006|
Interview: The Terminator
Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Unions: Breaking News
History: Seven Deadly Sins
Economics: Back to the Future
Politics: Organising and Organisations
International: Web Retrospective
Review: Shock Therapy
All the Best
Given that eight years is the maximum time a successful US President has to rule the Free World, we can't complain about our innings. In fact, looking at Australia's political situation at present, fixed terms seem like a pretty good idea.
So it is with some pride and a little sadness that we draw stumps in this our final ever issue of Workers Online.
It was an experiment worth pursuing, one that was conducted with the full backing of the NSW union movement and support from affiliates, both local and national.
As some of the offerings in this issue show, Workers Online has served its role in charting the fortunes of the movement, as well as trying a few things that may have influenced that story.
Eight years is a long time in politics; from internal schisms to the united front of Rights at Work; the Ansett collapse to the James Hardies win; the picket of State Parliament and the rise off the Sky Channel hook-up.
In eight years we have witnessed the professionalism of unions campaigning that today sees TV ads and branded logos delivering a consistent political message.
Eight years is a long time for a nation: from global terror to Tampa; independence for East Timor but not for us; from border protection to 457s, our national schizophrenia laid bare.
In eight years we have seen two ACTU secretaries; Labor governments triumph at a state level around Australia; five federal Labor leaders (one twice, two ACTU presidents and two NSW premiers, and two Labor Council/Unions NSW secretaire. We have even seen our sponsor change its name.
Of course there has been one constant - the Howard regime; a regime now facing up to its own hubris after attempting to kill off the union movement.
Why not hang around for the ride? Simply put, I am convinced we can do better work behind the scenes, not flagging our punches online; but backing in our troops in what will be the most significant ground war in a generation.
As for any final deep insights, only this: the most significant journey we have charted is that of the Labor Party back to its roots.
Eight years ago the ALP was embarrassed of its union pedigree; in 2002 it actually voted to trim them back; and at election after election the union strategy was to keep quiet like an embarrassing relative.
Howard was never fooled though - as soon as he had control of the Senate he took aim at the ALP's heart with laws designed not just to kill off unions but to eradicate their historical legacy.
And in doing so, he forced the ALP back to its base; not willingly but reluctantly, as it began to dawn on the machine men that the campaign for working rights was cutting to the quick of the Australian psyche and ending forever the faux partnership with Howard's battlers.
And state government after state government got re-elected on IR, for once with a clear brand in the public mind - the party that stands up for workers.
And now it is federal Labor's turn, to win the future by re-connecting with its past. Because that is what the punters really want - a voice that is their's.
Before signing off there a number of individual to thanks - principally Michael Costa for getting the thing going; Michael Gadiel for nursing it through its early days and John Robertson for keeping it going and Neale Towart for continuing to find petrol to put in the intellectual tank, way after my well had run dry.
A whole bunch of talented people lent us their insights and imagination over the years - in no particular order: Noel Hester (who also edited for a few months); Labourstart's Eric Lee, Andrew Casey, Paul Howes, Mark McGrath, labour historian Rowan Cahill, Frank Stilwell and Even Jones from Sydney University's political economy department.
And the EMC team led by Jim Marr but also including over the years Phil Doyle, Nathan Brown, Jackie Woods, Tara de Boehmler, Tim Brunero, Rachael Osman-Chin, James Gallaway, Nathan Brown, Paul Sheridan and Lucy Muirhead.
For me Workers Online will always be one of the highlights of my working life, a time when I got the privilege to be the voice of the movement. It has also given me the platform that means I now have my dream job, working with this movement of great, committed Australians to pursue the politics that I know, in my heart, are right.
Thanks to all our readers for your support too; I hope you agree it was a worthwhile project.
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