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  Issue No 82 Official Organ of LaborNet 20 December 2000  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

Tool Shed

Tool of the Year: There’s Only One Choice!

He started 2000 as a Prime Ministerial contender and ended it a 'fool'. It was one-way traffic this year for our favourite tool, the Minister for Workplace Relations and Free Phone Calls, Peter Reith.

Honourable mentions to the man who will replace him as Workplace Relations Minister, the'Mad Monk' Tony Abbott, ABC boss Jonathon Shier and the Daily Telegraph's union-bashing duo of Akerman and Pemberthy, but in a year which was all about winning, Reithy blitzed the field.

It started with the failed attempt to bring in another wave of union-bashing laws, gathered steam as he sicked his Employment Advocate on the unions and kept up the momentum as he publicly implored bosses to shift workers onto individual contracts.

But the high point of the year was the Telecard affair, a story with more twists than the government's airport policy, as the mysterious Madame X exposed Reithy and his boy-child prodigee as tool-tinkering wanabees.

This soap opera with a cast of thousands, exotic locations across the globe and a beautiful heroine kept us enthralled for weeks. At the heart of the story was a particularly vile villain.

Even by the sordid standards of talkback radio Reith was a champion for bringing up the punters' bile. Over 1100 talk back callers in 10 days vented their spleen against the Minister for Odium. That's ten times the number that blasted Mal Colston after his fraud charges were dropped and three times the number Kevan Gosper could provoke after Sophie's torch run.

Keating once famously likened Reith to one of those children's dolls that bounce back upright when you knock them down. And that was before the Patrick fiasco, his descent into ministerial irrelevance and this humiliation by his offspring. It begs the question: what levels of impropriety or incompetence do you have to reach to get the flick from a Howard ministry? (It's not just Reith. What about the incomparably incompetent John Fahey, a man deserving of his own Channel 9 show - World's Worst Privatisations.)

It's hard to believe but a man who couldn't be trusted with a simple Telecard is now the custodian of our national security. Is the same global network ranging from St Kilda to Helsinki via the Asian backpackers circuit, that happy band of upper class teletalkers on our telecard, are they now to be privy to the latest movements of our Collins class submarines in the Timor Sea?

And with Federal Court action still pending over the Waterfront affair, life could get worse for Reith before it gets better. Reith's lies over Dubai will be harder to smudge and the MUA is a more formidable opponent than Ingrid Odgers.

At least with his new Defence Ministry he'll have real wars to fight, rather than the ideological battle that he's waged for the past five years against the union movement. As we wave him goodbye, we can only pay tribute to the man who put the tool into shed.

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*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 82 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Being Michael Costa
Labor Council’s secretary on the 2KY sell-off, the Olympics and his plans for the future.
*  Unions: Millennial Milestones
In a year of highs, some trade union stories stuck in the collective consciousness. Here's ten of the best.
*  International: Eric Lee's Year in Review
The editor of Labourstart looks back on the global issues that mobilized labour in the past 12 months.
*  Organising: Dispatches from the Field
Despite the 'Botsmanesque' critiques which have been levelled at Organising, it would be hard to deny that the year 2000 has seen more and more unions in NSW latch onto the approach - at least in principle anyway.
*  Economics: Who Gets Gold??
At the end of this Olympic year, Sydney Uni's Frank Stilwell charts the winners and losers in the new sport of redistribution of income.
*  Politics: Election 2000: The Winner is Gridlock
In the last in his series on the US Federal Election Campaign, Michael Gadiel, our roving reporter, gladly signs off.
*  Satire: Chaser Launches Book
In the great tradition of repackaging old material to cash in on Christmas, the team from The Chaser & Silly 2000 has produced its first book.
*  Review: Cultural Wasteland
The spotlight was on Australian culture in 2000. But was it a missed opportunity, asks Peter Zangari.

»  Mad Monk's Secret Union Past
»  New Life for Trades Hall
»  Top Cop is Our Organiser of the Year
»  All We Want for Christmas
»  Summer for Social Justice
»  Unions Return to Mosh Pit
»  Unions Head West
»  Big Bastard Censors Dissidents
»  South Coast Labor President Steps Down
»  As a Died in the Wool Westie Steps Up
»  Dying Workers' Asbestos Plea
»  Workers at Centre of Turn Of the Century
»  Truth about S11 Starting to Come Out

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  The Greatest Team Ever?
»  ABC Online Did Strike
»  Why Nader Vote was not Wasted
»  John Scrooge's Christmas Gift

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