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  Issue No 86 Official Organ of LaborNet 02 March 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Master of Opposition
Over the past five years, John Faulkner has turned the Senates Estimates structure into his own House of Pain. He explains the art of Opposition.
*  Politics: Beazley the Bridge Builder?
As the Howard Government flounders, Brett Evans looks at the challenges Kim Beazley faces as his hour of destiny approaches.
*  Unions: Lashing & Loathing at Patricks
Three years since one of the Howard Government’s most infamous episodes, the Waterfront War, Zoe Reynolds discovers how casuals are now doing the doing the dirty work on the docks.
*  Legal: Workers Without Rights
Mark Morey outlines the legal status and (lack of) rights for foreigners in Australia on working visas.
*  International: Dispatch from the Dispossessed
Mahendra Chaudhry, Leader of the People's Coalition and the Fiji Labour Party comments on this week’s court decision.
*  Economics: Business Power and Mobility
The US election season makes it patently clear how Big Business is able to transform its financial resources into political power via campaigncontributions.
*  History: The Spoilers and the Split
The Movement, Groupers, the DLP and The Doc. All have been blamed in various ways for the ALP split in the 1950s, ensuring the ALP was kept out of federal government until 1972. Can One Nation return the favour?
*  Review: The New Hard Politics
Dennis Glover argues that policy has taken over from spin as the political battleground of the new century.
*  Satire: Bradman Latest: Family In Dramatic Court Action
The family of the late Sir Donald Bradman yesterday sought a restraining order against Prime Minister John Howard after it became apparent that he wants to be involved in every single detail of the The Don's funeral.

Master of Opposition

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Indian Workers Down Tools

StoneTemple Pirate Outrage Hits Canberra
The eight Indian temple workers whose plight has plunged the working visa system into crisis will take their plight to the national capital this week as the Immigration Minister faces legal action.
[ Full Story » ]

Five Star Exploitation at Regent
The Sydney Regent Hotel has been accused of being unscrupulous, after it was revealed the hotel was not paying Australian award rates to Indonesian and Hong Kong workers flown in to work at their up-market hotel.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers Say: We Deserve Better
With the Howard Government - morally bankrupt and bereft of vision - tottering on its last legs a big space exists for the labour movement to inspire the public with a blueprint for fairness. Next week the ACTU steps up to the plate with a statement of values distilled from an ongoing dialogue with union members.
[ Full Story » ]

Carr Called on Ten Year Temps
Some NSW departments have employed workers as casuals and part-time workers for a decade, in clear breach of the Carr Government’s own guidelines on permanency.
[ Full Story » ]

National Textiles Workers Struggling 12 Months On
Twelve months on from the landmark National Textiles employee entitlements dispute, two thirds of the workers are still without work.
[ Full Story » ]

MUA Prosecutes Patrick for Crippling Workers
Productivity gains at Patrick have come at a cost -- crippling injuries to workers with an estimated one in four wharfies at Port Botany container terminal suffering neck, shoulder and back injuries, with dozens seeking physiotherapy
[ Full Story » ]

Test Case: Is Redundancy a Universal Right?
A Sydney architect is testing whether redundancy provisions are a guaranteed right because they are part of an International Labour Organisation convention.
[ Full Story » ]

Who Pays for the Public Works?
Plans to allow the private sector to build, own and operate public infrastructure carry all the pitfalls of other forms of privatization, NSW unions have told the Carr Government.
[ Full Story » ]

Seven-day Strike at Five BHP Mines
More than 1,500 coal workers from five BHP Central Queensland mines walked off the job for seven from first shift on Wednesday as last ditch conciliation talks on new enterprise agreements broke down in Brisbane.
[ Full Story » ]

Chubb Cuts Place Security Guards at Risk
Security guards say they will be asked to ‘walk blind’ into potentially dangerous situations when delivering cash for a firm that has slashed its safety standards.
[ Full Story » ]

Vic Employers Support New IR Laws
An independent survey of 400 small businesses in Victoria debunks Liberal lies about laws to protect low paid workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Lock-Out Tactics Poison Neighbourhood
The use of lockouts is an un-Australian act now being used increasingly because the Howard government has given free rein to these ugly tactics, workers on a picketline in Revesby were told today.
[ Full Story » ]

Shangri-La: Lawyers Take Over from Thugs
The Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta is hoping to beat its workers, and their union, into submission by initiating legal action in Indonesian courts for US$8.6 million.
[ Full Story » ]

Daewoo Workers See The Ugly Face Of Globalisation
Angry unions and community groups protested this week outside the Korean Consulate in Sydney in support of the Daewoo workers and their families who had been violently beaten by Korean police.
[ Full Story » ]

Labour Wings to Meet in Macquarie Street
New Upper House MP Ian West MLC, will host a half day Workers’ Forum at NSW Parliament House on “Labor in Government” from 9.00am to 1.00pm on Thursday 12th April 2001.
[ Full Story » ]

Costa Kisses the Rings
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa will return to his ancestral home next week to establish fraternal relations with the Greek trade union movement.
[ Full Story » ]

Meat Workers Dropped from the Queue for Q Fever Vaccine
The Meat Workers Union is outraged after discovering hundreds of their members are at risk of contracting a highly infectious disease.
[ Full Story » ]

Activists Notebook
The Corporate Scumbags Tour, action on the FairWear campaign, refugee rights, International Womens’ Day, action for Aceh and the future of the Republic are all on the activsits’ agenda for this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • About Scabs

  • Pauline Wrong on Nurses

  • Banks: Time for Pay Back

  • Pardons in Perspective

  • What Man's Burden?

  • Editorial

    Five Years Hard Labour

    The night the Australian people turned on Keating seems a lot longer than five years ago - it is, indeed, a lifetime away. But it was on the evening of March 2, 1996 that we entered the Howard era.

    In the intervening years we've seen a shrinking of the very notion of the political. It's not so much that Howard has grown into the job, it's that the political debate has shrunk to accommodate him.

    Five years ago we were talking about national identity, reconciliation with the past and engagement with the future. Today, our public conversation is dominated by tax forms and petrol prices.

    Meanwhile, our international standing as a beacon of enlightenment and tolerance continues to wane under the weight of Hansonism, our treatment of refugees, our inability to apologise for past sins and, as exposed by unions this week, the plight of our guest workers.

    The plight of guest workers has long been a running sore in Europe, where racially based resentments and economic nationalism has created a toxic brew. Here the issue that is emerging is sheer inaction from a government who refuses to do a thing to ensure that foreign workers are not exploited in a strange land.

    It's become a modus operandi from an Administration that was out of its depth from Day One as it slowly realized the depth of the ill-will it had ridden to power.

    As the fault lines widen in the lead-up to this year's Federal Election, Howard appears unable to control the resentment that he unleashed so effectively five years ago. Self-interest and Distrust of the Other risk becoming the new Australian way.

    The upcoming election is by no means Labor's, but the Beazley Opposition must seize on the lessons of 1996. Like Howard, they have the option of running negative and winning power by default from an electorate desperate for change.

    But if they do no more than this, they too will feel the sting of a sullen, mistrustful electorate just as surely in one or two election's time. The greater challenge for Beazley is to run positive and wrap the change that is sweeping us into a bigger story about the future, a story that offers a part for all those feeling disenfranchised.

    It's about showing how One World will deliver our people more than One Nation; how we are all inter-related, co-dependent, how what happens to a Hindu temple workers does matter.

    It is not about Globalisation but about Internationalism, about understanding over fear and open-ness. We've spent five years speaking about tax and petrol prices, life is too interesting and too short to do so for another five.

    Peter Lewis


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