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October 2002   

Interview: The Wet One
NSW Opposition industrial relations spokesman Michael Gallacher stakes out his relationship with the union movement.

Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Virgin Mobile is sexy and funky, right? Well, only if those terms have become synonyms for dictatorial or downright mean.

Unions: Demolition Derby
Tony Abbott likens industrial relations to warfare and, like a good general should, he is about to shift his point of attack � from building sites to car plants, reports Jim Marr.

Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
For the powerful, consumerism equals freedom, and is all the freedom we need, writes James Goodman

Politics: American Jihad
Let�s get real. The origins of modern Islamic terrorist groups are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Langley, Virginia not Baghdad, argues Noel Hester.

Health: Secret Country
Oral history recordings are an inadequate tool in trying to find out what happened to Aboriginal stockmen and their communities on cattle stations in Northern Australia, writes Neale Towart

Review: Walking On Water
On the 20th anniversary of the first AIDS-related death, Tara de Boehmler witnesses the aftermath of losing a loved one to the illness in Walking On Water.

Culture: TCF
Novelist Anthony Macris captures life on the shop floor in this extract from his upcoming novel, Capital Volume II

Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
The University of Queensland has sought to join the ranks of union-busting companies like Rio Tinto in trying to sack the president of the local union - and made the mistake of thinking they were dealing with an array of acquiescent academics.


The Soapbox
I Walk The Line
American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has weighed into the Hilton Hotel dispute with this special message to the workforce.

Mekong Daze
Union Aid Abroad's Phil Hazelton fires off a missive from Laos where he is spending a year working with the community.

Month In Review
Bush Whackers
It was a month where the world teetered on the brink of peace, no thanks to the leader of the free world, writes Jim Marr

The Locker Room
The Laws Of Gravity
Phil Doyle goes looking for the fine line that separates sport from an exercise in time-wasting

Snouts in the Trough
It�s AGM season in the corporate world, and deal after shady deal is being exposed as highfliers treat company accounts like the proverbial honey-pot.

Songs of Solidarity
There has been a proud history of pro-worker tunes dating back to the early days of the 20th century, which will be continued in a new CD, writes Dan Buhagiar.


The Legacy of 11/9
From the orgy of righteous indignation that has enveloped the �Free World� this week a more chilling truth is emerging: if the suicide bombers were attacking Liberal-Democracy they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.


 �Robbed Generation� Seeks Stolen Wages

 One Year On: Ansett Crash Still Hurts

 Cole Exposed By Immigration Scam

 Car Workers on Howard Hit List

 Mystery Windfall for Hilton Workers

 Shock: Abbott Backs Workers

 Union Billboards Censored

 Track Grab Ignores Lessons of Glenbrook

 Casual Approach to Air Safety

 Bosses Say No Living Wage For NSW Childcarers

 Pastry Workers Tell Boss To Get Puffed

 Injury Toll Mushrooms

 Victorian Zookeepers Down Buckets

 Pride and Safety for Workers Out!

 Activists Notebook

 The CFMEU Race Debate #1
 The CFMEU Race Debate #2
 Keeping it Clean
 Sue the Leaders?

Wrong Way, Go Back
The weekend machinations over the structure of the ALP are in danger of missing the fundamental point: Labor�s current malaise is caused not be an excess of core values but through a deficit.


 Corrigan Fires Shot in Rail Showdown

 Fight Begins For Long Weekends

 Experts to Arrest Drug Test Outbreak

 Jobs Auction Hitting Bank Workers

 Libs Pledge Moderate IR line

 Workers Kick Grand Final Goal

 NSW Screws Down Lid on Funeral Scams

 Hilton Strike Break Plans in Tatters

 Detention Centre Workers Demand Safety Search

 Religious Teachers Win Legal Coverage

 Pressure Builds on Parking Sting

 US Docks Lockout Hits Sea Trade

 Activists Notebook

 Jacks and Jills
 Shame on Murray
 Use or Abuse of Long Term Casuals
 Speaking in Tongues
 Casual Days
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Snouts in the Trough

It�s AGM season in the corporate world, and deal after shady deal is being exposed as highfliers treat company accounts like the proverbial honey-pot.

The Cream from the Crop

The rules governing disclosure of payments to CEOs in company accounts mean that many of the revelations come months after the actual event; but at least they are out in the one.

What has been breathtaking is the large number of multi-million dollar payouts to departing directors, often supplement by secret options deals. We had earlier learnt of departing Suncorp Metway chief Steve Jones $16 million windfall, a $7 million ten-year anniversary present to Commonwealth Bank chief David Murray and BHP boss Paul Anderson's $18 million sign-off.

But the steady stream of excessive disclosures has become a torrent, as journalists for once cast their eyes over the accounts for similar payouts. In the past week we have had the following revelations:

- Coles Myer chief executive John Fletcher received a $7.7 million golden handshake from his previous employer Brambles Industries Ltd, it emerged today. The Brambles 2001/02 annual report shows Mr Fletcher took home $151,000 in salary and $735,000 in "performance related bonuses" last year. That was despite officially departing the transport and logistics group on 1 August 2001 - just one month into the financial year. That was topped up with a $7.7 million "termination payment" to Mr Fletcher, bringing his total remuneration during the one-month period to $8.6 million.

- Boralchief executive Rod Pearse is headed for the $3 million-a-year mark, after receiving a $2.8 million package in 2001-02. The building materials group's annual report for 2001-02, published yesterday, showed Mr Pearse received a base salary of $1.48 million for that fiscal year. He pocketed an extra $900,000 in "variable remuneration", as well as another $420,000 in shares and options. The total $2.8 million compared with the $2.3 million he took home in 2000-01, and represented a 21 per cent pay rise.

- Telstra chief executive Ziggy Switkowski enjoyed a pay rise last financial year, despite a slide in the telco's full year profit and its depressed share price. Switkowski, 54, received total remuneration of $2.4 million in the year to June 30, 2002, up from $2.35 million the previous year. It included $1.25 million in salary, benefits, superannuation and fringe benefits tax. The package also included a $1.15 million short term incentive paymet. Telstra last month booked a 9.8 per cent fall in full year net profit to $3.66 billion.

- Burns Philp CEO Tom Degnan has negotiated a $5 million golden parachute should control of the food group change hands. Degnan's payout, part of a new remuneration package negotiated when he relocated to the US in January, is triggered if Burns Philp is sold. Under the deal he's entitled to a lump sum equal to twice his annual base salary, maximum bonus and car allowance. Based on last year's annual report, the lump sum would be worth at least $5million.

- Leighton Holdings chief executive Wal King has joined the growing list of corporate leaders whose pay packets are in the multi-million dollar range.

Leighton's annual report shows King received a remuneration package of $4.14 million in 2001/02 which includes his salary, bonuses and superannuation.

In addition, a deferred incentive of $4.9 million has been paid into a deferred bonus account which will be paid able when certain hurdles are met.

- James Fielding Group took a rap on the knuckles from the central shareholder lobby group, over plans to dish out more than $1.7 million worth of options to its top executive. The property group bucked a new trend of scrapping executive option plans, when securityholders backed its proposal to issue 600,000 options to executive chairman Greg Paramor. The options were exercisable after two years at a strike price of $2.94, with no other conditions disclosed.

- Insurance Australia Group is also chasing options, asking shareholders to approve the grant of up to 300,000 options with a low exercise price to chief executive Michael Hawker at the November 13 annual meeting.Mr Hawker, who has been in the job less than a year, already has 1 million of the so-called "performance share rights" after receiving approvals from last year's meeting. If Hawker meets performance hurdles relating to the general insurer's total return versus S&P/ASX100 companies, he will pay only a "peppercorn" amount of $1 to exercise the latest rights and receive the shares.

Cochlear Ltd boss Jack O'Mahony has received a 64 per cent payrise in 2001/02. The bionic ear maker's annual report, sent to shareholders this week, shows chief executive Mr O'Mahony took home $959,359 in total remuneration last fiscal year, compared to $583,786 in 2000/01.

Bendigo Bank's highest-paid executive, managing director Rob Hunt, took home $577,328 in pay last financial year. The regional bank's 2002 annual report showed Mr Hunt had a base salary of $388,367 for the period and enjoyed a comparatively small bonus of $75,000. Hunt's wage is dwarfed by the money earned by the chief executives of other banks, but it also has a market capitalisation of $1 billion, against $32.9 billion for the Commonwealth.

- Newcrest Mining chief executive Russell Barwick's shock departure has cost the Melbourne-based gold producer close to $1 million in resignation benefits. Barwick resigned on September 18 last year after just 14 months in the job. His total remuneration package from June 30 that year until his resignation was $1.11 million, including a $922,500 resignation benefit.

Even Tories Feign Outrage

The revelations spawned two front page stories in this week's Daily Telegraph and intense hand-wringing from the Liberal Party, otherwise known as the political wing of the corporate sector The revelations moved Federal Employment Minister Tony Abbott to opine that some executive salaries were out of touch with reality. Tony Abbott says it is time company boards took a more reasonable approach to paying their executives. "I don't believe that you need to pay people astronomic salaries to get a good day's work out of them," Abbott says. "I think that old Australian adage, a fair days work for a fair days pay, I think that some of these senior executives really are dreaming frankly the amount of money they get paid." By the end of the week, even the Prime Minister had weighed in, saying: "you can't ask trade unions to display restraint ... if at the same time you turn a blind eye to people whoa re making too much of a welter of it". But he will!

A Bunch of Pigs

Finally, US journalist Robert Reno came up with this killer analogy: "If pigs are allowed to determine their own diets, experience shows they will eventually eat themselves into a state of stupefying and useless obesity. This is one reason sensible hog farmers know to feed their pigs with care." He made the observation as the Conference Board, a Manhattan-based research group, released a report finding that, left to themselves, corporate executives will also invariably demonstrate similar tendencies to overfeed themselves. "The ratcheting up of compensation has been obscene," said Warren Buffett, the legendary head of Berkshire Hathaway. "There is a tendency to put cocker spaniels on compensation committees, not Doberman pinschers."


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