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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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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.


Tony Ayres' Walking On Water opens to the refrains of a young man gasping his last breaths after losing his battle with AIDS.

Just his closest friends and family surround him as a doctor administers a final lethal injection, enabling him to die at home with some modicum of dignity. At least this is the way young Gavin has planned it. Gavin has planned everything right down to the flower arrangement that will flank his coffin on the day of his funeral. But there are no guarantees even for the best laid plans, as this movie proves.

Walking On Water follows the plight of Gavin's friends and family as they grapple with his untimely departure, their collective grief and the hole his absence leaves in their own lives.

His two closest friends and housemates, Anna (Maria Theodorakis) and Charlie (Vince Colosimo), have cared for Gavin throughout his illness. A time in stark contrast to their hardcore partying days that may even have contributed to Gavin's sudden demise.

Gal pal Anna 'deals' with her loss through blatant denial. Following his parting instructions to the letter, there will be no room for error while she is on the case and no time for tears for her. Everything has to be perfect as Anna seeks to take control of everything and everyone, including Gavin's mother.

But her work is continually frustrated by Charlie, who on top of dealing with unresolved issues surrounding Gavin's death is losing the love of his boyfriend and his own grip on reality.

In the week marking the 20th anniversary since the first case of AIDS was diagnosed, the appearance on a movie like Tony Ayres' Walking on Water appears to offer a welcome snapshot of what it means to suffer from the disease today.

At least that is the expectation established from the start. In the opening moments of the film it touches on euthanasia, unsafe sex, living with AIDS and nightclub culture.

Yet no sooner does the audience bond with the idea of taking a closer look at these issues than the film detours to place nearly all its emphasis on the grieving people left behind.

The sadness, compassion and confusion of these people is portrayed expertly. Each actor has an impressive ability to say their lines without opening their mouths, leaving the audience to name their various emotional afflictions instead.

But it still feels like a bit of a waste for a movie raising such timely issues to skirt around what it was like for Gavin as he was living with HIV/AIDS.

In Australia deaths from AIDS have fallen from 753 in 1994 to 136 in 2001 and continues to decline. Meanwhile the number of people living with HIV is steadily accumulating. Some 12,440 people were known to be living with HIV positive in 2000, increasing to 12,730 in 2001.

It cannot be known what percentage of these people will eventually suffer from full-blown AIDS, but it is known that HIV is no longer always death sentence. Thanks to advances in treatment, some HIV patients can continue to lead long and healthy lives for many years - with their disease never advancing to the next deadly phase.

Walking On Water portrays Gavin as a hard-living man but never draws the link between this and his sudden demise from AIDS. Maybe there was none. Yet this would have been a good opportunity to highlight the risks for the sake of the many thousands of Australians who are living with the illness, relying on medical treatment and their own efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, in order to keep their immune systems strong.

There are also a few sex scenes in the movie, but at no time is the question of condoms ever raised. Forming the backdrop to an AIDS-related death, it is surprising that the issue of safe sex is virtually ignored.

While the grieving processes of Gavin's friends make solid movie viewing, there is still a feeling that Walking On Water could have been made far more practical without being preachy. A greater focus on Gavin's life while dealing with his illness would have created a far better balance and avoided the complacency with which the movie in its current form appears to deal with HIV/AIDS.

This movie raises more issues than it endeavours to deal with in any detail, and many deserve to be given greater attention than afforded here.

Rating 3 out of 5 (getting there)


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