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November 2002   

Interview: Life After Keating
Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd looks at the world and wonders what might have been ...

Industrial: That Friday Feeling
Anthony Stavropoulos has been working six days a week for the last eight years and now he wants his weekends back. �Remember that Friday feeling?� he asks. �You just don�t get that anymore.�

Bad Boss: Begging to Work
They may put themselves about as the Saints of the Fourth Estate, but bosses at the Big Issue Magazine have been nominated by their own vendors for this month�s Tony award.

Organising: Project Pilbara
Sydney University�s Bradon Ellem reports on how unions are bouncing back in Rio territory

Unions: Off the Rails
The Federal Government is attempting to turn NSW Railways into a political football with a proposal that threatens the safety of freight and passenger trains in NSW and life in our rail Towns, writes Phil Doyle.

International: Brazil Turns Left
Union stalwarts throughout the American hemisphere are cheering the election of Lula � the peanut seller and shoeshine boy, turned union leader - who has been elected as the first working-class President of Brazil.

Environment: Brown Wash
Stuart Rosewarn argues the Johannesburg Sunmmit was a gripping showcase of Australia�s lack of a strategic vision.

History Special: Learning from the Past
Ray Markey looks at union membership growth in the 1880s & 1900s to argue that today�s unions must engage to grow.

Corporate: Will the Bullying Backfire?
Job insecurity, unemployment, a growing gap between rich and poor, massive global poverty and environmental danger are the big issues for the protests at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Sydney.

Technology: Danger Lurks For The Passive
If unions fail to exploit opportunities on the web to gain members, other organisations are likely to fill the void and provide services to workers on the internet.

History: In Labour�s Image
Neale Towart looks at a long-overdue initiative to around NSW through the eyes of the workers.

Politics: Without Power Or Glory
South Coast contributor Rowan Cahill gives his take on the Cunningham by-election result.

History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Barbara Webster looks at Rockhampton between 1916 � 1957 to debunk the �dependence� theory of trade union growth.

Culture: Blood Stains the Wattle
Former Queensland Treasurer Keith De Lacey has turned up in print with a rollicking tale of life during the famous Mt Isa strike of the 60s.

Satire: Iraq Pre-empts Pre-emptive Strike
Saddam Hussein has launched a pre-emptive strike on the United States to prevent it from pre-emptively striking Iraq first.

Poetry: The Executive Pay Cut
Executives accepting pay freezes, or even pay cuts? This outrageous proposal has been put on the table by some capitalists themselves, and taken up by our bard.

Review: Time Out
When a family man invents a new life after losing his steady job, Tara de Boehmler watches his charade escalate until there is no turning back.


Month In Review
War and Pieces of Work
The Bali Tragedy dominated the news this month, leaving many questioning the motive and wondering if this is fallout from Australia�s unquestioning support of George Dubya�s �War On Terror�.

The Soapbox
Beware of Greeks Bearing Historical Allusions
Roland Stephens argues that the current popular line that the USA is a modern day version of the Roman Empire is flawed.

The Locker Room
Over The Fence Is Out
Phil Doyle warms up for another season of hard hitting and fast bowling in the park, making the rules up as he goes along.

The Sea of Hands
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation are five years old. Spokeswoman Dameeli Coates addressed labor Council to mark the event.

Tokyo Youth Call
Tokyo unions are relying on young organisers to infiltrate workplaces as part of a major organising campaign, which focuses on non-unionised companies, reports Mary Yaager.

Still Crazy After All These Years
With new research suggests CEO carry similar personality traits to psycho-paths, the AGM season is proving that there�s little room for logic in our nation�s board rooms.


Why The User Should Pay
Unions have often been the victims of the user-pays ethos � the pointy end of the assault on the State by the Top End of Town that has left our public sector looking like the poor relation to the corporates.


 Bargaining Fees In the Dock

 Deadly �Slave Labour� Racket Exposed

 Zoo Workers Buck Indecent Proposal

 Cabinet Takes Stick To Abbott's Carrot

 Cyber Action Behind Hilton Win

 Aussies Back On Board

 City Workers To Help Country Cousins

 Sour Taste for Wine Workers

 Government Grounds Ansett Levy

 TAB Workers Winners as Cup Strike Averted

 Aussie Post Gets Mail On Sick Leave

 Council Backs Community Radio Venture

 First Steps to Compo Clean-Up

 Workers Out! Conference Opens In Sydney

 Aussie Union Rep Power, Yes Please: TUC

 New Burma Shame File

 Activists Notebook

 Trashing the Siren Theory
 More Bali Feed Back
 Clean Election Laws Now!
 And Now, Some Fan Mail!
 Policy Vacuum
 Tom's Postscript
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Without Power Or Glory

South Coast contributor Rowan Cahill gives his take on the Cunningham by-election result.


A young woman made her way to a Cunningham polling booth, rejecting ALP election material that was thrust her way. She knew how she was going to vote, and it wasn't for the ALP. Her refusal to accept ALP material was taken as a challenge by the out-of-town ALP campaigners who hectored and badgered her to the point she was jostled. The woman was angry but exercised restraint; she takes after her mother. If she had been more like me, her father, there would probably have been an incident.

This episode, with its crass disregard for the decision of a voter, basically says it all. The ALP lost in Cunningham because the party machine has treated the electorate in a similar way. Over the years Cunningham, centred on the industrial and university city of Wollongong, became a safe seat, more a pocket borough than a democratic electorate, the people taken for granted and not regarded as a dynamic, evolving, community of human beings with all that this entails.

In Cunningham the ALP is on the nose. Branch stacking, rorts, and machinations have tainted Cunningham to the extent the politics in the area have much in common with the notorious party machine Frank Hardy described in his classic POWER WITHOUT GLORY. As a result the ALP has lost members through resignations, and lost the goodwill of potential members and supporters. For this by-election the local ALP could not muster enough local troops to do the necessary booth work.

A double whammy comprising moves to dump local ALP left-wing State MP Colin Markham, and the imposition on the electorate of a "factionally correct" Federal candidate for Cunningham who does not even live in electorate, also contributed to Saturday's defeat.

For the trade unionists who supported the campaign of community-union independent Peter Wilson, President of the South Coast Labour Council and a respected organiser with the NSW Teachers Federation, there were many State and Federal reasons for opposing the ALP, going back to the Workcover changes. But the main reason seemed to be the rhetorical and political venom involved in the way the ALP turned on the union movement after the last Federal election, blaming unions for the party's electoral demise, and a line of ALP thinking which regards trade unions as being irrelevant in the modern world.

As the Wilson camp explained, historically the ALP was created by the union movement; trade unions are not the enemy, nor are they irrelevant. Indeed. In the Wollongong region the trade union movement is, for many people, the trusted first line of defence; the protector of jobs, entitlements, and watchdog over welfare and work safety provisions in industries traditionally associated with injury and death.

The local environment was a Cunningham election issue. For many voters, including traditional ALP voters, it seems the Carr Labor government projects a green image in Sydney, but regionally acts otherwise. Regionally there are key sources of friction which raise a huge question mark over the integrity of the Carr government's green credentials and responsiveness to community concerns: the hugely problematic Copper stack in Port Kembla; the bitterly resented attempt, recently abandoned, to establish a charcoal plant south-west of Batemans Bay near the tourist town of Mogo; the long running conflict over the contentious Sandon Point coastal development North of Wollongong.

The Crean Machine that ran the Cunningham by-election campaign contributed to the ALP defeat. The electorate was flooded with out-of-town apparatchiks from as far afield as Tasmania and South Australia; they even managed to upset local ALP loyalists with their mixture of arrogance, lack of local knowledge, crass stupidity, and undergraduate politics. There were attempts to create fear in the electorate; disinformation was spread; unauthorised election material circulated. Even Mark "Mouth" Latham made a fool of himself when he hit the local airwaves on the eve of the election and warned that a Greens' victory would force the closure of the BHP Port Kembla steelworks.

In short the tactics of the Crean Machine backfired, and the ALP shot itself in the foot. If Cunningham is an example of what Modern Labor is all about, then heaven help the ALP.

The Greens won on a shoestring budget, with a local candidate, enthusiastic volunteers, and the preferences of disillusioned ALP, and dissident labour movement, voters. They won because they had clearly ennunciated opposition policies, convincingly projected a social vision in which people matter, campaigned against economic rationalism, and were not afraid to look into the Heart of Darkness: NO WAR WITH IRAQ was an election policy, and VOTE GREEN, NOT KHAKI was an election slogan.

In Canberra the US Embassy took note and dispatched two edgy officials to Cunningham the day before the election to interview candidates; their mission was to gauge public sentiment in Australia towards the US war against terrorism.


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