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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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Blood Stains the Wattle

Extracted from Blood Stains the Wattle (Central Queensland University Press)

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.


"Hold the fuckin thing, it won't bite yer!"

Jesus help me! I took hold of the drill with my right hand and brought it back to the rock face. A jet of water squirted from the end of the drill into my eye. I blinked, squeezing out the shit from under my eyelid. I blinked again hoping I would wake up, snap out of this nightmare.

A staccatto burst from the jackhammer shattered the hope, reverberating in the narrow underground corridor like a man running mad with a machine gun. The drill began to rotate in my right hand, the water jet pinwheeling round the drill tip soaking me again. I placed my left hand over the drill tip, blocking off the spray, and then, concentrating on the job to be done, brought the drill tip up against the rock face until the cushion of my left hand was planted firmly against the rock. It formed a protective sheath over the pitching point, just as I had been told.

Rookwood had favoured me with a two-minute tutorial. 'Put yer hand against the face like this, just above the pitch.' He thumped his large meaty hands against the jagged rock face. 'This does two things', he explained. 'it cuts orf the water'n it guides the drill.' His hand was like a steel gable, immovable, indestructible. To demonstrate further he reached over and selected one of the spare steels leaning up against the wall. 'Y'grab the steel'n bring'r up into the cup of yer left hand, see.' He did so. 'She can't move. You let'r turn but you don't let'r walk'. He concluded by saying it was simple; like shitting in bed!

The jackhammer itself was a heavy, solid-steel instrument with a hand grip at the back and a long snout like a crocodile. It was driven by compressed air, piped down from the surface and delivered to the machine by a heavy-duty rubber hose. Another hose coupled to the hammer forced water through the drill in ordr to remove the sediment from the drill hole in the form of a sludge, rather than as dust. Dust was a killer underground. It caused miner's phthisis, scourge of the old miners who used hand steels.

A five-foot steel drill was inserted into the chuck of the hammer and locked in with a spring latch. At the other end it widened into a hardened chisel bit which penetrated the rock by a combinatioon of rotation and percussion. The jack-hammer was suspended on top of an air-operated telescopic 'air-leg', swivelling up and down on a hinge arrangement. The air-leg had a shoe at the bottom which secured a foothole in the mine floor. It both supported the heavy hammer and pressed it into the rock face as the air pressure was increased. In skillfull hands it was weightless, in clumsy hands it was dangerous and back-breaking.

Rookwood crouched behind the apparatus like a commando, left hand holding the hammer grip, right hand operating the valve at the top of the air-leg. The air-leg was at a 45-degeree angle to the ground, the drill exactly parallel, aimed directly at the rock face.

This time I was determined not to fail. The big problem was the way the drill, before it pitched and locked into its own hole, tended to wander over thje rock face. I found out later that many miners used a special pitching drill without the chisel-end, but Rookwood said they were 'carryin on like a pack of ol' women!'

As the bit began to bite it spewed out little fragments of rock and powder which mixed with the water, forming a dirty grey gruel. This gruel accummulated along the spinning drill, tearing at the flesh of my hands. Despite Rookwood's earlier assertion that it wouldn't bite me, it seemed to have very sharp teeth indeed! I found out later that many miners used leather gloves to protect their hands but my mentor's view was that such people were 'fuckin' ol' women!'

As the hole began to take shape, Rookwood reached up with his right hand to the lever which stood up on the jackhammer head like a Kangaroo's ear, and caressed it forward. The roar intensified. It combined with the percussive clang of the drill against the rock to create an overpowering noise lacerating my eardrums. I found out later that some miners used earmuffs but Rookwood said, 'whattayer think this is sonny, a Sunday School picnic?'

An oily emmission belched out of the exhaust holes and spread a film of oil over my right cheek. The pummelling fumes created moving patterns in the oil like shifting sands in the desert. God help me! I gritted my teeth.

Rookwood shouted through the roar that it was OK now. 'Shove a spare steel in the cut son,' he yelled. 'In the first hole there, give me a line to work on.' Then he pushed the lever right forward and roar was deafening, the drill tore into the solid rock and the effluent spewed down the rock face.

Hole number two. Twenty-two to go. How the hell did I end up in a godforsaken hole like this? I hadn't even come here to be a miner, I was a footballer. That bloody football party, it seemed so innocuous at the time.

From "Blood Stains the Wattle" by Keith De Lacy (Central Queensland University Press)

Order your copy from the Central Queensland University press website at


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