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April 2003   

Interview: Picking Up The Peaces
Walk Against the War Coalition convenor Bruce Childs outlines the challenge for the peace movement in the lead up to Palm Sunday.

Unions: The Royal Con
Jim Marr argues the Cole Commission can only be taken seriously by people kept ignorant of the way it actually operated.

National Focus: Around the Grounds
Unions maintain the pressure for peace as the upcoming organising conference takes on added significance, reports Noel Hester.

Economics: The Secret War on Trade
Overseas-based multi-nationals are coming after our film industry, electricity, water, pharmaceutical benefits and even childcare. Or are they? Nobody knows, as Jim Marr reports.

International: United Front
Workers and their unions around the world have possibly never been as united in their commitment to campaign together against the War in Iraq, writes Andrew Casey

History: Confessions of a Badge Collector
Bill Pirie has one of the largest collections of trade union badges in the world. After 20 years the collection now numbers some 6,000 badges.

Politics: Stalin’s Legacy
Fifty years ago last month Josef Stalin died. How could it be that a democratic and socialist revolution produced one of the monsters of the twentieth century, asks Leonie Bronstein.

Review: Such Was Not Ned’s Life
The life of Ned Kelly is what we in the world of journalism term a “ball tearing yarn” so why have writers of the movie adaptation felt so impelled to dress it up with fiction, asks Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Osama's Top Recruiter
Through our extensive intelligence networks, we have managed to track down the top recruiter for the global terror network of Osama bin Laden.

Satire: Woolworths CEO Denied Bonus After Company Posts Profit
Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett was devastated today to report an 18.3% rise in profit under his management over the last year.


The Soapbox
Factional Free-For-All
Chris Christodoulou looks at the fallout from the selection of the new Carr Ministry and what it means to the factional warlords.

The Locker Room
The Best Season Since Last Year
Phil Doyle goes trudging through the mud in search of the heart of the matter beneath the corporate biffo

Books on Bombs
In times like these, reading inevitably turns to America and war. Chris White wades through Pilger, Chomsky, Eco, Moore and Vidal.

Postcard from Harvard
Labor Council's Michael Gadiel was elected to give the valedictory speech to this year's Harvard Trade Union Program.


The Fog of War
As the War Without a Mandate proceeds apace, any notion of a domestic political agenda has become surplus to requirements.


 Cole Launches Civil Rights Assault

 Protests Target Arncliffe “Shocker”

 Commerce Swallows DIR

 Abbott, Bosses Turn Guns on Low Paid

 Fat Cats Should Justify Salaries - LHMU

 Black Humour for a Dark Issue

 Minister on Threats, Coercion

 Bosses Stonewall Union Dues Ruling

 Private Hospitals Pay Out on 15 Percent

 Councils on Hotel Workers’ Agenda

 Sharon Hammers Israeli Workers

 Shangri-La Blue Ends

 Inaugural Orwell Awards

 Activist Notebook

 The Rule of Law
 Trots Bomb Back
 Tom's Turn
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Such Was Not Ned’s Life

The life of Ned Kelly is what we in the world of journalism term a “ball tearing yarn” so why have writers of the movie adaptation felt so impelled to dress it up with fiction, asks Tara de Boehmler.


Back when Ned Kelly rocked the country with his flagrant refusal to be censored by law, he spoke out on behalf of many who had been similarly downtrodden.

This was a man who when robbing a bank at Jerilderie in 1878, took time to dictate a 56 page manifesto in which he not only protested his inherent innocence but detailed the corruption of the legal system, declared the impotence of the Crown against people power, and requested a portion of his booty be donated toward a widow and orphan fund. "I am a widow's son outlawed and my orders must be obeyed," he signed off.

Throughout Ned's short life he exposed the impact of a class system gone wrong and threatened an uprising that struck fear into the power holders of the day.

Not only were his oppressors outnumbered by those tired of being unjustly kept down, but the protection the law afforded them could no longer be trusted to keep a charismatic villain such as Ned in his place. And he had friends. Not in high places but in lots of places. And not even placing a massive reward on his head could force them to sell out on their outspoken representative-by-default.

As a historical icon Ned had it all: an outrageous sense of theatre, a superhuman courage, a profound love for his family, a ridiculous yet effective suit of armor, a surprisingly light hearted sense of humour, and his insistence that he was fighting not only for his own freedom but for the justice of all who were oppressed.

The portrayal of these aspects of character is among the movie's many highlights.

But these are severely diminished by the numerous fictional scenes that have been disconcertingly woven in to further window dress the story.

Many of these are superfluous, disconnected and reduce the impact of the movie. On one hand the audience is presented with Ned fighting to have the reality of his situation acknowledged, imploring that he is criminal only so much as he has been forced to become.

And then we are suddenly presented with a camel crossing the street, a lion being plied with bullet holes out the back, and a truckload of circus performers going down with the ship.

While some of these additions are welcome, such an outrageous cameo by Rachel Griffiths as an extravagant and promiscuous high society woman (sporting a bloody awful accent), others are downright cheeky.

Among the latter is the addition of a married, upper class love interest that could have proved Ned was framed for horse stealing because he was 'with her' at the time. But, fearing falling foul of her husband, she refuses to be his alibi.

Seeing the facts only as a point of departure in this case is damaging because Ned Kelly aimed to project himself as an inherently innocent man, a victim of injustice, and an outspoken truth teller that would not be quieted the law, societal conventions, or the class system.

But when movie ticket sales are at stake, not even Ned can have his way.

Rating: six-and-a-half out of ten (doubtful defence)


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