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May 2003   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney’s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week’s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney’s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

Solidarity
The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who’s counting.

Postcard
Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

Bosswatch
The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.

E D I T O R I A L

Solidarity Forever
Another May Day, another year gone, another year to look back on our history and celebrate the past and talk about how we can make our movement strong again.

N E W S

 Mystery Men Behind Pan Bungle

 Charities Brace for Medicare Backlash

 Court Throws Out Cole Prosecutions

 Child Actor Dodges Broken Voice

 Rio Tinto: $40 Million for Boss, Eviction for Workers

 Child Care for Oldies Too

 Winning Poster Shouts at Freeloaders

 May Day Tragedy Claims Union Lives

 Westfield Cleaners to Down Mops

 Question Marks Over Nursing Home

 Burn Payout Highlights Compo Fears

 Costa Blows Whistle on Canberra Raid

 Hoops Bet on National Body

 Tear Us Down, Buttercup

 Activist Notebook

L E T T E R S
 Is Labor History?
 Bob Gould Sprays Gerard Henderson
 War and Peace
 A Strange Light
 A Little History
 Does It Have To Be?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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The Costs of Excess


Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.

Top Pan Head to Roll?

One of Australia's richest men could be out of a job after one of the biggest drug recalls in history. Pan Pharmaceutical founder and CEO Jim Selim made it to last year's BRW Top 200 rich list with an estimated wealth of $250 million, fuelled by a growing alternative medicine empire and a reputation of standing over staff. The six month ban from the Therapeutic Goods Administration has placed 250 workers' jobs at risk, although the Australian Workers Union has succeeded in securing unpaid entitlements in a trust fund. As the board scramble to avoid the blame, 'disgruntled staff' are being blamed, although more telling appears to be anecdotal evidence of management short-cuts driven by the demands to extend Big Jim's fortune. (Various Sources)

Rivkin Eyes New Time-Share

Meanwhile, flamboyant stockbroker Rene Rivkin could have more time to study the market after being convicted on insider trading charges that could see him spend up to five years in jail. Rivkin, clutching his trademark worry beads, said he would appeal after a NSW Supreme Court jury found him guilty of one count of insider trading. The Crown had alleged Rivkin, 58, bought 50,000 Qantas shares just hours after hearing in April 2001 of a potential merger between Qantas and the struggling Impulse Airlines. It alleged this constituted insider trading under the Companies Act, as Rivkin knew the information was not generally available and was likely to affect the price of Qantas shares. The court was told Rivkin learned of the potential merger in a telephone conversation with former Impulse executive chairman Gerry McGowan. (Source: Nine MSN)

Woolies Heir Apparent Quits

Bill Wavish - the man tipped to succeed Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett - this week quit the post specially created for him just eight months ago, disrupting the company's careful succession planning. Wavish was slotted into the role of supermarkets director last year to develop his operational skills after four years as finance director, a move seen by investors as a decisive step towards preparing him to replace Corbett later this year. Wavish will retire from the board next month but will stay on as an internal consultant, working with Mr Corbett for about 12 months. (Source: The Age)

Tax Audit Hangs Over Tabcorp

Gaming and casino group Tabcorp Holdings could be liable for a $10 million profit hit as a result of a tax audit of its Star City casino subsidiary. Tabcorp told the Australian Stock Exchange that a tax audit had revealed an issue dealing with the deductibility of $120 million in rent paid in 1994 by a Star City company, and relating to its Sydney casino site. The company said about $30 million in primary tax was in dispute. It said the profit impact of the primary tax in dispute would be about $10 million, with the remainder only having an effect on the balance sheet. Tabcorp, Australia's biggest gaming company, agreed last month to pay $1.7 billion in cash and scrip for Queensland casino and hotel operator Jupiters. (Source: SMH)

ANZ fined $1.3m for Loan Lapses

The ANZ Bank has been ordered to pay $1.3 million in civil penalties by the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for making serious errors in 88,000 loan contracts. The fine was part of a $5.3 million national penalty set last year after a civil court case lasting nearly a decade. A total of 362,000 loan contracts across Australia contained errors and the bank has also agreed to pay $1.7 million in compensation. ANZ's mistakes included failing to ensure customers signed contracts, failing to disclose fees and charges and overcharging for credit insurance.

HSBC Boss's Record $92m Pay Deal

An American businessman who has negotiated a $US57 million ($92 million) three-year pay package is set to top the league table of UK executive pay. William F. Aldinger III, who joined the board of banking giant HSBC last week, has accepted a deal which includes an annual bonus of $US4 million, $US21 million in free shares, and free health and dental care for himself and his wife for the rest of their lives - even if Aldinger is fired. It will make him the best paid director of a UK listed company. Details of Mr Aldinger's pay emerged yesterday after a week when shareholders have been flexing their muscles as never before about over-generous executive pay deals.(Source: Yahoo)

PwC Sued For $4bn In Advice Claim

In the USA, Amerco, parent of U-Haul International, has sued PricewaterhouseCoopers for $US2.5 billion ($A4.06 billion), accusing the world's largest accounting firm of providing bad advice that nearly led to bankruptcy. Amerco said PwC structured off-the-books entities to help U-Haul legally avoid putting real estate-related losses on its books. PwC later said such "special purpose entities" (SPEs) were not sufficiently independent to justify separate accounting for the vehicle-rental company. Amerco alleged in its complaint that the collapse of Enron triggered a reassessment by PwC of Amerco's SPEs, leading to the revelation that the entities were not independent under generally accepted accounting principles. In its complaint, Amerco accused the accounting firm of a "calculated pattern of behaviour" designed to "protect and insulate PwC from liability and public exposure". PwC was fired by Amerco in July after Amerco restated financial results. (Source: The Australian)

Big Mac Index In

Finally, Burgernomics might not be high science, but it's showing that the Australian dollar is the most undervalued currency among developed economies. That's the finding of the latest Big Mac Index, an annual study by The Economist magazine into whether global currencies are correctly priced, based on purchasing power parity. The theory says that currency exchange rates between two nations should move to make the prices of goods the same in both countries. In other words, a hamburger should cost the same everywhere. However, in April a Big Mac cost the equivalent of $US1.80 ($A2.90) in Australia while in the US it cost $US2.71. That means the Aussie was 33 per cent undervalued against its American counterpart based on the purchasing power parity theory, compared with 35 per cent undervalued in April 2002.The Big Mac Index, which was launched in 1986, this year predicts the Aussie will enjoy the biggest gain of all currencies while the British pound will fall further against the euro and China will come under increasing pressure to revalue the yuan. (Source: The Age)


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