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October 2003   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Rugby League Professionals Association president Tony Butterfield on his battle to deliver a collective agreement for NRL players.

Unions: National Focus
In this month’s national wrap: Noel Hester meets a heavy hitter talking up open source unionism, truckies front the suits at Boral’s AGM, tales of corporate bastardry and Medicare birthday revelry.

Industrial: Fools Gold
Unions have thrashed out a string of protocols with the NSW Labor Government. Some, now, are questioning whether they are worth the cheap, imported paper they are written on, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.

History: The Gong Show
In late September the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) celebrated 75 unbroken years championing the rights of workers in the coastal Illawarra region 80 kilometres south of Sydney, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics: The Hawke Legacy
The election of the Hawke Labor government twenty years ago holds some salient lessons for today’s Labor Party, writes Troy Bramston.

International: Sick Nation
As Australia celebrates 20 years of Medicare’s universal health coverage the crisis facing American workers in need of medical care is a useful reminder of what we’ve got – and what we stand, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Closed Minds
Philip Mendes looks at the political influence of right-wing think tanks, their financial backing and asks why the left hasn’t been able to get its ideas out there.

Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

Poetry: One Size Fits All
There once was a man from the Lodge - Who tried hard, our poems, to dodge... Resident bard David Peetz is back!

C O L U M N S

Postcard
North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Soapbox
The $140 Million Patriot
It would be hard to imagine a steeper slide from hero to zero than the experience of Richard Grasso, the now-deposed head of the New York Stock Exchange. writes Jim Stanford.

Media
Bush's Bad News Blues
The Bush Administration is cooking up a new campaign 'to shine light on progress made in Iraq', writes Bill Berkowitz.

The Locker Room
A Tale Of One City
Phil Doyle gazes into the crystal ball for signs of life, and finds that somewhere the horses are running in the wrong direction.

Culture
With Banners Furled
There is no better account of the glory that was the annual Labour Day marches than that given by Kylie Tennant in Foveaux, her fictional account of life in inner Sydney in 1912, the year she was born.

Politics
The Westie Wing
Our favourite Macquarie Street MP, Ian West MLC, reports on the world of NSW politics.

Postcard
The Cancun Wash-Up
The dramatic collapse of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month has been followed by a deafening quiet from Geneva, Brussels and Washington, writes Peter Murphy.

E D I T O R I A L

The Monk Off Our Back
It should come as no surprise that Tony Abbott has been dragged from his workplace relations portfolio just as his $60 million assault on the CFMEU finally unravels.

N E W S

 Concrete Boot for Democracy

 Picketers Get Blue Ribbon Result

 ICAC Call at Mudgee Abattoir

 Telstra on Charges

 Unis Walk Over Federal Bullying

 IRC Shoots Rooster that Quacked

 Ugly Australian Riles Timorese

 Medicare Gets Abbott For Birthday

 Business Council Opposes Salary Vote

 Rail Workers Call For Self Defence

 ACT Leads On Industrial Manslaughter

 Thumbs-Up for Awards Binding Subbies

 Entitlements Crash into Hangar

 Blackouts on NSW Horizon

 State Govt Told To Clean Up Contracts

 Would-be Presidents Face Union Probe

 Activists Notebook

L E T T E R S
 A Hard Act To Follow
 Which Boss?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Review

Mixing Pop and Politics

By Pádraig Collins

He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

He certainly likes playing here, as his joyful two-hour Sydney show - the first of a three-night run - showed over and over again.

As the sad news of Johnny Cash's death filtered through the crowd, it eventually made its way on stage. Bragg responded by playing the chorus of The Who's Pinball Wizard as if it were a Cash song. It was an odd, but also oddly appropriate, tribute.

Bragg has been re-inventing his back catalogue at live shows for a few years now and this was no different. If this was your first time hearing the changed styles it might have sounded something ranging from strange to sacrilege, but I'd heard them before and they sound even better second time around.

Sexuality has become almost a reggae song; Greetings To The New Brunette, previously remade as a power pop song with Johnny Marr on guitar, now has a slower tempo, perhaps more suited to its lyrics of frustration.

At times some of the arrangements were very much in the Van Morrison soul power mode, a trick that is hard to pull off but worked here thanks to his fine five-piece band, The Blokes. Standout bloke is organist Ian McLagan, formerly of The Small Faces and The Faces (if only his cohort in the latter, Rod Stewart, had aged with one-hundredth as much dignity).

Of the songs from Bragg's two albums of unfinished Woodie Guthrie songs that were played, the sublime Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key was the standout but the reborn African vibe of She Came Along To Me ran it close.

The first encore saw Bragg returning to his one-man-and-his-guitar persona. To the delight of the crowd he dug deep into his back catalogue for The Man in The Iron Mask, The Saturday Boy and A Lover Sings.

He was funny - especially in talking about fatherhood; he was political - Blair/Bush/Howard got a lashing; but most importantly of all, he did justice to his many great songs.

Billy Bragg & The Blokes

Metro Theatre, Sydney, September 12


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