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November 2003   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. It’s all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

Sport
The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

Politics
The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the ‘creative partnership’ between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Postcard
Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

E D I T O R I A L

Governing the Corporates
Suburban branch manager Joy Buckland’s bid for a position on the ANZ Board raises important questions about the way our major companies are governed.

N E W S

 Taskforce Sleeps As Cranes Crash

 Scabies, Filth in Upmarket Annandale

 ANZ Jumps For Joy

 Race That Couldn’t Stop Nangwarry

 Mandarins in $120m Disappearing Act

 BAT Stubs Out Junta

 Millions on Entitlements Line

 Workcover in Hold-Ups Gun

 Phoenix Rises … Again

 TAFE Takes To Thong Slapping

 Casual Work Is Health Hazard

 Activists Notebook

L E T T E R S
 Veterans' Compo
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Sport

The Not So Smart Money


Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

Am I the only person sick of George Gregan's dial appearing everywhere being used to sell everything except his Grandmother?

His extensive marketing contracts appear to be the only reason that the slowest half-back in the world wasn't been dropped from the Australian Rugby team in the lead up to the World (sic) Cup.

The most recent World (sic) Cup would seem to indicate that professionalism has taken Rugby backwards. There already was a professional Rugby code; it's called League, and it does it much better.

In the schizophrenic world of Rugby Union the gap between the best and the rest is growing wider. With professionalism, the private school old boys having an excuse to get together for a beer have been drowned out by the showmanship, palaver and soullessness that accompanies serious big-end-of-town money.

It's a savage irony given that Rugby was, at best, the Liberal Party with a football tucked under its arm.

Rugby is not the international a sport it thinks it is. It is still largely an elitist presence in many countries, while it is embraced wholeheartedly by few.

The danger is that the whole shebang could end up like cricket - fast falling into the 'who gives a rats' category; where national teams with all the charm and character of a rather clinical bulldozer ramp over international opposition with punitive ease. This sort of triumphalism isn't pretty. In fact it's downright evil, as sport is a contest where participation is the measure of success, not some playground proving contest for bragging rights.

Mind you, Rugby League's situation is worse. At least League recognises its limitations. Super League showed us that. It also showed what happens when you leave ponytail wearing marketing wankers with names like Ashley in charge.

These numbnuts would have us believe that sport is something you watch, not something you do. There is no gain for the people at Foxtel to encourage people to get off the sitting down apparatus and actually involve themselves in something like a local sports club.

The fun police in the form of professional sports administrators, insurance companies, marketing hacks, sleazy advertisers, good time Charlies and other hangers-on hinder the efforts of local sporting clubs and the communities they exist in. None of these leeches actually do anything for sport as sport isn't about money, it's about those who participate. If it is measured solely on its return on an investment then it is a business - and it shouldn't pretend to be anything else.

The net result of all this is that participation in sports is in decline.

You would think that would be a concern for those who run our sports. You could think that, and you'd be wrong. Your correspondent's experience from being involved with the Katoomba-Lithgow Mountain Lions Australian Football Club would indicate that, at least in terms of Aussie Rules, administrators could not give the proverbial fat rats clacker whether people were playing the game or not - so long as the elite 'franchise' gets its pound of flesh.

Professional administrators are plainly shocked at the idea of people going out for a weekend to merely enjoy themselves.

There is a myth that the revenues raised from sports are ploughed back into the development of the game. It would appear that the reverse is true. Revenues raised from sports seem to be solely for the benefit of those at the top of the pyramid, with anyone trying to do anything in their community expected to go fend for themselves.

(As an aside, if anyone goes to a Swans Inc. game and gets offered a raffle ticket to 'support junior football', give it a miss - it's for the Swans Inc., not the junior clubs.)

The Locker Room finds it astonishing that someone can support a sport - any sport - and not want to get involved in it at a grass roots level. The grass roots, community sport, is where we measure ourselves. Not as some onanistic pale reflection of someone else's greatness or entertainment-as-spectacle garbage, but where we can measure our own deeds and actions alongside those people we share a community with.

So, with summer on the way, now is the time to get out and get involved in your local cricket, volleyball, wheelchair basketball, darts, mixed netball, touch football, trugo or whatever club. Any good club will make you welcome.

That should free up some energy to spend your sporting speculation as a bystander on something more sensible - like horse racing.

Phil Doyle - dropping a difficult chance at point


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