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Year End 2003   

Interview: Robbo’s Rules
Labor Council secretary John Robertson rules the line through 2003 and looks forward to a bigger and better year to come.

Unions: Fightback 2003
Tony Abbott, no less, summed up the tone of 2003 when he complained workers were frustrating his agenda, as Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: Madame Lash Whips Tony
Jim Marr explains how a local can manufacturer knocked off a quality field, including a notorious American call centre operator, in the race for Bad Boss honours.

Politics: United Front
Facing a new leader and new rules, Jim Marr speaks to key union players about the hot issues at January’s ALP National Conference.

Economics: Looking Back - Looking Forward
The year ends with the thought that 2004 must be better, writes Frank Stilwell in his annual review of all things economic.

International: Net Benefits
International editor Andrew Casey looks back on a year where workers stood up globally for services we once took for granted.

History: The New Guard
Who were Australia’s fascists in the 1930s and was John Howard’s father in the New Guard? Labour historian, Andrew Moore, uncovers some surprising information about Australia’s fascist past.

Poetry: What is the PM singing this Christmas?
Our Kirribilli spies, led by resident bard David Peetz, have been listening in on the PM's preparations for Christmas, and have recorded the Howard family rehearsing this new Christmas carol.

Review: Culture That Was
2003 saw the Howard Government signal its readiness to swap culture for agriculture in a free trade deal with the US and film maker George Miller lament that Aussie's had run out of stories to tell anyway, writes Tara de Boehmler.


The Guessing Game
We have consulted our regular list of mystics and gnostics to offer these throughts for the future.

Folk You Mate
Jan Nary looks at the role of workers songs in the upcoming National Folk Festival.

Shane Maloney – Crime Writer
For a crime writer whose books are set against a backdrop of unions and Labor Party politics, Shane Maloney confesses to little direct experience of either.

The Locker Room
Workers Online Sports Awards
Noel Hester and Peter Moss give their annual rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of sport.

The Web We Weave
Social Change Online's Mark McGrath's annual review of how unions are using the web to grow.


Backs to the Wall
How does one judge a year like 2003, when on the surface the powers of darkness – read Bush and Howard and union-busting bosses - can point to the scoreboard and claim ‘we won!’?


 No Joy for ANZ - This Time

 Nurses, Teachers Win Big

 Govt Coy on Sackings Threat

 NSW: State of Discomfort

 Fashion Police Collar Moe

 Telstra Picks Up Union Signal

 E-Missiles Strike White House

 STOP PRESS: Doubts Over Driver Test

 Juggler Catches Union Gong

 Chubb Beats Up On Own Guards

 Commuters Face Long, Hot Summer

 MUA Members Play Santa

 Bennelong Grinch Strikes Again

 G’day To Union Made Wines

 Activists Notebook

 Tom On Mark
 Looking The Otherway At Christmas
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Shane Maloney – Crime Writer

By Helen Richardson

For a crime writer whose books are set against a backdrop of unions and Labor Party politics, Shane Maloney confesses to little direct experience of either.

"I have no background in the unions, the Labor Party nor in government except at the most junior level. My books, while fiction, are based on a combination of observation and information of informants," he says.

Maloney has written five comic crime novels: Stiff, The Brush-Off, Nice Try, The Big Ask and Something Fishy. They all have Murray Whelan as the sardonic detective hero.

Whelan differs from most crime heroes in being not a cop or a private eye but a political adviser and then an MP in the Labor Party Opposition during the Kennett years in Victoria.

"I wanted him to be able to move around freely from the corporate headquarters, big end of town, to the world of politics yet still be firmly rooted in the street."

"I liked the idea of a character in the Raymond Chandler tradition, who sat in a crummy office and people came in and told him lies and where those closest to him were probably stabbing him in the back."

"It seemed fairly natural then that my character should be a functionary of the Australian Labor Party."

The novels are also firmly set in the Victorian scene, although Maloney points out Melbourne has not traditionally been the setting for crime novels.

"When I first started writing these books, which is now more than ten years ago, many people thought that setting crime novels in Melbourne was a pretty unlikely proposition."

While Sydney had its 'Mr Bigs' and 'colourful racing identities' Maloney contends that such corruption was never really a factor in Melbourne.

'At least it wasn't before the Kennett Government appeared. Say what you like about Jeff Kennett but he certainly brought a sense of palpable fear to the streets of Melbourne and was second to none in helping create an atmosphere where crime fiction could plausibly thrive!"

Two of Shane Maloney's books, Stiff and The Brush Off are currently being made into feature length films for television.

David Wenham is playing Murray Whelan, John Clarke is writing the scripts and actor Sam Neill will direct The Brush-Off as his directorial debut.

While Maloney is chuffed about the dramatisation of his books he is a fiction writer first and foremost. He is currently working on the sixth instalment in the series. He won't give much away but says that Whelan is still a member of the Upper House and Jeff Kennett is still in power.

"I am just trying to get around Murray's state of mind in that situation," he says.

Fans will look forward to finding out what he does make of it. The new book is due for release in the latter part of 2004.


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