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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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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 Ry Cooder Lob Till You Drop Award - Andy Roddick I'm not a big fan of tennis, preferring blood sports where bodies hit each other at high velocity with controlled aggression and barely disguised malice. But the epic encounter between Roddick and El Aynaoui in this year's Australian Open had a similar fascination to those ultra gruelling events like the Tour de France i.e. a non-contact activity where the body is converted into a massive test tube full of lactic acid that continues on automatic pilot at an improbable elite level for a ridiculously long time. And that was just me lying on the couch at three in the morning watching them. Imagine how they felt!

El Hombre Metrosexualo Award - David Beckham This year, Becks finally did a runner from his fashion label, Manchester United, and joined up with a real footy club, funnily enough called Real Madrid. (As opposed to Madrid Clotheshorses, or Madrid F.C.U.K. or whatever the Iberian equivalent of Manchester United is.) Let's face it, this is a big thing. European royalty hasn't been able to move to another country and set up shop since they regularly used to invade each other in the 19th century. But I digress. England isn't the sort of place for a footy player who wears sarongs and paints his nails, but jeez, I'm not sure I'd be moving to macho Spain if I was the world's iconic metrosexual. But fortune favours the brave, ask Spain's last living indigenous metrosexualo Federico Lorca.

Retrosexual Man Award- John Howard

John Howard played the Bali card once too often this year at the rugby world cup final and gave us some hope that his racist opportunism may have had its day. Even a crowd branch stacked from the Lib side of town found his shameless exploitation of a football tragedy hard to stomach. Interesting reports have also begun to surface of his superficial knowledge of cricket

and footy, contrary to his carefully self-promoted image as a sporting 'tragic'. One of the great con jobs of all time has to be the positioning of Howard and the Libs against the elites and for the battlers. Exposing his fake fan persona could bring this naked emperor more sharply into focus.

The Timothy Leary Award - Brett Kirk

For Swans fans 2003 had to be year of the Hippy. Even the Victorian footy commentariat, who only concede the existence of the Swans when forced to, were talking about Captain Kirk as one of the all-time great taggers. The Hippy's transformation from peripheral journeyman to key midfielder was central to the Swans' stellar season. In the sublime final against Port, Kirk's resilience and bravery to bounce back from a brutal shirt front at a

key moment of the game personified the Swans' grit and determination. Not once during the season did any of the competition's elite playmakers get the better of him. An inspirational battler.

The Metronome Award - Jonny Wilkinson

Is that all you've got? Hands up the subby at the Oz who came up with that clanger bagging Jonny Wilkinson and England early on in the Rugby World Cup. It sticks in the craw but it has to be said, the Brits deserved to win this one. Before the tournament it was easy to trash their impressive six nation form but the performances of Wales, Ireland and France had that same form looking pretty sharp by the end. A fantastic pack and a superb flyhalf who's defence and general play weren't far behind his superlative kicking talent, won it for them.

The Gazza Award - Rupeni Caucaunibuca

If Tana Umaga personifies football cool, Caucau sits at the other pole. This guy is black, white hot. Caucau gave a teaser of his talent early on in the Super 12 last year for the Auckland Blues before he broke his leg. This year he blew the competition away with his size, speed, power, agility and flair before going AWOL in the lead up to the world cup. He coulda, shoulda, woulda been the star of the big one but managed to stuff it up. This Fijian Fireball started with a scorcher scoring two of the virtuoso tries of the tournament, got pinged for two games for belting Olivier Magne (rather him than me), and finished as he'd started, but all too late, in Fiji's final game. Rugby's Gazza in the making.

The Nip/Tuck Award - Shane Warne

Nip/Tuck is groundbreaking TV. It's probably the first socialist realist drama to feature on mainstream western television. It is at once, a searing expose of the rapacious forces driving cosmetic surgery, a powerful debunking of celebrity, an assault on the obsession with beauty and a subtle call-to-arms for class warfare. For this award there could only be one winner.

The Phoenix award - Iraqi soccer team

'I was imprisoned three times. Sometimes we were punished because we lost, sometimes even after we had won.' Being a soccer star was not easy in pre-war Iraq, where Uday Hussein ran the national game. Saddam's eldest son called each player before a World Cup eliminator, warning them they would be killed if they lost. Uday ordered that local league matches must continue, even as American bombs rained down on Bagdad earlier this year. When Bush claimed a premature victory in the war, the Iraqi national coach German Bernd Stange, formerly of Perth Glory, returned immediately to Bagdad to rebuild a team without equipment, funds or training facilities. In June the Iraqis beat a US military team 11-0. In November they played an Australian XI in Perth, winning 1-0. And, this month, the courage of the elite Iraqi footballers was recognised by world soccer body FIFA's Presidential Award.

The Paul Keating award for recalcitrance - Holy Orders A horse is a horse is a horse, of course, and no-one can talk to a horse, of course ... perhaps that old TV theme song ran through the fevered mind of Irish trainer Willie Mullins as he struggled with his recalcitrant stayer Holy Orders. The much-heralded Melbourne Cup entrant had beaten - three times - last year's winner Media Puzzle. But, after the owners paid well over $50,000 to bring the horse to Australia, Holy Orders refused to gallop in training. It was an Irish joke that kept everyone except the connections laughing - producing the absurd image of Mullins aboard a golf cart and wielding a riding crop as he urged Holy Orders to giddy-up. Holy Orders ran 17th in the big race. The TAB odds were surprisingly short at around 30-1, suggesting that many small punters still believe in miracles.

The Phar Lap award for courage - Jason McCartney

Australian Rules footballer Jason McCartney was destined to be remembered as a good clubman for North Melbourne and a solid tall. But his name is now a byword for courage, thanks to his stunning effort in overcoming extensive burns suffered in the Bali bombing. McCartney set himself the goal of returning to play one game, and he achieved that against Richmond at Docklands Stadium. Jason kicked one goal himself, than set up the score that sealed North's victory. He retired immediately after the final siren, saying he had used up everything he had just to get back on the park. Go well, Jason McCartney.

Noel Hester is the ACTU's National Online Coordinator

Peter Moss is a Director of Lodestar Communications.


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