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June 2004   

Interview: The New Democrat
Canadian activist Judy Rebick explains how she's using lessons from Brazil to rebuild the labour movement.

Bad Boss: The Ugly Australian
Prime Minister John Howard is in California spruiking the "merits" of this month’s Bad Boss nomination …

Unions: Free Spirits and Slaves
International capital demands guest labour – legal or illegal – as a way of beating down wages and conditions and, as Jim Marr discovers, the Australian Government seems happy to oblige.

Industrial: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on another workplace death (we-will-not-RIP NOHSC), heartburn for the Canberra consensus and all the action from around the states in our national wrap.

History: A Class Act
The problem of forgetting the primacy of class in favour of other ideas of community is highlighted in a new book, writes Neale Towart

International: Across the Ditch
NZ Nurses Union leader, Laila Harré, is in Sydney this week, comparing notes with the Australian Nurses Federation and seeking transTasman support for New Zealand’s highest profile industrial campaign.

Economics: Home Truths
Sydney University's Frank Stilwell argues that tax policy is driving the housing boom.

Review: No Time Like Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is one part Grim Reaper of the environmental movement and two parts fictitious fable dramatically window dressed with extreme special effects, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Silent Note
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers the current public service motto – "Don't tell the Minister!".


The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part I
The Australia Institute's Clive Hamilton questions the assumptions underlying a society that defines happiness in dollar terms.

The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part II
Clive Hamilton concludes his analysis, looking at how more and more Australians are pulling back from a marketplace that is no longer providing the goods.

The Locker Room
Sack ‘Em All!
Phil Doyle puts his job on the line, but doesn’t everyone these days?

The Westie Wing
The NSW Government has an agenda on the table but the test is finding innovative ways to finance it, writes Ian West


Last Year’s Model
Economists keep telling us things have never been better, all the economic indicators say so. Which sparks the obvious question: why are so many of us feeling so low?


 Trade Deal a $47 Billion Dud

 Ground Staff Spread Fashion Wings

 Ghan Raises Trans-Continental Stink

 Union Busters Bank on Labor

 Witnesses Face Casual Duress

 Rail Workers Cop ‘Beer Nannies’

 Sun Shines on Green Bans

 Big Business Plan to Cripple Compo

 Money Can’t Buy Me Love

 Federal Election in Doubt

 Safety Defects Plague Adelaide

 Police Investigate Assault Claim

 Activists What’s On!

 Liberal Laugh
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The Locker Room

Sack ‘Em All!

Phil Doyle puts his job on the line, but doesn’t everyone these days?


"There are two sorts of coaches; those that have been sacked, and those that are about to be sacked."

It's sacking season in the winter codes. A time for the sort of white-knuckle fear and loathing that makes grown men shake and weep, plot, gnash teeth and generally become an emotional puddle.

Why can't they just quit with the sort of grace and poise that Cathy Freeman brought to leaving the athletics caper?

Mind you, she's always seemed to bring a more level-headed and poignant attitude to the hype and hoo-hah that surrounds elite sport in this country.

At first glance none of this unseemly "support of the Board" palaver that leaves coaches, players, administrators and yes, even video based officials feel a knotting emptiness yawning in their nether regions appears to make much sense.

Neither does it at the second or third glance, or even after a good hard stare.

As in the workplace the sacking is the quick fix that seldom works.

It all degenerates into some sad doppelganger of an Oscar speech, with the sacked party blaming everyone else, including their mother, at some fearful Lear-like press conference that has all the ghoulish intensity of a slow motion car crash, but more on that later.

The winter codes have never been associated with poise and grace.

The analogy can be drawn to Motor Sport (which is actually) neither, where it makes as much sense as a racing driver sacking his car.

It's not hard to have sympathy for the coach, who is inevitably the sacrificial lamb. A cursory observation of Rugby League's Canterbury Bulldogs would leave any reasonable person wondering what a player would have to do to get the arse.

What the hell can the character with the clipboard and whistle do from the sidelines if the players don't pull their fingers out?

We've seen it with Langmack at Souths in the League. He's not the first and won't be the last.

In the Australian game it appears that the knives are drawn for Richmond's amiable Danny Frawley; although what he is supposed to do when he's lumbered with that tantrum with a bad haircut, Mathew Richardson, is anyone's guess.

It usually follows that the ex-coach has the compounded indignity of watching his former charges pull off some unlikely win the week after the club has discharged their one time mentor.

Yes it has all the grace and poise of a car wreck, and is just as popular.

The punters love it. Tut-tutting as they crane their necks for a better view.

It's unlikely there will ever be anything approaching job security for coaches in this corporate age with everyone's baying for instant success and the media has the attention span of a gnat on amphetamines.

Sacking got so out of hand at Carlton a few seasons back it was suggested that an appropriate sponsor for the club would be Centrelink.

This column believes that the solution lies further back in the mists of time, back to a golden age before we needed these strategic groupies we call coaches.

The winter codes would probably be better off without coaches at all, as it did for decades until some bright spark came up with the idea of putting someone off field in charge.

Some would suggest that at an elite level the best thing a coach could do is make sure the players get to the right hotel and go to bed on time, but during the State of Origin even the great Rugby League coach Phil Gould couldn't even do that.

So what did he do?

He sacked himself.

Phil Doyle - launching a towering punt deep into the half forward line.


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