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August 2004   

Interview: Trading Places
New ACTU International Officer Alison Tate cut her teeth delivering aid to developing nations through APHEDA. Now she is helping chart the global union agenda.

Safety: Snow Job
James Hardie has been drilled into our collective consciousness as a story of power, greed and immorality. It is also, as Jim Marr reports, a tale of human tragedy.

Politics: In the Vanguard
Damien Cahill reveals how neo-liberal think tanks have been at the forefront of the corporate assault upon trade unions and social movements in Australia.

Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Donít get between Sydney sparkie Semir Pepic and a gold medal in a dimly lit alley, writes Tim Brunero.

Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
Perfect Porker, Darren Vincent, brings a history of meat worker shafting to this monthís Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europeís big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours Ė without any recompense, reports Andrew Casey.

History: Under the Influence
Was John Kerr drunk when he wrote and signed the letter dismissing Edward Gough Whitlam from the Prime Ministership in 1975? Geraldine Willissee investigates.

Economics: Working Capital
Where superannuation fits, where it fails and what we should we do about it. Neale Towart gives the tough answers.

Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
There's many a must see moment in Mike Moore's new flick but beating the propaganda machine at its own game wreaks havoc with wearied bullshit detectors, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
When Flood washed away the PM's sins, the truth was once again left high and dry.

Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
During a recent visit to an elderly relative in a nursing home, I was waylaid by an ancient gentleman who insisted I listen to what he had to say, writes Rowan Cahill.


The Westie Wing
The Labor Governments in each State must take the lead to stop the abuse of corporate law in Australia in the absence of action from the Federal Government, as the Inquiry into James Hardieís has highlighted, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Cleaners Deserve Our Support
It's time the state's cleaners were given some support, loyalty and long service leave, writes Chris Christodoulou.

The Locker Room
Half Time At The Football
Phil Doyle wants to have his pie and eat it too.

Faithful Servant
Frank Mossfield was one of the labour movementís quiet achievers. Former Labor Council secretary Michael Easson pays tribute.

Lessons From East Timor
Just back from a study tour to East Timor, National Reserach Officer with the Construction division of the CFMEU, Ben Stirling, writes about the experience for Workers Online.


Tarnished Rings
As our athletes approach the starting line in Athens, it is interesting to reflect on how the world has changed since Sydney was the centre of a global group hug just four years ago.


 Stink Rises from Hamberger

 ALP Embraces Collectivism

 Bully Drives Deckhand into Drink

 Fighter in Cancer Link

 Tunnellers Dig in for Safety

 Seconds Out in Newcastle

 Vale Josh Heuchan

 "Betrayal" Sparks Election Rethink

 Councils Wedge James Hardie

 Great Southern Death Rattler

 Libs Desert "War Criminal"

 Casuals Take Over

 ALP Star Hits The Waterfront

 Activists Whatís On!

 An Officer And A Teacher
 Tom Goes Asexual
 Road Rage At Work
 Democracy In Action
 Asbestos Bastadry
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Under the Influence

Was John Kerr drunk when he wrote and signed the letter dismissing Edward Gough Whitlam from the Prime Ministership in 1975? Geraldine Willissee investigates.

Why has The Dismissal letter - complete with wonky Kerr signature - never been published? And is there a constitutional argument that renders The Dismissal illegal if carried out by a Governor General under the influence of a mind altering substance?

Next year is the 30th anniversary of The Dismissal and it's time Australia had a much closer inspection of that infamous letter.

How do I have a copy? Well, here follows a genuinely heart-warming Labor Party story.

My father, Don Willesee, Foreign Minister in the Whitlam Government, died last year. Among his political papers was a photocopy of a letter addressed to "Mr Whitlam" and signed, shakily, by John Kerr. It was dated November 11, 1975.

My 87 year old Mother, Gwen, always a Labor supporter, never a Party member, agreed to donate the letter to the Labor campaign for the seat of Robertson (where I happen to live!) We thought it was something ALP members would want.

I contacted Whitlam's office to find out if it had ever been published, and if it was okay by him to raffle it. Then followed a long chat with The

Leader himself: warm, open and revealing that his own letter had been missing until about two years ago. Yes, the Robertson campaign could use it.

We discovered that, though worth money in Labor circles, as a photocopy it had no intrinsic commercial value; but then the experts mentioned that if the document was annotated by Whitlam it would become a very different, and valuable, document.

Well, that was a red rag to an impoverished underdog campaign! This time, (wary of wearing out my welcome) I emailed Mr Whitlam. Would Goliath join David, come to the aid of candidate Trish Moran in Robertson, and annotate the letter? "Yes."

That reply was unexpected... until I realised what was happening. Mixed in with a little bit of mischief making, and a dash of heroic Whitlam 'help the underdog' style, was a large and practical dose of reconciliation in the Labor tribe.

It's no secret that my father and Gough Whitlam had a massive public falling out a few years ago. So I was surprised, and delighted, when he attended Dad's funeral last September.

Among the overblown and now alien Catholic rituals and the strange presence of senior Liberals, there sat Gough Whitlam. Making my father's funeral right, making it a proper Labor funeral. Holding out his hand. Silently mending the tribal rift.

So, when I took him the document for his annotation I thanked him for being at the funeral in Perth and told him how important it had been to me. Those of us in the Labor tribe understand this stuff, but I think he was glad to hear it. It's no easy thing, at 88, with mobility problems, to travel from coast to coast.

Whitlam's annotation on my father's copy of Kerr's letter reflects his thoughts on The Dismissal today - it is dramatic, modern and forceful. It is Gough Whitlam 'corresponding with history'. And so the reconciled tribe unites to raise a (moderate) cup to Trish Moran in Robertson.

For old time's sake.


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