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March 2005   

Interview: Dot.Com
Evan Thornley was a labour activist. Then he rode the tech wave. Now he's home with new ideas on how Labor can win the economic debate.

Workplace: Dirt Cheap
In her new book, Elizabeth Wynhausen learns how hard it is to live on the minimum wage.

Industrial: Daddy Doesnít Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegasí tells the story of the loss her young family has felt since her husband was killed at work, and the need for justice for families who fall victim to industrial manslaughter.

Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
Big Business's agenda for Australia has gone from loopy to mainstream at the speed of light, writes Neale Towart

International: From the Wreckage
Working people across Iraq are struggling to build their own independent unions Ė and are successfully organising industrial action on the vital oil fields as well as in hotels, transport outlets and factories, Writes Andrew Casey

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Meat and Three Veg
A new book recounts the impact of the Depression on women workers, writes Neale Towart,

Savings: Super Seduction
Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Federal shadow treasurer Wayne Swan unveils Labor's new economic doctrine.

Poetry: To Know Somebody
This week saw an appointment to the ABC Board that was even more breathtaking than that of Liberal Party figure Michael Kroger. Resident Bard David Peetz celebrates the occasion with a reworking of an old Bee Gees hit.

Review: Off the Rails
A new play on the impact of rail privatisation in Britain has a poignant message for Sydney commuters, writes Alex Mitchell


The Soapbox
The Big Picture
Think about this: It takes 150 tonnes of iron ore to buy a plasma TV, writes Doug Cameron.

The Locker Room
Reducto Ad Absurdo
Phil Doyle offers advice for the lovelorn, and finds that things are getting smaller

New Matilda
Work is In
The rise and fall of the working hours debate in france is relevent to Australian workers, writes Daniel Donahoo and Tim Martyn

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP surveys the upcoming conservative centralist collective attack.

Postcard from Harvard
Australian union officials making the annual pilgrimage to the Harvard Trade Union Program learnt that, at least, they are not alone, says Natalie Bradbury.


Thatís Our Team
Hereís a test. Hands up all those who watched the news last night. Who can remember the weather forecast for tomorrow? What about the forecast in Perth?


 Rev Kev: Innocent Shall Be Guilty

 Itís Official - Taskforce "Hopeless"

 Hollywood For Tropfest Evictees

 Miner Problem for Feds

 Students Driven to Sleep

 Brogden Dances On Graves

 Let Them Drink Beer

 Traffic Fines Parked

 The Airline That Flew a Kite

 Hundreds Resist Porridge

 Experts Back Better Childcare Pay

 Mushroom Mums Win

 Rotten Fruit Exposed

 Workers Sue Rumsfeld

 Activistís Whatís On

 Stay Terra Firma on Tax
 Janetís Job No Victory
 Royal Finger Lickers
 Will $20 Restore Carr?
 Two Ideas
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Off the Rails

A new play on the impact of rail privatisation in Britain has a poignant message for Sydney commuters, writes Alex Mitchell

English playwright David Hare and director Max Stafford-Clark and nine of Britain's finest actors have brought Sydney audiences a new play of immense social impact: the story of Britain's privatisation of the railways and the subsequent train crashes and other calamities.

The Out of Joint Company won great critical acclaim when its play, The Permanent Way, opened in London with Nicholas de Jongh writing in the London Evening Standard: "Hare has neatly woven characters together, as if embroidering a great Victorian tapestry that illustrates How They Ruined Our Railways... Welcome to inflammatory theatre."

In the Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer (Princess Di's brother!) , wrote: "A tremendously gripping and often moving play that offers devastating analysis of what is wrong with Blair's Britain. Riveting. I have rarely seen an audience watch and listen to a drama so intently, for this is a piece that gets to the heart of so much that is rotten in Britain today."

While The Guardian's Michael Billington said: "A dazzling oral mosaic. Hare lets people speak movingly for themselves. But he also shapes and orchestrates the material, highlighting the way disaster exposes human vulnerability and divides as well as unifies."

Since opening in Sydney two weeks ago, the play has been well received by local critics. The Sydney Morning Herald's Mark Hopkins described the production as "a tightly orchestrated medley of voices about the privatisation of the British rail network" adding: "Hare's artistry gives gripping voices to the personal stories of such a cruel mix of suffering."

In The Sun-Herald, reviewer Colin Rose wrote: "The Permanent Way sketches this sad, mad misadventure from the privatisation to the fourth crash in 2002 in the words of those who were involved. Playwright David Hare and a group of actors interviewed dozens of people bankers and civil servants, railway executives and engineers, crash survivors and the bereaved to compose this documentary-type performance of first-hand accounts."

The Australian's John McCallum wrote: "Hare's script places at the heart of all this the stories of the victims and of the bereaved. It also explores the politics between these two groups: the bereaved unwilling to let it all go and wanting to fight on, and the survivors unwilling to keep battling and wanting release from their pain -- an apology, some compensation perhaps, but at least an end to the repeating cycle of incompetence, disaster and ineffectual public enquiry."

In other words, this is a production of riveting interest to the NSW labor and trade union movement. In the wake of train disasters at Glenbrook and Waterfall and blame-shifting by politicians and media hacks, The Permanent Way is a piece of theatre for the times. After the play, there are opportunities for Question & Answer sessions with the actors - please ask about it.

Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, until March 19.

Tickets $54-$66 on 9250 1777.


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