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April 2005   

Interview: Australia@Work
Labor's Penny Wong has the job of getting more people into the workplace and keeping companies honest. In her spare time ....

Unions: State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson unveils the annual survey of attitudes of workers to their jobs, thier lives and the union.

Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Jim Marr unpacks the unlikely claim of a suburban house to be considered the New Mecca of the New Right �

Legal: Leg Before Picket
Chris White looks at how the federal industrial changes will impact on the basic right to strike.

Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Neale Towart asks why the only form of legitmate welfare seems to be going to the top end of town.

Health: Cannabis Controversy
Zoe Reynolds looks at how drug and alcohol testing is leading to some addled outcomes.

Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
As the indicators head south, Frank Stilwell wonders whether it is the way we do economics that is to blame.

History: Politics In The Pubs
Phil Doyle reports on the increasingly-popular Struggles, Scabs and Schooners day out.

Review: Three Bob's Worth
Doing their best Margaret and David, Tara de Boehmler and Tim Brunero have different takes on the new Australian flick Three Dollars.

Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
Workers Online bard David Peetz teaches how workers to dance to Howard's industrial laws.


The Soapbox
Notes From a Laneway
Mental Health Workers Alliance member Toby Raeburn shares a week on the frontline.

The Locker Room
War, Plus The Shooting
The Socceroos aren�t their own worst enemy after all, or so says Phil Doyle

Life Imitates Art
The jokes have been around for some time about the economic rationalist's approach to the orchestra, writes Evan Jones.

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes the secret passage out of Macquarie Street to deliver his take on NSW Parliamentary Committees and other goings on.


Icarus Rising
Right now John Howard is flying. Watch him soar in his Vodafone track-suit, further than the Hawke into unchartered skies.


 Health System to Subsidise Shonks

 Who Likes Bing Lee?

 Death Threats Shut Campsie

 Thumbs Down for Union Busters

 Advocate Pours Salt on Wound

 United Front Beats Drug Boss

 Kev Backs Double Standard

 Victorian Morality Shafts Teacher

 Doctors Prescribe More

 Multinational Banks Jobs

 Working Class Idol

 Greens Protect Entitlements

 Activist�s What�s On

 Students Bear Brunt
 Security Lacking
 Bus Lanes On Vic Rd
 Dirt Cheap Right On Money
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Life Imitates Art

The jokes have been around for some time about the economic rationalist's approach to the orchestra, writes Evan Jones.


James Strong evidently didn't see the humour. In today's Australian , Strong is reported as former Qantas CEO. There are rumours that he wasn't very good at his job, hence the former status. Strong is best known for his bow ties and his physical presentability.

Given that Mr Strong had time on his hands, he appears to have been given a consultancy by Arts Minister, Rod Kemp, to look at the nation's orchestras. That's Rod Kemp of the useless Kemp brothers who appeared to have reached the stellar heights of the Ministry because their father was a scion of the Liberal Party.

Mr Strong recommends that the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra be cut from 47 to 38 musicians, the Adelaide Symphony from 75 to 56 and the Queensland Symphony from 85 to 74.

These loss-making orchestras will be trimmed of their fat and move into the future con brio. A master stroke from Mr. Strong's baton.

All those violins duplicating work constitute a huge waste. Most of the percussionists sit around right through the performance. A post-Fordist age needs post-Fordist work practices. Flexibility and multi-skilling. With some judicious rationalisation of the scores, the trumpets and trombones can share jobs, halving the numbers needed; ditto the clarinets and the oboes.

The orchestras are just the beginning.

The string quartet is a fruitful field for rationalisation. Note the new improved Alexander Quartet in the photo. One of the two violins was obviously ready for the chop. But why stop there? The viola or the cello? It's a toss-up. Violas are ugly and inconsequential. On the other hand, the cello takes up too much space and space is money. And the cello plays those low status low notes which just drone on and on. A bass drum with a foot pedal would probably make do when gravity is called for. The cello gets the chop.

You cut five, ten players here and there. But Australians keep pricing themselves out of the market. Ultimately, the next step is to outsource to a low wage clime. Subcontract the lot to Naxos and its Eastern European work for the smell of an oil rag crowd.

Then we can sit around and listen to the imported CDs. And concentrate on what Australians have a comparative advantage in - property development, that kind of thing. Brilliant.


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