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May 2005   

Interview: Fortress NSW
NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca on how to win the battle for workers rights - and save the state system.

Unions: Fashions Afield
With new anti-sweatshop creations being paraded at this year's Australian Fashion Week, is equity the new black and are sweatshops the new fur? asks Tara de Boehmler.

Industrial: Pay Dirt
John Burgess argues that the flow-on effect from changing the minimum wage could be more than we bargained for.

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: Big Day Out
Neale Towart looks back on the events that created the May Day heritage.

International: Making History
Hundreds of aid organisations, charities, trade unions and religious groups have formed a global alliance called � Make Poverty History�.

Economics: The Fear Factor
The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning, argues John Spoehr

Review: The Robots Revolt
New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The idea of a corporations power that could cure any ill has inspired our resident bard, David Peetz, to verse.


The Soapbox
May Spray
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson delivered the annual May Day Toast - and warned it is no time to be comfortable and relaxed.

The Locker Room
A Rucking Good Time
Phil Doyle reveals many things, some of them useful

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, is back to regale us with inside goss and intrigue from the Bearpit.


Rights and Wrongs
Something unseasonal and hitherto untoward has been occurring up at Macquarie Street in recent weeks, a flurry of legislative activity around workers rights.


 Harmer FACS Families

 Brats Drive Bus Row

 Harsh Reality � Bella Turns Pink

 Rev Kev Blesses Bosses

 Workers Online Legit

 Howard Rides Kiwi Model

 Della Opts for Gaol

 Feds in the Dock

 Carr Race to Bottom

 Bosses Walk on Water

 Govt Gets Claws into Nurses

 Ion Faces Legal Probe

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The Robots Revolt

New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

"Whether you're made with new parts, old parts or spare parts, you can shine whoever you are and no matter what you're made of."

This is the motto of the company in Chris Wedge's 'Robots' that inspires people of all ages to develop inventions which said company will back.

What is different about the land in which this company operates, is that all people are robots imbued with the psychological characteristics of the human race.

They feel love, have hopes and fears, have consciousness, and consciences ... except for a notable pair who take over the invention company, Bigweld Org, and seek to transform it into the most profit maximising model in the world.

Young Rodney Copperbottom is one robot who has been inspired by the Bigweld Org of days gone by. Taking comfort in its motto has allowed him to move past insecurities about his second hand parts and has given him a determination to succeed on his own initiative.

"It's just about ideas and innovation and looking for a need to fill," he tells himself.

He designs an assistant dishwasher to make life easier for his father and sets off to present his brainwave to Bigweld Org.

But unbeknownst to Rodney, the philanthropic, innovation supporting days of the company have long ago been replaced with a closed door policy geared purely towards maximising profits.

Bigweld Org has concluded there is not enough money in the old ways compared with selling body upgrades to their customers - shiny new shells to replace their old parts with that guarantee they will feel top of the range.

The only proviso is that in marketing these products, robots can no longer be allowed to feel good about themselves - lest they be unduly happy with their lot and manage to resist the lure of the new.

The land where Robots is set is populated by people at the beginning of a consumerist cycle where the driving capitalist force is only just starting to take over. But even then it is a formidable force to fight for the feisty few who refuse to be 'outmoded'.

It compares starkly to our own nations where people are taught it is virtually an obligation to consume in order to keep the economy (our new social fabric?) strong.

Human beings in the western world are fed a line that many of us have a built in obsolescence almost as clear-cut as the mechanical wears we are peddled.

Movie, music and fashion idols help set the pace dictated by the advertising industry - teaching the impressionable that without a nip, tuck, tighten and sculpt, demand for one's wares will drop dramatically post 35. Even before that one has no hope of being noticed without all the 'it' items of the very minute.

That is, of course, if one believes the advertisers' rhetoric or even aspires to play by the terms laid out. Either way, it makes for interesting viewing to see these messages laid out in a kids flick 'acted out' by jumping, laughing, joking robots.

The kids are likely to enjoy this fun flick and may appreciate the message that all of them can shine regardless of their family's wealth.

Full marks also for suggesting people might want to simply fix what they have got instead of calling out for whatever is new. It's refreshing to see people of all ages reminded that no one's worth is dictated by what they own.

But this film is unlikely to result in less demand for new model Play Stations, iPods, and mobile phones ... or whatever else us and the kids are peddled next. Will it?

Enjoy this film for a fun bit of escapism and a chance to see some of the old anti-capitalism arguments re-dressed in kiddy clothing. Who knows, maybe this will be the ticket to help inspire the next generation of socialists.


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