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September 2005   

Interview: Polar Eclipse
Academic David McKnight challenges some sacred cows in his new book "Beyond Left and Right".

Industrial: Wrong Turn
Radical labour reform is on the horizon but some workers, like Sydney bus driver Yvonne Carson, have seen it all before, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Star Support
It wasn't just families who backed workers' rights at The Last Weekend, but a bunch of musicians who set the tone, writes Chrissy Layton.

Workplace: Checked Out
Glenda Kwek asks you to consider the plight of the retail worker, and shares some of her experiences

Economics: Sold Out
The Future Fund and industrial relations reform are favourite projects of the PM and the Treasurer. Both are speculations on the future and the only guarantee with them is that you will be worse off, writes Neale Towart.

Politics: Green Banned
The impact of new building industry laws wonít be confined to one industry, writes CFMEU national secretary John Sutton.

History: Potted History
Lithgow is a place with a proud history as a union town. The origins of broader community solidarity lie in the early industrial development of the town and the development of unions. The Lithgow Pottery dispute of 1890 was a key event.

International: Curtain Call
The curtains have opened for East Timorís young theatre performers, thanks to a Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project.

Review: Little Fish
At last! An Aussie film with substance, suspense and a serious dose of reality, writes Lucy Muirhead

Poetry: Slug A Worker
In a shock development, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, gave a ringing endorsement to the poetry pages of Workers Online, writes resident bard David Peetz.


The Soapbox
Families First
New Senator Stephen Fielding turned a few heads with his Maiden Speech to Parliament.

The Locker Room
The New World Order
Phil Doyle declares himself unavailable for the fifth and deciding test.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, reports from the NSW Government's Safety Summit

On The Bus
A bright orange bus travelling the state has become the focus of the campaign against federal IR changes. Nathan Brown was on board.


Middle Australia
The Prime Minister rarely responds directly to criticism, so when he rushed out a media release rebutting an ACIRRT analysis of wages data this week, it was clear that they had a hit a raw nerve.


 Trucks Run Down Mums

 Boom! Biff! Itís Howard Unplugged

 Fun Guy Spreads Fertiliser

 Doors Close on Battered Mums

 Bing Lee Peddles Rubbish

 Bless This Bus

 High Court: Ads Do Kremlin Proud

 Families Water Win

 Tesltra Cuts Get Poor Reception

 Vegetable Campaign Sprouts

 Check Work/Family Balance Here

 Tim Wins For Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA

 Activists Whatís On!

 Care Confusion
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The Locker Room

The New World Order

Phil Doyle declares himself unavailable for the fifth and deciding test.


Things fall apart

The centre cannot hold

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

-W.B. Yeats

Losing is good for the soul. It prepares a person for life better than, say, winning.

Most of life is six to five against, so losing is the best insurance we have of maintaining a grip on reality and not turning into a pouting blond brat from Adelaide whose initials are Lleyton Hewitt.

Not that we can blame Llittle Lleyton for being the dysfunctional and embarrassing mess he has proved to be. You'd be pretty ratty too if someone paid you twice the national debt of Khazakhstan for an afternoon's work doing something that is about as productive as sleeping, but not nearly as watchable.

People who follow football sides like Fitzroy or Newtown develop subtle philosophies that create an inner peace and tranquillity known only to certain sage gurus of the Orient, and that bloke who sits smiling outside Town Hall station pepped up on goof balls.

It is the peace and tranquillity of knowing that it is the journey, rather than the destination, which is the enthralling aspect of life.

Those who follow sides that have the success of, say, the Penrith Emus, are most probably far better lovers than the sort of wham, bam, thank you ma'am approach to life exemplified by Nick Farr Jones and his Sydney University Rugby Club colleagues.

Nick, as you all know, is not a very interesting fellow and will most probably die of gout.

Any idiot can prepare a side such as the Brisbane Lions in the early part of this century and take all before them and win game after game until we're all so bloody bored we start watching Danoz Direct because at least there's a bit of bloody variety.

But a side such as Norths cannot only lose, they can take it to an art form.

Watching Big Bill Hamilton's boys find yet new and stranger ways to lose a game, while listening to Frank Hyde going through the statistics on 2SM, sounding like someone had run over his dog, was a truly an uplifting experience - on a par with, say, Keats 'Ode To A Grecian Urn'.

There was no defiance in Frank. Just pure, wall-to-wall demoralisation as a realisation dawned that the Bears had blown another twenty-point lead over Manly. Even though, technically, you can't kick an own goal in Rugby League, I'm sure Norths will find a way, even in the NSW Premier League.

I mean, it's not as if you hear someone say "Crikey! They breed them tough in Cammeray!"

No, no one is stupid enough to say that. Not even this column, or Rex Mossop. So Norths are doomed - Like those tiny turtles on the beach - The cruel hand of destiny means it will always be thus.

Which for a Norths, or Newtown, or Penrith Emus, or Fitzroy, or Charlestown Butcherboys supporter means something next to sweet nil all because they know that this is how it is to be.

Like Ned Kelly being led out to the gallows the supporter shall perfect the just perfect wry smile, shrug, and say, such is life.

For everything is fleeting, especially glory.

This is something that leaves your average Broncos or Essendon fan decidedly perplexed when their side loses. Even worse, when their side loses consistency it can become a disorientating nightmare, like putting a forty-two year old teetotaller on horse tranquillisers. It ends up like a sped up version of global warming. Chaos and calamity ensue. People gnash their teeth, tear their hair, demand answers, and call talkback radio. It is an endless spiral of hate and malice that all ends with apes running the planet apparently, or so the movie goes.

Which brings us to the Ashes.

It was bound to happen. Like John Howard's inexplicable departure from public life, which is as inevitable as Tuesday, fate plays no favourites in the end. Even the mighty get bent over the dining table eventually.

Still, the gormless dullards that inhabit what laughably passes as the sporting media in this country (there is no I in Jones) have whipped themselves into a frenzy unseen since Ramses II abandoned Alexandria for the Aswan reaches.

All sorts of solutions have been offered to solve this national tragedy, which is the inevitable outcome of not letting anyone else have a go with the bat or the ball. It has sundered the national psyche not seen in a way since, say, the last time Australia got flogged, which if you believe the appropriately named News Limited was some time prior to 3600BC.

Gillespie's locks have proved to be Samson minus the scissors. Hayden needs a wheelchair. Warney is looking disturbingly like a dirty old man. It is disturbing to hear of someone like Ponting referred to as Ricky at his age.

There is a clock out there, you know. Its hands are ticking for Australian cricket. Some have compared what is happening with the collapse of the West Indies as a cricketing power.

Which is true, I guess, for all nations are tragic. And if there are more nations, as in the West Indies, it's only going to be more tragic. Why should we be any different?

Now is the time for all of us to come to the aid of our national cricket team - and start bickering and squabbling about personalities and team selection.

Onwards and upwards, Australia. You bunch of ugly winners and bad losers.

In the meantime, for the rest of us....Go Bears, Go Roys, Go Emus, Go Jets...

And go Ricky...

Phil Doyle - having a bounce before sending a spiralling torpedo punt down to the half-forward line


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