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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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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.


SYDNEY, Olympic Park hosted 'The Last Weekend' event on Sunday, 7th August, 2005. Approximately 50,000 people attended. The event was organised by Unions NSW to promote public awareness of the impact the Federal Government will be able to make when it takes control of the Senate. This is an important change because a Government majority in both houses of Federal Parliament means the end of the traditional role of the Senate as a House of Review with the power to adjust, or even to block proposals before they become law. One major concern to the Unions is the workplace laws would be altered to exclude 'basic rights at work'.

Corinne Grant (Rove Live, The Glass House and Skithouse fame) who acted as the MC on the day stated, "I think we're going to have to be vigilant, I think there is always room for hope" she said with a laugh. "We just have to keep hoping that there are voices of reason, I think there are voices of reason somewhere within the Liberal Government and the Nationals, we just have to keep plugging away at them and hope that good sense will prevail in the end."

Corinne went on further to say, "as an entertainer our biggest problem is that a lot of our members tend to work in hospitality and industries like that, and these are the kind of industries that will be hit by the changes. The work that actors do when they are not acting will be really compromised by these changes, so we are trying to protect them from that".

Though some entertainers felt they may not be directly affected by the perceived workplace reform due to the fact that many of them are part of small businesses or self employed, all present on the day displayed support and awareness of how changes would affect them in some way as part of the Australian Community.

David Butts, The Hooley Dooleys (Children Entertainers) commented, "we see the advertisements on television about working mums and so on, and see that is an unsettling environment to be in. I think we need compassion, and on the other side we need to have businesses that can operate effectively. We have to balance between people having some security in their lives and some sense of being dealt with compassion".

Antoine Demarest, The Hooley Dooleys stated, "I think it's good to see that a lot of people are turning up which is showing everybody is interested and voicing their opinion." He went on further to say "you don't want to lose what people have fought pretty hard to retain, that's the main thing." David Butts added "or have things lost by stealth." David continued by saying, "in a way it's always a dangerous position when the checks and balances that we hope to be in the system of government, may disappear. So it's a way the government needs, I guess, is to know there are other voices out there that also need to have a say".

Kid Confucius' Andrew Guirguis commented that Kid Confucius was involved with the event to provide a style of music and performance that is geared at younger workers out there. "This event is attracting tens of thousands of people with families. Kids and people of all ages and different professions, some who have just left school, while others have been in the workforce for a couple of decades. There's got to be entertainment that appeals to everyone". Kid Confucius' nine piece band with it soul based sound including brass and rich vocals harmonies, definitely achieved that for the event.

Tim Freedman (The Whitlams) performed solo, as well as performing with Astro Tabasco (Lounge/Latin style instrumental band). Tim didn't feel that the proposed work reforms would have an impact on him as a performer but he commented, "I think it's important we show them (the government) that there are enough people watching so they can't basically go on doing the bidding of the employers and the Employers Association".

ASTRO TABASCO's Andy Kell was very passionate about the cause and could see the bigger picture of how the work reforms could affect the entertainment industry and themselves as performers. "I guess speaking from the point of view of the entertainment industry, particularly musicians, we are a bit worried about the impact because we see the increase of work hours and the broadening of work hours, and the potential reduction in conditions and pay as generally stressing out your average worker. This means they are probably less likely to go out on a Friday night, if there is pressure on their wallet they are not going to go out."

Other concerns that Andy highlighted included the general idea of free weekends disappearing and the proposal of people cashing in their annual leave. "As people start cashing in their annual leave you will probably see the disappearance of the music festivals and all of that kind of stuff. Well, perhaps not the disappearance of festivals as such, but the pressure on those people who now attend the festivals will need to organise their work somehow differently, as they won't be able to take holidays to go".

Whilst providing entertainment to families and supporting the event, Andy commented, "it's just a real thrill to be able to play to a whole bunch of families and kids and stuff like that. We are really excited about that. We love the fact that we are able to do this while supporting a fantastic cause".

Andy summed up what appeared to be all of the entertainers feelings on the day, "I think today is a real opportunity to get out and support a really worthy cause, but still have a great time while doing it".


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