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November 2005   

Interview: Public Defender
The CPSU's Stephen Jones has confronted the Howard Government's IR agenda at close quarters.

Legal: Craig's Story
An inquest in western NSW is a cautionary tale of the use of AWAs, writes Ian Latham

Unions: Wrong Way, Go Back
The WorkChoice legislation sends Australia down the wrong economic road by smashing the instittutions that have made it strong, argues Greg Combet.

Industrial: WhatChoice?
The Howard Government has shown itself to be the master of illusion, writes Dr Anthony Forsyth

Politics: Queue Jumping
The changes to industrial laws, betray a new vision of Australian society, writes James Gallaway.

History: Iron Heel
Conservative governments using laws to take away basic civil rights. It's nothing new, writes Rowan Cahill

Economics: Waging War
When was the last time you heard an Australian politician talk about incomes policy, asks Matt Thistlethwaite

International: Under Pressure
The push for UN intervention in Burma is intensifying, following a report by Vaclav Havel and Bishop Desmond Tutu into slave labour.

Poetry: Billy Negotiates An AWA
More and more people are meeting Billy, the hero of page 15 of the WorkChoices booklet, including our resident bard, David Peetz

Review: A Pertinent Proposition
Nick Cave's "Australian western" touches on some themes still relevant today, Julianne Taverner writes.


The Soapbox
Men and Women of Australia
What makes a perfect speech? Michael Fullilove has scoured Australian history to find out.

The Locker Room
The Hungry Years
Phil Doyle gets the feeling we’ve been here before

From Little Things
Paul Kelly's song about the battle for land rights misses one important character, writes Graham Ring

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at Public Private Partnerships, and wonders if we should all just drink rum…


Terror Laws
It was poetic really, the WorkChoices legislation, all 1,000 plus pages of it, introduced into Federal Parliament this week under the cloak of terror.


 D-Day For Political Rights

 Bosses In Sack Race

 “Choice” By Decree

 Howard Barges Into Workplace

 Della Grounds Boeing

 Wal-Mart Sees the Light

 Libs Chicken Out

 Shame Ships Filch Fish

 Multis Line Up to Cheer

 Feds in Dock

 Santoro Waves Red Rag

 Activist's What's On!

 We're Next
 Australia, 2005
 Truth in Advertising
 Investment Advice
 What a Woman!
 It's Not Pretty
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The Locker Room

The Hungry Years

Phil Doyle gets the feeling we’ve been here before

"The past is another country; they do things differently there." LP Hartley, from "The Go-Between".

The depression years have come back to haunt us in more ways than one.

The sporting events of the last month or so have had a familiar ring - the only thing missing being an economic downturn and mass homelessness; but given the record of the clowns running the show in Canberra that is, no doubt, just around the corner.

This launch into an Australia of the thirties is not just about having the floor price for labour ripped up; it's also about a peculiar form of history.

This column has talked down Sydney since it was suggested that Paul Roos would bring the curse of Fitzroy to the SCG. Nothing of the sort eventuated. Instead the Swans returned with pride to Lakeside, with the old Royboy Roos himself mentioning both Sydney And South Melbourne in his gracious victory speech.

Of course the last time the Swans won a flag was in 1933, when unemployment was somewhere the other side of the North Pole and the good burghers of South Melbourne were still licking their wounds after being belted back to work by Melbourne's finest during the waterfront troubles of that era.

Then there's the Phar lap analogy lauded on Maykbe Diva.

Slightly more spurious given that Maykbe Diva hasn't exactly entered folklore in the same way that big red did. An earlier generation also saw this sort of thing with Tulloch, but what the hey, it sells papers, and so did Phar Lap.

Another echo from the hungry years asserts itself with a visit from the West Indies cricket side, which first toured here in the dry summer of 30/31, when they went three nil down before pulling one back in the fifth test to lose the series 4-1.

There are more than a few who are expecting a similar result this time around, but they could be in for a surprise. Lara's run of outs can't last forever, and they also have a handy bowling attack; something that was not in the kit bag last time they visited.

It may be crash through or crash for the Windies, but with a bowler named after Fidel Castro in the side they can't be all bad.

Still, there is no Bradman on board, who dazzled the crowds in 30/31. Then again, being without a conservative stockbroker can't be all bad either.

A lot of hype and bunkum is splattered around about Bradman lifting the nation's spirits during the depression years, but that's not the view of those who lived through that era that this column has spoken to.

Firstly, it's not as if the unemployed had the change lying around to pop off to a test match when it suited them. Secondly, what did lift the spirits of the unemployed was a square meal.

Maybe it took the middle class's minds off the groups of homeless men, women and children that were to be seen in the streets of Sydney and the outskirts of towns and suburbs. Maybe it helped the staid citizenry that voted for Joe Lyons and Archie Bevan, but the idea that someone who hadn't eaten for a week was mollified by Bradman scoring a double-century at the MCG is stretching it a bit.

So it is the marketing hype that brings us back to the twenty-first century with a thud. While things may be similar, they are not the same. It's just the same section of society are copping it in the clacker and the same sanctimonious Tories are mouthing the same bile about the need to cut living standards so we can be better off.

You don't have to be Einstein to know that great cricket nut Howard would have had the same fond feelings for Hitler that his idol Menzies did in 1933.

If we ever do get around to trying to reclaim that part of the sporting universe that was once ours we could do worse that emulate those Lille fans who let their club know that they aren't happy about having to play their matches at the not-very-near Stade de France in Paris.

Lille began their recent Champions League match with Monaco without a single fan in the ground. They all came in a minute into the game; though, as Lille lost 1-0, they probably wished they hadn't bothered.

Phil Doyle - breaking serve in the third set


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