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February 2006   

Interview: Court's in Session
As the silks line up to challenge WorkChoices, Jeff Shaw is fighting for his own legacy - the NSW IR system.

Industrial: Whose Choices?
The Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation has been dissected by lawyers and the commentariat; now it's the turn of political economists.

Politics: Peter's Principles
Forget John Howard. The force behind WorkChoices is Peter Costello. The Prime Minister-in-waiting has devoted a lifetime to undermining the security and living standards of Australian families, Jim Marr reports.

Environment: TINA or Greener?
What does the greenhouse effect and legislation to control workers have in common, asks Neale Towart

History: Its Not Just Handshakes and Aprons
Power. They have it, we want it. Friendly societies tried to keep it for working people, writes Neale Towart

International: US Locks out Jose' Bove
The US Government has refused to allow France's most famous farmer Jose Bove into the country to address a conference

Education: No AWA - No Job
The Howard Government has given the Australian community its first view of the future by forcing new staff at Ballarat University to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement if they want a job, writes Jenny Macklin.

Culture: Jesus was a Long-Grass Man
The writings of a Middle Eastern theologian may provide guidance to those grappling with indigenous issues, writes Graham Ring

Review: Charlie the Serf
Nathan Brown takes the sledgehammer (and sickle) to Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory.


The Soapbox
Hitler in Bowral
Political censorship has made its wasy to the sleepy Southern Highlands, wrties Rowan Cahill.

The Locker Room
No Laughing Matter
Phil Doyle tries to take Australian sportspeople seriously, and fails.

The Westie Wing
Ian West is mistakenly sent an advance copy of John Winston Howard’s Little Blue Book of Australian History…


Total Impact
The long hot summer, the calm before the storm, is finally passed; and as March 1 approaches the new world of work is looming and the extent of the attack on organised labour is becoming clear.


 Capital Punishment on the Menu

 Della Builds Fortress NSW

 Unfair Sackings Face Challenge

 Slave Contractors Sprung

 Holden's Bad Deal for Adelaide

 ACCI Never Sleeps

 STOP PRESS: Guest Worker Plan Goes to Water

 Taking a Punt on Melbourne Cup

 Backlash on Job Cuts

 Howard Coy on Ad Orgy

 Newcastle Rails Against Contracts

 Union Man Eyes Cuts

 Free Enterprise Kills Hundreds

 Aussie Icon Moves to China

 Activist's What's On!

 The Best for the Best
 Belated Merry Whatmas?
 The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
 I Think Therefore I Scam
 A Taxing Answer
 Leslie John Turner
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The Westie Wing

Ian West is mistakenly sent an advance copy of John Winston Howard’s Little Blue Book of Australian History…

It's hard to know what Howard and the Liberals could do in 2006 to top last year's assault on our social democracy.

But there are some pointers - the call for less nudity and swearing in the media as some way of addressing a perceived fall in our social standards, the threat to not fund our schools if they won't put a flagpole in the quadrangle.

And there's Howard's call to make our children rote-learn Australian history - he wants a 'coalition of the willing to bring about a change of attitudes.'

With the Conservative's political and economic conquest of Australia the black armband has come off. Their attention is now focused on the social re-engineering of our children.

Howard's Little Blue Book of Australian History is supposed to somehow engender respect for our elders and our country.

It's all a little ironic, following last year's IR legislation aimed at wiping out 100 years of struggle and gains by Trade Unions for working Australians.

History shows that when equality in any bargaining process becomes unbalanced, a couple of things happen.

Firstly, abuse of power occurs. Secondly, the aggrieved find ways to resist the abuse, exclusion and imbalance - legally or otherwise.

Howard and Co. have sought to exclude unions and other civil rights defenders from basic processes and issues over the last 10 years.

The High Court challenge to the unconstitutional IR laws by State Governments and Unions holds promise for working people and their families as well as the numerous social and environmental struggles unions have supported over the years.

But what would Howard's History of Australia look and sound like? It's important we get to know Howard's History, so that we won't be doomed to repeat it.

Firstly, school children would need to warm up their voices - "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi." Repeat 100 times. Then we're right to go...

Early in 1770 the east coast of Australia came into being, through intelligent design, just as James Cook sailed over the horizon on behalf of the British Admiralty.

In 1788 Arthur Phillip raises the Union Jack in Sydney Cove, toasts the royal family and starts a housing boom. The use of convict labour is a shining example of an early deregulated Australian labour market.

In 1790 a soul-less man known as Bennelong spears Phillip, despite the goodly works and constructive approach taken by Europeans towards Aboriginals.

In 1808 one of the colony's leading entrepreneurs John Macarthur struggles for de-regulation of the corporate sector but gets arrested by Governor Bligh, who in turn is overthrown by some alcoholic soldiers and workers, who are appropriately crushed by Governor Macquarie a year later.

In 1810 Lachlan Macquarie sets about planning Hyde Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens and The Domain, which have pleasing fences and statues of great men.

In 1813 Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson single-handedly discover the interior of Australia.

In 1817 Australia's first bank opens and in 1834 NSW sensibly adopts English law governing borrowing and interest rates.

In 1851 gold is discovered in Bathurst, then Ballarat and Bendigo, and in 1854 entrepeneurs wage struggle for deregulation of the corporate sector. However the whole thing goes a bit too far, and some people get a few weird ideas about independence. But they get their what-for during Eureka Stockade.

In 1856 the Australian economy suffers a huge blow with the introduction of an 8 hour day. The sky falls in. Things become so bad, men are forced to grow long flowing beards. Despite this, in the same year, the British Parliament gives the Australian colony the gift of democracy. To ensure good sense prevails, only free white men with property can vote.

In 1872 the telegraph is linked between England and Australia so we can stay in touch. The telegraph system is later proven to be inefficient as it's publicly owned.

In 1882 the Ashes are given to Australia by England, providing years of good, clean, enjoyable cricket. Repeat, "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!"

In 1894 some white women are given the vote. Janette approves, belatedly. Also, Sir Robert Menzies is born.

In 1896 Australia wins its first Olympic Gold. Repeat, "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!"

In 1899 there's a Glorious War in South Africa, and we're on our way to becoming a nation. "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!"

In 1901 Australia is given the gift of Federation by the English, who are very charitable and understanding towards others. History shows this.

In 1906 England gives us Papua New Guinea, which is nice. We give it back in 1975, because it costs too much to run.

In 1907 the entire future of Australia is thrown into doubt when Justice Higgins brings down a decision for workers to be paid a wage they can live on. The sky falls in again.

From 1914-18 we have the Great War. Lots of people get hurt. Lots of important people can't make the war as they're home studying law. We've grown up and are a nation at last.

In 1925 compulsory voting is foolishly introduced. What were they thinking?

In 1927 prima donna Dame Nellie Melba greets the Duke and Duchess of York with a rendition of "God Save the Queen" on the steps of the new Parliament House in Canberra. Three cheers, "Hoorah! Hoorah! Hoorah!"

In 1929 people with secure incomes grow rich as prices fall. Through their own personal failings, up to 30% of wage earners are out of work.

In 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge opens, allowing people in North Sydney to visit the Botanical Gardens anytime they wish.

In 1932-33 the "bodyline" series is held. It was a legitimate use of the rules - business is business. It was only a couple of bruises and people should get over it and move forward.

In 1939 our second Glorious War is held. We defend ourselves in Singapore and Papua New Guinea, and get to meet General Douglas Macarthur. He moves to Brisbane in 1942 and commandeers our troops and the war from there. Also, Sir Robert Menzies becomes Prime Minister for the first time. He couldn't make it to our first Glorious War because he had to stay home. So he decides to visit England to help run the second one and gives the Prime Ministership to someone else.

In 1945 the Downer family announces they have single-handedly won the Second World War.

From 1949 to 1966, Sir Robert Menzies is elected and Golden Age begins. First white picket fence built.

In 1950 the threat to our way of life is seemingly no greater - the Communists are amongst us. Sir Robert Menzies introduces the Communist Party Dissolution Act.

In 1951, the people vote against Sir Robert Menzies' referendum on Communism. It shows you can't trust average people to manage their affairs, they need Tories to do it for them. And it provides me a helpful lesson for defeating those Republicans 50 years later.

In 1956 Television arrives - good, clean, black and white TV. Sensibly, the first transmission is by Packer's channel 9. Also, Melbourne hosts the Olympics (although I thought London put together a better bid).

In 1958 Sir Robert Menzies promises to investigate using decimal currency, and 5 years later agrees.

In 1962, the threat of Communism is ever so real. Australia could be the next domino. Sir Robert Menzies sends Australians to help the South Vietnamese organise.

In 1964, all males over the age of 20 must register for national service. The threat of Communism at this point is very real, so conscription is okay in these circumstances. Nobody likes Governments telling them what to do, unless of course it's a Conservative Government.

In 1965, the takeover of South Vietnam would be "a direct military threat to Australia," not to mention property values, so Sir Robert sends another 1500 Australians over. He can't go himself, and neither can many other people I know.

In 1967 I start going to protests, protesting against protesters protesting against the Glorious War against Communism. I grow my first eyebrow!

In 1968 we win the Vietnam War! Dad's service station is saved from the Commies! I grow my second eyebrow!

In 1967 we start counting Aboriginals. Tough job though, the buggers are hard to find.

In 1970, I leave home and move in with Janette.

1972 to 1975 didn't really happen. I'm fairly certain we won the Vietnam War.

Thank goodness for the Governor in November 1975, when sense prevails and the Queen's representative sacks the Government (which I'm pretty sure was full of Communists).

In 1977 World Series Cricket started. Bit of a tough one this, I prefer 5 day tests, but it was Kerry's idea, so couldn't really say that much.

1983 to 1996 didn't really happen either. Country gripped by socialist demagogues.

In 1996 good sense prevails and I'm elected Prime Minister of Australia. Janette and I get to live in two taxpayer-funded houses so our kids can go to school (although they've since left). I make good friends with a woman called Pauline.

In 2000 I introduce the GST, which is a nice flat tax, and everyone can understand it.

In 2001, the Tampa arrived and saved my arse.

In 2003 I defend Australia from more destitute boat people and Arabs. Australia's a lot safer now.

In 2004 I decide who comes to the country and on what terms. Repeat "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!" Also, I get to do whatever I want from now on, as long as "Dubya" agrees.

In 2005 my Party, the Liberal Party of Australia, decides it really wants me (maybe I could become Emperor?), and I re-regulate the Australian labour market in my own image.

In 2006 I've got to do everything myself. And no-one told me about that wheat thing either.

But seriously, Howard and Co. can write and say and do whatever they like.

Everywhere except for employees, workers and their representatives, Howard and Co. champion collective bargaining, independent umpires and choice.

Conservatives use many tools to exclude. But with the cynicism of excluding more and more people, revolt gets higher on the people's agenda.

Their actions betray their words, and ultimately history will make them accountable. What's more, we'll be there to see them off.

Then we can get on with addressing the so-called fall in our social standards by ensuring people's access to, and inclusion in, the process of creating, accumulating and distributing society's wealth.

If you require assistance accessing information from a NSW Government Department or a Minister, or have feedback and ideas for speeches, or if you believe you know an issue that should be looked at by one of the Parliamentary committees, contact me at Parliament House on (02) 9230 2052 or email [email protected]


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