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May 2006   

Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Reverend Jim Wallis is leading a crusade to take the moral debate into the public arena.

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Government has begun a series of workshops to sell its WorkChoice vsision. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Lockout!
Jim Comerford’s eyewitness account of the 15-month Lockout of 10,000 New South Wales miners in1929-1930 records the inside story of Australia’s most bloody and bitter industrial conflict

Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Professor Ron McCallum argues the WorkChoices laws are built on a fundamental fiction.

Politics: Labor Pains
Labor has dealt itself out of the crucial workplace relations debate by failing to articulate a credible policy alternative to Howard’s new WorkChoices legislation, argues Mark Heearn and Grant Michelson

Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Evan Jones pays tribute to John Kenneth Galbraith, a big man who never stopped arguing that economics should serve the public good, not create public squalor.

Corporate: House of Horrors
Anthony Keenan takes a tour of Sydney’s notorious, Asbestos House, courtesy of Gideon Haig.

History: Clash Of Cultures
Neale Towart with a new take on Mayday through the words of a punk icon

International: Childs Play
An ILO report into Child Labour shows some progress is being made to curb this gobal scurge .

Culture: Folk You Mate!
Phil Doyle dodges Morris Dancers to find signs of Working Life at the National Folk Festival in Canberra over the Easter Weekend.

Review: Last Holeproof Hero
Finally, a superhero who has worked out how to wear his underpants. Nathan Brown ogles V for Vendetta


The Soapbox
Albo's Meltdown
Labor's environment spokesman Antony Albanese argues that Chrernobyl is one reason why the ALP should stand firm on nuclear.

The Locker Room
A Sort Of Homecoming
Phil Doyle plays to the whistle.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West reports from Macquarie Street on some strange collective acction.


Contract With Australia
If WorkChoices is the legislative expression of the Howard Government’s ideological hatred of unions, the Independent Contractors Act is the product of an altogether more dangerous form of ideological zealotry.


 Andrews Axes Safety

 Plant Fission for Cost Savings

 Spotless Bosses Blame Howard

 Aussie Bushman Pronounced Dead

 Who's Smirking Now?

 Yellow Bosses See Red

 Amber Light on Howard's Way

 Secret Police Spook Mum

 Wally Pollies Set for Cracker

 Qantas to Parachute In Pilots

 Unmask the Puppeteers, Union Demands

 Cleaners Mop Up

 Cane Toads Hop Into Johnny

 King of Onkaparinga Cries Poor

 Activist's What's On!

 Restaurant a Rip Off
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Folk You Mate!

Phil Doyle dodges Morris Dancers to find signs of Working Life at the National Folk Festival in Canberra over the Easter Weekend.

A vicious black storm was building over the Brindabellas as the Workers Online staff car squelched through the mud of the Exhibition Park In Canberra.

From the outside the whole thing looked like you're average country show: dodgy weather, muddy car parks, people in Drizabone's at the gate, corflute signs and fading light.

The first sign that we were moving into a different frame than what your average rock and roller or showie would be used to came at the ticket office.

Our wristbands were emblazoned Your Rights At Work - Worth Fighting For.

That was the first of many pleasant surprises inside the gate where worried faces scanned the skies towards an approaching storm. This was a gathering of people that defied convention, or description.

It was wide-eyed suburban kids, wild gap toothed men from the hills, flowing graceful dancers, exotic dispensers of victualage and Morris dancers.

It was a carnival atmosphere. A gathering of several quite discordant and environmentally friendly clans. And there was wall-to-wall families out for a look-see at the wild, the wonderful and the warm..

After we'd secured appropriately overpriced accommodation the team headed into the heart of darkness, hoping we weren't faking it in folkland.

Friday night's party atmosphere saw a massive milieu of breathtaking talent. Voices that would melt concrete, stories that seared the soul, three dollar cans of Coopers Draught, beards, ideas, old friends, strangers, music tumbling at every turn, more mandolins than a butcher has cats.

The rain fell steadily, dampening everything except the enthusiasm of everyone. Right through the evening the talent continued, until the rockabilly clock of the very talented Fuelers struck midnight.

That was Good Friday, back on the Saturday Workers Online visited the Your Rights At Work Stall, ably staffed by Athol Williams from the Shop Assistants union and Michael White from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

They said they were getting about 30 enquiries an hour from people concerned about the WorkChoices laws.

The Your Rights At Work - Worth Fighting For brand was everywhere, not just on our entry passes, but on T shirts and caps.

The impressive ACT Branch of the CFMEU banner dominated the stage at one of the major auditoria, the venue for Saturday's "Union Concert".

"Around 1979 my generation seems to have lost its way," said the militant brusque voice of Dick Gaughan, describing himself as half-Irish and three-quarter Scottish, sounded remarkably like the AMWU's Doug Cameron with a guitar in his hand.

Gaughan doesn't pull punches. laments about the past were tinged with a hope for the future. < p> "There's a hate in his eyes," grinned the enthusiastic Dr Gonzo of Workers Online. It was powerful.

Later we were very entertained by Australia's Peter Hicks, who continues to be the brutal left consciousness of Australian music. Happily he is also entertaining. His lyrics speak for themselves:

Fair thee Well Old John Howard
Fair the well to thee
Won't you follow Harold Holt
And swim on out to sea

Union Choirs, union songs, union people. Inspiring.

The ACT CFMEU has backed the whole festival enthusiastically since it decided to settle on a permanent venue years back, especially through the support of activists such as Colin McJannett.

The link they draw between working people being able to sing our own songs, and take those songs back into working class life is an important one.

There were about 50,000 people passing through the Canberra Showground over the Easter Weekend, many of them young families, concerned about the way our culture is going. Popular culture may be the "bling" of society, but folk is certainly its muscle and blood.

Visit your local folk festival; you will be surprised how much of yourself you might find there.


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