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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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Last Holeproof Hero

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

Ha ha! That old joke about superheroes wearing their undies on the outside of their trousers. It's been a source of humour since Superman introduced the fashion to comic book apparel in the 1938.

I'm sure some bolshie art lecturer has written the thesis on the phallic significance of superheroes and their codpieces serving to perpetuate the dominant gender imbalance. There is a perfectly rational argument that Superman was asserting his masculinity by wearing bright red budgie smugglers on the outside of his bike pants.

But I'm not of that school. I don't think the explanation is that complicated - the Man of Steel is a simpleton - probably the victim of Kryptonite in his younger days.

The signs of abuse are all there - the bright colours he wore, the paranoia that Lex Luthor was out to get him, the multiple personality disorder. After all, he must have come up with that guff about truth, justice and the American way while on the green stuff. Any person with an IQ higher than the phone booth Clark Kent changed in would quickly see the inherent contradiction in that troika.

Which brings us to V for Vendetta. V for Vendetta is a superhero movie for intelligent people.

Although the aesthetics of the totalitarian setting seem to be straight plagiarism of Orwell's 1984, the political similarities with where Australia and the western world are headed are plain scary.

Like Alexander Downer's defence of his actions in the wheat board scandal, outrageous spin prevails in the government and the media. Authorities quickly explain a terrorist attack on a the Old Bailey as a planned demolition they forgot to tell anyone about.

There is even an Alan Jones-type figure, although I suspect he's based more on Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, who emotionally delivers the propaganda of the day. The population believes little it is told, but doesn't do anything about it because the system provides security for those who fit in and torture for those who do not.

The ray of hope amongst all this is a Shakespeare-quoting vigilante, known only as V (Hugo Weaving). V is no Superman; he is quick-witted and a kick-arse fighter.

This is a superhero who sees no need to draw attention to his todger, instead opting for a black Zorro outfit and a Guy Fawkes mask. Fawkes, as you would remember, was the Catholic conspirator who in 1605 unsuccessfully tried to blow up parliament, its members and King James I all in one hit. Similarly, V plots to blow up parliament, exterminate the demagogues and show people that standing up isn't such a bad thing at all.

But before he does this, V goes through a list of people who were involved in a conspiracy to manufacture a contagious and fatal disease, which led to the fascists seizing power.

Through V's relationship with a mild-mannered woman Evey (Natalie Portman), his motives and methods are justified. "People should not be afraid of their governments," he tells Evey. "Governments should be afraid of their people."

While I have read things on internet message boards questioning the violence V employs and, as one comment put it, why he would blow up "such beautiful buildings", the detractors forget that it is intended as a comic-book-type movie. Beneath the violence - which is at times more like slapstick - is the message that people have a duty to speak out and act when faced with oppression.

As he faces the party leader in a showdown, V says: "Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof." And that beats ostentatious undies and "truth, justice and the American way", any day.


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