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This is democracy on December 2, 2005

December 2, 2005. An Australian is hanged. The career of a would-be Prime Minister who made his name breaking union power in the Courts is in ruins. The IR legislation passes the Senate as a fierce and thunderous storm whips through Canberra. Drivers in a long line of white cars outside the Parliament's Senate Entrance waiting to take the Senators away turn on their lights as rumours fly that the airport is closed. A tree uprooted by the storm falls in a nearby suburb, killing a man.

December 2, 2005. John Faulkner spoke last for Labor, of a "grotesque" parliamentary process on "despicable" and "unAustralian" legislation that would transform traditional Australian values. "I unashamedly associate myself with the Trade Union Movement", he railed, and with trade union officials, "these decent Australians who worked to improve the lives of working men and women and their families".

"I thank them for what they've done."

As a glum ACTU President Sharon Burrows and her glum helpers watched from the public gallery, he thanked them and their forebears for the 8 hour day. He thanked them for the minimum wage they achieved in 1907, for equal pay for women for equal work in 1967, for sick leave, for maternity leave, for workplace safety, for paid holidays, for worker's superannuation. Labor was formed in 1891 to further that cause, he said, and would be around a lot longer to keep fighting for it. He also railed against the "grotesque" corruption of Parliamentary process which would within minutes see the "house brick" legislation, 687 pages of it, rushed through so quickly that no-one really knew what they were voting for. Half an hour before debate on each clause began the Government dumped 337 amendments on Senators, and hours later 133 pages of "explanatory memoranda" to advise what the amendments were supposed to mean.

Burrows and her people stood and clapped their hands.

Ron Boswell, for the Nationals, also felt the historic nature of the moment. "I understand the hurt on the other side because I experienced it when it came to the granting of Native Title," he said. Christmas early 90s for Mabo, Christmas 1997 for Wik, it was. I'd also watched those historic moments from the Senate Press Gallery.

Boswell did not gloat, far from it. He'd felt then what Labor peple felt now, he said, pain for the people he represented. "I have some sympathy for them because I experienced it... I represent a different view and a different voting section. I represent country interests." Amid loud heckling, he said, "Mr President, let them go. They're very upset at the moment."

But - "This is democracy." The people decided last year "to give the Coalition a free rein... if we are wrong you should be rejoicing (because) you will be back."

"What comes around goes around."

Boswell spoke more in sorrow than in triumph. He said Labor had brought tariffs down under Whitlam and Hawke and he'd opposed it. "I was wrong, you were right." Now that the barriers were down "we have to be competitive with other manufacturing countries. That's the way the system works at the moment. You set this up, and we have to be able to cope."

Boswell said he hoped Labor had the courage to fight back like he had fought back after Wik. He knows full well that country workers will suffer too. Some of his people.

Geroge Brandis, a personal friend of Faulkner's, spoke for the Liberals. His friend had delivered "a remarkable and historic speech" which "took on a validictory tone".

Working people no longer identified with the ALP, just read Latham John Button or Barry Jones to find out why. "All of them say the same thing. It is not our side of politics out of touch with Australian working people and Australian families."

To Brandis, today was"striking a mortal blow to collectivisation". It was the end game of a movement away from collectivism and working for collective concerns which had begun in the 1950s.

"You know how much respect I have for you (but) you are on the wrong side of history," he said.

When the vote was taken just after 6pm a man behind Burrows stood to open and fly the Eureka Flag for a moment, until two Parliamentary attendants gently escorted him outside.


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re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Just as the dark, grey & gloomy skies on the day of George W Bush's inauguration day were an omen of what events lay ahead for the world, perhaps the storm that ravaged Canberra today as the IR legislation was passed may well be a sign of what lays ahead for Australian workers, their families & the wider economy. Time will tell

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Yes Margo it really was an historic day in Canberra.

It marks the begining of the end for the Union Movement, and that is where all the opposition to the IR legislation came from. Burrows realises this so she called on the Labor Party, for one last favour but they fizzed it. Faulkner was brilliant but Wong was pathetic along with Evans.

The Union Movement has done a wonderful job over the years, but they have just not kept up with change. They and the Labor Party have let the "workers" down over the last few years Maybe now Beazley and Co. will wake up.

Margo: Hi Syd. When we journos, through our union the Media Alliance, were negotiating our enterprise agreement before last with Fairfax, we couldn't agree and entered a period where we were allowed to take industrial action. This was under the Coalition's new workplace laws. We started on-off action - subs out for an hour, then artists etc - and the bosses went straight for the last card, a lockout, signifying an attempt to break the union. Back then union membership was unpopular with young staff members, who thought the union obsolete. They got the shock of their lives when staff were told to get out or the cops would be called to get them out. Age staff then blockaded the Age building and stopped delivery of papers on AFL Grand Final Saturday. Union membership soared and has stayed strong ever since at Faifax editorial. Could this happen across the board? Dunno.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

This snippet may help:

IR Back On The Agenda ALP Bounce Back With Highest Support Since Tampa

Roy Morgan Research
Finding No. 3941
December 03, 2005

In early December, primary support for the L-NP Government fell 8% to 35.5% which is 10.9% below the L-NP result at the October 2004 Federal election. The ALP enjoyed a 7.5% swing, up to 45.5%, which is 7.9% above the ALP result at the 2004 Federal Election. Had a Federal Election been held in mid-October, the ALP would have won with a significant majority, the latest Morgan Poll finds.

If preferences of minor parties were allocated as they were at the 2004 Federal Election (ALP — 60.5%, L-NP — 39.5%) the ‘two-party’ preferred vote would be 57% ALP and 43% L-NP - the best result for the ALP since early June 2001.

[link here]

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

It seems some unions are not out of favour Syd. Those that represent employers and business groups get special treatment from the Coaltion. They are consulted about important legislation that will affect all working lives while unions representing workers are demonised and ignored. This is pure ideology and takes us back a hundred years when the balance of power lay in the hands of the bosses. No doubt many will cheer, particularly small business owners in the belief the benefits will flow. Their time will come.

Give it about three years and the bleating of small country business owners will be deafening as they scream for special treatment. One growth industry will be in liquidation. At least they now won't be able to blame their recalcitrant workers when they go to the wall.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Indeed a sad day in Australia’s history. It is bad enough that a young Australian is killed in Singapore. To add salt to the wound our democracy takes another step towards fascism. How any person who works for another can gloat at the demise of union power is beyond my understanding. An individual worker cannot bargain with a large company. We are all heading down a slippery slope to slavery.

Australia now is in the hands of war criminals who show no respect for international law. They are willing to sacrifice our young to maintain power. Their sole aim seems to be making the rich, richer and the rest of us get less. less health services, less education, and our infrastructure is left to rot. They use whatever excuse they can to take away our freedoms, always ready to build up our fears, they wish to destroy the only protections we have, trade unions, freedom of speech, and the system of law that has served us for centuries.

As a member of the Australian Armed Forces for over twenty years from 1963 to 1986 I once was proud of Australia’s record as one the countries in the forefront of the push to bring democracy to the world. I had a dream that all people would one day be covered by the rule of law. That tyrants the world over would have to face justice. I began to doubt our government’s motivations in the war on Vietnam. Millions were killed for no gain. I hoped as we withdrew our troops from that ravaged country we would learn a lesson. We have not and now we find ourselves in a terrible war in Iraq.

Currently we are in the middle of a mineral boom Australia’s mining companies are making huge profits, we should have a large trade surplus but no we are running record trade deficits See here:
Deficit widens as profits go offshore

“Australia's net foreign liabilities, which comprise both equity and debt, reached record highs at $539 billion in the September quarter and have to be serviced.”

Australia’s economy is being horribly mismanaged and when the mineral boom ends we will face large job loses and the draconian IR laws will be used to reduce all our pay and conditions. We will not be able to speak out because the government has now got sedition laws in place. Union leaders and other political agitators may well find themselves caught up in the new anti terror laws. It is a very grim future for our kids and grandkids to face.

The challenges we face in the next 50 years of peak oil and global climate change will put even more pressure on our way of life. We must elect politicians that bring us together not divide us. We are all in the same boat and must all row together. The storms we face in the not so distant future are powerful and it is only by coming together as a nation will we be able to weather the storms.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

I have recently read Marion Maddox's God Under Howard. It lays open the role of the Lyons Forum, the "I understand" statement, and Liberal politicians' claims to Christian values.

One point of particular interest is a reference to an interview with 3AW's Neil Mitchell (see Margo Kingston article with transcipt of discussion here) in which the Prime Minister pointed out that he supported the Indonesian legal system in making a determination on the Bali Bomber's future. He also floated the idea that people around him had expressed their support for the death penalty.

Now, we only have his word for the fact that he and his team had worked quietly and assiduously behind the scenes to allow the Singaporean Government to save face. I might point out by not being to vocal he kept the 50% who were in favour of the death penalty in the camp. The dog whistle is operating.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

An extraodinary sitting on Friday to pass the IR legislation. A tainted Reserve Bank director steps aside. A young man dies.

I hate to see the blatant use of the public death of a young Australian as cover to limit political damage. Shame, shame, shame.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

This is a good description of the occasion. Your take on Ron Boswell's attitude is spot on - his intent was good, although his delivery was pretty clumsy, so the effect was mainly just to aggravate the people he was trying to express sympathy for.

I think Syd is far too harsh on Penny Wong and Chris Evans. Labor could have had a chamber full of John Faulkners and it wouldn't have made any difference. This Bill was always going to pass, from the day following the election when it became clear that the electorate had given John Howard control of the Senate and taken away the checking power the Democrats had previously held.

Penny Wong is clearly well across the detail of the IR issues, which is even more creditworthy given that she also has responsibility for the welfare laws which are up next week. She clearly knew more about the facts of the matter than the Government's Minister Abetz (or anyone else from the Govt). But this was never about substance, it was about ideology and agendas forged a long time ago in political battles of the past. All the Govt people had to do was spout their mantras and keep bagging the unions.

No one could have stopped this legislation getting through - the real challenge is whether they can ensure the government pays the political price for the ideoloigical extremism they have just inflicted on Australia's society and economy.

For my account of the final few hours of the debate today, go to my blog.

Margo: Andrew, how odd. I read your account a little while ago and tried to send you a congratulations email but the address on your site seemed to be wrong. Feel like writing a piece for Webdiary on the terror debate next week?

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

John smiled for the cameras. Cricket was played. An Australian died. Australian Democracy moves ever closer to the abyss. Why are Australians allowing this to happen? Why have we allowed Howard to make greed and self interest a way of life? As an Australian I am dismayed, disillusioned and alarmed. For me it is time to stand up and be counted.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

The really bloody stupid thing about Brandis and his cheers for the end of collectivism is the fact that not one of the bastards on his side dared to break the collective umbilical cord to Dear F...g Leader and vote down a bill they know is appalling and sickening.

Faulkner was brilliant and I found myself cheering him as the tears poured down my face for my poor country.

The other stupid part of their rants against the unions is that it is the bloody unions who got the pollies the perks they enjoy so much in the first place.

It was the f...g unions who made it possible for all and sundry to be able to stand for parliament instead of just the rich and educated like that bastard Brandis.

I hope everyone remembers that 2 December 1990 was also the death of Joh's gerrymander and the election of the Goss government - which is probably the reason Boswell was such a prick.

I went into hospital that day and had a great hunk of gut removed - the surgery that was supposed to fix me but crippled me forever.

Shame, Australia, shame.

And for the bastards who support hanging that poor boy ask your miserable selves this question.

Who suffered here - the criminal or his beautiful brave and dignified mum?

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

I can't possibly explain the level of frustration that I feel at the passivity of the Australian public. Are we sheep? Do we allow ourselves to be inexorably herded by the drover in a direction that obviously terrifies us? Lambs to the slaughter? Surely there is more than just a few that feel the sense of foreboding that I feel?

The IR reforms and the anti-sedition laws scare me. The racist sentiments that are growing in the community sadden me. For the first time in my adult life, I wonder if moving to another country would be a good idea. This is still a democracy isn't it? Are we still free to express our opinions and when we're not happy with our government, do we have a right to shout it out?

Let's not roll over and expose our collective belly on these issues. Let them know we are not impressed and will continue to fight until the elected government does what we, THE PEOPLE, want them to do, not what they, in their paternalistic, condescending attitude, think is good for us.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Perhaps we now have to equal the lying arrogant bastards and their crook corporate mates in bastardry. No more forgiveness. No more being "nice" in the mistaken belief that they are interested in proper debate. Curtin, Chifley and Calwell would remember this lot; the faces may be different but their venom is still there, presided over by the most venal Prime Minister in the history of this country.

Next to Howard, Billy Hughes is like St Francis...and thankfully he spent most of his term of office in Britain.

Pluto is not far away enough for this current nasty curdled bully.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Black as the day is in our history, it may be that the unleashing of the full reactionary program of the Liberals, which Malcolm Fraser, no less, has described as being based "on fear and intimidation," will mark the begining of the end for Howard and Costello. If they hurt great numbers of people, and one only has to listen to "Tal-Back" radio to guage the extent of people's fears, then the electoral damage may be massive. In that event Labor will have a long term in office,as those hurt by Howard can hardly risk a vote for his Party again!!

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

We will now see an upsurge in Union membership, and the downhill tumble of the Coalition as the people see how with Sedition Laws, AWAs, more fallout for Costello with the Gerard Affair, all start to bite at the heels of Howard and his Government.

When the next election comes around sometime between November 2008 and April 2009, we will see the movement of seats away from the Coalition and Hopefully to Independents and/or the Labor Party, both in the Reps and the Senate.

I truly believe that the electorate has seen what allowing a Liberal/National control has done to our country in the past six months, and that the next election will see that majority removed, and the balance of power will be moved to independents, which will in turn show us a gap between the major party's policies.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Marilyn, I confess I'm slightly bemused (despite my sense of utter frustration and gloom) - I keep wondering what the pack of Coward's Coalition are going to do when Howard goes? The infighting and recriminations might begin in earnest.

Margo, can we get a copy of Malcolm Fraser's speech earlier this week up here? His assessment of the Liberal Party was some indictment.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Keith, even before IR effects hit the economy it is not actually looking all that crash hot ... quite a few worrying indicators in the last two weeks, but of course the Howard/Costello dance team aren't talking about them ... minor details.


"SYDNEY'S housing slump is fast becoming a rout and, even after prices have troughed, property values will struggle to keep up with inflation for another decade, a leading forecaster has warned."

Today here.

If this was all maybe not too bad ... but:

enormous current accounts
increasing credit card debt
increasing store card debt (NOT tracked by RBA)
manufacturing down (except mining)
business confidence mostly down

Not exactly the best signs for a happy Christmas. As I've said before, when the bottom feeders have to cut back and go to essentials first then eventually the effects flow up the food chain.

Also keep in mind that house payments under 17% rates were about 25% of household income (usually one person as well), now running at 33% (usually of two people) ... ain't lookin' good there either.

And this is all before the "captains of industry" cut loose with their IR "powers" now granted ... check today's headlines about QANTAS ... here goes the national carrier too.

I had a woman in class recently who has joined a union for the first time in her life - maybe a sign. Hopefully Burrows will keep us posted on membership numbers.

For some of the recent economic stories see Comments here.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

If the rest of the ALP treat their constituents the same as Roger Price, the member for Chifley who just happens to be my Federal MP, then no wonder people are not interested in voting for them.

Weeks ago, I forget how long, which gives you an idea of how long ago, I sent an email to Price and an email to Joyce re the anti-terrorism and IR legislation respectively.

Guess who responded? Not my local member. Joyce is a Queensland Senator and probably didn't need to respond but he did, albeit through one of his staffers.

Price hasn't even acknowledged my email, let alone responded. I have sent two follow-up emails and still not a whisper.

I also copied the last message to Beazley, Gillard, Faulkner, Garrett and a couple of others and guess what? No reply from any of them. The Greens are looking pretty good for all my future votes and the biggest decision I will have to make is deciding whether to put the ALP or Coalition last.

And that is why the ALP are where they are. They haven't learned to listen.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

"When the vote was taken just after 6pm a man behind Burrows stood to open and fly the Eureka Flag for a moment..."

I wonder if he was aware that it was the day the Eureka Stockade was constructed in 1854. Today (December 3) it was trashed.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Mr Howard has stated that we need to have a buoyant economy to ensure full employment. Which interpreted means business now has the opportunity to cling leech like off their employees. Employees have been devalued to being ciphers business interests can play with, rather than be considered multi-faceted individuals.

When Court introduced similar legislation cleaners went from reasonable wages to under award pay; an example of the mean legislation just passed.

We despair when physical violence is perpetrated, but the legislative/administrative violence utilised against Australian workers by the IR legislation is just as monstrous as any physical violence.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Andrew Bartlett, I was intrigued by your statement, "from the day following the election when it became clear that the electorate had given John Howard control of the Senate and taken away the checking power the Democrats had previously held." What checking power? The Democrats did nothing.

The Democrats could have been a real force in Australian politics with their slogan, “Keep the bastards honest,” but you blew it.

I remember when Don Chipp started it all, he got my vote and I was hopeful that something good would come of it all.

However you allowed the Keating Labor government to screw the country into the ground and did nothing about it.

Then just like the Labor Party you spent a lot of your time stabbing each other in the back, and changing leaders.

You took the Australian public for fools and you are paying the price. I predict that at the next election your party will be decimated and you have only yourselves to blame.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

I just want to second everything Silvia Jackson wrote @ 1:15:56 am! Thanks for putting my thoughts into words, Silvia!

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Senator Penny Wong.
A name we’re hearing more and more. And why not? She's bright and articulate.
She’s also quite ruthless. At some point in her career, she'll no doubt hawk around her green credentials. Just wait for it. And have a vomit bucket close at hand.

It's true, Penny played a critical role in the Carr Government's forest fix after the 1995 election. At a crucial time, she utterly betrayed principles established by negotiation between the conservation groups and the Carr Opposition, in favour of a union-supported industry resource grab BEFORE Carr's assessment process had been carried out.

In other words, Penny helped the timber industry pre-empt scientific assessment of the NSW forests and the timber they contained. Her manipulative skills played a key role in bringing industry and unions together to agree the complex deal and persuade Carr to make a farce of his own forest assessment process.

Wong can sell a sell-out in a quiet voice with a pleasant smile.
May well go far. Beazley's Environment Minister perhaps? Or Minister for Homeland Security in a Rudd Government?

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

What has a thunderstorm got to do with democracy? What has a tree related death got to do with democracy? What has an airport closure got to do with democracy? What has the treatment of a criminal in another country got to do with Australian democracy?

This is fatuous, Margo, even for you.

Perhaps, Silvia, the "passivity" of Australians do not share Webdiary's hysteria about the status of our democracy. You will be free to vote for whom you choose come next election.

As someone who once had their job destroyed by unionistas, I have little sympathy for the anti-IR reform rot being poured out here.

Margo: the headline quotes Ron Boswell during the IR debate wrap. The first paragraph is a list of some things that happened on the day. That's all.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

At age 80 (see my piece on 6th November and the many comments) I almost despair for my country - but not quite. My family is long-lived; I now tempt the gods by declaring my intention to live long enough to see this mongrel government out...

In the meantime, poor fellow my country.

Betty Birskys

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

With an eye to the next election I keep thinking what dirty trips is Howard going to pull. Will he be there at all? My feeling is that he might well be, he seems to be enjoying it all.
He may have it firmly place in his head that all he has to do is press the fear button and hard and everyone will role over. But isn’t he too shite cunning for that ? He must know that is getting a bit thin. He also must know that his IR and Welfere to work is going to be like a dead cat around his neck. The terror bill will win in some quarters but won’t win over any new votes IMHO. Cunning as a shit house rat is he. So what the devil will he pull. Once he gets rid of cross media ownership that will give him a leg up. Will that be enough to override the stench of his reactionary bills, I doubt it. So what will the little weasel be up too ? Something very unexpected, a real surprise, something to knock his opponents hard. He would know that the next term of government will be vital, the longer his dead cats are around the more use to them people will get.

Oh yes my precious we will takes that nasty fat one up the wrong path by tricks and the rest of thems will follows. They go up it because they thinks it is the right one and I am telling lies. But when it is too late they see it is the wrong one after all and I told the truth. Clevers we are my precious

Denise Parkinson

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Sid Vichyssoise Drake: “She’s [the ALP’s increasingly popular and efficient Senator Penny Wong is] also quite ruthless. At some point in her career, she'll no doubt hawk around her green credentials. Just wait for it. And have a vomit bucket close at hand.”

I always do, Sidney, in case someone is mixing up a soft, weak bourgeois muddle of green leek soup.

Throw it wif all yer might, and mind yer don’t splash yer own hide. Them EC buckets is right tricky, cuz.

Chop dem spuds and onions, lad. Whip dat butter’n’cream.

Or One Wong might make a Wipeout. Hopefully a bloody efficient one.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Marilyn, you shouldn't forget that 2 December is also the anniversary of the election of the Whitlam Government - a band of largely incompetent morons who bascially destroyed the public's enthusiasm for the sort of policies you advocate. Ergo, every government Australia has had since (Labor or Liberal) has pursued the economic agenda you and your ilk so despise.

Of course, Mark Latham was also elected Labor leader on 2 December 2003 and my, didn't that work out well?

Not a happy day for the Left.

Of course, whether this is an excuse for trying to link an execution, storms and accidental deaths to a political agenda is very much open to question...

Oh, and Jack H Smit, I don't think the Morgan Poll you posted helps those who are praying for the end of Howard. From memory, the man's final campaign polls in 2001 and 2004 predicted victory for Beazley and Latham respectively. There's a reason why no one publishes his polls anymore.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Mr Howard must be rejoicing in his victories. As he is 10 years in power in March next year what is the betting that a devoted and loving populace will present him with the keys of Kirribilli House for his lifetime. Any bets?

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Well IR reform is now with us all. After all the ranting and scare tactics we shall now see how it all fares. One thing for sure the Liberals at the next election will live and die on how it all turns out.

I suspect it will all turn out quite well for them. The reforms were common sense and needed to be made. The economy is also quite strong and contrary to popular opinion here this will not be changing anytime soon. Because of the huge budget surpluses and Telstra sale this gives a lot of room for large tax cuts and plenty of other pre election goodies.

Running a common sense Government and economy does indeed have its upside come election time. I also think some people may be pleasantly surprised how well they actually do under these reforms. Thanks to the Union scare campaign most expect to be in the poor house so any benefit no matter how small will be multiplied in many a persons eyes.

The greatest achievement made by John Howard is what he has done to the Labor party. He has brought them to the right because that is the only realistic place they can be. By doing this he as made certain Australia will never get a Whitlam Government again, at least in my lifetime.

Thank you John Howard and well done.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

I am so angry, I don't know how to put into words my comment. I watched some of the senate hearings and watched academics, charities, churches, all say these IR reforms and welfare bills are wrong. I watched the committee head shut down the hearings early because the govt. whom were told they were needed to stay till 4.15pm, say they could only stay an 1hr after lunch. I watched Penny Wong who was there for all the meetings at the hearings ask, crediable questions to all the submissioners and fight with them on points on which these laws are lacking and won! I watched Barnaby Joyce ask questions at this hearing, that were already asked because he wasn't in the room for the whole of it. I watch Tony Abbott guillotine the debate in parliament.

Here I am, a bi-partisan, married with two children, business owner, and I'm pissed off. The govt. has galvanised me to fight. I'm starting here.

No matter what party you voted for, the public have elected these officials to debate thoroughly these bills in the parliament and when they shut that down, it felt like to me, like a slap in the face. The utter arrogance of this govt. says to the public, "we know best" is a load of BS. I will put my faith in the 151 academics who are specialists in these fields before I put my trust in this govt. I think this govt. has just broken the proveriable straw as far as the most of the public is concerned.

It would be interesting to see if any of these govt. ministers went to their electorates asking for a AWA how much they would be really worth. How do I get my voice heard? I don't want to wait till the next election before democracy is restored to the parliament.

Margo: AJ, welcome to Webdiary. Please use your full name when commenting, or let me know why you don't want to for publication and make up a nom de plume. See Webdiary ethics.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Kathleen McIntyre, surely not just for his lifetime (what would poor Hyacinth do when he pops his clogs?), but also for his heirs and successors. And ... just musing, what's the likelihood of the (re)introduction of Bunyip Honours sometime soon? After all, how can we the populace be expected to kowtow properly unless there's an appropriate handle to the name? (Besides, it's SO unfair that Alexander is already Lord D of Baghdad.)

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Richard Spark Oh but also predicted the Swans and petrol $1 before Christmas. Don’t just be selective about these things.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Jay re your latest offering ( Dec 3 12.11.11 ), great piece. The Comedy Co in Sydney are crying out for good stand up routines. You also predicted St George for the NFL flag. I rest my case.

Just my 2c.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Syd Drate, I worked for 33 years as an electronics technician and member of a moderate union which was extremely reluctant to make waves - we were/are sane, sensible, tertiary educated, highly skilled, down to earth people who believed in mutual respect. Especially, we were wedded to the job because we had a huge investment in our knowledge of the system, and we took pride and ownership in our work. It was not feasible to walk away if we didn't like the conditions.

For the first 25 years, that's the way we operated. The union negotiated in good faith and never once did we take any kind of industrial action. Then in the early 90s, new owners took over, national wage cases stopped and enterprise bargaining started.

For everyone except us, that is. When the national wage cases stopped, so did our wage increases. All we ever got was the safety net increases, "for the low paid". The employers simply refused to talk about an EBA. When I left in 1999, we were still working a 40 hour week! The one time an EBA was mentioned, a 38 hour week was the central part of the management offer! For many years, I took the view that I wasn't going to push for shorter hours - I felt 40 was good enough. How naive I was!

We didn't have many members among the award staff because they learnt long ago that they didn't need to belong to get all the same benefits won by the unions. I was the delegate and repeatedly, non-members came to me for advice on the award and to complain about the way they were being treated.

Then the company introduced the idea of "permanent part time" and kept staff on this arrangement for 7 years or more - no need for annual leave, leave loadings, sick leave or all those other details. The staff sensed this was wrong, but didn't dare speak out.

Then the employer decided to start putting selected award staff onto secret "contracts". The staff were deceived into believing they each had an individual "workplace agreement". New staff were never told there was an award -- they were just given a "contract" to sign.

This was totally illegal! This was just the beginning of the employer testing the boundaries, pushing the legal limits. I grew to hate the place I had grown up in and when redundancies were offered, I grabbed one, glad to get out at age 52. I knew full well I would be forced out anyway as the union delegate, despite having played the game honestly all the way.

But our award allowed for only two weeks redundancy pay for each year up to 5 years. My "useless" union took up the cause and I left with a payout around $100,000 greater than if I had not been a union member. Dud unions? I don't think so.

It was my experience in all those years that the majority of my workmates were lazy and all too happy to take everything that the union got for us without wanting to make any contribution. In fact their common complaint was, "What does the union ever do for us?" while maintaining their right not to belong.

I have a very low opinion of people who happily take all the benefits that the unions won over the years (eg 4 weeks annual leave, taken for granted now) but denigrate them as dinosaurs. Parasites is the word.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Another soupçon of Vichyssoiseness from l’il ol’ Aron “Not a happy day for the Left.”

Oh really? The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December, recalls the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317 (IV) of 2 December 1949)

Of course, we humans have a long way to go, and the creepy slave-driving Uebermenschen are always trying to inch back.

Just look at our ruling classes now. Helen Coonan seems to be on steroids, and George Brandis on bad speed. Monsignor Abbott running pell-mell, thither and yon, on Rum Corps Brand XXX marinated Xmas communion wafers.

And always Howard and the Boyz grinding their teeth and glaring, on the usual RoboCop sedatives. Fearless in battle. Backs to the wall of the Reichstag, blazing away at the Bolsheviki. Especially the imaginary ones. Blam! Blam! rattatatatat!…click…click…

But YES, 2 December sticks in the craw of the Right for another reason, don’t it dazed little Supermen of the Prime Minister’s Private Orifice??

Wasn’t it that time of year in 1944 when your cities and armies were being crushed by the combined Allied forces?

And, as now, your Reich’s General Staff was mired in a paranoid leader’s frantic concerns about another Dolchstoss?

You had to start killing prisoners in droves, on an industrial scale. You KNEW you were losing. As you always are, down human history.

Some of you started hiding cyanide capsules up your jaxies. You knew you would be caught, and you knew you would face trials. Terribly unhappy days for the Right.

Outside in the cold, all humans were thanking God for the Soviet and Allied Navies and Army/Air Forces’ implacable resolve, and a weakening will on the part of the Right.

What costly times, for the Right, Aron. And like now, you only had yourselves to blame. All that gold, and you couldn’t eat it. You still can’t, even at US$500/oz.

Did you ever wonder, down in the bunker, where the foes’ resolve came from? Bolshevik fanaticism? Jewish or Slav sub-human prayers? Democratic spineless weakness? Just what was it, Aron?

Here’s a scary thought. It’s still coming. Comin’ to get you, mate.

And in the end, where it comes from don’t matter. Your mob got got by 1945. A real bad day for the Right. More to come.

Don’t worry, Right-boy. We are all hangmen now, but you won’t dangle. We want your bad day to last forever, like Bronwyn’s Bad Hair Daze.

Mind you, a roaming BB’s always a bad day for the Reich. Seems reasonable, even fair, don’t it?

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Jay White your 3/12/05 comments are interesting - particularly in light of comments by Saul Eslake (ANZ chief economist) in BRW 1/7/12/05 stating that Australia's export growth in the last four years is the lowest for half a century. Howard and Co have managed to give us four years of export "growth" averaging 0.64% annually - and this average includes trade with China. I am yet to see any analysis from the government on how the IR changes will increase our level of exports and hence employment.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Howard tells us what we want to hear, not what he really believes and certainly not what is the truth. His repeated statements and lies have trained us so that in the end, many will accept almost any kind of propaganda he dishes out. He is certainly a 'wolf in sheep's clothing' and in time more and more people will realise that he is following a formula which has delivered for devious and greedy leaders in the past.

I am aware that anyone who draws a parallel between Howard's modus operandi and fascism is branded a gross exaggerator, but sadly I believe that the signs are there and if the media, and the political opposition don't begin to make this very clear, time could prove that we are headed down a very slippery slope indeed.

In an article link here in the Toronto Star (Canada) 28/11/2005, Paul Bigioni wrote “When people think of fascism, they imagine rows of goose-stepping storm troopers and puffy-chested dictators. What they don't see is the economic and political process that leads to the nightmare.”

Bigioni reminds us, that the way Hitler pandered to the middle class while simultaneously destroying them was a striking achievement of Nazi propaganda. Hitler destroyed organised labour by making strikes illegal - his labour policy was the dream come true of the industrial cartels that supported him. In the same way that Nazi law gave total control over wages and working conditions to the employer, Howard, who would have us believe he's the champion of 'the Aussie battler', has used the Government's Senate majority to push his Orwellian 'Workchoices' legislation through the Australian Parliament.

Television advertisements in Australia in 2005 endorsed by the Business Council are campaigning for 'less red tape' and more 'tax reform,' just as business associations clamoured for more deregulation and deeper tax cuts in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

It's time to heed the warning from the George Harrison song “Beware of Darkness” …

“Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go …”

Robyn Gooch

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Peter Woodforde, taking my life in my hands I will venture on an amendment to your latest analysis. Surely it should read:

"Pell-mell running Monsignor Abbott, thither and yon, on Rum Corps Brand XXX marinated Xmas communion wafers."

With, at all times, the very greatest respect,

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

What’s left of our tattered Australian democracy will hopefully be salvaged when the next election comes around – assuming that we actually get around to having an election.

Howard’s IR laws, anti-‘Terrorism’ laws and anti-sedition laws (or anti-dissident laws as they have been more appropriately described elsewhere on Webdiary) have now all but become law thanks to Australia’s now effective one-party system of government. Another year or so at this rate and Howard may well have achieved his ultimate aim of having a point-of-no-return fascist state where he and his corporatist ilk run Australia for the benefit of a globalised international economy set up solely to benefit the world’s multinational ‘shareholders’.

The fear of ‘terrorism’ will continue to keep us in line as he continues his war against Islam overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq and at home as his storm-troopers strike Nacht und Nebel against the dreaded radical spray-painting Muslims of Sydney and Melbourne.

How can Australians continue to support a warmongering fascist liar like Howard? They must either be warmongering fascists themselves or just plain dumb and gullible! What other excuse do they have?

It’s time Australian’s woke up to what is going on around them.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

The other thing of course is that our manufacturing industry is in the loo. What do we make anymore? Car industries are folding because others make them cheaper. All we are really doing is growing services and food and mining.

How long are they sustainable when we have lost 80% of our wheat sales this year mostly to our good buddy the US? What about when the US says we cannot sell uranium to China because it scares them? I think it was Boswell who claimed now we could compete with our overseas competitors - a rare word of honesty I suspect.

Not one of the pollies will have to accept lower wages, longer hours, weekends without penalties, Christmas day work - when I was nursing I loved working Christmas Day for the huge penalties - but that will be no more.

Anyone who ever thought Barnaby was useful should read the level of ignorance he displays in senate committees - the man is a bumpkin in the Joh mould and it shows.

I cannot see how on earth punishing ordinary working people by allowing bosses, who are other ordinary people, to torment the first group of people. How does the welfare to work thing work? It takes money away from the poor and disabled to make them take jobs that don't exist.

With all the bumph about not enough workers there are still 500,000 on the dole who cannot get work, about 2 million without enough work, 750,000 on disability because there are no jobs and so on. Where are all these jobs that Howard rabbits on about? Building? Nope.

Where? Not one of the toadies ever asked.

Jay and Aaron, perhaps some time soon you could tell us how you think, how you believe this will really work instead of taking cheap shots at someone who hasn't been in parliament for 10 years or in Gough's case over 30 years.

To claim a buoyant economy is one thing - show us where that is. Housing? Nope, going down.

Foreign debt? Nope. that is now $450 billion.
Current account balance - Nope $13.5 billion.
This country owes over half it's GDP to other people. That boys is a banana republic.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Sean Hefferon "Howard and Co have managed to give us four years of export "growth" averaging 0.64% annually - and this average includes trade with China. I am yet to see any analysis from the government on how the IR changes will increase our level of exports and hence employment".

You forgot to mention that 2001 was a record year for exports. In fact in 2001 Australia had a two billion plus trade surplus.

Since this time the world has faced terrorism, bird flu, mad cow disease etc. Australia has also undergone our worst drought in history. So all and all these figures under the circumstances are not to bad. How do they match up against the EU for example?

Australia because of IR reform will be much better placed than say the EU to take advantage of future opportunities. This I am certain of.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Marilyn Shepherd you live in the land of make believe if you think we are not in a robust economy. Personally I think it would be a pointless exercise pointing out the idiocy of your economic remarks.

On another a slightly different topic I have always dreamed of Australia one day becoming the banking Switzerland of the Asia pacific. Our finance and banking systems are leaps and bounds ahead of nations such as the UK and we offer a secure and stable nation.

This of course is a forlorn dream given that most middleclass knockers such as the Greens could not help but stick their collective noses into everything and every person's business. They along with most Governments can never see the wood for the trees.

It is much better to have high prices and tariffs and place people into jobs with little future in a rapidly changing world. At least they can complain when it all comes to a sudden painful end. Australia will be changing whether people like or not. Unfortunately the world dictates we have little say in the matter.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Fiona R “Pell-mell running Monsignor Abbott”

O God! An attempt to infiltrate a Commonist Mick Trade Union Fellow Troubler into this decent and moderate illuminated manuscript!! Margot!! Margot!! Schnell!!

And before we’ve even done the colour-ins!!

In all seriousness, MS too has made a point about the seemingly naughty bits-free rage of some emissaries of Satan.

They are irked, as the powers of evil are often, by the Whitlam Government’s enormous quicktime benefits for the men and women of Australia.

Might not this little-boy\-stamp-the-foot-crossness (thanks PJK) stem from Airman Whitlam’s role in bombing the Axis decades earlier?

It’s not easy formulating Far Reich Freimarkt AgitProp while bombs are raining down from the sky.

So let’s spare a thought for the poor little monkeys, snuffling their adenoids and pumping gasoline for Dad., and thinking harsh, but frustrating thoughts about the maddening wickedness of the Trade Union Movement. Amen.

De Illuminati

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Damian, I am assuming you can provide some proof of your claim that Howard wants Australia to be a "fascist State"?

The other option to your question is they don’t believe Howard is a warmonger, a fascist or a liar. See Damian, I'll give you a hot tip. The rabid far-left account for about 5% of the population. Most people can't see your point because simply, your wrong.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Thanks for the reminder Jay. One out of three so far. Now if only your alter ego could be that accurate running the country, we would all be laughing.

Speaking of which, do you remember back in the early days when he wore those big nerdy glasses and the ubiquitous safari suit - he was known as "Disco Duck" on account of the great parties he put on, with the "great" 70's music and the best looking girls turning up?

Then you could be choosey what blokes you invited. That's the way to be popular - he had nothing else going for him. Just an obnoxious little turd who thought he was somebody. Nothing much has changed , really.

Suck up to those (in his mind) more powerful or influential; and shit on the plebs. Be the bullies best mate. I recall seeing a gem of a cartoon when Fraser was in power & Mr H was the treasurer. Fraser was portrayed as an organ grinder in full attire and magnificent handlebar moustache. Sitting on the organ was the monkey ( you know who),in pill box hat etc, holding out a tin cup!

An object of ridicule, to be sure. I suspect that he hasn't forgotten that cartoon either, and after all these years he is finally going to get even with everyone, because he can.

I feel better now.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

It's been inspiring to see some passion and emotion in politics this week. On both sides of the house. Based on principle, not pragmatism or policy! Ah! Refreshing.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Syd Second your comments about the Democrats; Meg really blew it for them but then her subsequent cosy arrangements with Howard sort of make it all make sense. Natasha was their one hope of recovery; a spent force. Brown is the only one left standing when it comes to sticking to his principles.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

The Australian economy is far from strong, if you mean sustainable. Asset booms do not create long term growth, unless the proceeds are invested in a manner that sustains future demand. We already have enough baristas and retail 'partners' to last a lifetime of shopping and coffee drinking. Unfortunately that will not be enough to make people 'relaxed and comfortable’. Debt servicing on houses is in fact higher now as a proportion of people's income that it was at the time of the 'recession we had to have'. Never mind interest rates - they are subject to global movements, as we will be told when they have to rise in response to movements in the US.

One good job cut, or reduction in real income over the next two years will see an already insecure middle and upper working class reach for the baseball bat. JWH knows that very well. He is counting on his superb political skills, and luck, to get him out. For those who talk about 'good employers' etc, watch Qantas-as it goes so will the rest. They will have to. That is the point of IR reform really. It is designed to teach Australians a lesson - the lesson being that the past can be extirpated by those with the will and cunning to fight hard for what they believe . It is a good lesson, and one we could all learn. JWH is my star example when I explain the need for persistence, hard work, visionary goals, and attention to the prize.

There is also no sense or political point in blaming the Australian electorate for what has happened. That is self defeating and misses the point about how hopeless the ALP has been. The point is to fix it. Get angry by all means, but it is better to get even. Unions have effectively been banished from workplaces where the employer opposes them. Very well. In the beginning they couldn't go the workplace either, but they still grew.

The next two years will be a big challenge for everyone who opposes this government and the future it has in store for this country. Nothing beats patient persistent explanation, with people who are already uneasy and unsure. There are millions of them, and two years to go. Let's get into it and ensure that JWH, Peter Hendy and the BCA are not rewarded for their duplicity, greed and short-sightedness!

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Justin Wilshaw, "Damian, I am assuming you can provide some proof of your claim that Howard wants Australia to be a "fascist State"?"

An interesting perspective:

'Fascism then. Fascism now?

When people think of fascism, they imagine Rows of goose-stepping storm troopers and puffy-chested dictators. What they don't see is the economic and political process that leads to the nightmare.

By Paul Bigioni

11/27/05 "Toronto Star" -- -- Observing political and economic discourse in North America since the 1970s leads to an inescapable conclusion: The vast bulk of legislative activity favours the interests of large commercial enterprises. Big business is very well off, and successive Canadian and U.S. governments, of whatever political stripe, have made this their primary objective for at least the past 25 years.

Digging deeper into 20th century history, one finds the exaltation of big business at the expense of the citizen was a central characteristic of government policy in Germany and Italy in the years before those countries were chewed to bits and spat out by fascism. Fascist dictatorships were borne to power in each of these countries by big business, and they served the interests of big business with remarkable ferocity.

These facts have been lost to the popular consciousness in North America. Fascism could therefore return to us, and we will not even recognize it. Indeed, Huey Long, one of America's most brilliant and most corrupt politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. "Yes," he replied, "but we will call it anti-fascism."

By exploring the disturbing parallels between our own time and the era of overt fascism, we can avoid the same hideous mistakes. At present, we live in a constitutional democracy. The tools necessary to protect us from fascism remain in the hands of the citizen. All the same, North America is on a fascist trajectory. We must recognize this threat for what it is, and we must change course.'

This can equally apply in Australia.

"The other option to your question is they don’t believe Howard is a warmonger, a fascist or a liar. See Damian, I'll give you a hot tip. The rabid far-left account for about 5% of the population. Most people cant see your point because simply, your wrong."

Have you any research to back up your claims about what people believe. On the point of being wrong, you have said that on WD, of all places, where copious quantities of evidence has been produced that supports the contention that Howard is a liar and warmonger. For the fascist aspect I also refer you back to the above article and a good look around.

re: This is democracy on December 2, 2005

Justin Wilshaw says: “…you can provide some proof of your claim that Howard wants Australia to be a fascist State”. Just open your eyes and see what’s going on around you. Howard has provided all the proof needed by his actions.

Justin Wilshaw goes on to assert: “The other option to your question is they don’t believe Howard is a warmonger… or a liar”. That’s what I mean by dumb and gullible.

Of his lying; where shall I start? Iraq has WMDs? Saddam has nuclear weapons? Saddam is a threat to Australia? Saddam was in league with al Qaeda? Saddam was involved in 9/11? Children overboard? Interest rates will go up if you vote Labor, etc., etc?

And warmonger?! Despite massive rallies in Australia and worldwide, he ignored the desires of the Australian peoples – indeed, the peoples of the world – not to mention the UN, and went to war against a nation that was not a threat to us; a war that has cost the lives of several tens of thousands of innocent people and is likely to cost the lives of tens of thousands more before it is over.

You seemed to have joined the ranks of other deniers.

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