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Australia and the World Cup

John Simkin

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I was attending a large retirement dinner in Melbourne that night - someone at my table had been glued to their mobile phone and suddenly yelled "We won, we won". My comment of "Won what?" was greeted with total amazement. There aren't many of us totally non-sport oriented Ozzies around.

However, what was happening at this particular dinner may be of interest to some of you interested in politics and history.

It was to mark the retirement of the long serving Gen Sec of our national teachers' union, Rob Durbridge, and it came the day after the biggest union rally in Australia for what the Melbourne police described as within living memory and the two national leaders of our ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) were both at the dinner.The city centres of Melbourne and Sydney were crammed with protestors and even here in Tasmania, 10,000 turned out and there would have been many more if teachers and nurses had not been ordered not to attend by their employers.

Why? Because our PM, having gained control of both houses in the last election, has driven through 800 pages of the most draconian industrial legislation ever known to man or beast. It is designed to destroy workers' rights, drive down the minimum wage and increase employers' profits. Exactly the same sort of legislation was introduced in New Zealand a decade ago and it cut the minimum wage by a third and increased community welfare handouts by 1000%. It is only now being repealed by the new Labour government.

Even many of those who voted him in are now horrified at what is happening.

For this country this is a moment in our history which will go into the political text books. The things that Australians have fought for over the last hundred years could be totally wiped out - justice, fair play, safety at work, supporting the weak and vulnerable - all in the name of big business and profit.

If you're interested it's worth Googling something like Industrial Reform+John Howard+Australia

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