Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998 14:53:35 +0200 From: Hugh Rodwell <m-14970-AT-mailbox.swipnet.se> Subject: M-NEWS: Re: Wharf Update Forwarding this from Rob S in Canberra. Cheers, Hugh ____________________________________ I'm listening to IR Minister Peter Reith as I type. There's a new tone in his voice. This operation is not coming off quite as he might have hoped. One government line ship, apparently originally diverted to a Patrick dock by the government, has now been rediverted, probably at the panic-stricken request of Toyota, to the unionised P&O dock instead. Reith is pushing the 'MUA putting other jobs at risk' line, but the Toyota unionists, the very people who Reith was framing as the MUA's victims, have promptly resolved to support the MUA - in fact all the hints I get out in the world are that this operation is uniting rather than dividing working class Australia. Even farmers are ringing in to express distaste at the involvement of their own peak body, the National Farmers Federation. And John Howard copped a bit of rotten fruit and a few polite tips to 'fuck off you little bastard!' on his way into a Hunter Valley speech engagement this afternoon. Politics here hasn't been this bracing for twenty years - class politics had been much diluted under 13 years of Labor, but it's picking up nicely under a crass Tory outfit whose ideological zeal outweighs any capacity for subtlety. Victorian Tory premier Jeff Kennet is talking violence and mass jailings now - but the police are themselves engaged in industrial tensions, have been witness to several scab outrages against pickets, and are finding it increasingly difficult to draw a line between 'keeping the peace' and union busting. NSW soc-dem premier Bob Carr, answers that he is now 'terrified for Australia' and is demanding the reinstatement of people sacked 'for no other reason but that they belong to a trade union'. This constitutes the strongest support any ALP politician has yet proffered. Not much yet, but a sign the socdems may be sniffing a change in the wind. No containers are moving off wharves as I type. Ever larger proportions of pickets are made up of sympathisers off the street (and here I am in Australia's only major *inland* city ... ). And the High Court has just cleared the way for the Federal Court to look into MUA charges of conspiracy and breach of contract, naming the government, the NFF and Patrick. It's all getting faster and faster - but some of it is going our way now. Cheers, Rob.
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