The Guardian 5 September, 2007

WorkChoices and equine influenza

Howard’s Minister for Labour has denied the rumour that the government had commenced action under WorkChoices against the horses that have contracted equine influenza and would be taking three weeks or more sick leave. The Government’s thinking was that the timing of the illness in so many elite horses indicated that there must be a plot afoot. After all, it is the horses that work the track in the racing industry.

The fact that the outbreak coincides with the APEC conference and that many horses had expressed their displeasure at having the odious task of helping to protect Bush and others from the anger of Australian citizens not only irked Joe Hockey and the Prime Minister but heightened their suspicions about the whole episode.

The government was also suspicious that the horses were intent on shirking work now that the warmer Spring weather was about to descend on the Australian continent. Clearly, spending time in the pastures instead of getting up early for training and then having to race their hearts out just so that punters could score some unearned dollars while they did all the work was a much more attractive prospect.

The Federal Government’s announcement that it will give the racing industry a $4 million handout is enough to make any self-respecting horse cough and sneeze and run a high temperature. Our advice is that the horses, the stable-hands and jockeys should team up in a united front to demand that they get a fair share of this government handout. Otherwise it will go, as usual, to those who have already skimmed off a mint of money out of the hides of the horses and other workers in the industry, who many fear will be merely given the sack and get nothing or very little.

It’s another good reason why WorkChoices should be torn up and the Howard Government given the sack in the coming elections! Other Australian workers should solidly support the horses, the stable hands and the jockeys in their hour of need.

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