Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who is Chris Corrigan?

I started a post on Chris Corrigan while watching The Howard Years. Now I don't even remember who he is. I guess he's someone that's involved with John Howard.   Yeah.  We can probably assume that.

Anyway, I'll go look him up....

Lord Wiki doesn't have much to say about him, but at least he says something.

Corrigan was the managing director of the Patrick Organization until it was taken over in 2006. Okay, Patrick Organization. That kind of rings a bell. Was that the whole mess on the docks, when they were getting rid of the workers?

Yes. I just read down further and my memory is serving me correctly.

The whole thing happened in 1998. Corrigan tried to dismiss/fire the unionized workers and replace them with newly trained workers from Dubai.

There was a miniseries about it. Bastard Boys.

My beloved Lord Wiki has links to various things, so I'm going to follow those now.

First, we have the Patrick Corporation. Lord Wiki says it's a logistics conglomerate. I have no idea what that means. Whatever it is, this company was absorbed by Toll Holdings. According to Lord Wiki, Toll Holdings is a transport company.

I'm going to look at the Patrick Corporation's website. I figure that will give me a clue about what it's all about.

They say: Patrick is Australia's leading provider of port-related services to importers, exporters and shipping lines.

Well, I think I sort of understand now. I do know what imports and exports are.

The website is a bit boring to me so I'm going to move on to other things.

Corrigan spent some time in Bowral New South Wales. Lord Wiki says he went to school there.

Looking at Google Maps now.....

Bowral is south of Sydney and west of Wollongong. Lord Wiki says it has a strong coffee culture. He also names some other famous people who lived there, including Jimmy Barnes, Peter Garret, and Sir. Don Bradman. I think someone recommended this town to us. Maybe? I remember someone mentioning a town we should go to, and they mentioned Bradman.


Corrigan attended Australian National University in Canberra. I wrote about this before. It's where Kevin Rudd met his lovely wife.

He also went to Harvard in the United States.

I'm now going to read Lord Wiki's information about the waterfront dispute.

The dispute was between The Patrick Corporation and the Maritime union of Australia.

Most of this stuff goes way over my head. It sounds bad though. What I'm getting (and what I got from watching The Howard Years) is it's about greed and disrespect for workers. I think it's about obtaining cheaper labor and not wanting to treat your workers well. If your workers demand too much, than find new workers who won't demand that much.

Maybe I can find an account that is more easy to read.

Here's a long article about the whole thing. It talks about how they used dogs. Those who watched The Howard Years probably saw this. I think using dogs is both insulting to dogs and to the workers.

The author of the article is the coauthor of a book on the subject. Chris Corrigan didn't like the book. Why am I not surprised?

The Maritime Union of Australia has information about the event on their website.

Here they talk about justice:
To the relief of workers all over Australia, 10 judges also agree that in a situation where there is evidence employers deliberately set out to sack or damage their workers because they are unionists ( an action which is prohibited under the Workplace Relations Act), the Federal Court has the power to impose orders to reinstate employees, even if it means discontinuing contracts with new, non union labour.

The miniseries based on the event aired on ABC in 2007. Coorigan and John Howard were not fans. But the show did win awards from the Australian Film Institute.

Michael Duffy from the Sydney Morning Herald shared Coorigan's and Howard's opinion.

He says: A voice missing from Bastard Boys is that of the many Australians affected for decades by the laziness and corruption on the wharves. We hear a lot in the series about the glorious traditions and history of the union. We hear nothing of its notorious record in undermining the war effort during World War II, all the looting, the go-slows and the strikes.

I can't say I agree with Duffy's political viewpoint. But I do think he has interesting things to say about bias in film. He talks about how film dives into the personal lives of the union side--showing them interact with their family. The show makes those characters well-rounded. In comparison, they show very little of Coorigan's personal life. They make him more of a cardboard villain.

I think whenever you watch a documentary, you have to do so with an open-mind and realize that filmmakers can be very manipulative. I totally agree with the politics of Michael Moore. But I do think some of his filmmaking is dishonest--at least manipulative. In the beginning of Fahrenheit 9/11, they show Republicans dealing with the tragedy by fixing their make-up and hair (if I remember correctly) It made them look very shallow. But who knows. Maybe democrats would do the same thing.

There's also the issue of the goat book in the kindergarten class. I'm not a fan of all. But I'm not sure that continuing to read the goat book to the kids was a horrible choice. It's a picture book. They don't take that long to read. I have a feeling if it was a democratic president, he would have been praised by Michael Moore. What a thoughtful president. He took the seven minutes to finish the book so he wouldn't upset the children.

All media is biased. There's no getting around it. But I think we need to be aware of the bias. I think it's pathetic when I hear Republicans complain that the only news channel that isn't biased is Fox News. No! Wrong. It IS biased. It's just biased towards the right. On the same token, I get annoyed when my fellow leftie people talk about how biased Fox News is and yet they don't realize that the shows they watch our biased as well.

I better get back to Coorigan.

What else can I find out about him?

Oh. Here we go. An editorial written by the man himself. He pretty much talks about this bias in the films--again the idea of showing more family scenes when it comes to certain characters. He also defends what happened, saying: Above all the "drama" of the events of 1998, our fundamental aim of improving the productivity and reliability of the Australian waterfront has been a resounding success. I would rate it personally as one of my proudest achievements. What I cherish the most is the restoration of the employees' dignity because under the waterfront reforms employees are now treated as individuals and can be proud of their work achievements.

I don't know what to think. Really. My gut instinct is to take the side of the workers, but maybe I need to be more open-minded.

I don't know. Is this a story of mistreated workers who were unappreciated, exploited, and then expelled by greedy people....Or is it a story of lazy workers who were pushed into shape by heroes who wanted better things for Australia?

Stories like this boggle my mind.

I think I'm on the side of the union. I do think sometimes strikes can be annoying. And sometimes there's that feeling that the people striking are asking for too much. On the other hand, there is a definite history of powerful employers mistreating workers. Someone/something has to stand up for the rights of these workers.