Home' InDaily : September 18th 2009 Contents A celebration of artistic inspiration
Hahndorf, October 2-5, 2009
Recognising renowned artist Hans Heysen's peerless cultural
contribution to the Adelaide Hills, the Heysen Festival this year
features an expanded line-up of exciting talent, activities and
• Amazing Body Art
• Bustling Artists Market
• Outdoor Lantern Cinema
• Children's Recycled
Catch one, catch them all, or just soak up
the Main Street atmosphere!
For more info visit: www.dcmtbarker.sa.gov.au
• The prestigious Heysen Prize
• Spectacular Projection Art
• Fascinating Artists Trails
• Wonderful Local Bands
• Abundant Food and Wine
HEYSEN FESTIVAL 2009
September 18 - 24, 2009
3The Independent Weekly
In the 1990s, unsafe work practices
left 30 divers in SA s fledgling
tuna industry with decompression
Like other divers suffering from
debilitating symptoms like fatigue,
joint pain and loss of balance, Jeff
Thompson applied for and received
WorkCover benefits. Almost 15 years
later, and although his illness has
almost gone, Mr Thompson s life is
in tatters after a long dispute with
WorkCover claimed Mr
Thompson had recovered from
decompression illness after 2002 but
that he continued to claim benefits
until 2004. Last week, the Supreme
Court dismissed WorkCover s
spurious claims. But Mr Thompson,
who still suffers from clinical
depression, was forced to sell his
family home to fund his case, and
at times was forced to represent
The Magistrates Court had even
refused adjournments he d asked
for to secure finances, which the
Supreme Court found had unfairly
impacted on his trial in the lower
Mr Thompson said the way
evidence against him was presented
was unfair and ambiguous, and the
Supreme Court agreed.
The Supreme Court found
that WorkCover prosecuted Mr
Thompson in a way that was unfair
"It would be oppressive and
difficult for defence counsel to
deal with, and even more so for the
unrepresented litigant," said the
WorkCover aggressively investi-
gated Mr Thompson, following him
to Europe. It also withheld informa-
tion from him during trial.
WorkCover SA CEO Julia
Davidson refused to disclose how
much was spent prosecuting and
investigating Mr Thompson, but it is
likely to be in the millions.
Mr Thompson s legal fees were
more than $800,000 and WorkCover
had sought payment for $721,000
"WorkCover is responsible for
ensuring compliance with our
state s workers rehabilitation
and compensation legislation,"
Ms Davidson said. "Part of this
responsibility includes taking steps
to thoroughly investigate allega-
tions of fraud against the scheme
and, where appropriate, initiate
Mr Thompson had to apply through
the Freedom of Information Act to
find out what WorkCover had in its
files about him.
"They have the power to ask anyone
for information. They had medical
records from when I was a baby."
SA Unions secretary and former
WorkCover board member Janet
Giles said WorkCover wanted to use
Mr Thompson as an example.
"This case was one of the ones
they really wanted to win to send a
message to workers," Ms Giles said.
"It s a common mentality that the
worker is trying to rort the system
and lack of acceptance that the
workers that are injured really are
"Re-training is almost a non-
existent investment; they give
it grudgingly and have only just
invested in it."
Mr Thompson will now begin
trying to get his life back.
"This case has consumed my life;
my lawyer s bill is more than $800,000.
What kind of injured worker would
have that kind of money?
"But I didn t want to sacrifice my
life for something I didn t feel I was
■ WorkCover exit fees under the gun.
Staff from SA s three universities
have taken their fight for better
working conditions to the streets.
As part of a national strike,
members of the National Tertiary
Education Union picketed entrances
to their campuses before rallying at
Around 200 lecturers and tutors
demanded better working condi-
tions including increased wages,
smaller class sizes, job security and
NTEU senior industrial officer
Ken McAlpine said his members
demands were about regaining
working rights and conditions that
were lost during the Howard era.
"We gave up so much, but we did
it in order to secure the funding
stream for our employers. But
there s now been a change of
government and so we ve gone
back to the university and asked for
them to give us back the conditions
that we gave up to secure their
funding. But they say no," Mr
The union has been in negotia-
tions with universities around the
country and has reached sound
agreements with many. But NTEU
SA division secretary Dr Michael
Venning believes SA universities
have stubbornly resisted coming to
"NTEU members have tried all
other options to bring bargaining
to a satisfactory conclusion," Dr
Spokesman for Adelaide
University Professor Fred
McDougall disagrees and said
discussions were moving along well.
A UniSA tutor said the future
success of graduates was dependent
on the education they received from
"When you get classes of 25
students and you have four hours
a week to teach them, that s about
10 minutes per student that you
actually interact and that s just not
enough to achieve the goals we set
out," she said.
Students were well represented
at the rally, with most supporting
the cause. "No doubt some students
will rock up here today to find that
their classes aren t on due to the
industrial action, but I think that
disruption pales into insignificance
compared to the constant disrup-
tions which students have to face
as a result of inadequate teaching
resources and large class sizes,"
said student Paris Dean.
Unions have threatened further
action if reasonable outcomes are
South Australia is moving inexo-
rably towards nuclear power, with
even people sitting in the green
camp now advocating atomic-
fuelled power plants.
The professor of climate change
at Adelaide University, Barry
Brook, says Australia will need
nuclear power to meet its green
To reduce carbon dioxide
emissions, the State Government
wants a third of SA s power to come
from renewable sources like solar,
geothermal and wind.
But the Government now has a
report which says that almost-cer-
tain problems with these renewable
systems mean the likelihood of a
nuclear option is increasing.
The Independent Weekly reported
exclusively three years ago that
powerful federal forces, backed by
then prime minister John Howard,
were secretly moving towards
Even the Rudd Government
is using taxpayer funds to find
out how to make nuclear a more
acceptable power source.
SA Premier Mike Rann
maintains his public opposition
to a nuclear plant in SA, although
he encourages the expansion of
uranium mining for export.
If a nuclear power station is to be
built in SA, the Iron Triangle is its
most likely site.
-- Hendrik Gout
on lost cause
Uni staff rally
Jeff Thompson: recovering at last.
Nuclear power looks more likely
Photo: Kate Elmes
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