The Old Tribalism Has Failed Us

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 3:45pm in

Helen Haines and Voices for Indi

I already wrote about the failures of Labor and the Greens and the flagrant partisanship of the media in bringing about Labor’s shock election loss. The trouble is these problems have been evident for a long time (Labor, Greens) and there is little sign anyone in those parties really understands what is necessary.

Nor is there any new party in the offing that might seize the day. The US has Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The UK had Jeremy Corbyn to revive their Labour Party, though he may be sinking into the ancient and corrupt mire of British politics. We have no messiah.

Yet this election has shown us the way forward, if we are open to noticing.

We know what to do about global warming. We are already generating a lot of clean energy and we know how to use pumped hydro to store it. Electric cars and hydrogen fuel are coming. There is abundant clean energy available that industry can adapt to.

We are learning how to farm without degrading the land, and in fact to regenerate the highly productive native ecosystems of this ancient land. It is obvious what to do about wholesale bulldozing of habitat for ever-more suburbs and more low-productivity grazing land. We can reverse carbon emissions and suck carbon back into trees, native grasses and soil.

We can stop the production of harmful chemicals. We already know how to live well – this endless stream of new products is happening not because we want or need it but because it is what competitive corporations must do to survive in the current economic anarchy that is blessed by a baseless ideology called neoliberalism.

We know how to change ‘the market’ so it serves us instead of ruling us. Certainly we do not just let markets run unfettered, that’s the main problem in Australia and the world. But markets are powerful, and they go where the profit is, and we can manage the incentives so the profit is in serving people and nurturing the environment.

That only sounds radical because our heads have been filled with garbage. We manage markets all the time, through taxes, subsidies and regulations, it’s just that we mostly manage them incoherently, or perversely for the gain of minorities. Tax the bad things, if necessary subsidise the good things, and prohibit the lethal things. Can we manage a whole economy that way? Well we won’t know if we never try, and the historical alternatives (neoliberalism, Stalinism, fascism) don’t seem to have been working very well.

We can subdue the divisive, fearful, hateful messages spewing out of our politics and media, if we insist, and require some minimal responsibility in commercial media in return for the immense privilege their money and function confer.

We can, as a personal matter, choose to be nice to our neighbours, to lower the volume, to cultivate our better angels instead of submitting to fearful impulses.

All these things are there for us to do, right now. Actually many people are already doing them – growing healthy food on healthy land, using clean energy, contributing to their local community, avoiding toxic products.

The problem, of course, is these good things are mostly ignored in the current political discourse. The parties are locked into their adversarial combat, focussed on tearing each other down. The old parties are also deeply corrupt: they accept money from vested interests and put those interests ahead of what we know the people want.

If the parties won’t change themselves and we can’t force change on them then the only option seems to be to go around them. Is that possible? Could we elect people to the parliament who just want to get on with all the things we want to do?

Yes, we can. It was done last Saturday.

There will be several independents in the new House. The most interesting are Helen Haines for Indi and Zali Steggall for Warringah. Helen Haines succeeds Cathy McGowan as the representative promoted by Voices for Indi. Steggall’s campaign was modelled on Indi’s.

Some years ago, prompted by widespread dissatisfaction with their major party representative, V4I undertook a wide community consultation to determine what people really wanted. They used a carefully designed system called kitchen table conversations, which was developed in Victoria in response to widespread unhappiness with the arrogant Jeff Kennett regime. They selected McGowan as their candidate, and she won, twice. Now their new candidate, Haines, has won. These women are in the parliament to represent Indi, not (just) because of personal charisma or big-money sponsorship or anything else.

Oh but we couldn’t have a parliament with just independents, it would be unstable and chaotic wouldn’t it? Why? Many local councils and many other organisations operate just by discussing and choosing as a group. Politics, in the broadest sense, is the process of deciding, collectively, what we want to do.

But still, those women are very conservative aren’t they? Are they just liberals in disguise, or some kind of tory greenie? Those are not useful questions, they are just our old partisan habits of thought speaking. The women are not bound by party lines. They are free to consider whatever options are available. They want serious action on climate change. Wherever we’re coming from, we can work with people like that.

Our old politics is tribalised. People identify with one tribe, and they mostly vote their identity, the group where they feel safe. It has little to do with policy, or competence, or honesty, as we see demonstrated over and over.

The old tribes are failing us, badly. We desperately need a new direction in this country. A great many people agree we need to change. Yet the vote last Saturday was almost completely tribal business as usual. Except in Indi and a few other places.

We can’t wait for the old tribes, we can’t wait for a new tribe to form and there’s no messiah. And if we get on with it we’ll go much further and faster than a Shorten government would have. As they say about the climate emergency, we are the ones we have been waiting for.

Election shock—how this happened and lessons for the left

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/05/2019 - 8:27pm in

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Yesterday’s election result has shocked everyone—from the pollsters to the pundits, Labor and even Scott Morrison himself. Solidarity had also been expecting a different outcome.

For the last three years, polls showed that the Liberals would be defeated. But it looks likely that they will hold on as a minority government or with a narrow majority.

Their single-minded scare campaign against Labor’s plans on
franking credits and negative gearing proved effective. The campaign was
dominated by the attacks on Labor’s proposals and Bill Shorten’s feeble efforts
to defend them.

The political commentators are already concluding that Shorten’s plans were too bold and ambitious. But on the contrary, Labor equivocated when explaining its policies on negative gearing and franking credits, rather than coming out clearly and saying they wanted to hit the rich.

Similarly, despite Labor’s spending promises, Ipsos researchers concluded from focus groups during the campaign that, “Western Sydney participants struggled to identify any specific policy initiatives or announcements from Labor.”

The unions ran a concerted Change the Rules campaign, but it
was focused overwhelmingly on doorknocking and leafleting in marginal electorates.
This failed to shift seats.

The union movement has wasted enormous resources on an electoral strategy based on a flawed slogan that to change the rules we had to elect a Labor government that would then hand down some changes to the industrial relations laws. But their electoral approach did nothing to change the government (in fact in some targeted seats, there was a swing to the Liberals) and most importantly it does nothing to build the unions’ capacity to fight industrially, or to build union membership.

The Change the Rules campaign was much worse than the Your Rights At Work campaign that played a significant role in defeating John Howard in 2007. With mass stopwork rallies, unions put attacks on wages and workers’ rights at the centre of the campaign against Howard.

Not this time. It was only in Victoria that there were large
stopwork demonstrations that involved a significant cross-section of the union
movement. It is no coincidence that the greater mobilisation in Victoria helped
produce a small swing towards Labor in that state. But elsewhere few unions
beyond the construction and maritime industries were prepared to mobilise union
members to stopwork rallies. Instead the unions relied simply on doorknocking
in marginal seats.

A union movement that was actively mobilising well before
the election campaign—with large stopwork rallies and workplace meetings—could
have helped make class issues like increasing the minimum wage, restoring
penalty rates and taxing the rich central to the election campaign.

But without that campaign workers were left wondering if
Labor was serious about its promises about a living wage or tackling casual contracts.

Climate election?

Climate change was also a major issue in the election. One
of the few things to celebrate on election night was Tony Abbott losing his
seat to conservative independent and “climate leader” Zali Steggall on Sydney’s
wealthy north shore. The Greens also held their vote and have managed to save
their Senate seats. But their efforts to court wealthy voters, especially in
the Melbourne seats of Kooyong and Higgins went nowhere. Green votes in many
working class seats went backwards.

Commentators have also been quick to condemn Queensland workers for the increased vote for One Nation and Clive Palmer. But it was Labor’s failure to make it clear that “climate action” would guarantee existing jobs and create more that allowed One Nation and Clive Palmer to pull votes. Labor’s two-bob each way—with Shorten refusing to oppose Adani but also saying he might review it—made it look like he wouldn’t defend coal miners’ jobs. It was a Trump moment in the Australian election.

One Nation also picked up votes through a campaign of open
climate denial, both in Queensland and in NSW’s Hunter Valley coal region where
it polled 21.9 per cent in one seat.

As a result we have three more years of a government
dominated by racists and climate deniers.

But there remains wide support for real action on climate
change. The issue ranked as the biggest threat to the country, nominated by 64
per cent of people, in this year’s Lowy Institute poll.

The election result shows most dramatically that climate action at the cost of workers’ jobs and living standards will not win popular support, and only ends up boosting the far right. Taking the issue of workers’ jobs seriously is a life or death issue for the climate movement.

The focus on the Stop Adani campaign without any serious campaign for climate jobs has proven to be a disaster. It led Queensland CFMEU mining division leaders to threaten to campaign against Labor candidates who were not pro-Adani, and saw many of their members vote for the right.

Bob Brown’s Stop Adani convoy—which charged into hostile coal mining areas in north Queensland during the middle of the election campaign—backfired badly.

But the issue of climate change is far from settled. The
Liberals still lack an energy policy, and Scott Morrison will be under pressure
from big business to revisit this during his new term. On election night
retiring Liberal MP Julie Bishop declared that the party needed to re-consider
the National Energy Guarantee, the policy it dumped during the push against
Malcolm Turnbull. And the broad public awareness for climate action will not go

The Liberal Party will continue to be divided over climate. Morrison has pandered to the hard right of the party, and some of them will likely demand that the Liberal government commits to build a new coal-fired power station. 

There has
been a call for another global climate strike in September. High school
students need to strike again in big numbers and this time there needs to be a
concerted mobilisation of unions and workers behind them. The call for mass
public investment to create the jobs and the transition we need must be the
central focus of ongoing climate campaigning.

Morrison has no mandate or agenda of his own, having spelled
out few policies during the campaign beyond his tax cuts for the bosses.

Refugees barely featured in the campaign, with both major
parties agreeing on offshore detention and boat turnbacks. Labor’s strategy of
emphasising how much it agreed with the Liberals did not stop Labor being
defeated. Going quiet is not a strategy. Now the 20 July rallies to mark six
years of offshore detention take on an added importance.

The Liberals’ disastrous budget under Tony Abbott in 2014
means Morrison will be cautious, and he also faces the prospect of having to
hold together a minority government. But there will now be pressure from big
business to further increase the budget surplus through cuts and for new
attacks on unions, as the economy slows.

The failure of the union Change the Rules campaign will
embolden the bosses. Bosses already have more applications to terminate
agreements in the Fair Work Commission. And we face three more years of the
anti-union Australian Building and Construction Commission police.

The union movement needs to go back to basic organising in
the workplaces based on taking strike action to defend wages and conditions.
Unions will have to be prepared to break the rules that limit solidarity and
strike action by fighting industrially, instead of focusing on elections.

The election is a setback, but this is a government that can
be fought.

We need to mobilise against the Liberals’ agenda over the
next three years if we want to seriously shift politics and build for action on
climate change, get rid of anti-worker and anti-union laws and end inequality
by taxing corporations and the rich.

The post Election shock—how this happened and lessons for the left appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Bob Hawke’s legacy not what we want from Shorten

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 4:38pm in



If Bob Hawke’s death helps Labor win against Scott Morrison, it may well
be Hawke’s finest moment.

There is a reason that the Murdoch Press have openly lauded the Labor
governments of Hawke and Keating over the past few months: Hawke was Australia’s
Margaret Thatcher. Hawke’s “economic rationalism” was an early version of what
is now known, and condemned, as “neo-liberalism.”

His government imposed drastic wage cuts and forced through privatisation (of Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank, for starters) and tax cuts for the rich. Hawke massively shifted the economy in favour of the bosses, boosting the profits of big business. Along with the connivance of most union officials of the day, Hawke introduced the Prices and Incomes Accord, which imposed savage wage cuts far more effectively than any Liberal government could have done.

By the time Labor lost office in 1996, the average factory worker had
lost $100 a week in pay in real terms, and full-time workers were putting in
two hours longer a week at work. Over the same period
corporate tax was slashed by 16 per cent from 49 percent to 33 percent.

And unions
that opposed the wage-cutting Accord were savagely attacked. When the Builders
Labourer’s Federation (BLF) tried to break the Accord straitjacket, the Hawke
government permanently deregistered the union in 1986, and collaborated with
the bosses to drive the union out of the construction industry.

In 1989, Hawke used the RAAF to break the pilots’ strike, when they
attempted to get a wage rise outside the limits of the Accord.

Even before entering parliament, Bob Hawke had a bad reputation as head
of the ACTU.  He was known as “The Fireman” because of his role in ending
strikes and hosing down disputes. Hawke took over as ACTU President in 1969,
the year of the general strike to free jailed union official Clarrie O’Shea. Although
rank and file struggle was on the rise, Hawke wanted to hold them back; his
first loyalty was to Australian capitalism.

When Gough Whitlam was sacked as Prime Minister in 1975, workers
spontaneously walked off the job around the country. But Hawke told them to go
back to work, saying “don’t strike, donate a day’s pay” to Labor’s election
campaign. With workers demobilised, Labor lost the election to Malcolm Fraser.

Hawke has been lauded as introducing Medicare, but the story is more
complicated. Medibank had been introduced by the Whitlam government. After his
sacking by the governor general in 1975, Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal government
began dismantling the universal health scheme. Angry mass meetings of rank and
file unionists pushed for Australia’s first general strike in July 1976 to save
Medibank. True to his reputation, Hawke spent the day playing tennis. What
could have been a major victory over the Liberals was turned into a defeat that
allowed Fraser to dismantle Medibank as a universal health care system.

As Prime Minister, Hawke re-introduced Medibank, now called Medicare, in

In 1983, in the lead up to his election, Hawke had promised Aboriginal people national land rights legislation, but backed down rather than challenge the mining companies and the Burke Labor government in Western Australia in 1984. Bob Hawke attended the Barunga festival in the Northern Territory in June 1988 and promised a treaty with Aboriginal people by 1990. But that promise was discarded as quickly as the promise for national land rights.

Late in his life he was a strident advocate for establishing an international
nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land “to solve Indigenous poverty”.

In 1989, the Hawke Labor Government overturned Whitlam’s system
of free tertiary education and began gradually re-introducing university fees.

Hawke’s loyalty to capitalism has never dimmed. As recently as 2014, as
the union movement and community groups desperately struggled against Tony
Abbott’s savage budget cuts, Hawke (and Keating) shamefully urged the Abbott
government to slash spending and speedily repair the budget, boasting that they
had made cuts worth $30 billion in 1986.

Hawke was also a loyal supporter of US power, offering regular briefings
to the US embassy on his Labor colleagues during the period of the Whitlam government.
He was also stridently pro-Israel, even calling for the use of nuclear weapons
in the event of war with Arab governments.

Bob Hawke took Australia into the First Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq alongside the US in 1990. He even bragged about his personal relationship with George Bush Snr and playing a role in getting Canada to commit to the war as well.

The tributes have celebrated Hawke as a man who brought unions and
business together, and introduced reforms that ensured Australia’s prosperity.
But the Accord was a blatant wage-cutting exercise. Hawke shackled the unions
while his reforms boosted corporate profits. The Hawke Labor government was no
friend of the workers.

The floating of the dollar, financial deregulation, privatisation and labour
market deregulation dramatically shifted wealth away from workers in favour of
big business. This set the scene for subsequent Labor governments’ slavish
embrace of the market. 

Every unionist wants to see the end of the Morrison government. There
are union gatherings on the eve of the election to celebrate Hawke. But Hawke
spent his life upholding capitalism and holding back workers struggle—that’s nothing
to celebrate. The Hawke government is a warning of just how much Labor is
committed to running capitalism. As much as we want to see a Shorten Labor
government emerge victorious from the 18 May federal election, we will need a
different kind of politics if there is going to be a real fight against the inequality
that is intrinsic to the capitalist system.

The power to change the system still lies with the workers who walked
off the job against Fraser and the builder’s labourers and the unionists who
fought against de-registration. In the 1980s, handfuls of socialists opposed
Hawke’s Accord and the enterprise bargaining system that it led to. Now tens of
thousands understand that the system is broken.

We will celebrate the end of Scott Morrison. But the more Shorten looks to Hawke as a model for change, the more we will need to look beyond Labor’s blinkers.

By Ian Rintoul

The post Bob Hawke’s legacy not what we want from Shorten appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Escalating Threat of Direct U.S. War Against Iran: Is There A Way Out?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 1:15pm in

Stopping the ominous drive toward a direct U.S. war against Iran demands opposition both to U.S. imperialism and to the repressive Iranian regime.Read more ›

The (un)Australian’s Election Predictions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 1:00pm in


The big day is almost here. The sausages are defrosting, the cakes are being iced and the entire Nation breathes a sigh of relief that they will no longer be receiving unauthorised text messages from a C Palmer of Brisbane.

We rounded up the (un)Australian’s writers and asked them for their thoughts on the campaign and their predictions for the day.

Carlo Sands

Who’ll win (by what margin):

Adani, in a landslide, followed by unprecedented flooding and out of control bush fires.

Who’ll control the Senate:

United Australia Party, for 13 hours before it implodes.

Campaign highlight: Highlight? Have you been paying attention? Highlight?!?

First party to have a senator defect:

United Australia Party. Clive Palmer storms out in disgust after a heated factional dispute over which snacks to order for party room meetings.

Who’ll lead Liberal and Labor in the next election?

The next elections will be postponed indefinitely due to ongoing extreme weather events so catastrophic that agriculture collapses and an outbreak of cannabilism grips the nation. Alan Jones will denounce this as a hoax by means of a cooking display involving rice that doubles as a plug for his follow up cook book with his great mate Mark Latham called “100 ways to cook Cultural Marxists”.

Peter Green

The big winners of this election campaign are:

The nearest cocaine dealer to the advertising agency that landed the Clive Palmer account. 70 million dollars buys a lot of that snow white.

The dude who spent four hard years at NIDA before landing the plum role inside that sweaty Captain Get Up costume.

The crusty old fart that griped about franking credits whilst lounging on the back of his yacht. I hope you were rewarded with a solid gold meerkat statue for your efforts.

The Labor Party scientist who cloned Paul Keating from a mosquito trapped inside fossilised amber from the 1990s.

Comedian Joel Creasey, who received a neat boost to his profile after repeatedly being mistaken for disendorsed Labor candidate Luke Creasey. Unfortunately for other Australian comedians whose careers need a shot in the arm, no candidates named Bill Tayshus or Joe Lilley caused any kind of ruckus.

The drought parched people of the Cayman Islands, now the proud owners of $80 million worth of prime Australian floodwater.

Mark Williamson

Who’ll win (by what margin):

Sky News as they will have a plethora of ex-Politicians and Senate crazies to appear on their channel for the next three years. This new influx of talent may even push their ratings numbers up into double figures.

Who’ll control the Senate:

No one really controls the Senate, you’d have a better chance at trying to herd a bunch of stray cats. In fact a herd of stray cats would probably do a better job in the senate. Vote 1: The herd of stray cats party.

Campaign highlight:

Highlight? It’s kind of like asking Me to talk favourably about my favourite STI’s. At a push I’d have to say it’s the legend of Engadine Macca’s, I hear this will be covered in the next series of Underbelly.

First party to have a senator defect:

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party and surprisingly it will be Pauline herself.

Who’ll lead Liberal and Labor in the next election?

Liberal, Kevin Andrews who will assume the leadership after a bungled coup attempt by Peter Dutton where he once again relies on his ‘numbers man’ Matthias Cormann.

Labor, Bill ‘King of Knives’ Shorten. Is that a knife in your pants Bill or are you just happy to see me?

GK Kidd 

Who’ll win (by what margin): Fraser Anning by 17 votes.

Who’ll control the Senate: Israel Folau.

Campaign Highlight: Cotton On’s unique PR campaign with Egg Girl

First party to have a senator defect: Clive Palmer to the Nationals

Who’ll lead Liberal and Labor in the next election?

David Koch and Mark Latham respectively

To all our readers enjoy election day, don’t forget to vote and be nice to the people who are handing out ‘How To Vote Cards’ as they are mostly volunteers.

Unless of course they are from the Fraser Anning party in which case approach with caution and if you do make physical contact ie an unintentional hand shake then do wash and disinfect your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Follow us on Facebook ( or Twitter @TheUnOz

Happy Voting.

ScoMo Pledges To Neck A Yard Glass Of Macca’s Coke In Honour Of Bob Hawke

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 8:31am in


Scott Morrison has pledged to take some time out in his final days campaigning as Prime Minister to neck a yard glass of Macca’s coke as a tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

“I know a lot of Australian’s revered Bob and his achievements especially his ability to skol a beer,” said the interim Prime Minister. “Now Bob did hold the world record for the yard glass so what better way for me to pay tribute to him than by attempting to break his record.”

When asked why Macca’s coke and not beer Mr Morrison replied: “Ah look, you know it’s me ScoMo just one of the lads not really a beer drinker per se and you know it’s a lot harder to neck a yardie of coke.”

“What with all the fizz and bubbles.”

To witness interim Prime Minister Scott Morrison neck a yard glass of coke tune into Sky News at Midday or head on down to Macca’s Engadine to see it in person.

Please note if you are planning to attend the event at Macca’s Engadine guests are asked to bring aroll of toilet paper as a condition of entry. 2 ply or above.

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook

Cock And Balls Given Own Box On Ballot Sheet

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/05/2019 - 7:30am in

ballot box

The Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed that busy voters wishing to draw a picture of a cock and balls on their ballot paper will be given an option of ticking a box next to a pre drawn cock and balls.

“We know that plenty of people want to draw a C & B but we also understand that Saturdays are busy days what with having to get the kids to soccer and ballet,” said AEC spokesperson Gary Sizzle. “Therefore this year’s ballot papers will contain a ready made cock and balls especially commissioned from cartoonist Bill Leak so that people without enough time to draw their own can still register a traditional protest vote that suggests that all the candidates are essentially genitalia.”

“You simply need to tick the cock and balls above the line in the senate plus a further five options and put a number 1 next to the cock and balls in the green house of reps paper,” said cock and balls campaign manager Uma Plums, who intends to spend July the 2nd handing out how to vote cock and balls cards at a local polling booth. “Of course you still have the option of drawing your own cock and balls with added features such as spaff lines if that’s what you so desire.”

The cock and balls party has declined to say whether it leans to the left or to the right, leaving preferences up to how voters pack their underpants on Saturday morning.

Voters have also been given the phrase “______ is a wanker” as an option and simply need to insert the name of their politician of choice in the blank space. Polling shows Peter Dutton as the nation’s preferred wanker though he may not gain enough seats to have a wank on his own.

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Lessons from Labor’s last time in power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/05/2019 - 5:23pm in



The last Labor government was ultimately destroyed by its determination to defend the interests of big business and manage capitalism, writes Mark Gillespie

All the polls point to an election victory for Bill Shorten. But
Labor have romped home before only to bitterly disappoint later.

In 2007 Kevin Rudd won office on a
massive 5.44 per cent swing picking up 23 new seats—even unseating John Howard
in Bennelong. On the back of Rudd’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and
apology to the Stolen Generations, his approval rating soared to 70 per cent.
The Liberals were in complete disarray and in opposition in every state and territory.

But it all ended in tears. In 2010,
Labor—now led by Julia Gillard—only just managed to hang onto power by forming
a minority government with The Greens and some independents. Then in 2013—with
Kevin Rudd now back in the leadership—Labor was crushed by Tony Abbott,
achieving their lowest primary vote since the 1930s.

How could
Labor squander all this support? Labor’s problems stem from their commitment to
managing capitalism. When capitalism is booming moderate reforms for workers
can be delivered while corporations keep their profits up, but in times of
stagnating growth, managing capitalism “responsibly” means attacking workers.

Rudd and Gillard continually delivered
policies tailored to the needs of big business. Even when the Global Financial Crisis
struck in 2008, Rudd stimulated the economy and took the budget into deficit as
he talked about “saving capitalism from itself.” Mostly Rudd was concerned to
save capitalism. The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, as early as 2010 was back to
promising Labor would deliver budget surpluses.

Instead of redistributing wealth in order
to raise workers’ living standards they focused on restoring profits. And
pursuing budget surpluses meant making cuts to services including welfare
spending and education.

Rudd and Gillard could not deliver
genuine reform and the longer they were in office the more the gap between
their rhetoric and the reality was exposed. Inevitably, this meant
disillusioning Labor’s own working class supporters.

Not just an echo

When Kevin Rudd replaced Kim Beazley as
leader in 2007 he seemed like breath of fresh air. Beazley had been a minister
in the Hawke and Keating governments and was very much associated with their
pro-market economic reforms.

Rudd promised to be an “alternative, not
just an echo”. He talked about “fresh ideas”; a “technological revolution”, an
“education revolution”, and “an economy for the 21st century” while criticising
Howard’s “free market fundamentalism”.

Rudd gave expression to the many
grievances with Howard. He described climate change as “the moral question for
our time” and promised to ratify the Kyoto protocol. Whereas Beazley had failed
to stand up to Howard’s refugee bashing, Rudd promised to close the Nauru
detention centre and adopt a more compassionate approach. Rudd also promised to
withdraw Australian troops from Iraq, a very unpopular war that hundreds of
thousands had marched against.

By far the biggest grievance with Howard
was his WorkChoices legislation which radically deregulated the labour market
and used the law to severely restrict unions. The ACTU funded a massive
advertising campaign against it and called national days of action that saw
hundreds of thousands of workers strike and attend rallies. Rudd pledged to
scrap WorkChoices promising a “workplace where everybody gets a fair go”.

The other side of Rudd

While Rudd’s rhetoric was able to
connect with a desire for change there was another side to his politics. He was
no socialist about to shake up the status quo. He was absolutely committed to
“responsible economic management” and saw himself as part of the “reforming
centre” in the same tradition as the Hawke and Keating governments, but more
willing to attack the unions.

Even before being elected he made
business feel comfortable by establishing a business advisory group and putting
Sir Rod Eddington, who had been a CEO and a director of numerous companies, at
its head.

He was also socially conservative. He
paraded his Christianity, opposed equal marriage, supported the continuation of
Howard’s school chaplaincy program and criticised Bill Henson’s art as

Some Labor apparatchiks saw this as
necessary to appeal to a socially conservative working class. Defeating Howard
meant being “the son of Howard” argued Rudd’s former Press Secretary Lachlan

But Labor’s landslide win was a huge
opportunity. Social attitudes under Howard had moved to the left. When Howard
took power, only 17 per cent preferred increased social spending to tax cuts.
Nine years later it was 47 per cent. After Howard privatised Telstra, support
for privatisation dropped from 30 per cent to just 9 per cent.

The Liberals were so comprehensively
thrashed on WorkChoices that once defeated they dropped all opposition to
scrapping the laws. Labor had an “overwhelming mandate” to tear up WorkChoices,
said the future treasurer, Joe Hockey.

While Rudd
won the election by connecting with people’s desire for change, this is not
what they got. WorkChoices was scrapped but only to be replaced by the Fair
Work Act which many unionists dubbed “WorkChoices lite”. The restrictive laws
unions are fighting today were almost all contained in Labor’s Fair Work Act.

Rudd also maintained Howard’s Australian
Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) which was used to intimidate and
harass construction unions. Two unionists, Ark Tribe and Noel Washington, were
threatened with jail sentences for failing to answer questions from the ABCC
during Rudd’s tenure. Labor went from promising workers a “workplace where
everybody gets a fair go” to promising the bosses a “strong cop on the beat” in
the construction industry.

Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations
was very moving and grabbed international headlines, but at the same time he
maintained Howard’s racist and assimilationist NT Intervention and extended
income management into new areas.

Rudd’s commitment to a more compassionate
approach to refugees turned out to be hollow as soon as some refugee boats
arrived and the Liberals attacked from the right. Rudd froze the processing of
asylum claims for Afghans and Sri Lankans and had some boats towed back to

All these issues massively increased the
disillusionment among Labor supporters, but the straw that broke the camel’s
back was Rudd’s retreat on climate change.

“solution” was always mild and designed to be as inoffensive to big business
interests as possible. He supported a market based emissions trading scheme
which allowed industry to pass on the costs to consumers, with plenty of
exemptions and compensation for trade exposed industries.

When The Greens, rightly, refused to vote
for it because it was so ineffective, Rudd walked away from doing anything and,
according to Newspoll, lost over a million votes in two weeks.

Moving to the right

As Labor crashed in the polls and the
Liberals attacked, Labor’s response was to move to the right. This just made
matters worse as it extinguished any lasting hope for real change.

The rightward shift was most obvious on
refugee policy. Labor went from closing the Nauru detention centre to reopening
Nauru and Manus and exiling refugees there permanently, in the vain hope of
“stopping the boats”.

As Labor slid in the polls the party
moved to dump Rudd as leader.

But his replacement Julia Gillard was
just as hollow. She marketed herself as a traditional Labor reformer. But her
“reforms” were not social democratic but neo-liberal.

Her “education revolution” meant adopting
the Gonski funding model and establishing the My School website and Naplan
testing. The My School website created a market place in education as better
off parents shopped around for better preforming schools, while Gonski funding
ensured private schools continued to milk the public purse. These “reforms”
have only worsened the already high levels of social segregation in our

Gillard’s speech attacking Tony Abbott’s
misogyny did a lot for her feminist credentials. But she was also responsible
for cutting payments to single mothers, forcing them onto unemployment benefits
and its regime of harassment and punishment.

The change in leadership gave Labor a
short boost but it wasn’t long before the disappointment set in again. In
desperation Rudd was brought back to the leadership in 2013. But Labor was
already doomed.

Will Shorten be different?

With the relative success of the openly
socialist Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US, Bill Shorten
has cottoned on that economic conservativism is on the nose and has tacked
left, attacking “inequality” and “trickle-down economics”.

Whereas Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd
wanted to cut corporate taxes, Shorten consistently opposed the Liberals’ cuts
accusing, “the top end of town” of “gorging themselves”. Labor is also
committed to rolling back tax rorts for the rich such as negative gearing and
share dividend imputation. Labor also supports the concept of a living wage for
low income workers and is committed to reversing penalty rate cuts and some
mild industrial relations reforms.

But at the end of the day, Shorten—like
Rudd, Gillard and Labor historically—is committed to working within the
framework of capitalism. This means, particularly in a period of deep crisis
and global uncertainty, that fundamental change will not be delivered.

Already Shorten has assured big business
he won’t be the unions’ “handmaiden” and his industrial relations spokesperson
Brendan O’Connor has ruled out giving unions the “unlimited right to strike”.

In his budget reply he also promised
stronger budget surpluses than the Liberals. This will force Labor to make cuts
if the economy deteriorates.

But by putting low wages and inequality
on the agenda Shorten has raised the question of the capitalist system itself.
Rudd won the 2007 election on the back of massive union national stopwork
rallies. But those rallies turned from “Your Rights At Work—Worth Fighting
For”, into “Your Rights At Work—Worth Voting For.” After workers had voted
Howard out, the union leaders demobilised the movement and let Rudd and Gillard
trash the victory over the Liberals and the bosses.

This time around, there is the Change the
Rules campaign. Although the rallies have not been as consistent, the hunger
for real change is deeper. A victory over Morrison can fuel workers’
confidence. We learned last time that to really tackle inequality and injustice
we have to go beyond just getting Labor elected. The fight for real change will
need to continue after the election—in rallies, strikes and demonstrations
where workers can show their real power to win social change. 

The post Lessons from Labor’s last time in power appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Barnaby Joyce Plans To Spend The Week Polling Swinging Voters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/05/2019 - 8:43am in


Future deputy Opposition leader Barnaby Joyce has told colleagues that he plans to spend the final week of the election campaign polling swinging voters in an effort to get the Coalition over the line.

“I am a proven campaigner and a two time family guy so you know let me at those swingers,” said Special Envoy Joyce. “I am willing to do the hard yards, I will chuck my keys into any bowl and am willing to poll people, long and hard.”

When asked if he thought the Coalition had a problem with females Mr Joyce replied: “Not a problem we just need more of them. In fact I’m looking into recruiting more females into my office as soon as I can.”

“As you know I am a pretty good employer. A lot of people who work with me get to experience a lot of different positions and some even get promoted up to being my wife.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got an important meeting with ScoMo, I’m talking to him about potentially watering down workplace sexual harassment laws.”

Mark Williamson

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BREAKING: Peter Dutton Promises To Continue Being An Arsehole If Re-Elected

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:34am in


Minister for the Dark Arts Peter Dutton has kicked off his re-election campaign for the seat of Dickson in Queensland by promising constituents that should they re-elect him he will continue to be the same old arsehole that he has been since he was initially elected.

” A lot of promises tend to be made during election campaigns but not many are actually acted upon,” said the Minister. “To the people of Australia look at my record, my actions speak for themselves. I am and will continue to be an arsehole.”

“I mean did you see what I did this morning, having a go at my opponent for being disabled. Tell me those aren’t the actions of an arsehole.”

When asked why he felt acting like an arsehole was a desirable trait in a politician Minister Dutton replied: “You journo’s don’t know what it’s like in the real world. My world. Everyday I have to deal with people and the law telling me what I can and cannot do. Well no more. I am Peter Dutton and I will be Australia’s next supreme ruler.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me I saw a little girl in a pram around the corner with a lollipop. I’m going to take that lollipop and teach her a lesson on taxation.”

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook