From where does change come?

“Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground” — from ‘Fire and Rain’ by James Taylor.

We were reminded yesterday that the Australian people do not choose the Australian Prime Minister.

Kevin Rudd was elected as the member for Griffith by about 30 or 40 thousand people voting for him. The ALP won the 2007 election where Howard lost his own seat of Bennelong. It was the ALP parliamentary caucus that elected Kevin Rudd as leader of his party and then the Governor General (the Queens Representative) who made him Prime Minister. Similar machinations occur when the Liberal Party wins an election.

So why was Kevin Rudd, a former public servant in foreign affairs and in Qld government, sacked from the job of Prime Minister by his own party and replaced by Julia Gillard, a former industrial relations lawyer in the 1990s? Was it

A )  The Labor Government’s attempt to introduce a new Mining Tax?
B)   The failure of the house insulation scheme and the subsequent deaths of Australian Workers?
C )  The wastage of money in the building of school halls and libraries in the  ‘building education revolution’?
D )  The failure to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme to slow down Climate Change?
E )  Increased interest rates on home mortgages that are sending working people into more and more debt so that the government can prop up the banking system?
F )  All of the above?

The Left has spent a lot of time and resources to change the ‘Kevin Rudd’ Labor Party on Palestine, on the environment, on the stolen generations, on union rights, on workers wages and conditions, on refugees  — but all this becomes a high risk strategy in the world of parliamentary politics. There is even doubt that the the elected parliamentarians are in control of the process of reform. For example, much of the tax review was left in the hands of Ken Henry and his bureaucrats.

‘Electorialist’ politics deliver dubious outcomes for those who wish to bring about fundamental change.

Perhaps it was the mining companies that got rid of a Prime Minister? Indigenous people know that the mining companies control their land. Home owners know that banks increase interest rates. And workers know that the means of production is in the hands of the bosses. Big corporations run the country

Only workers who produce the benefits we enjoy can change the world for the better. That is if you accept that society is run on class lines.

With this in mind it is workers we should be speaking and organising with.

The Labor government votes for laws that discriminate against workers. It set up the Australian Building and Construction Commission that ignores serious breaches of workplace safety (i.e. the faulty installation of insulation batts in homes) yet attempts to prosecute rank and file unionists for calling for a OH&S committee on a construction site at Flinders University in South Australia [the case of Ark Tribe].

ACTU Congress in Brisbane (2009)

The current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, voted for these discriminatory laws that mean a worker can be jailed for refusing to dob in his union. So did Kevin Rudd [see Inside the ACTU].

A number of different responses by organised workers are possible:

1. Accept the IR legislation and the current system
This means seeking to reform the anti-union laws through parliament. This was tried with the Rudd government but failed. Now we are expected to accept Simon Crean as the replacement for Gillard. Crean is a former ACTU secretary who sold out the SEQEB workers in Qld by calling off a transport workers blockade against the Bjelke-Petersen government. Can we trust him during a recession not to use Industrial Relations laws against unionists like Ark Tribe?

2. Defy the laws in a piecemeal way

This is what the building unions have done with the Ark Tribe campaign. It has been effective in highlighting the nature of the ABCC but has resulted in activism confined to court wins (Noel Washington) with little change on the ground i.e. workers are still dying on construction and mining sites at the rate of one per week (says Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)  federal secretary, Dave Noonan).

3. Defy the laws in a concerted campaign

This strategy presupposes the only weapon that workers have to stop the government and employers’ attacks is their unions’ industrial power. It recognises that union power based on collective bargaining is stronger than organisation based on enterprise bargaining. How to go about this is outlined in courses of action

Please incude comments below on how the organised Left should respond to these immediate challenges.

Ian Curr
June 2010


Inside the ACTU

After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet – courses of action

Gillard accused of soft line on Tel Aviv

One thought on “From where does change come?

  1. Charges against Gillard says:

    JULIA GILLARD (aka Killard and Gradgrind) [Thanks to Humphrey McQueen]

    Character Evidence
    A visit to Israel to secure donations from the local Zionist zealots to party funds and their silence about anything she might have once said about the Palestinians.

    She does breaststroke up Allan Jones’ backside, revealing that incitement to racial violence is on her agenda for social inclusion.

    This pair of propaganda exercises were to defuse the Coalition’s allegation that she comes from the extreme Left.

    Substantial offences
    WorkChoices Lite under alias of FairWork Bill, both in violation of ILO standards.
    Her thuggish performance at ACTU Congress in Brisbane last year

    Excluding OH&S from the terms of reference from the inquiry to justify retaining the police state powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission

    Driving ahead with the persecution of Ark Tribe for refusing to dob in his mates for their defence of their health and safety.

    Introducing legislation to undermining of OH&S standards, thereby making herself complicit in the mass murder of working people.

    And doing a similar deal over workers’ compensation.

    These anti-union drives link to her bullying of teachers in their action against NAPLAN and League Tables, with threats of fines on individual teachers who sought to protect students from her serial child abuse.

    Imposition of teaching to the test in place of education for the fullest social development of the individual. Under her non-de-crime of Gradgrind, she told a gathering of the Australian Industry Group:

    In the areas covered by my portfolios – early childhood education and childcare, schooling, training, universities, social inclusion, employment participation and workplace cooperation – are all ultimately about the same thing: productivity’…I’m going to be measuring policies against the all-important criteria of how effectively they increase national productivity.

    So, even pre-school children are sacrificed to her ideal of profit maximisation. In place of state totalitarianism, Gradgrind imposes market totalitarianism.

    We are not seeing tactical maneouvres but three years of strategic implementation

    Killard may not be more vicious towards the working class than Howard but she is more dangerous because she knows how the ALP and the union movement work.

    Not since Hawke has there been a graver threat.

    Killard’s performance puts her into the same gender as Bronwyn Bishop, Julie Bishop, Pauline Hanson Sarah Pallin and Margaret Thatcher.

     Quotes from Tom Dusevic, The Great Gillard experiment, The Best Australian Political writing 2009, MUP.

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