What’s the plan, comrades?

I got a call from a friend this week asking if I had seen the front page of Wednesday’s Australian. It was covering the 2012 Federal Budget. His wife had rung him from work saying have a look at the cartoon by Bill Leake showing Swan and Gillard leading a march under the Communist Party flag, hammer and sickle and all! (Pictured below).

‘What’s the world comming to?’  he said. ‘What is Murdoch thinking? Do they seriously think class war has broken out in Australia?’

As Brisbane Labour Day 2012 recedes in collective memory and the bitter sweet sound of ALP leader, Annastacia Palaszczuk, apologising for the sale of public assets still ringing in our ears, we await certain doom for federal labor government at the ballot box. No budget can save Labor, certainly not the few crumbs thrown down by Wayne Swan.

All Labor federal treasurer, Wayne Swan, is trying to do is contain the degree of  defeat ahead for the federal government. The Labor Party may even make Swan leader in a further bid to contain the damage, or they may choose Combet, surely not Shorten. Labor is not trying to win, they lost all hope of that after the massacre of  the Labor government in Queensland where they hold only 7 seats. Hence
Palaszczuk‘s apology to workers on Labour Day.

Will the new federal government abolish Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) for example? Will the cycle of bargaining by unions for a CPI wage rise become a thing of the past?

On Wednesday (9 May 2012) Murdoch’s THE AUSTRALIAN screamed that Labor is out to “SMASH THE RICH!”

The following day THE AUSTRALIAN declared that Federal Labor’ leaders Swan and Gillard had declared class war through its budget.

Political Editor Dennis Shanahan writes in the AUSTRALIAN (Wed 9 May 2012):

At the height of the GFC ‘Kevin Rudd decided to use socialism to save capitalism‘ and ‘Now the crisis has passed Wayne Swan has decided to use capitalism to save socialismIf it (the Labor government) does regain faith, then socialism — and Labor — will be saved at the cost of capitalism‘.

Hang on!
The Australian Government, unlike the Federal Reserve in the USA, did not bail out the banks during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). It lent money giving the ‘big four’ banks a concession on interest not afforded the smaller banks. Social democrats want to manage capitalism not redistribute income from the rich to the poor, not even from the big to the smaller banks.

When the federal reserve reduces interest rates the banks do not see fit to pass the full reduction onto to people holding crippling mortgages. Labor could have challenged the banks backing the establishment of a nationalised bank set up to provide funds to home buyers at reduced interest rates and providing more public housing thereby reducing house prices.

Does Murdoch seriously think the economic crisis has pushed liberal democratic governments to the point of nationalising the banks? Governments of similar persuasion have fallen in Europe because of the debt crisis and large unemployment in places like Greece and Spain. Yet none has taken a step vaguely in the direction of nationalising the banks.

On its own federal budget review the AUSTRALIAN carries a story where 72,000 parents will lose the single parent pension and forced on the dole and back to work when their kids turn 8 years. Under previous governments this did not happen until the child was 12.

One lone parent said ‘There goes the rent’ when she found out that the Labor government will no longer give a paltry $130 a week parenting payment via Centrelink. (The AUSTRALIAN 10 May 2012 “Lone Parent: ‘There goes the Rent‘ p9)

Has Murdoch and his press gone completely dotty? Or is it the world that is being turned inside out by one economic crisis after another – in the US, in Greece, in Europe?

The crisis has hit some in Australia – others see an opportunity to make money out of the crisis. There is little sign of class war as portrayed on the front page of the Australian in the past few days.

I wonder what May Day 2013 will bring?

Positive events occurred this Labour Day in Brisbane. The Labour Party apologised for selling off public assets like Queensland Rail — ‘too little too late’ cried one left-wing academic. Sadly, it was too little too late for the left as well. We have failed to organise to stop such sell-outs.

One positive event was the entry into the march by the Sovereign Tent embassy mob calling for self-determination .

Later in the day when the Phil Monsour band played ‘Black Fella, White Fella‘, it bought the Murri contingent and their non-indigenous supporters to their feet with the land rights flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag and the Sovereignty banners waving before the attendant crowd. It showed the power of social movements when solid organising at the tent embassy over the past two months has raised crucial issues like Stolen Children, Stolen Wages and Stolen Land.

The combined unions choir sang ‘Solidarity Forever‘ bringing unionists out to participate in the anthem of the unions. A considerable number of people had turned out demonstrating that the failure of the Labor Party has not coincided with a failure of unions. Union members took up the call from the combined unions choir:

‘When the union’s inspiration through the workers blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun’

Come May Day 2013, workers and their organisations had better come up with a plan. And it has to be better than re-building the Labor Party as proposed by Palaszczuk!

Do we begin with the Left unions? I was speaking to a seaman on the bus on the way home from the Labour Day march and he said that  if Abbott or Turnbull get rid of EBAs his union will combine together, go on strike and defeat them. ‘They (the bosses) need our labour’ he said.

Surely our plan can’t be framed in terms of parliament and elections? The electoralist experiment has failed. Surely calling a  conference called Marxism 2012 is not the way — the debate on these pages about the recent Marxism 2012 conference in Melbourne has demonstrated that.

So what is the plan, Comrades?

[How to guide ministers to making the right decisions]

Sir Humphrey: If you want to be really sure that the Minister doesn’t accept it, you must say the decision is “courageous”.

Bernard: And that’s worse than “controversial”?

Sir Humphrey: Oh, yes! “Controversial” only means “this will lose you votes”. “Courageous” means “this will lose you the election”!

from the BBC series – ‘Yes, Minister’

Ian Curr
May 2012

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