[Publishers Note: Each month the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist sends WBT a summary of articles published by them. Here is the month of March 2015. I have chosen to post the Vanguard’s take on the NSW election. The links to the other articles are below.]
Paul Keating, Mark Latham, Martin Ferguson, Michael Egan and Michael Costa all attacked Labor and sided with the Coalition in the weeks leading up to the state election. The first three are well-known to Vanguard readers. Former NSW Labor Treasurer and Energy Minister Egan also put the boot in the day after the election. Michael Costa closed rail lines, denied global warming and supported electricity privatisation when he was NSW ALP Treasurer. These days he mouths off in the Murdoch media, the Alan Jones Show and the Bolt Report.
So NSW Labor must have been doing something right. Big business wanted assets privatised, and these five lined up to lend a hand.
Distortions abounded. $1.7 billion yearly profit from electricity distribution subsidises NSW people’s services, but for two years the state-owned companies have been told to pass on just $400 million. $2.6 billion awaits whichever multinational corporation is handed the contracts. But Murdoch and co targeted the $400 million figure and accused the unions, Labor and Greens, who opposed privatisation, of lying.
On election night ABC reporters still spoke of the ‘lease’ of the assets. Even on election day, the comment, “It’s not a sale, it’s a lease” could be countered. “Well mate, in 99 years even your grand-kids will be dead. It’s a sale.”
One cut at a time
The Coalition’s whole spending agenda was contingent on electricity privatisation.
The lease tactic showed the Coalition had learned from long years under Labor. They avoided Campbell Newman’s fate, by attacking people’s rights and services a piece at a time, rather than face a united backlash by gobbling the lot. They closed hospitals in safe seats and promised big spends on those near marginal ones.
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli typified this tactic. He bowed to the Gonski mass movement before he was elected, and has stuck with it.
But TAFE is at stake too. With nationwide bipartisan agreement on privatisation of TAFE – except in NSW – Piccoli refused to budge despite a persistent campaign led by unionists, which won huge support. Piccoli talked of ‘safeguards’, and had the tactical sense to delay the introduction till just months before the election.
The Coalition did things too. Project were started, not just announced. The M5 motorway was widened to six lanes, and what could be a four hour daily commute from outer suburbs like Campbelltown was dramatically reduced. Its privatisation-funded pork-barrelling aims to entrench its position.
Indecision amongst voters
While all commentators on election night said the anger against Labor had died since the last election, Labor’s paralysing corruption and subservience to big businesses had not been forgotten.
The gutting of NSW Labor prior to and at the last election tore away its vilest core, and opened it up to supporting some needs of ordinary people, by opposing or limiting privatisation. But mobilising for struggle, not just elections, goes against entrenched Labor ideology, and marks the ALP as a party of capitalism, despite periods when it rode high on mass struggles.
Indecision was the typical response from unionists contacted by this writer in a marginal seat phone-in organised by Unions NSW. It was not just the fog of corporate propaganda, but bitter experience. Even two days before, most had not made up their minds, but were willing to speak, and be swayed by facts that built on their own concerns.
And it continues…
The NSW Greens have consistently supported and built people’s struggles, particularly the anti-motorway No WestConnex in inner Sydney and the statewide Lock the Gate Alliance against coal seam gas. The Coalition’s moratorium on CSG in Lismore and bribe of a new school in Ballina appear not to have stopped the Greens winning, though Lismore is in doubt at the time of writing.
The Greens’ long standing, pro-people education, health and social welfare policies are have won them respect, and particular hatred by the corporate media.
There is a huge opportunity to build on the campaigns that led up to the election. A persistent hands-on approach to struggle, that empowerments people is the way forward. Targeting the corporate rulers behind the parliamentary facade will strengthen the people’s capacity to fight.
To succeed, campaigns must move beyond targeted seats to educating and mobilising the majority. A bit of a breather, and the fight continues.
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