Does voting change anything?

Paradigm Shift broadcast at noon on 1 July 2016 on the day prior to the election. [4zzz fm 102. fridays at noon].

We often hear the slogan “voting changes nothing, only a politician gets in.” In the Australian context, federal elections are increasingly presidential affairs. In 2016, it is Turnbull vs Shorten but is there any real difference? Will Turnbull, the rich merchant banker, be any worse than Shorten, the union official who negotiates lower wages for his members (Remember CleanEvent)?

Are Labour policies any better or worse than that of the coalition? In a few cases the Liberal policies are better. Why the Labour Party would not wish to deny negative gearing to investors speculating in property during a housing crisis is beyond me. The Liberals have declared they wish to do this – albeit denying only very high income earners this rort on the tax system. The Labor Party cried fowl, ‘the proposed restriction on negative gearing is retrospective legislation’ they claimed. Bah humbug!

Did federal elections ever make a difference? Well I suppose yes. In 1972 Labor’s Gough Whitlam defeated Liberal’s Billy McMahon. Before cabinet was even selected, Whitlam and his deputy, Lance Barnard, declared an end of conscription and an end to Australia’s participation in the Vietnam war. Whitlam made universities free. He setup central wage fixing and announced equal pay for women. All this in the first 2 weeks of government!

Today these may seem to be big reforms especially in a conservative electorate. But were they really?

Opposition to the Vietnam War had built into a mass movement by the 1970’s. Hundred’s of thousands of people were on the streets and as Whitlam declared in his election speech “It’s time?” he was following popular sentiment to end the war.

The same could not be said of Turnbull. As we will here later in the show Turnbull and his foreign minister, Bishop, are conducting illegal and secret operations in the Middle East based on lies and misinformation. Both Labor and Liberals are increasing the cost of higher education. back in the 1970s the Liberals had already made universities more accessible by giving scholarships to ordinary people. Thus dramatically increasing over-crowding.

By 1971, the University of Queensland at St Lucia was the size of a large town with 20,000 students and 10,000 staff. This overcrowding helped students to question their courses and their lecturers.

Whitlam’s modest reforms did create change, especially for women. It gave women greater access to the workforce, a better standard of living, his government introduced no-fault divorce. His reforms enabled women to establish financial independence from their partners.

Does voting change anything?
Last week the people of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to leave the European Union. This came as a surprise to some and sent a financial shock through stock exchanges around the world. The British Pound fell to a 30 year low and people worried about their jobs. Political leaders fell on their swords and the progressive leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn came under sustained attack. He will probably hold on. So, on the surface, some things do change. To deny this is to misunderstand the close link between capitalism and democracy. It is after all in the parliaments of democratic countries where regulation of capitalism take place – to some extent, at least.

So, who would who to vote for? Personally I will be voting for the independents and minor parties, being careful not to vote for far-right crazies. I suggest you look closely at the candidates policies. Not surprisingly, for me at least, when I do that, both Liberal and Labor come last.

Hung parliament
This is a close election and it is likely that it will produce a hung parliament. There will be some surprises in it. Sadly I think Pauline Hanson will win in the Senate in Queensland, beating Andrew Bartlett from the Greens and Glen Lazarus, the independent. Alas the ‘brick-with-eyes’ will not rise from the dead.

Hanson has the advantage of celebrity.

Nick Xenophon’s team in south Australia is likely to win at least one seat. Xenophon is a true liberal I agree with him that poker machines should be banned. He supports independence and a better deal for East Timor. And American bases out of Australia. He is wrong abut the need for an Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) – that is an attack on workers right to organise.

In my electorate of Griffith I will be putting Labor’s Terri Butler and Liberal Fiona Ward last. In the absence of a socialist candidate I’ll be voting for John Jiggens for drug law reform and for the Greens. However I do not hold out much hope that either will win or get their policies up.

The Greens Andrew Bartlett will get my vote in the Senate because he was always turned up for refugees, supports the Palestinian people. He believes in social justice and human rights for all. Lookout for the renewable energy party and the arts party in your electorates.

One area of policy we heard little about during the election campaign was foreign policy. I’ll play an interview with James O’Neill an international law expert to discuss what is happening on that score.

What’s to be done?
Some things need to happen immediately :

  1. Begin Treaty negotiations with first nations people about sovereignty and land rights with an economic base.
  2. Unions to conduct meetings with a view to disaffiliate from the Australian Labor Party. Unions duty is to its members not political parties.
  3. The term ‘Australian Government‘ needs to return to the ‘Commonwealth of Australia‘ to reflect the collective ownership of the natural benefits bestowed on its people.
  4. All troops to be recalled from the Middle East and Afghanistan..
  5. Australia to declare independence from the United States of America and close all foreign bases on its territories.
  6. Closure of Uranium mines and nuclear power station at Lucas Heights.
  7. All offshore detention centres to be closed and refugees settled in Australia.
  8. Australia to embark on a large infrastructure project agreed to by all, e.g. an inland rail system. This project needs to be funded by Government-issued bonds. This will solve the unemployment problem.
  9. Renewable energy should be used to replace burning of fossil fuels.
  10. Confiscation of Gina Rinehart’s assets and closure of mines destroying the environment.

Ian Curr
3 July 2016

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