‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy’ under Albanese

Malcolm Fraser’s best known line was a paraphrase of the quote from the George Bernard Shaw play, Back to Methuselah: “Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.” Ironically during the 2022 election campaign the Liberal Party adopted the slogan: It Won’t Be Easy under Albanese.

The Liberal Party has suffered an historic defeat under Morrison and both major parties have had their lowest ever primary vote with only 35% voting LNP and 32% voting Labor. About 12% voted Green. In New South Wales the Liberals lost all the seats around Sydney harbour including affluent Wentworth, North Sydney and Bennelong. The Liberals are such dills, ignoring the secular base of their party for the religious right. Morrison, a Pentecostal christian, even brought in his own candidates in NSW ignoring the selections made by the local Liberal branches. People who do not represent their community and so lost out to independents. Their alternative leader Josh Frydenberg even lost Menzies old seat of Kooyong in inner Melbourne. The minister for borders, Peter Dutton, just survived in Dickson in Queensland and may end up leading the party even further to the right. The good ole boys in the Liberal Party were outsmarted by middle class professional women in favour of climate action and an end to misogyny in their party and in government. Prominent women in the media challenged the outright sexism of the Liberal Party and made sure grievances by women abused, harrassed and sexually assaulted in the parliamentary workplaces were brought to light.

Liberal Party slogan

The ‘TEAL’* liberals were aided by the grass roots activism of the Greens in inner Brisbane seats north and south of the river that has flooded catastrophically twice over the past ten years. Brisbane is a river with a city problem.

However it was the landslide against the Liberals in Western Australia that delivered government to the Labor Party. WA has been another country during the pandemic, cut off and ignored by government in the east. Antonio Albanese is the first Italian-Australian Prime Minister. His father was from South-East Italy and his mother was Irish Catholic.

The Greens are unlikely to have balance-of-power in the house of representatives and will sit on the cross benches with the TEAL (liberal) independents as a third force in the parliament. Climate action is their main focus however Greens leader Adam Bandt has signalled that he will press the Labor government on inequality in health and housing. On the cross benches for the Greens, we will see Max Chandler-Mather (Griffith) and Elizabeth Watson Brown (Ryan) in the house of reps and  Penny Allman-Payne and Larissa Waters (Qld) in the senate from Queensland. Max Chander Mather’s campaign of door knocking was so effective that he one the primary vote with 35% with Liberals on 30% and Labor on 28%. This was only possible with the help of an army of volunteers determined to bring about change on climate and social justice.

In NSW, former NSW Greens parliamentarian, David Shoebridge, gets into the senate. Other wins for the Greens are Lidia Thorpe in Victoria, Peter Whish-Wilson in Tasmania, Dorinda Cox in Western Australia and Barbara Pocock in South Australia. In the past two years Australia has experienced severe fires and extreme flooding. This has led to grass roots activism for climate justice coming from young (a national schools strike for climate action) and older Australians by unions, political independents, and Greens.

New managers of capitalism in Australia
Labor wins power at a time when capitalism is in severe crisis. Will Labor attempt social reform and put Dental and Mental into Medicare? How will they fund it? By cutting government subsidy to private health funds? Not likely. The new treasurer Jim Chalmers is right-wing Labor from Queensland and may resist the pressure for reform to both health and education. On housing Labor has made a big fuss over Albanese having been raised in public housing. With record house prices, the new managers of capitalism in Australia will struggle to arrest growing inequality in housing, record low wages and real unemployment.

Meanwhile in the background is Australia’s billionaire Simon à Court who is pressing for more government subsidies for renewable energy and electric cars by giving some financial backing to the TEAL independents. True to form the billionaire wants taxpayers to foot the bill for these reforms and is not willing to put up his own billions. Holmes à Court may be looking to be an Australian Elon Musk.

Move to the Left
I think the centre is moving to the Left both in Australia and elsewhere. The Greens here are called watermelons because they are green on the outside and red in the middle. Internationally, Brazil, Argentina and Chile are all moving back to the Left. I think the QUAD will become irrelevant when BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) gangs up against the Ponzi scheme run by the US administration using the American dollar i.e. the US is piling on debt that will never be repaid, the fed “prints” massive amounts of money and forces countries who trade with the US to invest $US in government bonds.

As Albanese goes to the QUAD meeting in Tokyo it is unlikely that he will raise the plight of Julian Assange with President Biden and if he does he will get short shrift from that spiteful administration who still blame Assange for Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 Presidential election against Trump. Clinton supported the Iraq war that brought that country to its knees and Assange challenged this view exposing the war crimes committed by the US military.

Refugees and Climate Action
On the bright side, the Tamil refugees will get to return to Biloela but Labor is unlikely to look too kindly to new boat arrivals having first introduced mandatory detention in the early 1990s. However if Labor had come out unambiguously for the refugees (and climate action), they probably would have won Griffith and Ryan in Brisbane and who knows where else. However in Queensland the Labor Party is stupidly tied to old coal fired power stations which produce about 70% of all the electricity consumed in Qld. They would also be more popular in the Pacific.

First Nations
The first thing Albanese did when coming into office was to recognise the Uluru Statement from the Heart and to pledge an Aboriginal voice in the Australian parliament. This is a departure from the Liberal Party policy when then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, rejected the Uluru Statement out of hand claiming that he did not want a third force in the parliament. This was stupid because First Nations people made a modest proposal for a substantive recognition in Australian history and offered participation by non-indigenous people in their ancient dreaming.

Foreign Policy
I don’t expect much from Labor on the international front. They are pro-US alliance, pro-Israel and anti-China. They are hard to distinguish from the Liberal Party on foreign policy.

There was one exception to this in recent years when Bob Carr was foreign minister (2012-13). Carr was pro-US alliance but was a little more reasonable on the Middle East and Palestine. A grass roots section of the party set up Labor for Palestine and campaigned strongly to pressure Bob Carr and the rest of the party to recognise Palestine in a similar fashion to Corbyn’s Labour Party in Britain. They were successful in getting the Queensland branch of the party to see Israel for what it is, an apartheid state.

Personally I think Labor’s Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, is shocking on both the US alliance and Palestine. I suppose we can’t expect a big push for democratic rights from someone who was a prefect at the elitist Presbyterian Scotch College in Adelaide with a school motto of “Scientia, Humanitas, Religio“. Penny Wong should know better, having been the butt of racism at school.

Labor is just as hypocritical as the Liberals on foreign policy, up in arms over China’s new base in the Solomon Islands but failing to criticise the large number of US bases in the Pacific and on mainland Australia (e.g. Pine Gap). The US is a far greater threat to sovereignty in the Asia-Pacific than China. Look out for a US orchestrated coup in the Solomons if ‘diplomacy’ fails to bring that country back under US control.

The Pandemic
The pandemic is still raging in Australia with 378,000 self-isolating at home with Covid. The Australian Electoral Office had to change the regulations for these people to be able to vote via telephone.

Inequality was raised as a major concern by the Greens in the 2022 election campaign. However a socialist redistribution of wealth is unlikely to come from the Greens or Labor because it treats the union movement as an embarrassment and is willing to even attack it while in government. This is a contradiction because it is dependent on the union movement for organisation and financial support. Movement on that front will only come from the bottom up. Antonio Albanese is certainly no Jeremy Corbyn. He won’t be singing the Red Flag on election night.

Life wasn’t meant to easy under Albanese.

Workers of all countries unite!

Ian Curr
Ed., 23 May 2022.

*Teal is a colour, not an acronym.


Please comment down below