Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

ALP: No alternative for workers

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Labor’s post election performance has been erratic at best as they veer between popularism and betraying their capitalist position. Still
demoralized by their resounding election defeat, the Labor Party has proved totally unable to present a united front with conflicting positions being put forward at all levels of the party.

The recent Victorian State Labor Conference was a great example, involving little policy discussion as delegates were too busy arguing. In fact the only Labor constant seems to be that in the all the debate no real alternative to the Howard Government’s attacks is being put forward.

Although Kim Beazley finally promised to roll back Howard’s counter reforms should they win office, he was unconvincing. Both Beazley and
shadow Industrial Relations Minister Stephen Smith had already betrayed Labor’s real position by spending months being evasive when directly questioned over this issue.

In fact, on 26 May in response to Howard’s announced proposals, Beazley actually argued that it was the Hawke Labor government that should be credited for scaling back workplace regulation – attacks that achieved the same purpose as those presented by Howard!

Though still indulging in pro-union rhetoric, Labor’s agreement with Howard is becoming clearer as Howard’s attack progresses. When some of the detail of Howard’s counter reforms was announced in late May to fairly broad if low key public opposition, Newspoll reported that satisfaction with Howard’s performance on the job had dropped by two percent to 53 percent.

Despite this, Labor’s primary vote was down three points to 37 percent. Howard was still considered to be the best candidate for prime minister. This deep disaffection with both parties is likely to grow as huge sections of society find themselves further betrayed as Howard’s changes are implemented.

As this disaffection grows it will become increasingly clear to organized workers that reforming the Labor party is not viable. The only way that Australian workers can be properly represented against the anti-worker policies of both major parties is by forming a new workers

By Erinn Sales


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