Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

ALP re-elected in South Australia and Tasmania

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Labor State Governments have been re-elected in South Australia and Tasmania yesterday.
The uneasy economic upturn (that a section of workers has benefited from by working long hours and getting into debt) has been enough to see incumbants re-elected – whether it is the Coalition federally or ALP in the States.
Federal and State governments have succeeded in scaring voters away from voting for an alternative capitalist party for fear of a worse situation. ‘Federal Labor will bring back 17% interest rates’, said Prime Minister John Howard and ‘Tasmanian Liberals will bring back recession’, says Premier Paul Lennon.

The rump that is Federal Labor and the rumps that are State Liberal Parties show that any victory for Howard last year or Rann and Lennon on Saturday should be put in the context of a loss in active support for both the major capitalist parties.

Another factor helping Labor yesterday was the Federal industrial relations attacks of Howard which undermined support for the Liberal Party.

In South Australia the ALP had a 10% swing giving it its first outright majority since 1985. The Liberals had a dreadful result with their leader just winning his own seat – he has since resigned as leader.

The Christian-based Family First party continued its rise, polling almost 6 per cent, the Greens topped 6 per cent while the Democrats’ support plummeted to around 3 per cent. The Green vote increased mainly from ex-Democrat voters.

South Australia was the home of the Australian Democrats and their wipeout on Saturday marks the end of the party. This party was previously a safety-value for capitalism on the electoral front.

In the SA Upper House the No Pokies Independent member Nick Xenophon was expected to lose his seat as the major parties preferenced against him to keep their big business backers happy.

Amazingly this ‘party’ got a massive 21.5% of the Upper House vote, coming third behind the ALP and Liberals. It won 2 seats. The Greens got 4.1%, Democrats 1.7% and Family First 4.9%.

This shows that progressive opposition to the major parties will not necesarily go straight to the Greens. Having said that, the No Pokies group is a mixture of progressive and reactionary policies – its new MP wants to take on the pokie operators yet openly opposes a harm minimisation approach to drug use.

In Tasmania Labor won in their own right with 15 seats, to 7 for the Liberals. The Greens dropped from 4 to 3 seats with a 3% drop in their support.

The Greens lost votes partially because of a big business/Christian Right propaganda campaign against them, supported by both major parties. However the response of the Green leaders to this campaign, emphasising their moderate policies, did little to excite their youthful support base.

The shaky legs on which the Australian economic upturn is based will guarantee that the Labor State governments or the Federal Coalition government will be ones of constant crisis.

SP’s fight to build mass support for socialist ideas is the only way out for workers and young people.

As an aside the Socialist Alliance stood a candidate in the SA lower house seat of Port Adelaide, coming last with 205 votes (1.3%). In Tasmania they stood in Franklin where they came last with 236 votes (0.4%) and in Denison they came last with 224 votes (0.39%).


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