Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Australia's no choice election

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Editorial comment from the June 2016 edition of ‘The Socialist’

A federal election has now officially been called for July 2. Unlike normal elections when only half of the Senate seats are declared vacant, this “double dissolution” election will see all seats in both houses contested.

The Coalition hoped that a double dissolution election would break the deadlock in the Senate and help to provide some stability. As economic conditions worsen big business is demanding that cuts be made to social spending so that corporate taxes can be reduced. These plans have been frustrated by the crossbenchers who have stalled a number of bills in the Senate.

But it is far from assured that the next parliament will be any more stable. In fact it is possible that neither major party wins enough seats to form government in their own right. Polls are currently showing the Coalition and Labor neck and neck but with an extraordinarily long election campaign underway there is plenty of time for dramatic twists and turns.

When Turnbull first became PM he was riding high in the polls but in recent months he has fallen from grace. He had pledged to be a better salesman than Abbott and get the results that big business were demanding, but he has found this task extremely difficult. Not only has he had to contend with divisions in his own ranks but he has come to find that making deep cuts to social spending is easier said than done.

The vast bulk of voters are opposed to slashing jobs and social services and instead would like to see big business pay much more. This is especially the case in light of the Panama papers and revelations that one in three top Australian companies pay no tax.

Labor are opportunistically trying to tap into the anti-big business mood that exists. They have used some fake populist rhetoric against the banks and attempted to paint Turnbull as a representative of the rich. There is no doubt that Turnbull has ruled for the elite but when you scratch the surface you quickly see that Labor’s policies are no better. Labor too are a capitalist party beholden to big business interests.

Even on the issue of penalty rates Labor’s position is duplicitous. They claim to support extra payments for those working anti-social hours but they are not prepared to protect the condition in law. In a cowardly way they hide behind the Fair Work Commission claiming that the body is “neutral”. Despite its name Fair Work is an apparatus designed to protect conditions for employers.

The Greens have a number of policies that are more progressive than Labor’s on paper but their craven push for a Labor-Green coalition gives a hint of their trajectory. The Greens had an alliance with Labor after the 2010 election and far from winning any far reaching reforms they acted as mere props for the most right-wing Labor government in history. A formal Labor-Green coalition would be more of the same.

Unfortunately none of the mainstream parties offer any real solutions to the issues ordinary people face. As the Marxist James Connolly said: “governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class”. No matter which combination of capitalist parties sits on the “committee” after July nobody will be present to represent the interests of the 99% of society who are struggling to eke out a living.

Ordinary people need a party that represents their views at elections but more importantly they need a party that organises them to challenge the rule of big business. We shouldn’t accept that the politics that are offered up to us at election time are as good as it gets. We need to strive to build a new political movement for the 99% and a socialist society that removes profiteering and inequality. This is the goal of the Socialist Party. If you agree, join us in this task.


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