The August 21 Federal election has confirmed the inability of either Labor or the Coalition to convince a majority of Australian voters to support their right-wing policies. Neither party emerged with a clear mandate to govern.
Labor’s vote clearly suffered due to their inaction on climate change, scapegoating of refugees and support for discriminatory marriage laws, as well as the perceived ill-treatment of former PM Kevin Rudd. But the Liberal/National Coalition failed to convince people that they would be any better.
The majority of those who voted Labor in 2007, but not in 2010, either voted ‘informal’ or for the Greens this time around. This disillusionment in both Labor and the Coalition is an indication of a growing recognition that neither party represents the interests or values of workers and young people.
For the most part the ‘protest vote’ went to the Greens despite the ambiguity about what they actually stand for. What this points to, however, is an increasing layer of people searching for a left alternative.
The polarisation of the major parties from the needs and aspirations of ordinary people is predicated on the underlying economic instability and the need to pay back government debt. All parties – Labor, Liberal and the Greens alike – have gone to great lengths to stress the importance of achieving ‘stable government’, meaning a government capable of introducing unpopular, anti-worker austerity measures to bring the budget back into surplus. This will prove even more severe in the event of another economic downturn.
With a program of cuts to services and the shelving of desperately needed infrastructure projects on the horizon, it is clearly not enough to punish one big-business party by voting for the other, then vice-versa, in an unending cycle of disappointment and frustration. All this has led to is the continuation of pro-big business, pro-market, pro-wealthy governments attacking our rights and undermining our standards of living.
In order for workers and young people to advance our interests we need political representation of our own. Not just any alternative to Labor and Liberal, but a party unashamedly and unwaveringly on the side of ordinary people – not big-business! Only a new workers’ party, armed with a socialist program and consistently putting peoples’ needs before the pursuit of profit, can break the cycle of pro-capitalist governments loyally implementing the interests of the ruling elite.
However, this can not be achieved solely through the ballot box. The basis of a new party will come from the movements that will develop against big business and government attacks. An unstable minority government can be challenged by the coming together of people in our workplaces, schools and communities. Building this resistance is the initial step in the struggle for a socialist society where the needs of ordinary people are the priority and the wealth of society is democratically planned and used for the benefit of all.