Last year, a poll by The Australia Institute showed that 68% of respondents support a Royal Commission into the banking system. This is but one indication of the widespread anger that exists towards the big corporate banks and financial institutions.
Over the last decade, the big four banks have been embroiled in numerous scandals while at the same time recording record profits. The Commonwealth Bank for example recently posted a $4.9 billion net profit for the six months to December 2016 – an astonishing figure.
People abhor the self-serving, out of touch attitude of the big bankers who enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary people. Perhaps the only people hated more than bankers are politicians! It therefore comes as no surprise that there are close links between these different bands of crooks.
The former New South Wales premier Mike Baird recently said that he was retiring from politics to spend more time with his family, but a mere few weeks later he took up the role of Chief Customer Officer at NAB. Perhaps Malcolm Turnbull will also return to his former role as a merchant banker when the Liberals remove him as leader.
But it’s not just the Liberals that have close links with the banks and big business. The former Queensland Labor premier Anna Bligh recently became the CEO of the Australian Bankers’ Association. These appointments are just the latest examples of former politicians stepping into cushy roles at big businesses.
Sophie Mirabella, the former Liberal front bencher, now works for Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting while another former Liberal minister, Andrew Robb, joined the Landbridge Group – the Chinese company that controls the Darwin Port. Meanwhile the former Labor minister, Martin Ferguson, is now a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry. The list goes on.
These people loyally served big business interests while they were in government with lucrative contracts, corporate subsidies and tax cuts. Now out of office they are sought after by corporations because of the connections they have to the political establishment. From the point of view of the major parties, these people play a crucial role as they help to secure donations, especially for election campaigns.
Corporate donations help to maintain the two-party system against challenges from minor parties. In 2015-2016 the Liberals received $14.7 million in donations while Labor raked in $10.4 million. Corporations are the biggest contributors to the major party’s coffers and as the saying goes “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.
The links between big businesses and the major parties is one of the key reasons that people are disillusioned with mainstream politics. People would obviously like to vote for a party that genuinely represents their interests but they are faced with the dilemma of the both major parties backing the super-rich elite.
The phenomenon of regularly punishing the incumbent party is an expression of people’s frustration at the two-party set up and the total lack of proper representation for working class people.
While this frustration is understandable, the process of continually exchanging one party for another every few years is no solution. Regardless of which major party is in power the policies remain the same. What we need to do is break this deadlock and build a real political alternative.
The Socialist Party argues that Australia needs a new workers party – a party that refuses to take donations from big business, has no links corporations, and unashamedly represents ordinary people in the face of capitalism’s profit-driven agenda.
Ultimately the best way to remove the corporate domination of politics is to create a system that removes the profit motive. A socialist society that collectively owned big industry and the banks and ran them democratically for people’s needs would remove the basis for greed and corruption.
As the famous Irish socialist James Connolly said “governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.” We want to create a situation where governments are committees of ordinary people that manage the affairs of the working-class and use society’s wealth to improve living conditions for all.
By Tim Tran