The honeymoon with the Federal Labor government may not yet be over, but the working class and Kevin Rudd are sleeping in separate beds!
There is still a feeling of great relief amongst most ordinary people to be finally rid of the Howard government. There was widespread support for the early progressive steps that Rudd took. For example the apology to the Stolen Generations, the signing of the Kyoto Treaty, the opposition to Japanese whaling and the promise to rip up Work Choices.
However there is growing concern at many of Rudd’s other policies. The Federal budget gave more money to private schools than to universities for the first time in Australian history. The massive budget surplus was spent on tax cuts for the rich while funding for TAFE colleges and apprenticeship programs were cut.
Nothing serious has been introduced by Rudd to deal with climate change, except more money for ‘clean coal’ initiatives. Many environmentalists see ‘clean coal’ more as a public relations exercise by the coal industry than a real way to halt carbon emissions.
It also seems clear that the key parts of Howard’s Work Choices legislation will remain, as well as the anti-democratic Australian Building Construction Commission.
What’s the conclusion to be drawn? The Socialist Party believes that the welcome progressive changes of Rudd have been on symbolic issues, while on concrete issues the government is as pro-capitalist as the Coalition. Both ALP and Coalition governments put the demands of footloose capital before the needs of ordinary people.
There is also a worrying trend towards a secular moral conservatism by Rudd and some ALP State governments as best seen in the Henson photograph controversy, the 2am lockout in Victoria, and the cynical and counterproductive tax on alcopops.
With interest rates staying high and prices rising rapidly, there is a growing unease about the future amongst working and middle class people.
The Socialist Party is campaigning for a clear democratic socialist alternative to capitalism and the common program it forces on all governments. For this to be effective we need a new party for ordinary people in Australia, a party that unites all those individuals, unions, and community organisations that want a new direction in Australian politics.
We encourage all our readers to join the Socialist Party and help us build both a socialist voice and a new mass workers’ party in Australia.
By SP reporters