On March 26th the people of NSW will go to the polls. The incumbent ALP State government has been in power since 1999 and is now extremely unpopular. Some polls show its support as low as 22%. The outcome of the election is not really in question; the only question is how devastating the ALP’s defeat will be.
In what will undoubtedly prove to be one of the last acts of a desperate Premier, Kristina Keneally oversaw the bargain basement sale of part of the State’s electricity industry just before the Parliament went on summer break. It appears Keneally was more interested in spending time with Oprah Winfrey than listening to ordinary people who are overwhelmingly opposed to the sell off of public assets.
The State’s electricity industry has been split up with the revenue generating stream being sold off for a paltry $5 billion. As if to add insult to injury the sale agreement contains clauses which tie the State in to supplying subsidised coal to the new private operators for decades to come.
In advance of the election the Labor Party has been rocked by an unprecedented walk out of MPs. At the time of writing a staggering 20 sitting Labor MPs have said they will not stand again at the next election. In a pathetic attempt to put a positive spin on events Keneally has referred to the mass exodus as a “clean out”.
There is a realisation within the party that they are heading for oblivion. The NSW ALP have long since stopped being a party that represents the interests of ordinary people, preferring instead to represent the interests of big business and the capitalist system. The push towards the privatisation of public services is just one of many examples.
The privatisation of the electricity industry was first suggested by Bob Carr the Labor Premier who took power in 1999. Elements of the water industry, prison services and public transport system have also been sold off and handed over to profiteers.
Disappointingly the wipe out of Labor at the State election will more than likely result in the return of the conservative Coalition, which would be a disaster for ordinary people. Like the ALP, they too are staunch defenders of privatisation and the interests of big business.
There is a need for the development of a new mass party in Australia which truly represents the interests of the working class. If such a party was founded by left wing unions and progressive community groups it would not only give people a real choice at election time but it could also be used as a vehicle to fight privatisations and cuts to jobs and services.
By Socialist Party reporters