After 11 years of John Howard most ordinary people are planning to vote for a change of government at the upcoming election. And it’s no wonder: Over two million people are living in poverty despite the economic upturn, according to a new report, Australia Fair, commissioned by Churches and community organisations. Workers are working longer hours than ever just to pay the bills. Services like child care and public transport have not kept up with growing need.
A desire for change is in the air. However the dilemma for voters is that Kevin Rudd’s ALP fully supports almost every major platform of the Coalition, for example supporting massive tax cuts instead of using the budget surplus to boost public transport, education and health.
Whilst nothing can be ruled out with a Prime Minister as tricky as Howard, it looks likely that Labor will get over the line on November 24th. While nothing fundamental will change, it will lift the spirits of working people and the pressure will be on Rudd to deliver.
It is not ruled out that workers will give a Rudd government somewhat of a honeymoon period as many desperately want to believe that somehow, somewhere he is slightly better than Howard. Workers will pressure Rudd to restore many of the things that have been lost under Howard.
However, the current nurses dispute in Victoria (where the State ALP government is using Work Choices against the nurses at the same time as Federal Labor claims to be opposed to Work Choices!) is a clear indicator that a federal ALP government will not hesitate carry on the core policies of the Coalition, which mirror similar neo-liberal policies throughout the world.
Rudd’s Labor is both unable and unwilling to wind back any of Howard’s counter reforms. As we look down the barrel at an economic downturn no capitalist government will be able to increase living standards at the expense of bosses’ profits.
The reality is that any confidence boost workers receive after this election will be met with fierce opposition from a big business backed Labor Party government. Given the economic backdrop and the fact that Labor is now a party of big business it is certain that Rudd will continue, and in some cases, step up these counter reforms. We will see more cuts, privatisations and user pays under Rudd and at some stage this will lead to big conflicts between a Labor government and the working class.
The Socialist Party has long argued for the formation of a new workers party to provide a real alternative for ordinary people. The Liberals and Labor are two sides of the same coin. We can not go on forever without a party that explicitly represents our interests over those of the bosses. We call on trade unions to break with the ALP and join together with progressive community groups and activists to form a new mass workers party with a clear left wing, anti neo-liberal program.
In lieu of such a party, the Socialist Party calls on workers to vote for socialist candidates where possible, then the Greens. Put the Liberals and reactionary parties like Family first last. One thing is certain that no matter who wins the federal election workers will have to continue to fight!
By Socialist Party reporters