18 months since the heady days of the election victory and mired in a recession, the Rudd Labor government has lost its gloss.
The crisis of confidence is not as bad as in Britain, Japan, Ireland or Italy where the downturn is even deeper and the political corruption even worse, but that will come here sooner rather than later.
In words, Kevin Rudd has attacked “neo-liberalism” and even capitalism – or the ‘bad’ type of predatory finance capitalism as distinct from the ‘good’ manufacturing capitalism that both Labor and the Liberals ignored over the past two decades.
Yet in practice, the budget shows that government policies are a combination of mild Keynesian stimulus side-by-side with continuing and deepening (neo-liberal!) cuts to the public sector and to social conditions.
The new road and rail projects are a profits bonanza for big construction companies but will be paid for by workers through policies such as a longer wait for the pension. Rudd claims these new projects will create 15,000 jobs a year – yet 64,000 workers were thrown onto the dole queues in the past two months alone!
Those wanting to challenge these changes face fundamentally the same anti-union and so called ‘anti-terror’ laws that existed under Howard. In some cases we have Labor State governments introducing even more draconian legislation.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts the economy will contract by 1.9% this year – that is to say things will get worse not better.
What are the alternatives on offer? The Coalition offers a return to pure neo-liberalism, without even the mild Keynesian sops of the government. There is no alternative coming from the leaders of the trade unions. Some union leaders are in a defensive mode arguing for better or indeed any redundancy payments for their members. Others will be forced to fight by the ruthlessness of employers or by pressure from their members. Most have not prepared their members for a fight and have not offered any alternative vision to Rudd.
The Socialist Party is the only party in Australia that understands and predicted the current crisis and offers a solution for working people and their families.
We combine a militant fight to save every job through occupations and the nationalisation of failed companies and to fight to maintain every condition with a call to replace capitalism with democratic socialism. We want to make the bosses pay, not the workers!
Only by ordinary people running society and owning the main companies through elected committees organised locally and nationally can we reorientate the economy away from speculation, duplication and waste to one where resources are put into job-creating plans to massively boost health, education and public transport.
The electoral support for our ideas and work amongst ordinary people in one part of Melbourne shows the potential support for socialist ideas across Australia. Become part of building a mass alternative for ordinary people, join the Socialist Party now.
By SP reporters