The bad news is Rudd won!
The Rudd ALP government faces a new economic backdrop of international stock market instability and a looming US recession. Yet even before these events impact on the real Australian economy, the Rudd government pursues an agenda worthy of the Liberals, just at the Socialist Party predicted
Private schools are to continue to get massively unequal funding from the government purse. This despite a report from the Education Department commissioned by the previous education minister Julie Bishop that is reputed to have concluded there is no justification to keep the current funding arrangements except for historical reasons.
The banks to increase their already huge profits put up interest rates in addition to those dictated by the Reserve Bank, Swans reply: “Well, they are simply passing on rate rises which are a consequence of increases in the cost of borrowing.” Swan later realised this was a bit too crude an endorsement of the bosses and made some meaningless supposedly threatening noise about making it easier for people to transfer their loans from one capitalistic vulture bank to another.
The CFMEU (construction union) suggests some industrial action may be necessary to claw back some of the basic conditions and wages (some workers have lost up $100- $150pw) stolen during the Howard years. Andrew Ferguson, Branch Secretary of the NSW CFMEU, came out with a very mild “There will be some circumstances where there might be strike activity” and that “It is highly unlikely there will be mass activity”.
Julia Gillard’s (Deputy Prime Minister and Minster for Workplace relations) response was that there would be legal remedies to protect employers from unlawful industrial action and “Our policies do not allow for industry-wide strikes.” So it’s OK for the big banks who made collectively a combined profit of $17.9 billion last financial year to take across the board action to increase profits but not OK for workers to do the same to take back stolen wages and conditions. Moreover, where are the legal remedies for workers ripped off by the banks interest rate increases?
Rudd has come out with saying that the most important thing is the war on inflation. Rudd’s five-point plan to deal with it includes cutting government spending to produce 1.5% budget surplus (1% under Howard), incentives to save, incentives to solve skills shortage, fixing infrastructure bottlenecks, and encouraging people to enter the workforce. Budget cuts (policed by the Finance Minister, the ‘left’ Lindsay Tanner) mean less jobs and conditions for public sector workers. In addition, it means fewer services for the public.
Other measures such as solving the skills shortage and encouraging people to enter the work force are to cause downward pressure on wages – this will eventually include industrial relations laws that will stop workers achieving equitable pay rises and decent working conditions. This is all prior to any major economic downturn, imagine how much more brutal they will be in defence of their masters profits when the economy takes a downturn
None of Rudd’s actions should come as a surprise, ALP state governments around Australia have been bowing to the whims of the bosses, the latest example being in NSW with the proposed privatisation of electricity.
The bosses have got the game rigged neither the ALP or Liberals are going to defend the interest of workers. For that we need our own political party which will defend our interests with as much dedication as the Liberals and ALP defend the interests of the bosses. SP is leading the charge in Australia for the creation of a new workers party. Join us and help this fight.
Editorial comment from the February 2008 edition of The Socialist newspaper