Vic: People disillusioned with the major parties

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The stench of political death emanates from the Liberal-National coalition government as it faces likely defeat at the November 29 Victorian state election.

A scandal on the last day of parliament involving the secret distribution of porn from the Premier’s office was symbolic of the disarray and demoralisation in the camp of the traditional capitalist parties.

An expensive media campaign of $1.8 million in the last five months (just on health) and more again on their transport policies is doing little to boost their electoral support. In fact, if anything, the waste of taxpayers’ money on advertising spin instead of using it to open up more hospital beds is merely antagonising voters.

The vast bulk of ordinary people are horrified at the cuts that the state government has inflicted upon TAFE, public education and the public sector in general. With the anger against the budget of the Federal Coalition government thrown in on top, it is likely that the Napthine government will become the first single term government Victoria has seen since 1955.

There is widespread opposition amongst working people and young people towards the neo-liberal policies that big business has made their in-house political parties adhere to. Their policies include privatisation, cuts to services, use-pays education and the heightening up of repression against any opposition.

What was supposed to be the main vote winner for the Victorian Coalition government – the East-West toll road – has become a vote loser for them. It is noticeable that they barely spruik the road in their election ads. The role of the Socialist Party in helping to organise active resistance to this project has been a significant reason for this.

The ALP opposition supports these same neo-liberal policies and implement them when in power at a State and Federal level. Nevertheless, with no large leftwing party in existence in Australia, voters often feel as if they have no choice but to hold their nose and use the ALP to punish Liberals. The opposite process happens too, as seen as the last Federal election.

The tactics of the ALP in this election have been to hesitantly and cynically play on voters’ opposition to right-wing policies but not so much so as to turn big business off. This approach is seen in their policy on the East-West toll road.

The ALP first came up with the idea for this project but now, in the face of massive community opposition, they have had to come out opposed to it. More recently they have even tried to pose as champions of the anti toll road cause by saying they will not defend a Supreme Court challenge against it if they win power.

The vast bulk of the community are demanding that the ALP rip up the contracts regardless of the court case outcome but this was a step too far for the pro big business ALP. Their half hearted opposition to the East-West Link, and their near identical policies to the Liberals on many other issues, has led to a situation where most ordinary people are increasingly disillusioned with the major parties.

By standing in the state seat of Richmond on November 29 the Socialist Party is giving voters a taste of what a political alternative to the major parties should look like.

A victory for a socialist candidate, while a modest achievement, would act as a step towards the building of a new party of the Left – a party that is democratic, inclusive, campaigning and clearly anti-capitalist.

The Socialist Party fights to break the two-party system while simultaneously building the forces for socialist change in Australia and throughout the world.

By Stephen Jolly