The wall to wall grip of the Labor Party across Australia has come undone. In the West Australian election in September neither major party was able to win a clear majority.
After a week of negotiations, the Liberal Party managed to cobble together a Coalition with their conservative cousins in the National Party.
Labor suffered big losses in the election, losing up to 6 per cent of the total vote. The Nationals improved their position as did the Greens who won nearly 12 per cent of the vote – up from 5 per cent. Given the repeated scandals within the Liberal Party this was a big blow to Labor.
Despite the mining boom in WA many people have just not benefited. The boom has been one for the rich while the rest have struggled to keep their heads above water. In Perth the majority of people do not enjoy big incomes and are hurting from skyrocketing rent, petrol and food prices.
The National Party managed to tap into a certain amount of dissatisfaction raising the fact that the benefits of the boom have not reached ordinary people. They adopted a demand that $700 million in WA mining royalties be devoted to what they called ‘regional development’.
The predominantly fly in-fly out workforce in the mining towns has meant that many regional centres have been neglected over many years. So this demand did get somewhat of an echo outside of Perth.
In a small way, the swings to both the Nationals and the Greens show that people are searching for an alternative to the status quo. In the absence of any genuine mass workers party in Australia we can expect more instability for the capitalist parties in the period ahead.
In recent months Labor has experienced swings against them in WA, the Northern Territory and in the NSW Council Elections. They still have to face more Council elections in Victoria before the year is out. What people are showing is that as an economic downturn creeps up on us they will not necessarily have any allegiances to one or another neo-liberal party.
Despite the chatter of some Federal MPs, national factors were also of some importance in this election. Many people are now beginning to see through Rudd’s spin. The Labor Party are now on their way home from their honeymoon and the weather forecast is not looking good.
By Socialist Party reporters