Is recesssion inevitable in Canberra?
Posted by John, February 25th, 2009 - under ALP, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian politics, Canberra, Capitalism, Creative destruction, Economics, Fighting back, Labor Party, Neoliberalism, Public Service, Trade unions, Unions, sackings, unemployment.
Australia is not and will not be immune from the economic crisis. Canberra won’t be either.
For a start Canberra is dependent on the Commonwealth Public Service for much of its employment. In the May Budget it is possible the Rudd Government will take a meat axe to the public service – either directly through cutting programs or indirectly through accelerated efficiency dividends (or a combination of both.)
I also think a public service wage freeze is a real possibility.
In addition much of the ACT Government’s revenue comes from spending – eg federally through the GST or locally through land sales and stamp duties. But people are reigning in their spending. Already there has been a half billion dollar fall in ACT Government revenue estimates.
Class struggle in response to the economic ferment can break out here in Australia (even Canberra).
Workers in other countries – France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia are but some examples – are or have been striking against job losses and Government policies.
Here in Australia we have the same class divisions as other countries. Our bourgeoisie and Governments will attempt and are attempting to shift the burden of their crisis onto workers.
Aready we are seeing wage freezes, reduced hours and sackings, and stimulus packages aimed at bolstering profits and promoting attacks on wages.
Our economy is integrated into the world economy. However the small dyke of trade with China is being swept away by the flood of the global economic crisis.
Nobody talks any more about ‘de-coupling’. In fact, because we are such a small free trade nation dependent on the export and import of goods and capital, the global economic crisis could wreak great havoc here.
At the moment we may be watching the crash in slow motion but fast forward might not be too far away.
This means that at some stage class struggle could break out in Australia. Workers in other countries are already showing us what to do. Australian workers will learn the lessons of those struggles.
It could even be Canberra leading the way. Public servants, after years and years of cuts, wage restraint, bullshit management and petty but constant niggling, might just decide they’ve had enough and pull the plug on supplying labour to the ‘Labor’ Government.
I am not saying this will occur, but it is a possibility. There is a lot of anger bubbling away under the surface. And one way to express that anger and try to make the world better (and protect jobs and living standards) is strike action.
I will be talking this Thursday at a Canberra Socialist Alternative meeting on ‘Economic Crisis:Recession and Rebellion’. The meeting is at 6 pm on Thursday 26 February in room G039 of the Copland Building at the ANU. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. I encourage discussion and debate. (In fact the more others talk and debate and the less I get to pontificate the better the meeting.)
I will look at the recession in various countries and its possible deepening impact on Australia (as mentioned above). I will explain the crisis of profitability that underpins this recession, and the neoliberal and keynesian solutions the bourgeoisie offer, before addressing the fightback we are witnessing from workers around the world and the prospects for class struggle in Australia (including Canberra).
email: email@example.com or visit www.sa.org.au
This piece first appeared in RiotACT. Because RiotACT is a Canberra blog aimed at Canberra people and their circumstances, the article deals with the impact of the recession on Canberra. The lessons are more universal than that. The comments on the article that you will find on RiotACT indicate it has a diverse readership and one very ready to offer comment.