Billions for bombs, nothing for mums
Posted by John, February 27th, 2009 - under ALP, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian politics, Big business, Capitalism, Defence, Economics, Keynesianism, Maternity leave, Unions, unemployment.
The Rudd Labor Government will spend $35 billion on submarines. Yet it baulks at spending half a billion on a paid maternity leave scheme.
This shows Labor’s priorities are not working people. They are profits.
Defence spending is about protecting Australian bosses and their system of exploitation from threats from within (i.e. the working class) and supposed threats from outside (like ‘terrorists’ and other nasties. For the nasties, insert the name of any major imperialist power here.)
To ensure we have enough armed thugs of the state to suppress Australian workers if the need arises, Rudd has promised Defence spending will increase in real terms by 3 per cent a year until 2018.
The $35 billion to be spent on submarines also undermines Rudd Labor’s arguments about the $42 billion stimulus package.
First why not add that submarine money to the stimulus package and spend it on something useful like more hospital beds, nurses and teachers? And much better pay for teachers and nurses.
Secondly, the size of the submarine spending makes me question the adequacy of the stimulus package. Adding in the December $10 billion, Rudd is spending $52 billion to kick start investments and profit flows in Australia.
That’s about 5 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product but spread over a few a years. The fall in GDP from the beginning of the crisis to its ever receding end date is going to be much more that 5 per cent.
The multiplier effect of the Government’s proposed spending will be lower than that of private enterprise if it had undertaking investments of that magnitude.
The stimulus package is about politics, not economics. It is the save Kevin Rudd fund. The Government has to be seen to be doing something, even if it thinks privately that resistance is futile.
The subterfuge over pink batts in every home highlights this. That spending is actually aimed at giving the big polluters more leeway to pollute under a carbon trading scheme. How low is that?
There is another deeply troubling reason why Labor won’t introduce a paid maternity leave scheme (pathetic as it is.)
Unemployment will increase rapidly in Australia over the next 12 months. Conservative estimates are it will reach 7 percent. By the way if we factor in underemployment, the real unemployment rate in Australia is, according to one economist, actually already 13 per cent.
An extra 300,000 people (at least) will join the dole queues by June next year. 200,000 will be school leavers and graduates.
Labor wants to do all it can to appear to be fighting unemployment and opening up employment spaces for those new to the workforce. Women leaving the workforce to have babies, and not coming back to work, is one ‘cost effective’ way to help achieve the goal of reducing the unemployment figures artificially and perhaps freeing up a few jobs to soak up school leavers.
In other words Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard see a paid maternity leave scheme as an impediment to keeping women out of the workforce. So they won”t introduce it.
Shame, Labor, shame.