Saturday’s socialist speak out
300,000 demonstrated in Montréal on Earth Day, bolstered by some of the 170,000 University students in Quebec on strike against tuition fees and for the future of Quebec.
Here is a link to a great recent report called Le printemps érable: another May 1968? in Socialist Worker Canada. (Le printemps érable is French for The maple spring. For those who don’t know the main language of Quebec is French.)
In Australia the Slipper saga continues, showing the real worth of Labor as a party of dirty deals done dirt cheap.
The Treasurer will hand down the Budget on 8 May and perversely the Slipper saga is diverting attention away from what is likely to be a very very vicious Budget of attacks on workers and the poor for the neoliberal wet dream of a surplus.
This is all about proving that ‘the world’s greatest treasurer’ is in fact ‘the world’s greatest treasurer’ to and for the ruling class. Or that he is absolutely on their side anyway.
The current deficit is $40 billion, fulled by falling company and capital gains and GST receipts. This is a fairly moderate budget deficit by any standards, except those of the neoliberal nonsense nunchucks.
To balance the budget means making $40 billion worth of cuts, which means attacking the poor and workers, and maybe throwing in a few minor taxes on the super rich as cover.
The Greens are muttering about opposing such cuts. Good for them. If they did the Government could fall over its austerity program.
On 1 May the right to protest goes on trial in Victoria over the arrest of 19 protesters outside Israeli apartheid supporter Max Brenner in what appears to be a pre-planned move after discussion with Zionists.
The charges – trespass in a public place and besetting a building would be laughable if they weren’t so serious. They also have implications for trade unions as well as protestors because any union demo could be met with similar charges. Indeed besetting is an old anti-union law and its revival should be ringing alarm bells across the union movement. For more details, including how to support the campaign in defence of the right to protest, see my previous article Solidarity with Palestine on trial.
Elections in the ACT are coming up in about 6 months and there has already been a fair amount of toing and froing in the media about differentiating Labor and the Liberals. So I wrote this, an earlier and slightly edited version of which was published in the Canberra Times.
The exchange in the letters pages between ex Labor Party apparatchik Vic Adams and Ric Hingee and Mike Crowther from the former Community Alliance Party got me thinking about a left wing alternative to the neoliberalism of the ALP and the Liberals and their accomplices, the Greens.
Re-reading the article by Noel Towell and Lisa Cox (‘Battle to win the capital’ The Canberra Times Saturday April 21 B1) and the conservative offerings from the ALP, the Liberals and the Greens reinforced in my mind the gap between the rhetoric of these 3 parties of conservatism and the desire of a section at least of the community for left wing people oriented policies and actions.
In the UK, former Labour MP George Galloway won the Bradford West by-election for the left-wing Respect Party with a swing against Labour of over 36 percent. He stood on opposition to austerity and the war in Afghanistan.
In France Jean-Luc Mélenchon won over 11 per cent of the Presidential vote on a radical left wing program. His proposals included taxing income greater than 360,000 euros at 100%, increasing the minimum wage by 20%, returning the pension age to 60, employing more public servants, especially teachers and nurses, to reduce unemployment and so provide much needed services to the French people, withdrawing immediately from Afghanistan and NATO and protecting and celebrating immigrants.
There might be scope for a left wing alternative at the forthcoming elections in the ACT instead of just the usual battle between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber.
Imagine for example a candidate who supported real wage increases for ACT public servants (not the present wage cut limit Labor has imposed), who wanted to employ many more nurses and teachers on the best salaries in Australia and who argued for a tax system in the ACT that soaked the rich till their pips squeaked.
Imagine a person prepared to address the chronic underfunding of the community sector. Imagine a candidate who was serious about addressing climate change rather than the neoliberal window dressing we get from all 3 major parties.
Imagine a candidate whose electoral office could become a campaign centre for all those workers fighting for better wages and conditions, for better safety on site, for jobs, against the Australian Building and Construction Commission, against the two neoliberal Vice-Chancellors here, against the mandarins of the public service cutting jobs.
In other words imagine a candidate who was for workers and against the bosses and their parties, Labor and the Liberals.
Imagine an elected representative joining the demonstration for work safety the CFMEU recently organised and moving legislation to criminalise deaths on site. Imagine such a representative helping and supporting ANU staff and students to resist the threatened 150 jobs losses. Imagine an MLA prepared to restore a semblance of democracy at the University of Canberra and fight against the precarious employment and outsourcing arrangements there to halt the decline of what used to be a moderately successful centre of learning.
Unfortunately at this stage ‘Imagine’ remains just a great John Lennon song.
To have your say or see what others are saying on this or any other issues hit the comments button. As with all posts, comments are open for seven days.