Behind the blather

Issue 

Fighting social exclusion? (1)

On November 22 Labor deputy leader and industrial relations shadow minister Julia Gillard announced that a Rudd Labor government would set up an "office of social inclusion" within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet — and would offer no protection to casual workers from unfair dismissal.

Gillard announced that social inclusion would be a "guiding light" for an incoming Labor government, then told the Australian Financial Review that "Labor understands that numbers of employees fluctuate and Labor will work with its business advisory group ... so that who counts as an employee is clearly defined and clearly understood".

Sacked non-employees will not be deemed to be socially excluded.

Fighting social exclusion? (2)

To help fund its election promises the ALP plans to cut $111 million from the budget of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Reaction from business groups was swift: "ASIC are always telling us they have budget constraints, so any thought of limiting their budget would only give comfort to those unscrupulous directors who believe they have a good chance of avoiding a penalty", said Australian Shareholders Association deputy chairperson Stephen Matthews.

The ASA clearly doesn't understand the underlying goal here: the fewer Dick Pratts caught, the less the social exclusion. Social exclusion overcome!

Greg Combet, former Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary and ALP candidate for the safe seat of Charlton, has declared union rights a thing of the past. In an interview with the AFR's Marcus Priest, Combet said the right of unions to enter workplaces was no longer important.

Combet has recently bought a $1 million beachfront property 10 kilometres outside "his" electorate, where the average yearly income is around $30,000.

He also told Priest: "You cannot be effective in a union role unless you are mindful of the legitimate interests of those with whom you are dealing in the business community."

Luckily no-one these days reads the works of old Bolshevik leader Gregory Zinoviev. Otherwise they might recall these words: "The Australian labour movement has been a constant prey of leaders on the make for careers. Upon the backs of the labouring masses there arise, one after another, little bands of aristocrats of labour, from the midst of which the future labour ministers spring forth, ready to do loyal service to the bourgeoisie. All these Holmans, Cooks and Fishers were once workers. They act the part of workers even now. But in reality they are only agents of the financial plutocracy in the camp of the workers."

The stats you need

The next time someone tries to corner you with the argument that "you socialists just think that there's money to burn" have these stats ready on a piece of paper in your wallet:

Total Liberal and Labor promises made during the 2007 election campaign: $109.2 billion; total new spending promised on roads: $36 billion; total cost of converting Victorian power generation to wind power: $22 billion.

[Compiled by Socialist Alliance national coordinator Dick Nichols.]

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