Pork-barrel politics and scare tactics have dominated the final weeks of the “longest election campaign ever”. Voters in marginal seats have been warned to “vote carefully”, to not “waste your vote” or “risk a protest vote” which might result in — shock horror “the chaos of a hung parliament”.
We have had “tradies” in political ads trying to convince workers that the Liberal National Party (LNP) is their party, and Labor trying to convince the public that they have “rediscovered” labor values.
But the polls suggest a consistent lack of excitement about the prospect of either a Shorten or Turnbull government, with both leaders registering less than zero in the personal approval ratings.
Personality deficits aside, this lack of enthusiasm has a very material basis. Decades of neoliberal policies have made life harder for working people, for the unemployed and those reliant on pensions, and harsher for First Nations communities, asylum-seekers and refugees.
Real wages have been slipping, conditions have been lost, underemployment is at record levels and work is less secure. Services are deregulated, privatised, more costly or non-existent. Housing, health and education are less attainable and affordable. The impacts of climate change are more tangible.
People are more and more fed up with the greedy corporate class, with the “banksters” and their super profits while their own living standards slip.
Despite their rhetoric, neither party is prepared to take on the greed of the banks, the mining companies, property developers and tax dodgers. In fact they accept millions in electoral donations from all of them and return the “favour” with generous corporate handouts and tax concessions when in government.
Competitions for which party is “toughest on crime” have been replaced with who can be toughest on “border protection” and “terrorism”. All of which have resulted in cruel, racist policies, attacks on our civil liberties and the emboldening of the far right, nationalist fringe.
This rise in racism and nationalism feeds off the insecurity people feel about the future and taps into Australia's shameful history of invasion, genocide, dispossession and racist discrimination.
But, thanks to a vibrant and diverse movement for refugee rights and a re-emergence of campaigns for Aboriginal rights, public opinion has shifted against the bipartisan policies of cruelty and racism.
This federal election, the Socialist Alliance has campaigned for a people's movement against corporate greed, attacks on working people and racism. Our slogans are “People and planet before profit” and “For the billions, not the billionaires”.
We are standing Senate teams in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia and lower house candidates in the Seats of Sydney (NSW), Wills (Vic), Corio (Vic) and Fremantle (WA). Our candidates are activists, not careerists. They are unionists, First Nations activists, LGBTI rights campaigners. All Socialist Alliance candidates pledge to take an average worker's wage, if elected.
Voting rules for the Senate have changed, so to vote for the Socialist Alliance in the Senate this federal election we recommend you vote 1 Socialist Alliance, then number at least six boxes above the line in order of preference. Our Senate How To Vote cards for NSW, Victoria and WA are available below and on pages 8 and 9 and on our website. In the lower house, simply Vote 1 Socialist Alliance and then number all the boxes in order of preference.
Where Socialist Alliance candidates are not standing, we recommend a vote for progressive candidates, followed by the Greens and for voters to put Labor ahead of the Coalition and far right parties and candidates.
We need a radically different future: one that provides for human development, meets community need, protects our environment and guarantees a safe climate. A future where our economy operates to ensure social and ecological needs are met and where participatory democracy means people make the decisions in society, not the corporations and their representatives in power.
The only way we are going to guarantee this future is to organise and mobilise to defend our rights today and to take on the power of the corporate class.
[Susan Price is a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the NSW Senate.]