Socialist Alliance says bring the mines and banks under public ownership and control

Big mining should be operated as a not-for-profit public service under democratic control.

On October 7, the Socialist Alliance adopted as a key focus for its next federal election campaign a call to bring the mining industry and the banks under public/community ownership and control, so they can be run in a way that respects Aboriginal rights, the environment and social justice.

The urgent need to address climate change alone demands that these industries be immediately taken out of the hands of the billionaires and their global corporations and operated as not-for-profit public services under the democratic control of the majority.

We cannot afford to leave our future to the likes of Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and the faceless bankers. If we do so, we won't have a future worth leaving to those who follow us.

In August, Australia's biggest bank, the Commonwealth Bank (CBA), reported a full-year profit of $7.09 billion. This was the largest result by a non-mining company in Australia. The other three big banks have not reported their final profit figures but ANZ reported a profit of $4.5 billion in its first three quarters, NAB $4.23 billion for the same period, and Westpac $3.2 billion for just half a year.

By comparison, BHP Biliton's profit of $14.7 billion, 35% lower than the previous year, is still bigger than that of the CBA. In August, Rio Tinto announced a $4.88 billion half-year profit.

The mining industry needs to be publicly owned not just to redistribute the huge profits being made from exploiting finite resources but also to stop uranium mining and to phase out coal and other fossil fuels while creating new jobs in radically boosted renewable energy, public transport and other social infrastructure.

The banks do not have to be run as a profit-gouging private operation. They can be run as a not-for-profit public service providing cheap credit to families, community groups and small businesses and a safe and ethical way for people to invest their savings.

Instead of gambling these savings on irresponsible and dangerous corporate schemes, our collective savings can be used to fund the public infrastructure we need for a just and sustainable future.

If nationalisations of mines and banks can be carried out for the public good in Venezuela, Bolivia and other Latin American countries why not here in Australia?

[Peter Boyle is national co-convener of the Socialist Alliance].

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