Socialist candidate: Mining profits should fund services

Sam Wainwright: 'Make the mining bosses pay.'

Fremantle city councillor and Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle, Sam Wainwright, spoke at a GetUp forum in Perth on June 14.


Last week I passed a gathering outside a fundraiser for Julia Gillard at Victoria Hall in Fremantle. One of the chants initiated by the single parents action group was: “Pension cuts, no way. Make the mining bosses pay.”

I thought that was very apt in the context of this federal election, when pushing the remaining single parents off a pension onto Newstart is going to raise more for this federal government than their watered-down mining tax.

The central theme of the Socialist Alliance election campaign is the qualitative redistrubtion of wealth. By that we don’t just mean a stiffer mining tax than the one that was proposed, although we would certainly support that with open arms.

We’re proposing something more controversial. That is, we need to bring the resource sector and banks and energy suppliers in this country into democratic public ownership.

That sounds like a radical thing to say in 2013, in Western Australia. But it’s happening in other parts of the world and it’s worth reminding people that once upon a time there were Labor party prime ministers who supported nationalising the banks.

It’s a sign of how much politics has shifted to the right in our country that this is seen as such a radical thing to do.

We are not proposing this out of ideological nostalgia. But because we believe that it is essential for the following three things.

First, we believe it is not credible to propose that we as a society will be able to reorganise our economy in a way where we will be able to bring down our carbon emissions sufficiently to stop runaway global warming, without extending public ownership into those strategic sectors of our economy.

Carbon pricing by itself is certainly not sufficient to do it.

Second, we need it to achieve this fundamental redistribution of the wealth that I’m talking about. It’s interesting that when the productivity commission released their report on the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS), they took it as a given that an NDIS would have to be funded by cuts to other social services.

Now, this is absurd. We are a wealthy state in a wealthy country. All the things that we would like — more public transport, better welfare and education — the response is always “where’s the money going to come from?”

The problem is not where the money is coming from, the problem is where is the money going to? That’s the question that doesn’t get asked.

Third, we don’t believe it’s possible to have meaningful democracy in this country without bringing those strategic, monopolised sectors of our economy under democratic public ownership.

We have to break the political, cultural and economic hold of those absolutely monopolised sectors of our economy over our lives.

What I say to people when explaining our campaign is that you can’t fight Coke with Diet Coke. That’s been the problem with the Labor government.

You have to project something qualitatively different and while Tony Abbott will be worse, the Labor government — by retreating on so many things, by capitulating on so many things — actually justifies and validates the Abbott agenda.

That’s why in this election campaign we have to take the fight up to Abbott.

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