Tanner laments 'family breakdown'
By Jo Brown
CANBERRA — Victorian Labor "left" MP Lindsay Tanner addressed a public meeting of 60 students organised by the Labor Left Club at the Australian National University on March 9. Tanner, who was promoting his new book Open Australia, outlined his analysis of the effects of globalisation and their implications for the left.
Tanner argued that the capitalist economy has entered a new phase with the development of information technology. The many new, part-time and casual jobs being created should not be seen as a problem, he said, but as a natural part of this evolution. Trade unions' opposition to these "Mac-jobs", he said, reflects the interests of the male-dominated union movement.
While claiming to be a product of the radicalism of the 1970s social movements, Tanner argued that it is no longer necessary for the left to fight for the liberation of oppressed groups. These battles have been won, he said. Instead, the crucial issues for the progressive movement today are social and youth alienation, suicide and the "breakdown of the family".
In response to questions from the audience, Tanner argued that the record of Tony Blair's Labour government in Britain is largely positive, with "85% old Labour policies and 15% [conservative] New Labour policies" contributing to social equality.
Tanner told the students that free education is no longer a relevant or realistic demand, and that he no longer opposes the Higher Education Contribution Scheme. He said that far more money is already spent on higher education than on training for young unemployed people, and that the question of university funding can not be separated from other social priorities.