Ghosts return to haunt Australian politics

Jeff Kennet.

In the previous issue of Green Left Weekly, I wrote about how the federal Coalition had resurrected the ghost of Pauline Hanson with its cynical plan to exploit the racist fear of Australia’s Muslim minority communities.

But since then, there has been a parade of political ghosts.

The first to emerge was the former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett, who chose to give some public advice to aspiring NSW Liberal premier Barry O’Farrell.

Kennett told the February 24 Sydney Morning Herald he hoped O’Farrell would “go fast early on” and carry out severe austerity measures.

He said: “The most important issue is not to try and address one issue on its own and then move to the next. If you do that all of those who oppose you will coalesce around one issue …

“If you attack all areas of government at the same time, you break your forces and each then settle down to protect their particular patch. You divide your enemy — old military tactic.”

NSW Labor deserves to be punished at the March 27 elections. But a Coalition government can and will do worse.

The NSW Greens should change their preference policy to reflect this and put Labor ahead of the Liberals.

The second political ghost to surface was former Liberal industrial relations minister Peter Reith. In 1998, Reith defended the use of masked thugs and attack dogs to try to smash the Maritime Union of Australia through a lockout at Patrick stevedoring wharves.

In a February 24 opinion piece in The Australian, he grumbled: “Coalition MPs have been told to not speak about industrial relations. WorkChoices is now dead and buried …

“I understand the political tactic of not making IR an issue in the last election,” Reith continued, risking a dose of the Abbott death stare. “It was an exceptional situation because no opposition has ever won the first election after a new government has been returned to office from opposition. The situation now is different.”

But political ghosts also emerged to haunt the ALP. Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke said he thinks Labor should allow uranium to be sold to India and begin a serious debate about nuclear power in Australia, said the February 25 Age.

Like the ghost of Banquo in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the recent parade of political ghosts is a premonition of nasty prospects around the corner.

Politicians hope that people have short memories. One of our goals at Green Left Weekly is to expose the nasty plans of the conservative politicians, from all the parties that serve the interests of the corporate rich.

But another is to keep alive the history of our common struggles for justice and a sustainable future. We help keep alive the collective memory of the progressive movements.

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March 27 election? according to my calendar it is Saturday March 26 election