The Queensland ALP “snatched disaster from the jaws of defeat,” socialist activist Gary MacLennan told a public forum at the Activist Centre here on April 3. The forum, sponsored by Green Left Weekly, discussed the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) rise to power in Queensland, the crisis in the ALP and what this meant for the labour movement.
MacLennan said: “When the Queensland people said no to the [Anna] Bligh Labor government, they were not saying yes to an LNP government.
“The role of Laborism, or classical Social Democracy, is to bargain with the ruling class for the working class. Now Labor manages the state on behalf of the employing class, while controlling the working class.
“The ALP today is drained of any policies and principles in the interests of working people and is subject to the controlling influence of the Murdoch and other big business media. With this disastrous defeat in Queensland, the ALP will move further to the right, as it has done for the past several decades.”
Liam Flenady, Socialist Alliance candidate for South Brisbane in the March 24 state elections, told the audience. “The day after the Queensland election was a very dark day for the state. The unprecedented swing to the LNP will mean huge cuts to the public sector and brutal attacks on the unions.
“But, there will be resistance and a fight back from the people. We can’t predict exactly when and how these struggles will erupt.
“We in Socialist Alliance need to be prepared to initiate, as well as collaborate with others, in campaigns to take on the Campbell Newman government, wherever possible.”
Rachael Jacobs, the Greens candidate for Central Ward in the April 28 Brisbane City Council elections, welcomed “this timely forum on the future. Now both the state and the city council are dominated by the LNP. Queensland is effectively a one-party state right now.”
Jacobs said: “We face cutbacks on all fronts, locally, statewide — and nationally if Tony Abbott wins the next federal election. This is a dangerous time for the environment and the union movement.
“In the state election, people felt the ALP didn’t stand for anything. We in the Greens are pleased that our vote basically held up in the face of the landslide to the LNP.
“There is now a window of opportunity for building an alternative to the two old parties. It is time to band together, and to broaden our base.
“It is time for us all to get more organised, and be positive in our campaigning.
“As a cultural worker in Fortitude Valley, my slogan for the council elections is, ‘Live, Hope, Dance, Vote.’ We need genuine hope for a better future for us all.
Socialist Alliance Queensland co-convenor Jim McIlroy told the forum: “After the Labor devastation, the challenge is for the left and labour movement to unite and rebuild. The Newman government represents the most right-wing assault on working people and the environment in Queensland since Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
“The unions need to reconsider their relationship with the Labor Party, and look towards a breakaway Independent Labor Party or other such workers’ formation. The social movements, especially the environment movement, will need to consolidate their forces for a big struggle.
“The socialist movement and the progressive movement generally need to seek greater collaboration and unity in action, with the aim of forging a genuine political alternative strong enough to break the monopoly of the two-party system. Otherwise, the ALP will eventually regroup and revive, and the neoliberal political merry-go-round will merely continue, as it has for the past 100 years.”