ALP

Populism Now! The Case for Progressive Populism
David McKnight
New South, 2018
177 pages, rrp $29.99

David McKnight’s Populism Now! catches a wave of discussion about the chances for a progressive “populism”, writes Jonathan Strauss.

Also in the spray, for example, is a June Quarterly Essay piece by the Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss “Dead Right: how neoliberalism ate itself and what comes next” and the previously post-whatever Chantal Mouffe’s musings on “left populism”.

At the recent Victorian Labor state conference, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) delegation and the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) and Labor’s Right faction to close the conference early. That meant that a range of good motions, including for a Shorten government to close the offshore detention centres, were not debated. Union leader John Setka didn't think this was a problem but others, including rank-and-file CFMMEU members, do.

Former top dog at the Health Services Union (HSU) Michael Williamson used to joke that “nothing’s too good for the workers – and their representatives”, as he brazenly defrauded the union to the tune of $5 million.

Just one lavish, boozy lunch with his cronies would burn through the annual dues ($600) of one of his low-paid union members – hospital cleaners, orderlies, clerks, porters, etc – writes journalist, Brad Norington, in Planet Jackson.

Adani lobbyist and former Queensland Labor Party state secretary Cameron Milner, who played a key role in the 2015 election win of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, has returned to Labor headquarters.

The dramatic surge in support for Labour in the June 8 British election was a shot in the arm for progressive people around the world. Jeremy Corbyn — who had been roundly derided as “unelectable” — achieved the biggest swing of any Labour leader in Britain in more than 70 years.

Cuts to the age pension, legislated in 2015, have begun. The main change is to the assets test taper rate.

For every additional $1000 in assets, pensioners now lose $78 a year (raised from $39). Previously, a homeowner couple with $1,178,000 in assets would have qualified for a part pension. This upper limit has dropped to $816,000. (These figures do not include the family home.)

I have no doubt that the plebiscite would have been won: it would have been a huge opening to build a mass movement for marriage equality and demolish the opposition. But I shared fears that the “No” campaign would have hurt our youth.

The 2016 federal election has confirmed the continuing decline of Australia's two-party system. The relative stability that characterised the decades after World War II was shaped by a phase of unprecedented economic growth, record low unemployment and mass home ownership. But that is long gone, in fact it was an aberration. Our system of single member electorates helped paper over the current period of rising economic insecurity, but inevitably politics is catching up.

One good thing about being out of the country for a while is not having to listen to the lies of the Coalition and Labor. We know that on every occasion they lie to get into power.

They take no responsibility for the carnage they cause in their quest to see who can be the biggest slaves to corporate Australia.

The Socialist Alliance is running myself, Susan Price, Sharlene Leroy-Dyer and Howard Byrnes in the NSW Senate. Peter Boyle is running for Tanya Plibersek's seat of Sydney.

As Brother Kev Carmody's song goes: “From little things big things grow”.

Rob Pyne (MP) is now the independent Member for Cairns in the Queensland Parliament, following his shock resignation from the Australian Labor Party on March 7.

Pyne was a student leader at James Cook University, then served on the Cairns Regional Council between 2008 and 2015 before becoming Australia's first quadriplegic member of parliament in last year's Queensland state election.

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