Our Common Cause

Malcolm Turnbull's very slim majority is no mandate to re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and other anti-worker legislation that he could not get through the previous Senate. The silence from the government was deafening during the election campaign, even though the ABCC legislation was the trigger. The ABCC was hardly mentioned. It only highlights the fact that Turnbull did not want to give the average worker the opportunity to scrutinise the finer details of his proposals to attack workers' rights.
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.
Regardless of which major party, or coalition of parties, forms government after the July 2 election one thing we can be certain of is that the struggle for a people's movement will still be as necessary as ever. The attacks on our class will not stop; of that we can be sure. We have one common enemy. For decades and decades governments have been trying to annihilate unions and this has got to stop.
Pork-barrel politics and scare tactics have dominated the final weeks of the “longest election campaign ever”. Voters in marginal seats have been warned to “vote carefully”, to not “waste your vote” or “risk a protest vote” which might result in — shock horror “the chaos of a hung parliament”. We have had “tradies” in political ads trying to convince workers that the Liberal National Party (LNP) is their party, and Labor trying to convince the public that they have “rediscovered” labor values.
The Labor Party announced a series of “savings” measures on June 10, including $1 billion worth of Abbott/Turnbull cuts that had previously been blocked in the Senate. It has tried to make the attacks appear palatable by claiming they are directed at higher income families. However the truth is they reaffirm that a future Labor government's direction will be more about cutting government spending than raising revenue from the big end of town. Further, they will have bigger impacts on ordinary workers than appears evident at first glance.
Disengagement from mainstream politics is so widespread that when the marginalised and poor start getting engaged the establishment, and its media, hits back. This explains the corporate media's sexist-tinged blitzkrieg against Sue Bolton and Roz Ward, both Melbourne-based activists. Both women have come to prominence recently for their determination to stand up for the most marginalised and dispossessed sectors of society and involve others in the process.
As South Asia swelters through a record-breaking heatwave — with reports of hundreds of lives lost in India on top of the hundreds of farmer suicides this year owing to crop failures due to drought — a May 20 Reuters report that Pakistanis were digging mass graves in preparation for heatwave-related deaths brings the grim situation we are in into sharp focus.
Duncan Storrar, the man who dared to ask a question about tax thresholds on ABC TV's Q & A program on May 9, has thanked Australians for their support and criticised the Murdoch press after he was villified in News Corp newspapers the following week. A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign in the following days raised more than $60,000 for Storrar, after he questioned the Coalition government's tax policy, introducing himself as someone with a "disability and a low education".
Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull have delivered a budget for the billionaires. They claim that opposition to their tax cuts for the rich is “class warfare”. But the truth is that they are the ones waging naked war against the ordinary people of Australia. People earning less than $80,000 — the large majority — get absolutely nothing from this budget. The top 10% of taxpayers get three quarters of the benefits while the top 1% get almost half (47%) of the tax cuts.
Remember last year when federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, picking up where Joe Hockey left off, declared that we had a spending problem not a revenue problem? That seems like a long time ago now. They did try to increase revenues by floating an increase in the GST but soon after came the revelation that 600 of Australia's biggest companies paid no tax and hundreds more pay less that the 30% they could be paying. This is all the more galling when you consider that the rate has been cut from the 48% it had been in the early 1980s. And then came the Panama Papers!

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