Some of these Liberal politicians must think that the rest of us are stupid. Take NSW Premier Mike Baird, the always-smiling poster boy for this deeply right-wing party, whose latest pitch for raising the GST from 10% to 15% is a politician's promise that he would spend the proceeds on health and education.
Our Common Cause
The New South Wales Baird government has announced an historic decision to privatise public housing. In a $22 billion bonanza for the government's property developer mates, public housing estates will be torn down and rebuilt into places where private tenants and homeowners outnumber social housing tenants by 70% to 30%. NSW Coalition Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard announced the state government's "Future Directions for Social Housing" policy. It includes the transfer of 35% of public housing to community housing organisations.
Oxfam's new report, An Economy for the 1%, is a damning indictment of capitalism. It presents chilling data showing that global inequality has reached “new extremes”. The aid organisation has calculated that just 62 people have the same amount of wealth as half the world.
On the day Tony Abbott was rolled, one of my family members, who lives in Malcolm Turnbull's electorate of Wentworth, posted a one line warning on Facebook: "Beware the silver fox." Well, it proved true remarkably quickly. A concerted attack on Medicare is in full swing and it has one clear objective: dismantling public health care and replacing it with a US-style privatised system that costs more, delivers inferior outcomes and leaves the poorest to die.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Racial Discrimination Act in Australia, yet we still live in a country where racism runs deep. Legislative change, which was won as a result of the movements for black liberation and for women's liberation, was a step forward. However, legal changes alone cannot undo centuries of oppression. For this to be lasting we have to continue to campaign and organise against racism. We need to tackle the system that gives rise to it.
The Socialist Alliance and its youth wing, Resistance, expresses our solidarity with the people of Paris and Beirut who were targeted in back-to-back acts of terror by ISIS forces in the past few days. In Paris, coordinated bombing and shootings at six separate locations on November 14 killed 129 people and injured 200 others. In Beirut, 43 people were killed and more than 200 injured in two suicide bomb attacks just 24 hours earlier. We condemn these acts of violence.
As the pantomime that is the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, stumbles to its conclusion at the end of the year, figures released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on October 27 reveal a 2% drop in union membership to 15% of the workforce. According to the ABS report, in August last year 1.6 million people were members of trade unions in their main job.
In yet another policy continuity with Tony Abbott, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is considering raising the goods and services tax (GST). Once again, this shows the government acting in the interests of big corporations and the super rich against the interests of ordinary people. The simple truth is that the GST is an unfair tax. Poor people pay a higher proportion of their income in GST than rich people.
The recent knifing of Tony Abbott by Malcolm Turnbull held a brief glimpse of hope for marriage equality in Australia. Unfortunately, the change of PM did not bring any change of policy, and the Liberal Party’s homophobic agenda has remained the same. Turnbull professes to personally support marriage equality, but has asked the rainbow community to wait for a plebiscite until after the federal elections. This amounts to a position worse than Abbott who was dragged kicking and screaming to agree to a plebiscite together with the elections.
Most people think that democracy and elections are pretty much the same thing. The truth is that any meaningful push for genuine democracy would require a lot more than just electoral reform. The change of prime minister from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull shows that a change of leader means very little in terms of actual policy change. And this is not because the policies they push are popular. We need a change of government: not just a change from the Liberals to Labor, but a change from corporate power to people power.