our common cause

The wealthy and corporations got a visit from Santa Claus, but the rest of us got Scrooged again on Budget night.

A windfall in tax income — derived in part from higher than expected royalties and corporate taxes in the mining sector, owing to higher prices for iron ore, coal and oil — provided ideal conditions for the government’s pre-election budget.

There was never a chance that Treasurer Scott Morrison would use this windfall to boost social spending — that just wouldn’t accord with the Malcolm Turnbull government’s “trickle down” economics.

The mounting scandals being revealed by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry highlight the need for a comprehensive and radical solution to the crisis in the banking system.

The Big Four banks must be nationalised so people can take back their stolen wealth and a new public banking system must be created under democratic community control.

The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is for the government to give everyone — rich and poor — a regular income that would be enough to cover their basic needs. It would be an unconditional payment, meaning you would not have to work or satisfy job-search tests to receive it.

Afrin, a city within the canton of the same name in northern Syria , is under siege by the Turkish military, supported by right wing jihadist forces, including al-Quaeda, al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIS. Fifty-two days after the invasion began, more than 290 civilians had been killed.

Communist and feminist Zelda D’Aprano became the symbol of the fight for equal pay when, in October 1969, she chained herself to the Commonwealth Offices in Melbourne, after becoming frustrated at the lack of pay equity for women.

D’Aprano was employed by the meatworkers union, which was involved in a test case on the gender pay gap in the meat industry before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. At the time, women’s participation in the workforce was 38% and they were paid 75% of men’s wages for doing the same work.

Yet again, the federal Coalition government has launched a broadside in favour of its plan to cut company tax for big corporations from 30% to 25%, while slashing spending on social welfare and the public sector.

The catalyst for the latest controversy on the issue was a February 14 article on the ABC website by chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici, entitled, “There's no case for a corporate tax cut when one in five of Australia's top companies don't pay it.”

Barnaby Joyce thought he was untouchable. But for the Malcolm Turnbull government in crisis mode, it seems he could be dispensable.

The week before last, it appeared that Joyce’s media and parliamentary advisors may have just managed to save his skin. After the tabloids splashed news of his affair — including a picture of Vikki Campion, Joyce's former media advisor and now partner — we had the “Look, I never said I was an angel” line.

“So, how come the left is so divided?”, we get asked routinely. After a conversation in which we try to put 150 years of struggle into its historical context, they inevitably respond with: “Yes, but don’t you think you’d be able to fight the right better if you were bigger and stronger?”

The answer is yes!

The time has come to scrap the misnamed Fair Work Act (FWA) and introduce genuine pro-worker and pro-union industrial relations legislation in this country.

Rising pressure on federal employment minister Michaelia Cash to resign over her cover-up of the illegal actions by former Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) head Nigel Hadgkiss merely underlines the fact that Australia’s industrial relations system is badly broken.

What local councils do or don’t do on January 26 has burst into the national political debate, and what a good thing that is. No matter the frantic condemnation from the corporate media or the pompous and arse-about assertion by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that councils were “using a day that should unite Australians to divide Australians”.

These opponents of an honest examination of Australia’s history may want to shut down the conversation but the opposite has happened.

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