Our Common Cause

Photos by Chelsea Dennison

The good turnout to national rallies on August 27 and 28 shows the refugee rights' movement is starting to gain political ground. A number of pro-asylum seeker groups are forming to force an end to the cruel policy of locking up refugees in offshore detention.

Treasurer Scott Morrison's speech to a Bloomberg business breakfast in Sydney on August 25 echoed previous warnings by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that Australians were heading for economic trouble if the new parliament fails to pass the government's "omnibus" budget package.

When a gang of right-wing goons from the Party For Freedom (PFF), dressed as stereotypical Muslims, stormed the Sunday service at the Gosford Anglican Church on August 14, their actions were nominally disowned by Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party in a written statement. However, the statement also sought to justify and excuse the actions of the PFF.

In the recent controversy over the proposed sale of key NSW state-owned electricity company Ausgrid to Chinese bidders, the primary issue seems to have been lost: a vital public asset such as Ausgrid should not be privatised in the first place, whoever the potential buyers might be.

A storm broke out over the planned sale of Ausgrid by the state government to either of two Chinese corporations: the government-owned State Grid Corporation of China; or the privately-owned Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure Group (CKI), controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing.

The shocking abuse suffered by children in Darwin's Don Dale detention centre revealed by the ABC's Four Corners on July 25 has angered wide layers of the community. It has also prompted a nationwide demand to take immediate action against the perpetrators and ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again in the juvenile detention system.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to call a narrowly focused royal commission into Northern Territory youth detention centres has been met with justifiable scepticism and criticism.

Since late 2005 the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been included on Australia's list of terrorist organisations. It is illegal for Australian citizens to belong to the PKK, actively support it, raise funds for it or otherwise engage with it. Just this month Australian-Kurdish journalist Renas Lelikan was charged in Sydney with being a member of the PKK.

Pauline Hanson came across a racist and incoherent cartoon character on the ABC's Q&A program on July 18.

But it would be a mistake to think that Hanson, and the more than half a million people who voted for her in the July 2 federal election, can simply be laughed away. They represent, in a distorted way, the deepening contradictions in our society that have to be addressed at their root.

The myth of the egalitarianism of Australia is cracking up after 50 years of Coalition and Labor Party governments helping the super rich get even richer at the expense of the rest.

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.

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