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Malcolm Faces a Struggle

The mainstream media may not have noticed but there has been an increase in union bashing on social media over the past 5 days. It suggests the dark forces of neo-liberalism are mobilising in anticipation of next week’s senate vote on the ABCC legislation.

The Prime Minister has been vocal this week too, claiming that unions threaten the nation’s economic future. If he is going to suggest that the unions are about to destroy our country, he should tell us exactly how he thinks this will happen.

But instead, what we are more likely to get is a well-rehearsed choreography of anti-union stories beginning almost immediately; all designed to soften up the voters for what is to come.

The union bashing is also designed to camouflage the inconsistency  of the government’s flip-flopping on several issues they have tried to champion, such as personal income tax cuts, an increase in the GST, state income taxes, fast trains, the plebiscite on marriage equality, company tax cuts and more recently their desire to cease funding public schools.

The word ‘waffle’ is fast becoming synonymous with our Prime Minister. It’s a far cry from the expectations of last September. Malcolm is a captive of the hard right who have him dangling like a puppet on a string. But right now, there are other more serious considerations on the horizon for him; ones that no one saw coming.

bsOn the local front, we have a resurgent Labor leader emerging with policies that are resonating in the public consciousness. Calling for a Royal Commission into the banking industry will win over uncommitted voters to Labor as will a promise to lower the voting age to 16.

The bankers have warned they will campaign against an RC, which will put them centre stage and remind people further of how much they are disliked. They should rethink that strategy.

Malcolm Turnbull’s own connection with the banking industry will not help and nor will the financial industry’s generous contributions to Liberal party election funds.

On the world stage there is a clear trend showing large numbers have had enough of neo-liberal politics and its economic model. After multiple promises of better economic management going back as far as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who raised expectations of a better life ahead, the fact is, it hasn’t happened. If anything, the very people who believed it are worse off today.

In the UK the popular election of Jeremy Corbyn as the new Labour leader has put greater pressure on the Tories. In Canada, Justin Trudeau won office promising deficit budgets, a commitment he has already delivered.

In the US the strong following for Bernie Sanders, a committed socialist and Donald Trump, who has no idea how to run a country, is also a rejection of mainstream neo-liberal economic policies.

In Greece, Syriza has won twice despite its equivocations with the European Commission. In Spain, the left wing Podemus has become the third largest political party in just two years. None of these new players could be called neo-liberal.

While it appears that nobody is buying Malcolm’s union bashing, the Liberal party publicity machine will begin rolling out its anti-union armoury next week.

untitledAll it is likely to do is highlight the government’s excessive reaction to the meagre findings of the Trade Union Royal Commission. But it may well be trumped by the release of the Panama Papers. We haven’t heard the full story of the Australian connection yet, but we will.

As we learn more about the tax avoidance antics of Australian companies’ and the length some very wealthy individuals will go to pay less tax, the Liberals may well wish they had thought of sticking it to the banks instead of Labor.

And just exactly what does Turnbull mean when he says we all must learn to live within our means? How can such a wealthy Prime Minister tell pensioners, low income families, the sick, the disabled, people on welfare and the unemployed to live within their means when it is obvious his means don’t require any adjustment?

This time next week we should know if a Double dissolution is on or off the table. Either way, Malcolm may well have played himself into a position where he’s damned if it is, and damned if it isn’t.


22 comments

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  1. Robert LePage

    Maybe the ALP should take notice of these happenings and move back to the left instead of trying to emulate the liberal party?
    This was their position in the beginning and they have lost a lot of support by drifting to the right over the years.
    We do not want a “new Labour” like the Blair government in the UK.

  2. Philip Merrin

    Surely Labor should work on winning government first of all and to do that a party has to win the centre ground of politics and not get picky about things. Hardly anyone likes left or right wingers. Tony Blairs “new Labour” delivered power to them after 20 or so years in the wilderness and by a landslide, like the centrist Rudd did here in 2007. It was only when the old labour lefties got used to government there and started sniping at Blair’s leadership and he got the message and retired did they lose government. Abbott could not have won without lefty machinations disrupting the ALP, nor would he have got his party a second term on his performance and right wingedness.

  3. Jexpat

    Robert:

    Labor’s problem here is similar to that of the US Democrats. They’ve been run by and through their right wing faction for so long, that even when Shorten or Clinton (or Palaszczuk) pay belated lip service to progressive issues, many question their sincerity- and this becomes generalised as a lack of trustworthiness or base political opportunism.

    To be dropped or dumped in cold water like a hot potato once they actually have the power to follow through on their committment.

    Michael Brull’s piece in New Matilda on Labor’s sudden banking epiphany is a case in point on how cynically pernicious this dynamic can be.

    https://newmatilda.com/2016/04/12/bad-banks-the-penny-finally-drops-for-electioneering-bill-shorten/

  4. Blair

    Union corruption is small fry against multinational tax rorts and rich folk ripping off our super.

  5. Paolo Soprani

    The Australian people have had a gutful of right wing neo-liberal tea party politics that only favour the rich end of town. They’re sick to death of transparently stupid union bashing, they’ve had it up to here with the demonising of asylum seekers and Muslims, they’re totally underwhelmed by terrorist scaremongering, they’re weary of being treated like schoolchildren and being told to ‘live within their means’. They absolutely hate being told Australia cannot afford to adequately fund education and hospitals. They abhor the constant talking down of our country by our elected representatives and they are totally embarrassed by having Barnaby Joyce as Acting PM. And they’re nauseated to extremes by being constantly lied to by politicians who do not give a shit about them and, mostly, they cannot abide Scott Morrison!

  6. lawrencewinder

    Methinks they are running scared….

  7. susanai

    Must admit to feeling hopeful when MT came in but could not vote for this guy because that would be voting for the LNP govt and that would be suicide for our country! Greens are now out so it’s ALP for me.

  8. johnlward010

    Royal Dutch Shell, in 1978 financed the closure of refining operations in both Shell at Granville and Caltex at Botany refineries, with millions of dollars provided by the Royal Dutch Shell head office in the Hague.

    The Dutch were attempting to destroy the first term Wran Government (which had refused to permit a rise in the price of petrol), by provoking an industrial dispute and forcing a strike by the FEDFA(today’s CFMEU) and the AWU. This led to the shutting down of the Granville refinery. The Shell Corporate Headquarters in the Hague, also paid the projected operating losses for Caltex Refinery to shutdown the Kurnell refinery. This joint action by two international corporations was designed to have the NSW Labor Government go to the polls with the voting population totally off side, having empty petrol tanks.

    At this time I was a part-time union secretary but still a middle manager working for Shell and was therefore privy to the management briefings of all salaried officers in the staff canteen where Shell outlined their strategy and tactics.

    These bastards were going to interfere in my country to bring down a democratically elected government. Accordingly, I became angry enough to pass all this detail onto Barry Unsworth who was Secretary of the Labor Council of NSW in Sussex Street.

    I spent the next two weeks sitting in the in the room next to his Ministerial Office with another member of my union named Bert Hendon providing the NSW Minister for Industrial Relations Pat Hills, with answers each time the Shell managers tried to prolong the stoppage they had deliberately provoked.

    The workers voted to go back to work after their union secretary Jack Cambourne, alerted them to what the game was. Once they returned to work “ready willing and able to take up their duties”.

    Management told them to stay in the meal rooms until called, but not to start up any plant.

    The management then ordered key parts of the refinery dismantled. The Government used its authority to order them to reverse that process. The corporation raised ‘technical matters’ and the government rebutted those with answers provided by Shell’s own salaried employees in the next room (unknown to Shell). These employees had the knowledge and skills to start up and shut down refineries all around the world (a complex and difficult process taking days) as the need arose.

    Shell finally ordered operators to deliberately poison huge tanks of fuel with far too much Tetra Ethyl Lead. That should have been a crime deserving goal time.

    To make sure the refinery would stay off-line, the corporation had arranged to import a workforce of 700 South Korean construction workers who normally worked as refinery task force in the Arab oil countries. The AMWU led an industrial dispute objecting to these workers coming into the country via New Zealand on tourist visas to circumvent immigration laws. The Korean workforce was housed in Wollongong and bussed up to the refinery early one morning in a military style operation.

    The proverbial then hit the fan.

    The Labor Council called an emergency meeting in its Sussex St Board room chaired by Barry Unsworth. This meeting of all affected unions also included the Australian Government Immigration Minister Ian McPhee. To his credit he came and listened to people’s concerns without putting any politics into the mix.

    However, Barry Unsworth gave him a bit of a harangue when Ian McPhee read a report from his department claiming “There are only 70 South Korean tradesmen registered with the department with special visas to do this type of work”, to which Barry retorted, “Well we have something like 700 out there at Granville refinery, there is something wrong in your department”. He went on to say in an exasperated tone, “If people are able to come in under the radar like this, pretty soon we’ll have drugs, stand-over merchants, corruption and prostitution all over Sydney”.

    I joked from the other end of the table “But Barry, that’s how we got the country started”. Other representatives around the table had a chuckle, but Barry was not amused. He pulled me to one side after the meeting and said roughly, “what was that? The empire striking ******* back?”

    I liked Unsworth in lots of ways in those days, because he allowed the mongrel in him to be on display and he pushed the agenda of working people without let. Later, when he was Premier, his minders had him take on a softer face, had him wear a cardigan and the voters saw this as false. He should have stuck to being a driven leader and the bastard he often showed when he was the Trade Union leader.

    The next day, when Unsworth (a good Catholic) came to the refinery on an inspection with the NSW Industrial Arbitration Commission relating to the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union dispute, he asked me about the contents of the huge petrol storage tanks. He said, “ Shell is telling Pat Hills that they don’t have petrol available for sale, so these tanks must be empty, right?”

    I informed him that the tanks were full of perfectly good ’On Grade’ petrol, that had been deliberately poisoned the night before with lead to make it illegal and therefore impossible to distribute this so called, ’country petrol’ as fuel in urban environments under the State Governments health regulations. I thought Barry was going to have a stroke, he was absolutely livid.

    That was when Pat Hills forced Shell to put ‘country petrol’ onto Sydney streets, and fuel began to flow after an historic, internationally inspired, two week corporate strike.

    Royal Dutch Shell finally caved in when it became apparent to them that the population was awake to them.

    Knowing the lengths an international corporation will go to, the voters delivered their verdict and returned the Wran government for a second term, in what was to become known as a ’Wranslide’.

    Labor under Neville Wran winning the Earlwoodby-election in 1978, in his first term, defeating the political aspirations of the Liberal candidate Alan Jones.

    We should never be bluffed or coerced by these corporate psychopathic bullies. These large corporations will always get their pound of flesh. To quote the late Joh Bjelke Petersen “don’t you worry about that”.

    The same Corporations are now pulling out of Australia, leaving us in extreme jeopardy if war breaks out. These are the same corporate operators who finance the Liberal Party, the climate change deniers and Prime Minister Turnbull attack on the conservation movement,”don’t you worry about that”.

    When you combine the ruthlessness of Oil Corporations with the self serving, corrupt and criminal behaviour of the former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. One can see we owe Timor Leste a debt of honour, for their unflinching support of us as the Japanese came for us and the absence of scolding, when they were brutally occupied for 25 years and we looked the other way.

  9. David

    Like most here I have nothing but contempt for previous PM Abbott, but I will hand him one kudos begrudgingly, when it comes to spine he has a helluva good deal more than the toff Turnbull will ever possess. In 7 months Turnbull has completed more backward somersaults worth all 10’s than magnificent Olympic Gold Medal diver Greg Louganis.
    I await his next display, after the growing outcry from within his own ranks, re his opposition to Labors RC into banking. Win or lose come Julys election, this dud of a PM is a dead man. If Abbott doesn’t get him, Morrison will

  10. ImagiNation

    That a person will sell their soul to become a politician is saddening.
    That a politician will sell their nations soul to remain one is treason.
    – Pan DeMonium

  11. Wally

    “The bankers have warned they will campaign against an RC”

    Turnbull is running around saying the banking industry is heavily regulated so a RC is a waste of money, if the banks are not doing anything wrong any RC or investigation shouldn’t bother them.

  12. David

    Very profound ImagiNation, it fits Turnbull perfectly

  13. Wally

    johnlward010

    I think the unions are often played by corporations and the LNP to cover up dubious agendas. Many years ago Toyota bought in a team of electrical workers from Japan to upgrade machinery in an effort to avoid having to pay a site allowance to local workers. The Japanese workers were not licensed to work in Victoria so the plan back fired but it was only when unions took strike action that they stopped using the unlicensed workers.

  14. Shogan

    “The bankers have warned they will campaign against an RC”

    Obviously the banks haven’t had any polling done as to what the public thinks of them & one can easily assume that same tunnel vision is the root of the problems that really demands a Royal Commission!!

  15. maxpowerof1

    Johnlward101.

    A great reminder af what Australians used to be like.

    Thanks

  16. Carol Taylor

    Sorry Mal, but union bashing isn’t going to resonate with the public – reason? Wages are flat. Therefore there is no ‘politics of envy’ that worked for Howard so well. That is, there is no ‘look over there, these thugs earn more because they’re crooks’. However, what the Australian public is now noticing is another, different bunch of crooks, the ones who take the cream while the ordinary workers are expected to foot the bill.

  17. Cj Hammond

    Paolo Soprani…..Your comment has to be one of the most succinct and insightful observations I’ve ever read on any online media site….Kudos to you, Sir !!

  18. PC

    The LNP lie factory has got just two settings: “It’s all the ALP’s fault.” and “Worker’s Unions are evil.”

  19. Barry Thompson.

    Paolo, you neatly summed up exactly how I feel.

  20. John Kelly

    Paolo, I have cut and pasted your comments on a number of right wing Facebook sites just to show them how rational people think. Your authorship is acknowledged.

  21. Athena

    “The LNP lie factory has got just two settings: “It’s all the ALP’s fault.” and “Worker’s Unions are evil.” ”

    @PC – Actually there are 3 settings, the third being “I don’t recall”.

  22. June M Bullivant OAM

    I noticed that and so have many others, for the first time since we started to vote politics is at the forefront of the conservation.

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