By Denis Bright
The ingredients of a long-term majority Labor Government are now in place. The policy mix is still a work in progress. Labor now has its slender majority in the House of Representatives. The senate is also looking good. There are twenty-six Labor senators with twelve Green senators to pass legislation on key issues. The LNP does not have the capacity to block progressive legislation with support from far-right cross-bench senators.
The still wafer thin margins require permanent goodwill with the Greens and at least sections of the TEALS and progressive independents in both houses of parliament.
Goodwill means pragmatic negotiations on policy differences with occasional horse trading with the remnants of the LNP as a negotiating position. Only while the progressive relationship lasts can Labor remain protected from a dogmatic opposition which is waiting for the Albanese government to falter in a global and Australian economic slow-down during the mid-2020s.
Labor has to be cautious against mimicking some of the fundamental policy assumptions from a decade of LNP rule for the sake of political respectability with Murdoch news outlets. Tinkering by Labor with outdated post-1945 Keynesian strategies will soon play into the hands of a hard-line LNP Opposition that is skewed towards representation from the regions and outer metropolitan areas in Queensland and NSW.
A trillion public debt dollars to Australia was bequeathed to the nation by the Morrison Government. Less publicized is the extend of household debt levels which are a major barrier to family finances. The latest OECD data shows that our Australian household debt is high by international standards and well above the household debt levels prevailing in the US, Britain and New Zealand.
Investment flows to Australia from the Quad Group of countries (Australia with India, Japan and the USA) are unlikely to compensate for the loss of new investment and trading ties with China.
The Biden Administration is keen to impose a greater defence burden on Australia through recommended procurements from its own global military industrial complexes which are growth industries in US economic recovery. Australia and NZ can benefit strategically from more independent strategic and foreign policies with a return to normalcy in commercial relationships with China.
The Greens on the cross-bench need to speak out about the perils of more militarism in QUAD relationships when the reactivation of Maritime Belt and Road Initiatives can avoid the financial burdens of compulsive strategic commitments to the QUAD group of countries. China has plenty of time to anticipate the arrival of US nuclear submarines in 2040. The limitations of the new QUAD arrangements are inherent in the current economic and strategic limitations of relations with Japan whose constitution limits too much overseas militarism. The loss of $5.5 billion in compensation to France for breach of contract on Malcolm Turnbull’s submarine deal is an appalling financial burden from the LNP years.
A progressive paradigm change is within our grasp and should be linked to more independent economic and foreign policies which fit in with the values of our neighbours in the ASEAN bloc of countries (ASEAN 24 May 2022). Timor Leste and PNG have observer status within ASEAN.
The bright in the global economy is China and adjacent Asian countries as shown by the latest IMF growth projections for our region.
Japan is also suffering from widening income inequality, environmental problems and a sluggish economy according to the latest OECD data. Insiders at the RBA and Federal Treasury will of course have more up to date projections. The value of our commercial ties with the QUAD countries are severely overstated.
In rejecting the LNP for a mix of Labor, Greens and a network of independent members, the electorate has given a green light to a responsible degree of policy risk-taking the Liberal Party and its National Party partner increasingly represent rural and regional, small town Australia – the poorer, more welfare dependent, less advantaged (in terms of services, such as health and educational opportunities) populations. Increasingly, the Labor Party, the Greens and now the Teal Independents represent the wealthier, less welfare dependent, more advantaged, more multicultural and multiracial populations, in the capital cities.
This is similar to what has happened recently in the US – Trump and the Republicans did not carry any of the top 30, by population, US cities but won most of the rural and regional, small town and old industrial area US populations – the poorer, more welfare dependent, less advantaged (in terms of services, such as health and educational opportunities) populations. The Democrats won all of the more affluent and advantaged top 30 cities and the wealthiest states, the more multicultural and multiracial, California and New York.
In the UK, where BREXIT was supported by rural and regional, small town and old industrial area. Boris Johnson passed on his policy arrogance in a congratulatory Twitter to Anthony Albanese.
Congratulations @AlboMP on your election as Prime Minister of Australia.
I look forward to working with you as we reap the rewards of our comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, the AUKUS partnership and the unmatched closeness between the British and Australian people.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) May 21, 2022
The conventional wisdom from Boris Johnson and the commercial establishment is to cheer on imposed investment in the resources sectors, defence upgrades, domestic security systems or more expansive suburban shopping complexes as the natural order of things. More creative policy initiatives in progressive wage reform, social housing or sustainable urban planning are questioned as threats to economic stability.
A very virulent form of corporate capitalism has continued to intensify during the last decade and especially in the entire post-1996 era. In the US, para-military forms of security surveillance co-exist with regular mass shootings and rhetoric about the right to bear arms as a patriotic Anglo-American imperative. Such practices are being exported to Australia as a legitimate form of investment that controls the growth of permanent staffing levels in the retail and service sectors.
Automatic check-outs at shopping complexes justify more intrusive security surveillance as noted by the boasts from security firms which operate on the US model:
JULY 13, 2021 Milestone
PMT Security deployed an advanced facial recognition system at a busy shopping centre in Sydney, integrated with Milestone’s open platform XProtect® video management software (VMS). This helps the retail complex to keep things safe for customers and stops repeat shoplifting offenders before they can do it again.
Neoliberalism welcomes the drift towards corporate intrusion as a growth area of corporate investment as promoted by Vicionify in far-off Colorado for export globally:
You can get the most significant demographic statistics about your clients and fix the ideal product placements with facial recognition technologies. When the device detects a customer, the merchant can examine their activity in the store by tracking their movements. Businesses can use facial recognition can be used to provide tailored, contextual experiences across digital and physical channels for customers. According to Verified Market Research, Facial Recognition Market is projected to reach USD 10.2 Billion by 2028.
Facial recognition is slowly making its way into our lives. Of course, many of us are familiar with Facebook’s tagging feature, which uses facial recognition to scan all the photos on your Facebook account and find the ones containing your friends. But what you may not know is that this technology isn’t just for social media or entertainment use anymore. It has become increasingly important within business. Ordinary businesses like the coffee shop down the street are getting on board, and they use facial recognition not only to watch their customers but people on the streets as well. Here, we look at how this technology could be used in retail use cases.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, I alerted readers about the evolving race to the bottom in the retail and service sector through compromises to wages and services to customers.
Despite heavy security surveillance of that small shopping centre at Southpoint in Brisbane, Knight Frank Australia is not confident enough to put a sign on the public toilets which is abuzz with people now that a McDonalds has been squeezed into the limited space available in the food court. McDonalds has not been required to add its own toilet facilities. I sought comment from Knight Frank about developments at Southpoint and will add comments if the local CEO chooses to reply to my phone inquiries.
Customers who are aware that a toilet does exist in the Southpoint food court are warned that customers entering the unsigned toilets are being videoed. Others trudge up the stairs to Platform One of Southbank station when the escalators are not working. The access lift has no signage directives. For people with disabilities the unsigned lift corridor is probably not wheelchair compliant.
Peter Dutton still proclaims any deviation from established neoliberal practices will ruin the Australian economy and lead voters back to the LNP in 2025 as the new government will be in crisis by then. However, there are options for a more enlightened form of capitalism in a commitment to sustainability, greater social equality and peaceful co-existence with countries that are not part of the US Global Alliance. The LNP has chosen to cling to its own hegemonies with support from dodgy corporate sectors.
In West End Brisbane, Pradella Developments is investing $1.3 billion to change the urban landscape of West End in Brisbane through the Montague Markets and Enclave projects which will expand the supply of upmarket apartments to gentrify a former working class and semi-industrial precinct.
Woolworths is a key anchor in these retail developments and maybe needs some government support through the state-based investment funds like Queensland’s QIC to invest transport oriented developments (TOD) in outer metropolitan and regional communities which are less affluent than West End. Established as public-private partnerships, such TOD projects could attract investment in community development funds with local and overseas capital of benefit to the profitability of both the QIC and the participating investors. The RBA would of course clear overseas investment on defined security criteria.
In the traditions of activists who interrupted Prime Minister Menzies in the 1950s, I must ask what is being done for working class communities on the other side of the track in electorates where the Green and TEAL Independent votes are minimal. Here support for far-right parties is quite substantial. Readers who live in electorates represented by Green and TEAL independents should interact with their new members to ensure that election night rhetoric is translated into real change agendas on those structures of injustice and corrupt policy practices which were a feature of that last decade of LNP rule.
Contrary to LNP election rhetoric, the latest ABS data released on 1 June 2022 shows that the non-mining investment sector is in quite bad shape. The LNP has simply not generated sufficient investment outside the resources sectors. Some investment stimulus beyond the usual pork-barrelling is needed for our recovery from both the GFC and the COVID-19 crisis. I have always advocated a higher profile for investment initiatives through the Future Fund and the various state investment funds to overcome the obvious shortfalls left from investment preferred by the corporate sector like more corporate surveillance and facial recognition technologies in our public spaces.
The Latest Investment Economic Growth Report Card from the ABS
While the LNP generates its reactions to these discouraging statistics, I am off to Southern Europe on 13 June 2022 with opportunities for new articles when I return in late July. If time permits, I will try to offer a pre-trip article on some aspects of contemporary Italy which are relevant to Australians. Our own two trillion-dollar economy is close to Italy’s level of GDP even though Australia’s is 40 percent of Italy’s current population of 60 million. Our economy does not need the old policy hegemony that continues to be advocated by Peter Dutton and other LNP hardliners.
I do not carry computers on my travels, but I will strive to line up a special article from Rome to share on my return. May I keep everyone guessing about the contents of the article in case my proposed interviews do not eventuate like the telephone inquiries with Knight Frank in Brisbane about its shopping centre management policies or my inquiries at Woolworths about the possible use of facial recognition technologies for security surveillance by supportive consultants with para-military zeal.
Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.
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