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Privatisation by stealth

By James Moylan

There has been a lot of talk about the possibility of ‘privatising’ Medicare recently. Unfortunately very few commentators have bothered to drill down into how the word ‘privatisation’ is being used by the various protagonists.

Just what the term means when used by a conservative politician, as opposed to a progressive politician, is revealing. It explains a great deal about the dynamics of the current debate. It explains why both sides seem to be talking at cross purposes. It also explains why the Labor Medicare ‘scare’ campaign is considered by most to be both true, and false, all at once.

The conservatives amongst us usually describe ‘privatisation’ as being the packaging and then sale of a government service so it can then be run as a for-profit private entity. So the selling-off of Telstra, or Medicare Private, or a power station, might be presented as being an example of ‘privatisation’. And of course in purely semantic terms this is correct. To your average economist ‘privatisation’ is all about transferring government services into private hands so that they can then be run as a stand alone ‘business’.

However to a progressive politician and most Aussies the selling-off of government services is just a symptom of ‘privatisation’. For most of us ‘privatisation’ simply describes the tendency to consider the provision of government services in purely economic terms. For most of us the idea that aspects of the Medicare ‘back office’ might be farmed out to private contractors is definitely an example of ‘privatisation’. Contracting out the keeping of our medical records to private a contractor is also an example of ‘privatisation’. As is the idea that any Aussie might have to take out private health insurance just to ensure that they have access to the full range of government services that are available.

Whether or not a piece of government infrastructure is being sold off, or a private business is being manufactured to take the place of a government service, most Aussies still regard the creeping commercialisation that has been infiltrating our Health Care sector as being ‘privatisation’. It is simply ‘privatisation by stealth’.

Yes most of us understand that what the LNP say they want to do with the Medicare system is not strictly ‘privatisation’ as an economist might use the word. But it hardly matters. The LNP still want to gut Medicare. We all know that. They have always been ideologically opposed to the whole idea that everyone in Australia should have equal access to all health care services irrespective of their financial or social standing. When it comes to health care the trick is to look at the actions of the LNP and the conservative side of politics rather than listen to what they have to say. Aussies know this. Most of us didn’t come down in the last shower.

Ever since its inception Aussies have watched the conservative forces in our country do everything within their power to undermine or dismantle the system. It was introduced by Whitlam, abolished by Fraser, reintroduced by Hawke, and then watered down to an acceptable level by Howard.

Under Howard the conservative forces, upon realising that they could no longer be blatant about their resistance to the idea of a free health care sector, decided that they would force the introduction of a special health care sector just for rich people. Moreover they would even force the public purse to subsidise this separate system that would be used by only the richest. After all: if the Labor Party were going to force the introduction of a ‘universal system’ then the rich would ensure that they also got their snouts into the trough – even though they would never be caught dead in a public hospital (pun intended).

So for the last fifteen or so years the conservatives have been using weasel words to hide their true intentions. We all know they still want to dismantle the whole system and start again, however in the meantime they are happy to play along, as long as they still get preferential access to all the best services available, subsidised by the public purse, and still don’t have to mix with the commoners.

So the average observer looks at the ‘privatisation’ debate in a nuanced fashion. They think the Labor Party is both right and wrong. And they think the LNP is both right and wrong.

Yes the Labor party is right but it is hard for most of us to take anything the Labor Party says seriously. They seem to have given up on believing in anything that can’t be argued against with a big enough wad of cash. So it is hard to take them at their word when they say that they will stop being bastards and will now try to keep the other bastards honest.

We have all watched as the Labor Party has rolled over, again and again, to let the rich tickle their tummy with bundles of notes, before allowing for the creation of a parallel rich person’s health care system, or special tax breaks, or a special superannuation system (etc, etc, etc). Time and again they have allowed our assets to be transferred into the pockets of the richest fraction of our society just so they could buy the ‘respect’ of rich citizens and the self-interested business community. All despite the wishes of the majority, the best interests of the poor and marginalised, and their own oft stated ideologies.

So now we have a ‘Labor Party’ which is both in favour of ‘privatisation’ as well as being against privatisation. A semi-socialist Labor Party that is half-pregnant regarding economic rationalism. They accepted all this economic gobbledygook when they sold-out during the Howard years, yet now they are bleating that the public won’t take them seriously when they point to the very real threat that the LNP represent for the Medicare system?

Suck it up Labor. The fault is as much with you as it is with the everlasting intentions of the LNP.

The public do understand that the LNP is hostile to Medicare. But to hear the Labor Party bleat indignantly about the growing inequality within our society is sickening. The stench of hypocrisy is almost overpowering.

 

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45 comments

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  1. Clean livin

    And the winner is….”The Senate” who will keep the bastards honest, whoever they may be!

  2. Barrab

    Clean Livin This will only be possible with a ‘hostile’ senate. Look at what hapened when Howard held both houses!

  3. Jaquix

    Inequality IS rising in Australia. James Moylan your final line “But to hear the Labor Party bleat indignantly about the growing inequality within our society is sickening.” is a little harsh, dont you think? Inequality is a fairly bland word, but it is a powerful force, and for the worse. If you think of the country’s tax take as “crowdfunding” – then its plain to see Coalition’s “plan” of giving away chunks to one section of society, with no proven modelling or credible economic evidence that it will do what they say they hope it will, is blatantly aiming at inequality. Labor’s on the other hand, is aimed at improving and empowering the people (the customers after all). Of course their methods are not perfect, politics is not a perfect art. But denigrating them in this way adds nothing to the debate. The Libs have been in power for 3 years and done nothing. Coasting along on their DNA is not working, I think it must have mutated.

  4. economicreform

    It is obvious that neoliberal governments will invariably try to sell of to the private sector those aspects of state owned and controlled assets that are likely to turn a profit, and will retain (or abolish!) those aspects which seem unprofitable.

  5. Jaquix

    See how that worked out with their gutting of TAFE to privatise colleges of education, many of whom were dodgy and cost us millions and millions of dollars. Totally wasted.

  6. Lorraine Stansfiewld

    This writer seems to forget Gonski, NDHS, NBN, Climate change, all brought about by the Labour government and all but destroyed by the LNP. The only good thing the LNP have ever done is the ban of guns that was brought about by John Howard.

  7. diannaart

    Suck it up Labor. The fault is as much with you as it is with the everlasting intentions of the LNP.

    True words, neither Labor nor Libs have any moral standing on their privatisation by stealth of Medicare:

    Schedule fees have traditionally been indexed each year using a combination of a wage index and inflation.

    But in the May 2013 budget, the then Labor government announced that the MBS fees, usually indexed on November 1 each year, would be instead realigned with the financial year and indexed on July 1.

    This in effect froze the rebate for eight months to achieve savings of an estimated $664 million over four years.

    In its first budget in May 2014, the Coalition extended the pause for two years from July 2014, though GPs were excluded from the measure and their rebates rose in July 2014, as Labor had planned.

    Then in December 2014, the Coalition announced that MBS fees for all doctors and health professionals would be frozen at July 2014 levels until July 2018.

    Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a media release in March 2015 that the Government would proceed with its freeze on MBS rebates for GP and non-GP items “while we work with stakeholders to develop future policies”.

    In the May 2016 budget, the Coalition froze MBS indexation on all healthcare professionals fees at 2014 levels for a further two years to June 30, 2020, at an estimated saving of $925 million for those two years.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-27/fact-check-bulk-billing-rates/7437786

    Which begs the question, just what is Bill Shorten promising?

    Glad I asked:

    So today I am pleased to announce that a Labor Government will unfreeze the medical benefits schedule from 1 January 2017.

    http://www.billshorten.com.au/doorstop_wyong_thursday_19_may_2016

    Despite claims by Turnbull, we know the Libs believe their own dogma of ‘privatise everything not locked down’ and then sell off the locked down stuff as well, because, well they were voted in – apparently just being voted into office is a type of mandate.

    On the other hand Labor tends to privatise less than the Libs, then blame the Libs when they take said privatisation to extremes.

    Will Bill kill the chill?

    (couldn’t help myself)

  8. Jason

    This is the worst article I’ve ever read on aimn, the writer seems to be incredibly confused. Every single progressive policy this country has is because of labor every single one! NBN, Medicare etc etc wouldn’t exist without labor. Saying anything other than that just gives more power to the selfish liberals and is disingenuous. I am pro-renewables but certainly won’t be giving you my vote after reading this nonsense. I think theaimn needs better editors to reduce the chances of nonsense articles like this being published.

    I recommend supporting a real progressive party like this: http://www.australianemploymentparty.org/

  9. The AIM Network

    I think theaimn needs better editors to reduce the chances of nonsense articles like this being published.

    Jason, the writer is entitled to his opinion regardless if any of the editors or readers agree with them or not. We exist to give people a voice where they might not otherwise get the chance.

    But we’re pleased that you generally like what we publish. 🙂

  10. cornlegend

    Jason
    “Every single progressive policy this country has is because of labor every single one! NBN, Medicare etc etc wouldn’t exist without labor.”
    I agree
    I am a fervent user and supporter of renewable energy but I am thankful that candidates like the author of this claptrap has buckleys hope of getting elected.
    And there are some that wonder why Labor says no to coalitions/alliances.
    Imagine if Labor were to win or end up in a minority situation having to deal with this mob

  11. Jexpat

    Corn:

    When Labor says “no” to coalitions it only reinforces the notion that they’re disingenuous.

    Seriously, if that’s what it took to form government, is there any doubt that pronouncements like Andrews made in Victoria, for example, would be tossed by the wayside (and of course, tossed back in their face by the media)?

  12. cornlegend

    Jexpat
    In the case of a hung Parliament Turnbull would continue on anyhow
    after an election, no-one emerges with the confidence of a majority of the House, the incumbent Prime Minister, as the last person to hold a majority, has the right to remain in office and test his or her support on the floor of the House.
    All he needs is a guarantee of Supply
    If LNP and ALP ended up with,say 73 seats each he would in all likelihood continue on as well as I don’t know of any Independent likely to get elected declare hey would oppose the sitting Govenment or block supply if that situation arose and even that wouldn’t happen as Labor would not block supply.
    Any odds of a minority Labor Government are slim to buckleys

  13. cornlegend

    Jexpat
    Just to add, if the above 73-73 situation did occur and the Independents wanted to seek out Shorten for discussion, all he too would have to seek is a guarantee of confidence and supply in a form of memorandum of understanding.That would not create a coalition or ALLiance {Jennifer} as each piece of Legislation or Bill would be voted on and decided on their individual merits. If the Independents didn’t agree to such a “memorandum of understanding” it would be back to Turnbull and he’d get the job as Leader of a minority Government and P.M. {until Scomo makes his move}

  14. Freethinker

    IMO if we finish with a hang parliament and we take into account the ideology and kind of policies that the Coalition would like to introduce an agreement between them and the small parties will be impossible.
    Further more, I do not think that if the Coalition win only in the HOR it will be not able to pass many of their policies in the budget, therefore the government will be unworkable.
    A new election within 24 months will be the only option.

  15. Freethinker

    Jason, with all my respects I do not agree with your posts.
    One of the good things in this site if the diverse type of opinions unbiased to any party.
    I appreciate all the inputs.

  16. totaram

    I have carefully read the post and also all the comments. It is good to see all the arguments and facts and data being brought out and a certain amount of vitriol being thrown in as is usual. If we cut through the smoke and fog, we find that although Labor has always tried to promote socially progressive policies, it has been less than successful in protecting these policies from being watered down by the Neo-liberals (coalition) or even being reduced (death by a thousand cuts). While I applaud the author’s criticism of Labor on this account, my simple question to him is this: given the assertion that these policies are now “unaffordable” how would he or his party pay for them? Sadly, the article by him gives us no clue. And that is telling. The stench of hypocrisy is everywhere, not just for Labor.

    That brings us to the crucial point which is missing from all these debates. It is the invisible elephant in the room and that is neo-liberal macro-economic dogma, which has been accepted (implicitly or explicitly) by every single political party in Australia today. Once this dogma is accepted, arguments about who does what and does it better are really quite irrelevant. The neo-liberal dogma of “balanced budgets, deficit disaster, and tax relief for the wealth creators” is the song-book of the coalition. If you accept it, you cannot really argue against them, without having both hands tied behind your back. That is why neither Labor, nor the Greens, nor the renewable energy party, nor any other party that I can think of, will come up with a reasonable way to ensure that Medicare, Gonski, NDIS and all the other worthwhile schemes can be implemented for the benefit of the bulk of the people of this country.

    A nation that issues its own sovereign, free-floating, fiat currency, is not anything like a household or a corporation. It creates currency by spending into the economy and removes it by taxation. The final “budget surplus/deficit” is endogenously(internally) determined by the actions of the various components of the macro-economy and is not a measure of good or bad. Indeed, by simple accounting, a highly indebted private sector can only pay down its debts if the govt runs deficits (unless there are trade surpluses, which Australia doesn’t have). With private sector debt the highest in the world by some measures, only continued deficits by the govt. will be of benefit to the economy, especially the private sector. Historically budgets have always been in deficit and with good reason. That is what we should expect in a growing economy, when more money needs to be injected into the economy. Yet, every party is keen to assure us that they will bring the budget “back to surplus” – a completely irrelevant and possibly damaging aim. In such an environment, saving Medicare or any other socially useful scheme is fraught with difficulty. How will you pay for it? These are “unfunded” promises, etc. etc. is all you will hear.

  17. king1394

    Don’t forget the need for a Speaker; the scandal over Peter Slipper was nothing really compared to the bias of Speaker Bishop. But Slipper had to be destroyed because his presence as Speaker diminished the Lib/Nationals opportunities to undermine the previous government

  18. Jason

    @freethinker what do you disagree with? There’s only one party that’s a major party and progressive. It’s far from perfect but it’s the only one that’s proposed new progressive policies, Medicare, NDIS,NBN etc and made them happen. The greens voted against an ETS and now there’s no carbon tax. What’s their end game other than ideological purity and no real change? I can’t vote for them anymore. Their hypocrisy like running against labor in seats has convinced me they’ll never be a major party. Fight the liberals! They’re the enemy of progress.

  19. Jexpat

    Corn:

    I’m simply noting how it looks to most people when such statements are made.

    They’re not just disingenuous, but petulant: behavior we’d expect from a foot stomping pre-teenager.

    A more efftective statement- a response that a leader might anticipate… would look more like this:

    “We’re prepared to work with anyone who would help us advance traditional Labor values to ensure that Australia meets the challenges of the 21st Century -while becomng a fairer, more equitable and prosperous nation.

    A leader might even chuck some chiasmus in there.

    Something like this: “We invite all who would advance a fair and equitable Australia to join us; as we reject the unfairness and inequality that holds us back.”

    As to “Jason” above, I have only two words to repeat: petulant pre-teenager.

  20. Jason

    Jexpat at least deal with the substance of my posts rather than teenage analogies, which says more about you than anyone else.

    Are we better off with no ETS and 3 or even possibly 6 years of liberal policy?

    Hard to argue with the reality we are in surely which I rightly blame largely on the greens and gillards carbon tax propaganda they handed Abbott.

  21. Jexpat

    Jason:

    Carbon Pricing was, is -and has been proven to be a far more effective policy, whereas ETS schemes have repeatedly been scammed.

    Even the centre right Economist (ever full of the neoliberal apologetics) admits as much here:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2014/07/british-columbias-carbon-tax

    Other sources are more emphatic:

    The shocking truth about B.C.’s carbon tax: It works

    B.C.’s tax, implemented in 2008, covers most tyypes of fuel use and carbon emissions. It started out low ($10 per tonne of carbon dioxide), then rose gradually to the current $30 per tonne, which works out to about 7 cents per litre of gas. “Revenue-neutral” by law, the policy requires equivalent cuts to other taxes. In practice, the province has cut $760-million more in income and other taxes than needed to offset carbon tax revenue.

    The result is that taxpayers are coming out ahead. B.C. now has the lowest personal income tax rate in Canada (with additional cuts benefiting low-income and rural residents) and one of the lowest corporate rates in North America. You shouldn’t need an economist and a mining entrepreneur to tell you that’s good for business and jobs.

    At the same time, it’s been extraordinarily effective in tackling the root cause of carbon pollution: the burning of fossil fuels. Since the tax came in, fuel use in B.C. has dropped by 16 per cent; in the rest of Canada, it’s risen by 3 per cent (counting all fuels covered by the tax). To put that accomplishment in perspective, Canada’s Kyoto target was a 6-per-cent reduction in 20 years. And the evidence points to the carbon tax as the major driver of these B.C. gains.

    Further, while some had predicted that the tax shift would hurt the province’s economy, in fact, B.C.’s GDP has slightly outperformed the rest of Canada’s since 2008.

    With these impressive results, B.C.’s carbon tax has gained widespread global praise as a model for the world – from organizations such as the OECD, the World Bank and The Economist.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/the-insidious-truth-about-bcs-carbon-tax-it-works/article19512237/

    And more here: What we can learn from British Columbia’s carbon tax

    So you see: the tantrums you’re tossing are -well, petulant. As anyone who’s ever raised kids has seen and sighed about all too many times.

  22. Jason

    Jexpat, I’m very pro a price on carbon and pro renewables. My point is we no longer have any carbon price in place. The greens handed that to Abbott and destroyed Gillard in the process. If you see my statements as tantrum then your misunderstanding political passion to achieve things in the real world.

    Labor is the only major party to actually implement real progressive policy in Australia. That’s my main point.

  23. Jason

    @cornlegend It’s nice to hear someone recognise reality. I’m not anti-greens so much I used to vote them in the senate but watching them fight the progressive Anthony Albanese and waste labors time fighting them instead of the liberals made me realise I can’t vote for them. Add in helping the libs to pass bad legislation just to make it worse.

    Jexpat, I think it’s the greens that need to grow up and stop having so-called “tantrums”.

  24. Trish Corry

    As a member of the Labor party, I would be interested to comment on some more of your statements, if you gave some examples. Often, I find when people make broad statements about Labor, they forget??? or intentionally omit context. Context is extremely important. Labor is a progressive party and they are a democratic socialist party. As a member of Labor, I know first hand how grass roots members work hard to put forward policy to go through to conference and I know first hand their dedication to continuous progressive policy.

    As the Labor Party is the only party to put forward large socialist driven reforms which have shaped this country, it is a bit difficult to measure how people in general disrespect a reform idea and trash the ‘seminal authors’ so to speak in the first place, if there has been no competition for ideas. How would we treat other parties if this were the case?

    I think what frustrates me most about the ‘rise of the minors and Independents’ is that none of them are bringing anything new to the table. No one is putting forward any nation building, large scale socially progressive national reform ideas. Why does that make them better than Labor? I haven’t found anyone yet, who can answer that, in all seriousness.

    Just having a go and saying ‘we can do Labor’s ideas better than Labor’ just does not cut it for me.

    The confusion also with some people who play ‘leftist Olympics’ as is championed throughout the article, is that it really needs to be stated time and time again that Labor is not a radical left party, nor are they a protest party. They are a party who is one of the two parties who will actually Govern. As a centre-left party, they need to consider the ramifications on ALL Australians, including business, interest groups, working class, welfare etc., To protest and make radical change, instead of incremental change, will always seek to disadvantage one group and that could have serious consequences, for the very people we seek to protect.

    With regards to sustainability of Medicare, Labor’s approach is to ensure that Medicare is sustainable during times of economic crisis such as during the GFC and immediately post GFC. That is why there were time limits on policy changes – rather than broad forever after changes. Labor also always works in conjunction with stakeholders. Where as, the former head of the AMA let us know, the Liberals did not consult at all, or ignored their advice. If changes need to be made, no different than the central points of democratic leadership theory, or the participative change management theory – Labor makes these decisions and does their best to bring the people with them.

    I find it a little bit of an over-reach to state that Labor rolls over for wads of money, when we see the likes of the Construction Industry, The Media and property groups and mining magnates for example, up in arms about their policies. That being said, they are also not a communist nor pure socialist party and I find it interesting that many present arguments as if ‘Labor has lost their way’ as if they have some deep roots in some type of radical socialism. Any party to the too far left of the Labor party has a stronger element of Authoritarianism and uses more force to deplete rights for more central control of the people by the state. You can keep those parties.

    Labor not only developed Medicare in the first place, but has fought to ensure that Medicare has remained sustainable and that citizens enjoy the Universal Health Care we all deserve and enjoy, time and time again in the face of conservative party cuts and destruction.

    I hope one day we see another party, besides Labor to bring forth serious, nation building, universal, socially progressive reform, which changes the shape of our country for the better. Until then, empty criticisms of ‘we can do Labor’s ideas better than Labor’, will just have to suffice for those parties and followers who think Labor is a blight on our society, whist simultaneously contributing nought to it.’

  25. Jason

    Trish thank you firstly for your service as a labor party member and your wise words. Anyone who thinks anyone other than labor currently will make meaningful change at 50/50 split of voting polls are frankly ignoring reality. The worst outcome is 3 more years of the liberals, I honesty can’t think of anything worse yet others seem to want that by proxy as a sideline protest vote whilst real people suffer. Human suffering should not be based on ideology but by reality. Liberal policy will cause real human suffering of the poorest Australian’s they aren’t hiding that at all ie. medicare etc.

  26. Athena

    @Jason

    Speaking of misleading…

    “Labor is the only major party to actually implement real progressive policy in Australia.”

    However, Labor isn’t always progressive. For example, Gough Whitlam gave us free university education. Bob Hawke gave us HECS fees.

    James is correct. The ALP also believes in small government and has been steadily working to privatise various public services. They are rolling over for big business. We see them giving with one hand and taking with the other. They are fighting to keep Medicare at the federal level but they are also very damaging to public health in other ways at the state level. Ernst & Young has been an ALP donor at the federal and state levels. These companies know to target the states because the states run services like health and education. In SA, the ALP government engaged EY to perform a review of mental health and public pathology. Then they engaged EY in multi-million dollar contracts to implement their recommendations, with targets that must be met or EY gets nothing, so there’s effectively a conflict of interest from the start for EY. The ALP has called this project Transforming Health. Many of us working within the public health sector in SA call it Trashing Health, because that is exactly what they are doing.

    As someone so accurately pointed out on this site recently, the ALP is doing the same damage as the Liberal Party, just at a slower rate.

    “My point is we no longer have any carbon price in place. The greens handed that to Abbott and destroyed Gillard in the process. ”

    How so? The Greens efforts got the carbon tax in the first place and they voted with the ALP against repealing the carbon tax.

  27. Terry2

    Back on Medicare and privatisation . With all the assurances from Turnbull that Medicare and its services would never be privatised two things have been missing from his assurances and I’m not convinced :

    1. The Minister for Health Sussan Ley has been in witness protection and has made no statement in support and no other Minister has backed Turnbull so, should the PM be rolled post election , there is nothing between privatisation than statements made by a ‘former’ leader – it is not Liberal Party policy !

    2. The single most aggressive attack on Medicare has been the extension to 2020 of the freeze on GP payments : already, this has forced many GP’s to tell their bulk-billed patients that they can no longer afford to bulk-bill and will have to charge a co-payment, exactly what the coalition ordained in the2014 budget.
    I haven’t heard that Malcolm intends to reinstate GP payment indexation, have you ?

  28. Athena

    Turnbull was recently quoted thus, “Every element of Medicare services that is currently being ­delivered by government will continue to be delivered by government, full stop.”

    What part of Medicare services is currently not being delivered by the government?

  29. Athena

    “2. The single most aggressive attack on Medicare has been the extension to 2020 of the freeze on GP payments : already, this has forced many GP’s to tell their bulk-billed patients that they can no longer afford to bulk-bill and will have to charge a co-payment, exactly what the coalition ordained in the 2014 budget.”

    Then doctors who don’t bulk bill will be labelled as money hungry pariahs.

    I also like the defence that privatisation of Medicare has never been brought before the cabinet. That doesn’t mean they aren’t planning it though.

  30. James Moylan

    Thank you for your comments (Jason and everyone).

    I agree with most of what the Labor Party stands for and agree with their actions that actually accord with these principles.

    Yes the Labor Party has a proud tradition of activism on behalf of the working man. They have almost always been a driving force in implementing positive change. However in the modern instance they have decided to be a mainstream centrist party. This is not my description – this is the description that they promote.

    And so I get to the point of my reply: I love the Labor movement with a passion. I love it far too much to allow the wonderful legacy of the movement to be debased by allowing the discussion to always be ‘pragmatic & economic’ in nature. That is not what the Labor Party originally stood for. In fact it was all about reclaiming the discussion on behalf of the values of the working man. I am of the ‘old school’ when it comes to where I stand on the battle between capital and labour and the best ways to describe and wage that battle. I like to call a spade a spade. Whereas the modern Labor Party now tends to work both sides of the fence.

    I do not deny that there are wonderful people in the Labor movement but that is not the modern Labor Party. Our right wing press and the big money end of town have chipped away at the ideology of the Labor party to the extent that they have abandoned even using the term ‘socialist’ and have simply decided to agree that ‘socialism’ is ‘bad’. The language we use is everything. It substantiates our values. Now no mainstream party (and I include the Greens) will even dare describe themselves as being anything but out-and-out capitalists. Nobody dares disagree with Rupert or the big end of town. Not only regarding what is right but also regarding what is important.

    So we need more progressive voices and parties in our discourse. Promoting arguments that are wedded to actual definitions rather than modern corporate and social mythologies. Being waged by individuals who are more interested in addressing the particularities of issues rather than just seeking out partisan opportunity.

    The modern Labor Party cannot stand up for traditional labour values in a vacuum. Without other independent voices and parties in the Australian parliament then it is apparent that the right wing press in our land, allied with the corporate sector and their LNP Public Relations arm, will continue to rule the roost. They will continue to both write the rule book as well as set the agenda.

    Without members of the progressive left standing up for the great accomplishments of our forebears then we will all be dragged down to the level of the pygmies that currently reside in our parliament. Note that I do not criticise the Labor party’s accomplishments but rather get angry about their backsliding. I don’t want a new Labor party: I want the one back – the one I was originally so enamoured with some forty years ago.

    So I am upset that I caused offence for failing to be descriptive enough, and precise enough, in my criticism. Although I do not retract any of my original observations I am sorry that I didn’t take enough time to make the article longer and more nuanced.

    The sad fact is that we will never defeat the bastards by becoming bigger bastards than they are. I feel we have to focus on refashioning the social argument itself if we want to foster a more equitable society living in a healthy environment.

  31. Athena

    “Note that I do not criticise the Labor party’s accomplishments but rather get angry about their backsliding. I don’t want a new Labor party: I want the one back – the one I was originally so enamoured with some forty years ago.”

    I assume you’re saying you want the old one back, and I agree, James.

  32. James Moylan

    ta Athena. I found it just as the ‘edit’ button disappeared. Yes. I want the old one back.

  33. helvityni

    I don’t want a New or Old Liberal party in power; I prefer an imperfect Labor party any time. I also like the Greens, I like their compassionate policies re asylum seekers, Windsor and Oakshott also get my blessing.

    We are all imperfect, the Liberals though are the most damaging to this country.

  34. Trish Corry

    James: So we need more progressive voices and parties in our discourse. Promoting arguments that are wedded to actual definitions rather than modern corporate and social mythologies.

    I think my main concern is there are many independents and minor parties who simply think we need more independent voices. Why? That alone does not create competition. Ideas do. A corner store sledging a large supermarket doesn’t make that store better to shop at – if we want to use the ‘Big two’ scenario to demonstrated. This corner store is not putting forward anything that will create a better Australia. Possibly they have good and challenging arguments on single issues, but not as a broad system of Governance.

    Whether people like it or not, Labor needs to Govern. They need to provide balance. People say that Labor isn’t the same Labor. However, there central tenets of consultation and negotiation and democratic leadership, are also the central tenets of collective and enterprise bargaining, brought to us by Hawke and Keating.

    As Keating said yesterday – Labor is not a protest party – they are a party of Government. With that comes responsibilities that the minor parties do not need to consider. It was evident how the Greens buckled under the pressure of this during the reform debate. Greens supporters may take a different view – but they were no longer the party of protest for the good, but the party who would do anything at all costs to get their demands. They have now expressed anger that the Liberals are placing Labor ahead of them in seats. If in some hypothetical situation the Greens ever did Govern – how would they withstand the pressures of politics and the various interest groups to hold onto that power? Would they never compromise? Would they not play the centre? For those who say no they would not – I say to you that they would – as they already have a record on that. DiNatale said the other day he would support a plebiscite if that is what took to get Marriage equality. If I was angry at the Greens before, you can damn well bet that I’m even more disgusted now. Politics is won in the centre, not on the fringes.

    When a party is rising up against 23 years of conservative rule – the protests will be louder and sharper, as the shift has moved too far to the right of what the status quo accepts.

    When a party is rising up against the harshest, repressive, workplace legislation this country has ever had, where employees had NO RIGHTS – then the protests will be louder and sharper, as the shift has moved too far to the right of what the status quo accepts.

    When the IPA convinced Abbott to shift the status quo as far to the right as possible – We saw massive uprisings with March in March.

    For those who criticise Shorten, the current Labor policies are more to the left than the R/G/R era. Yet the naysayers, never mention that. Shorten has united the party and the left in the party is growing. Shorten being a moderate – a negotiator, brings people together to compromise to work on the best solution for all. That is why Labor is NOT divided. That is real leadership.

    Although there are people within the party who oppose our current AS policy, they know that Shorten listens and there is a light on the hill to keep improving and shifting the status quo of what the community accepts. They don’t accept people drowning and they don’t accept harsh treatment. With the measures Labor has in place to protect asylum seekers offshore and resettle them – that is called a balanced outcome to a real issue which is defined theoretically as a ‘wicked problem’ (No solution will have a perfect outcome). As droll as the words sound – that is exactly what it is. You cannot Govern and change policy for the better on the sidelines.

    Parties disparaging Labor, rather than working with Labor, and making a false claim that their .67% of a vote in Parliament will change things for the better in a Turnbull Government does not even make sense and it will do nothing but assist to return conservative rule.

    This article appeals to the readership who seeks to do just that and that, is my concern with the the rise of the ‘Independent voice’ is it a loud voice based on platitudes, not progress.

    Talk to me – convince me why a seat in a Turnbull Govt will benefit Australia versus why a Majority Labor Govt won’t.

  35. Freethinker

    Trish, with respects I disagree with you, the Greens are not a protest party, they are a party with policies a party whit many supporters are an EX ALP.( I am one) a party more green that the ALP a party with more solid believes regarding the protection of the Medicare, a party that it is needed in the senate even if the ALP with on the HOR, because we the ex ALP supporters do not forget wen Bob Hawk proposed a $3.50 co-payment for people who were bulk-billed under Medicare in the August 1991 budget.
    The ACTU was the one that opposed the ACTU that Simon Crean try to have less power in the Cacus.
    Yes, the Labor is miles better that the coalition, it is in my second preference but remember that the moderate faction in the ALP have neoliberal ideology and can let us down if have control in both houses.’
    Remembering help making an educated vote.

  36. nurses1968

    Freethinker
    Greens
    A party 92% of the population refuse to vote for

  37. Athena

    “DiNatale said the other day he would support a plebiscite if that is what took to get Marriage equality. If I was angry at the Greens before, you can damn well bet that I’m even more disgusted now.”

    @Trish

    So if the Liberal Party wins the election and we’re faced with a plebiscite, does this mean the ALP will cut its nose off to spite its face because it can’t have marriage equality on its own terms? If the only way to get marriage equality is via a plebiscite, will the ALP vote against marriage equality? For how much longer can LGBTI people be expected to be the ALP’s political football?

  38. Athena

    “Greens
    A party 92% of the population refuse to vote for”

    Gee the ALP sure is devoting a lot of energy and $$$ to attacking such a seemingly insignificant opponent. Perhaps they need to refocus on the parties that 50% of the population votes for.

  39. Trish Corry

    When the 08% could be a difference between a strong, stable, progressive Government or a class dividing, austerity bringing conservative rule, it is extremely important when every seat counts. Are people able to get their heads into ‘today’ not what happened in the 80s or 90s or what they dream about in their whimsical fancy for the future. The election is in six days.

  40. Trish Corry

    8% – I’m trying to balance talking on the phone, with a mower going behind me and drink a cup of tea and eat food.

  41. Trish Corry

    Freethinker – you seem to have an issue with Simon Crean. I wasn’t a fan either. I did not agree that a centralised model of jobseekers can assist those the most disadvantaged jobseekers, I argue for specialised services. However, those days have long gone and the Libs have made it even harder for jobseekers and Labor has some serious work to do on this model of jobseeker assistance. Simon Crean resigned when Rudd refused to challenge Gillard and derailed the apology to adopted children and parents. He is no longer a sitting member. I’m not sure why you talk about him, like he is.

  42. Freethinker

    Trish I talk about him because there are many like him left in the party.

  43. Trish Corry

    and your evidence is based on……………?

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