The experiment of government and business being hand-in-glove has failed.
In the relentless pursuit of profit, businesses have reneged on their part of the social contract.
In the pursuit of endless growth, and pandering to big money donors, government has ignored its duty to act in the best interests of the people.
When unions and government collaborate, we get social advances like Medicare, superannuation, paid parental leave, sick leave, annual holidays, workplace health and safety regulations, workers compensation, awards and penalty rates. We get increased spending on health, education and social security, and consideration of environmental impact and sustainability.
When business and government collaborate, we get stagnant wages, job insecurity, rising inequality, workplace deaths and injuries, environmental vandalism, and obscene salaries and bonuses for management. We get bribery, corruption, kickbacks and cronyism.
The Royal Commission into Trade Unions uncovered inappropriate behaviour by a few individuals.
The Royal Commission into the Financial Sector has revealed deliberate fraudulent activity systemic throughout all the major institutions.
People who may, or may not, have been paid too much by Centrelink are pursued mercilessly while foreign bribery cases by large corporations fizzle out and tax avoidance is considered an art form.
We are witnessing a global trend where the share of aggregate income accruing to capital is rising while that accruing to labour is falling. At the same time, globalisation and free trade have flourished while unions have languished. Governments have been bought off – if not literally then certainly ideologically.
The voice of big business has shouted down that of the people. We are told that, because our lives have improved incrementally while their profits have soared exponentially, we should be thankful – completely ignoring the contribution improvements in labour productivity and technology have made to their increased wealth.
At every turn, we see business lobbyists manipulating government policy to protect their ever-increasing profits. Yet should their actions create problems, they cry out for public assistance eg the bank guarantee and drought assistance for farmers who have engaged in rampant land-clearing.
Industries like coal-mining, gambling, alcohol, tobacco, arms manufacture, agribusiness, property development and big pharma insinuate themselves into the halls of power to fight against any regulation.
The same people appear as directors of multiple companies and then on government-appointed reviews. They live in a circle of affirmation, listening only to those who confirm they are doing the right thing.
Time after time, we see government money gifted to companies with no oversight or evaluation – the Great Barrier Reef being fertile ground for many a rort, for example. We see assets and essential services sold off for short-term sugar hits to the budget but long-term pain for the people.
Businesses, as a consequence of their own greed and corruption, no longer deserve a seat at the table.
When government and big business collude, the people are powerless to stop them.
Until election day.