By Denis Bright
Editorial insiders at The Weekend Australian (28-29 January 2023) have telegraphed their displeasure at Jim Chalmer’s appeal for a commitment to Values-Based Capitalism as the clarion-call across the Labor Movement and the wider Australian society. The full text of Jim Chalmers’ essay is available online from The Monthly which offers one free article each month to interested readers.
This social market concept of Values-Based Capitalism was embedded into political values within the broader Australian Labor Movement over the generations. It was shared across the political spectrum in Roosevelt’s New Deal Programme (1933-45) and in the promotion of post-1945 recovery in Continental Europe after a decade of far-right totalitarianism and warfare.
Even conservative leaders like Germany’s Konrad Adenauer were strong supports of an active role for the state in economic and social development during the Cold War era.
Tensions have always existed within the broader Australian Labor Movement by a failure to define cross-factional Labor goals quite precisely.
Political values from the late Robert Menzies in his commitment to The Forgotten People stand in juxtaposition to social market values. Commitments to The Forgotten People evolved from radio talks which commenced on 22 May 1942 just before large Japanese submarines maneuvered off the Central Coast near Sydney to launch a float plane for aerial reconnaissance of Sydney Harbour prior to attacks by six two-man midget submarines on 31 May-1 June 1942 (John Perryman for the Australian Navy).
With the death of John Curtin on 5 July 1945 and the defeat of Ben Chifley at the 1949 elections, it was Robert Menzies commitment to The Forgotten People which became the mainstream capitalist values in post-war Australia. A fuller discussion of the concept of The Forgotten People is available online from the Menzies Institute with a commitment to hard-working middle-class people as the core support base for both the Liberal Party and post-war reconstruction. In practice, post-war Liberal leaders were far more pragmatic about policy agendas than this rhetoric suggested. The Banking Act 1959 achieved a degree of control over the financial system which would horrify the editorial department of The Australian today.
An Exaggerated Commitment to The Forgotten People
Labor’s definition of social market values for the future Labor Movement is a most welcome initiative from Jim Chalmers. Many potential heartland Labor supporters have drifted to the political wilderness since neoliberalism strengthened its hold over Australian politics in the post-1996 era through complete political apathy or a degree of tolerance with the populist rhetoric from the National Party and far-right parties. A segment of regional voters delivers informal votes or fail to enroll to vote after leaving high school.
This political alienation comes at a time when editorial insiders at The Australian lecture readers on a redefinition of market capitalism with a commitment to the values of corporate insiders from the top end of town to encode the values of political insiders controlling the many arms of the News Corp network.
It is a challenge to the contemporary social market agenda when the various arms of News Corp have such an atrocious record of legalized tax avoidance. Crikey summarized the situation over two years ago (11 December 2020):
Tax dodging News Corp continues to rip Australia off and is subsidised by taxpayers to do so.
News Corp retains its crown as a champion tax rorter, yet again paying next to nothing in tax despite billions in revenue.
Next time you see a News Corp employee or contributor, or a News Corp editorial, opining about fiscal policy in Australia, or how tax revenue should be spent, or how the economy should be run, there’s a simple question to bear in mind.
How much tax has the foreign-owned Coalition propaganda arm paid in tax in Australia in the five years to 2018-19? During that time News Australia Holdings has earned more than $360 million in profits from nearly $13.1 billion in revenue.
The answer, of course, is zero. It hasn’t paid a single cent in tax.
The epidemic of legalized tax avoidance receives regular updates from The Guardian, the Fairfax Press and ABC news networks. Since the change of government on 21 May, reporting of tax avoidance from ABC news networks have become more daring. However, News Corp is often below the full glare of reports because it is a US-based company on which members of the Murdoch family and their associates have a high concentration on the Board. (Market Scanner):
As with most top of the town US firms, shareholding in News Corp is strongly skewed to investment management firms who control the shareholdings across the military industrial complexes:
Major Shareholders in News Corp
|T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. (Investment Management)
|The Vanguard Group, Inc.
|Independent Franchise Partners LLP
|SSgA Funds Management, Inc.
|Yacktman Asset Management LP
|Southeastern Asset Management, Inc.
|Burgundy Asset Management Ltd.
|Dodge & Cox
|Hotchkis & Wiley Capital Management LLC
|BlackRock Fund Advisors
The largest firms in the US Military Industrial Complexes come from similar financial stables. Lockheed Martin claims to be producing 10 per cent of global armaments in the name of democratic freedom for export to the most gullible or opportunistic political stalwarts of the US Global Alliance.
General Dynamics is the major builder of US nuclear submarine along with the British firm BAE Systems which is the largest exporter of defence products to Europe and the world. US investment firms are prominent as major shareholders in BAE Systems with its defence and digital security arms that serve the global NATO network.
As a privileged media network, real estate and mass entertainment corporation, News Corp lectures Australians on the value of more high technology defence equipment without contributing to the purchase of this equipment through appropriate tax payments.
Contrary to the faith of editorial insiders at The Australian in neoliberal market capitalism, Jim Chalmers calls for a real change agenda in mainstream economic policy. After four major recessions since the early 1980s, the current inflationary problems, the challenge from global warming and species extinction, the COVID 19-health crises and the revival of strategic global tensions, Jim Chalmers warns Australians about compulsive addiction to neoliberalism as the contemporary cure-all that is still the political flavour for our times at the editorial department of The Australian.
Jim Chalmer’s call for a return to values-capitalism is in the long traditions of the Labor Movement which brought a majority reformist government to Australia as early as 1910 and again in 1914. As it approached the unsuccessful 1913 election campaign, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher noted the government’s record in setting up the Commonwealth Bank, plans for the transcontinental Commonwealth Railway, commitment fair wages and modest initiatives in social welfare such as old age pensions and maternity allowances. These initiatives were of course offset by commitment to the White Australia Policy, exaggerated loyalty to the British Empire and failure to recognize indigenous heritage.
In the absence of a contemporary definition of Labor values beyond rhetorical pragmatism, Labor’s primary vote has taken a dive particularly in Queensland and regional NSW where populism from the National Party on the far right and the Greens on the Left has its toll. Federally, Queensland is left with just five out of thirty federal seats and four out of twelve senate positions.
In the future, The Australian will of course continue to call for more shrill neoliberalism. Jim Chalmer’s essay will assist the Labor movement to encode values which are actually reincarnations of old traditions which predate those ANZAC traditions which were so important in re-defining LNP values in the post-1996 era with professional assistance from News Corp and the vast array of data collection on Australian society through YouGov and other opinion polling agencies which are released selectively by the Murdoch press.
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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