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Political situation in Australia

Australian political situation report

Political situation in Australia, satisfied 24%

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(October 2009 DSP National Committee plenum)


The DSP and Socialist Alliance are fighting against capitalism’s destructive environmental practices, its drive for profit at the expense of working people, its attacks on the rights of Indigenous Australians, its attacks on the civil liberties of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and its attacks, via the so-called anti-terror laws, on minorities such as the Tamils and Somalis.


The capitalist class is fighting to increase its profit margins by reducing wages and conditions, and trying to forestall any threat to their profits from pro-environmental measures the capitalist parties are forced to introduce as a result of mass pressure.


The general line of this report, presented by Rachel Evans on behalf of the DSP National, Executive was adopted by the DSP National Committee on October 3, 2009.


This report will assess the balance of class forces over the last period. How is the working class faring in the battle lines? What is the real state of resistance to the capitalist attacks?


The DSP, through the Socialist Alliance, is seeking to lead struggles to advance our class. How has our project of building both a more united socialist project and the social movements fared since our last meeting in June?


This report will lead into the party building report by Peter Boyle, which will go into the specifics around building a united socialist project – the Socialist Alliance.


This report will examine the three crises facing capital in Australia: the economic crisis, the crisis of political legitimacy, and the environmental crisis. It will touch on, but not go into any detail, on the social movements as they will be detailed in the specific 10-20 minute reports given on, Indigenous, union, women’s rights, queer and the environment movements. These sub reports will propose specific campaign objectives.


We are waging a battle for the hearts and minds of working people in the context of a relative collapse of the social movements. This is the backdrop to the small areas of resistance we are seeing. This is not to underplay the outbreaks that we see now. From little things, big things grow. The big question for us right now is can we can help forge a stronger organisation, as well as movements of resistance, in today’s Australia.


1. Economic crisis: Australia in recovery?


The ruling elite want to force workers to carry the burden of the economic crisis. The capitalist parties have to manage this implementation. Howard and Bush were severe neo-liberal players. They were also highly unpopular.


Capital has been forced to accept a softer face for its rule in Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama. Howard was also forced out on the back of a massive campaign against him – the anti-Work Choices campaign. Workers had had enough of Howard. In the February issue of Monthly magazine, Rudd positioned himself as a reformer against “extreme capitalism” and laid the blame for the current global financial crisis on neo-liberalism.


However, while seemingly lashing out against neo-liberalism, Rudd and the state Labor governments continue to implement neo-liberal austerity.


The Rudd government’s stimulus packages splashed gifts to large capital: there were effective subsidies to construction companies; and subsidies to retail via cash handouts to parents, pensioners and workers. But the “Harvey Norman” stimulus payments to working people – small as they were – did buy the Rudd government comparative favour compared to the US. In the US, the stimulus all went to the banks.


Well, have we been stimulated enough?


Has Australia bypassed this crisis? Bourgeois commentators are quick to argue that Australia has escaped the recession. Their aim is to return confidence in the market and to encourage working people to spend and increase debt. The latest retail figures show a slight success.


Certain economic indicators are pointing to a slow renewal of growth, but this doesn’t mean that the economic crisis — in Australia or elsewhere — is over. National accounts figures for the June quarter show a small growth of 0.6% in the economy, although this is partly down to government stimulus spending – retail sales figures and the extra tax offset for capital purchases.


Even with the government’s two stimulus packages, worth $52 billion, the “average person” has lost. $33,500 since December 2007, according to the July 16 Age. “Australian households have lost a total of $602 billion in the five quarters since the economic crisis took hold”, it said.


Read more: DSP

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