The Guardian October 31, 2001


Editorial:

Shameless pork-barrelling and an alternative

The major parties have hijacked the Federal elections with their 
shameless pork-barrelling and baby kissing. It is not surprising that many 
people are looking for an alternative.

When the details of their policies are looked at beyond the claims in the 
media headline, their promises turn out to be much less than appears on the 
surface. The Prime Minister's proposal to give a baby bonus for mothers who 
give birth after July 1 is a good example. 

That families need assistance cannot be denied. Sprinkling a few dollars 
here and there is not the answer. Parents need a comprehensive policy that 
embraces the needs of parents and their children from pregnancy through to 
adulthood.

That includes the availability of high quality, universally available 
public medical services with the adequate funding of public hospitals. 
Parents need high quality, accessible and affordable daycare centres, and a 
properly funding public education system including free tertiary education 
for their children. It also requires the provision of more sporting and 
cultural facilities. At the end of the process there needs to be secure 
jobs.

These goals can be achieved through proper funding, the abolition of the 30 
percent rebate on private health insurance, and the phasing out of the 
massive state aid that is handed out to private schools.

At present these basic necessities are not being attended to in a 
comprehensive way by the major parties.

The same goes for aged care. It has been reduced to the question of the 
number of beds available, to capital expenditure on buildings and also the 
provision of staff. In this issue of The Guardian we report the 
campaign of the Victorian Branch of the Nurses' Federation for substantial 
improvements in the wages and conditions of nurses in aged care facilities. 
They are at present grossly underpaid, working excessive hours and often 
not paid for overtime worked. The mere provision of buildings and beds will 
not suffice if staff are not trained or not retained because of atrocious 
working conditions.

The election campaign has served to bring one important issue out into the 
open  the Coalition's intention to proceed with the total privatisation 
of Telstra. The dodging and weaving, the lies and half truths of Howard, 
Costello, and National Party leader John Anderson cannot hide the reality 
that this has already been factored into the Coalition's plans should it be 
re-elected.

The situation underscores the importance of the Senate retaining a majority 
opposed to any further sell-off. So far the Labor Party, the Democrats and 
the Greens have come out against any further Telstra sell-off.

But Telstra is not the only issue that could be determined by those holding 
the balance of power in the Senate. The Howard Government has many 
reactionary and nasty policies up its sleeve, including plans to severely 
restrict democratic rights. The only barrier in Parliament that could stop 
a conservative legislative sweep lies in the position taken by Labor and 
those holding the balance of power. The other barrier is the actions of the 
Australian people outside parliament.

The question of who holds the balance of power in the Senate is important. 
It is with this in mind that the CPA is standing a Senate team in NSW and 
is giving its second preference to the Greens to be followed by several 
other progressive parties, then the Democrats followed by the ALP. Right-
wing parties and groups will get lower preferences with the Coalition and 
One Nation last.

Some might argue that the ALP should be put ahead of the Democrats because 
the Democrats voted for the GST and Peter Reith's industrial legislation. 
However, the Democrats have a much better position on refugees and the war 
than has the ALP. The other consideration is that in this election the 
balance of power in the Senate is better preserved by Green and Democrat 
representation than by One Nation. The position in the Senate would also be 
strengthened by the presence of communists.

The CPA has strong and substantial policies on the major issues of the day 
many of which have been outlined in this and previous issues of The 
Guardian. The CPA offers an alternative which calls for a new direction 
for Australian politics  one which gives priority to the needs of the 
Australian people.

To vote for the CPA team for the NSW Senate vote 1 above the line for group 
"N" on the Senate ballot paper. This automatically records your vote for 
the preferences that are outlined briefly above.
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