Are the ALP leaders determined to lose the next election?
Recent statements by several leaders of the Labor Party give the impression that they are determined to lose the next election despite the lying of the Howard Government and its concerted attacks on education, health care and every other aspect of social security and welfare. The ALP still refuses to make a commitment to abolish the private health insurance subsidy by which billions of taxpayers' money is being ploughed into the pockets of the private insurance companies and used to prop up private hospitals. The rebate could and should be redirected to the public health system. Then only last week Simon Crean ruled out an increase in the Medicare levy — another means by which funding could be found so that bulk-billing and the whole basis of Medicare as a universal health care system could be preserved. The ALP has quietly dropped its opposition to the GST which signals that it has no intention of removing the iniquitous GST but would continue its operation. No single piece of legislation has so severely discriminated against the working people of Australia, imposed such a massive increase in the tax burden on low and middle income earners and resulted in substantially increased prices. Mark Latham has added to the perception that there is practically no difference between the economic and social policies of the ALP and the Liberal/National Party Coalition by parading an economic policy based on "the rigour of private sector competition and the demands of corporate social responsibility". Latham's policy prescription is called "A Strong Economy for a Fair Society". To talk about "private sector competition" and "corporate social responsibility" is plain nonsense. "Competition policy" was introduced at least a decade ago by Paul Keating but what has actually been achieved by this policy apart from deregulation and privatisation? The Commonwealth Bank was privatised. It has since sacked many thousands of workers, imposed a multitude of ever-rising fees, closed branches and massively reduced services to customers. These are the "achievements" of this policy. In what way has the privatisation of Australian airports, water supplies, rail transport, etc. increased competition? And how did the sackings and higher fees benefit customers? Where is the "corporate social responsibility" of Ansett towards its workers who are still waiting for their entitlements after almost two years. Many other workers have also been stripped of their long service leave, superannuation, holiday and sick leave entitlements by employers who have conveniently become insolvent? Mark Latham is totally committed to private enterprise and merely mouths off about a "Fair Society" aiming to deceive the Australian people into believing such catch-cries have some meaning when, in practice, they mean nothing. Latham declares that a market economy, (meaning a capitalist economy), is here to stay. He and almost all other Labor Party parliamentarians have given up all pretence of putting forward a socialist or even progressive alternative as the founders of the Labor Party once did. To top it all the Labor Party cannot find the means to offload Simon Crean as its leader when all the evidence shows that he is the most unpopular Labor Party leader ever. The reality is that the Labor Party is bereft of a leadership that is capable of really standing up for the working people of Australia. Even the Labor Party Left has become almost indistinguishable from the right-wing factions and fails to enunciate or stand up consistently and forthrightly for people friendly policies. A left and progressive alternative must be found and built if there is to be any worthwhile solutions to the many economic and social problems that are piling up. This alternative is not a pipe-dream. The people of South Africa, Venezuela and Brazil have already put their feet firmly on the path of serious change in the interests of the working people and the poor in society and the working farmers who are also facing very serious economic and environmental problems that cannot be overcome by mere band-aids. This is the path for the Australian people to take, and the sooner the better.Back to index page