Well it’s probably already known by readers that the Liberal party (conservative, U.S. Republican party supporting) won with an increased majority in the Australian federal elections. I’m going to try to avoid the punditry and over analysis typical of many blogs as to why that happened due to support/rejection of a particular policy proposed by dweedle-dum or dweedle-dee. Most worrying is that the Liberals may have both houses of parliament under their control.
Well it’s probably already known by readers that the Liberal party (conservative, U.S. Republican party supporting) won with an increased majority in the Australian federal elections. I’m going to try to avoid the punditry and over analysis typical of many blogs as to why that happened due to support/rejection of a particular policy proposed by dweedle-dum or dweedle-dee. Most worrying is that the Liberals may have both houses of parliament under their control. Clearly Labor (sic) didn’t deserve to win, their preferencing the fundamentalist Family First party ahead of the Greens in Victoria may have cost them a progressive senate seat and thereby a balanced senate.
The Greens look to have increased their Senate representation with Christine Milne very likely added to Dr. Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle. Dr. Bob is calling Rachel Siewert in W.A. and Drew Hutton getting the seat in Queensland. I’m not so sure in W.A. but I’m working on 77.7% results from the ABC. The cynical opportunism of Labor and the hypocrisy of the Democrats in directing preferences away from Greens show just how disconnected both of those parties have become between their platform, words and their actions. Those parties have paid the political price, but unfortunately the Australian people will bear the brunt of those decisions.
For me, this election was very similar to the U.S. 2002 congressional election in that the Australian people bought the lies of the Liberal-National coalition completely without realising the existing balance of power reined in the ruling party. Cheney (the real president, although perhaps not the guy Bush was listening to on the radio) was not able to plunge the world into such calamity until he had control of both congressional houses and the executive branch (the judicial branch is next on the agenda if he sneaks over the line Nov. 2nd).
Already there have been a worrying U.N. voting record of Australia now backing Zionist fascism in Palestine. This in itself antagonises the already poor view of Australia by the rest of the world as a racist country that persecutes it’s Aboriginal population, condones hate-speech against Asians, swaggers sheriff-like in it’s foreign policy postures towards Asia, and abrogates it’s environmental obligations at Kyoto. We should not breathe a sigh of relief that Howard does not intend to increase Australian troops in Iraq, we can expect other less obvious signs of Australian complicity in American imperialism.
Once Howard resigns (now almost certain since the opposition leader Latham made such a big deal about it and it didn’t hurt the vote) and Costello takes over, gone will much pretext to old school conservatism, we can expect more of the business uber-alles global monopolist agenda, but in a more naked, brutal form. This will take the form of radical privatisation and/or removal of social services (particularly the pension to counteract the ageing population), a gutting of what few labour and environmental protections (the Tasmanian strategy of dividing organised labour) that still exist and rapid embrace of globalisation starting with the U.S. FTA. That will have the effect of decreasing wages by increasing outsourcing, most pointedly wiping out Australian tertiary industries as they will not be able to compete with U.S. mega-corporations – good-bye tech sectors. Don’t believe me? Look what happened to Argentina under the Menem government.
Look also to Costello pushing through a revived Republican debate, his own agenda having the express goal of creating a popular president, thereby hampering Australia with yet another politician who can intervene to thwart the parliamentary decision making system (exercising veto over signing legislation into law, at the moment it’s an automatic rubberstamp, unless you are John Kerr). The separation into executive and legislative branches will be the beginning of the end of representative democracy and the rise of entrenched elitism.
With the gathering threat of the fundamentalist agenda (The Christian Democrat, Family First, CEC and One Nation) we can expect a resurgence of the culture wars that the U.S. is already under as this bigotry becomes more politically sharpened and jabbed at the Liberal-Nationals in the setting of social policy. Expect increasing attacks on government pro-choice provisions, attacks on the support of non-traditional family structures, attacks of cultural production challenging societal assumptions and scapegoating of immigrants as causes of problems. For the Liberal-Nationals such culture wars fulfil the role of taking the commentary away from their eating away at the supports of the Australian economic and social system which once proudly held egalitarianism and the principle of “a fair go” as the ultimate test of national success.
In the words of Lenin, “what is there left to do?”, the answer is “Much!”. This is not a cry of pessimism, but of accurate assessment of the coming battles to be fought. The strength of the Greens vote shows that an increasing number of Australians recognise the two party system is not a solution, neither is a parliamentary system nor even a good electoral system (unlike the U.S.) the only form of political expression allowed of the population. The work has been made much harder now for all who view where Australia stands within a world community, rather than those who view it as an isolated island on the arse-end of the world. But in a similar way to the U.S. and Argentina where things must get much worse before the docile middle-class wakes up and realises the term middle-class is just a bourgeois obfuscation and co-opting of the term working class, it will take at least another three years of suffering under neo-liberalist globalisation policies.
We must not wait until that time before Australia has another chance to change that agenda. The change must begin immediately by continuously and loudly demanding the government and parliament respond to the demands of all of it’s population, reinforcing that a parliament and a government is a servant, not a master, of the people.