Australia: Storms ahead

Unions call for strikes against government’s industrial relations ‘reforms’

Prime Minister John Howard and the Liberals fought the last national election on the scare tactic that Labor in power would raise interest rates.

But well within a few months of the Liberal victory interest rates have risen. Australian families have to foot the bill of an average of $80 a month, with a further rise predicted in the next six months or so.

Interest rises serve to fill the coffers of the already super rich banks and to control prices and wages.

Socialists campaign for zero interest rates since the banks would be owned and controlled by the people.

Howard has warned of more economic hardship to come, with a possible slump in the housing market (which would mean an “inevitable” generalised slump in the economy). So workers have little to look forward to with the new Liberal government. They certainly won’t bask in the recent news that six Australians have made the latest ‘Forbes List’ of billionaires. Kerry Packer remains Australian richest person, with a personal fortune of $A6.3 billion ($US5 billion). But that only gets him to 94th place globally. Australian-born Rupert Murdoch is 49th on the list, with a fortune of $US7.8 billion ($9.8 billion) (Murdoch is listed as a US citizen and resident). Bill Gates still tops the list with ($US46.6 billion).

Australians remember that just a few years ago some of these individuals were bragging on TV that they pay $5 dollars a year in tax and that it is every Australian’s right to try to avoid paying tax!

All of the world’s billionaires have increased their wealth while most Australian families have suffered declining incomes, along with families from other ‘Advanced Capitalist Countries’ (ACC). In non-ACC countries families are often living on just a few dollars a day.

What socialists, and increasingly most working and middle class people, ask is what is ‘advanced’ about this growing wealth divide? You would think the capitalists would be content with this level of profit making and consequent inequality. Not so. For big business the drive for more profit, and impoverishing of working families, will continue.

For an all-Australia general strike!

On 1 July, the Liberals will take control of the upper house, the Senate, and, therefore, they will have control of both Houses. Howard has promised more Industrial Relations “reform”. Reform means giving the bosses the right to sack, on the spot, without compensation, workers in companies that employ 20 or less in their workforce. This is just the start!

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) complains that these reforms will impoverish Australian families. But just complaining will not stop these attacks.

Victoria State trade unions have called for industrial action on the 30 June, the day before the Liberals take control of the senate. This is to warn Howard not to go ahead with the Industrial Relations reforms.

We believe this should be an all-Australia wide 24 hour general strike.

Socialists and activists in the movement will now be campaigning for this action as a warning shot to the capitalists. We will not accept these vicious attacks. There are storms ahead in Australia.

Editorial from the April issue of ‘The Socialist’, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI Australia)

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April 2005