Unions and the ALP

Mike Seccomb from The Saturday Paper argues that plotters are using the labour movement as a means to amass power, and a result unions have become vulnerable to rorting and the erosion of workers’ rights.  You can read the rest of the piece here:

Inequality hurts economic growth

A growing body of evidence around the world suggests that inequality hurts economic growth. A new report from Labor's Chifley Research Centre finds that inequality rose in Australia in recent years, with damaging economic consequences. A link to the report is here.  Alternatively, you can read the Guardian's take here.

Redeeming Australian Labor

"If they’re to have any chance of reviving, Australian unions need to abandon backroom deals and activate their rank-and-file," argues Simon Copland in Jacobin.  "Last month’s Australian election has apparently given the country’s union movement reason to celebrate. Labor leaders are trumpeting what they see as the rejection of the Turnbull coalition government’s 'destructive policies' and the important role unions played in anti–Liberal Party campaigns across the country.

"The coalition’s reduced majority seemed unthinkable only ten months ago when Malcolm Turnbull rose to power. And, in many ways, the election can be seen as a remarkable turnaround for a labor movement that has been under attack for years.

"Some will blame the Australian labor movement’s decline on a 'wide-ranging attack' launched by 'the establishment,' but these problems go right to the heart of the movement itself."  Continue reading the rest of this article here.


Is capitalism dead?


It is increasingly clear that political and economic verities are under strain. In May, Yanis Varoufakis argued that capitalism is dead and that we now have financialisation and bankruptocracy. And, closer to home, Richard Denniss (The message was clear,.Brexit, Trump and the federal election show how the old categories of left and right are crumbling The Monthly) argues:  

... the neoliberal agenda is failing badly at ballot boxes around the Western world.

The old world order of the Washington Consensus has broken apart more quickly than a new one has been built, but the lack of a clear path forward in no way diminishes the significance of the collapse in public support for free trade, trickle-down economics and the privatisation of essential services. The new “right-wing” populists are hostile to all that the neo-liberals held dear.

Open Laborers take note. But is it a positive or a negative without a clear social democrat economic strategy?

Your vote and the existential threat


Let me put my politics out front. I am a member of the Labor Party actively supporting the return of a Federal Labor Government. In particular I support Anthony Albanese, to be returned as the member for the Federal seat of Grayndler. Recent adjustments to the seat's boundaries mean possible Greens inroads. But I want to vote for a Party that has some chance of forming a Government, not to register a PROTEST.

As I canvass support in the electorate a number of people have said, 'I am voting Green because I cannot abide Labor's policy on asylum seekers.'

If there is time I point out that my branch, Leichhardt, has both voted for motions to National Conference and conducted stalls indicating our opposition. Anthony Albanese, made clear his opposition to the Party's platform by voting against it very publicly at that Conference.

But I want to encourage those who plan to vote for the Greens because they approve of their policies on asylum seekers to think again.

There are two issues on which to test the best way to vote: policy on asylum seekers and on climate change.

In the grand scheme of things which is the greater existential threat? How did the Greens balance these issues?

In August and December 2009 the Greens TWICE voted against an Emissions Trading Scheme. It can be argued that vote led directly to the election of the Coalition Government opposed to any sane policy on climate change.

In May 2011 the Greens moved in the Senate to oppose the, regional, so-called 'Malaysian solution' in which orderly arrangements would be made to bring five recognised asylum seekers from Malaysia for each person who arrived by boat being sent back into the 'queue' (4000 for 800).

What is their latest policy position on asylum seekers? A regional solution.

I won't go into the support just given to reform of Senate voting after which the Greens were played for mugs. They didn't see Malcolm's ultimatum to the cross bench to commit hara kiri coming.

Nor will I mention the planned preference swaps designed, not to knock off Coalition MPs, but to be able to spend huge sums of public money on seats held by Labor.

Phil Drew,

Secretary, Leichhardt ALP Branch

Voters deserve to know: show us the money

Friend of Open Labor, Maxine McKew, here argues that politicians on the election trail need to come clean about where their campaign funds come from:

"It's on again. The tin is being rattled and the begging letters are going out to all and sundry. Ah, what bliss it is to be alive in the days of the group email and the megaphone of Facebook. But like much else in Australia today, election campaign financing is a hierarchical business – decided by the few on behalf of the many."  Read more here.

Shorten is growing into the job

“So if you’ve got good ideas, why not talk about them? I think voters are looking for more authenticity, more sincerity. I think they’re disillusioned with politics in Australia. I want to help combat the cynicism that Australians can’t control their politics or have a say over the future of the country… Put your ideas out on the table.”  Bill Shorten speaks to Karen Middleton in The Saturday Paper.  From the same publication, Jim Middleton argues that Malcolm Turnbull has shown a lack of commitment to democracy, in spite of his attempts to push senate reform through.

Race, class, jobs and the 2016 earthquake

"This is the year that the mass degradation of the terms of work finally got acknowledged by the experts, and belatedly became politicized. Yet the political fallout is up for grabs — between Sanders on the left, Trump on the right, and Hillary Clinton in the center, who is frantically endeavoring to catch up with public opinion and worker frustration — and serve as a credible spokesperson for something better."   Here, the Huffington Post examines the political implications of the changing nature of the workforce.

More Labor soul searching: Canberra Times

Our push for openness and renewal of both membership and ideas within the ALP has been noted by the Canberra Times: "Open Labor, which sees itself as a loose network of members and not a faction, says the party's structures and rules too often serve the interests of those who hold power and not the wider communities they purport to represent.  Discussion ranges across the ALP's relationship with unions and the Greens, to policy development and factional control of pre-selection processes."