Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Lucy Turnbull recently wrote a think piece in the Sydney Morning Herald triumphantly declaring that despite the Global Financial Crisis and the market excesses that led to that crisis, that capitalism is the only viable system we have for organising our economies. Well Lucy, I wonder if that is what those who survive by scrabbling for food in rubbish heaps in the Phillipines think? Or those in the townships in South Africa who have been waiting now for a very long time for better housing, education and health services? Or those in rural Australia who don’t get heard in the babble of an election contest when they try to talk about real issues, but the electorate is too busy wondering about Julia’s hair and Tony’s ears.? Bob Katter should have shaken the apologists for capitalism with his recent statement that after 12 years of Coalition Government implementing an economic rationalist and deregulatory agenda, there was a farmer suiciding every four days. What a great triumph for capitalism!

History tells us that capitalism is nothing without its opposite, socialism. Capitalism and Socialism should live in a perpetual duality, a balance. Socialism tempers capitalist excess. Capitalism can temper Socialism. Abolish, crush, abandon socialist ideas, and capitalist excess flourishes. Lucy simplistically talks about socialism as the command economies of Stalinism, but socialism takes many more forms and philosophies than the oppression of Stalinism. Interestingly in the first few years after the Russian Revolution, before the terrors of Stalinism took hold, the economy flourished, not just through the efforts of local Russian industrial, post war reconstruction but because of the co-operation with American and European Business. Not many people now remember that Henry Ford had a car factory in the Soviet Union in the 1920 and 1930s. The prosperity of the post war co-operative reconstruction was blown away by the terrible and stupid mistakes of Stalinism and the terror economy.

But socialism is much much more than this. Socialist ideas inspired the early trade unionists, and still inspire them today. Trade unionists know that they need a political party to take their demands forward in the realm of government, and so the Labor Party was formed. Socialist ideas underpin the formation of the Green Party. Small liberals in the Liiberal National Coalition espouse socialist ideas when they support welfare for the aged or single mothers. Without the regulation that socialism requires to achieve social objectives over economic rationalist objectives, deregulation allows the sharks and shonks of capitalism to rip people off. Greed is not good! And there is a price to pay down the track for all that greed, and we are now paying it. And there is more to come. The Global Financial Crisis is not yet over. On Four Corners on Monday 23rd August 2010, we were reminded that we are now living in the biggest bubble of all time. The PIGS countries, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are using borrowed monies to repay debts. The bubble is expanding. It is going to blow. And we are going to see the worst recession, if not depression since the Great Depression. And as Franklin Roosevelt taught us, the only way out of the coming recession or depression is the implementing of socialist based ideas and programs.

It is not fashionable to talk about socialism these days as the horrors of Stalinism in the 20th century equate socialism with death, destruction and economic decay. But socialism survives in all its inspirations and its forms. It must be defended, and so we must fight for the rightful place of unions in our society, and the achievement of the social democratic objectives of the left of centre political parties. The capitalist agenda of economic rationalism, globalisation and productivity and efficiency as the basis of the distribution of wealth have led us into the recent Global Financial Crisis and the coming Crisis. Unless we recognise the duality of Capitalism and Socialism there is a lot more pain in our economic life to come

Friday, August 13, 2010


Yahoo 7 News, 13.8.10

Bob Hawke says there is no way to "stop the boats" as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has claimed he will do to the asylum-seeking craft regularly arriving on islands off Australia's north-west coast.

The former Labor prime minister repeated his attack on Mr Abbott describing him as "mad as a cut snake" and said Australia needed people like those arriving by boat to claim asylum because they had initiative and courage.

Mr Hawke offered a range of thoughts across many issues to a Financial Services Council conference in Melbourne on Friday.

Mr Hawke admitted he had early concerns about Prime Minister Julia Gillard's re-election prospects but believed the Labor campaign was looking up for her now.

He also said there was no way to "stop the boats" as Mr Abbott has promised.

"We're all bloody boat people," he said.

"That's how we found the place."

Mr Hawke said he understood the frustration of many voters at "queue jumpers", but said "we have to look at the other side of the coin".

He said the coalition's approach to the boat people question was "nonsense".

"We cannot turn the boats back," Mr Hawke said.

"These people have got initiative, guts and courage and Australia needs people like that."

He pushed Indonesia as the location for an asylum seeker processing centre, saying it would be "fair enough, as long as the conditions there are humane".

Mr Hawke also spoke about his South Australian-based work with a centre focused on improving relations between the Islamic community and others, saying the real challenge for Australia in his eyes was not to "demonise Muslim people".

On the wider question of the August 21 poll, Mr Hawke was happy to admit the five week campaign had not started well for Labor, after a series of damaging leaks and the issue of former leader Kevin Rudd's rolling.

"Julia hasn't been able to shine in the first half of the campaign," he said, but he genuinely felt that Labor would win

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Red News Readers,

At last some information about what is happening with the nurses wage claim.

Jenny Haines

Public sector unions watch rail vote for wages guide


August 11, 2010

REPRESENTATIVES of the state's rail workers will vote today to either end their bitter industrial dispute with the state government or fight on with a possible strike on the eve of the federal election.

The workers have been offered a wage increase of just under 3.5 per cent a year over the next four years, less than the 5 per cent sought by their unions.

In return, the government and RailCorp have backed down on planned redundancies among train guards and security staff, though it is understood they continue to demand increased productivity. This is in keeping with the government's policy of keeping public sector wage increases capped at 2.5 per cent unless ''productivity gains'' can be made elsewhere.

Other public sector unions preparing for wage negotiations are watching the rail deal with interest, including the NSW Nurses Federation, which is seeking a 5 per cent annual increase over four years. It has rejected a productivity deal, saying its members are already so stretched ''there is nothing else to give''.

Rail chaos was averted when a tentative wage deal was reached early yesterday.

But strike plans still exist in the event about 400 union delegates at Trades Hall vote the proposal down. They include a 24-hour strike on the day before the federal election - an action that could seriously harm Labor's chances, particularly in crucial seats in western Sydney.

The NSW secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Alex Claassens, denied he was using the federal poll as political leverage to pressure the government.

''That's certainly not my intention,'' he said. ''I am hopeful that, even if the proposal doesn't get up, there will be an agreement reached before we have to take that action.''

Regardless of the outcome today, the rail deal raises questions about the state government's ability to keep its promise to stay under the 2.5 per cent cap.

In its 2010-11 budget, the government promised to keep expenses growth to 4.7 per cent a year - even though expenses had grown at 6.6 per cent for each of the four previous years.

Public sector employee costs - mainly wages - account for 43 per cent of the total expenses bill.

The pressure is now well and truly on, with unions unwilling, and in some cases unable, to find productivity gains to offset their desired wages increases.

The acting secretary of the nurses union, Judith Kiejda, said the association rejected the government's requirement that any rises over 2.5 per cent be offset by ''efficiency measures''.

''We believe we have put productivity savings into the system and that there is nothing else to give - that's how our membership are feeling,'' Ms Kiejda said.

The union is also seeking to have minimum nurse-to-patient ratios mandated under the award, which would force hospital managers to fill vacancies or close a ward.

Hospital managers would have to fill vacancies, including those created when staff take sick, parental or holiday leave, lessening the reliance on overtime and casual agency staff. Only a nurse or midwife of the same qualification would be permitted.