Monday, August 9, 2021

Labor: how can anyone call it an “Opposition”?

Written by: Nick G. on 10 August 2021 

The Labor Party’s latest act of deferring to the needs of the capitalist class has taken the unedifying form of support for the Government’s refusal to be transparent about which big corporations are refusing to pay back JobKeeper supplements, introduced at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Labor and the independents had said they would require the tax commissioner to publish the names of entities which received JobKeeper, the number of individuals for whom the entity received the JobKeeper payment and the total amount that they received, with the option of also publishing information about how much the entity has paid back. These are companies that predicted a downfall in sales because of the Pandemic, but which subsequently turned in big profits, meaning that they did not need to retain the JobKeeper payment. Only five companies have so far paid back the funds.

It is well-known that big exploiters like Gerry Harvey (of Harvey Normans) simply thumbed their noses at the suggestion that they pay back the money. The car dealership Eagers Automotives paid out more than 100 per cent of the $67 million they received in JobKeeper for July-December in shareholder dividends. Others gave CEOs, already on obscene levels of remuneration, huge personal bonuses. And this was public money meant to keep workers in jobs.

Labor announced yesterday (August 9) that it would withdraw support for the transparency measures, leaving independents and the Greens like shags on a rock.

It followed Labor’s capitulation over the proposed low and intermediate-level nuclear waste dump proposal. Instead of holding the line with the independents and the Greens and blocking the dump, Labor worked with the government on a compromise that would allow the dump at Kimba in SA to proceed in return for opponents having the right of appeal through the courts.  The Barngarla First Peoples, having been subjected to a racist exclusion from a community vote on the dump, are now faced with having to plead for funds.  Anticipating the possibility of being forced into a judicial review of the dump, they established a Go Fund Me appeal several months ago, hoping to raise $100,000. To date, they have raised just $5,232 (including a donation from our Party).  The have been thrown to the wolves by Labor.

Crawling at the heels of the Government like a dog with a broken back, Labor is so determined to achieve office by making itself indistinguishable from the Liberals that they finally junked their negative gearing policy (which promised at least a partial redistribution of wealth) whilst attaching themselves firmly by the leash to the Government’s scheduled tax cuts for high-income earners.

Here's a tip for the journos in the mainstream media: stop calling Labor “the Opposition”. An Opposition opposes. It is possible to do that even within the common acceptance of Parliament as the social institution of capitalism, and within the agreed framework of capitalism as the accepted economic system. 

The Greens can oppose the Government on most things.  So can Jacqui Lambie, Rex Patrick and others in the Senate, and some of the independents in the Lower House.

As an exasperated Senator Lambie said to Labor Senators on Monday, “You are supposed to be the Opposition. God, you've been doing it for eight years! No wonder you're still there! Stand up to them, because I can tell you that they won't be giving in by Thursday afternoon. Goodness me! Here you are, both Liberal and Labor, with all these staff, yet it takes the Independents and the micros to come up through the lot of you and call you out.”

And the determined and hard-working Senator Rex Patrick also addressed the Labor seat-warmers: “I think I said in the chamber last year that I was going to help you with your marketing. I'm going to buy you a dog. I am going to buy you a dog and it's going to be a dog that rolls over every time a Liberal Party member walks into the room, because that's exactly what you're doing here.”

We have said, and we say it again, the Labor Party is a party of capitalism.  It has no vision for an independent and socialist Australia.  It does not provide any leadership in the direction of these goals of the Australian people. The "Opposition" label pinned on the ALP creates illusions of democracy and choice, as well as illusions that Labor represents the working class and socially progressive policies.

That it can’t even badge itself as a fighting Opposition says heaps about its sole goal of obtaining the fruits of holding office for the imperialists who really run Australia.

Its unwillingness to even play the role assigned to it as an Opposition, will give further credibility to the need for an independent working class agenda led by a real party of change, a party that will always stand by the right of the people to struggle and win.

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