As Australia heads for an election, and the outcome will still have considerable importance, even if many feel alienated from the campaigning.
The reason is straight forward. With the consolidation and deepening of longer term economic, social difficulties and global warming, Australia is approaching a crossroad, as to which direction we are going to go along into the future. We are not quite there yet. But this particular election has some bearing on how we are going to approach this crossroad.
The legacy of government policies applied over some time, is that many are suffering the consequences to their livelihood, conditions of work, fundamental rights and the environment. Immediate relief from some of these consequences is needed.
The question before us now, is whether there is going to be a break from the policies of the Liberal National Party Coalition, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. They can be summed up, by saying they amount to continuing on the same road, only in an even harsher way than before.
Their policies based on the pursuit the economic, social and environmental direction of neoliberalism, which has at its core, the ongoing re-distribution of income upwards, consolidating the power of the banks and other financial institutions over the Australian economy and society, protection of the fossil fuel economy and opposition to a clean transition, the ongoing slide in our democratic rights, coupled with promotion of the politics of hate against vulnerable sections of the Australia community.
Are we going to continue with this, or are we going to begin a journey on a different road?
Labor, the Greens and a few other minor contenders are at least tilting in this alternative direction.
Labor has promised more people friendly policies, more outlay on a range of services, ensuring that the richest 20 percent pay their share of tax, has a better position in relation to democratic rights and the politics of hate, and has offered more to lower the carbon print and working for a renewable economy. Even if some would like to see Labor go further, there is enough on offer to provide some immediate benefits for the majority.
The Greens go considerably further on all counts.
On the other hand, they are not placed to get the support they would need to become the government. This does not mean that they do not deserve support. They clearly do, and in particular, where they have a stronghold, it is legitimate to support them. The better they do, the stronger their contribution to the Australian political scene.
Nevertheless, it remains that in the big picture only Labor is in a position to form the new government.
And there are long term implications with this election.
The defeat of the Morrison government brings the potential to begin a journey that will lead to bigger change in the future, because it has the potential to strengthen the forces for change, and isolate those pushing for Australia to remain a society where inequality, greed and hate dominate.
Progress would be best served by an alliance of Labor, the Greens and others, based on a clear-cut program to move Australia forward. This is not just about political parties. With their Change the Rules Campaign , the unions have provided an indication of what could be.
Bringing together political parties, unions and the community sector will help to provide an organised framework for change, and this election can help make this come about.
Building the future rests on democratising society, by shifting power downwards, and recognising that political power exists through the whole of society, and not just in the parliament and system of government. Without this extension, democracy exists on paper and in practice seriously restricted. This reality power exists in all parts of society, means that it really remains in the hands of a few.
This is why they are able to continue to apply policies and measures, even when few people support them, and why so many have become alienated from the political system.
Power must be transferred from the minority and put into the hands of the majority.
This the road to a more humane, inclusive and participatory society, which would ensure that all share justly in the rewards, provide the best conditions to ensure justice for the First Australians, put an end to social division through scapegoating, ensure our sovereignty as a society and our place in the world, and that Australia properly takes on the crisis of global warming.