Australia goes to the polls on Saturday, and this election is more important than most. Australia’s interests are best served with the defeat of the Morrison government. This means casting one’s vote for Labor, the Green, or independents. This may not in itself bring about the changes needed. But it will be a step in the right direction, with the potential to open to new possibilities.
Labor may or may not win a majority. Whichever it is, there is a compelling argument for a coalition with the Greens and independents. This will assist the debate over Australia’s future direction, something that has obviously been missing up till now. Attention to this will generate hope and expectations, and the possibility of Australia achieving much more than the election promises.
This year’s election campaign has failed to inspire. The two major parties have presented similar views on most of the big questions. Both remain committed to the neoliberal view of the economy, share a United States aligned foreign policy, and lack in moving towards carbon net zero carbon emissions. They share an ingrained conservatism that seeks to maintain the two-party political system in the face of a changing reality.
Campaigning has taken the form of name calling, rather than winning support for policies.
Consequently, much of Australia is unimpressed and the political bases of these parties are eroding. It is doubtful that either will attract many more votes than last time and may even get fewer. Candidates from outside these camps are likely to be winning most of the shifting votes.
Even so, the reality today is that the only viable alternative government can be either Labor or a coalition led by Labor. Even the biggest sceptics must accept this simple fact.
A change of government should be seen as only the first step. It doesn’t end on election day. The need to put Australia on a new direction will remain. With the worst of the Morrison government removed, the possibility to build consensus to g o further will be improved.
Attention must be given to ensuring higher wages and more jobs. Far more must be done to deliver affordable housing to every Australian. The pandemic has shown that a lot more must be invested the public health system. The financial system must be properly regulated to ensure it operates in Australia’s interests and puts an end to the tax avoidance industry. The Australian economy must be rebuilt around the needs for carbon elimination sustainability, the reconstruction of manufacturing. Everyone should have an income that provides them enough for an adequate standard of living as a basic right.
Underlying everything, should be fairness in the distribution of the wealth of the nation and ensuring that everyone contributes according to their capacity.
These goals meet the pressing needs of today.
Just as important are measures to shift power relationships. One place is at work. The right to adequate pay and conditions, and the right to be a member of and represented by a union should be guaranteed by law. There must be a move to build workplace democracy, meaning, the rising of structures that give a voice to every member of an enterprise in making important decisions.
Outside work, the shifting of power relationships means building the means for direct participation of citizens in new political structures that give them the right to take an active part in decision making and implementation, as well as supervise the performance of political leaders and hold them accountable.
None of this is going to come out of this week’s election. But the election can help stop Morrison’s offensive against ordinary Australians.