Australian Labor Party leader engages in big business restructuring and US militarism

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In two speeches at business rallies this week, Australian Labor Party opposition leader Anthony Albanese vowed a Labor government would outdo the nine-year-old Liberal-National government in pushing through ‘economic reform’ profit-driven and preparing for war.

Albanese’s speeches, following feature film promotions in corporate media, are part of his speech to the ruling class in support of a union-backed Labor government to quell growing discontent in the working class.

Labor Party Leader Anthony Albanese [Credit: @AlboMP, Twitter]

The increasingly discredited government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison is wracked with infighting and plots to impeach Morrison. He is facing growing popular disgust at his refusal to protect people from devastating floods, in addition to his dire record throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2019-2020 bushfire disaster. Soaring inflation, compounded by the US-NATO confrontation with Russia, is fueling further anger over falling real wages and soaring social inequality.

Addressing the Australian Financial ReviewAt the March 9 “New Platform for Growth” business leaders’ conference, Albanese pledged to “take over the Great Australian Reform Project” implemented by the Hawke and Keating Labor governments from 1983 to 1996.

Like Hawke and Keating, a Labor government would foster “consensus” between governments, unions and business to produce growth and “greater corporate profits”. Albanese boasted that the “great reform Labor governments of the 1980s and 1990s” had used “reform in areas like competition” to “achieve huge productivity gains”.

All unions have worked hand in hand with these Labor governments to inflict harsh pro-market restructuring on workers – decimating jobs and conditions, privatizing public services, smashing rank-and-file resistance and coercing workers into anti-union laws. -strike.

Albanese went further, adopting the mantle of former Coalition Prime Minister John Howard, whose government from 1996 to 2007 exploited Labor laws and measures to continue the assault on working class conditions.

Without naming Howard, a hated figure who lost his own parliamentary seat in 2007, Albanese said, “A former Liberal prime minister once said that in the race for economic reform, you’ll never reach the finish line. because it was always moving forward and there would always be something else to do to make our economy stronger and more productive.

Albanese said: “I agree. It’s always a race, the race for improvement. He accused the current coalition government of “giving up ground” and running out of “ideas”, “puffs” and “time” after a “lost decade”.

Betraying nervousness over developing working-class unrest, Albanese repeated a refrain that has featured in all of his recent speeches. “I am not proposing a revolution,” he said. “I am looking for a revival.”

The Labor leader pledged to reverse the last decade of “inertia and complacency” to renew “the dormant national project to create wealth in a way that benefits all Australians”.

This assertion of “trickle down” is a long-tested myth of capitalism. As the past four decades demonstrate, the creation of “wealth” has only benefited the super-rich, whose fortunes have doubled again during the pandemic. This has come at the direct expense of working people, who have paid the price through deteriorating working and living conditions, record levels of household debt, widespread poverty and deteriorating social programs. , including public health and education.

As with all of Albanese’s recent speeches, this one was heavily laced with reactionary nationalism. He promised to boost ‘Australian industry’ via a ‘National Reconstruction Fund’, ‘massive’ government purchasing power and a ‘Buy Australia 10 point plan’.

This partnership with big Australian business will only serve to pit workers against their colleagues internationally. This will bind them to corporate demands for sacrifices in the name of “global competitiveness,” deepening attacks by unions since the 1980s.

Albanese aligned Labor with growing criticism from business leaders themselves that the coalition government has not exploited the pandemic enough to launch a new offensive against workers. Morrison told the same event that his government wanted to return to the pre-pandemic “normal” of a business-driven economic model, while the Labor Party pledged to work with unions to impose far-reaching restructuring.

An editorial in the Australian Financial Review welcomed Albanese’s pledges but demanded he also commit to the “strategic imperative” of “workplace reform” – a euphemism for more aggressively dismantling jobs, job security and the basic conditions.

The following day, March 10, Albanese spoke on “national security” at the Lowy Institute, a corporate think tank. It doubled down on Labor’s historic role as the party called to power in wartime to preside over the abrupt geo-strategic shifts and national sacrifices necessary for the “war effort”.

He begins by reciting excerpts from a speech given in March 1942 by Labor Prime Minister John Curtin for broadcast on American radio, in which Curtin declares that Australia is “looking to America” ​​after the outbreak of war against Japan.

Curtin’s show marked the shift of the Australian ruling class, as a junior imperialist power, from its previous reliance on the British Empire to its reliance on US imperialism. Albanese used Curtin’s words to reiterate Labour’s role as the initiator of the American alliance, which has remained a “central pillar” of Labour’s foreign policy.

On the war front, as on the home front, Albanese vowed that a Labor government would go beyond the coalition government. First, he pointed to the bipartisan support of Labor at every step, including the strengthening of intelligence agencies, taken by the coalition to prepare for a US-led war against China.

In particular, Albanese highlighted Labour’s support for the AUKUS pact with the US and UK – an alliance aimed at China – and the related acquisition of long-range nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States. USA or UK. Labor’s swift support for the unprecedented purchase of nuclear submarines proved the “maturity” of the party, he said.

Albanese then echoed criticism within the military intelligence apparatus that the Coalition had not done enough. He pledged to review the delayed frigate program, consider increasing the number of air warfare destroyers, assess weapon upgrades on offshore patrol vessels, consider tomahawk missiles on submarines. existing sailors and to fill the “capacity gap” caused by the delay in the arrival of nuclear submarines. .

Speaking just after the government said it would spend $10 billion on an AUKUS submarine base and $38 billion to expand the size of the armed forces, Albanese vowed to match the government in increasing spending military “beyond” 2% of gross domestic product. In addition, he made an open-ended commitment to ensure the military “has the resources it needs to defend Australia and deter potential aggressors”.

Albanese stressed that there was no difference between Labor and the government on arms supplies to NATO for the war in Ukraine and anti-China policy. He said China had ‘failed in its special responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council’ in the Ukraine crisis and offered Russia relief from sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies .

As if to respond to commentators, like the Australian editor Paul Kelly, who questioned his lack of a ‘national security’ track record, Albanese recalled that he was a minister in the Gillard Labor government who ‘brought US Marines’ to the strategic city of north of Darwin. As a shadow minister, he had opposed the 2015 lease of Darwin’s civilian port to a Chinese company, for which US President Obama had chastised the coalition government.

Likewise, Albanese dismissed any suggestion that he was deviating from his record as a longtime leader of the so-called “leftist” faction of Labour. He dismissed a remark by Lowy Institute director Michael Fullilove that “probably as a young man you didn’t go to Parliament to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.” In the first line of his speech, Albanese emphasized that he considered “the security of our nation” to be “the most solemn responsibility of any government.”

Albanese’s performance and generally positive response from ruling circles is another warning of the preparations for a union-backed Labor government as a means to continue the war and impose the resulting deep attacks on class conditions. factory Girl.

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