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Issue #1580      February 6, 2013

Editorial

Gillard’s election call

The corporate media have talked about little else since Prime Minister Gillard announced that the federal election will take place on September 14. Gillard used her National Press Club speech last week to spring the news. She said the record long lead-in had been decided upon so as to provide a more stable environment for “... individuals and business, investors and consumers, to plan their year”, free from “... speculation about election timing.” Speculation about the date has certainly been short-circuited but musing on the motives behind the announcement appears to have completely overtaken the commentariat. The distracted atmosphere has been heightened by questioning of the timing of the resignations in recent days of two high-ranking ministers in the Gillard government.

Maybe the announcement was intended to provide a bit of cover for the bombshell to be dropped the following day – the arrest of Craig Thomson and his extradition to Victoria to face a staggering 149 charges relating to the alleged misuse of Health Services Union funds. Liberal Senator Eric Abetz insists Gillard had prior knowledge of the arrest and it is true that the event would have featured more prominently in the media if so many column inches weren’t devoted to the surprise election announcement. There can be little doubt, however, that the HSU scandal will drag on with the Opposition doing its best to link the corruption to the way the ALP works. Unfortunately for the union movement, there will be a lot of truth in what they say and it points to the urgent need for the cutting of unions’ party affiliations in the interest of workers.

Others believe the announcement was supposed to draw attention away from the rest of the content of the National Press Club speech itself – the lack of detail about the cuts to be made in the May budget, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the National Plan for School Improvement, which she says is being pursued to ensure “... quality teaching and learning, power for principals, new transparency on results and in return, the future funding arrangements which will meet the needs of every student.” Gillard clearly hasn’t finished with market-based “reforms” for education.

Many are convinced Gillard’s strategy team sprang the early announcement to thwart pro-Rudd forces and any plans they might have had to challenge one more time for the leadership. Gillard’s popularity in the polls is alarmingly low and some polling suggests Labor could lose the election by a margin of 37 seats. And so the speculation goes on.

The supposed “masters” of this political process, the voters, are being groomed by the media industrial complex to exercise their “choice” – more neo-liberal social engineering under Labor or even harsher austerity and theft under the Coalition. Many will protest this lack of real choice and vote Green despite the compromises that party made in its period of loose coalition with Labor. A real choice, one that would seriously challenge the dominance of the pro-corporate, pro-wealth agenda, one that will empower workers and communities rather than the monopolies, will not be ready to take part in September’s contest.

The reasons for this lack of readiness read like a catalogue of the failings of the left in Australia in recent decades – a lack of focus on the organisation of the working class, a lack of unity about the need for socialism, a lack of unity in action around agreed campaigns. The Communist Party has not been influential enough to make a big impact on that situation. A strong Communist Party in a strong united front movement is therefore a top priority for serving up a challenge to capitalism and imperialism inside parliament and, more importantly, outside.

If readers of The Guardian have been considering joining the Communist Party of Australia, the time is ripe to do it. If ever we are to move beyond the tweedledum-tweedledee “choice” before the people of Australia at present, a bigger and more influential CPA is key.

Next article – Demand freedom and justice for David Ravelo

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