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Issue #1702      September 16, 2015


Canning still the canary in the coal mine

On July 21 the federal member for the WA seat of Canning, Don Randall, died suddenly of a suspected heart attack. He had been in Boddington, a rural community south east of Perth, on electorate business. The shock waves of his death reverberated in Canberra where the leader of the Coalition government was not keen to face a test of his government and that of his own leadership.

While Don Randall stood for parliament as a member of the Liberal Party he was far more loyal to his electorate than to the party or its leader, which was no more evident when together with a fellow Liberal member from WA he put his name to a leadership spill motion against Abbott in February.

And so the inevitable has come to pass with Malcolm Turnbull replacing Tony Abbott. It essentially changes nothing. This government is carrying out the biggest attack on living and working conditions in the country’s history, an attack occasioned by the crisis confronting capitalism across the developed world. Those things won’t change.

These current ructions will continue: this was fundamentally not about leadership but was a small eruption in the increasingly dysfunctional process that is held up as a beacon of democracy.

There are deep divisions within government ranks, divisions driven by contradictions in an economy in crisis and exacerbated by a government determined to impose the burden of that crisis onto working people, in particular the most vulnerable.

This, as Abbott had committed the country to another extension of imperialism’s endless war, aiming at regime change in Syria.

The Liberal Party’s candidate for Canning is – unsurprisingly – a former Special Air Services Regiment captain, Andrew Hastie – a man who hails from NSW and has only lived in Western Australia since 2010. During 2012 and 2013 he was involved in strike missions in the US-led imperialist war in Afghanistan.

The Greens’ candidate, Vanessa Rauland, is a sustainability lecturer especially concerned with urban land use and planning.

Both Rauland and the ALP candidate Matt Keogh support progressive stands on a number of issues – including workers’ rights and refugee rights and marriage equality.

The government is clearly worried about the possible effect a Liberal defeat in Canning would have in next year’s federal election and the negative effect of the government’s policies and increasing militarisation of government functions into the wider community (witness the formation of the fascist-like Australian Border Force).

The collective principles of the trade union movement are under intense attack following a series of reactionary anti-union laws by both Labor and Coalition governments. The systematic destruction of the centralised award-based system is part of this process along with the continued push for individual and non-union work contracts aimed at re-establishing the master-servant relationship along the lines that existed in the 19th century. The government’s discredited Royal Commission into trade unions has taken this attack to a new level.

War and the domination of markets by the transnational corporations are this government’s core class commitments.

The CPA calls for a vote in support of candidates who reject the government’s big business agenda, both at state and federal level. The Party has a wide range of policies to lift the living standards of working people that will contribute to the strengthening of the economy, including:

  • an immediate 40 percent increase in the minimum wage;
  • job security – abolition of contract and body hire labour;
  • equal pay for work of equal value;
  • young workers paid an adult wage when doing the same work;
  • shorter working week without loss of pay.

The defeat of the Liberal candidate in the Canning by-election on September 19 would mark a step forward in the lead-up to the federal election next year. The need for class struggle has taken on more urgency in the face of a reactionary political agenda.

Next article – Hands off Aussie Post

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