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Issue #1717      February 3, 2016


When reactionaries fall out

The bickering and blood-letting in the Liberal Party (see “Dump this anti-people govt” of last weeks’ Guardian) continues unabated. The “conservative” grouping that supported the prime-ministership of Tony Abbott is calling foul on the “moderate” members backing current PM, Malcolm Turnbull. They are continuing to critique the government and give thinly-veiled calls to the more reactionary members of parliament and party bureaucrats to be ready to pounce.

For the record, the “conservatives” and the “moderates” would be better described as the extremists and the more traditional reactionaries. Some Coalition insiders are saying that the Liberals risk being seen as just another ALP in policy terms and for its raging internal factional strife. The latter perception is not new. Malcolm Turnbull’s claim to an audience at the NSW state council of the party last October that the outfit was “not run by factions … or by deals in back rooms” was met with gales of richly-deserved mocking laughter.

The “conservatives” and “moderates” are joined at the hip about the fundamentals – crushing the unions to make it easier to push the cost of the deepening economic crisis onto workers and other exploited people. The differences appear to be around social policy where Turnbull wants to appeal superficially to mainstream concerns regarding income inequality, the environment, social inclusion and the threat of war.

Turnbull knocked back a suggestion from US President Obama to put Australian boots on the ground in Syria. Tasmanian senator and former employment minister Eric Abetz felt it his duty to a higher loyalty to support the appeal for more troops. Neither faction questions the overall wisdom of pursuing the US in another military adventure.

“Moderates” are toying with the idea of a plebiscite on the question of equal marriage. The clearest divisions in the Tory camp are visible on social policy. The “conservatives” would ignore the outcome of such a plebiscite if it gave the thumbs up to legal same-sex marriage. “Moderate” spokespersons, such as the minister for industry, innovation and science, Christopher Pyne, have said the government would be mad to ignore the verdict of the Australian people.

Underscoring the determination of the extreme reactionaries to enforce monastic standards was Abbott’s decision to address the Alliance Defending Freedom in the US last week. The cashed up religious group wants to criminalise sodomy internationally and generally “recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries.” Unfortunately for the anti-gay marriage lobby group, a leading member has been arrested on child pornography charges. The former Australian Prime Minster spoke, as predicted, against same sex marriage.

“Conservatives” in NSW claim to be the target of a purge in the state branch and that stalwarts like assistant minister for multicultural affairs, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, were having pre-selection to recontest their seats undermined. Turnbull has been obliged to step in and say he supports the endorsement of sitting members. Others want more open competition. An expert panel headed by former PM, John Howard, has been suggested as a circuit breaker in the matter.

No doubt, workers will feel some satisfaction that this most anti-worker government finds itself in the midst of internal turmoil. The Libs’ embarrassment and the damage to government’s fortunes are richly deserved. These same workers would be mistaken, however, to think that they have a stake in that fight. Turnbull is no friend of the battlers and his warm embrace of the report from the witch hunt called the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has made that perfectly clear.

Workers would be well advised to build support for political alternatives to the system dominated by the Coalition and Labor. Left and progressive groups and candidates deserve support, not the current plutocrat prime minister. The best thing workers can do in the present circumstances is to join or support the Communist Party and vote for Communist candidates in the forthcoming federal election. If you wish to help in this campaign, don’t hesitate to contact the CPA at or register your interest via the website –

Next article – Alarming revelations of The Global Wealth Report – The rich are getting richer …

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