Gittins on class politics in Australian government – Labor vs unions

I’d like to pose a question to Labor voters who admire the Hawke, Keating and Gillard governments.

How would you explain them acting against Labor’s working class constituency, and what do you think should be done to make Labor governments loyal to working class interests?

Ross Gittins attributes the success of the Hawke / Keating era of Labor governments in their having caused more trouble for unions than for business. Turnbull, he says, could find similar success by ignoring his business roots and going against their “rent-seeking” demands (excerpt below).  Was there a similar urge at work when the Gillard government moved single parents onto the dole? This has since been acknowledged as a mistake by former ministers Jenny Macklin (ABC RN breakfast 27 Oct 2015) and Kim Carr .

What Ross Gittins said

“But if Turnbull really wants to make a difference, his notion of reform needs to be a lot more creative than simply bringing to reality all the rent-seeking “reforms” long advocated by big-business people and their economist handmaidens, who’ve never had an innovative, intellectually agile policy idea since they encountered the neo-classical model in first year uni.

Turnbull’s unlikely to get far if he allows himself to seen as a rich man delivering for his well-off mates at the expense of the rest of us. Every new PM promises to “govern for all Australians”; more than most, Turnbull must demonstrate he really means it.

Paul Keating and Bob Hawke made their names as micro reformers by implementing changes that gave their own supporters more heartburn than the other side’s; by doing things the Libs should have done but weren’t game to.

Similarly, Turnbull needs to show up his opponents, proposing reforms they could only dream of – but can’t now oppose without losing all credibility.”

via Malcolm Turnbull needs to ignore big business.

It won’t be hard for Turnbull to take a bigger picture, longer view, of Australian politics than the narrowly factional and small minded Abbott. But in a system where business – employers and landlords – effectively have the real power over day to day lives of people, Gittins is not as even handed as he thinks. Turnbull will not repeal restrictions on unions, or increase security of employment in the public or private sectors. Both of these would undermine the power of business and make it easier for workers to stand up for their rights. They also belong at the centre of union demands on Labor.


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