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S.A. Ex-Premier Jay Weatherill becomes a promoter of Andrew Forrest's self-help capitalism

Written by: Max O. on 23 December 2019


For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Saint Mark
 
Just recently the past Labor Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill made a Faustian pact with the mining and farming mogul Andrew Forrest to become the new CEO (one can imagine with a huge salary) of the early education arm of his philanthropic Minderoo Foundation.
 
Like Faust, a 16th-century German legendary character who agreed to sell his soul to the devil for knowledge, earthly pleasures, youth, and magical powers, Weatherill has attached his fortunes to the false gods that Forrest advocates.
 
He is the latest in a long list of former state and federal Labor politicians who, having worked for the capitalist class in parliament, have gone into direct service to capitalism in private post-political life. An obvious case in point is former Queensland Premier Ann Bligh who was appointed CEO of the Australian Banking Association in 2017, five years after she “left politics”.
 
Forrest is a moral crusader of many inconsistencies. He professes care and concern for Aboriginal people but has no hesitation in crushing them when they oppose his mining operations on their land. He poses as a free-marketeer who has also campaigned for a mining industry cartel to benefit himself. He regularly parades himself as a generous philanthropist but chains his charities to his business interests.
 
Weatherill, who hails from the Labor Left and conveys a humanist persona, aligned himself with Forrest's ideology back in 2014 when he came out in support of his proposed "Indigenous Employment and Training Review", which recommended that Centrelink clients who are placed on the cashless welfare card have 100 percent of their funds 'managed'. This was an unparalleled assault on the rights of people on income support to manage their finances.
 
What is the ideology of Andrew Forrest and his Minderoo Foundation that Jay Weatherill has now committed himself to? Forrest eschews Gina Rhinehart's blatant libertarianism and guided by his Christian-'humanitarian' faith embraces a high visibility capitalist philanthropy to solve human crises.
 
His Minderoo Foundation promotes the notion of a charity working in unison with capitalist development. Commitment to the private sector and markets is the preferred approach to current troubles facing society.
 
By reducing the public and expanding the private sector to invest huge amounts of money to solve complex societal predicaments and implementing biased technical fixes, Forrest and Weatherill can claim capitalism is the solution, not the cause of the society's problems.
 
What capitalist philanthropy does is camouflage the conflict between the poor and the rich, claiming that the poor do not have a better friend than the rich. In effect the poor should be grateful and beholden to the rich for their help.
 
Forrest runs an impressive list of Minderoo Charities:
 
•             Building Community: Funding arts, culture, community projects in Western Australia.
•             Eliminate Cancer: Provide funding to reduce the incidence of cancer and speed up the development of breakthrough therapies.
•             Flourishing Oceans: Fund research on eliminating overfishing and marine pollution.
•             Frontier Technology: Fund a range of projects that research the governance of artificial intelligence and data-flooded consumers.
•             Generation One: Training and employment programs for Indigenous Australians and linking service provider payments to long-term outcomes i.e. cashless welfare card.
•             Research: Fund and identify opportunities, new ideas, and new technology.
•             Thrive By Five: Funding research into early childhood development.
•             Walk Free: Campaigns against the estimated 40 million people living in modern slavery. Has undertaken to create the Global Slavery Index.
 
Jay Weatherill is just the man to take on the job of CEO of Thrive By Five for Minderoo. His track record of dismantling the public sector and embracing the private sector to shape and control government social policy proved to be a wise career move for life after state politics.
 
He has a litany of service to capitalism's wish list:
 
•             Closed the Adelaide Repatriation General Hospital, which was much valued by war veterans.
•             Closed down emergency departments in local hospitals and shifted them to a small number of hospital 'supersites'.
•             Pretended to consult the public by holding a royal commission into the nuclear industry, that was headed by a pro-nuclear former SA Governor, Rear Admiral Kevin Scare. Their real intention was to expand further the nuclear industry in SA, from mining to enrichment, energy and storage.
•             Sold off government assets such as the South East forests, state-owned buildings, and land; gave away western suburbs open space to the Real Estate industry, and forced school mergers.
•             Offered the “broadest possible support” to all 27 recommendations in Forrest’s blueprint for welfare reform which included punitive measures covering health, education and welfare, with the clear aim of driving participants off welfare into low-wage jobs for the benefit of employers.          
•             Campaigned with Forrest to implement a 100% cashless welfare proposal and joined the mining mogul’s reactionary push to use such measures to end “the blight of disparity” between black and white Australians. 
•             Designed the child protection system, which catastrophically failed the safety of South Australian children and dumped the responsibility on the chief of the Education Department.  
•             Oversaw the chronic lack of funding and the appalling standard of care at state-run nursing homes for dementia patients. State investigation uncovered abuse and the rough handling of patients, excessive use of restraints and a concerning level of injuries at these facilities. A culture of a cover-up was employed to hide the damning evidence.
 
The problems that capitalist philanthropists claim to be solving are embedded in the same economic system that allows them to amass enormous wealth which comes off the back of workers' produced surplus-value. Philanthropy represents the reverse side of the coin of growing inequality between rich and poor.
There is a direct association between increased wealth accumulation, regressive tax measures, and funding toward philanthropic activities. This is all quite fine with Andrew Forrest and Jay Weatherill who are convinced of their own good deeds. A quote from Goethe's novel, Faust, aptly sums up their situation: Faust asks  "…who are you, then?", Mephistopheles (who is a demon) answers "I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good."
 
Doing “good works” under capitalism (Forrest-style philanthropy) is the way the devil of capitalism does its social evil.
 

 

S.A. Ex-Premier Jay Weatherill becomes a promoter of Andrew Forrest's self-help capitalism
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