Imperialism demands more from Australian workers
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The Business Council of Australia represents about 100 of the largest multinationals and local monopolies in the country. As such, it speaks in the interests of imperialism, promoting vicious neo-liberal policies that continually attack the working class and trample on Australian sovereignty.
BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott used January 26, the day of British colonial invasion in 1788, to make a speech in Melbourne calling for faster implementation of the imperialist agenda.
On May 12 the federal budget for the 2015-16 financial year is due to be released, and the BCA wanted to send a strong message to the Abbott government that it demands more attacks on the working people and more cuts to public services and benefits.
In a not too subtle warning to Abbott, Westacott invoked Labor’s Gough Whitlam as an example of a leader with a long term vision and said, “I know there are political leaders across the country now who want to show this kind of leadership.” She even used the Keating era words “social contract” to imply that Labor might be better at conning the workers.
The speech set out several priorities for the Abbott government – the budget and fiscal arrangements, education and skills, and economic growth – code for another austerity budget to beat the working class into submission. It demanded further Productivity Commission inquiries into the aged pension and retirement system and the healthcare system.
A tool of the BCA
The Productivity Commission is a favoured tool of the BCA. It examines data and statistics, takes submissions, considers arguments and then, inevitably, recommends to government whatever the BCA wants.
Recently it was revealed that it has commenced a ‘review’ into the whole swag of industrial laws, with weekend and shift penalty rates top of the list. Reflecting the big business demand for ‘workplace flexibility’, the Productivity Commission will dig up the corpse of Howard’s original WorkChoices and trot out the BCA’s programme to water down or abolish laws on the minimum wage (It’s only $16.87 an hour now!), collective bargaining, unfair dismissal, anti-bullying and union access to work-sites. Recommendations to government are expected to be finalised by November 30.
Westacott just couldn’t resist saying that the ‘review’ was a chance “…to rethink how we work and how we stay competitive to succeed in a global economy”.
BCA and taxes
Another area where the BCA has been very vocal is taxation. It deplored the collection of revenue from taxes on the big mining companies and polluters, and now says that the 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) that hits ordinary people should be lifted and broadened to raise necessary revenue. Items such as fresh food, education and healthcare services are currently excluded from this tax, but if the BCA gets its way, the working class will be hit with an even heavier tax burden.
To provide the smokescreen for this latest plot, the BCA have commissioned the Liberal Party pollsters Crosby Textor to propose changes to the taxation system, especially the GST.
This comes on top of the Abbott government backing down on promises to chase foreign multinationals for taxes on income funnelled out of the country. (See article in Political Economy section MYEFO – giving the rich a break)
Nationwide rallies March 4
The ACTU has called for nationwide rallies on March 4 to oppose the renewed attack on the working conditions and living standards of the Australian people. If organised well, there will be stop-work action in many unionised workplaces and widespread community support and involvement. The power of the mobilised working class will give heart to all those struggling against the harsh austerity measures being imposed.
This is the positive and should be encouraged and supported. As has been shown in Greece, when the mobilised masses stand up to the dictates of imperialism, it is possible to think of another future.
Yet, if we recall the Rights at Work community campaigns and rallies which mobilised hundreds of thousands of workers, the mass movement was gradually diverted into an election campaign by the Labor Party that carried Rudd to power and then gave us WorkChoices Lite.
Let’s not fall into the parliamentary trap again. Let’s not count on numbers in the Senate and all that rubbish to defend the working people. Let’s not ‘keep low’ and wait for a Labor government. Only an independent mobilised mass movement led by the working class can roll back the BCA attack.
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