The Socialist Equality Party calls on all workers, youth, and students to vote for our candidates and our socialist and internationalist program, in the August 21 federal election. The SEP is standing 2 candidates in each of the state-wide slates for the Senate in New South Wales and Victoria, as well as 10 candidates in the House of Representatives electorates of Reid, Blaxland, Fowler, Parramatta, Kingsford Smith, Grayndler and Newcastle in New South Wales, Gellibrand and Calwell in Victoria, and Swan in Western Australia.
A vote for the Socialist Equality Party is a vote to defend the independent interests of the working class. It is a vote in opposition to the austerity agenda of both the Labor and Liberal parties, which will involve a major assault on the living standards of workers, young people and students. It is a vote for the right of all people to live in whatever country they choose, whenever they choose, whatever their country of origin, ethnic background or religion, with full and immediate citizenship rights. It is a vote against militarism and war, and for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Australian and other occupation forces from Afghanistan, Iraq and other neo-colonial operations throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, and the South Pacific. It is a vote in defence of democratic rights, social equality, and the earth’s environment. A vote for the SEP is a vote for the international unity of the working class, in a common struggle to abolish the private profit system. It is a vote for a workers’ government and the rational reorganisation of the world economy in the interests of the working class and the establishment of a genuinely democratic and humane society, where the social needs of the vast majority take precedence over the profits of a wealthy few.
Just four days after the Labor Party coup ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the SEP issued a statement noting that new Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s preparations for an early election were aimed at “short circuiting any debate on how Rudd was ousted and why”. It continued: “Such an election campaign will take the form of yet another conspiracy against the Australian people, with neither the Labor nor Liberal parties discussing the real agenda they are preparing to implement once the election is over.”
This prediction has been fully confirmed. The media and parliamentary parties have consciously worked to suppress the real situation confronting the working class, above all, the intensifying global economic crisis, increasingly explosive tensions between the US and its rivals such as China, and the implications of these developments for class relations within Australia. On the coup itself—the most decisive political experience in Australia since the ousting of the Whitlam government in 1975—the media and political establishment have made a determined effort to block any discussion about why it took place.
Only the Socialist Equality Party has explained the real reasons for the sudden installation of Gillard—the insistence of key sections of the corporate and financial elite, including the giant mining companies, that a government be installed more attuned to its demands and those of its key ally, Washington. Within hours of knifing Rudd, the new prime minister had announced the end of any timetable for the withdrawal of Australian troops from the criminal US-led war in Afghanistan. Gillard has since left open the possibility that senior Australian military personnel will be assigned a more leading role directing operations aimed at crushing resistance to the occupation in Oruzgan Province—an issue the Sydney Morning Herald editorial writers this week described as the “elephant in the room” of the election campaign.
Meanwhile in what amounts to a bipartisan agreement, both Labor and Liberal have sought to cover-up the real, highly precarious, state of the Australian economy. An enormous gulf has opened up between the booming profits amassed by the mining and finance sectors and the state of recession or near-recession being endured by manufacturing, retail, services and other sectors. At the same time, the global economy stands on the brink of a “double dip” recession. There are mounting warnings of deflation in the US, and China’s industrial expansion is slowing down--threatening to plunge the Australian economy into slump and to sharply reverse the various rosy revenue forecasts being used by the major parties to finance their various promises.
Neither Gillard nor opposition leader Abbott has made any mention of the agenda they will implement if elected, because no ordinary working people would vote for it. Both will junk the remaining stimulus spending programs enacted following the 2008 financial crisis and impose sweeping and permanent cuts to key areas including health, education, welfare, social infrastructure, and public sector jobs and wages.
In Britain, despite no prior discussion during the May election campaign, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has announced the most severe spending cuts since the 1930s, involving the destruction of more than one million jobs. Moreover, Prime Minister David Cameron has openly acknowledged the cuts will be permanent. Similar attacks on the working class are being rammed through in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere. The coordinated turn to austerity, along with the driving down of workers’ wages and ratcheting up of productivity, increases the pressure on the ruling elites in Australia and other countries to do likewise in order to maintain the “international competitiveness” of their own national economies.
Key sections of the media and big business have utilised the election campaign as a means of fashioning a far more right wing government, publishing editorial after editorial demanding definite commitments to “economic reform”. In response, the constantly repeated, anodyne phrases of the first two weeks—Gillard’s “moving forward” and Abbott’s “real action”—have been replaced with promises to balance the budget, slash spending, cut the corporate tax rate and open up public services such as health, education, childcare to profit-driven corporate interests. Gillard declared on Wednesday that returning the budget to surplus within three years was Labor’s priority. “Failure is not an option here and we will not fail,” she declared.
Both Gillard and Abbott have vied to outflank each other from the right. The prime minister has ridiculed the opposition leader for refusing to debate her on economic policy, while Abbott has committed to a budget surplus three times as big as Gillard’s and promised to axe 12,000 public service jobs.
Totally ignored have been the social crisis and immense insecurity afflicting broad layers of the working class—including record personal debt, mortgage stress, unemployment and underemployment, job insecurity and low wages, and poverty level income support for those unable to work.
The 2010 election campaign has been one of deep crisis for both major parties, as they confront unprecedented levels of disgust and hostility from ordinary people throughout the country, along with anger and resentment, which has only increased during the past five weeks, at Labor’s anti-democratic coup.
Anger and hostility, however, are not a solution. Throughout its campaign, the Socialist Equality Party has insisted that workers and young people must make a complete political break from the Labor Party and its nationalist program, and turn to the building of a new party and leadership, based on the program of socialist internationalism.
The Greens are no alternative. They speak from both sides of their mouths: on the one hand appealing to social discontent by advocating greater “equity”, while on the other, ensuring their unwavering support for the profit system, lower corporate taxes and, in the event they hold the balance of power, parliamentary stability at all costs.
The Socialist Equality Party alone has warned about the savage agenda that will be implemented by whichever party wins office. Our campaign has sought to prepare the working class for the bitter class conflicts that will inevitably emerge after the August 21 election. Our program provides the only solution to militarism and war, social inequality, attacks on living standards and democratic rights, and destruction of the environment through climate change.
We have told workers and young people the truth: that none of the pressing problems they confront can be resolved through elections or through parliament. They can only be addressed by turning to the building of a new mass socialist movement of the working class that will fight to transform society from top to bottom, overthrow the profit system, and establish a workers’ government—a government of the working class, for the working class and by the working class. Such a government will represent the first genuine democracy, with all decisions affecting their daily lives made by working people themselves, in the interests of the majority rather than the profit requirements of an ultra-wealthy minority.
We call on all those who agree with our program to vote for the SEP on August 21, support our campaign, study the SEP’s program and history and, above all, make the decision to join and build the Socialist Equality Party as the new mass party of the working class.
Authorised by N. Beams, 307 Macquarie St, Liverpool, NSW 2170