Australia needs a new political and social movement. Left/Right, Labor/Liberal - it doesn't matter any more. They're two sides of the same coin and the currency is counterfeit.
We need advocates for us, the citizens of Australia, who will speak on our behalf against the lawyers, accountants, political lobbyists and fundraisers, stenographers in the media, corporate comms people and miscellaneous shadowy henchmen who dominate public discussion and decision making today.
Call it the party of the 'Fair Go' for wont of a better term. It would give physical form and action to what that term has traditionally meant to Aussies. Fair Go party would include in its manifesto:
- Respect for all people irrespective of how they identify their ethnicity, religion, cultural heritage, age, sex or any other trait that wreckers use to create division in society
- Equality means equal access for all to the legal system, health, education and telecommunications including broadband
- Striving to be a society that lifts people up instead of kicking them when they're down and seeking to oppress them
- An immediate return of Australia to the world stage as a constructive global citizen including honouring our obligations under humanitarian treaties
- Acknowledgement that climate science is a legitimate way to heal our planet and promote prosperity through emerging science and technology
- An end to government for big corporates and interest groups that tramels the little guy
- An immediate review of all international trade treaties and a commitment to publishing them for public comment.
These are just some ideas of what Fair Go would hold dear and promote.
What would you add to the manifesto?
Comment on the post ranged from my observation that this sounded like the ALP, others claiming it was the Greens and others suggesting that maybe instead of a party this could be a credo to hold the parties to.
Let me just break down the whole post a bit.
Firstly the claim that Left/Riht and Liberal/Labor doesn't matter any more - they are just "two sides of the same coin and the currency is counterfeit."
Let's just note that this isn't the claim that the two parties are indistinguishable, but that there is something wrong with major party politics. But just so we can dispel the myth about sameness I'd use the words that Bill Clinton used at the 2012 Democratic Convention when he said:
We believe that 'We're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'You're on your own'. (Note 1)
And that is the same distinction that applies here between Labor and Liberal.
Certainly both parties suffer from a surfeit of professional politicians - young people entering Parliament with little non-political life experience.
That is true of the current PM, it was mostly a description of the immediate four predecessors.
But were they bad politicians on that account? Were any of them really driven by a desire for power rather than an ideology.
None of them were good at expounding their ideology, or being consistent in its application. But no one can doubt Tony Abbott's genuine commitment to the idea that when it comes to life you are on your own.
Both Rudd and Gillard at times laid out their belief that we are all in this together, the value of collective action and that we are all in this together. James Button in his book Speechless even tells us that Rudd was insisting the phrase "We are all in this together' be the theme of his speeches in the depths of the GFC.
The next suggestion is that Australians need advocates to speak up against a litany of various professions, the majority of which are the paid henchmen of politicians.
On this let me first note that one such group is the army of ordinary Australians who actually join political parties. If you haven't tried it then you should. There are surprisingly many ways to get your voice heard.
But let me also note that the influence of these people on politicians is greatly overstated - it is just that these people themselves proclaim their degree of influence.
We then move to the guts of the party of a 'Fair Go.' As has been said of the claimed distinction between left and right that the former is about equality, the fact is the right also claims to be about equality. The left and right promote different standards of equality because they have different views about human nature and society. (Note 2)
But despite both espousing their views of equality the phrase 'a fair go' is more commonly associated with Labor. (see Note 3) However, it is in the substance of the points made in the stem "manifesto" that the ideas really display a description of the ALP.
Respect for all people irrespective of how they identify their ethnicity, religion, cultural heritage, age, sex or any other trait that wreckers use to create division in society
Let's start with sexual orientation. We know that the marriage equality is all the rage - but the Rudd government did amend all Federal law so that gay couples have all the same rights under law as heterosexual couples. Marriage equality is ALP policy, but in recognition of the tightly held views of some, it is a conscience vote.
Labor championed the concept of multiculturalism starting with Gough and has defended it ever since. Gough oversaw the equal pay case.
Equality means equal access for all to the legal system, health, education and telecommunications including broadband
Well let's start at the end. Labor's NBN was universal in scope and universal in prices - both now abolished. Labor introduced medicare and introduced the concept of equality in access to tertiary education. And it was Labor that pursuied the Plan for School Improvement (Gonski) and its commitment to ensuring every school had the resources it needs.
Striving to be a society that lifts people up instead of kicking them when they're down and seeking to oppress them
This is Labor's core principle. It always becomes problematic when the need to target assistance is considered. Labor are the first to admit they got the policy wrong with the approach to encouraging parents on pensions back into the workforce as children reach school age. But we have never had a policy as draconian - or simply mean and uncaring - as the idea that under 30s have to be unemployed for six months before they get welfare.
An immediate return of Australia to the world stage as a constructive global citizen including honouring our obligations under humanitarian treaties
It was Labor in the 1940s that got us on the world stage in the first place. Firstly by enacting the Statute of Westminister so we became responsible for our own Foreign Affairs, and then playing a leading role in establishing the UN. In more recent years it was Rudd who secured our place in the G20, and secured our spot on the Security Council.
If the "honouring treaties" piece is a reference to the refugee convention it is worth noting that the intent of that convention was to enable people to flee persecution and then stop. Refugees were then to be processed from those first place camps. Australia has (I think) one of the highest intakes of refugees direct from camps. Labor did pursue policies to try to discourage people from continuing to travel as this was unsafe. But the solution to the refugee problem is to be found in stopping the reasons why people flee in the first place. Labor's record is far better than the Liberals, and is as aggressive as budget circumstance permit.
Acknowledgement that climate science is a legitimate way to heal our planet and promote prosperity through emerging science and technology
Labor won and lost an election on climate policy. If the Greens had voted for the original ETS it would still be in place today. Labor is also committed to going into the next election with a policy for a price on carbon.
An end to government for big corporates and interest groups that tramels the little guy
I don't think you will find any big corporate - not the miners, the tobacco companies, the media companies certainly - that would argue Labor in office governed for them.
I may detect in this comment the thought that acting on copyright infringement over the Internet is acting in the interests of corporates. That would be fine, except for the fact that lots of Aussie artists and performers have lobbied Government on this in their own right.
An immediate review of all international trade treaties and a commitment to publishing them for public comment.
This is the only point on which I would have to agree that Labor has fallen down on. But it is symptomatic of a wider problem which is the theory that "free trade agreements" make any sense at all. Because they simply are misnomers - they are at best agreements to change the distortionary affects of existing trade barriers and replace them with new ones.
Anyone who would like to try out what belonging to a political party that stands for the values Nate espoused JOIN HERE.
Note 1: As quoted in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann Double Down
Note 2: For a longer discussion see Alain Noel and Jean-Phillipe Therien Left and Right in Global Politics
- Tony Abbott on Insiders "So I think the fair go principle, which is very important for our country, continues in this budget."
- Bill Shorten wrote a short op-ed for the Tele on the impacts of the Budget on working families and how this Budget seeks to end the Australian fair go.
- Anthony Albanese wrote one for The Gaurdian "Kiss the 'fair go' goodbye: Tony Abbott gives individualism absolute priority."
- Bill Shorten in his Budget Reply speech said "The Government forgot you in its Budget – and it forgot what makes our country great. It forgot opportunity. It forgot reward for effort. It forgot the fair go. Well, Labor hasn’t forgotten. We still believe in fairness. We still believe in an Australia that includes everyone, that helps everyone, that lets everyone be their best, that leaves no-one behind."
- Kevin Rudd started his 2013 campaign policy speech "In this election we are now engaged in the fight of our lives. It is a fight about the values which underpin Australia's future. And for those who say the fight is up, I say they haven't seen anything yet. Because we have something worth fighting for. And that's the jobs of all Australians. The pay packets of all Australians. And an Australia which still believes in a fair go for all. These are the things worth fighting for."
- Julia Gillard in her first press conference as PM said: "t's my intention to lead a government that uses that spirit and that will to do even more to harness the talents of all of our people. To do even more to make sure that every child gets a fair go in life and a great education.
- Julia Gillard in her 2011 Australia Day speech said "don’t let go – we will hang on to our Aussie mateship and our Aussie fair go in the worst of times and in the best because we are Australians."
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