We welcome contributions with Green, Socialist (including Fabian), Social-Democratic, Left liberal, and Libertarian Left perspectives.
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Please feel welcome to discuss the posts, or submit your own posts for consideration by the Moderator.
above: Henry Kissinger's new book is titled 'World Order'
In this his latest article former Australian communist leader Eric Aarons dissects former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger's latest book, 'World Order'. Relating to his own experiences of the consequences of Kissinger's 'real-politick', Aarons criticises Kissinger in no uncertain terms.
By Eric Aarons
Kissinger wastes no time in getting to the point of this important book from
the first page. His aim is to restore the ‘World Order’ or ‘American Consensus’
that had been firmly established in the last decade of the 20th
Century. Doing that, to which he himself had been closely attached, he might
have thoughtof questions of his own reputation
that would not go away.
wants to feature as the trusted and fearless adviser
who, given the opportunityand means
(sometimes as Secretary of State), would seek out the realities and truths of
difficult international situations, even if the President did not like what he
advised. Readerscan make up their own minds whether or not
Kissinger acted on this principle.
capitalism developed worldwide, so did the impulse for the formation of ‘states’
– that is,sovereign bodies of
peopleholding a defined territory, politically ordered in a known way, and with a
set of unofficial but powerful ‘rules of
behaviour’ – a culture – that might also distinguish them from neighbours.
States had therefore to make agreements at least individually with each other, hopefully with all .
This was no
simple matter because tradition had already become fixed on many relevant
aspects of these matters in medieval and feudal times. The most important of
these were the virtually endless wars within and between countries that had
prevailed in feudal and medieval times, mainly centred on religion, but with
land also in the picture.
featured competition, but also needed forms of cooperation to facilitate and
promote business enterprise, while the new ‘states’ had only the traditional
ones attached to the family, and thus to marriage relationships and rules of
inheritance. These, though still featuring in relations between states, were
inadequate for the task of settinggeneral rules for relations between them.
Kissinger defines ‘world order’ as a state of affairs in which a majority of
states reach some (peaceful) agreement on the conduct of the relations between
them. – that is, what each of them prohibits or permits – what each of them may
do or must not do. He places the origin of this concept in the Treaty of Westphalia
(1648). which, concluding the ‘30 years religious war, providingan opportunity to begin a new era in which
agreements instead of wars could establish some form of ‘World Order’ embracing
at least most of Europe and the United States of America.
plausible,in that, following the
universal war throughoutEurope waged by
Napoleon in the wake of the 30 years (religious) war, the treaty ending this
period of history, had the opportunity toestablish the principles that could guide, asjustly as deemed possible, the principles
that all nations mightaccept.
soberly, and with due deference to the achievements of Westphalia, the sort of
‘World Order’ Kissinger holds up today as his preferred model is not worth the
paper it is written on, and in any case has zero chance of coming into effect.
It depends on the existence of one nation that stands above all the rest in
military might, backed by a population that is ready tomake the necessary sacrifice of lives,
material treasure, and ethical probity (torture doesn’t fit here) to deal with
wrong-doingby its citizens and those of
Chile was a
major test for Henry Kissinger, in which he performed worse than miserably. By
happenstance, I had a connection in the build up to this, having been elevated
to a leading position in the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) after I had returned
after studying three years in China. For internationalisteducational purposes I was chosen, along with
a journalist, Pete Thomas, to attend as observers of the Congress of the
Chilean Communist Party in 1965. This was shortly after the Socialist Party
leader, Salvador Allende had run a close second for President of Chile, and it
was thought he would likely be elected next time. We had anumber of assignments and instructions,
including proceeding later to Moscow and discussing our worries about the
growing split with China,Soviet
treatment of writers and artists, the existence of anti-Semitism,and the unpersoning of Nikita Khruschev after
he had let out the truth about Stalin’s dictatorship.
difficulties in getting a flight from Mexico to Chile, so we did not actually
attend the Congress, but had significant discussions with a number of the
leading cadres, including about the likely behaviour of the Army. They told us
that it had never intervened in Chilean politics before, and believed it would
not do even if Allende did win the next election, but we urged them not to be
win, and had begun making significant economic and political changes when General Augusto Pinochet led an army coup,
surrounding the Presidency, and shooting dead Allende who had armed himself with
a rifle and was shooting back on September 11, 1973. Thousands were immediately
arrested and taken to a sports arena where they were immediately killed and/or tortured.
Shortly after that, Pinochet invented the practice of taking captives up in a plane
and dumping them directly into the Atlantic Ocean, and to this day there are
‘disappeared people’ being sought by relatives and loved ones.
assured Pinochet of his support, and to this day it is not clear whether it was
President Nixon who had directly ordered Kissinger to arrange the coup, or had it
suggested to him by the latter. Public Radio International (PRI) has a program
(‘The World’) which conducted a long interview with Kissinger on the day
marking the 41st anniversary of the coup, but
said ‘when we raised the subject of Chile today, Kissinger cut us off.’ What other
unsavoury secrets is he hiding?
The invasion of Iraq.
declares now (September 11, 2014, PRI) that ‘he would not have supported the
Iraq war if he had known then what he knows now’. He obviously asked only those
favouring the war though there were plenty of prominentpeople thinkingotherwise. He can
only blame himself, but doesn’t.
6, 1975, Kissinger accompanied President Gerald Ford to Jakarta on a ‘friendly
visit’. Next day, as their plane departed, the Indonesian President, Suharto,
launchedhis army on East Timor, which
had just been given its independence by Portugal. 200,000 East Timorese were
killed, and many atrocities committed. The aim was to use East Timor as a
launching pad to then annex the western half of New Guinea which was
mineral-rich(In These Times April, 2000). Kissinger was also on the Board of the
New Orleans based Freeport McMoRan gold and copper mine in West Papua, which
was also notorious for its poor environmental record.
story of the struggle for East Timor’s independence is too long to relate here,
but the CPA had a proud record, and even John Howard eventually also played a
part in it.
inadequacy of Henry Kissinger’s ideas of what a new World Order should aim for
stands out. But the loss of the United States of America as the keystone of its
arch of power is crystal clear, and is self-inflicted. Since Vietnam (1975), it
has waged several major wars, and has not won a single one. Humanity must seek
a new path, and the ‘battle for civilisation’ that Tony Abbott speaks about (The Australian, October 5, 2014) is far
too limited to effect major change.
The one example there is room for here, is outlined in a book
The Sixth Extinction, well written by
Elizabeth Kolbert (Bloomsbury). The title comes from the knowledge that there
have been five major extinctions of life on earth caused naturally, but the
sixth, nowoccurring, is self-inflicted. It is
caused, says the author, by the fact that humans are changing conditions on
earth more rapidly than most species can cope with, includingmany of us. The term ‘Great Moderation’ was used
recently by economists just as the GFC (Great Financial Crisis) was about to
erupt. Many humans, especially the top 1 percent who get as much as the rest of
us put together (Oxfam), now need sufficiency
rather than more; bigger is not
always better, softer is often preferable to louder. . .
I trust you
will get my drift.
notion of a ‘New World Order’ included non-interference in each other’s
internal affairs. Including choice of
religion, political system, economic conduct and other similar arrangements,
and general self-determination. This worked reasonably well for about a century
, until it was violated by none other than Kissinger himself. It is not clear that
was his decision, backed by various political leaders (particularly those of
the United States,) that he had influenced.
was to interfere in Chile’s internal affairs by prompting, then urging on an
officer of the Chilean armed forces, General Augusto Pinochet, to stage a coup,
overthrow and kill the newlyelected President
of Chile, Salvador Allende.
By his silence on this issue of the Chilean coup, Kissinger re-endorses
the views he expressed to Pinochet in 1976: ‘ We want to help, not undermine
you. You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende ‘ (Wikipedia).
The organisation Public Radio International (PRI) has a
program called The World. Forty one years to the day after the coup– September 11, 1973 – they organised a long
interviewwith Kissinger, but towards
the end they asked him about Chile. They report That he cut them off without
saying a word. Is he hiding or protecting a dead President?, hmself? Or both?
Kissinger is no longer in the position of chief adviser and organiser of action
foran American President . Even more
important, times have changed, and humanityhas more options, and especially noneed of a new super-state, strong enough in weaponry, economic
ascendancy, financial solidity and a fragile rectitudetowards other states. With the rectitude, and
a psychological disposition, to keep all the rest of the world’snations in line.
Public Radio International (PRI) also asked Kissinger about The Iraq war . He
replied: “If I had known everything then that I know now, I probably would not
have supported it.” An evasive reply if there was one. In fact, many people,
some with actual knowledge, questioned the assertionthat Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. Who
did Kissinger talk to at the time?
In any case, Kissinger’s interpretationof Muslim capacities, as he writes even now,
revealsthe dismissive, even
contemptuousattitudes held by ‘leading’American and many other westerners. They had
better learn fast if they seek to construct a new ‘World Order’.
Kissinger, to his credit for once, gives what I take to be a
fairly accurate account of the long term thinking and vision of a number of
Eastern and Middle Eastern states. Taking Persia (now Iran) he says:
So (in 1979) when an accepted state in the
Westphalian system, turned itself into an advocate of radical Islam after thje
Ayatollah Khomeini revolution, the Middle East regional order was turned upside
down. (Page 149).
I doubt that he saw this at the time(when he was directly attached to the White
House). But, particularly now we have a situation deriving from that invasion
in 2001, which has mushroomed into a major world-wide problemthat has to be tackled on more than one
front. The Australian government has decided on a half-baked war with the
muslim world based on the atrocious practice of decapitatingthose they regard as enemies on full-view TV.
‘The book is well worth reading,
and those doing so will learn a lot about how experts in international
relations operate. Unfortunately, there is no promise of a turn for the better
in the rest of this decade.’
In this new 'Left Focus' article former Australian Communist leader Eric Aarons provides an analysis based on Thomas Piketty's influential new book 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century'. In particular Aarons defends Piketty's notion of a 'Social State' as a project for progressives in today's world.
by Eric Aarons
In his fine and
successful book, Capital in the
Twenty-First Century, Thomas
Piketty uses the
term ‘the Social State’ to describe a form of government thatcontrols the capitalism of our day
sufficiently to ensure that every citizen gets an adequate mix inquantity, quality and kindof the goods and services necessary to live a
civilized life in today’s conditions.
This was never
achieved in the socialism of the 20th century by those who tried the
hardest – the Russians, then the Chinese, Vietnamese and Yugoslavs. Nor were
their political formations suited to winning lasting popular support.
But that period
witnessed the two biggest and worst wars ever.
The first, ‘The
Great War’ against Germany, is presently being ‘celebrated’ for its hundredth
anniversary (because We won it)
though a major feature of it was a struggle to possess the most colonies with
the most people and resources.
The Second World
War, fought against German and Japanese fascism, which was an extremely
reactionary ideology based on grounds of racial superiority and revenge, which
could not be permitted to succeed.
I was born in
1919, so did not see any of the first war, though I was moved in observing some
of the human wreckage that came through it. Then I saw and felt the Great
Depression that followed it for a decade. By the time the second broke out I
was politically aware, and on the basis of the facts then prevailing,thought that socialism was the only possible
I could literally
‘feel’ the sentiment around me then.
It was: that we will fight to the end against German and Japanese fascism; but
‘never again’ will we put up with the sacrifices of wars, in which capitalists
always do well, but make few, if any,
changes for the better.
I am sure that
pro-capitalist forces knew quite well that they were then very much on the
defensive and had to suitably respond. The same note was struck by the
extensive postwar planning agenda which included plans for doing away with the
dilapidated and bug-ridden city shacks in which the majority of working people
had to live, while wide-ranging plans were made for the future with the great
Snowy-mountains project and other plans put in place near war’s end.
New thinking was
encouraged, and practiced enthusiastically – not like today, where it is
demanded to get out of the hole capital has dug itself into
All this, and the
influx of refugees from shattered European countries who immediately found
jobs, created the three decades of unprecedented prosperity that followed,
showing what could be done by a socially engaged government that still
respected private property rights, but was prepared to act outside the usual
bounds, to correct or mitigate the faults in the capitalist system and respond
to glaring economic and social needs.
products went into mass production for the first time, such as synthetic
plastics (on a scale in which we are near to burying ourselves). And in 1947
were invented the now truly universally present ‘transistors’ using rare ‘semi-conducting
minerals, and now essential in all our electronic appliances and especially the
It was, in fact, a
practical response to the over-theoretical and rather rambling ideology of the
neo-Liberalism developed by Friedrich Hayek that made valid criticisms of
socialism as practiced, but failed to make a compelling case in favour of
permanent adherence to a capitalism that had in major respects run amok ,with
no alternative yet in sight.
Three decades of prosperity and peace
For three decades
there was virtually full employment; it was easy to leave a job and find
another better one, while profits were also booming.I noticed all this when I returned at the end
my three year study period in China, and was somewhat taken aback by the scale
of spending that was clearly now the norm. The Social State had arrived, though
we didn’t yet have the name for it.
War torn Europe
had to spend some years repairing colossal damage, and couldn’t therefore
immediately take on this initiating task, while the US was more occupied with
Senator Joseph McCarthy’s campaign to drive out of the country all artists,
writers and activists deemed to be ‘leftist’.
So I feel
justified in claiming that the first examples of the Social State appeared in
Australia and New Zealand, and we should now exert ourselves to contribute to
the development and renewal that Piketty prescribes.
today embraces efforts to regulate capitalism’s inherent cycles, irregularities
and periodical crises; and in the financial sector, its increasingly
deliberately illegal activities that have incurred multi-billion dollar fines from an Obama Presidency.
We, in Australia,
though relatively well-placed economically, are faced with a new conservative
government trying to foist on us an austerity regime, while at the same time
giving open slather to environmental damage from our massive coal deposits and
the money-making plans of ruthless so-called ‘developers’.
Capital Fights Back
But capital does
not welcome, or even recognize, the word ‘sufficient’, especially in regard to
profit, which is its lifeblood. It worked away in the ideological field with
attacks on trade unions, cries of ‘nanny’, concerning the new State, ‘living
off the public teat’, ‘not standing on your own two feet’, and the like. Then
came the outbreak of an escalating bout of inflation in the mid-1970’s when,
particularly with his theory of neo-Liberalism and winning the Nobel Prize,
Friedrich Hayek turned the ideological tide which, along with the mantra
‘success is the sure sign of merit’ (literally, where money is concerned, the assertion
that ‘might is right’, worked in favour of a capital on the offensive.
left, with its own concerns from even worse socialist failures and accompanying
fragmentation, was not up to the task of waging the essential ideological struggle
against neo-liberalism. But now, Thomas Piketty, with his new approach and
forcefulness has given the left a second chance. We must not waste it this
This, if properly
and persistently used along with a renewed and refurbished Social State, can
break neo-liberalism’s present ideological hegemony and undermine the present
political dominance of the mega-rich, who dictate in various ways the direction
of society’s (indeed, humanity’s) development.
Certain unusual or misunderstood aspects of
neo-Liberalism have to be grasped if this struggle is to be won. For instance:
describes itself as something that was not, and could not be created by human beings. It is
a self-generated, self-organized combination of elements that, spontaneously
welded themselves into the system that we now call capitalism.
Because of that
supposed ‘fact’, no individual or group of individuals can be blamed for
shortcomings:these are more likely to
be caused by government,union or
leftist interference. This system has evolved,
and we cannot control evolution. Indeed, to try to do so can only make things
worse than they may presently be. And nothing like ‘Social justice’ can exist,
for ‘society’ is not an entity that can be studied or managed as a whole.
outdated old instincts are the main problem, always holding us back. Rather
than inbuilt ‘human instincts’ and ‘fellow-feeling’, we now have tocontrol ourselves by a set of abstract rules.
Hayek proclaims: ‘I believe that an atavistic longing after the life of the
noble savage is the main source of the collectivist tradition.’(The Fatal Conceit, page 19). The one
exception concerns our intimate companions:Because, ‘if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order
[capitalism] to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them.’ (ibid. page 18).
The rest can go
hang, he is saying; but with the sweetener for some‘that such a system gives to those
who already have [which is] its merit rather than its defect.’ (Law, Legislation and Liberty, vol. 2,
Hayek has devised
what would be a legally binding constitution to guarantee that it will survive
even the demise of the above supports for the inner nature of the system.
some years, I and others had hoped, rather, to do away with capitalism
altogether. While capitalism was still in full control, it was the social
democrats of various kinds in Australia and worldwide who, to their credit,worked hardest to abolish the sordid slums
where the majority of working men, women, and children were forced to live.
These were replaced with decent habitation, and many of their progeny showed
through their abilities that higher education should no longer be be confined
to the wealthy – a principle now under a new threat from the Abbott government
and its education minister, Christopher Pyne.
intense, ‘post-war reconstruction’ had to heed – and did – modern concerns with
new social problems, complexities and to a degree our relation with nature
itself and other species began to appear. Capitalists and their ideologists
were very much on the defensive, andthe
conservative Robert Menzies presented himself as a spokesman for the developing
It was a period
when really full employment existed, and I can remember atime early in Menzies reign when a2 percent rate of official unemployment
caused anger and concern.
that only democratically elected governments could have the power to obtain the
money now required to solve new tasks, and thereby had both the right and duty
to step in – not to take over the lives of individuals and families, but to
help all citizens cope with the increasing complexity of modern living.
This expressed the
conviction that a civilized society required not only the piecemeal reforms
already set in place, but an undertaking that the state itself would work more
broadly, as in fact it did. This was significantly and particularly in the
three unprecedentedly prosperous decades (a whole generation!) that followed
the victorious end of the Second World War.
occur to me that could make a significant difference, without repeating the
socialist mistake of advancing to foremost requirement the abolition,
essentially by confiscation, of all significant private property in the means
in his important recent book Karl Marx: a
nineteenth-century life, includes from a new edition of Marx’s collected
works, the fact that Marx had some second thoughts about private property.
Reading a copy of
Rousseau’s Social Contract, Marx had
heavily penciled in the margins that ‘a genuine democracy would be the “true
unity of the universal and particular”, where the state would be a “particular
form of the people’s existence.” Sperber then publishes comments holding that
this structure would not be the same as anarchism but the ‘creation of
circumstances in which thestate ‘no
longer count[s] as the totality’ that is, was
no longer opposed to the private interests of civil society. (Karl Marx: a nineteenth Century Life,
Taking notice of
Piketty’s view that the Social State, now 60 or more years old, is in need of
renovation and renewal, I believe, with him, that ‘civil society’ needs a
boost. Philosopher John Gray writes of this concept that: ‘this is a complex
structure of practices and institutions, embracing a system of private or
several property, the rule of law, constitutional or traditional limitations on
government authority, and a legal and moral tradition of individualism, which
is the matrix of moral tradition of individualism, which is the matrix of moral
and political life as we know it.’ (Liberalisms:
Essays in political philosophy, page 262).
It is also related to to the concept of
‘self-management’,which I havepersonally and positively experienced in a cooperative printery.
The one thing that
I would like to add to any set of changes, is that it be madeclear that ‘ownership’ is not absolute, but
includes also the concept of custodianship,
implying that possession includes some responsibility to preserve, where
possible, the value of an asset – and particularly of our wonderful natural assets.
viewing a DVD of
Ken Loach’s film The Spirit of ’45
(the end of the Second World War) I realized that, despite extensive damage,
the British nation and people had not only been moved like everybody else by
the spirit of ‘never again’ without
changes for the better, would they fight for a defective and unfair social
immediately set about ensuring it was actually done. Many of the demands
developed after WW1 by the left, labour, and progressive movements, but
rejected by the dominant rich and aristocratic forces were, dusted off and
refurbished by radical intellectuals and socialists, and actually put in place
by the first post-war government.
a prominent hereditary aristocrat, had played a major part in defeating a
movement to do a deal with Hitler, peopled by some prominent aristocrats,
including some close to the royal family. And, succeeding, when war actually
broke out rose to the top and played a leading part with inspiring speeches
and, mainly good, military and political decisions.
When the first
postwar election was held, he stood as a candidate to lead the new government,
but was defeated by Labour.
For too long the ALP has failed to find sufficient inspiration on the ‘big picture’ social welfare, democratic and nation-building reforms it needs to implement in government as a genuine movement of democratic socialism and social democracy.
Please find below a ‘minimum program’ I have developed in tandem with other ALP members in the hope of influencing debate leading up to the 2015 ALP National Conference.
Included are proposals on tax and welfare reform, social insurance, environmental reform, a ‘democratic mixed economy’ and much, much more.Not every proposal could be included because of reasons of space.
This ‘Minimum Program’ will be published at the ALP Socialist Left Forum web-page as well; and there you can also comment and leave your name in support of it.
Please also propose motions in support of this program at your local branch, or your ALP student club.Or you may belong to a ‘third party organisation’ (eg: a welfare organisation, charity, student union or other advocacy group).Motions of support from these organisations are also welcome!If you successfully pass a motion in favour of this document please leave a comment to that effect either here, or at the 'For and Equal and Democratic Australia' Facebook Page.
There are some changes from the earlier version so you may like to read through first
As supporters of this Program we endorse the incorporation of the following into the ALP Platform for 2015:
a)ALP Core Mission: We believe that part of the ALP’s core mission in government is to promote a progressive accumulation of reforms- for the purpose of improving fairness, democracy and equity; promotion of a robust civil society characterised by informed and active citizenship and civil rights and liberties (speech, association, assembly; continued universal and equal suffrage; and basic industrial liberties);And preservation of the natural environment upon which human survival itself depends
b)Supporting Human Rights: We support the ‘core mission’ of pursuing ‘political’, ‘social’ and ‘economic’ citizenship;That includes the defence of civil and democratic rights and liberties; the provision of social wage and welfare rights; and finally the pursuit of a ‘democratic mixed economy’ via a plurality of strategies –
c)A Democratic Mixed Economy: We support variety of strategies for a ‘democratic mixed economy’ - including a mixture of public and co-operative ownership and control(including but not necessarily limited to public ownership of critical infrastructure and natural public monopolies), as well as mutualism, co-determination and other related strategies; and also crucially including ‘democratic collective capital formation ‘(that is democratically administered funds such as superannuation, public pension funds, wage earners or citizens’ funds etc) (nb: ‘collective capital formation’ was a term used by Swedish social democrats)
d)Expansion of social expenditure: We are committed to seeing an incoming ALP Federal Government implement a progressive expansion of social investment and expenditure – incorporating the social wage, social welfare state, collective consumption and social insurance; and state-funded public infrastructure
e)Expansion of Social Expenditure Detail:Specifically we aspire for the ALP to increase sustained social expenditure in the realm of 2.5 per cent of GDP – or by approximately $40 billion in today’s terms (as of 2014) – upon taking government, and more throughout the following terms. (plus even more still if the Australian economy is in danger of recession and stimulus is necessary) More specifically, we aspire to achieve a Federal tax to GDP ratio of 30% over several consecutive terms of Labor government, with a corresponding increase of social expenditure in diverse fields listed elsewhere in this statement.(ie: see article ‘g’) We understand the ALP cannot provide real progress regarding social expenditure on a variety of fronts without such measures.On social welfare, we reject ‘giving with one hand’ for the needy only to ‘take away with the other’.
f)Specific Revenue Measures: To fund these new commitments we support the following:
·very significant strategic and equitable rescission of superannuation concessions
·expansion of the Medicare Levy,
·restoration of a robust Mining Super Profits Tax
·the establishment of a progressively structured Aged Care Levy.
·progressively-structured tax reform elsewhere
Additional measures might include crack-downs on corporate tax avoidance, taxes on ‘super profits’ in areas like the banking sector, and a reduction in the rate of dividend imputation.. A Federal Land Tax should be considered but might infringe upon the revenue options for the States. We also ask the Party to consider a moderate increase in Company Tax and actions to ‘end the race to the bottom’ in corporate taxation which is leading to greater and greater ‘corporate welfare’ globally. Other taxation measures will be decided upon by any incoming Labor government –but the ‘bottom line’ is that the total measures implemented must provide for the aforementioned increases in social expenditure, andvery significantly add to rather than detract from the progressive nature of the overall tax and spending mix.
g)Specific social expenditure/infrastructure measures we support for implementation in the first term of an incoming Federal Labor Government include:
·a progressively-funded National Aged Care Insurance Scheme providing a broad range of high quality aged care services for all those aged 65 and over with the need – and without forcing disadvantaged and working class families to sell or take equity against the family home to achieve the highest quality care;
·Robust and progressively applied increases in state school funding; including improvements in funding formulae as proposed in Gonski;
·provision of comprehensive Medicare Dental – with a wide array of dental services provided at minimal cost and promptly for pensioners and low income groups;
·Completion of the National Broadband Network – publicly owned and with Fibre to the Home technology; as well as other public-funded and owned infrastructure in areas such as transport, communications, water and energy;
·full implementation of ‘GP Super Clinics’;
·greater public support and funding for pure and applied scientific research via the CSIRO.
·A review of existing job network services; considering the possibility of re-consolidation of a single provider in the public sector; And regardless of this ensuring an emphasis on a more compassionate, patient and understanding approach to case management; especially considering the special needs of the long term unemployed, the under-employed, disability pensioners, those with differing skill types and levels; and forolder job-seekers,
h)Welfare Reform: We are committed to the ALP increasing welfare payments in real terms across the board upon re-taking government through more generous welfare formulae.We reject the ‘blame the victim’ and ‘blame the vulnerable’ mentality apparently promoted by the Abbott government.
i)Retirement Age: We are committed to maintaining a retirement age of 65 instead of raising it to 67 or 70 as proposed by Abbott and previous Labor Governments.Indeed we are also open to the possibility of reducing the retirement age below 65 into the future.Specifically we support reducing the retirement age for those who have suffered physical debilitation as a consequence of demanding work. (eg: manual labourers)
j)More Welfare Reform: Again in the sphere of welfare in particular:we support an incoming ALP Federal Governmentproviding substantial positive incentives and support for pensioners – including disability and aged pensioners – to ‘return to work’ via community programs (eg: in aged care, helping provide company and care for the vulnerable – unless professionally deemed psychologically unsuited to such work)But we do not support ‘negative incentives’ or labour conscription of any kind for these people.We understand that many such people – for instance the disabled – require flexibility which existing labour markets do not provide.Again: we support ‘positive incentives’ and ‘flexible work’ without loss of pensions.
k)Industrial/labour rights: We support a legislated real increase in the minimum wage as well as pattern bargaining rights for unions.And we support effective subsidies for some of the most exploited and underpaid workers (including in child care, cleaning, aged care and elsewhere)– whether through direct subsidies, tax concessions, enhanced social wage provision and other effective measuresWe also support the industrial rights and liberties of workers; including a right to withdraw labour ‘in good faith’ (including political strike action), and including a right to secondary boycott when ‘in good faith’ in solidarity with ‘industrially weak’ workers
l)Economic Democracy: We support the extension of democracy on the economic front, and for that purpose will support a stronger role for producers and consumers co-operatives in the Australian economy on both a large and a small scale. Specifically we support very significant but initially-capped aid to co-operatives via cheap credit, tax concessions and free advice/economic counselling - with co-operative enterprise supported in a variety of spheres, including credit unions, insurance, child care and aged care, manufacturing; as well as co-operative small and medium businesses. (for example in hospitality)
m)Curricula for ‘active/critical citizenship’: We are committed to reform of school curricula for the purposes of promoting ‘active andcritical citizenship’.Without bias, the point of such reform would be to impart balanced and inclusive understandings of political values, movements and ideas, and social interests. We believe active and informed citizenship means a stronger pluralist democracy.
n)On Higher Education:
·We support restoration and expansion of tertiary education funding; including for universities and the TAFE sector; with an expansion of tertiary education placements on the basis of an understanding of education as a modern social right, and not an exclusive privilege.
·We also support the humanities and social sciences for the sake of effective pluralism in the Australian public sphere.And we support provision for tertiary academics’ participation as ‘public intellectuals’ and not only on the basis of the bulk of published academic works.
·Furthermore we support progressive reform of the HECS system: reversing any fee deregulation, and with real increases in the repayment threshold; and forgiveness of debts of those who havea good reason for not being able to benefit from the prior education. (eg: because of disability)
·Gender equality: Finally, here, we support equal participation, and on-average equal achievement - between men and women in higher education, and greater participation and opportunity for those from disadvantaged and working class families.
o)Treaty: We are committed to beginning formal dialogue with representatives from the entire range of indigenous peoples with the aim of negotiating a Treaty.We support an incoming ALP government initiating such a process in its first term.
p)Environment: We are committed to increasing the proportion of renewable energy sources so as to achieve a real reduction of emissions even as the economy and population grow.Specifically we aspire to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 2000 levels by 2025.To this end we support large scale public investment in renewables, as well as generous subsidies for lower income households to acquire micro-renewable energy systems; and incentives for landlords to invest in micro-renewable energy. In further environmental reforms we are committed to sustainable land use and water management, achieving ‘world’s best practice’ in food production.
q)Humanitarian Migration: We support a very significant expansion of Australia’s humanitarian migrant intake – increased very significantly in real and proportionate terms on top of what was proposed by the outgoing Rudd Labor government. Additionally, we want for an ALP government to pursue diplomatic channels to encourage other prosperous countries in the region to also increase their humanitarian intake very significantly.For asylum seekers we support humane onshore community-based processing.
r)ABC and SBS:We support continued funding of the ABC and SBS – and the pursuit of ‘participatory media’ principles and strategies through these channels.We support a role for the ABC and SBS in pursuing an ‘authentic’ public sphere, and an inclusive pluralism. (with the exception of not providing a platform for the far right)And we support representative ‘popular’ participation on the ABC and SBS boards of management.
s) Public and Social Housing: We support very substantial investment in high quality public housing (facilitated through tied Federal grants to the States), and also social housing where it is more cost-effective - to increase supply, and hence also affordability.(combined with the necessary public investment in local infrastructure in emerging suburbs) Re-iterating from item ‘g’ –that means expansion of ( largely ‘non-clustered’) public housing stock to at least 10% of total stock over several terms of Labor Government
t)Local Government:We support a gradual re-working of the funding of local government – to ensure local government is funded in an increasingly progressive way, and is less dependent on ‘rates’ and ‘levies’ which do not take sufficient (or any) account of ‘capacity to pay’.In that context we also support additional Federal funding for poorer municipalities to improve their capacity to invest in local infrastructure and services.
u)Internal Reform: We support internal democratic reform of the ALP; including a direct role for union members in supporting particular policies and platform items; as well as direct election for ALP National Conference delegates; actual adherence to State and National Platforms; and a ‘mixed model’ for election of the Party Leader which may include rank and file, Parliamentary Labor and trade union components. In the same spirit we demand that both major factions (Left and Right) – and the Party more broadly - equally share the work of achieving the Affirmative Action goal of 40% women preselected for winnable seats.
v)Public Sphere: We also support the establishment of a ‘progressive public sphere’ in this country, including ALP related forums, and policy and ideas conferences and publications which are inclusive, authentic, progressive, and which accommodate difficult debates.
w)Strategic industry policy: We support an active industry policy aimed at the maintenance of ‘strategic industries’ with ‘strategic capacities’ in Australia; including through automotive production, shipping-construction and also defence industries. (but not for export to aggressor nations) Said industries can also involve high wage, high skill labour. And there are a variety of potential models, including joint multi-stakeholder co-operative-state ventures – involving workers, regions and government.
x)Multilateral Disarmament and Peace: At the same time we support a policy of realistic multilateral disarmament with the aim of freeing resources for purposes which meaningfully improve peoples’ material; quality of life
y)On Health Care:In addition to the aforementioned implementation of comprehensive Medicare Dental and GP Super Clinics we also support the following:
·Also increase investment in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to extend its coverage
·Improve the rate of Bulk Billing
·Tighten means tests for ‘Lifetime Health Cover’ in order to pay for the removal of penalties for low income individuals (including pensioners) who let their policies lapse;
·Also extend Medicare to cover physio, optometry (including glasses or contact lenses), speech therapy, podiatry, psychology; provision of hearing aids where necessary; and also cosmetic surgery for those in extreme need (for instance as a consequence of physical injury)
·Improvement of and substantial new investment in mental health services to ‘close the gap’ regarding the life expectancy of those with mental illness; as well as to improve productivity and quality of life
z)A Comprehensive Bill of Modern Human Rights: Finally: We support a comprehensive ‘Bill of Rights’ in this country, supporting liberal and civic rights of suffrage, speech, assembly, association, faith, conscience. As well we support ‘social rights’ including education and health, a guaranteed minimum income; housing; access to communications and information technology; access to transport; access to fulfilling employment with a remission of exploitation; social inclusion including opportunity for recreation and participatory citizenship; respect and human dignity.