March 26, 2013
The ALP has moved closer to its union power base. The wagons are circling.
That is the significance of Gillard's remarks at the Australian Workers Union conference that Labor was not a progressive or a social democratic party, but primarily a workers’ party. In saying that the prime minister has turned her back on the progressive and social democratic tradition of her party; a tradition centred around taming and civilizing capitalism.
Why the retreat?
Is out of fear of attacks from the Right that Labor is engaged in class warfare? Is it a failure of nerve in the face of neo-liberal globalization? A failure to open up the economy to, and welcome, the highly skilled middle class migrants from Asia who desire to come to Australia? The dead hand of the factions?
I supported the ALP in the last election primarily because of the promise of the National Broadband Network. It was a solution to Australia’s long-term telecommunications problems and it's infrastructure provided the capabilities to enable Australia to a high skilled digital economy. For Australia to compete in a global economic environment, then it is going to be increasingly about knowledge and innovation. So that means we're going to need cities with a skilled and educated workforce that are able to contribute to that economy and prosper.
Given the delays in the NBN’s rollout over the past several months it is now clear that the network will not be built. What's more the plan will be demolished by the Coalition when they return to government late 2013 to be replaced by Turnbull's patchwork of fibre to the node and copper from the node to the premises. There ends the dream of Australia developing a high skilled digital economy. Australia remains a quarry with an ever increasing concentration of wealth and power resulting from ostensibly “free market” activities.
These activities are premised on greed is good for wealth creation. Their vision is still one of unfettered markets creating economic harmony and they continue to represent this as “the end of history”.