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In response to the budget

category indonesia / philippines / australia | community struggles | opinion / analysis author Wednesday July 09, 2014 21:27author by Anarchist Affinity Report this post to the editors

There is no budget emergency. This budget is a gross assault on the conditions of the working classes, smuggled in under contrived hysteria about debt. Meanwhile, Australia’s debt to GDP rate is the third lowest in the OECD. The 2014 budget is simply concerned with enhancing the profitability of corporate Australia and the power of the state on the backs of working people. The poorest people in our society will be the most affected – this means people of colour, Aboriginal people, women, young people and people with disabilities.
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There is no budget emergency. This budget is a gross assault on the conditions of the working classes, smuggled in under contrived hysteria about debt. Meanwhile, Australia’s debt to GDP rate is the third lowest in the OECD. The 2014 budget is simply concerned with enhancing the profitability of corporate Australia and the power of the state on the backs of working people. The poorest people in our society will be the most affected – this means people of colour, Aboriginal people, women, young people and people with disabilities.

Attacks on the dole are attacks on your wages. Government and business have no interest in full employment, liveable wages or good conditions. They want a pool of unemployed people large enough to drive down wages and readily replace troublesome workers. Forcing pensioners, the young, people with disabilities and single parents into work will expand this pool, and they will be forced to accept lower wages and retrograde conditions. This will affect wages and conditions in all workplaces. Attacks on the dole and pensions only serve to enhance the bargaining position of the bosses – the harder it is to be unemployed, the easier it is to crush struggles for fair conditions.

The GP tax is a corporate subsidy. Australians already pay out of pocket for 17% of all medical expenditure, though healthcare still remains elusive in rural and low income communities. The poorest are the sickest, and those of us who have the least already struggle to access basic services when the choice is between rent, food and medical expenses. The $7 GP tax will be poured into a market fund to subsidise research expenses for already massively profitable pharmaceutical corporations. The budget papers make clear that this research will be directed towards profitability and not human need. Degrees for the rich. Slashing university funding and deregulating fees has put us on the path to $100,000 degrees and lifetime student debt. For the children of the rich it is no issue, free to buy their way in irrespective of merit, whilst working class students are increasingly excluded. Vice Chancellors will be rubbing their hands with glee, free to charge at will, there will be no limit to their multi-million dollar salaries. Meanwhile, university educators are increasingly casualised, with contract staff paid for few of the hours they are required to work.

Tony Abbott has great friends in the ALP. Liberal attacks now and in the past would be meaningless if the ALP followed through on repeated promises to repeal once re-elected. But Labor does not repeal Liberal policy; it modifies it, and builds on it. There is a clear continuity between the actions of Labor and Liberal governments. Joe Hockey wants to slash pensions, but it was Julia Gillard who forced tens of thousands of single parents onto the dole. Christopher Pyne will chain graduates with debt, but this is only possible because Hawke and Labor abolished free education. The Liberal’s budget will cut thousands of support programs for Aboriginal people, while Labor chose to continue the racist NT Intervention. Bill Shorten and the ALP want to funnel anger at Abbott’s attacks into their re-election campaign. If they are successful, the anger that Abbott has roused will be demobilised, and Abbott’s attacks will be here to stay.

Victory does not mean merely constraining the worst excesses of this budget. Even if the Abbott government was thrown out tomorrow it would not stem the tide of ruling class attacks on our hard won rights. We need to build a social movement in response to these attacks, and the system that generates them, which includes the ALP alongside the Liberals. Looking at these attacks in isolation will be fatal. We need workers to act in solidarity with the unemployed, the healthy with the sick, the citizen with the migrant. Our movement to oppose these changes will only be as strong and effective as the support we show for one another, encompassing both practical support for those most affected, and by recognising the struggles of others as our own. An injury to one is an injury to all.

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