Australian elections: ­ Howard’s out, but it’s still the same old bullshit

Alastair Reith

In the recent Australian General Elections, the eleven year reign of John Howard and his Liberal-National Coalition government was ended with a victory for the Labor Party and its leader Kevin Rudd.

The elections saw a significant voter shift towards Labor, with Howard even losing his own seat in the election to Labor challenger Maxine McKew.

While no one is sorry to see Howard and his Coalition thrown out, the facts are that “Kevin07” and Labor will be no better than Howard was.

A major reason for the Coalition’s defeat was the unpopularity of its “WorkChoices” industrial relation (IR) legislation, a frontal attack on the Australian working class and the Australian union movement, that made it harder for workers to strike, made it easier for employers to force their employees onto individual workplace agreements rather than collective agreements, and banned clauses from workplace agreements which supported unions.

Despite the ALP’s promises to “oppose the Howard Government’s industrial relations legislation in every respect, at every stage until the next election”, Rudd changed the position to being “removing many of the worst aspects of WorkChoices”.

Rather than ditching the massively unpopular WorkChoices in its entirety, Rudd has instead given it a facelift, in a similar way to what the current Labour government in New Zealand did with National’s Employment Relations Act.

Businesses with under fifteen workers will still be exempt from unfair dismissal laws, with the original legislation exempting businesses with under 100 employees.

Restrictive right of entry rules into workplaces for unions introduced under WorkChoices will remain and secret ballots (rather than open ballots) to decide on carrying out strikes will continue, strikes will become banned except during periods of collective bargaining. (emphasis added)

The new Labor government has stated that “Federal Labor will not allow industrial action to be taken outside a clear set of tough rules”, and that “Small business will be protected from unlawful and disruptive union activity.”

All of this should prove to anyone with a brain that the ALP government and “Kevin07” is no more worker friendly than the Howard government that preceded it, and should be opposed with just as much vigour as the Coalition was.

Rudd has reconfirmed that Australian troops will continue to occupy Afghanistan indefinitely, saying that “Australia is here in Afghanistan for a long haul”.

While Rudd has confirmed that he will pull Australia’s 550 combat troops out of Iraq, 500 “non-combat” troops will stay in the country doing “re-construction work” (aka building, maintaining and repairing military bases and so on).

Rudd has pledged to continue with the “intervention” into the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities, described by former Northern Territory MP, and Indigenous leader John Ah Kit as “in some ways genocide”.

All of this clearly shows that (despite what some on the left may claim), Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor Party is not, never was and never will be worthy of any support whatsoever, and despite Howard being gone, it’s still the same old bullshit.

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