Socialism returns to Australian politics

It's been a while since we've had a political party advocating increased public ownership of the means of production.

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

Socialism returns to Australian politics. It's been a while since we've had a political party advocating increased public ownership of the means of production. But now the subject is back on an election agenda and it is not the Labor Party that's putting it there. The new socialist advocates are Katter's Australian Party. Party founder and leader Bob Katter spelled out the philosophy when his members met at the weekend for their first convention and to launch their campaign for the Queensland state election. He told the party faithful  party he would tour the state in a big red bus and spruik the message of building local infrastructure while protecting local jobs and state owned assets.
"We will build things and we will not sell the assets of the people. "The message of what we will build will become obvious as we start to move up the coast. "This afternoon I'll be laying down generalisations and when that bus pulls up in your area we will be delivering to you the specifics."
As for his opponents, well, Premier Anna Bligh was guaranteed to sell electricity infrastructure if Labor was re-elected at next month's state poll, but so would the LNP. "If the LNP gets elected, they'll sell them faster," he said. "You can't sell off those assets. Those assets belong to the people. They do not belong to the crown." Giving us a double dose. The domination of political reporting by opinion polls has been given a boost by The Australian. As if a fortnightly Newspoll was not enough, the paper is continuing with its new policy of spreading the impact to Mondays as well as Tuesdays. This morning we had some anti-Gillard findings on economic management as a preview to tomorrow's main event on overall leadership popularity and voting intentions. No doubt the motivation for the doubling up is to feed the insatiable media desire to speculate about leadership changes. Tonight it will be the ABC's turn to feed the frenzy with a Four Corners program devoted to Kevin Rudd's leadership ambitions. The benefit of women members. From the United States comes a study showing that female incumbents do better at getting re-elected than males. The conclusion:
"Female victors have superior political skills compared to otherwise equivalent males, as indicated by the fact that they are more likely to win elections once they are able to face the hurdle of winning the first election. They have a 6-7 percentage point higher incumbent effect than a comparable male."
Bad news from Japan. We might be Chinacentric these days but Japan remains an important market for our mineral exporters and the news this morning that the Japanese economy contracted in the October to December quarter is hardly encouraging. Gross domestic product shrunk by 2.3% during the period from an year earlier, much worse than 1.4% contraction that analysts had forecast. Compared with the previous three months, the economy contracted by 0.6%.

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4 thoughts on “Socialism returns to Australian politics

  1. Bill Hilliger

    Bob Katter’s Australia Party = Australian Socialist Party.
    Bjelke Petersen would turn in his grave. The National/CLP party should be worried come next federal election.

  2. DeeToo

    Richard Farmer has not the foggiest idea about socialism; it is certainly NOT about not selling taxpayer-owned assets. Katter is not a socialist. There is only one thing that Bob Katter is and that is very good at telling you exactly what he knows you want to hear … on any given occasion. “You” can range from one person to the whole population – I have heard him at an Anti-privatisation Rally Townsville 11 October 2010.

  3. Brisbane James

    Sticking on labels like “lefties” or “socialism” is not very helpful.
    It dumbs things down to the point at which people put it into the “I have already decided” box.

    Let’s see which bits the Mad Katter would like to re-nationalise, and how, first. And of course whether they all add up to anything like sensible policy.

    Privatisation isn’t an all-encompassing panacea.

    In some circumstances, with due care to ensure an actual competitive marketplace and enforcable minimum service standards, it can work quite well.

    In others it can lead to monopolies, price-gouging, and loss of sovereign control over critical resources, infrastructure or service provision.

    There are things I consider too important to a community to simply flog off to whichever profit-driven multinational happens to have bags of cash that year.

    The flipside of course is that historically many state-run enterprises have not had enough motivation to pursue efficiency or excellence, ending up as bloated beaurocracies, panting in the shade while awaiting the next budget allocation.

    Getting a good system to deliver, is of course a hard question, but spending all day telling appealing stories to constituents or crowing in the media with whichever buzz-word gets advertiser hits, isn’t going to get answers anytime soon.

  4. Peter Ormonde

    Agrarian socialism has never been far from the program of the National Party Richard. When it rains, when it doesn’t, when there’s not enough wool, or too much, protecting us all from foreign apples or the homegrown banana menace. They like the rhetoric of all this rugged individual, world’s most efficient farmer tripe, but when it comes to the crunch they yearn for the safety and comfort of the nanny state. Subsidies now! More handouts! We’re a protected species.

    And our banks seem to have a habit of running off to the nanny state for comfort and cuddles when they scrape their knees. And our steel industry, and our car makers and our aluminium smelters….

    A curious sort of socialism this…. society carries the costs and the owners walk away with the profits.

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