Its time to bury the policies of greed

Over the past 40 years, many social democratic parties across the globe flirted with an array of policies often described as ‘neo-liberal’. Although this might sound harmless at face value, the adverse and long term effects of these policies have become unmistakable. As a recent study has confirmed, they have, in effect, increased economic inequality and concentrated wealth into fewer and fewer hands.

First coined in the 1930s, the concept of ‘neo-liberalism’ was hatched as a direct retaliation to the growing dependence of many governments across the West to utilise collectivist, social democratic prescriptions to address pressing social and economic issues of the day.

Over time, with the collapse of the political consensus on the economic role of the State, governments turned to neo-liberal policies instead. During the 1980s, social democratic parties in growing numbers also viewed these policies as a means to ‘modernise’ the Left and provide a ‘fresh approach’. Instead of recognising its insidious seduction and therefore fighting neo-liberalism, the mainstream political Left in many countries, including Australia, embraced it.

Idolising the primacy of the market, in essence, neo-liberalism was clearly a reaction to various forms of socialism through a dangerous mix of ingredients such as privatisation, re-commodification of services, deregulation, fiscal austerity, increased employment insecurity and anti-union laws. On top of this, neo-liberalism and its worship of extreme individualism, embraced competition at all levels – even within society.

It tore at the existing social fabric, promoting greed and in fact dehumanising and blaming certain groups such as women, people from a different ethnicity or race, as well as LGBTIQ communities.
As the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) eventually underscored, the neo-liberal approach has failed.

However, it lingers.

There is a fresh attack from its proponents who claim that any lapse into ‘socialism’ would be disastrous. Yet the irony in this claim is laughable. Governments during the GFC used statist, government interventionist policies to stimulate their economies. Even during the current COVID pandemic, many governments recognised that state assistance is required to prevent a long and arduous economic downturn.

What is clear, however, is that the mainstream Left of Centre’s dalliance with neo-liberalism has been a total catastrophe. Many voters have deserted social democratic parties because they were prepared to adopt a neo-liberal approach if needed. In some countries, this has caused a rupture of the progressive vote and a general failure for left of centre parties to thrive.

With the failure (and reluctance) of neo-liberalism to respond the existential threat of climate change, social democratic parties, including the Australian Labor Party, are now faced with a vital decision. Eschew once and for all the policies of neo-liberalism and its destructive greed or face further electoral splintering and terminal decline.

The social democratic Left, with its unique relationship with organised labour, has a renewed opportunity to bury failed policies of the unbridled market and set a new course that helps reduce inequality, build communities, revitalise democracy and address climate change. The approach need not be solely statist in nature, but instead it should look to building partnerships with local communities, small businesses, social enterprises and organisations that seek social cohesion and inclusiveness. Taking another sip of neo-liberalism’s Kool-Aid would be regrettable.

Annerley Branch News – December 2020

State Labor urged to act on voluntary assisted dying

Annerley Labor has joined a campaign organised by the United Workers Union (UWU) to encourage the State Labor Government to act on its promise to introduce voluntary assisted dying laws early in its third term. The union has written to ALP branches highlighting the importance of the issue and encouraging rank and file members to urge action as soon as possible.

In response to the appeal from the UWU, the Annerley Branch adopted a resolution that called on the Premier, Annastasia Palaszczuk, to ‘urgently table legislation to legalise voluntary assisted dying, in line with the recommendations from the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee report’. The resolution has since been conveyed to the Premier and re-inforces a decision by the last state ALP conference to support the introduction of enabling legislation.

During the recent 2020 state election, Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk promised to introduce a bill as early as February 2021. During the public consultation phase on the issue, there was widespread community support for the laws to be introduced in the state.

The Queensland Parliament resumes on 23 February 2021.

Christmas hamper appeal a big success

Terri Butler MP helps Annerley Labor hand over this years donations

Branch members have rallied around their annual Christmas hamper appeal to show support for local people and families doing it tough this year. Each December, the Annerley Branch organises a collection of food items to donate to Micah Projects, which in turn distributes hundreds of hampers to people in need.

However, the big difference this year was the hand over of a cheque for $850 to Micah Projects, in addition to the large collection of food. The funds were donated by branch members in recognition of the difficult year that many had faced due to the pandemic.

On hand to help out was Terri Butler MP, Federal Member for Griffith who handed the cheque to Andy from Micah Projects, (pictured). Andy expressed heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to this years donation, commenting that it would certainly be helpful. The $850 will assist in buying fresh food that will be delivered by volunteers during the busy festive season.

Micah Projects is a not for profit community organisation that supports thousands of people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, poverty and social isolation. For more information visit micahprojects.org.au