A parade of political ghosts

Masked thug hired by Patrick Stevedoring to lock out maritime workers in 1998.

In the previous issue I wrote about the ghost of Pauline Hanson appearing when the Liberal-National Coalition’s cynical plan to exploit racist fear of Australia’s Muslim minority communities was exposed. But since then there has been a veritable parade of political ghosts!

Ghost number one was former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett who chose to deliver public advice to aspiring NSW premier, Barry “Small-target” O’Farrell, to to sack most departmental heads, rush pre-written legislation through Parliament and unleash a whirlwind of change on half a dozen fronts as soon as he becomes premier. Make that Barry “Red-face” O’Farrell checking his glinting axe is hidden away behind his pudgy backside.

”Go fast early on,” he advised, according to a report in the February 24 Sydney Morning Herald.

”The most important issue is not to try and address one issue on its own and then move to the next. If you do that all of those who oppose you will coalesce around one issue… If you attack all areas of government at the same time, you break your forces and each then settle down to protect their particular patch. You divide your enemy – old military tactic.”

The people of NSW have been reminded what the term “being Jeff-ed” means. NSW Labor deserves to be punished but have no illusions that a Coalition government can and will do worse. The Greens should change their fence-sitting preference policies.

Political ghost number two was Peter “Balaclava” Reith, John Howard’s federal minister for industrial relations from 1996 to 2000 who decided to use masked thugs and attack dogs to try and smash the Maritime Union of Australia through a lockout of union members at Patrick stevedoring wharves.

“Since 2008, no one in the Coalition has put in a sustained effort to prosecute the case for individual agreements,” he grumbled in an opinion piece in February 24 Australian.

“Freedom of choice is an essential element of Liberal values. Coalition MPs have been told to not speak about industrial relations. Work Choices is now dead and buried.”

Yeah freedom to be exploited more ruthlessly by the boss. Workers have learnt through painfully experience that unity and solidarity is strength. That is why workers need unions.

“I understand the political tactic of not making IR an issue in the last election,” Reith continued, risking a dose of the Abbott death stare. “It was an exceptional situation because no opposition has ever won the first election after a new government has been returned to office from opposition. The situation now is different.”

But political ghosts also emerged to haunt the ALP. Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke thinks the ALP should allow uranium to be sold to India and also have a serious debate about nuclear power in Australia, reported the Melbourne http://www.theage.com.au/national/hawke-backs-uranium-20110224-1b73k.html on February 25.

Hawke said Labor should not get ”hung up on uranium'” after he was chanced upon by journalists while he was “enjoying a quiet cigar with Simon Crean (and before that Bill Kelty) in a Parliament House courtyard”. Apparently Tony Abbott stopped by for a chat and they then found themselves surrounded by journalists.

Like the ghost of Banquo in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the recent parade of political ghosts are a premonition of nasty prospects around the corner.

Politicians hope that people have short memories. One of our objectives at Green Left Weekly is to expose the nasty plans of the conservative politicians, from all the parties which serve the interest of the corporate rich. But another is to keep alive the history of our common struggles for justice and a sustainable future. We help keep alive the collective memory of the progressive movements.

If you would like to help us keep doing these important jobs please make donation online today at greenleft.org.au/donate.php

Direct deposits can be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992.

Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or phone in a donation on the toll-free line, 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

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