Politicians for the 1% have about as much credibility

Occupy Sydney at Martin Place, October 15, 2011. Photo by Peter Boyle.

The first Q & A program to discuss the “Occupy” movement sweeping the world (reportedly there are now occupations in 2220 cities) revealed why the politicians that represent the richest 1% have no credibility any more.

The Liberal Party’s (permanently sneering) number two attack dog, Christopher Pyne, predictably went for the Occupy protesters and their supporters for “dissing the capitalist system, which has given us the extraordinary standard of living we have in Australia” and justified the violent police dispersal of the Melbourne occupation.

But it was the cynical answers from the Labor Party’s former numbers man Graham Richardson and the Labor MP for Sydney, Tanya Plibersek, that revealed why Labor and Liberal-National politicians and governments alike have lost their credibility.

“Look, you know, we‘ve got democracy but like any system, it’s going to have faults and, yes, there are excesses. People are entitled to complain about excesses,” said Richardson with his branded I’ve-seen-it-all look.

“I think the money that some of them earn is just obscene. If I was earning it I’d feel a lot better about it but I am not, I’m not going to and I understand why they’d want to whinge. By the same token, you don’t start whacking policemen either.”

Protestors whacking policemen?

Plibersek that this was really about a problem in the United States.

“I think that the Occupy Wall Street protesters probably have a greater case because the economy is so much more chaotic there at the moment, so many people have lost their homes, so many people have lost their jobs. There are, you know, camping grounds of homeless people, just outside New York city and of course we have homeless people in Australia. I’m not pretending we don’t but the scale that we’re seeing in the United States is like The Grapes of Wrath. It’s shocking, the impact that the global financial crisis has had on one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world. So I’m not surprised that there is a very strong and large public reaction.

“We’ve been very fortunate in Australia. We’ve got low unemployment, by world standards, low debt, low deficit and I’m not saying that that gives people no reason to, you know, make their views about executive salaries and other issues known. I just think that the Wall Street protest, as a social movement, is – you know it’s really rooted in something very bad in the American economy at the moment.”

Funny isn’t it how these politicians seemed to have changed their tune about globalisation. For years they have been telling us that we must make more sacrifices, work harder, give up our job security and accept the cuts to social services because we live in a globalised world and we have to compete with workers with lower wages and poorer conditions overseas. It has been like a mantra. But now this global capitalist system has got itself into an almighty global crisis, we are expected to believe that it is just a problemin other countries.

Credibility score: ZERO!

The contrasting reponse on the Q & A program came from the young singer songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke:

“It’s just obscene the amount of money some people make, ” she said, welcoming the occupations as a new cultural break from the “slumber of apathy”.

“People talk about the economy like it’s this beast, like it exists separate from humanity and it has its own desires and its own needs and we have to feed it otherwise it might, you know, like a God incur its wrath upon us or something and I think it’s – what something like this brings home to me is that the economy is a human construct and wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all get together and change it for the better.”

Green Left Weekly shares this spirit. Our activist journalists have gone into overdrive to cover and build the new movement. But we urgently need your genenous donations to help get the message out. Donate online today to the Green Left fighting fund. Direct deposits can be made to Greenleft, 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 through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

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