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The Australian Alert Service is the weekly publication of the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia.
It will keep you updated of strategic events both in Australia, and worldwide, as well as the organising activities of the CEC.

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In this week's Australian Alert Service
11 October 2017

The fight is right vs. wrong, not right vs. left

The electricity and gas crises head the list of predicates of Australia as an economic basket case. Despite competing to be the world's leading gas exporter, and having the most abundant supplies of coal, uranium and thorium for electricity generation, Australians don't have reliable electricity or sufficient gas. Households and industries are suffering alike, and the experts' solution to the electricity crisis is to manage "demand response", which is newspeak for shutting down industries in a heatwave to ration electricity.

Other predicates relate to the banks. Economist and former Labor minister Craig Emerson wrote in the 9 October Australian Financial Review that Australia's economy is a house of cards. "Pull the house-price card out and the whole economy can collapse", he warned. "Such is the folly of orchestrating a housing boom as a substitute for an economic strategy."

Another economist, Stephen Anthony from Industry Super Australia, wrote in the 3 October Sydney Morning Herald that the banking system needs to be fixed to improve productivity and living standards. "Australia's banks are failing to meet their public obligations to drive growth and raise community welfare", he identified. "This is a long-term problem." One of the latest examples of the banks' failings is UBS analyst Jonathan Mott's survey that showed that one third of borrowers with interest-only loans do not know they are not paying down the principal of their loans. "Monthly repayments on interest-only loans— which do not require payment on the loan principal for about five years—jump by about 50 per cent at the end of the interest-only period", the 7 October Australian reported. "The findings ... suggest many homeowners were unaware they are heading towards a financial cliff." In a 4 October Bloomberg column, titled "Australia's luck has run out", former banker and influential financial analyst Satyajit Das wrote that "a debt bomb is growing Down Under", adding: "The high debt levels increase the risk of a banking crisis, which could be sparked by rising losses on real estate loans."

The political debate on the electricity, gas and banking crises is along the usual right vs. left, Liberals vs. Labor divide. The divide is not real, however. By their own admission there is a fundamental consensus between both sides on neoliberal economic policies.

The real debate is between the present neoliberal consensus, and history. How did Australia's nation builders make the economy work and lay the foundations for decades of economic prosperity, which neoliberalism has almost undone? Australia's greatest nation-builders were in "old" Labor, who waged a do-or-die political fight for the Common Good, against the oligarchical financial interests that Labor called the "Money Power". Old Labor's fight was principled, not ideological, and their interest was in what worked, which they defined as what worked for everybody, not just an elite few. Their fight wasn't right vs. left, but right vs. wrong.

Labor knew that the most fundamentally "right" policy was a national bank, a government financial institution through which the public interest was represented in the financial system, so the public would not be at the mercy of the Money Power. They fought for public infrastructure, public health, public education, and other public institutions for the same reason—to make the agency of government serve the Common Good. Australian old Labor's last hurrah was Gough Whitlam's push to bring Australia's resources under national control (see Almanac). His dismissal by the Queen precipitated the ALP's sell-out to the Money Power through its embrace of deregulation and privatisation, the disastrous consequences of which we see today in the energy and banking crises.

The Corbyn nationalisation revolution in the UK is recruiting people back to the principle of government serving the Common Good (p. 8). Due to the Citizens Electoral Council, it's catching on here too: economist Stephen Anthony's suggested banking reform is structural separation (Glass-Steagall) and a public bank.

Articles include the following:

  • Take back the common wealth!
  • Don't miss the bigger agenda behind China's BRI
  • Another ALP veteran speaks for BRI engagement
  • Monetarism vs. public credit
  • 'Magic of the market' makes fuel security disappear
  • Abbott backs nuclear power
  • 50-degree future a scientific fraud
  • A tale of two conferences
  • Bank of England steps up global bail-in drive
  • Economic collapse fuels divisions in Europe
  • Why go to China?
  • Robert Mueller, Anglo-American hit man
  • Trump rocks Wall Street with Puerto Rico debt pledge
  • CEC activists put the spotlight on APRA agenda
  • Columbus's first 'Belt and Road' inspired by Cusa
  • ALMANAC: The Money Power vs. the Whitlam Government


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