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In this week's Australian Alert Service
15 March 2017

Mass strike forces policy reversals, even Glass-Steagall

15 Mar.—Australian Labor Party frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite indicated yesterday that the ALP's banking royal commission could lead to the break up of the Big Four banks. Without using the name, Thistlethwaite made clear to Peter van Onselen on Sky News that he was talking about Glass-Steagall.

"Is it possible that Labor might look at legislation to break up the banks?" van Onselen asked. "Yeah", Thistlethwaite said. "There's a whole host of people who argue that we should break up the retail banking sections, so deposits and mortgages from the wealth management, the insurance that they've added on over recent years, and it's an approach that was taken in the US, it was watered down unfortunately by Bill Clinton. It's something that they're doing in the UK and there's calls for it to happen in Australia…."

There sure are—repeated calls, mainly from one clear voice, that of the Citizens Electoral Council. In April 2016 Thistlethwaite's leader Bill Shorten acknowledged as much when he answered a question at a public meeting on GlassSteagall by saying: "Sometimes this question gets asked by the Citizens Electoral Council." He then dismissed the idea: "We're not going to introduce the Glass-Steagall law."

So what's changed? Political reality, that's what, driven by economic reality. People all over the world who are economically on their knees have started rising up and voting against Establishment policies and politicians who represent the vested financial interests of Wall Street and the City of London who have impoverished them. Since Shorten brushed off Glass-Steagall in April 2016, blue collar voters in the UK's former industrial heartland have rocked the world by voting for Brexit, and a similar demographic in the USA have given the world another shake by voting Donald Trump into the White House. It wasn't lost on Australian politicians that Trump campaigned for Glass-Steagall, as did Bernie Sanders, and since taking office Trump has twice reiterated his support for the policy.

There are multiple other signs in Australia that the mass strike among angry voters is driving distinct policy shifts. Western Australian voters, suffering a post-mining boom economic collapse characterised by rising unemployment and falling house prices, brutally punished the Liberal government at the 11 March state election, voting it out in a landslide. The Liberals had proposed to privatise the state's electricity system—a policy that Australians have come to loathe. Significantly, the victorious Labor Party, once indistinguishable from the Liberals on neoliberal policies such as privatisation, campaigned strongly against the sale.

The South Australian Labor government has just announced its intention to override the National Electricity Market. Much of its proposal is inadequate and misguided, but nevertheless it asserts the principle that a government obligated to the common good, and not "market forces", has the responsibility to ensure adequate infrastructure. Similarly, federal Liberal treasurer Scott Morrison this week proposed to address the crisis in housing affordability by establishing a government bank to fund community housing. This is a sharp break from his predecessor Joe Hockey's 2009 declaration that "governments should not be involved in banking".

The CEC has stood firm for the policies that the mass strike is driving the major parties to adopt. Thus it was especially laughable when senior Murdoch columnist Dennis Atkins in the 13 March Courier-Mail praised retired National Party Senator Ron Boswell, who for decades had attacked the CEC for leading the fight against the neoliberal globalisation policies of free trade, deregulation and privatisation that the major parties, including the Nationals, had embraced. "He took on the Citizens Electoral Council and exposed them as conspiracy theorists who offered nothing but comfort in ignorance", Atkins drooled. Well, voters are repudiating everything Boswell represented, and in desperation the major parties are abandoning their neoliberal policies and turning to policies consistently championed by the CEC.

Articles include the following:

  • Showdown of the real vs. bubble economies
  • Italian finance committee examines bank separation
  • China begins countdown to international Belt & Road Forum
  • Maglev proposals continue
  • Testimony on Maryland House Resolution HJ4
  • President Trump reiterates Glass-Steagall
  • Glass-Steagall for Australia
  • Petition to Parliament Break up the big banks now
  • American 'colour revolution' faltering
  • 'UMBRAGE': WikiLeaks burns down CIA false-flag factory
  • Will Trump clean up Obama's mess in Syria?
  • Gas cartel threatens energy security
  • Glass-Steagall's time has come—organise for victory!
  • 'A symphony performed by all participating countries'
  • ALMANAC: Understanding Russia's role in today's world (Part I)


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