Change the Rules - Change the Government - Change the System
SEARCH Foundation 2019 Federal Election Statement
The outcome of the 2019 Federal Election will be critical for Australia’s future. All socialists and progressives should weigh into the campaign to defeat the Coalition government as a matter of urgency and priority in the remaining days to 18 May.
Removing that government will be a first crucial step. A crucial second step will be to ensure that a Labor government with Greens support implements its progressive reforms and resists conservative pressures in the Senate and from powerful corporate and other vested interests.
Beyond that, the progressive movements will need to campaign for more far-reaching radical changes that challenge neoliberal capitalism and its twin crises of the ecology and the economy. Changes that point in the direction of socialist goals: equality, social justice, democracy and a sustainable society.
The fight to preserve the planet that we live on is now critical, as scientific reports warn with escalating urgency of looming catastrophes from climate change and extinction of species and the complex biosphere that sustains human civilisation.
Social research confirms that public opinion is ahead of the political system. The majority want action on climate change, and we are willing to adopt large-scale change to do so.
We also want the end of trickle-down economic policies that always give more to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. We can see and feel the economic stress, stagnant wages and the need for secure jobs, and we want our government to act to address these issues rather than ‘leaving it to the market’. We need to Change the Rules for working people, so that all get a fair share.
We want improved public education, and health and disability services. We know that our society can afford these things if we make them a priority. The obscene wealth of the very few shows that there is plenty of wealth being created, but very little of it is seen in improved living standards for the vast majority. And we know that if we follow the path taken in the USA or the UK, we will see tragic waste of human life and human potential.
These two challenges - climate change and economic inequality - are the fundamental political question of our time. It is due to them that we can see there are problems everywhere we look that are left unaddressed by the Federal government. The childcare barrier, the housing crisis, the Murray-Darling water crisis, the gutting of TAFE, the loss of biodiversity and decreased quality of urban life - these are issues that cut across party lines, group identities and geographies, and have at their source the twin evils of climate change and economic inequality.
There is a growing and powerful movement that demands action to address the ‘global entropy’ associated with climate catastrophe and economic dysfunction. Support is growing for a fairer economy. Overwhelmingly, people want action to end corporate tax avoidance and destructive ‘free trade’ agreements.
Labor and the Greens are both promising significant action on many these important issues. Meanwhile the Liberal and National parties are committed to tax cuts for the wealthy and virtually no other significant change.
However, many people are turning away from the major parties and looking for alternatives. There are signs of exasperation with the Morrison Coalition government and often frustration with Labor and the Greens.
The disillusioned are being courted by nationalists, racists and self-interested populists. Racism is an ugly part of Australian politics today, and it needs to be exposed. Many of the extreme right-wing parties and the Coalition are attempting to use race to divide the nation and win votes.
Nobody is more affected by this racism than First Nations communities. First Nations people have been denied sovereignty and robbed of self-determination. One key step to redressing this injustice is to have a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to oversee truth-telling and the negotiation of treaties and agreements.
We also need urgent action to free the thousands of asylum seekers and refugees that suffer because of Australian government policies. All asylum seekers that are in the care of the Australian government should be brought here and be allowed to participate in our community as quickly as possible.
This election is no time to sit back and watch others do the work. The SEARCH Foundation believes we can vote out the Morrison government and wipe out what they stand for by people taking collective action.
SEARCH is publicising assessments of the major issues and detailing the important choices people will be making when they vote. We have released and promoted campaign videos that urge people to vote for climate action and a First Nations Voice to Parliament. Many of our members are leading and supporting mass movement campaigns.
Our Federal election statements connect these key issues – climate change, workers' rights, First Nations rights, economy and social justice, education and health – and set out solutions. We can work together to take care of everyone, defeat racism and fascism and build a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future.
Greater democratic engagement is critical to winning transformative change. Change comes from mass movements and the active participation of everyday working people in politics.
There is a worldwide movement for real action on climate change and an economic system that works for the many not the few. Australians are part of this wave. We are participating in the international Student Strike for Climate movement. The Change the Rules campaign is connected to the international struggle for workers rights. In the face of conservative media and elite complacency that says 'it's not relevant here, we are comfortable in Australia' these movements are growing and making these issues the litmus test for government. SEARCH is proud to play our part in support of the movement for change, and will continue to do so for this election campaign and beyond.
This statement and the related policy papers are presented as part of the SEARCH Foundation’s work for a democratic, ecological, socialist Australia, based on increased public and social ownership, cooperative mechanisms and workers’ self-management, which enable people to have an effective voice in all decision-making. Please share them with your networks in the community and at work.
Authorised by Luke Whitington, SEARCH Foundation. www.search.org.au. May 2019