KEVIN RUDD’S future summit, Australia 2020, will be held in Canberra on April 19 and 20. It could have been a chance for a real discussion about dismantling Howard’s legacy and tackling the looming economic crisis. Instead, Rudd will be sitting down with executives from Macquarie Bank, BHP Billiton and Westpac.
These are the same people Rudd and treasurer Wayne Swan attacked a few months ago when the banks raised interest rates by more than the Reserve Bank’s official increases in order to preserve their bottom lines. Does Rudd really think that these people have any ideas about easing the burden on living standards?
During his recent trip to the US, Rudd was quick to point to the global economic crisis as something that will hit “working families” here, as it has done in the US-where 80,000 lost their jobs in March alone. Here rising prices and successive interest rate hikes have already started to drive down the standard of living.
At Melbourne University’s New Agenda for Prosperity conference in March Rudd declared himself for a “productivity revolution”. This came as the ACTU released research showing that there are 6700 workplace deaths and 680,000 workplace injuries every year. Now, rather than dismantling the organs of Workchoices, Rudd is talking about increasing productivity-meaning that workers do more work for less money and often in unsafe conditions.
This month Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens signaled that workers are expected to pay for the cost of fighting climate change, saying: “one of the things the community will have to accept is that this [will mean] a reduction in living standards”. When Stevens says “we” he very clearly means workers and the poor. He is trying to push the cost of real action on climate change onto the individual through higher electricity rates and increasing food and petrol prices. He has faced no opposition from the Rudd government.
We need to push an alternative agenda for 2020 (see page 16)-one that makes sure that it is the big polluters and the big earners that pay for the damage they have done. Rudd and Gillard need an agenda that tackles the problems of the people that voted for real change in 2007. Instead they are sitting down with James Packer and other business heads. It is clear that we are going to have to build an alternative agenda beyond the walls of 2020-one that goes far beyond Rudd’s narrow vision.
Rudd: making friends in all the wrong places
Shots of Rudd shaking Bush’s hand in Washington and saluting him at the NATO summit in Bucharest showed how qualified Rudd’s opposition to the wars in the Middle East really is.
Rudd traveled to Bucharest as part of his 17 day world tour. He was looking to secure support for the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan. Rudd is not willing to commit extra ground troops but he has committed an extra $62 million-money that we know could well be used elsewhere.
Rudd spoke of the need for “burden-sharing” in Afghanistan