Scott Morrison is staring down the barrel of defeat. Nothing he’s tried has lifted the government in the polls.
Already under pressure over sexism in the Liberal Party, Morrison revealed his own sexist blinkers when he implied that opening opportunities for women would come at the expense of men, by saying on International Women’s Day that, “we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse”.
Labor is gaining momentum for the NSW state election on 23 March, with a similar tack to the left to Labor federally, promising free TAFE for 600,000 students, 5000 more teachers in its first term, and free public transport for kids.
Polling shows that Labor has a real chance of beating the NSW Liberal government. If the Liberals lose NSW it will be a dramatic sign Scott Morrison is headed for a colossal defeat at the May federal election.
Morrison is so unpopular he was not even allowed to speak at the NSW Liberals’ campaign launch.
The NSW Liberals’ record of privatising over $50 billion worth of assets, and cutting over $130 million and 4000 jobs from TAFE, is shocking. They hoped to coast back into power by spending big on new infrastructure. But the light rail is nowhere near finished and the trains are a disaster.
NSW Labor leader Michael Daley’s on-air threat to sack shock-jock Alan Jones from the Sydney Cricket Ground board earned Daley a lot of cred and gave Labor’s popular call for “money for schools and hospitals not stadiums” a huge boost. The Liberals are wasting $2 billion to rebuild Allianz Stadium and upgrade the stadium at Olympic Park.
Labor is also promising mandated nurse to patient ratios in hospitals and 5500 more nurses, funded largely by hitting the “wealthiest in society” with a tax on luxury cars and yachts.
But Daley has also told the Financial Review “we will be economically conservative” and has committed to running budget surpluses like the last NSW Labor government.
Morrison’s complete lack of any credible climate policy has blown up in his face. Even in formerly safe Liberal seats, there are Liberal-lite independents challenging Tony Abbott and Josh Frydenburg.
The government’s only solution is to pour more money into the Tony Abbott-era fund paying businesses to supposedly reduce emissions. But the scheme funds projects which would have happened anyway, and it has done nothing in six years to reduce Australia’s overall emissions.
It also emerged that the government’s claim it can meet its Paris climate target relies on dodgy accounting tricks through carrying over credits from the Kyoto agreement period.
The Coalition has nothing left but scare campaigns on every front. They have attacked Labor’s plans to lift Australia’s emission reduction target to 45 per cent by 2030 as a major threat to the economy.
Morrison is scaremongering that a Labor government would push the economy into recession. But the economy is already slowing thanks to the Liberals.
Living standards have fallen in the last three years due to stagnant wage growth. Research from ANU’s Ben Phillips has shown the fall in living standards was the largest in 30 years, “greater than during the last recession in 1991-92”.
Labor’s response, to declare the federal election will be “a referendum on wages”, has struck a chord and the ACTU is calling for national stopwork rallies.
So far, Brisbane is striking on 27 March and Melbourne on 10 April.
Labor has tacked to the left and is promising to scrap the penalty rate cuts, increase the minimum wage and change some of the rules around industrial relations. But they are not committed to giving unions the right to strike or introducing industry wide bargaining.
The union rallies can help put the movement on the front foot, with demands that can go past the federal election.
The 15 March student Climate Strike has galvanised the deep anger at Morrison’s refusal to act on climate change. But we need to build an ongoing climate campaign if we are going to stop capitalism destroying the planet.
The Palm Sunday national rallies for refugees on 14 April are also an important chance to push back Morrison’s scapegoating and fear campaign. Large demonstrations calling to get all asylum seekers and refugees off Manus and Nauru and ending offshore detention will also send a message to federal Labor.
The demonstrations for climate action, refugees and rights at work can shape the period ahead, to both finish off the Liberals, and to build the movements from below that we need to fight for real change.
Most of all we need a socialist movement to link the struggles together and fight for a society that protects the environment, and produces for human need and not for profit.