Scott Morrison didn’t just visit Donald Trump on his trip to the US—he started channelling him. First he backed Trump’s campaign against China, by parroting the line that it should stop being treated as a developing country.
Back in Australia he attacked “negative globalism” and the efforts of an “unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy” to tell his government what to do on refugees and climate change. It was a populist swipe that echoed Trump’s speech at the UN a week before where he announced, “the future does not belong to globalists”.
And when Trump abandoned the Kurds in Syria, Morrison shrugged it off, saying he had signalled it earlier and was just showing “consistency”.
Morrison has locked in a deeply right-wing agenda, demanding drug tests for dole recipients, the anti-union Ensuring Integrity Bill, and the repeal of the refugee Medevac Bill alongside efforts to deport Priya, Nades and their children.
And his government still has no climate policy—with even the IMF now warning it won’t reach its Paris Agreement reduction targets. Instead it is currently examining how to keep coal-fired power stations like Liddell running as long as possible.
The paralysis of the Labor Party is giving Morrison a free ride. Since the election we have seen 350,000 join Climate Strike protests, the largest nationwide rallies since the Iraq War, as well as Extinction Rebellion actions across the country. Yet Labor is debating whether to surrender on climate change, by adopting the Liberals’ hopeless reduction target.
Morrison also faces major problems with the economy. Since the election the Reserve Bank has cut interest rates in half, to an alarmingly low 0.75 per cent. This, along with the government’s tax cuts, has done little to boost consumer spending. Globally, manufacturing is already in recession across Europe, Japan and the US.
Yet, the government continues to dither, refusing to increase spending on infrastructure or jobs as it protects its cherished budget surplus.
Workers have faced years of stagnant wage growth. As the economy slows bosses will look to cut jobs and wages further. But unions that fight can win gains. GBAR asbestos CFMEU workers in NSW won a pay rise after ten weeks on strike. Fenner Dunlop workers in Melbourne won 5 per cent and 3 per cent annual pay rises plus improved rostering after striking for two weeks. And MUA workers at Sydney Ferries have won a 34 per cent pay rise and more permanent jobs after several strikes.
We need more of this kind of action— to defend wages and conditions , to stop Morrison’s anti-union Ensuring Integrity Bill as well as fight for the climate.