Archive for the ‘ALP’ Category

A Delusion of Grandeur: Kevin Rudd in Politics

If Graham Freudenberg was able to write of Gough Whitlam’s political career that it exhibited “a certain grandeur”, then for Kevin Rudd we might speak of “a delusion of grandeur.”

Many of his most vocal supporters shared in this delusion. For instance his lead cheerleader amongst the Australian intelligentsia, Robert Manne, even went so far as state that Rudd’s critics did not seem to understand that the colossus from Griffith was “an intellectual in politics,” who was “struggling” to simultaneously both “understand and change” the world. No self respecting philosopher king can take seriously Marx’s clarion call in the Theses on Feuerbach.

For Rudd ,and Manne, such an injunction is too modest by half.

Rudd seems to have seen himself as some sort of philosopher king with a Hawkian “special relationship” with the Australian people to boot. His political legitimacy and authority resided in his own personality and talent.

This delusion of grandeur proved to be his undoing.

How else to explain his claim that he did not owe his leadership to the ALP? How else to explain the sheer contempt that he showed the party during the course of his leadership? For example, by coming and going as he pleased at the last ALP national conference? By announcing on radio, well away from the conference, that its resolutions, especially on tax reform, are irrelevant? Not even Paul Keating would have displayed such brazen contempt.

By sidelining cabinet, even to the extent of exiting cabinet meetings to attend to petty media interviews? How else to explain the extraordinary level of centralisation that he vested in the leader’s office, against more than a century’s worth of Labor tradition that places primacy upon the parliamentary party?

He treated both the Labor Party and the Labour movement with contempt. He did so because of his grandiloquent view of himself, but his leadership was based on nothing else other than high standing in the polls. When those polls turned against him so did the party he viewed as an irrelevant appendage.

He was not able to see this until the end. Such are the delusions of grandeur.

A good deal of commentary has focused on the manner in which Rudd was replaced as leader.

Attention has been especially drawn to the role of factional and union power brokers in his ousting and the efficient manner in which they organised his “assassination.” This aspect of the Rudd downfall has been best encapsulated by Mark Latham and Paul Kelly. Writing in the The Australian Financial Review Latham observed that (AFR, 25 June 2010, p24), “the leadership of Australia’s oldest political party has become a transit lounge, controlled by poll and media obsessed appartchiks.”

Latham surely has a point.

The ascension of Gillard did not follow on from policy or ideological differences. This is not a political party that is struggling with its soul, with its policy direction, with its goals and visions, and so has changed its leader. “Our princess” Julia Gillard was seen as a better prospect at the next election. So the powers that be helped to elevate her to the leadership.

Commenting upon the Latham thesis Kelly states in The Australian today that the Rudd ouster, “reveals a party governed not by ideas but powerful interests that span networks of factional, trade union, family and special interest group connections that thrive on the patronage, finances and appointments that only incumbency can deliver.”

That is also true. However, it is possible to overcook this view.

What Latham and Kelly state is surely correct. But there were more issues and, crucially, more players involved. There is a widespread view amongst the Left side of Australian politics that Tony Abbott, and those around him, are rabid right wing extremists. It would be a disaster for progressive politics in Australia should the Liberal Party win the next election. This has played an important element in the change of leader.

The focus on factions and so on is important, but it should not obscure this part of the equation.

Perhaps the most important institutional factor in the demise of Kevin Rudd was big business. It is big business that, ultimately, determines the leadership of the Labor Party. One reason why the corporate media turned viciously against Mark Latham is because big business did not trust him.

To be sure, as Robert Manne pointed out, up until then Latham was the most right wing Labor leader in history. However, Latham always had the dangerous class warrior lurking within him. I saw it. I perceived it. I liked it. But, the rich saw it, they perceived it, they did not like it.

At times his use of the idiom of class sounded almost Marxian. He would not give big business a trusted place in his office. He would, in short, not “consult.” The big end of town did not trust him and so it was easy for the corporate media to portray him as an unhinged nut.

This has happened many times to Labor in the neoliberal era. Recall, for example, the role of the corporate media and the big mining interests in the ouster of Gough Whitlam and Rex Connor. It is not ideological orthodoxy that big business seeks from the ALP. It is important that Labor tends to its interests. Because of the party’s roots in the Australian working class the ALP always represents a risk for corporate Australia.

The main function that the faction system in the ALP serves is to take away the risk of democracy that the rich at all times face.

Consider the case of Bob Hawke. The so called “Hawke ascendancy” and his own “special relationship” with the Australian people was a corporate media fiction. Throughout the 1970s the corporate media pushed the Hawke bandwagon, which was resisted by the Labor caucus almost until the 1983 election.

In office Bob Hawke did not disappoint his corporate patrons. For the rich the Hawke era was a veritable bonanza. But Hawke was ousted precisely because of his adherence to neoliberal orthodoxy. He was successfully challenged by Paul Keating during the depths of the 1990-1991 recession, the one “we had to have.”

Throughout this deep recession Hawke was maintaining neoliberal orthodoxy. Keating, by contrast, was brazenly abandoning neoliberal austerity in favour of fiscal stimulus and loose monetary policy. Keating understood that when the rich get in trouble they want the nanny state to bail them out.

Hawke didn’t and so the corporate media, reflecting the consensus of big business, turned on Hawke and the rest is history.

They made Hawke and then they broke him.

Rudd seemed to understand that “the Latham debacle” represented big business disciplining the Labor Party into proper behaviour. Under Rudd’s leadership the door for big business was widely opened. Commentary at the time reflected how much better the relationship between the Labor leader’s office and big business was when Rudd took over the leadership. Prior to the 2007 election meetings with business leaders were frequent, even formalised on a weekly basis.

Compare that with the relationship that Rudd has had with big business in recent times.

Though his tax reform policies were designed to assist corporate Australia as a whole, though he has extended a helping hand to the financial services industry, though he ditched the ETS to mollify big business, none of that was enough. When the mining industry turned on him because of his minor infringement after announcing the resource super profits tax, which is what the tax is, big business was loathe to come to his defence. Laurie Oakes has spoken of a “disastrous” meeting with the Business Council of Australia days prior to his ouster.

Comments and analyses on Rudd and the Rudd style in the corporate media thereby recently became frequent. The Rudd “brand” was rendered toxic by precisely those who helped to craft it in the first place. The mining industry decided that it would destroy Rudd and destroy him they did. The change over has been fulsomely praised by all of Australia’s peak business bodies. The ascent of Julia Gillard comes with the promise that they will be “consulted” better, as if they have not hitherto been consulted enough already.

In other words, Gillard knows her place unlike the grandiloquent Rudd.

Mark Latham and Kevin Rudd lost the leadership of the Labor Party because they lost the confidence of corporate Australia. How is that Rudd was able to forget the lessons that corporate Australia dished out to the Labor Party during “the Latham debacle?”

This owed to his delusion of grandeur. He saw himself as striding the Australian political stage on the back of his own unique vision, drive and capability. However, a minor infringement against those who really run the country, the big moneyed interests, was very much the big nail that was driven into his political coffin.

Corporate Australia has brought Kevin Rudd back down to Earth with a thud. It is indeed ironic that this is just as it was with Mark Latham. The element of the delusion of grandeur in Rudd’s case immediately brings to mind Marx’s refrain in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”


The emphasis on the factions and patronage is thereby only half the story. The Labor Party’s power brokers do seek office in order to dispense patronage and thereby secure institutional prerogatives. But they understand that this can only be achieved by looking after the needs of big business. If they lose touch with corporate Australia they lose elections.

One interesting aspect to the latest developments in Canberra is the announced departure of the socialist minister for deregulation, Lindsay Tanner. He was widely praised in the corporate media following his announcement. In fact, he earned high praise too from financial market economists for his commitment to economic rationalist orthodoxy.

Tanner was a person who, in his maiden speech to parliament, declared himself to be a socialist. His departure from parliament is now mourned by financial market economists, who shall miss his economic rationalist zeal. This has been taken as praise, but such valedictories by financial market economists are a fitting end to Lindsay Tanner’s career.

Good riddance, Comrade Tanner. Don’t ever come back.

Categories: ALP

Despite Julia Gillard’s Support for Neoliberalism, Now is the Time for Progressives to Back Her

Australia has a new Prime Minister after the bursting of the Rudd asset price bubble. As I stated long ago, when the Rudd bubble was in full flight, his leadership of the ALP was based on little else but his high poll numbers. These numbers were a bubble, I had argued, for Rudd was a leader distinctly lacking in substance.

Mark Latham summed him up very well in his diaries.

I had stated that the Rudd bubble might prove to be a dilemma for the ALP in the future. I had not expected that the bubble would burst so suddenly and with such force. If the property bubble, that the former PM has helped to sustain, bursts like the Rudd bubble then heaven help us.

Julia Gillard has achieved the highest political office in the land by betraying her socialist beliefs and her core working class constituency. If she had not done either of these things during the course of her political career, rather than being PM, she would be organising the next Altona ALP chook raffle. Lindsay Tanner, who has done the same, was right to have characterised her as a “careerist”.

In the Tanner lexicon no pejorative ranks higher.

Although in media commentary much as been made of Gillard’s working class roots, this all should not be taken too seriously. Gillard has announced, loudly and clearly, her whole hearted support for neoliberalism and her dedication towards the further pursuit of neoliberal reforms.

The Age reports newly minted PM Gillard as stating today that

“I give credit to the Labor giants Bob Hawke and Paul Keating as the architects of today’s modern prosperity,” she said.

“I give credit to John Howard and Peter Costello for continuing these reforms,” she said

These remarks are truly amazing. The former socialist Gillard even has gone so far as to praise Howard and Costello for continuing and extending neoliberal reforms!! This is how low the ALP has sunk since Gough Whitlam took away the power of the organisational wing.

If Gillard stays true to these comments then this change over will amount to what Keating would have called “embroidery.” Gillard might change the style and packaging of neoliberal Labor, but the essential commitment to neoliberalism, one of the defining features of the Rudd leadership, will continue to obtain.

The ALP power hierarchy will remain committed to neoliberal policies and programs so long as the current structure of the party endures. The ALP requires root and branch reform if it is to return to being a genuine working class party.

Changing leaders could be a start. However, if so the new leader would need to be dedicated toward the dismantling of the Hawke-Keating legacy. That, Gillard has stated, she won’t do. Quite the opposite. She will continue the neoliberal programs that Hawke and Keating, but also Howard and Costello, did so much to bring into being.

There can be little doubt ,however, that a Gillard government would be better than an Abbott government. It would truly be a disaster for progressive politics in Australia if Abbott should win the next election. He is a rabid right wing extremist. So are the people pushing his cart.

I don’t expect much from Gillard, but in saying this I nonetheless maintain that she should be supported by progressives. Those of a left wing persuasion should not allow their justified scepticism of Gillard to obscure the huge stakes involved in the next election.

I sincerely hope that both she and the ALP win the next election. When she does, we should continue the struggle against neoliberalism. That, judging by these remarks, will mean that the Australian left will end up opposing her.

I submit that now is definitely not the time for all that. I submit that it is possible for progressives to support Gillard but also at the same time to continue to work against neoliberal policy and ideology.

Surely Gillard still has some place inside her that remains true to her old fiery and passionate commitment to social justice. I don’t think there was anything of that in Rudd. If there was, he kept it very well hidden.

Hopefully, some of that old passion will emerge during her leadership. I personally doubt that it will, but we always have “the audacity of hope.”

Categories: ALP

Why We Have to Save Kevin Rudd from Oblivion

I can’t stand Kevin Rudd. I have always believed that Rudd is exactly as Mark Latham described him in his diaries. Recent events have borne this out, and the Latham view is now widely shared in Australia although its provenance continues to be denied. When Rudd was flying sky high in the polls I had called him a “flaky” and so on. I had also characterised his standing in the polls as Labor’s “asset price bubble.”

The bubble, never based on substance or “the fundamentals”, has now well and truly burst just as the country prepares for a federal election. This is a disaster for the progressive side of Australian politics. Rudd needs to be saved from oblivion. Now is not the time for progressives and progressive commentators to sink the boot into Rudd. I say this as someone who, accurately, had characterised Robert Manne as an intellectual with a proclivity to kiss Rudd’s arse. So, at least I have some credibility on this issue.

Now is the time for progressives to call time out on putting the boot into Rudd.

This is because the only realistic alternative would be very bad for progressive politics in this country. Tony Abbott, and all those pushing his cart, are rabid extremists probably on the same wavelength as the right wing of the Republican Party in the US. If Rudd sinks into oblivion then it is clear that an Abbott led Liberal Party will come into office. The Abbottites promise to turn the clock back to rabid neoliberal labour market reforms, to cut public spending more than Labor, to dither on climate change, to pander to the mining lobby, to take the lead in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan and so on.

People of a progressive bent need to think of such matters as the federal election approaches. Despite Rudd’s cynical essay criticising neoliberalism his government has operated well within the dominant neoliberal consensus. But the level of commitment to neoliberal programs exhibited by Labor and the Liberal Party is not the same. The different levels of commitment largely flow on from institutional imperatives. The debate on the Resource Super Profits Tax is a case in point.

The debate on the RSPT largely focuses on the impost, real or imagined, that the tax will have on cashed up resource corporations. The Rudd Government largely structures the argument for the tax on, what are largely uncontroversial in other contexts, mutual obligation grounds. The resources of Australia belong to the people of Australia and the people ought to get a fairer share of the gains that those resources accrue. The debate simply assumes that the second, crucial part of the argument, is accurate.

However, the proceeds of the RSPT are meant to finance a cut in the corporate tax rate, to support changes to superannuation that are effusively welcomed by the financial services industry, still making “super profits” despite the GFC, and to fund infrastructure developments to aid corporate activities (including resource corporations).

The RSPT is not to be used to fund active labour market programmes to skill up the unskilled and the long term unemployed for what Ken Henry believes will be a coming skills shortage. That’s avoided because a tight labour market, absent skills migration, will lead to better wages for the Australian population. Ken Henry doesn’t want that, big business doesn’t want that and neither does Rudd Labor.

The Rudd policy is largely beneficial for the corporate sector in Australia as a whole. That is why opposition in the corporate media to the RSPT is not uniform. The Government’s backflip on the ETS might need to be seen, partly, in this context too. Backing up on the ETS probably was a preemptive sweetener for the resources sector. We should notice that resource corporations do not complain about the investment uncertainty that this decision on the ETS, that tends to their interests poses, poses for energy companies.

At the same time Rudd Labor has announced a tightening of the state’s “mutual obligation” provisions directed towards the long term unemployed. Unlike Clive Palmer and Twiggie Forrest whose rejection of mutual obligation is given wide coverage in the corporate media; this has been ignored in the orgy of commentary that focuses on the tender needs of the super rich. There will be no Rudd backflip on mutual obligation for social welfare recipients nor any high level consultations with their representatives, unlike for the billion dollar resource corporations.

In a previous essay, written after Labor’s decision on the parallel importing of books, I had argued that the rich will not tolerate the slightest deviation from Labor. The rich are greedy and thereby fickle. Despite their many, many millions those two fat shits, Palmer and Forrest, just want more and more. Labor is being disciplined into proper behaviour by the rich.

Although all this remains true, and more could be said about such matters, nonetheless Abbott would be much worse. With Abott all the distorting affects of the 2000s resource boom will repeat. This would follow if a similar boom should repeat, which is by no means a certainty as many commentators suppose. Under Abbott the vile maxim will continue. Under Adam Smith’s “vile maxim of the masters of mankind” the proceeds of any commodity prices boom are to be distributed inequitably, as it was when the Liberal Party was in office. Under Abbott resource corporations will win, but Australia will lose just like under Howard.

If progressive commentators are serious about taking into account the moral consequences of their actions then it follows that a unilateral ceasefire with Rudd and the ALP is now very much in order.

The issue here is not Rudd. I couldn’t care less about Rudd. The issue is the real people all around Australia who will suffer should Rudd lose office. Besides if Rudd were to be turfed now no group in Australia would be happier than the Murdoch press. The ALP should not allow the leadership of the party to be determined in the offices of Rupert Murdoch’s minions.

Categories: ALP

Rudd’s Climate Change Policy Back Flip on the ETS Appeases Big Business

Paul Kelly is not my favourite cup of tea, but every now and then he offers up pretty good analysis. His latest essay, in today’s The Australian, on Rudd’s ETS back flip is definitely in the latter category.

He calls this the most damning back flip by a Prime Minister in decades. Kelly would be accused of exaggerating a tad, but I don’t think so. Kelly correctly points out that Rudd defined the issue in very stark moral terms, even in terms of survival. Climate change is the leading moral issue of our times, so Rudd’s argument went.

The mismatch between the back flip, for reasons of political expediency, and the declared moral stakes does indeed raise core issues about the credibility of both Rudd and the government he leads. Kelly might have added that the same applies to his intellectual cheerleaders.

But, of course, maybe Paul Kelly doesn’t understand things properly. You see for Robert Manne, who knows better, Rudd is “an intellectual in politics.”

However Kelly, and most other commentary in the corporate media, makes one major error. It is true that the back flip is due to political expediency. This is how Kelly explains it in his article

In truth, Rudd has lost his nerve. This is a political and policy retreat. He says the ETS remains “the most effective and least expensive” means of combating greenhouse gas emissions. His tacticians will call this smart and they may be right. But it betrays a government weak to its core. Understand what this is about: it is giving Rudd a political strategy to maximise his re-election by removing the only mechanism he had to deliver his ETS policy. He has chosen safe politics over policy delivery. Any voter who believed Rudd was genuine about climate change needs to reassess

Polls actually indicate that support for an ETS type policy remains high even following the failure of the Copenhagen summit. Take a report in today’s The Age on the ETS back flip by Michelle Grattan

A Lowy Institute poll, released yesterday, found 72 per cent agreed ”Australia should take action to reduce its carbon emissions before a global agreement is reached”. But 33 per cent were not prepared to pay anything extra to help solve climate change. An Essential Research poll showed 57 per cent rated the government’s performance as ”poor” in handling introduction of a scheme

Those figures are fairly consistent with Rudd’s previous climate change policy; put in the ETS at a low CO2 cap and then wait for the rest of the world to move as well and then raise the cap. I don’t want to argue here whether Rudd’s policy was the way to go or not.

The point here is that it is consistent with public opinion. Rudd couldn’t have ditched a core policy so easily based on fear of a public backlash pre-election. This gives Abottman too much credit. Not even Rudd is this brittle.

What has happened here is that Rudd is appeasing big business, especially the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce. You can see that when you take on board the tail end, the most important end, of Grattan’s article

But the Australia Industry Group said industry remained committed to reducing emissions. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the delay was a ”step in the right direction”

The Chamber hasn’t really been on board with Rudd from the start. Since Copenhagen the AIG has gone cold on the ETS. It’s true that energy sector companies are not happy due to investment uncertainty but the Chamber and the AIG outweigh them, especially the latter.

Rudd wants to lock in the support of big business pre-election. He understands that Abottman has faltered with big business, so the two are now engaged in a competitive race to secure the backing of the big end of town.

This race will determine the outcome of the election. The ETS back flip should be seen in this context.

It will be interesting to see what Rudd’s leading kiss asser in academia will write in the next edition of The Ruddly.

Kelly liked to take pot shots at Grattan in his work of comedy, The March of Patriots, but she is way better than he.

Categories: ALP, Corporation

Kevin Rudd’s Productivity Agenda and the Ideological Basis of the Productivity Commission

Last summer the philosopher king, Kevin Rudd, returned from his holiday and gave us his essay on the global financial crisis and neoliberalism. Kiss ass intellectuals such as Robert Manne were in awe of Rudd and his mighty achievement.

A year later, his return from the Christmas break saw him put increasing productivity at the centre piece of his Government’s narrative. After his scolding by school students on the ABC he shifted again to health reform, in an effort to show that he was not all spin and no action.

Consider the issue of productivity. The emphasis on productivity came accompanied with a lot of rhetoric of how the Rudd “Labor” Government was to boldly continue the economic reforms of the past 30 odd years otherwise known as neoliberalism. This is what “economic reforms” means in Australian public discourse. It was even alleged that the previous Howard Government was indolent in this respect. Rudd Labor would do better. Everybody forgot his awe inspiring essay from exactly a year earlier, including the kiss ass in chief who published the damn thing.

Now one of the main institutions in Australia that seeks to advance productivity, and the reforms it perceives is necessary to achieve them, is the Productivity Commission.

It is well known that industrial democracy, defined as greater worker participation and control in industry, increases productivity. Greater worker control over the management decisions of the corporation would boost productivity. Involving other stakeholders, such as local communities, presumably would have the same affect.

But try and find any reference to that in any Rudd “Labor” Government policy announcement since the productivity agenda was announced. See if you can find any Productivity Commission study directed towards making suggestions about how the structure of the corporation can be reformed in a fashion designed to increase industrial democracy within the firm.

You won’t do that of course because the productivity agenda is infused by the vile maxim. The purpose is to increase productivity whilst at the same time shifting the wages-profit share further towards profits. That’s not profits for workers and community stakeholders of the corporation. That’s profits for the narrow sectors of power and privilege that benefit from the tyrannical and largely unaccountable structure of the corporation.

It’s a bit like what happened in the 1980s to early 1990s under Hawke and Keating. The Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions used wage restraint to boost productivity while the take of profits in the wages-profit share increased, quite deliberately. This was sold on the basis that increasing productivity would boost investment, which it did but it was of the junk sort favoured by the rich. It was all basically a party for the rich. Booming credit growth and so on saw the Hawke Government smash the population with high interest rates leading to the “recession we had to have.”

The rich have the wild orgy and then when the hangover sets in the broader population is required to make the sacrifices to get things right again. Things haven’t changed. Southbank and Kew, where the spivs live that gave us the global financial crisis, are doing well whilst most of the burden of the unemployment rises are in Sunshine and Broadmeadows. That’s to be expected given the vile maxim.

Of course, I can’t help but notice that one of the big spruikers of the productivity agenda is Brand Rudd’s socialist minister for deregulation, Lindsay Tanner. You’d think he would, being a socialist and all, make the link between industrial democracy and productivity.

But he doesn’t, naturally. The “careerist” knows which side his bread is buttered on, as do all those Labor MPs who don’t live in their scummy working class electorates, including that fine specimen of Labor manhood, Tim Holding who doesn’t want to live too close to his voters in Springvale. The Herald-Sun reported today that Liberal Party MPs tend to live in their electorates in contrast to Labor MPs.

Labor MPs don’t because they are of the same class as the Liberals, so it is that we observe little difference between the ALP and the Liberal Party when it comes to policy. They hail from the same class and they represent the same class. Policy is thereby largely convergent.

Policy converges on the vile maxim because that is the maxim that the people of Kew, Hawthorn, Southbank and the rest hold with great gusto. They wrap this up in a smug sense of cultural and moral superiority, which is the necessary cultural and moral accompaniment to the vile maxim.

Categories: ALP, Corporation

Lindsay Tanner Vs Barnaby Joyce: Who is the Real Freak Show

The former shadow minister for finance, Barnaby Joyce, was sacked because he was not an economic rationalist. Lindsay Tanner, Kevin Rudd’s socialist minister for deregulation, by contrast, is an economic rationalist. The contrast explains why Lindsay Tanner holds his post and why Joyce has found himself out on his ass.

Tanner liked to taunt Joyce as a “freak show.” However, Joyce is no freak show. The former shadow finance minister understands full well that he has a constituency and a core belief system built around serving that constituency. Joyce’s constituency is those segments of rural and regional Australia, particularly in his native Queensland, who have been hit hard by globalisation and neoliberalism.

Joyce has stayed true to his constituency and his beliefs even though Abbottman bumped up into the shadow finance portfolio.

It is easy to see that it is Lindsay Tanner who is the real freak show.

This is someone who claims that he is a socialist. This is someone who hails from the “socialist left” of the ALP. Yet he understands full well that he owes his lofty position to his enthusiastic support for, and facilitation of, neoliberal deregulation.

Unlike Barnaby Joyce, Comrade Tanner is more than happy to plunge the knife into the back of his core constituency, if we understand that constituency not to be big business and the banks.

Comrade Tanner has lead the charge against Abbottman’s paid parental leave plans. On what grounds? Because Abbottman’s policy would tax big business. Comrade Tanner not only likes deregulating big business but he also likes to keep their taxes nice and low.

He now is spending plenty of time thinking about how to cut back spending on the broader population. In fact his very political identity now seems to be built on it, judging by the title of his pathetic blog which connotes “the razor gang.”

Keep corporate taxes low, but cut back public spending on the people. Only spend on the people when the rampant greed of the rich threatens to fuck up the economy. That’s freak show Tanner’s motto.

It’s interesting to observe how Abbottman got himself into a spin after making this announcement. He started to attract pretty bad press after his small defiance of corporate power. Big business is wondering; is he really a social conservative that is prepared to hit our interests in the name of social and family cohesion?

I am sure that Brand Rudd and his freak show of a deregulation minister have internalised this lesson. Stay nice and close to the big end of town.

What is especially freakish is that the freak show had the nerve to attack the Greens for “dividing the progressive vote”. Naturally progressives would turn to a party that stands for progressive principles, unlike the backstabbing freak show who exists to serve the interests of big business.

Australia’s Big Banks Have Had A Great Financial Crisis Courtesy of Lindsay Tanner, Rudd’s Socialist Minister For Deregulation

It should come as no surprise to learn that Australia’s big, hugely profitable, banks have had a very good financial crisis. Hell, even the head of the Treasury, Ken Henry, tells us so according to a report in today’s edition of The Age

TREASURY head Ken Henry says it has been a good crisis for Australia’s big banks as they fattened margins and dramatically increased their market share.

Dr Henry told a Canberra conference the major banks’ net interest margins widened 0.20 to 0.25 points during the crisis, partly reversing a decade in which they had been halved.

”Net interest margins represent the difference between the rate of interest banks and others charge and the rate of interest they pay on their deposits and other types of funding,” he said. ”Where competition is increasing, it can be expected net interest margins will fall.”

This comes just days after the Reserve Bank all but accused the Banks of gouging customers over the course of the crisis.

THE Reserve Bank has suggested the major banks may be profiteering from their recent round of interest rate increases, arguing moves on lending rates over the past two years have been outpacing funding costs.

The RBA’s comments are likely to reignite political and consumer criticism of the banks, given they appear to debunk warnings by executives that high funding costs continue to pressure mortgage rates.

They come amid signs that households are starting to feel the squeeze on mortgages follow a string of rate rises since October

We should recall that throughout this period the Banks were operating under unprecendeted levels of public support.

So, let us get this straight shall we?

The banks have had a great crisis. They have been goughing the public, but throughout they have been supported by the public through the aegis of the Federal Government.

Notice that we have here the Vile Maxim precisely. Notice that this exposes Rudd’s empty rhetoric on his supposed opposition to neoliberalism.

Things are actually worse than this. Consider the following report on the newly found aggressive debt collection tactics of the banks

Financial counsellors say they are struggling with a big increase in requests for help from debt-laden consumers, who face financial ruin as interest rates rise and financiers become more aggressive about recovering their funds.

Katherine Lane, the principal solicitor at the Consumer Credit Legal Centre in NSW, said the CCLC expected to field about 16,000 calls for assistance this year compared with 13,000 about two years ago.

Yet financiers and debt recovery firms appeared more zealous than ever to bankrupt consumers over relatively small debts, she said.

”We are now facing a wall of calls and there are simply not enough people, not enough phone lines, to help.”
A leading insolvency lawyer who advises the big end of town said he believed big banks and other institutional creditors, confident of economic recovery, have shifted into a new phase in recent months and are starting to enforce their rights to recover bad debts

If you put all this together it is quite clear that Australia’s banks have been practising an especially cynical and vicious form of the Vile Maxim.

How can they do this?

They can do this because Lindsay Tanner, Kevin Rudd’s socialist minister for deregulation, allows them to.

Tanner and Rudd have been especially good mates with the banks. The “Labor” government, supported by the Reserve Bank, looks as if it will try and water down any G20 systemic risk reforms in order to please the gouging banks. If you read Ross Garnaut’s The Great Crash of 2008, you will see that the arguments used to support this do not stand up to scrutiny.

Indeed the “Labor” Government has made bank friendly noises suggesting further tax law breaks and wider deregulation for the financial services industry. These were the recommendations of a report from a government commissioned study that was packed with finance industry figures. It’s like the crisis never happened.

The government in its response, accurately, showed off its record of support for the masters of mankind. The Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen, is proud of this record

“That’s the feedback received by the panel – it’s feedback received by the government and we’ve shown by our track record that we’re more than happy to take that feedback on board,” he said.

You bet they are. That’s how what is called the “modern” Labor Party operates.

The recommendations made by the masters makes sense, because for the big money grabbing banks there never really was a crisis given public support.

Lindsay Tanner has justified his treachery by criticising what he calls “producerism.”

But presumably everything described above isn’t “producerism”.

Lindsay Tanner is just about the biggest scum to hit Australian politics in generations.

With an enemy like Tanner the masters of mankind have no need for friends.

If you live in the federal electorate of Melbourne I strongly suggest that you vote the bastard out at the next election.

Categories: ALP, Banking and Finance