EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The two major parties are not the same — Wayne Swan

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(Cartoons by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons)

Many Australians are rightly concerned that the Federal Opposition – newly empowered by facing an unpopular minority Government – has, by passing the Assistance and Access Bill — endangered the civil rights of ordinary Australians.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the Labor Party have received a significant amount of criticism for passing, unamended, this digital encryption bill last week — the last sitting week of Parliament for the year.

Many say they did so to nullify criticism by the Government about Labor being soft on security issues, which will result in Australia having the most far-reaching legislation in the world, undermining the security for everyone.

After providing excellent coverage of the issue on Monday (10 December 2018), IA columnist Dr Jennifer Wilson concluded that the

… only way Federal Labor knows how to deal with the LNP is to capitulate to its demands, and this has been the case, over and over again for decades. The message Labor sends to Australians by its behaviour is that the bullies win .… The Labor Party is beginning to resemble the eternal victim in an abusive relationship, so battered they lack all will to take a stand against their abuser.

Whilst there is some truth in this view, perhaps suggesting that the ‘only way Federal Labor knows how to deal with the LNP is to capitulate to its demands’ is going too far. Whilst Labor does all too often submit to the will of the Coalition on matters relating to refugee detention and national security − about which this publication has been stronglly critical of them on innumerable occasions − in a great many other areas, the distinctions between the two major parties are definitive.


Some of these stark differences between the Government and the Opposition were elucidated by former Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan in his Parliament House office last Thursday.

In a wide-ranging interview with Canberra correspondent John Passant, senior editor Michelle Pini and managing editor Dave Donovan, Swan clearly laid out the ALP’s policy framework, which he said fundamentally involves raising the living standards of working people.

“In the last 25 years, there has been a massive increase in the wealth of Australians,” said Wayne Swan. “However almost all of it has gone to very few people. It’s very clear that we need a policy framework that rewards the people that do all the work.”

Swan laid out the key elements of Labor’s socially and economically progressive policy vision:

“We’ve got to have a strong economy, and a system of progressive taxation that rewards initiative, effort and investment. We need an economy driven by good fiscal and economic policy. Quality universal health care and education, and a decent retirement system.”

The Liberal Party’s agenda, on the other hand, said Wayne Swan, was all about trickledown economics:

… the Coalition’s answer to everything is to cut taxes and give the tax cuts to those that have the most. And give less to those who have the least. The whole trickle-down agenda of theirs, which has been categorically disproven, clearly isn’t working. What Australians need is a much more inclusive set of economic policies.

Swan was also scathing in his summation of the current Government’s internal discord and warring factions. This is an area in which Swan has much experience, having survived the turbulent Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. He says the Labor Party has definitely learnt its lessons.

Certainly, in recent years, the ALP has presented itself as a unified force. Even a cursory glance at the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government disunity and desperate tactics last week confirm Swan’s view that the Coalition is “just hopeless” and without “any saving graces".

Swan told IA:

You can see that they’ve given up on themselves.…

There was a remarkable day in Parliament last Thursday, where Bill Shorten and then Tony Burke … just pulled them [the Government] apart. And they were laughing at themselves — that’s something that I’ve not seen before. It wasn’t that we were laughing at them, it’s that they were laughing at themselves.

There’s no sense of a collective mission. They’ve given up doing anything other than protecting their own personal survival.

Whilst it’s true that there are areas of policy in which the Labor Party could be more progressive, or distinguish itself more clearly from the Government, there are demonstrable differences. Some of these have been outlined above, in key areas affecting living standards of the majority of Australians.

Indeed, there is a danger in saying that Labor and the Government as “just the same”. Doing so runs the risk of encouraging swinging voters to return this dysfunctional, directionless Coalition Government for another term.

And that would be a disaster for this nation.

This story was co-written managing editor Dave Donovan and senior editor Michelle Pini. You can follow Dave and Michelle on Twitter  @davrosz and @vmp9 respectively. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter at @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

This is only half the story. The full version of this editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter and is also available to subscribers online in the members only area.

It takes less a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a very small sum for quality journalism and many great extras.

Subscribe to Independent Australia HERE.

You can follow managing editor Dave Donovan on Twitter @davrosz and senior editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9

Follow Independent Australia on Twitter at @independentaus and on Facebook HERE

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