Content Warning: References to Racism, Cost of Living, War, Genocide


NOTE: This article appeared in Edition 1 of Lot’s Wife, 2024, and, unfortunately, due to some technical issues with our software, this article was printed with several errors. The 2024 Editors apologise for this profusely; the full, correct article is on this page. 

David Williams is a member of the Monash Socialists 

May will mark 2 years of the Albanese Labor Government being in power. Since the 2022 election, Labor has pushed the Liberal Party from power in every state except Tasmania. But what has the Australian Labor Party achieved in these last two years? In short, nothing. On every front, things have gotten worse. 

For years now the cost of living has been rising dramatically both in Australia and across the world. The cost of groceries, electricity, gas and housing have skyrocketed. Australia has had the largest decline in living standards in the OECD. Labor could stop this, but all we get is hand-wringing and empty platitudes.

Take housing for instance, where the cost of living crisis is at its most intense. Rent freezes and caps would immediately cut rental prices, but they have been rejected by Labor. Why? Labor supports for-profit housing. High prices mean that the firms that own the bulk of rentals are making a killing. That is why Labor repeatedly claims that the problem is supply, despite the million empty dwellings in Australia, because anything else would undermine profit.

Labor’s housing bill, the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF), left landlords with no restrictions on how much they could raise rents. Instead it was a hand out to those that created this crisis. The ‘fund’ will gamble on the stock market and, if it makes enough money, they might build a handful of ‘affordable’ homes. 

Not new, quality public housing but ‘affordable’ and ‘community’ housing. Instead of being owned by the government and provided based upon need, these are private rentals. The owners may charge ‘slightly’ less than average. Many of these rentals are owned by religious institutions that are renowned for discriminatory practices.

What public housing that’s left is being dismantled by Labor, like the demolition of 44 public housing towers in Victoria. 

Housing keeps worsening because Labor has no interest in interfering with the profits it makes. The same logic follows with other essentials and public services, like gas and electricity which were sold off, and such prices have since risen by absurd amounts, making a handful of companies filthy rich.

How about wages? A big part of the 2022 election campaign was that Labor would raise wages to meet the cost of living. This never materialised, instead we are warned to tighten our belts. For most workers, wages went backwards. Including public sector wages, which state Labor has held down for years  now contributing to shortages in teaching and nursing staff. If Labor had any inclination, they could raise wages overnight but they choose not to. This is equally true for welfare, which remains well below poverty level. 

Why has Labor failed to address cost of living? They claim there isn’t any money, that an increase in wages, or action on housing would only drive up inflation. But this hasn’t stopped them from supporting the stage three tax cuts, giving more money to the wealthy. Nor has it stopped them from throwing a half trillion dollars towards building death machines. That money could end the cost of living crisis. In truth, Labor is for the rich getting richer, and cares little for ordinary people, meaning they can facilitate the greatest transfer of wealth to the rich in decades. 

What about other progressive issues? 

Albanese has recommitted to the AUKUS pact, an agreement with the United States and United Kingdom to prepare for war with China. Meaning Australia has committed itself to antagonistic exercises in the South China Sea. Should any of the increasingly common “close calls” escalate, it could start a world war or a nuclear war.

Why? Because China threatens Australia’s empire in the Pacific. Australian companies steal much of the wealth in the region from smaller nations, something Labor wants to defend. 

This pact led to nuclear submarines, and allowed the US to permanently station nuclear-armed bombers in northern Australia. As such, Labor is adding pressure to undermine restrictions on uranium mining. Nevermind the impact of uranium mining on the climate, mining workers, or the Indigenous communities whose land these mines are built on, we need to power those submarines.

Presently, a genocide is unfolding as Israel has murdered tens of thousands in Gaza. Labor backs Israel, and defends its genocidal policy against Palestinians. The Albanese government has refused to condemn Israel, or pull any of their support to the IDF, while it murders a Palestinian child every ten minutes. State governments have refused to cut ties with companies that have profited from the oppression of Palestinians.

How about climate? Well, we now have a net zero by 2050 target, 20 years too late to stop irreversible climate change. Labor remains wedded to coal, and refuses to act on Australia being the largest exporter of coal in the world. When we need to be closing mines, Labor’s climate bill is helping their rich mates open more.

How about racism, a growing issue in Australia? The failed Indigenous Voice Referendum has emboldened the far-right, but after starting a fight over Indigenous rights, Labor refused to call out the racist no campaign.

But Labor are also perpetrators of Indigenous oppression. For years state Labor governments have been increasing police budgets. They have overseen a dramatic rise in the rate of indigenous incarceration, led racist fear campaigns, including suspending human rights in Queensland to lock up more Indigenous kids. When Indigenous youth rightfully resisted Western Australia’s barbaric youth detention system, then premier Mark McGowan condemned them as terrorists. 

This is only a small glimpse of the issues that Labor is responsible for. But why is this important? These issues are mobilising more and more people and it is important to understand that Labor will stand in opposition to meaningful change. If you want real action on cost of living, housing, wages, or climate, if you oppose war, racism, and oppression, you have to demand more than what the Labor Party offers, you need to be a socialist.

David Williams

The author David Williams

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