Australian situation

Fri Sep 20 23:43:25 MDT 1996

Hey Gary,

I was in a pub the other day and I ran into someone who told me that he
was taught politics at some Queensland uni by someone called Gary
McLennan. He said this Gary character had a huge beard and was
continually telling the tute that they shouldn't just be talking about
politics but should be down at the picket line at the SEQUEB dispute.

Does that sound like you?

On the current political situation, the way I'd see it is not so much
that the attacks will not be great because the economy doesn't warrant it
but rather that if we can build some kind of fightback it might be easier
to push the Libs back than one might expect, because the state of the
economy is such that it is not absolutely forcing them to drive down
wages and conditions. That is, I think it is fair to say that the bosses
do have some room to maneouvre - that the attacks they are launching
at the moment are part of a probing expedition in which they are attempting
to find out exactly how much they can get away with.

With Pauline Hanson, the really noticeable thing is how reluctant the
mainstream politicians have been to criticise her. As far as I know, no
senior Labor figures have criticised her astonishing maiden speech, for
the same reason that it took them so long to get rid of Graham Campbell.
That is, they know that within the demoralised sections of the working
class there is an audience for her kind of racism and the ALP doesn't want
to alienate it.

In terms of the working class fighting back, I think you'd have to say
it's pretty disappointing how the head of steam that was building
around the time of the Parliament riot has dissipated. The two positive things
you could point to, though, are 1) the ACI dispute in Melbourne, which is still
going strong after weeks and weeks and weeks
2) union action on the docks in support of the jailed
Indonesian unionists, the kind of solidarity action which is today so
uncommon that it sticks out like a sore thumb.

So, hey, it's not all gloom and doom!


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