Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Industrial Deform

I thought that today being the 10th anniversary of the current Australian government that I had to raise a comment or two.

The first is that in the past decade, Australia has become a more diminished and meaner nation. Peter Charlton, a well known Australian political journalist, said this in today's edition of the Courier-Mail, and I couldn't agree more. The Prime Minister has been singularly successful in foisting his 19th century neo-liberal beliefs on an unwitting and unsuspecting majority of Australians. Well done, John. Herbert Spencer would have been proud.

The second, and more specific comments is about the so-called 'industrial reform', following the same neo-liberal (aka economic rationalist) agenda. Here is something I wrote to a union official who wanted people's opinions on these new laws. Enjoy, and then go away and quietly weep...

(Dear union official)

I fully agree the new industrial laws are ideologically driven, coming from the neo-liberal 'dries'; it's unfortunate that the last philosopher they have read and heeded is Herbert Spencer -- he of the social Darwinist proclivity.

I believe that any massive direct action, i.e. strikes -- will only exacerbate the situation. I think for the short term, eternal vigilance on the part of workers and their representatives will need to be the main approach.

However, unless there is a change of regime, all such efforts by the workers will be an uphill battle, which through exhaustion and attrition, they will surely lose. Unless there is a regime change, and the incoming government is of the persuasion that workers do in fact have rights, that without an egalitarian system that we say we have in this country, then we are doomed to regress into a sort of neo-feudal system held together by an increasingly obnoxious police state.

We need a regime change. And the Labor Party, and the Greens, and independents must state unequivocally throughout the campaign that they will abolish these so-called industrial 'reforms'. (Reforms -- hah! A devolution, more like.) And not just abolish the current laws, but offer a simple to understand, equitable, and powerful alternative.

I am not an IR specialist, so I can't offer any specifics. But I think that IR in this country -- even before the new laws -- have been seriously bogged down in bureau-babble, silly regulations and laws, with both sides equally culpable of making the whole IR 'industry' unintelligible to the layman. This is professionalism and managerialism for their own sakes, and not for the sakes of the workers.

We have a chance to get it right; let's start with getting the opposition to state clearly what they will do and then if they are not found wanting, let us go for a regime change. (Et Carthago delendum est)...


Enough for now

PB White


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