As much as we like to think that Australia, with its system of compulsory preferential voting, is protected from the kind of “populist” uprising that has unleashed the Brexit mess and installed Donald Trump in the White House, the result of the last federal election indicates otherwise. Just as in the UK and the United States, Australia has experienced the bewildering phenomenon of people across society voting against their own economic interests.
The urgent task of social democrats the world over is to understand why, and to develop a coherent response – a task we have been skirting around for at least decade, since the limits of supply-side economics, or “neoliberalism”, became plainly evident during the global financial crisis.
The election result underlined the strong streak of self-reliance in the Australian character. While the most successful European social democracies smooth income inequality through relatively large tax and transfer systems, Australian egalitarianism was built on the ability of working people to achieve a high standard of living through secure jobs with strong conditions and good wages…
SOURCE: Emma Dawson. “Full employment is the most urgent task for social democrats.” The Guardian, 27 June 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia