Australian prime minister’s speech points to growing political crisis
4 February 2017
Both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor Party opposition leader Bill Shorten delivered what were billed as heartland addresses to the National Press Club in Canberra this week, laying out their visions for 2017. Each speech, in its own way, underscored a profound crisis engulfing Australia’s political establishment.
Donald Trump’s election as US president has sent shockwaves through the parliamentary elite. Not only has Trump’s campaign underlined the deep popular hostility to the major capitalist parties internationally. It has accelerated the global turn to trade war and war, with catastrophic implications for Australian capitalism, which is already reeling from the collapse of the mining boom.
The US president’s naked “America First” program is intensifying the dilemma facing the Australian ruling elite as Washington ramps up its confrontation with China, Australia’s biggest export market. Trump’s brutal anti-immigrant measures and aggressive pursuit of the profit interests of American big business are also fuelling popular opposition to the social offensive being waged by the capitalist class worldwide.
There is already widespread working class disaffection after decades of attacks on jobs and social services by successive Liberal-National Coalition and Labor governments. According to a world “2017 Trust Barometer” published last month by PR company Edelman, the “implosion of trust” in government, business and the media in Australia is among the greatest of the 28 countries surveyed.
The “trust index” in Australia is 40, below that of the US, on 47. Last year, when Turnbull’s Coalition government narrowly survived the July…