Between the two major contenders – the Australian Labor Party (ALP) versus the conservative Liberal Party-National party coalition (LNP) - the coming federal election in Australia (18 May 2019) brings much more differentiation on class grounds than recently seen; and also a significant difference on climate change.
This is no turn to socialism by the ALP, but one by a right wing leadership that sees moderate social democratic reforms as in the best interests of capital. These reforms are aligned with perceptions of the Reserve Bank and other highly conservative financial institutions that capital needs an increase in the share of national income going to people who will actually spend it. On other issues the ALP tries to minimise differentiation. On refugees, especially, it has shadowed the racist policies of the LNP.
As the LNP are in constant leadership crisis and policy vacuum, so sections of the bourgeoisie have to turn elsewhere. If the “magic of the market” is not getting get wages to rise in conditions of “full employment” - then turn to the ALP (or at least not oppose them so strongly) to (moderately of course) tax the rich, increase spending on health and education, and loosen the restrictions on unions to organise.
The LNP are for big tax cuts for the rich; ALP is for slashing tax concessions on capital gains, property investment, company dividends, family trusts and superannuation that massively favour the rich. The ALP are also for increased spending on health and education.
The LNP are completely incapable of any action on climate change, beholden to the fossil-fuel industries and the climate changing denying right wing section of their base. So the big insurance companies and other half-sane capitalists prefer the ALP’s moderate policies to accelerate renewable energy, encourage electric cars etc.
However, most of the bosses continue to support the LNP. The Murdoch press in particular are continuing a strongly anti-ALP, union-bashing, climate-changing denying agenda.
Despite the ALP’s moderate approach and commitment to reform in the interests of capital, there are serious issues for the working class in this election. Some taxing of the rich, some action on climate changes, and some loosening of the ties that bind the unions are definitely in workers’ interests, so all socialists should be clear that we want an ALP government rather than a LNP one.
Within the "alternative vote" preferential system we can still advocate for a first vote for socialist candidates, and support the Greens ahead of the ALP, based on their vastly better policies on climate change and union rights.