Liberal and Labor politicians, who govern for the big corporations at the expense of people, have overseen decades of cutbacks to social services, privatisations and attacks on our democratic rights.
The neoliberal consensus has meant that our public health and education systems have been starved of funds and semi-privatised. It has also meant that our working lives are less secure and our work rights have been undermined.
All this has made Australia a harsher, more unsustainable and unequal society.
Australia is among the highest carbon emitting countries in the world, per capita, contributing to the global climate crisis. Our forests, farming lands, reefs and water systems are under serious threat from environmental destruction caused by extractive industries.
For 14 years, governments and the corporate media have waged war against refugees — a war which has given rise to a cruel and expensive detention regime, now being promoted to the world, and the deaths of thousands of asylum seekers.
More recently, governments have starved Aboriginal organisations of funds and have begun to close remote Aboriginal communities.
This government-fuelled racism — poisonous in its own right — is part of the background to recent attempts to undermine universal rights such as Medicare, our retirement pension, unemployment benefits and other welfare rights.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Australia is a wealthy country with the resources to provide everyone with a decent, comfortable life and to provide aid to our regional neighbours. But the reality is that 60% of that wealth is in the hands of the richest 20%, while the poorest 20% own virtually nothing.
We need a radically different future: one that provides for human development, meets community need, protects our environment and guarantees a safe climate; one where our economy operates to ensure social and ecological need; one where participatory democracy means people make the decisions in society; one that promotes cooperation, solidarity and justice for all — an eco-socialist future.
As Naomi Klein said during her visit to Australia, “we have to challenge this system head-on”. To do this, we need to build a strong, active, democratic movement of the majority. We need to forge alliances between workers, communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all those under attack — so we can take on the power of the corporations and build that future together.