New boost for people's movement as Liberals feel the pressure

The dramatic dumping of the Liberal National Party government of Campbell Newman in Queensland has starkly revealed the ongoing popular opposition to the Coalition's program of cutbacks and privatisation. It has thrown the federal Liberals into a leadership crisis. This is a tremendous boost for all progressive people in Australia and the anti-Abbott campaign in particular. The establishment media has tried to focus on Abbott's unpopular move to Knight Prince Philip as the major source of his problems. They've also focused on the personality of Abbott thereby diverting attention away from the policies that have made him so unpopular. However, it is the program of attacking social services and ordinary people's living standards that are the real issue to be confronted. This agenda has been aggressively pursued by Coalition governments at state and federal level on behalf of their ruling class backers. When the media focus on which personality might replace Abbott, they are hoping that an alternative Liberal leader will be able to sell the existing cutback regime better. Ordinary people can not win by rooting for the least bad Liberal, nor by hoping that an unpopular Abbott will remain as leader until the next election. This is doubly obvious when we remember that the ALP opposition has no plan nor intention to upset the pro-corporate apple cart. ALP leader Bill Shorten is not promising to undo any of the budget cuts that have already made it through the senate. They fully support the inhumane treatment of refugees which is one of the main means the establishment uses to distract people from the attacks they make on us all. The only way to seriously put a dent in the privatisation and cutback regime is by mobilising people at a grassroots level. The Electrical Trade Union's campaign against privatisation in Queensland is an important example. The Australian Council of Trade Unions' call for mass protests on March 4 is also a welcome development. The March in March will take place in some cities on March 22 as well. These kinds of actions can add to the pressure on the Liberals and – if strong enough – can put pressure on future Labor governments as well. After all, who could seriously imagine that the new Victorian Labor government would be canning the East-West Tunnel if it weren't for an energetic protest campaign against the development? Labor's weaknesses simply points to the fact that we need a genuine political alternative to both major capitalist parties. The Greens only partly fulfil that role and also have a record of compromise with the ALP. Getting actively involved in the socialist movement is still the best way to build people's campaigns of resistance. The recent election of the Syriza government in Greece shows that a radical leftist project is not as far fetched as some might imagine. It is heartening when a hated figure like former Queensland premier Campbell Newman not only loses government, but also loses his seat. However, if we are to avoid simply jumping out of the Liberal frying pan into the Labor fire, we need to build a movement for socialist change now. [Alex Bainbridge is a national co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance.]