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Howardism without Howard

by Dave Riley
ITEM:Spotlight chief executive Stephen Carter says trying to create individual agreements under the new WorkChoices laws has been too confusing and the firm will go back to negotiating a single agreement with the shop assistants' union.
No one is going to be able to turn Spotlight into boss heroes for this or award them for being stalwart friends of the working class. But this decision flags the division that has been festering within the capitalist milieu in regard to Work Choices according to St Howard.

The 'complexity' and 'confusion' argument which Spotlight refers to, didn't sink the GST -- as the one tax fits all had an over-riding appeal. But negotiating x number of contracts demands a hefty orientation phrase which also assumes you'll be offered a compliant and passive workforce to facilitate the project.

We were told that a workplace minus trade union interference was a happy and flexible place of workship. That all we had to do was swallow the hype and get excited about how much Work Choices would enrich our lives with so many and varied... options (sotto voce:except those that our unions won for us).

But while unions-- for the moment -- still exist, Capitalist Utopia cannot be voted in at this election. Not at this one --so we may have to forgo the Work Choice promise.

That's the bull they sell us on the Work Choices adverts ain't it? 'Tis the best thing since...well, the GST!

And in three more years time -- what then?

So if Howard cannot secure a rock solid bourgeoisie for his Work Choices patent then Work Choices Lite -- compliments of the ALP -- is in with a show despite the fact that we have not seen any major mainstream media shift strongly to the Labor camp.

Give it time [he says with a smirk].

We know what a disordered and factionalised Coalition looks like -- that's what we get at the state level. And one problem with Howard and co -- is that even if the Coalition were to retain government they've lost the consensus that had been unconditionally offered it by the Big End of town.

Take that away and Howardism is naked before the savage biases and grudges of the electorate except for one moderating factor -- the ALP.

What if Australia can get Howardism without Howard -- courtesy of Rudd Labor? What then? Sure there's a price to pay in way of losing a bit of Thatcherite edge -- but the core underpinning in way of advancing industrial reform, and resources mining solidarity in the face of global warming -- is sure to continue.

Gunns can still even get to build its 2 billion dollar pulp mill under Labor -- just ask the Tassie ALP and the unions! Even the CFMEU! All the boss misses out on is the thrill of sentencing all of us in one foul legislative swoop to the Law of Torts

The problem is that if Labor is given too much of a nod , a routed Coalition is not good for political business. That's the lesson from the states is it not? Industry's party is the 'Labor ' party --and the Liberals, and whats' left of the Nationals, are vehicles for seat warmers not state governments.

But then a hung parliament isn't very useful either. Bad for the way governance is usually and preferably done here in Cicrus Oz. After all, who's keen on becoming Italian or Japanese in parliamentary style?

Business demands stable government -- except when there's a big recession coming -- such as in 1975. Then all bets are off.

So the question now is: who else besides Spotlight is going to jump from the Work Choices ship of state and swim for the life raft offered by Work Choices Lite?

As far as the ALP is now concerned -- you me and our workmates are a side show. Just don't rock the boat so Kevin and Julia can pull it off and breath life into the Work Choices that Australian working people want to see die.

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