Are You Being Served - Naturalisation of Capitalist Bias In Australian Society

If you do something often enough, it seems right? This process is naturalisation. It is the same with language - especially political language. If we hear something often enough, we stop questioning it. Is this why many Australians now seem to accept low wages and the loss of their working conditions?

In an interview with Kerry O’Brien, John Howard made the following comment [1]: Somebody can have the bargaining done on their behalf. The bargaining can be done by anybody they choose. It can be done by a union official, it could be done by a family friend, it could be done by a lawyer or anybody they choose. This notion that somebody is necessarily alone in bargaining, quite apart from the other things I've talked about, has not been the case since our workplace relations reforms of 1997. So nobody is forced to do any bargaining on their own.”

Of course, what he failed to mention is that an employee can’t sack an employer if that person is not satisfied with their change of conditions. The only way an individual has to bargain with an employer is through collective action with his fellow workers.

Over a long period in Australia, the people have been “educated” by a continuously-biased press to think that if they ask for better working conditions they are un-Australian; that somehow they are letting their fellow Australians down. No wonder they feel this way, when they continually read comments from the media such as the following from “The Australian”, where  Paul Kelly says [2], “Rudd's new industrial policy is a giant step into the past. Indeed, so sweeping is Labor's embrace of the principles of collective power and re-regulation that it must be wondered whether Rudd fully comprehends what he has done.” This implies that any move towards fairer working conditions is a step backwards and is catastrophic for Australia as a nation.

The reality of what we read and hear in most of the mainstream media is interests groups who are supported by large multinationals corporations. Their interest is not the average Australian, but their shareholders and business organisations.

These interests groups so permeate our society that even the leadership of the Australian Labor Party acquiesces to their interests. We see this when Kevin Rudd panders to them by espousing policy which will deny workers the right to strike.

The reality is that we are witnessing a continual struggle between classes.  The arguments put forward by the Business Council and the Media are nothing new. If you push the average Australian to the poverty line, then there will be conflict and this will happen because employers are always looking to increase there profit margin at the expense of the employee.

Now we see in the press that those business organisations say we need to let go of the past. They say they are trying to take us into the future. In reality, this is far from the truth. The coal miners of northern New South Wales were locked out in March, 1929, to force a wage cut of 12.5 percent as part of a general drive of the employing class to force the burdens of the economic crisis onto the backs of the workers [3].

So what we see in Australia today is nothing new. Work Choices is just one part of a overall strategy to reduce the living standards of the average Australian worker. They do this by attacking Medicare and public education.  They promote the line that having a job is a privilege, not a right.

So when you ask yourself ‘am I being served?’ by Australian mainstream politics, ask yourself if politicians speak for you or someone else? Or do you feel that the little man has no voice in this political climate?

3.~Of Storm and Struggle, Pages from Labour History, Edgar Ross, p 43