Death of a hero: Bernie Banton RIP

Early yesterday morning, Bernie Banton, the face of the campaign to seek justice and compensation for those who’s lives and standards of living had been stolen by asbestos and negligent employers, passed away at home. Despite knockbacks, setbacks and mendacious denials, despite the stresses of his own illness, Bernie fought for justice to the very end.

Bernie stood for decency, the fair go, compassion, justice and all that is decent in the union movement and indeed, much of what is decent in Australia.

Before his passing, during his election victory speech, Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd said of Bernie, “Mate, you are not going to be forgotten in this place…”, citing his status as a moral compass for the nation.

I think we can all show our respect for Bernie by holding our new Prime Minister to his words.

~ Bruce

More here.

The end of the Howard Years


I’m trying to suspend my critical nature to enjoy this momentous occasion. I’ll be applying philosophical skepticism to our new Government well before they step into the first session of parliament, have no doubts about that. I expect the same of most of my progressive peers. I just think that after going through and arguing against some of the excesses of Howard’s years we should be able to sit back for a little while and enjoy the moment.Sit back and enjoy the glow.

  • The Howard Government is gone. Forever.
  • Costello isn’t going on to lead the Liberal Party (Go Turnbull!)
  • The Windschuttles of the culture wars will be unlikely to continue to receive special access to our public institutions such as the ABC
  • After what was a brave battle by the ex-PM, he is likely to lose the seat of Bennelong and Australia is likely to gain Maxine McKew as an MP.
  • Despite the apparent loss of Kerry Nettle, the Greens have polled strongly (congrats to Ludlam, Hanson-Young and of course Bob Brown)*

All in all, not a bad result. I’m glad my predictions of a Liberal victory by way of marginals was wrong.

~ Bruce

* Yes, I know that Family Firsts Jeff Buchanan will remain an obstacle to progressive and secular social reform. We need to keep an eye on him. But let’s continue to enjoy the glow for now.

The myth of the economic credibility of the Liberal Party

Preface: This piece was originally authored back in November of 2007 before the marked acceleration of the downturn on Wall Street and the associated Global Financial Crisis. On the matter of comments I made regarding the degree to which governments act as economic managers; I maintain my position that by and large, modern Western governments do not act in the same interventionist manner as they did prior to the Keating Government, and much less compared to pre-Hawke governments, both Labor and Liberal. I would add however, that the Keynsian manner in which the Rudd Labor Government, in response to the Global Financial Crisis, engaged in a “stimulation” of the Australian economy during 2008-2009 that constituted a divergence from the comparatively passive economics of the last few decades. This stimulation however, while a legitimate and successful example of economic management, pales in comparison to pre-Hawke government Keynsianism, and was confined to the context of the Global Financial Crisis as a temporary measure.

On the matter of disclosure, I have since resigned from the Australian Labor Party. 

Changes to some of the original text have been made for the purposes of style and flow, however the substance of the arguments remains the same.


If after hearing what Howard and Costello have had to say, you’re still willing to have the size of your housing repayments or pay packet riding on this lot (The Howard Government), then you’re either so stinking rich as to not have to care about such things, or you’re just being mislead. There is no reason at all to think that the Libs will deliver “strong economic management” for you.

For most Australians, let’s face it, the credibility of the Government on the economy stems from gut feelings. This is understandable given the complexities of the issue and the amount of spare time working Australians have available to consider such issues. If you are like many, by the time you get home from work and get in front of a newspaper, the net or the telly (assuming the kids or paper work haven’t gobbled up what’s left of your time), you’re already pretty worn out and a long-winded discussion is going to tire you further.

The Libs have been great at exploiting this. With this kind of environment for voters, it understandably takes time for any disinformation the Government have spun to be analyzed in public discourse and exposed as false. By the time the truth is well known, it can be too late. The truth of “children overboard” took time to filter through so that when the facts were out, the election was well and truly over. Scrutiny of the role of DFAT in the AWB scandal was so protracted that by the time DFAT’s role was beginning to surface, people had switched off.

The economy is at least as complex as any of these examples of postponed and protracted public debate.

So I’ll try my best to be concise with your time in mind. Please do follow the links if your curiosity is aroused.

Continue reading “The myth of the economic credibility of the Liberal Party”