Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crony capitalism, an assault, and the Labor assault on workers' rights

At around 3am on the morning of Sunday Nov 28, the State Treasurer Kevin Foley was assaulted in an Adelaide city street.

There is no suggestion that there was any political motive behind the king hit that left him with broken glasses and a cut nose and forehead.

The previous morning, Foley had been the target of abuse emanating from more than 2000 traditional Labor supporters – mainly union and community organization members – who had rallied in rainy conditions from 8.30 am outside the South Australian Labor Party’s State Convention to demand that the government reverse its savage budget cuts and “return to true Labor values”.

Foley was a major target, both as the Treasurer responsible for cutting jobs and entitlements in the public sector, and for his arrogant dismissal of union objections. His description of unions as “dinosaurs” was responded to by unionists at huge rallies carrying inflatable Tyrannosaurus Rexes as a rebuff and a visible display of determination to take on Foley – often depicted as a Fred Flintstone-like character.

A report on the rally and whether or not the Labor Party can ever be expected to embrace the true values of working Australians can be found here

Under the leadership of Premier Mike Rann and Treasurer Kevin Foley the Labor brand has been rebadged as “pro-business, pro-mining and pro-growth” and a once reformist social democratic party changed into a grubby conservative outfit whose natural friends are now to be found amongst the corporate sector, the property developers, the miners and “defence” industries.

So high has the stench of crony capitalism risen in the fair air of the Athens of the South (a bit of hyperbole from the Dunstan era of the 70s when the ALP Premier of the day wore his pink shorts to Parliament and introduced homosexual law reform and land rights recognition for traditional Aboriginal owners of the land) that demands for an Independent Commission Against Corruption have been put forward from across the political spectrum. (See here for a Marxist-Leninist trifold leaflet on the issue).

How does this relate to the assault on Foley in the early hours of the following morning?

Foley had been at an end-of-year office party, letting off steam after surviving a call at the Convention for “generational change” or, less politely, for his sacking.

It has been suggested that the State Treasurer should not be wandering the streets of the city alone at 3am, and rumours circulated in the media about his attempts to befriend some girls half his age.

That’s his business. He’s an adult and doesn’t need to be Nanny-managed

What concerned me is that Foley was out drinking with two businessmen, one of whom has been identified as property developer Ross Makris, 40, who last year topped Business Review Weekly’s Young Rich List with an estimated wealth of $420 million. Makris is the son of the fabulously wealthy property developer Con Makris, whose influence on the ALP was covered in this blog here .

So here’s the Labor State Treasurer, who had to be escorted into his party’s State Convention by armed police just in case he was assaulted by any of the 2000 working people protesting at his betrayal of “Labor values”, in the preferred company of two businessmen, one of whom happens to be Australia’s richest “young Australian” and whose family is a major financial backer of the Government.

This, more than being out on the streets at 3am, is what should be the cause of public disquiet…even anger.

It is crony capitalism at its best, or worst. As the article in the first link, above, observes, the division between the ALP leaders and the ALP rank and file is sure to widen.

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