On Sunday the Students’ Representative Council, along with the National Union of Students, hosted a rally against the new Scott Morrison prime ministership which I had the honour of speaking at. The right wing coup in the Liberal Party brought down Malcolm Turnbull. But it has failed to elevate its number one candidate, former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, to the prime minister’s office.
We are now seeing the bourgeois media pitch Morrison’s victory as a great triumph of “moderation”. But Morrison built his brand and popularity on the back of years of torturing refugees. During his time as immigration minister, was the architect of the government’s inhuman Sovereign Borders boat turnback policy, and presided over the deaths of Reza Barati and Hamid Khazaei on Manus Island in 2014.
He also led the “It’s okay to say No” brigade in the marriage equality plebiscite and led the push for a “religious freedoms” bill to undercut the result.
The political legacy of Morrison’s term as immigration minister is particularly striking when one remembers the leadership challenge came as a 12 year old girl on Nauru tried to set herself on fire, and another 17 year old girl is in a critical condition after refusing food and water.
Morrison’s far right politics are no better than Dutton or Turnbull’s. The Liberals continue to cut penalty rates, privatise education, screw up our public transport, slash Medicare funding, destroy the climate and give tax cuts to their rich mates, while driving racism to distract us. It’s not refugees or migrants cutting our penalty rates and living standards.
Workers in Australia need a decent living wage and a future we can be proud of, not a far-right fearmonger whose policies gain the support of Trump and Hanson. The far right MPs in the Liberal Party are buoyed by the success of Trump and the far right in Europe. They too want a party that is openly bigoted, sexist, racist and shows a complete contempt for science.
The connections between Trump & Morrison are clear – Morrison famously refused to criticise Trump’s travel ban, instead encouraging countries to “catch up” with Australia’s racism. And just yesterday, the US president, Donald Trump, has tweeted his congratulations to the new Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison.And we shouldn’t forget that, for many in the hard right of politics, US president Donald Trump’s against-the-odds success, driven by unashamed bigotry and take-no-prisoners approach, is considered a model to be emulated.
The solution is not to vote our way out of this, but to reignite the refugee rights movement. Social change happens from action – we cannot vote our way out of it. Just like the way we did in after Abbott’s 2014 budget – calling protests, strikes, direct actions and working with unions is something to be replicated today. We must stand up for ourselves because we cannot rely on the Shorton Government to end offshore processing.
We need to kick out the Liberal Government – yes – but we also need to kick the racist policies out & build a movement based on attacking state racism such that such policies become untenable for any party to enact. We have more in common with the workers, activists and unionists locked up in detention than we do with the parasitic Australian ruling class torturing people indefinitely in camps.
Reflecting on this, we don’t want a “stable” Liberal Party. The dominant party of the Australian capitalist class is now in deep crisis because of this factional schism and we want to see the party topple – along with the far-right policies within it!
And there is a role the student movement can play here. There’s a long history of students – no matter their colour – standing up and mobilising against the state’s racism, see the 1965 Freedom Rides. And I am going to make sure that we build we build this movement against the Liberal Government at the University of Sydney and across campuses in this state.
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