Adam Clarke reports on the recent Tasmanian Labor Conference
In 2017 Tasmanian Labor has responded to the global resurgence in belief in an active role for government in reducing inequality by carrying the debate forward on the big ideas of our time.
In doing so we confirm the fundamental tenant of Labor economic philosophy; that equality matters - because we all do better when we all do better.
Our newly adopted platform seeks to champion the interests of the working class and the disadvantaged by tearing down barriers to participation and knocking over the vestiges of entrenched power and privilege. It declares:
Labor believes in the fair distribution of wealth and that government has a role to play in creating community wealth. We believe that investment in our economy during periods of economic downturn and uncertainty, whether financed through debt or reserves, is critical to long-term economic sustainability. We oppose the privatisation of any publicly owned assets.
Our 2017 Conference adopted resolutions aimed at preparing for increasing automation, redressing the diluted bargaining capacity of workers and reversing the increasing disparity in income and wealth between the owners of capital and wage earners.
The Conference called upon Federal Labor to adopt a “Buffett Rule” as policy for the next Federal Election, specifying a minimum 35% tax for those earning over $300,000. We called upon delegates to the 2018 National Conference to explicitly include a commitment to the Buffett Rule in the next National Platform.
Right to strike
The Conference affirmed Tasmanian Labor’s unyielding view that the right to strike is a fundamental and non-negotiable right of all workers and in doing so demanded that Labor Governments withdraw all barriers in law that hinder the application of that right.
Universal Basic Income
We took on the issue of a Universal Basic Income, calling on the National Policy Forum to investigate a UBI - how much it will cost, who would be eligible and the mechanism for payment.
We declared Tasmanian Labor believes that a universal basic income has the potential to offer genuine social security to all, while boosting economic growth and productivity.
We took up the clarion call of the world’s greatest Treasurer, Wayne Swan, to look towards a Jobs Guarantee, declaring that future Labor Governments should adopt such a commitment through the use of active fiscal policy, public investment and direct employment through the expansion of the public sector.
We understand that full employment is essential if we are to increase the bargaining power of workers and thus increase wages.
All of these debates occurred without any dissent from the Right. The Right did not oppose a Buffett Rule. They did not oppose the removal of laws that hinder a workers’ right to strike. They did not oppose a Universal Basic Income or a Jobs Guarantee. They did not argue against the use of public debt to finance infrastructure or even as a mechanism for providing stimulus as part of counter-cyclical fiscal policy. Their silence was deafening.
The Labor Party has come a long way in recent years. Flirtations with neoliberalism are on the wane. Throughout the journey Tasmanian Labor has been at the forefront of the turning debate. We intend to continue to lead the way, unafraid to tackle the big issues and in doing so remaining committed to our belief that only the labour movement has the capacity to deliver the bold and radical change needed to reshape our society into a fairer and more equal place.