On Saturday, you will be asked to vote for the future of your country. The FBEU has traditionally encouraged its members to vote Labor, however an overwhelming vote by members earlier this year resulted in the FBEU formally disaffiliating from the Australian Labor Party. For the first time in over 80 years as a trade union, we pay – and owe – nothing to the ALP.
In recent days we have heard former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser sounding more like a retired Labor leader lamenting the fear and loathing that Howard now peddles in his bid for re-election. “Fear and insecurity” as a campaign slogan from a man who once said he wanted Australians to be “relaxed and comfortable”. John Hewson has also publicly railed against the party he led, calling for the race card to be put away. More progressive thinkers and candidates from both sides of the political fence are now loudly reacting against the disgraceful brand of small-minded leadership on offer from both Howard and “me too” Beazley.
A once proud Labor Party has followed Howard into an abyss of populism and immorality in the search for votes. In so doing, neither party now reflects the desires of decent, fair minded Australians. Our leaders have resorted to scratching the surface looking only for the worst in us. This is not leadership. This is politics at its lowest ebb.
In short, it is our firm belief that in this Federal election it is you, the voter, who has been called upon to show some much needed leadership. As a firefighter and trade unionist your vote should reflect the need for compassion. The value apportioned to human life causes us to have a job and go that extra yard for people in times of great need.
Vote for bringing out the best in people. Education, as always, is the key to a clever, compassionate nation. Add to that a focus on the health of our people and we can at least claim to be a civilised nation – if not an enlightened, progressive one.
So what to do on November 10 – a crucial election on so many fronts? That of course remains your decision. However, a vote for any one of the minor progressive parties with preferences for Labor in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would not only strengthen the value of your vote, but it would also help to ensure a Labor government is elected while still sending the ALP a strong message that you expect a party that actually represents workers, that will defend workers’ rights and will strengthen and extend public assets and services.
As trade unionists we consider that the Greens, the (new) Democrats, the CPA, the Progressive Labour Party and the Socialist Alliance all deserve the support of workers before the ALP. It follows, however, that we also believe that the Liberals should be placed firmly last. Your vote for a minor party might not deliver them to government – but it will go a long way towards helping our society reject the insulting and divisive brand of politics we are being fed right now.