If the broad “left” in Australia bemoaned the horrible year that was 2012, progressives should brace themselves for an ever worse one in 2013.
While I hope I am wrong, here’s the top reasons why I hold little hope for 2013.
Few bright spots for policy
The hung parliament, although angst-ridden for the political commentary and extremist conservative rhetoric has been quite good with regard to many progressive legislative reforms (e.g. carbon price, mining tax, paid parental leave, hospital/health funding increases, rollout of the NBN, etc). I was particularly heartened by some of the most progressive environmental/conservation policies in recent times by Tony Burke with the creation of massive marine national parks and the banning of the super trawler in Tasmania.
However, it also saw some regressive policy, such as changes to Australia’s asylum seeker policy, unnecessary cuts to social services to try to force a needless budget surplus and so on.
Given that 2013 is an election year, we can expect to see more policies of this type. Hopeless, crass and opportunistic policies that are designed to pass the “Lindsay Test” or to get a good run in the Daily Telegraph. Bad policies will continue — expect more regressive action on refugees. Expect the racist Northern Territory Intervention to continue. Expect the watering down of existing good policy and a race to the bottom for grub for votes or chase headlines.
Nasty conservative media sideshow
If 2012 saw a high-water mark in the breathless, hyperventilating, frothing reactionary conservative media punditocracy, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This year is an election year and the conservative commentators and politicians know just how close they came in 2010 to winning. They will stop at nothing.
Expect the AWU/Gillard muck-racking to continue. Expect more nasty slurring and mud-throwing from News Ltd columnists and conservative MPs. Expect increasingly shrill and personalised attacks made against progressive politicians, public figures and commentators.
Labor will lose the upcoming election. Allow me to make some predictions. Labor will lose the following
nineteen thirteen seats:
I don’t believe we will win any seats in 2013. If we do, it will be Melbourne, against the Greens Political Party, with no real change to the numbers in parliament.
Even assuming that there will not be a uniform swing against Labor in 2013, and that the national campaign “sandbags” some seats effectively, the loss of a single seat will spell a victory for the Liberals. What’s more, they are likely to win both New England and Lynne in NSW. I think we may even see Denison go from Wilkie to the Libs.
The election will likely be after August, but unless Labor really pulls its finger out in the next few weeks, there is simply not enough time for it to build the on-the-ground campaign infrastructure and volunteer base needed to hold onto all those marginal seats.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Unless a miracle occurs, we will see in the end of 2013 with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. In addition to being the most unspeakable, conservative, hateful person to ever hold that office, Abbott will waste no time in implementing his extreme agenda.
I expect a royal commission into the union movement (with the HSU/AWU as the pretext). Expect the Civil Service to be politicised. Expect the carbon tax to be repealed or watered down through regulation changes, and the various clean energy initiatives to be cancelled. Expect a return to Work Choices. Expect the destruction of many important social security programs, diversion of public money away from public schools to private ones, from public hospitals to private health insurers, etc. No doubt many more terrible things.
US politics will continue to be awful
The Republican dominated House, the Tea Party, the various ultra-conservative plutocrats and a White House looking at Obama’s “legacy” will ensure that the USA will not provide any global leadership on important but intractable issues. For example, climate change, the global economy, nuclear weapons, peace in the Middle East, poverty, etc.
Basically, the 112th Congress won’t do much except block Obama’s progressive reforms, and enable his regressive ones (e.g. approving the KXL pipeline).
What’s more, Obama is likely to appoint John Kerry as Secretary of State. This will cause a Senate vacancy in Massachusetts, where “moderate” Republican Scott Brown just lost to Elizabeth Warren. This is an opportunity for Brown to run again — where he is likely to win against a rather anaemic candidate.
I can’t see the global economy getting better in 2013. Europe and much of the West seem addicted to the failed economy policy of austerity, despite the fact that we’re facing a jobs and growth crisis. Australia too has gone down a secret austerity path through massive budget cuts to attempt to reach a budget surplus.
We’ll continue to see regressive cuts to social programs for the poor and needy, in places like Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK. All of this to pay back loans to predatory global banks and guarantee executive bonuses. The austerity policy is little more than the theft of public funds by agents (the paid-for politicians in the European Union, Germany and elsewhere) of the big banks. In the face of this austerity, unemployment, despair and human misery will continue to rise.
Climate change continues its march
Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of the “Green Movement” — which is generally marked with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962. Unfortunately, 2012 saw some particularly breathtaking new evidence that we’re on a suicide march towards unstoppable global warming.
- Antarctic ice-sheet are melting faster than we thought.
- Extreme weather events reached Hollywood blockbuster proportions with Hurricane Sandy.
- Doha climate talks failed and in fact took us backwards.
- Oil prices climbed, making horrifically environmentally damaging fracking and shale-oil profitable.
- We are reaching or exceeding the top estimates made by the IPCC in terms of warming, emissions growth.
- We continue to cut down the Amazon.
- We’re starting to drill for oil in the Arctic.
I dismally expect to see further conflict in the Middle East. A heightening of the Syrian conflict. The further Islamisation of Egypt. More deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. The continued civil war in Pakistan against the Taliban. Expansion of settlements in Israel (not to mention an election there at the end of January).