Like its British counterpart, the Australian Fabian Society is highly influential inside the Australian Labor Party.
ALP deputy leader and probable new deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard is a proud Fabian socialist.
No doubt the Fabians will approve of the new ALP government’s plans for Australia.
Excerpt’s from Julia Gillard’s speech to the inaugural Fabian Society annual dinner
Melbourne, 31 August 2007
It’s a great honour to be asked to deliver the address at this inaugural Australian Fabian Society annual dinner.
No address to the Fabian Society would of course be complete without acknowledging the lifetime commitment to the Fabian cause of Race Matthews – someone who played such a big role in helping elect the Society’s National Patron, Gough Whitlam.
It must be a source of great satisfaction to Race and Gough that the Society, now in its seventh decade, is as strong as it’s been in its history.
Let me also mention the Society’s national president and our candidate for Higgins – Barbara Norman. Barbara, you have the biggest, toughest and most important job in Australia – wiping the smirk off Peter Costello’s face on election night.
And let me mention the Society’s national secretary and someone I first met in student politics all those years ago – Evan Thornley – who has played along with so many others such a huge part in the Society’s revival.
Today the Fabian Society boasts contributions from some of the Labor movement’s leading figures – people of the stature of John Faulkner – and we’re going to need it to be a forum for new ideas regardless of the outcome of this year’s election.
Friends, it’s been a long, hard time in the electoral wilderness for the Australian Labor Party at the federal level.
For eleven long years we’ve seen the Howard Government take the easy option of coasting on the mining boom and benefiting from the hard reforms of the Labor Governments of the 1980s and ‘90s.
You know, I’ve heard some commentators argue recently that there’s so little difference between the parties these days that there’s not much point to the election.
They’re wrong. Dead wrong.
It’s true the world has changed dramatically in the last eleven years – and so, inevitably, has the ALP.
But on the great issues of the day there is still a world of difference between the parties.
Think of the three big symbolic issues for progressives today.
The first is Iraq. John Howard sent our troops there, intends to keep them there, and won’t apologise for making Australia a bigger terrorist target as a result.
Labor opposed the commitment of Australian troops from the beginning.
We regard it as one of the biggest blunders in Australian foreign policy since the Vietnam War.
And we will bring the troops home.
The second issue is climate change. John Howard doesn’t really believe that global warming is caused by human activity; he won’t support efforts to create new industries like renewables; and he won’t set a target for reducing carbon emissions.
Kevin Rudd and Labor’s frontbench have been asking “How can a Government of climate change sceptics be part of Australia’s climate change solution?”
A good question.
Labor accepts that climate change is man made; we have set out a target to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050; and we will introduce a carbon trading scheme to create a new sustainable future for Australia’s energy generation and manufacturing industries.
Labor will ratify the Kyoto Protocol – John Howard will not.
And John Howard will set in train policy that will lead to the construction of 25 nuclear reactors across Australia – Labor says no nuclear reactors; there are other alternatives.
And the third issue is Work Choices. The Government is determined to use AWAs to reduce conditions, especially for the low-paid, erode job security and destroy people’s hopes for work-family balance.
Labor will get rid of Work Choices, give people the democratic right to bargain collectively in the workplace and prevent the creation of a low-skill Australian workforce – all while encouraging greater economic reform through enterprise bargaining and flexibility in our industrial relations system.