Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Comrades, now or never! The case for a general strike to bust the budget

By Marko Beljac - posted Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The attack on the people of Australia that the Abbott Government, at the behest of corporate Australia,  just intensified by means of its first budget has galvanised community and labour movement activists the length and breadth of our land of beauty rich and rare.

We all find ourselves asking; what is to be done to advance Australia fair?

Clearly the first objective is to prevent the pernicious measures of the budget from seeing the light of day. The obvious place to do this is in the Senate where a coalition of Labor, Greens and Palmer’s United Australia can combine forces to block provisions of the budget that are to be legislated in bills other than the appropriation bills.


The Australian Labor Party for sound historical reasons will not seek to block supply that is vote against the appropriation bills.

In addition to the action in parliament it is of the first importance to mobilise a social movement to block the budget. This is necessary because the parliamentary coalition opposing the budget is fragile, after all these three parties otherwise are in electoral opposition and, moreover, they do not share a one-to-one correspondence in their responses to the budget.

For instance there are subtle differences over the deficit levy and there are more overt differences on education.

A well mobilised and continual campaign from an aroused citizenry needs to be in place in order to provide sufficient pressure on the parties in the Senate so that they maintain unity of purpose, rather than engage in political grandstanding, and oppose all, not just some, of the budget’s nasties.

Furthermore budget shockers could well be contained in the appropriation bills that shall pass, which means extra parliamentary action would be needed to block them. Resistance and direct action cannot be excluded toward this end. 

Thus far the rallies that have been organised have been wonderful and inspiring. Wonderful because they have brought Australians from all walks of life together in the one space under the banner of social justice, and inspiring because common action fills us with hope about the future and makes us more optimistic about the goodness that lurks in our hearts.


The rallies, that said, are nowhere near enough. The trade union movement must be mobilised from head to toe in support of these rallies. The support of the working class is always of the first importance in any movement that concerns itself with social questions in a capitalist society. Thus far the organised labour movement has demonstrated a low profile; at the rally in Melbourne on May 18 I could discern only a few individual NTEU and NUW flags.

By joining the protest movement against the budget the trade union movement would be able to provide sufficient organisation and gravity to make a lasting effect upon Labor, the Greens and Palmer’s PUP.  The same also would apply to the ruling class which doubtless calculates that a weakened labour movement gives it the ability to continue with the neoliberal assault on the public.

Large scale mobilisation acts as a deterrent against ruling class action; for example the demonstrations against the Iraq war did not stop it, but they did prevent Iraq from becoming a free fire zone and it likely prevented more wars. Indeed it is probably one reason why “the war on terror” has gone underground.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

15 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Mark Beljac teaches at Swinburne University of Technology, is a board member of the New International Bookshop, and is involved with the Industrial Workers of the World, National Tertiary Education Union, National Union of Workers (community) and Friends of the Earth.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Marko Beljac

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Marko Beljac
Article Tools
Comment 15 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy