I wrote a letter to Anthony Albanese on the eve of his election victory on May 21, 2022.
In it, I outlined my hopes and expectations as an Australian citizen for the path his government would take, in a decisive break from the disastrous direction of his predecessor Scott Morrison.
I'm making this public now because I'm disappointed that Albo seems to have been coopted by unelected powers, just as previous governments have been. This post by Bruce Haigh explains just how bad things have now become.
Subject: Congratulations from a first-time Labor voter, and a manifesto challenge for you
Congratulations on your landslide victory!
Although I have been a loyal paid-up member of the Australian Democrats for over two decades, I crossed the floor today to vote for you, and I am now taking the liberty of writing to ask you to do certain things.
You have the mandate of the Australian people, Albo, and you can and should grasp the nettle and announce some bold changes in direction early on, while you still have the initiative and the momentum. All opposition will crumble if you display boldness and determination.
1. Reset the relationship with China:
It's high time Australia stopped fighting other countries' wars! We've fought Britain's wars in the last century, and we've since switched loyalties to fight America's wars. We have not covered ourselves in glory by joining the US in Vietnam, or in the invasion of Iraq. Australian foreign policy ought to be made in the interests of the Australian people, not in the interests of foreign governments.
The Morrison government has made an indecorous lurch towards the US by scrapping a deal with France, and signing up to a dangerous policy of nuclear confrontation with China by purchasing nuclear submarines. His government has also plunged us into a trade war with China, our biggest trading partner, in a further bid to please the US. In return for our pains, the US has thrown us under the bus by replacing Australian exports in the Chinese market with their own.
I want you to re-establish communications with President Xi Jinping at the earliest and normalise our relations with Asia's most important power. We should be aware that we are just a middle-ranking power, and should therefore be extremely wary of being drawn into a conflict between superpowers that will only damage us. The task before the Australian government in this area is two-fold:
- Keep the country out of any conflict between the United States and China. It's not our war, and it would be highly irresponsible on the part of any Australian government to plunge us into a conflict that will only do us enormous damage. - Re-establish favourable trading relations with China so we can both increase revenue from our exports, and tackle domestic inflation through the import of affordable Chinese goods.
(I'm of Indian origin, not Chinese, so I have no personal bias in saying all of this.)
Oh, and there's this sneaky lobbying outfit for the American arms industry that pretends to be a respectable policy think tank, and which illegitimately influences Australian defence and foreign policy to the detriment of the interests of our own people. Yes, I'm talking about the ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute). Declare this an illegal organisation and shut them down. Expel their foreign employees. Investigate their treasonous activities. They have been doing great damage to Australia's interests by controlling our governments and turning Australia into a US client state for their proxy conflicts.
2. Make a strong and unequivocal commitment to renewable energy:
You need to make an early statement that is symbolically powerful. I suggest you produce a lump of coal in parliament (like Morrison did), but throw it forcefully into a dustbin!
Follow that up with clear and ambitious targets to phase out fossil fuels from every sector of the economy.
Renewables are cost-effective and ready to go. The only thing missing is Federal Government support. It's time for you to change that, and dramatically. The foot-dragging by past governments has been utterly shameful.
3. Tackle housing affordability:
Everybody knows the dirty little secret of why housing affordability isn't being seriously tackled. The flip side of making houses affordable for new buyers is making asset prices stagnate or drop for existing home-owners. In other words, you can't please one set without displeasing the other.
So far, the home-owner crowd has been calling the shots because we're the establishment. But as a home-owner myself, let me tell you that I don't mind a stagnation or drop in asset prices if it will help hundreds of thousands of young individuals and couples buy their first home. It's shameful for a problem of affordability to be dragging on for so long in a supposedly prosperous country, and it's time a government did something about it.
Hint: we all know that tinkering with the demand side like providing first home-owner grants only fuels demand and leads to a further rise in prices. The only thing that will work to reduce prices is an increase in supply. Release more crown land, at a faster rate than before. It will absolutely piss off existing home-owners, but you'll be on the right side of history.
There are lots of other problems you'll have to tackle, of course. The old demons of inflation, unemployment and underinvestment in public services. But those are problems with known solutions, and need little imagination or courage from a leader.
The issues I've outlined require true leadership.
I have placed my trust in you with my vote, Albo. I hope you'll rise to the occasion.
All the best!
Ganesh C Prasad (Federal constituency of Mitchell, NSW)