In case you haven’t heard, Australians just endured another federal election. From what I hear from my friends there, it is kind of like the refrain from this old favorite. After the song, read on:
One of my Australian friends asked me to comment on the election. I am happy to oblige, but just so readers know, I am unable to vote in the elections there, even though I still have Australian citizenship, having lived abroad too many years now (I live in northern Italy). I still call Australia home, however – one of three ‘homes’ now, along with the US and Italy.
So, in Australia we have a new PM for our wide, brown land, a land girt by sea. I wax a little nostalgic here. Australians will understand. I do miss the people and the land, but not the politics, which is pretty much the same across the Anglo-American landscape. We will get to the latter point in a bit, because that is central to what is about to be outlined here.
ScoMo dropped the ball on his marketing campaign. What with rising prices for everything, a litre of petrol over $2, a cost of living crisis that is handily blamed on the government (Yes, ScoMo, it is all your fault! But never mind the past 30 years of neoliberal economic policy. She’ll be right!), Times are “difficult” for Australians, according to acting PM Richard Marles. ScoMo was not available to answer charges, having resigned. But apparently you can get an app on your phone that will show you where the cheapest petrol is in your area. Every little bit helps. The app also encourages investigative talent.
It was time for a change of residence from The Lodge for ScoMo, due to his exhausting talents. He decided he needed a bit of solitude after he won the election for Labor. This was shown by a direction of the Jupiter/Saturn midpoint to the Meridian axis: “The desire for solitude, the demonstration of inhibitions, a love of seclusion and loneliness. – Fluctuating success, changes, losses. – The philosopher.” And he does seem to be philosophical about it all. He will triumph in the Lord, “even if the fig tree does not blossom…”, some of his final words as he resigned. It reminds one of a song: Don’t cry for thee, so long ScoMo. The truth is your public just left you…and so on. (Sing along for a bit of karaoke fun.)
Shown to the side of the chart is the progressed Moon, which was on the natal Descendant of the swearing-in chart, showing the influence of women in the election and their ascendancy in the Albo government and among independence. ScoMo’s women troubles came back to haunt the Parliament. It will be good for Australia. One of the big headlines after the election was “Women stormed the 2022 election in numbers too big to ignore“. Yes, indeedy. They are going to represent a decisive factor in Parliament now. Respect, ladies.
In turn, the progressed Moon was square to transiting Pluto, which in its turn had been transiting square the Australian Horizon, showing the disgruntlement of the populace. The Moon represents public opinion. The Horizon axis shows the interplay between the common people and their relative well-being (1st house) and public disputes (7th house).
I had heard through the grapevine during the campaigning that it was a pretty daggy affair, mostly attacks between the respective candidates instead of any real debate on the issues – another display of gutter politics, which the Capricorn/Aries combination in the Australian chart can produce. In addition, none of the candidates stood out in terms of any sort of promising action. At least with Keating and his classic insults there was some mild entertainment value to government. For the most part this time around, people just wanted the campaign to stop, and they voted for change.
Change is shown in the chart by the directions of the Ascendant and Uranus to the natal nodal axis, along with the transit of Saturn hovering over the natal Ceres, showing a turning point for the nation. Saturn was also semisquare the natal Sun, showing a darker mood for the nation. Further, the directions of Mercury and Neptune to the Horizon axis gives us the following, Asc=Mer/Nep: “The tendency to open oneself to the influences coming from other people, the state of being exploited, deceived or harmed by others.” Was that the case with this election? It is a question we will come back to in a moment, but this combination also goes to the old riddle: How do you tell if a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.
Keep in mind also transiting Pluto has been amplifying the Asc=Mer/Nep direction for the past months. This gives us some more clues as to what is happening with Australia at the moment. We have the following: “Unusual actions originating in the subconscious mind, the tendency to draw highly upon nervous energy.”
There is thus an entire string of influences here, playing upon the collective consciousness of Australia, as well as there being a strong subconscious element as well. That string of influences is: Asc/Desc=Mer/Nep=Moon/Pluto. It is a combination that shows quite a bit of uncertainty, the potential for deceptive practices, but also the potential for imaginative solutions to the nation’s challenges. Whether or not such solutions would be practical is another matter. So, what were the main issues that swung the election Labor? Labor campaigned on the following:
“The Labor election campaign focused on aged care in Australia, the introduction of a National Anti-Corruption Commission, childcare subsidies, climate change, a similar Defence budget to the Coalition but with a Defence Posture Review into resources and strategy, education, electric vehicles, farming, health, housing, infrastructure [including high speed rail], a review of the NDIS, measures to help older Australians.”
Not mentioned in the preceding is that Labor would support the final stages of the tax cuts the Libs introduced, which would be a handout to the wealthy, but instead to close tax loopholes for large multinational corporations. They also support turning back the boats and offshore processing of immigrants.
What are we looking at in terms of the composition of the new government? In other words, how likely is Albo to be able to push through his initiatives? Well, the number of women in Parliament should certainly help. But Labor clinched the election but it does not have a clear majority of the seats in Parliament. 76 are needed for a majority, and Labor has 75 secured. The Greens have 3 seats, The Libs lost 18 seats, down to 57. There are still about 25% of the votes to be counted as of this writing and five seats still to call. Labor would need at least a few more seats to be able to rule with a clear, unchallenged mandate. As of yet, they don’t have it. There are 16 independent seats, most of those occupied by women, and those could decide any vote for a bill that has to pass through Parliament. But we do have Albo, though, after Labor’s 9 years in the wilderness.
Anthony Norman Albanese – “Albo” – is a Piscean, born 2 Mar 1963, birth time unknown, in Sydney, NSW. I won’t go into his chart here, especially without a birth time. This is more to give context. He is of Italian-Irish descent, with an Irish mother and Italian father. He didn’t meet his father until 2009, having been told his father was dead. The story was probably told to avoid telling Albo he was conceived during a fling on a transport ship. His father was a steward on that ship.
Albo’s mother raised him as a single parent, helped by his maternal grandparents. His mother suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and eventually couldn’t work, so they survived on his mother’s pension. This gives a little background and context as to his views on family and family support. So, he came from modest means. He describes himself as a progressive, aligned with the Labor Left. That puts him at odds with the Labor establishment, which is right wing. We can already get a sense of some battles going forward.
Like most people across the collective ‘West’ we all want a positive change of direction from our governments – more investment in the public instead of pandering to the donor class. We all know our Western governments in general no longer serve our best interests, except for the interests of a very few, and it has been that way for the past few decades. I watched it evolve when I was living in Australia.
Neoliberalism – also known as ‘globalization’, ‘free market economics’, ‘laissez faire economics’ or financial capitalism – was brought into Australia by the Labor Right establishment under Hawke and Keating. Voters tend to think of Labor as ‘left wing’, but this is a misleading narrative, cultivated to effect election outcomes.
Labor has lost support over the years because of its right wing tendencies. I moved to Australia when Keating began introducing neoliberal policies as a result of the economic downturn of the early ‘90s, calling that period “the recession we had to have”. It was a period of high interest rates, coming on the heels of the economic boom of the ‘80s and an overstretched Australian economy, vulnerable to the vagaries of the world economic situation.
The rise of neoliberalism under Labor has been described in a book by political economist Elizabeth Humphrys, How Labour Built Neoliberalism (2019). What follows is important to understand, because so many people are placing their hopes in Albo now. But unless Labor ditches neoliberalism, all we will have with this government is more of the same, but with a veneer of identity politics. From a recent article regarding Labor and neoliberalism:
“In the case of Australia, the implementation of neoliberalism occurred through a “positive” corporatist project centered on working-class sacrifice in the national interest. In turn, the use of corporatism within vanguard neoliberalism led to a particular method of labour disorganization — one marked by the labour movement itself implementing successful wage suppression and self-policing of industrial activity.”
With the consent of the then-powerful union movement, the Hawke–Keating governments implemented an astounding array of reforms that swung the pendulum away from workers and toward capital. In the account supplied by Humphrys, these reforms included
“. . . floating the Australian dollar and abolishing exchange controls; deregulating the financial and banking sectors; dismantling the tariff system and promoting “free trade”; widespread industry deregulation; privatization of government-owned entities; corporatization of government departments and contracting out of services.”
I watched all this happen in real time and I saw what it did to gut Australian industry and workers’ rights. I lived in Australia for almost 20 years and it was neoliberalism that was one of the deciding factors that caused me to leave. Between rising costs, loss of customers due to shop closures (I was working in machine tool repairs at the time) and then the 2008 financial crisis, the main basis of my business closed their shops and moved overseas, or just closed altogether. I was told after the fact I had made a good decision, because even more closures of key industries in my area took place after I left.
Throughout my time in Australia I saw state infrastructure – gas, water, electricity, etc. – all become privatized, with resulting rising rates and declining services. Medical expenses gradually crept up. Speculation in housing caused rent and house prices to sharply rise, to the point now where the average Aussie family cannot afford to buy a home by themselves. It is blamed on the Chinese, which is political rhetoric rather than factual, and any anti-China meme is pushed hard by the Murdoch press, which has a virtual monopoly on the press in Australia. But the biggest investors in Australia are the US, UK, Belgium, Japan and Hong Kong, in that order. China ranks 8th, at 2.2%.
Housing prices are driven by domestic concerns. Non-resident foreign investors cannot buy housing in Australia. Just be aware, part of the deception being foisted on the Australian public regarding China is actually due to American and British foreign policy. It has produced a strident anti-China sentiment in the Australian public, and the US and UK would be more than happy for Australia to engage in a military confrontation with China. AUKUS and The Quad are better off being abandoned. They are not doing Australians any favors. But we digress.
Returning to Albo’s chart, his Uranus makes some very favorable contacts with Australia’s chart, showing a positive and more humanistic turn for the nation – if he chooses to pursue it. A progressive PM is just what the doctor ordered for Australia’s ills, provided policy is sensibly approached and vetted. But there is a warning there, and the Murdoch press and his Sky News (‘Australia’s Fox News’) is already rolling out the attack dogs to scuttle Albo’s initiatives before they even start. But Albo made a good go of it to start – he defeated Murdoch to become PM. Australia now has a golden opportunity to bring about a reversal of 30 years of public disenfranchisement.
Rolling back neoliberalism would require first a reexamination of media rulership rules in Australia, meaning breaking up the Murdoch monopoly. People would then be given information that would stimulate debate instead of dog-whistle politics. The government doesn’t care about dis/misinformation. They do not want the public to have truthful information. Then, protections for the public would have to be slowly implemented and so on – a slow reversal of the neoliberal policies introduced during the Hawke-Keating years, as described above. But there is a catch (Isn’t there always?).
Albo will have to woo the independents to push anything through Parliament. It is the most diverse Parliament in recent memory. He had better strike while the irons are hot once the election and his cabinet is settled, or Murdoch and his acolytes will steadily whittle away at him. But there is a bigger danger still – the Queen, a.k.a. the British establishment. If you don’t think this is a problem, make a study of what happened to Gough Whitlam and why. He was the last progressive PM we had in Australia prior to Albo. That was about 50 years ago. Then, there are the Americans, who are keen to keep their business, defense and anti-China interests intact and more than that – robust. Albo has a fine line to walk as a result. Hence, all the hysteria we hear about the Solomon Islands. But that is another story.
If Labor tries to do too much too quickly the government will be dismissed, or perhaps we will be putting Albo (salt) on our fish ‘n chips. The former was what happened to Whitlam. He ran afoul of the Americans and they in turn had the GG dismiss him. Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t think it can’t happen. The US is after China in a big way now that the Russians have basically won in Ukraine. We are going to hear an endless dumpster-load of rhetoric about how bad/aggressive/predatory (insert negative appellation) China is as a result. These next few years are going to be a little dicey. But the press has to do its duty and keep us all firmly in line with the Western narrative. We have to get those American-built Australian nuclear subs in action to ‘counter the Chinese’.
If Albo is smart, he will give just enough to the US and UK to keep them occupied without dragging Australia into a war, all the while working steadily and calmly to overhaul domestic issues. But the key is ditching neoliberalism and reinvesting in Australia and Australians. It can be done, but it will require strong public support and smart leadership to get it done.
In conclusion, Labor can reinvent itself and become the party of working class – the average Aussie battler – once again, but it will require an internal purge of enough of the Labor Right, or in bringing them on side. It may seem to be an impossible task the way things look at the moment, but with the US and UK facing major internal problems and their own neoliberal, right wing Democratic and Labour parties on the ropes, stranger things have happened.
We are watching history in the making. The world will be a different place in a few years, and for the better for most of the world. Australia can be at the vanguard of such change if we so choose. Having lived in Australia for those years I can tell you that the majority of Australians would rather say goodbye to the monarchy and have more sovereignty from the Americans. There is a lot more we could say, but this gives us a start. A Murdoch Royal Commission would be a good beginning, too.
Featured pic from Il Fatto Quotidiano