We may never again have more opportune cause for a class war in Australia than in these next few months.
We have a big, soft target, Gina Reinhart, making two million dollars an hour digging up ground that we, the people, own, an ugly, coarse, unpleasant woman who hates her children and is now proposing to poison the Barrier Reef.
If not now, when? If not we, who?
It is fair at this point I think that we ask five questions:
(1) Is it right that she earns more in two hours than most Australians earn in a lifetime?
(2) Is she a fit and proper person to be running an international company and seeking to run The Age, Channel 10 and The Sydney Morning Herald? (A clue lies in her poetry) Can she be denounced by our parliament as Rupert Murdoch was by his?
(3) Why not seize a third of her wealth as it comes in and with that five billion eight hundred and forty-four million dollars a year help build an Australian civilisation which tourists and scientists and artists will want to come to and maybe live in, spending copious wads of money here?
(4) Why not put this plan before parliament and see how Tony Abbott wriggles and squirms before supporting it? And
(5) Are there five hundred voters in all Australia who would be against it? If so can ten write in and identify themselves?
The theory behind the cry ‘We can’t do that! It’s class warfare!’ is that Gina deserves every penny she has and a night nurse, for instance, is wrong to envy it.
Let me say she is not wrong to envy it. She doesn’t want undeserved millions. She wants a just wage for the work she does, saving and prolonging lives and easing the pain of the dying. That Gina earns in eighteen minutes what she earns in a decade strikes her as unjust, and unfair, and bad for the society, but Gerard Henderson (for one) thinks it’s wrong of her to make comparisons. That is coveting. That is meanness of soul. That is ‘class warfare’. And class warfare is poltics by improper means.
A Gina-specific law that stripped from her a third of her earnings for the next eighteen months, renewable every eighteen months thereafter, would secure the approval of ninety-one percent of the voters, end the Liberal Party, ensure free dental health care for everyone and a quarter of a million public houses for the disabled and the victims of the Meltdown plus rent assistance and home nursing for the old. Yet Labor, of course, won’t do it.
Of course they won’t.
‘The Labor Party is, was, and always will be, John Curtin wrote in 1908, ‘the hand-maiden of Capitalism.’