Most Americans who voted for Donald Trump did so because they felt left behind and disconnected from the political system. They felt left behind by unfettered free markets, globalisation and neoliberalism, everything the Republicans have espoused, and not dissimilar to the views of the Coalition in Australia.
For ultra-Conservatives to equate Trump’s election win with an electoral push-back against action on climate change and other progressive policy is absurd.
Comments from Tony Abbott and other loyalists of Team Abbott were made to serve their short-term political interest, and Australians can see right through it.
The US election result must be seen from a global perspective, with a focus on the marginalised and disenfranchised. It is a backlash against established politicians who failed to listen. Concerns about jobs and the direction of the country were dismissed. Trump made absurd, controversial comments, but he listened and told many Americans what they wanted to hear.
The backlash from disaffected voters in the outer suburbs and regions in favour of Trump occurred because of uneven economic growth and a widening income gap.
The “It’s the economy stupid” catchcry of Bill Clinton’s 1992 election campaign resonated in this election and continues, as it should, to be the issue that trumps all others.
People must have the confidence in the economy to deliver good-paying jobs now and into the future. If they don’t have confidence in their politicians to manage a strong economy they will vote for an alternative. This is what we have just witnessed in the US. Congressional gridlock has forced Americans to vote in favour of Trump. For eight years Barack Obama has failed to live up to expectations. The Congressional gridlock that Obama faced, together with his consequent inability to easily pass budgets, left his administration toothless.
This led to a resurgence of Republicans represented in Washington. Australian politicians and political parties must learn from this.
We must realise that as the global economy changes and transitions, we must not forget the industries that have made our country great, and we should not abandon our manufacturing industries.
If we don’t invest in manufacturing, we risk losing our skill base. Australian jobs must come first, and the Federal Government must work with business, unions and community to make every effort to ensure companies invest in Australia and the Australian people.
Free markets and globalisation are responsible for much we take for granted in our lives. It is responsible for innovations such as advanced medical breakthroughs. For example, Australia successfully exported the Gardasil vaccine. Free markets and globalisation mean a more connected world and sharing of information through networks such as Facebook.
However, unfettered free markets and globalisation are dangerous. The neoliberal ideology advocates less and less regulation, and resulted in creations such as the Cayman Islands and other tax havens where companies avoid tax. Firms do not have a social licence to do this, and governments are responsible for allowing it to happen. They write the tax laws and can regulate companies.
Companies must take responsibility for the communities they benefit from. Governments and the corporate sector must take greater responsibility for the economy, which affects so many lives and livelihoods. It is a finely tuned balance, but a balance worth fighting for.
I am proud to be a politician in a state leading the way in local, high-end manufacturing. We must support local jobs and a willingness to back locals to do the job. We must not lose sight of this. Incat in Hobart continues to lead the world with innovation and production of lightweight ship solutions for ferry operators, special service providers and defence forces. In Launceston, Definium Technologies is wants to employ more people in the manufacture of high-end electronic board sensors used in applications, including a pump station at a Bridport dairy farm. It exports its technology to Odyssey Sensors for irrigation systems.
There is much to learn from the US election. The most important is to listen to people.
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