This consultation draft was created through open collaboration between the CJC founders Tash Heenan, Anna Sturman and the broader community. Tash and Anna have since moved on, but their work stands as an ambitious, anti-capitalist vision of what a holistic response to our economic and ecological crisis could look like.
 

This version of GND goes beyond tweaking the existing system at the edges and instead looks to turn the looming crisis into an opportunity for a better world.

Our collective efforts are a part of a far broader coalition working in this space and we are always eager to hear what others are up to!

A Green New Deal For Australia

A Plan for the Decolonisation, Democratisation,
Decommodification and Decarbonisation of Australia 

Editor's Note
This open working document is offered as a potential reference point for what we hope will become a much bigger conversation. Two people can’t really write a Green New Deal for Australia. We welcome criticism, feedback and more detail on every section of this draft. Please share it with organisations and people who you think would want to be a part of this kind of conversation.

The unevenness of it reflects our own uneven knowledges, and our particular areas of expertise. We know we haven’t gotten everything right, and that the real Green New Deal (or whatever it ends up being called) will emerge from  organising, in depth conversations, and importantly from the people who are already on the frontlines of climate change.

 

Since February 2019, we have sent this draft to over 100 individuals and organisations, but consultation is more than emailing someone a link. This is why we have shifted our focus to organising with people who believe in the principles we used as a guide for this draft. If you’d like to be a part of that, you can join the Climate Justice Collective, a volunteer-run network of people organising for a people’s response to climate change.

 

Our heartfelt thanks go to the people who have taken the time to give us feedback and add to the draft, who are listed at the end of this document.

 

- Tash and Anna

 

Introduction
Our crisis did not begin in 2018 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave the world 12 years to act to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Our crisis did not begin in 1988, when James Hansen gave testimony to the U.S Senate on the dire implications of the ‘greenhouse effect’. 

 

Our crisis began on the 26th of January 1788, when colonial settlers began shaping Australia in the image of their empire homeland, and began attempts to erase and eradicate the complex society and economy that First Nations people had formed in concert with the land for tens of thousands of years. In line with the ever-expanding demands of international capital, the natural resources of Australia have been systematically enclosed and exploited since this day. 

 

The people and places closest to the margins of society have from the very beginning suffered the indignities that flow from the subordination of life to the so-called laws of capitalism. Increasingly, we are all experiencing a lower quality of life for greater cost, while our society’s wealth continues to pile up in the coffers of fewer and fewer people. 

 

The mechanisms and dynamics driving this are not inevitable. They are in the interests of the powerful. Climate change, and our inability to enact a coordinated response to it, represents only the latest and most far-reaching crisis of capitalism. The floods, fires, droughts and heatwaves have already begun, and no aspect of our lives will remain untouched by climate change. These terrifying and deadly impacts are the consequence of an economic system that values profit and shareholder returns over life and survival. It is past time to commence a great reversal of this wanton destruction and to begin building a future for everyone, using the power of the many disenfranchised to overcome the violence of the powerful few. 

 

This won’t be easy, but we have a world to make.

 

It can’t be left to individuals, and to the people who contributed the least to producing climate change, to face this crisis alone. A Green New Deal seeks to acknowledge historical economic and ecological injustices, common in capitalism but unique in the form they have taken in Australia. We are building a program that redistributes the work of addressing climate change from individuals to the collective, and ensures that those companies, politicians and individuals who knowingly engendered the crisis are held accountable. Climate justice demands that we stand in solidarity with the peoples of the Asia-Pacific and across the world. We must ensure that Australia contributes to the just transition to a liveable world in equal or greater measure than it has fecklessly contributed to the degradation of our eco-systems, held in common. 

 

In the name of the many of us who are marginalised, obstructed and powerless; but also in the name of the many of us who are getting by while knowing that this cannot last forever and that a change for the better must come, this is our Green New Deal for Australia.

 

SECTION I: The Policies

a. Reimagining work

 

Climate justice must begin with economic justice. 

 

For too long our work has been guided solely by the principle of profit-maximisation. As a result, many people work longer, harder and in stressful and dangerous conditions for wages that don’t even cover the cost of living. We don’t get a say in what we produce, how we produce it, or how our work impacts on the living planet. Reimagining work would entail a complete reorientation of work and our relationship to it, by replacing profit-maximisation with the reproduction of life and communities as the guiding principle of work.

 

We can achieve rapid decarbonisation of our economy while creating secure, unionised, high-wage jobs in the process. The unprecedented scale of the transformation necessary to create a better quality of life for all citizens demands an enormous amount of work. We will need an economy-wide mobilisation of resources and people to transition to a low carbon society, in order to face a crisis that has no precedent in terms of its scale and potential for loss of life. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to reactive plans, or merely tinker around the edges of our existing work order. Instead, we can use this as an opportunity to build the kind of society that the majority of people want to live in, with meaningful work, and much more time for ourselves and our communities. Creating good jobs is central to our Green New Deal because, as Frances Flanagan has argued, work, including the way we value different types of work, is central to facing the climate crisis.

 

  1. A unionised Job Guarantee, as a key plank of a full-employment strategy, is the best way to address both the decline in total work hours (represented in growing underemployment), wage stagnation, and the increasing contingency of work relationships, by making the federal government an employer of last resort (it should be federally coordinated but managed at the local level and be tailored to community needs). A Job Guarantee would also allow for the kind of urgent, large-scale, coordinated action required to respond to climate change by enrolling all willing citizens in work that contributes to this transformation, all the while rebuilding the public sector. A Job Guarantee will provide every willing citizen with well-paid, flexible and secure work, including comprehensive paid training, unlike our current punitive work-for-the-dole programs and prison labour schemes. Administration of the sign-up program could use existing public offices such as AusPost, for localised registration. An expansion of social security benefits, beginning with increases to the Single Parenting Payment and Disability Support Pension, and an unconditional Basic Income set at the Henderson Poverty Line, would mean that social security remains available to anyone who wishes not to accept a job. A Job Guarantee would also set the floor for wages and conditions for the private sector, which would lead to wage increases and improved working conditions in that sector. Priority actions for Job Guarantee workers may include:

    a. Expanding clean energy 
    b. Expanding the healthcare and social assistance sector 
    c. Expanding sustainable manufacturing
    d. Expanding sustainable agriculture and agroecology
    e. Upgrading and massively expanding our public transport systems
    f. Building the homes required for a Housing Guarantee
    g. Retrofitting public buildings and homes to adapt to changing climates
    h. Expanding social services, specifically those services that work to tackle the climate crises: this could include bush and land care/regeneration, research and education.

2. Changes to the Fair Work Act which would need to underpin or precede a Job Guarantee:


a. Substantial increase in the minimum wage; minimum wage increases assessed solely in terms of costs of living a good life, and not in terms of productivity or potential for capital flight

b. Remove restrictions on the right to strike and union right of entry

c. Transitioning to a 4 day work week (32 hours as the standard working week) to redistribute hours from the overworked to the underemployed

d. Industry/sectoral bargaining for all industries, and union affiliated workers councils at the site level to allow for greater autonomy over day-to-day issues like work schedules.

e. Abolish ‘casual’ and ‘contractor’ as legitimate employment relationships

f. Portable leave entitlements, accrued leave should follow workers when they change jobs

g. Remove restrictions on bargaining content, so that workers have more say in a broad range of issues regarding their workplaces. Workers should be encouraged to bargain with employers about issues such as energy use and efficiency mechanisms.

 

3. Appropriately value and rapidly expand Healthcare and Social Assistance, the green industry of our future. This industry is made up of people who do the core work necessary for our society to function; they are aged carers, nurses, disability support workers, early childhood educators, ambulance officers, cleaners and social workers. They already make up 12.6% of our workforce, and their jobs are low-carbon. Healthcare and Social Assistance is the fastest growing sector of our economy, and is predominantly made up of women. It’s time to value the work of care, of renewal and regenerative work, and pay workers in this industry what they are worth. It’s time to end gender pay inequity, by acknowledging that the gender segregation of the workforce means we don’t value some of our most important workers.

 

4. Just as we need to care for one another, we each need to become proactive and responsible stewards for the land, waterways, air, and other animals. 230 years of colonialism has resulted in destructive land clearing, industrial pollution, soil erosion and general mismanagement of the ecosystems we are embedded in. The work that stewardship entails is broad but includes cleaning up our waterways, reforestation programs, the transformation of unused urban spaces for food production and increased air quality, restoring soils and wetlands, and importantly, reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. This work must be appropriately remunerated (via the Job Guarantee or worker cooperatives), and not considered an optional, volunteer-based activity to be left solely to non-profit organisations. 

 

We need to return to the founding principles and philosophies of the people who steward this land, namely Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There is no pristine version of Australia that has not been co-produced by people and other animals. The stewardship of this country will form a part of the core regenerative work of a Green New Deal. Bruce Pascoe’s elegant dismantling of the myth that all First Nations people lived passively on the land as hunter gatherers demonstrates that Australia has been a meticulously cultivated land for at least tens of thousands of years. The knowledge, skills and technology required to produce (to give only one example) the range of food enjoyed by people in pre-colonial Australia can and must be rebuilt, primarily by and for First Nations people. Mary Graham and others have elaborated on these philosophies, and urged all Australians to get to know and understand them. This process of learning must heed the past and current context of damaging settler knowledge extraction that is especially prevalent but not limited to academia, and seek only to accept and receive knowledge which is provided with consent.

 

5. We should enact the necessary policy, regulatory and legislative reforms that enable the easy formation and management of worker-owned cooperatives, and provide public subsidies to incentivise the creation of co-ops. We should aim for at least 10% of the workforce being worker-owners by 2030. This will include education programs aimed at encouraging people to form co-ops in new areas, or buying out existing private businesses. Examples of successful co-ops can be used to demonstrate the benefits of being a worker-owner, such as The Co-operative Life in aged care, the Community Power Agency and Cooperative Power in clean energy, Redgum in cleaning and Earthworker Energy in manufacturing. This includes organising workers in the gig economy to help them form platform cooperatives, and providing start-up capital through co-op grants and funding. We can leave it to Google to invest in cooperatives and capture the data of users, or we can create publicly funded, worker-owned platforms in every industry.
 

b. End fossil fuels (‘Keep it in the ground’)

  • 100% renewables by 2030.

  • The planned closure of all existing coal and gas-fired power stations as soon as they can be replaced by renewable alternatives; and the re-nationalisation and social ownership of energy production, distribution and retailing with management input from relevant trade unions and communities.

  • Planning laws & regulations amended to give greater control of energy to First Nations, local community & workers. Genuine community engagement & involvement in decision-making, site location, project size, and ownership.

  • A complete moratorium on new coal and gas mining. Cancellation of current licences to expand and construct coal mines, such as Adani.

  • No increase in household power prices – Make the polluters pay; fund the transition by ending the $11 billion annual state subsidies to polluters, increasing corporate tax, ending corporate tax breaks and cracking down on corporate tax evasion.

  • An end to fracking, with a priority focus on the Northern Territory.

  • A Just Transition program that channels payments to all directly and indirectly affected workers, not polluting companies, and gives funding to TAFE, unions and NGOs to provide retraining. Such programs should be designed through extensive consultation with affected workers, rather than a one-size-fits-all application of funding and training programs. 

  • The planned closure of all existing fossil fuel extraction sites & their rehabilitation e.g. coal mines, coal seam gas fields. Rehabilitation of sites to be paid for by fossil fuel corporations but carried out by local workers through Job Guarantee programs. 

 

c. ‘Homes for all’

We need a moratorium on all new housing development (public and private) that isn’t high - medium density, low-carbon, linked with existing or planned public transport, and does not satisfy the needs of mixed-income residents. A large number of Australians cannot afford to keep up with their rental and mortgage payments, and for many the dream of owning their own home has been extinguished by a decade long housing bubble in the major cities. A Housing Guarantee would solve the twin problems of affordability and climate adaptation. This policy suite would dovetail with subsidies for retrofitting existing dwellings, and a massive expansion of household renewable energy.
 

  • A Housing Guarantee

    • Focused on investing in innovative housing solutions that build communities, such as co-operatives and co-housing

  • A roof over every head - housing enshrined in the constitution as a right, to be guaranteed by the government.

  • High-medium density - against sprawl. This comes with access to high quality amenities (basic infrastructure like water/plumbing) and communal spaces (e.g. libraries, community gardens).

  • Housing designed for cooling, including gardens and veggies patches to maximize shade and community food production.

  • Shift power in favour of renters through changes to tenancy laws to bring in line with best practice in rent control and tenancy duration.

  • A deliberate shift (including through CGT/comprehensive tax reform) to move from concentration of ownership to housing co-ops and build a social commons through a view of housing as infrastructure.

 

d. Transport (‘Connecting our Continent’)

 

  • The scale of the work described above will require a High Speed National Rail Network, as has been costed and proposed by Beyond Zero Emissions.

  • Renationalising airlines, greatly reducing air travel - this could begin with a high frequent flyer levy.

  • The congestion, noise and pollution removed from these roads will be replaced by public walkways, buses, trams, and forms of communal transport which facilitate the free flow of all people. 

  • In addition, cycleways will replace areas formerly reserved for car use that are ill-suited to more intensive public transport. Cycling education including safety and cycle maintenance will be widely available through a range of publicly funded means, including school curricula. 

  • Cars to be phased out in major cities, with universally accessible transport options such as rideshare co-operatives available for remaining cases where cars are necessary.

 

e. Our Urban Future

 

  • Retrofit the suburbs to maximise communal and collective forms of energy and food production, water retention and recycling, and reduce reliance on cars by linking cycleways and pathways to public transport.

  • Actively build heat shelter spaces, prioritising low-income LGAs, and areas at risk of heat stress. Expand access to cool public spaces, which can act as gathering places during heat waves and emergencies.

  • Enshrine a Right to the City (RTTC) that ensures all urban planning policies are assessed through a RTTC framework, and connect with other cities around the world that are a part of the global RTTC movement.

  • Millions of people have already been displaced by climate change, and this is only set to increase in the future. It is our responsibility to prepare our cities to receive and welcome climate refugees. We can look to Barcelona as an example of best practice when it comes to receiving, caring for and settling refugees.

 

f. Bolstering Care Work and Public Health

 

It is time to begin properly valuing and devoting resources to unpaid caring work, the reproductive labour that keeps our society running. From the domestic labour of keeping a household afloat, to the ways we care for our children and elderly, to the design and delivery of public health initiatives, we need to recognise the importance of care work in our lives. We must begin by:

  • Designing and implementing a programme of ‘cradle to grave’ quality care, accessible and free for all. This will follow citizens throughout their entire lives, providing early childhood education and care, paid family leave (including parental leave and carers leave), home care and residential care to everyone in a way that is:

    • Culturally sensitive - e,g it prioritises Aboriginal Health Workers; and

    • Integrated with the massive expansion of the Healthcare and Social Assistance sector.

  • Acting on the knowledge that climate change is not just an ecological crisis, it is a social crisis that has already had far-reaching impacts on our health. We need a public health campaign to address the full range of impacts climate change represents to communities. While the physical impacts are very real, the campaign should also have an emphasis on mental health and dealing with the trauma of climate change.  

  • Training existing and new healthcare professionals so that our healthcare system can respond to climate induced public health risks and outbreaks, in a rapid, coordinated fashion. This will involve expanding the coverage of Medicare to take into account new risks posed by climate change, such as heatwaves, water-borne diseases, and air pollution.

 

g. Reversing Disastrous Privatisations (‘Time to Take Back What’s Ours’)

 

Privatisation has failed. It’s failed in every sector, and Australians know this. The core institutions and services that we need to drive the GND are those which have been given away to a handful of monied interests; those who have pursued maximum returns at all costs, whilst providing a steadily declining level of service to us. Adding insult to injury, the hollowing out of these institutions and services has relied on the public purse for ongoing subsidisation in the form of tax breaks and handouts. This has repeatedly led to complete abdications of responsibility for what are core components of our lives, with the public paying for this wilful disregard for human dignity in a lower quality of life and very real bailouts, over and over again. 

 

We need to reverse the privatisations of the past three decades, which were not undertaken with the interests of the majority of Australians in mind, starting with our most strategic sectors:

  • Banking

  • Energy

  • Internet

  • Transport

  • Social services

  • Justice system 

  • Education

  • Health

  • Land titles

 

With these sectors back under democratic control and subject to the direction of the Australian people rather than a few millionaires, we can begin our rapid program of change in line with this GND and in the interests of us all.

 

The first step taken following re-nationalisation should be rolling out a debt forgiveness program specifically for debts of low-income earners accrued in order to access the basic services that a nationalised infrastructure should provide. This includes personal loans taken on to pay for the increasing cost of housing; massive student loan debts; bail imposed on the people least able to afford it and who are systematically targeted by discriminatory laws.

 

h. Invest in Research and Education (‘Lifelong Learning and Training’)

 

  • Fund the CSIRO properly and expand its remit; expand state-based research centres.

  • Make tertiary education free again, including debt forgiveness for existing HECS/FEE HELP loans.  The extraordinary burden that is placed on young people who are saddled with often lifelong debts manifests both as a ticking mental health time bomb and a handbrake on the economy, as recovery actions soak up capital that must be used productively elsewhere.   

  • Reverse the disastrous privatisation and marketisation of TAFE, and make TAFE free.

  • An overhaul of school curricula, all the way from primary through secondary: include a comprehensive, ongoing commitment to civic education.

  • Fair Funding Now for public schools, which means needs-based funding for all schools:

    • Reverse the $1.9 billion cut to public schools in 2018 and 2019.

    • Agreements should be struck between the Commonwealth and the states and territories to ensure every public school is funded to 100% of the schooling resource standard (SRS) by 2023.

    • Remove the 20% cap on the Commonwealth share of the SRS from the Australian Education Amendment Act.

    • Establish a capital fund for public schools ($300m in 2018 and increase each year in line with enrolment growth and rising costs) to ensure all students are educated in classrooms and learning spaces where their needs can be met.

    • Reverse the cuts to disability funding in five states and territories.
       

i. Land reform and healthy food for all (‘Food for the Future’)

 

  • Our food and the land use and systems that create and distribute it are collectively the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth. Land reform across Australia, led by First Nations people and forming a part of reparations, is integral to ensuring that safe environmental limits are not breached, while guaranteeing a secure supply of healthy food for all.

  • The true costs of ferrying all sorts of food across the world in order to provide an appearance of abundance in our supermarkets are staggering. We need to focus on national and regional self-sufficiency in our food production. This will require a robust, overarching framework of incentives and guarantees combined with a bottom-up, locally-led approach to food-justice strategies.

  • Implement mandatory Aboriginal Land Fire Management Practices.

  • The overarching framework must take into account the need for:

    • Hard investment in, and economic incentives for land conversion (e.g. reforestation, moving to low-emission crops) in line with community-led planning;

    • Regenerative and agroecological farming practices like crop rotations that use perennials to stop erosion, improve water quality and ensure soil health, and diversified farming systems with grains, tree crops and livestock; and

    • Strong supply-management programs, equitable land access, conservation programs, diversification of farm income, antitrust enforcement, and market reforms including mechanisms guaranteed farm parity prices for products, to encourage land conservation instead of overproducing.

  • Plans to rehabilitate degraded agricultural land to be made at appropriate ecological and social scales, and to be driven by local knowledge and experience 

 

j. Climate Justice must underpin all planks of a truly progressive GND

 

We’ve seen in the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement that regressive policies that do not address climate justice are rejected by a majority of citizens. We must prioritise fairness, and be clear about who is liable for the climate crisis, and make them pay. The U.S Climate Justice Alliance has created a map of a Just Transition which is a useful starting point [See Appendix, Figure 1.].

  • See resolution 1 (E) of the U.S GND, on ‘frontline communities’.

  • Environmental racism in Australia is embodied in fracking on Aboriginal land despite community opposition, the current water crisis in Walgett NSW, and the Adani coal mine being built against the wishes and struggles of traditional landowners, the Wangan and Jagalingou people. Aboriginal people have always been on the frontlines of environmental degradation and social deprivation. They must be the primary voices heard in any discussion of a Green New Deal.

  • Solidarity with Torres Strait communities under threat of sea-level rise and resistance to relocation. 

  • Justice at a global scale means Australia must acknowledge it’s outsized role in producing climate change, and offer safe haven to climate refugees by encouraging freedom of movement in our region and beyond. This means ending punitive offshore border processing regimes, and legislating a responsibility to climate refugees. This includes legal recognition of climate refugees.

  • We should develop an open borders policy that encourages the free movement of people to and from Australia. As Reece Jones has stated, there is no “moral or ethical reason to justify restricting the movement of other human beings at border”.


 

k. Decolonise Australia

 

The future of Australia and our ability to respond and rebuild in the face of the climate crisis is inextricably tied to the past and present violent dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Every step forward we take without reckoning with our past and present, is tainted and doomed to fail. We need to:

 

  • Break the silence on the impact and ongoing violence of colonisation.

  • The Australian government at all levels must immediately acknowledge the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and accept the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

  • Treaty making processes should begin in remaining states and territories. The establishment of a Makarrata Commission to “supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history” - Uluru Statement from the Heart.

  • Reparations must be paid for the loss of life, land, culture, language, family and invaluable connection to the land and each other suffered due to the actions of the settler colonial state. These are to be determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

  • Self-determination of all First Nations people must be enshrined in the appropriate legal system, whether that be Aboriginal Law or Common Law (or both).

  • Acknowledge that Torres Strait Islander people have not given up on climate mitigation, and have not uniformly decided to abandon their homelands. We reject any moves by any government to extend settler Australian sovereignty to sovereign island nations under the guise of saving or protecting them from climate change.

  • Abolish the punitive Community Development Program (CDP), which is a form of modern slavery, and replace it with an Aboriginal employment and community development investment scheme under community control.

  • Expand and increase funding to the Aboriginal Ranger program.

  • All Close the Gap funding must go through services controlled by First Nations organisations.

  • This Just Economic Transition seeks to enshrine the right of Aboriginal people to free, prior and informed consent about projects impacting their land and cultures, and the right to veto such projects.

 

We must acknowledge that current governments (state and federal) are actively hostile and continually enforce policies that destroy the wellbeing of Aboriginal communities. We set ourselves in opposition to this hostility and destruction. In constructing the planks of this GND for Australia, the structure that will hold our aspirations and intentions for a renewed partnership with each other and the land, the building must involve all the peoples of Australia but acknowledge and honour the primary importance of the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

 

SECTION II: The Mechanics

a. How do we pay for it? - See Also GetUp’s excellent ‘How to Pay’ 

 

We can’t afford not to. The societal and ecological costs of avoiding the big, system-wide changes required to face climate change are too much to bear. In our current system, the costs of supporting business as usual are astronomical, but hidden in plain sight. The substantial costs involved in forging the pillars of a GND are not dissimilar to the amount of money that is currently siphoned off from the public purse via tax avoidance, supply-side subsidisation of new and existing private infrastructure projects, and creating substandard public infrastructure that will have to be constantly remediated or outright replaced in the short-term. The thing to remember is: current measures such as GDP incorporate unproductive if not wasteful allocation of resources as positive indicators of progress, and that, as all ‘good’ money managers would tell their wealthy clients, investing in long-term, sustainable solutions that will yield profit (in this case in the form of improved livelihoods - or any livelihoods at all!) are preferable to short-term ‘solutions’ where risk cannot be reallocated to someone else. We’ve been paying for other people to profit while we fall further down the hole. We need to climb out, and create something for everyone. 

 

Not all of these policies are expensive, in fact, some of them save us money. Estimates of the cost of a Job Guarantee for Australia demonstrate that it’s actually cheaper than the current rising costs of unemployment, not even taking into account the multiplier effects that will kick in once a large portion of the workforce begin receiving high, secure wages.

 

  • Tax reform and tax compliance: there are a plenty of existing proposals that show how we could make our tax system fairer, and easily recoup the funds to pay for the GND policies. We need to start by taxing corporations and the wealthy, and cracking down on their tax avoidance. This could include a climate reparations tax, paid for by fossil fuel companies to fund public research and development, and adaptation strategies we now need to employ due to their relentless pursuit of profit. We should also consider a wealth tax focused on high net worth estates and land taxes to ensure that rising land values are shared equally with the wider community.

 

  • We can run deficits, especially if it means saving life on Earth. Kinda seems worth it. Quantitative Easing should also be considered where appropriate. 

 

  • If necessary as a ramp to full nationalisation of the banking sector, we can establish a public bank, that can prioritise the investments required by a GND. A public (or community) bank is a means of reclaiming public finance in order to fund the GND: 

    • A public bank should be a non-profit bank. It needs to be solvent, but profit is not the goal. This gives it a huge advantage over commercial banks as it can offer discounted rates on loans. A public Bank could be created within Australia Post, to make use of the established network of branches and payment systems.

    • A public bank would also offer financial services (as with commercial finance), but tailored towards public/community needs. Short of revolution we will still have to operate in a capitalist marketplace, which means competition. Financial advice from a public bank would help GND projects to navigate the capitalist marketplace we find ourselves in.

 

  • Redirect from unproductive government investments (ridiculous submarines, school chaplain programs, private contracts for everything under the sun with no oversight or accountability) to productive and well monitored investments > universal family care, civil service-like job guarantee focused on caring and regenerative work (which will increase aggregate demand), building the infrastructure necessary for sustainable transport and the housing guarantee.

 

  • Stop giving subsidies to polluters. [Both supply and demand side!]

 

  • Superannuation > nationalise (and democratise) super, which is essentially a private pension system, and use it to invest in the GND.

 

  • Tax multinationals, including those who are mining our data for profit. This should include a crackdown on tax havens and strict trade rules ensuring no multinationals that have previously been found to engage in tax dodging in other countries are welcome to do business here. 

 

b. Why Don’t We Have Nice Things?

 

None of these policies are new or particularly difficult to implement from a logistical and technical point of view, but they have not previously been proposed as part of a comprehensive plan. If these policies are so straight-forward, and have such far reaching benefits, why don’t we already have them? We’ve known about how to tackle climate change for a long time, so what has caused the delay? The truth is, we have been hamstrung for decades by predatory delay tactics (often misread as a ‘failure of politics’ or consensus making) precisely because there are people who don’t want us to redistribute power, wealth and resources in the exact way we are proposing here, and those people happen to have all of the money and all of the power right now. 

 

Climate change is the expression of contradictions inherent to capitalism: it is not just an ecological crisis, it is a social crisis of production and reproduction. The concentration of enormous wealth in a few hands is inseparable from the destruction of the planet. The only way to act on climate change, therefore, it to dismantle and rebuild our economic system. That’s why we don’t have nice things. We have yet to mount a full scale challenge to capital. Until we do, we’ll be stuck debating the merits of various market mechanisms, while the U.N scrambles to promote untested and potentially untenable policies like BECCS.

 

We’ve spent too long asking politicians for evidence-based policy, only to be told that we need to be ‘realistic’. Realism, in this context, means asking corporations and business groups for concessions, and allowing them to dictate the terms of our existence. The ability of Australian politicians across the political spectrum to implement genuinely progressive and redistributive policies depends on the power we build first in our communities and workplaces. That’s not to say we should let them off the hook. Many of them have personally profited from predatory delay. It does mean that our strategy to win a GND should begin with organising to build power.

 

Let’s be honest, we are in a David vs. Goliath type battle and the stakes have never been higher. But while they have money, we have people. The capitalist class has fought any efforts to confront climate change tooth and nail. Exxon knew. The web of life, us included, is currently being sacrificed on the altars of profit. The future of Life on Earth (the only life in the known universe!) hangs in the balance. You better believe the capitalist class, including coal and finance executives, has spent an enormous amount of time and energy ensuring that they are not recognised as both the causes of climate change and the enemies of climate adaptation. 

 

c. What are the barriers, and how do we surmount them?

 

  1. Capital flight/strike
    One of the first responses by conservative parties and business groups will be to raise the spectre of a capital strike. There are two key tactics we can use to combat the effects of this. The first is calling their bluff. For most companies, moving their operations abroad is costly and time-consuming, or in some cases unviable. We can’t know the full extent to which these policies might trigger capital flight, but suffice to say that we do all the work, and in the absence of bosses and investors, we can become the bosses and collectivise the investment. In other words, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. (Also, we can tax fleeing capital, like Ecuador did and use the tax revenue to fund just transition programs for affected workers). The second, more important tactic is to join the global justice movement and fight for an international minimum wage. The global division of workers by country borders and ‘special economic zones’ allows for wretched forms of exploitation to proliferate. In solidarity with people all around the world, we can dictate the terms of work and investment to capital, but divided we beg. This includes a commitment to an open borders policy.
     

  2. Co-option of policies
    Which of these planks is most vulnerable to being watered-down or made regressive? We should recognise potential weak spots, or policies that are ripe to be watered down and co-opted, and build in talking points that ensure the public wants and demands the progressive iteration of each of these key planks. For example, instead of a Housing Guarantee, we could see policies that call for at least 20% of new homes being built to be sustainable social housing. We should be ready to tactically challenge weak versions of the Green New Deal policies, in ways that force people to be courageous, and expose the vested interests that seek to curtail or limit our vision for the future. We need to challenge the narrative that a GND would be too expensive to implement in full, and stress the point that implementing a full, progressive GND is our best chance at keeping warming below 1.5 degrees, and overthrowing the stranglehold corporations have on our ability to live in peaceful enjoyment of life.
     

  3. Sanctions 
    Would we be vulnerable to economic sanctions? The U.S and China are the most likely candidates for sanctions. In the case of the U.S, this means creating international solidarity with campaigns to defeat Trump, and elect a progressive Democrat in 2020. It’s another reason why the GND should be a part of the Progressive International. China is the only other country whose import policies have a substantial impact on our economy. Reducing our reliance on export revenue would help avoid any sanctions from China, generally alleviate balance of payments crises (real or imagined/overblown) and is necessary to decarbonise our economy.
     

  4. Coalition
    We should anticipate and inoculate against likely conservative talking points and criticisms. This requires an active refutation of the potential for climate change to be framed as a threat to ‘national security’. Instead, we should position climate change as a threat to our quality of life and ability to live in peaceful enjoyment with our families and communities. We should also be very clear about who has imposed this threat by producing climate change and contributing to predatory delay. We should clarify the vicious cycle that is predatory delay leading to various crises that then allow the Coalition to claim ‘national security’ as an imperative for further predatory delay. 
     

  5. Murdoch press
    We should stress that this is about a program focused on job creation and increasing the living standards of the majority of people - minus jingoistic language about ‘nation building’ to adversarial press. We should also get to work on shoring up and funding new and existing alternative community-run media channels.
     

  6. Big business
    They ain’t gonna like it no matter what we do. A genuinely progressive GND seeks to redistribute the balance of power to workers. No one gives up power willingly, particularly when they have so spectacularly won the last few rounds in the ongoing class war. We need to seize control of the GND conversation in the face of their deliberate attempts to destroy human civilisation for profit. Also, they seem to be favouring a carbon tax now as the GND looms as a possibility, so a comprehensive refutation of carbon pricing should be put forward. 

The CJC Green New Deal for Australia
Consultation Draft

 

Resources

 

IPCC Special Report 2018: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ 

 

Climate breakdown: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/age-of-environmental-breakdown 

 

GND U.S: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5729033/Green-New-Deal-FINAL.pdf 

 

DSA Ecosocialist Principles: https://ecosocialists.dsausa.org/2019/02/28/gnd-principles/?fbclid=IwAR1T4381sN6WEpuwpfE1g-e65Da4UqHnKRcvSg_mDPMINUaWEuSU4MJMxEo 

 

A Class Struggle Strategy for a Green New Deal: https://socialistforum.dsausa.org/issues/winter-2019/a-class-struggle-strategy-for-a-green-new-deal/ 

 

Housing: https://jacobinmag.com/2019/02/green-new-deal-housing-ocasio-cortez-climate 

 

Freedom and Socialism: https://jacobinmag.com/2019/02/green-new-deal-four-freedoms-fdr 

 

GetUp’s Future to Fight For: https://futuretofightfor.org.au/ 

 

Australia Remade: https://www.australiaremade.org/the-vision/ 

Note: We have a separate doc for strategies we could employ to win this Green New Deal, also happy to share with anyone.
 

Written by Natasha Heenan and Anna Sturman - members of the Climate Justice Collective

 

Special thanks for comments and input from the following people:

 

Evan Van Zijl

Godfrey Moase

Alana West

Prof. Kurt Iveson

Antony McMullen

Anthony Taylor

Andy Mason

Oliver Mispelhorn

Luciano Carment

Connor Jolley

Dr. Frances Flanagan

Prof. Stuart Rosewarne

Dr. Rebecca Pearse

Dr. Gareth Bryant

Dr. Jon Piccini

Tom Reddington

Paul Dutton

Travis Jordan

Ed Miller

David Peetz

(Alex North- Australian Unemployed WorkersUnion)

Ben Cooke

Osmond Chiu

Warwick Smith

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