Review: On Fairness

On FairnessOn Fairness by Sally McManus
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the kind of book you would expect from the current Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It is against neo-liberalism, and for fairness for workers and community; it is against the privatisation of state-owned assets, and in favour of increased public-sector means of guaranteeing employment; it is against the current Liberal-National Party government, and for, well, anything else.

I have some sympathy for the basic thrust of McManus’s argument – that neo-liberal, ‘free market’, ‘trickle down’ economics are fundamentally flowed – but also have to confess that I am no great fan of the current iteration of unions. There is certainly a place for the ability of workers to engage in collective bargaining, and I would go so far as to argue along with McManus that such a thing is a fundamental human right, but unions as they currently exist in the Australian landscape are not always in keeping with their original intention and need to be renewed.

I would, however, agree that the concept of the ‘fair go’ is rapidly disappearing from the Australian landscape in favour of a polarisation that is unhelpful and ultimately destruction of Australian society. The concept of a level playing field for all Australians is at risk of being lost at the behest of the ideologues who wish to embrace the kind of economic theory that has been exposed as falsely based and intrinsically flawed.

This book was an easy read – I read it in one sitting while eating an unexpected Sunday morning solo brunch – and engages the reader regardless of your primary political orientation. As a means of stimulating public discourse, this is a helpful contribution though I suspect that certain elements of contemporary Australian society would view it otherwise.

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