Speaking at the University of Queensland (Australia) on 26 July, former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz told the audience: "The mining companies have just sacked your Prime Minister".
Now the mining companies have semi-sacked the whole government. If labour movements run in the face of strong-arm tactics by the bosses, then they overtake you and stomp on you!
On Tuesday 7 September, the deadlock following the 21 August federal election was finally broken by two of the three ex-National-Party independents in the House of Representatives backing a Labor administration. That gives Labor just 76 votes out of 150 in the House of Reps - 72 Labor, one Green, one ex-Green independent, two ex-Nationals independents - against 74 for the Liberal-National Coalition (71 straight Coalition, one maverick National, one ex-National independent).
Australia still has a Labor government. But it will be a very stomped-on Labor government. Rob Oakeshott, the last ex-National independent to back Labor, said: "This is not a mandate for any government. This Parliament is going to be different."
The coup in which the Australian Labor Party (ALP) sacked its leader, and prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to replace him by Julia Gillard, was seen by some as a shift to the left. Rudd was a right-winger; Gillard came from Labor's left faction; the big unions were prime movers in the coup.
But Stiglitz was right. Gillard's first move was to scale down the Labor government's plan for a tax on mining superprofits.
Gillard traded on a few good opinion-poll scores to go for an early election on 21 August. The mining companies had said they could live with Gillard's lower tax, but now lashed out again, backing the conservative Liberal-National Coalition, which promised to scrap the tax altogether.