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   May Day 2024

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  Invasion Day leaflet

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An unfolding political scandal has placed the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in panic mode. It sacked four cabinet ministers in mid-December as the government struggled to cover the main scandal: long-time political corruption stretching back decades with connivance from far-right groups, spurious pseudo front organisations, organised crime and seemingly non-legitimate business practices as standard operations.

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Australian Communist 
Spring 2023

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oftOnFENAA4

 

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Farmers face tough times

 

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(1) May Day Video CPAML - YouTube

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    May Day 2023

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Australian Dairy Industry News

Written by: Duncan B. on 9 July 2024

 

Twenty Australian Manufacturing Workers Union maintenance workers employed at the Burnie (Tasmania) plant of Canadian-owned dairy processor Saputo have been on strike for a month.

They are seeking to be paid the same as Saputo employees doing the same job on the mainland, claiming they are receiving 21% less than their mainland colleagues. They have called for a boycott of Saputo products, which include the Cheer, Devondale, Cracker Barrel, Mersey Valley and several other brands of cheese.

The majority of the Australian dairy processing industry is foreign-owned, with Saputo (Canada), Fonterra (NZ) and Lactalis (France) the main players. Bega is the only major Australian-owned dairy company, along with some smaller companies such as Norco.

The same dairy companies that exploit Australian dairy factory workers also exploit Australian dairy farmers. Recently the processors announced this year’s farm gate price offers to dairy farmers for their milk. The prices offered are actually less than last year’s, being around $7.80 to $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids. 

These prices are around the farmers’ cost of production or even less. It is estimated that dairy farmers will be $200,000 to $300,000 worse off, as they are also being hit by rising costs for water, electricity and all their other inputs. More dairy farmers are expected to leave the industry.

Dairy farm numbers last year were 4163, down from 4420 in 2022, and 6308 in 2014. Australia’s milk pool has shrunk to around eight million litres. It is not surprising that we are seeing a massive increase in the import of dairy products into Australia from Europe, the US and New Zealand. In 2022-23, dairy imports rose from around 293,000 tonnes to around 344,000 tonnes over the previous year. This was an increase in value from $2.1 billion to $2.7 billion.

Farm gate prices paid by processors to dairy farmers in New Zealand are about 30% lower than in Australia, giving New Zealand companies a considerable price advantage over Australian processors, allowing them profit from exports to Australia.  Last year Australia imported 47,500 tonnes of butter, mainly from New Zealand. Much of the imported butter and cheese is being sold by supermarkets under their own house brands. 

In a move which will shake up the dairy industry in Australia, New Zealand-based Fonterra has announced that it will put its Australian operations up for sale. Fonterra employs 1600 people at eight sites in Victoria and Tasmania and processes 1.4 billion litres of milk each year.

The Canadian-owned superannuation fund PSP is deeply involved in Australian dairy farming through its company Aurora Dairies. This company has 450 employees and has 48,000 cows producing 280 million litres of milk on 54 farms in Australia. Aurora’s economies of scale will allow them to make a profit from dairying while small farmers struggle to make a living. It will be interesting to see if PSP makes a bid for Fonterra’s factories. This would give them control over the whole dairy business from cow to consumer. 

Australia’s small farmers and workers have the same enemy. Only unity in struggle will end the exploitation.

 

 

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Why is it so hard to get by?

Written by: John Gerard on 11 July 2024

 

(Cartoons from TNC Workers Research Brief 13 1986)

 

Why in one of the richest countries in the world do we have to scramble to get by?

People have trouble paying for the roof over their heads, stressed by the costs of putting food on the table, fuel in the car and paying power bills.
Why? 

Why, when Australia is a resource powerhouse, first or second in the world in gas exports, first in coal, huge in iron ore, one of the biggest suppliers of rare earths for the electronic digital world and important in so many others resources?

Why when farmers, working with nature’s bounty, produce more than enough to feed everyone in the country a few times over.  

Who isn’t sick to death of the scramble people are forced into just to get a decent living. 

Discovering that profits come before people won’t win you the Nobel Prize. Its slapping us in the face all the time. 

An old maxim goes: It’s the rich that get the pleasure, and the poor that get the pain. In this system of producing and selling for profit, the super-rich getting richer and richer. The people doing the work struggle. That’s capitalism, the capitalist economic and political system. 

But there’s more to it than a ‘system’. More than some elusive, invisible, shadowy thing we can’t get our hands on.   

There’s capitalists. Real people. Visible, flesh and blood, that run this system, that own it, that prosper from it, that unleash forces to defend it and expand their reach.  We don’t often see them because they don’t do much and most of them don’t want us to know them. 

It’s important to be clear about capitalism and capitalists. It’s not just an abstract haze of a system. 

Capitalists are behind this disastrous system

This is the CAPITALISTS’ SYSTEM. A system of capitalists. There’s people who run the system and that it runs for. 

Be clear about the capitalist system producing our problems, but don’t stop there. Get down to the people behind the system, CAPITALISTS.

Capitalists are more than local people like Gina Rhinehart and Andrew Forrest. We need to look past appearances. Australia Institute research in 2022 found Forrest’s Fortescue Metals was 94% foreign-owned. They also identified the mining industry was 85% foreign-owned. 

Identifying the actual people who are behind the system in Australia needs to be checked out in depth or we’ll be pointing at the wrong people and wasting a lot of effort. 

But let’s get the basics clear about who we’re dealing with.

Blame the capitalists and call them out. That crew of people are what stands between us and decent lives.

They have quite a few people they employ to look after them and their interests. They have governing administrations, the legal systems, CEO’s, police, armies and other institutions lined up looking after their system of capitalism and the pipeline of riches into their hands. 

Those people are agents of the capitalists, not the people owning and driving the system. 

The set up is a lot like in the ‘noble sport’ of horse racing.

The ‘sport’ involves owners, trainers, strappers, jockeys, breeders, and institutions including racing clubs, and has governing bodies and government regulations. Feeding off and sponsoring races are bookmakers and betting corporates, along with media empires. We’ll leave the wider industry aside for this illustration.  

The horse side of the ‘industry’ has lots of people with lots of roles. The hierarchy operating between them mirrors capitalism in some ways. 

At the top of the ‘industry’ are horse owners, and not just any old owners in a syndicate who bought a nag hoping they would get lucky. The industry’s dominated by the super-rich, the business tycoons, emirs, sheiks, kings and the like. Just look at the position of Godolphin Racing owned by Sheik Maktoum .

The horse side of the industry is run for the horse owners.  

They employ or contract trainers, who are their top managers as in a corporate structure. The trainers manage the horses, their feed, exercise, health, well-being and other activity. The big owners employ managers of their racing interests, often across the globe. The managers advise and ensure owners’ decisions and interests are carried out and the trainers and their systems are performing. The big owners also employ or contract horse buyers and breeders, sometimes owning their own breeding studs. 

Trainers employ a lot of people, pre-trainer/horse educators, stable hands and strappers, trackwork riders, stud grooms, office managers, book-keepers, clerks, assistants, farm managers, transport drivers and contract others like vets, construction/maintenance workers, jockeys. Significant numbers of people work in a big stable like those of Chris Waller, the Hayes, Cummings, Waterhouse, or Freedman families. 

Chris Waller directly employs just over 100 people in 4 big stables across the eastern States.  All those people are employees or paid one way or another to work for the trainer or trainer’s business to keep the horses healthy and prepare them to race. 

Jockeys ride horses to trainers’ instructions and their own racing skills to try get the best result out of the horse, when they’re operating honestly (for the owner who gets the prizemoney and some kudos). 

The trainers’ job is to get the best out of the horse for the owner, just like the manager of any business.  So do all the people employed by the trainer.   

The owners do nothing or next to nothing in handling the horse.

But they are the ones calling the shots, picking up the winnings, and who the whole industry rotates around. The talk in the form guides is about the trainers and jockeys, with the owners getting mentioned in passing. 

On race day, sometimes, owners jump into the limelight. Owners of Australia’s major corporate empires hide from the limelight but they call the shots just the same. Their interests drive capitalism in this country.  

Capitalism is not just some system, it’s capitalists exploiting workers 

It’s capitalists who prosper while we struggle. And not just some general amorphous rich faceless mob. They have names. They have businesses. They are actual people whose wealth is gained from our work. 

It’s capitalists behind the laws crushing unions. It’s capitalists getting rich from the minerals dug out of the ground and sold overseas while we do the work. It’s capitalists grabbing the money that could provide housing, healthcare, good education, roads, etc. 

A reduction in the standard of living while production ploughs on increases this or that capitalist’s riches even more. More of what workers produce goes to bloating

capitalist riches, leaving us struggling to get by.  

Think of some tanned tycoon basking on a super yacht in the Bahamas or Monaco while miners dig coal, train drivers haul it to ports, operators scoop it out of piles and others load ships full of coal, one after the other. That’s capitalism in Australia, or one major part of it. 

If we’re going to get rid of capitalism from Australia, we need to be much more aware of the capitalists who are prospering from the value workers produce. 

If we’re going to overthrow capitalism, it means overthrowing the people who rule over us. 

In their 18th century revolts, French peasants got rid of feudalism, and they knew they had to get aristocrats’ necks under the guillotine to do it.  

We also need to know who. Otherwise, we’ll just be striking out blindly, often at the management monkey or the political hack, not the organ-grinding capitalist.

It would be a great use of an academic’s time, to delve deeper into who these capitalists are. Where they come from is covered to an extent in the booklet “Who Owns Australia”  . There’s work to be done on who they are. 

What is clear is that 85% of the mining, oil and gas industries in Australia are foreign-owned, with the biggest portion American. There’s similar levels of foreign-ownership in many major sectors of the economy, banking and finance, chemicals and others. Foreign capitalists are at the heart of capitalist ranks in Australia.

The US stranglehold over the country is apparent in how little tax they pay, in billions devoted to preparations for another war to defend and extend the American empire while people are struggling with bills. It points the way towards hitting foreign capitalists as the first step in giving the system a whack.

Moaning about an abstract system doesn’t cut it.  

It’s not just capitalism, its capitalists. We have to target the actual people and the forces that keep them safe from us.     

Appendix:

Godolphin Racing and its super-rich owner, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

One of the biggest and richest race horse owners here and across the world is Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister ruling over Dubai, with horses racing in the royal blue silks of Godolphin Racing. 

He’s the Chief Executive of Emirates Airlines, Chair of Dubai Real Estate Corporation, with his family owning various tremendously lucrative enterprises. 

Godolphin Racing was set up in 1992. By 2018 they’d won over 5,000 races in 14 countries including Australia, the US, UK, France Germany Japan among others.  

The Sheik has two racing stables in Sydney, one in Melbourne, two in Newmarket, UK, and two in Dubai, as well as horses in training with contracted trainers in the UK, Australia, France, Japan, the United States, and Ireland. James Cummings of the famous family of trainers is Godolphin’s head of operations in Australia. 

The Sheik got into racing through owning horses in the UK in 1977. He set up Darley breeding studs in the UK in 1981, subsequently expanding them to Australia, France, Ireland, Japan, and the United States. He owns Channel 4 racing media in the UK. 

Sheik Al Maktoum’s position at the top of the racing tree involved in setting the rules, is apparent in Maktoum’s Godolphin having representatives on the boards of governing bodies on three continents.

One sits on the board of the Melbourne Cup organisers, the Victoria Racing Club, alongside bankers, media execs, corporate accountants and lawyers. Not a stable hand or trackwork rider in sight. 

A former Godolphin CE sits on the board of the British Horseracing Authority as an owners’ representative. An appointee of Sheik Maktoum’s as General Manager of Emirates Racing Authority, Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, has been elevated to vice-chairman of Asian Racing Federation’s Board. The Sheik’s sons serve as Chairs of Dubai’s two horse racing clubs.

Through all the studs and stables, as one racing journalist put it: ‘Each horse has a race path to follow and a commercial purpose to fulfil, from winning prize money to earning a lucrative post-career at stud.’ It’s all about Maktoum’s ‘commercial purpose’ to create value for the Sheik. 

Along the way there’s a dash of horses being this tycoon’s playthings in operation, a display of his wealth delivering prestige among the super-rich while it delivers the money as winners of top races and value as breeding bloodstock. 

 

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Important webinars build the movements against imperialism.

Written by: Nick G. on 9 July 2024

 

 

 

Two important webinars, one recently held and the other still to come, are building the people’s movements against imperialism.

On July 4, the Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition (AAAC) presented a webinar titled “Independence – Breaking the US Stranglehold in Australia.”

In publicity for the event, the AAAC stated:

The U.S. is the dominant global power with extensive political, economic, military influence and power over many countries, including Australia.
 
In Australia this U.S. dominance also extends to Australia’s foreign policies, and impacts on our democratic rights.
 
AUKUS is locking Australia more deeply into US global militarisation and US led wars, in particular the Asia-Pacific Region.
 
The webinar was opened by AAAC member Shirley Winton, and chaired by lawyer and activist Kellie Tranter.
 
More than 300 people registered for the event, with over 200 actually participating. 
 
Our Party was one of 30 organisations endorsing the webinar.
 
There were four speakers:
 
Alison Broinowski, President, Australians for War Powers Reform, and former Australian diplomat, provided a political perspective;
Brian Toohey, Journalist and author specialising in the economy and politics covered the economic aspects of the US stranglehold;
Prof. Richard Tanter, Researcher at the Nautilus Institute, author, spoke on Pine Gap, nuclear weapons, AUKUS and militarization;
Greg Barns SC, democratic rights lawyer and Barrister, commented on the erosion of democratic rights under the Stranglehold.
 
The speakers and some in the audience provided links to a number of important resources.
 
The forthcoming webinar “Why is the Pacific being prepared for war?”, looks at the US-led RIMPAC military exercise in Hawaii, Exercise Pitch Black and AUKUS. It will be held on Saturday July 13 at 1030am AEST.
 
Exercise Pitch Black is an air force exercise that has been held roughly every two years since 1981 and under US leadership since 1983. The 2024 event will occur between 15 Jul – 01 Aug 2024 and be based around Darwin and the Tindale base outside of Katherine.  The previous exercise involved air forces from 17 participating countries.  The exercise involves mock battles and explosive ordinance. Public safety will require the designation of large areas of the NT as “military restricted” and “danger” areas.
 
This webinar is hosted by the Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) and includes voices of resistance from throughout the Pacific region.
 
Registration for the event can be arranged here:
 
Such events are crucial in building opposition to the war plans of US imperialism, and to preventing the heightening of tensions in our region.
 
They contribute significantly to the winning of anti-imperialist Australian independence and socialism.

 

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Young ALP Female Senator Stands Strong For Palestinian People and Palestinian State

Written by: Ned K. on 8 July 2024

 

ALP Senator Fatima Payman resigned from the ALP last week after courageously "crossing the floor" of the Senate to support a Greens motion that Australia recognize a state of Palestine. 

Over 100 other countries have already taken this position. The ALP leadership could not bring itself to do so. The Albanese Government was more concerned about not getting out of step with the USA and Zionist Netanyahu Israeli Government.

Senator Payman, only 29 years young, went into the Senate on an ALP ticket with the genuine belief that she could make a difference by being a member of a political party that stood for social justice, for solidarity with oppressed peoples both within Australia and internationally.

She came into the Senate supported by United Workers Union where she was an Organizer and where union members learned through their own experience that there is real strength in diversity.

She must have been bitterly disappointed when she found that the same values were not practiced by the ALP leadership when it came to the issue of the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli Government backed by western powers led by the USA.

We do not know exactly what was said to her by Albanese and key Ministers to try and "persuade" her to toe the Party line.

However, they met their match in Senator Payman when she announced her resignation from the ALP, but her continuation in the Senate as an Independent Senator.

When she made this decision, it was easy for her to see who her enemies are and who are her friends. 

The ALP leaders joined the Murdoch Press with the idea that she may be ineligible to be a Senator due to dual citizenship with Afghanistan and Australia. 

Of course, the ALP never thought this when Fatima Payman was put on the ALP Senate ticket. 

At that time, the leaders probably thought it would add to their appearance as supporting diversity in representation in parliament to have a young, female, Muslim woman in ALP Seante ranks "under the wing" of Senators Wong and Farrell.

What a contrast between this barrage of hate against a Senator standing her ground and the hundreds of cheering unionists and diverse communities that greeted Senator Payman when she arrived at Perth airport from Canberra!

 

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Report on Russia by Russian Maoists

Written by: Union of Maoists of the Urals on 7 July 2024

 

Last May we published an analysis of conditions In Russia by our comrades in the Union of Maoists of the Urals. Today, they have sent us the following update which will be of interest to Australian anti-imperialists. Long live the proletarian friendship between the workers of Russia and Australia-eds. 

Hello, dear Australian comrades!

Dear comrades, we would like to inform you about the situation in the economy of our country in order to better show the prospects for the imperialist war waged by Russia and the likelihood of revolutionary changes. 

Until relatively recently, sanctions worked extremely poorly. Everything was on the shelves and regularly arrived at industrial enterprises for various purposes: both civilian and military. In fact, Western products prohibited by sanctions are imported into Russia from Turkey and Kazakhstan. This happens extremely freely and without serious problems. This primarily concerns industrial electronics and a number of food products. What cannot be imported through them is imported from China (cheap industrial goods) or has been replaced by Russian production. However, in recent months, due to the threat of sanctions against Chinese banks, it has become much more difficult for Russian enterprises to purchase products from China. Deliveries of many types of goods from China are severely delayed. However, we cannot yet say that this is somehow affecting Russian industry or consumers, and therefore we cannot assume that this is what will revolutionize Russian society or create a strong crisis in industrial production.

The 2022 mobilization and continuous Nazi pogroms against migrant workers have led to a huge labor shortage in Russia. Highly skilled workers are constantly leaving Russia after the start of the war - we are talking about hundreds of thousands of anti-war Russians. Capitalists don't like this very much. Bourgeois politicians talk about a shortage of 5-10 million workers. Officials regularly discuss programs for the return of specialists with anti-war views, and anti-abortion initiatives are also promoted with the emphasis that there is no one to work in Russia. 

The massive involvement of prisoners in military service also plays a role in the labor shortage. Russian prisons are engaged in industrial production and now there is no one to produce prison products either - mass repressions in Russia do not keep pace with the physical extermination of criminals. 

The labor shortage is leading to rapidly rising wages for Russian workers. We are talking about a doubling of wages over the past year. The growth of the military industry due to the war plays a role. As a result of this, Russian workers are now happy with their situation, they enjoy the fruits of imperialist policies and prosperity from the blood of their more unfortunate dead fellow citizens. They change jobs as soon as necessary, it is common for capitalists to lure workers away from each other, and bonuses for workers bringing new workers to fill vacancies are extremely common. There is no unemployment.

The Russian army is holding on because of the forced involvement of migrant workers in it and because it pays wages 10-15 times higher than in other areas of employment. Huge military spending, a social sector for the military, the growth of the military industry - all this is paid for from a deficit state budget. There are expert estimates that there will be enough money in the budget for a year and a half (including the state reserve accumulated before the war is now being wasted; Russia did not spend it during the Covid epidemic), after which the country, if the war continues, will begin an economic crisis and today’s prosperity will end a very rapid decline in living standards, indignation of the popular masses and the rapid growth of revolutionary sentiments. However, forecasts for the duration of the economic crisis may not take into account Russia's ability to inflate public debt.

In any case, it is extremely dangerous for the Russian imperialists to prolong the war; they need peace on their terms, and therefore they are trying in various ways to push through an agreement to suspend the war until Russia again accumulates reserves. Or they immediately propose recognition of Russia’s military claims in Ukraine and the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from a number of Ukrainian regions, the population of which will then be assimilated by the Russians.
Under these conditions, we are trying to analyze the situation, carry out organizational work among the masses and promote Marxism-Leninism.

With revolutionary proletarian greetings from Russia,

International Department of the Union of Maoists of the Urals

 

 

 

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Kenya - Too Little, Too Late: Ruto Must Resign

Written by: Communist Party of Kenya on 29 June 2024

 

Too Little, Too Late: Ruto Must Resign

Statement by the Central Organizing Committee of the Communist Party of Kenya
27 June 2924

In the wake of intense demonstrations against the Finance Bill 2024 and the consistent, resolute demand for the resignation of President William Ruto, the President has made a belated and insincere about-face, declaring that he shall not consent to the bill and ostensibly acceding to the people's demands. This disingenuous capitulation comes only after Ruto ordered the brutal murder of more than 10 confirmed protesters and unleashed death squads to massacre more innocent lives in Githurai.

We must not allow Ruto to escape accountability for the innocent blood he has shed in the streets. These demonstrations have clear and simple demands that we insist the President comply with. During the post-election protests, Ruto was responsible for the murder of l many innocent souls. It is imperative that the police bosses, all of Ruto’s henchmen, and Ruto himself be held legally accountable for these crimes. 

We also demand restorative justice for the survivors of the avoidable massacres orchestrated by the corrupt Ruto regime. 

Let’s tell Ruto we are aware that the President is legally unable to withdraw a bill that has already matured for assent. His options are limited to returning it to Parliament with a memorandum for the inclusion of his proposed amendments, which, if rejected by a two-thirds majority, would become law. 

Why dupe Kenyans into imagining he can withdraw it in totality? This is a legal conundrum, a deceitful ploy to buy time and distract Kenyans from their urgent demands.

Moreover, this morning Parliament went on recess until June, so how will the bill that has been referred to a Parliament on recess be amended?

We, today, put forth the following ten collective demands to sum up the temporary pause of protests:

1. A total cessation of taxation on basic commodities such as food, healthcare, and education, and the complete rejection of the Finance Bill 2024. We totally reject window dressing paltry amendments that may happen with the bought crowd in parliament 

2. An immediate end to the interference with our national sovereignty by foreign institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, NATO, and their financiers.

3. The provision of decent jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and the implementation of Article 43 within six months.

4. Quality housing and compensation for all those illegally evicted.

5. Free and quality education for all.

6. Free and quality healthcare for all.

7. An immediate end to state violence in the form of abductions, excessive use of force by police during demonstrations, and extrajudicial killings.

8. The return of all stolen public land and a clear plan for food sovereignty.

9. Fair compensation for all workers providing essential services to the country.

10. An immediate end to the privatization of public institutions and state-owned enterprises.

President Ruto, your time is up! The people of Kenya reject your bloodstained hands and your corrupt administration.  

#RutoMustGo! 

No IMF ! No World Bank! 

Signed,

The Central Organizing Committee of the Communist Party of Kenya

 

 

 

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Thailand: Looming political crisis

Written by: (Contributed) on 29 June 2024

 

(Above: The Royal Thai Army suppreesed 2010 "Red Shirt" rallies.  Photo: Flickr Commons)

A brief political assessment about Thailand in the Australian business press has revealed widespread concern about a likely resurgence of opposition forces in one of the most important US-led centres for regional defence and security and trade. Thailand, historically, was and remains a major diplomatic player in South-east Asian affairs, including the ASEAN trade bloc. Any return to previous widespread opposition to the traditional centres of Thai power are likely to cause serious issues for the US and their allies across the wider region.

In mid-June, limited media coverage about Thailand carried an unambiguous warning that 'in reality, the South-east Asian constitutional monarchy is on the brink of another round of convulsive protests by young Thais who have had enough of the cheating and distorting of an ageing establishment that refuses to acknowledge its time may be coming to an end'. (1)

Thailand has maintained a shaky democratic facade for decades under the nominal control of a monarchy although it has also experienced thirteen military coups in the past ninety years.

Previous widespread opposition to the monarchy and political establishment took the form of supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra who wore red-shirts and demonstrated in their millions against perceived corruption and political chicanery. The supporters of the status quo wore yellow-shirts to identify their allegiance to the monarchy. There were violent clashes.

While the political divisions between the red and yellow shirts have officially been regarded as a problem of yesteryear, bitter divisions still exist beneath the surface of Thai political culture. Following the coup of 19 September 2006, which deposed Thaksin Shinawatra, he fled into exile, his political party was outlawed and he was banned from political activity in the country. Remnants of his supporters, nevertheless, re-grouped and continued to operate behind numerous front organisations.

Returning to Thailand on 22 August last year, Thaksin Shinawatra was able to prove he still retained huge popularity with ordinary Thai people. (2) He is now set on a collision course with the Monarchy and political establishment after being 'formally indicted for defaming the Monarchy while the failure of the current Prime Minister and main opposition hang in the balance'. (3)

While the legal status of Thailand's political opposition forces remains under legal consideration following months of court hearings, fears have been raised that a further round of banning opposition 'will not only mark the end of the country's shaky democracy, but trigger more political uncertainty'. (4) The centres of traditional Thai class and state power now appear increasingly vulnerable, being out-manoeuvred by opposition forces.

It has already raised serious concerns for Washington and the Pentagon's Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) whereby Japan has been elevated to the US-led diplomatic position of a global alliance, while other countries including Thailand, are linked as lower-level partners for 'US interests'. (5) Political upheaval in Thailand is, therefore, likely to have far-reaching implications for the IPS; effective intelligence-gathering rests upon political stability.

The US intelligence services regarded Thailand as an asset during the previous Cold War, and there is every reason to believe it continues to be so during the present Cold War; its close proximity with Cambodia and their close diplomatic relations with China is considered by the US as problematic. (6) Thailand also has a large Russian diaspora, most of whom settled in the country after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

The political crisis in Thailand has also come at an unfortunate time for the US and their allies; moves by the US to attract support for their trade war with China have been seen to not be particularly well supported. In fact, while the US seeks to 'isolate Beijing on the global stage', numerous allies have been noticeably reluctant to follow suit. (7)

Meanwhile, China's foreign trade has increasingly focussed upon South-east Asia and elsewhere in the emerging economies, as exports to the US have dropped. (8)

Thailand, historically, has been a major player in traditional US-led hegemonic positions in South-east Asia. A founder member of the ASEAN trade bloc during the previous Cold War,
Thailand hosted one of the largest US diplomatic missions of anywhere in the world in Bangkok. As with other countries in the near region, however, its rapid economic expansion followed the emergence of China as a major diplomatic player. China's GDP, likewise, rose from $397 billion in 1990, to an estimated near $15 trillion by 2020. (9)

During the 2007 to 2014 period, for example, ASEAN nearly doubled its GDP ratings, as a result of closer links with China. (10)

Thailand, however, has entered into a period of economic uncertainty and decline in recent years; in 1960 it had a GDP rate of a little over five per cent, falling to slightly above two per cent during the early 2020's. (11) While its high-spot was the late 1980s, when Thai growth rates rose to over thirteen per cent, massive fluctuations followed together with a general decline to only 1.9 per cent last year, possibly rising to an optimistic projection of 2.2/3.2 for this year. (12) The optimism may sour with a political crisis.

Thailand, nevertheless, has remained a central player inside ASEAN, which collectively has continued to regard little benefit from siding totally with either the US or China. They gain benefits from both, using skilful diplomacy.

The Thai big bourgeoise has also positioned itself to make a killing from neighbouring Burma/Myanmar’s bloody suppression of anti-regime and ethnic liberation struggles. Thai banks have become the main supplier of cross-border financial services for Myanmar’s military government, enabling its purchases of arms and equipment despite sanctions against the regime. (13)

ASEAN, in which Thailand has a major influence also presents the US with a major problem: its status has grown to be a central player in regional diplomacy. Studies have noted the 'ASEAN and Chinese economies are becoming inseparably inter-twined'. (14) And, while ASEAN is navigating an increasingly challenging regional environment … China's surging influence raises concerns, as do US responses, which increase strategic tension and gives short shrift to economics and regional prosperity'. (15)

The extremely limited nature of coverage in pro-US media outlets would tend to indicate the sensitive nature of recent developments in Thailand! More, nevertheless, may follow in due course if the political tensions beneath the surface rise to the fore.

1.     Thailand bonfire waiting for match, Australian, 13 June 2024.
2.     See: Thaksin Shinawatra, BBC News, 22 August 2023.
3.     Political crisis grips Thailand, BBC News, 19 June 2024.
4.     Australian, op.cit., 13 June 2024.
5.     See: The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
6.     See: From the Shadows – The ultimate insider's story, Robert M. Gates, (New York, 1996), page 312.
7.     US seeks EU's support in trade war, Australian, 22 May 2024; and, Europe takes new strategy to China Shock 2.0, Australian, 25 June 2024.
8.     China's export machine moves on, Australian, 14 June 2024.
9.     AUKUS a strong hand in a region under threat, Australian, 26 June 2024.
10.   What is ASEAN? The World Economic Forum, 9 May 2017.
11.   GDP Growth (annual percentage) Thailand, World Bank Group.
12.   Ibid., and, Executive Summary, Perspectives, Global Inflation Cools, Deloitte.
13.  Thai banks are the top suppliers of financial services to Myanmar’s military, UN expert says, Washington Times, 26 June 2024
14.   Towards an equal partnership, East Asia Forum, Volume 15, Number 3, September 2023, pp. 3.5.
15.   Japan as a diplomatic asset to ASEAN, East Asia Forum, Volume 15, Number 3, September 2023, pp. 6-8.

 

 

 

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Kanak independence struggle cannot be defeated

Written by: Nick G. on 29 June 2024

 

(Above: "We are allTein Bichou"  Source; Suport Internacional Kanay on X)

Following French President Macron’s decision to withdraw the “thawing” of citizenship in New Caledonia, the vindictiveness of the French bourgeoisie has only heightened.

The French proposal was to include all French citizens with more than ten year’s residence in New Caledonia as citizens of the French territory, effectively bolstering the votes for opposition to independence.  

It was a clumsy manoeuvre to restrict the growing influence of Chinese and Russian imperialists within New Caledonia.

The Kanaks erupted in defiance and lives were lost.

But French imperialism was not reconciled to its defeat. 

On the morning of June 19 in Nouméa, a raid by the police took place on the premises of the Caledonian Union (UC) in Magenta and the main leaders of the CCAT (Coordination Cell for Field Actions) were arrested on their way to a press conference. A search took place and eleven members of the CCAT, most of whom are also political and trade union leaders, were placed in police custody on several very serious charges, relating to organized crime, for a period of 96 hours (4 days).

On Friday 21 June, Kanaks rallied throughout New Caledonia in support of arrested CCAT leaders, including General Commissioner Bichou Tein. The arrested leaders have been deported to France to stand trial depriving them of the right to defend themselves before a jury of their peers.

This is kidnapping, pure and simple.

Far from taking advantage of Macron’s withdrawal of the citizenship changes to de-escalate tensions in New Caledonia, the French imperialists have only lifted a heavy rock to drop on their own feet.

Already meetings in support of the deported Kanaks have been held in large towns in France.

(Above: Support arrested CCAT leaders, June 21, 2024)

And in New Caledonia Kanak activists have continued to rally and demand the return of their kidnapped comrades.

They will not be intimidated by French colonial troops or pro-French armed militias.

They want all charges dropped against the leaders of the CCAT, and the entire Kanak independence movement.  

Solidarity with the entire Kanak independence movement!

 

 

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Class struggle at nuclear submarine site

Written by: Ned K. on 26 June 2024

 

(Stopwork at Osborne, June 3, 2024.  Source: CEPU SA Facebook)

For the last few months union members of the AMWU and CEPU have been taking industrial action against the federal government owned Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) at Osborne Naval Base in South Australia.

Members of both unions have been taking short stoppages and work bans. Members are demanding wage parity with ASC workers in WA who are paid 17% higher rates than SA workers for performing same and similar work.

The workers actions are having an impact with ASC forced to make higher wage offers but so far, still short of wage parity.

Now the ASC reactionary management are in a bit of a bind. They need to dry dock a Collins Class submarine which is tied up at the Osborne wharf.

ASC want to proceed with dry dock maintenance of the submarine but the likelihood of work stoppages in the process of moving the submarine to dry dock is a thorn in their side.

AMWU and CEPU workers have a long, proud history of class struggle at the ASC and are sure to win a significant victory in their current struggle for wage parity with WA ASC workers.

How a Labor Government can justify such inequity in wages between workers performing the same work will not come as too much of a surprise to the thousands of privatised workers in both federal and state government services where contractors pay minimum Award rates and sometimes not even the Award minimums.

A win for ASC workers at Osborne will be a win for all workers providing government services

 

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The wars the US are not winning with China: trade and diplomacy

Written by: (Contributed) on 25 June 2024

 

(Above: Ahmoot Iranian Flickr.com)

 

The recent state visit by China's Prime Minister Li Qiang to Australia took place under intense media scrutiny. The media coverage, nevertheless, was highly misleading, as was intended. The US-led trade war with China, for example, was not openly discussed yet remained the main factor behind the high-level Australia-China diplomacy.

Australia is a sub-imperial power with regional responsibilities thrust upon it by Washington and the Pentagon. The diplomatic relationship has proved problematic: and the US is clearly losing the trade war with China; their aggressive imperial foreign policy has seriously backfired.


In mid-June China's PM, Li Qiang, arrived in Australia, greeted by a nineteen-gun salute and full honour guard. The greeted was not out of place, taking into account the agendas of the high-level diplomacy scheduled to take place. While the contents of the agendas have remained confidential, it is not particularly difficult to establish what was going on behind the pomp and ceremony.

The legacy of the previous Trump presidential administration and its US-led Cold War trade war with China hangs like a millstone around the necks of western political leaders. Like most of the foreign policy of the Trump administration, it was established with an air of buffoonery and difficult to take seriously. And it has not worked; in fact, China's economy has continued to surge ahead, leaving the US and its allies behind and in a quandary.

Longer-term the US GDP growth rates, measured from 1960 to 2022 reveal a general decline, largely as a result of Washington and the Pentagon pursuing endless foreign policy adventures without costing the debacles accurately. Studies of US diplomatic involvement and their general intrusion into the sovereignty of numerous other areas of the world, reveal a general trend:

                                          US GDP GROWTH RATES, 1960-2022
                                                           
                                                           1962     -     6.10 %
                                                           2019     -     2.29 %
                                                           2020     -    -2.77 %
                                                           2021     -     5.95 %
                                                           2022     -     1.94 %     (1)

Studies of US allies, including Australia, reveal similar trends due to accompanying US foreign and diplomatic policies elsewhere, across the globe:

                                                AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY, GDP
                                                          
                                                          1963     -     6.22 %
                                                          2020     -   -.0.33% 

                                                          2021     -     2.11 %

                                                         2022     -     4.2 %     (2)                                                          

                                                          2023     -     1.9 %
                                                          2024     -     1.8 % (projection)     (3)
                               
China's economy, however, has continued to surge ahead; in 2023 China had about 14 per cent of global exports, up 1.3 per cent from 2017, when the US-led trade war began. (4) China's trade surplus, likewise, is estimated at about $823 billion, nearly double the 2017 estimates; trade surplus is defined when exports exceed imports. (5)

In May, as an act of desperation, US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, requested the EU to follow the US-led line of imposing tariffs upon Chinese trade and goods. (6) It was accompanied by an official diplomatic statement from the Biden presidential administration noting, 'Washington … sees European support as a critical way to isolate Beijing on the global stage'. (7) And they have tried very hard to implement the policy.

China, however, in recent years has shifted attention away from advanced, industrial countries toward the Global South. It has become the 'crucial economic partner for many emerging economies' and has been accompanied by numerous diplomatic initiatives. (8)

China's trade with ASEAN, for example, grew 8.1 per cent in the first two months of 2024. (9)

The China-ASEAN economic data also rests upon earlier dynamic trade: using World Bank economic data it can be established that ASEAN member countries have a combined GDP of $3.6 trillion, and that their economies are 'inseparably intertwined' with China. (10) It has also been noted that 'China's surging influence raises concerns, as do US responses, which increase strategic tension and give short shrift to economics and regional prosperity'. (11)

Similar studies have revealed 'China has been selling less to the west and more to South-east Asia and Latin America'. (12) In fact, during the first five months of this year 'China exported seventeen per cent less to the US. In 2023 alone, China's exports to the US dropped fourteen per cent'. (13)

China has also developed trade hubs in recent times, by using countries including Vietnam and Mexico, to reroute trade to include third parties into regions of economic interest. (14)

While US coverage of these developments has been subject to diplomatic silence, due to the sensitivity of the whole matter, forthcoming policies will be interesting to monitor. Under the existing balance of forces, China has successfully challenged the neo-colonial relations between the US and its allies and the emerging economies. The diplomatic implications are far-reaching both in the short and longer-term.

As the US and its allies fail to win the present trade war, military options and real-war scenarios would appear to have become ever more likely.

The high-level diplomacy between Australia and China in June has to be assessed along these lines; the former is a major diplomatic player with the ASEAN and South pacific countries and has therefore been used by Washington to further 'US interests'. There is no reason to think the position allocated to Canberra by the US has changed in any way whatsoever in recent times; the present diplomatic line remains based in damage limitation, with business continuing to be conducted as 'normal'.

It has not been difficult to find examples to support the position: within hours of Li Quiang and his entourage leaving Australia, a Canberra initiative saw an official government delegation including seven senior cabinet ministers conduct high-level diplomatic relations with PNG in Port Moresby. (15) The size and composition of the delegation has shown quite clearly how the US expects Australia to use diplomatic initiatives to serve 'US interests'.

It was accompanied by incoming Solomon Islands Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele being invited to Canberra for high-level diplomatic talks following a rushed meeting in Honiara two weeks after their change of government with Australian deputy PM Richard Marles. (16) Manele, however, is already on record publicising his government's 'Look North' policies whereby the economic future of the country 'depends on China, rather than its traditional partners like Australia'. (17) The policy is not ambiguous.  

Coverage of recent regional developments have concluded that 'Australia is at the cross-hairs of this big shift. It is frozen out by Beijing which is also making a power play in Australia's own backyard in the Pacific Islands – that's why the Solomon Islands matters … China has surpassed Australia in terms of two-way trade with Pacific Islands nations'. (18)

In fact, while the recent 'soft diplomacy' between Australia and China has been noted as standing in 'contrast to the deep suspicion in government, and the national security establishment … about China and its long-term threat to Australian interests', it was, in reality, little other than a theatre production designed specifically to serve other earlier agendas in line with 'US interests' in Australia's designated areas of the wider Indo-Pacific region. (19)

                                         We need an independent foreign policy!

   

1.     US GDP Growth Rates, 1960-2022, Macrotrends.
2.     Australian GDP Growth Rates, 1960-2024, Macrotrends.
3.     Wikipedia: Economy of Australia.
4.     Why the US can't win the trade war with China, The Japan Times, 5 June 2024.
5.     Ibid.
6.     US seeks EU's support in trade war, Australian, 23 May 2024.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Four key Take-ways emerging from China's trade data, The Diplomat, 26 March 2024.
9.     Ibid.
10.   Towards and equal partnership, The East Asia Forum, Volume 15, Number 3, September 2023, pp. 3-5.
11.   Japan as a diplomatic asset to ASEAN, ibid., pp. 6-8.
12.   China's export machine moves on, Australian, 14 June 2024.   
13.   Ibid.
14.   Ibid.
15.   Wong takes China fight to PNG, Australian, 20 June 2024.
16.   Solomons PM poised for first visit overseas, Australian, 21 June 2024; and, Marles' diplomatic dash to Solomons, Australian, 21 May 2024.
17.   PM hails new Solomon Islands leader, Australian, 3 May 2024.
18.   As the Solomon Islands heats up, SBS News, 28 November 2021.
19.   Beware the Beijing wolf in panda clothing, PM., Australian, 17 June 2024.   

 

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Assange: Free at last!

Written by: Nick G. on 25 June 2024

 

(Above: Rally in London in February 2024 demands Assange's release)

Imprisoned Australian journalist Julian Assange is free - bar the formality of an appearance before a US court in the US Marianas Islands tomorrow.

In a plea deal struck with the US authorities, Assange has agreed to plead guilty to one charge under the US Espionage Act. His sentencing is likely to include a jail term which will be subsumed within the time he has already spent in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison.

Assange’s release is a victory for the many people here and abroad who have campaigned for his release and for the dropping of US charges against him.

Though some might see his release as a victory for Albanese and Wong’s “quiet diplomacy”, it rather reflects their abject failure to stand up to the US and secure Assange’s unconditional release.

Worse, by making it a condition of his release by pleading guilty to a crime of which he is innocent, the US imperialists have created a precedent for the citizen of any foreign country to be charged, tried and convicted under US laws. 

This is a threat to political activists and journalists of all countries who use US sources to expose US crimes.

This is not to criticise Assange. He has been held hostage by the British inside a jail designed to house murderers and terrorists, and subjected to inhuman conditions, pending a threatened extradition to the US.

Our Party has supported Assange since he first faced charges.  In 2012, we wrote:

HANDS OFF ASSANGE!

Julian Assange and Wikileaks have performed a huge service to the people of the world by providing a platform for the publication of information that our rulers want kept from us.

Information released to date substantiates US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the existence of death squads and corruption in Kenya, of crony capitalism and speculative manipulation behind the financial collapse of Iceland and of unethical behaviour on the part of Sarah Palin.

Closer to home, Kevin Rudd has been outed as a cheerleader for the use of force by the US against China. In his March 24, 2009 advice to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the then Prime Minister called for a readiness to “deploy force” unless China “integrated itself effectively into the international community”. This is tantamount to declaring that China’s diplomatic pursuit of its own national interests, particularly if they challenge US global leadership, is the action of a rogue state that must be dealt with militarily.

Agents of imperialism

Wikileaks has revealed the existence of senior Labor politicians who report to the US embassy on matters that they are not even prepared to share with the Australian public. It is a master-servant relationship that stinks to high Heaven.

Julia Gillard’s condemnation of Assange represents the sacrificing of yet another Australian civilian to the interests of the US imperialists. 

We remain of the view that Assange has performed a huge service to the people of the world, and that if anyone should be in the dock, then it should be the US imperialist warmongers and assassins and those who collaborate with them.  

It now remains for Albanese and Attorney-General Dreyfus to turn their attention to Dan Duggan, the US-born Australian citizen who has been locked in solitary confinement for 20 months in Australian jails despite facing no charges in Australia while the US attempts to have him extradited to face charges in the US.

Assange is out, now let us get Duggan out. 

 

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India: Hands off Arundhati Roy!

Written by: Nick G. on 19 June 2024

 

Arundhati Roy was the youngest winner of the prestigious Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997 for The God of Small Things. Then aged 36, she emerged as an activist campaigning on behalf of India’s poor and marginalised, the same people whose lives she had written about in her novel.

They are also the same people largely responsible for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s humiliating failure to win outright victory in a promised electoral landslide. 

The Indian parliament, the Lok Sabha has 543 seats. Modi, whose BJP party held 303 seats prior to the 2024 general election, boasted that the BJP would break through the 400-seat ceiling and sweep to victory. However, the BJP lost seats, winning only 240 and losing its ability to govern in its own right. It has entered a coalition, but lost face at home and abroad.

The main areas where the BJP lost votes were those populated by the Dalits (Untouchables) and adivasis (tribal peoples who have been the main support base for the people’s war led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist)). 

How better to punish these people than to criminalise their fiercest champion, Arundhati Roy.

So, last week, 14 years after complaints about her references to Kashmir, Delhi's most senior official granted permission for Roy to be prosecuted under India’s stringent anti-terror laws. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is notorious for making it exceptionally challenging to get bail, often resulting in years of detention until the completion of trial.

Roy was hated by the far-right Hindu nationalists for whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks. She also made an enemy of the revisionist Communist Party of India (Marxist), whose hold on state power in West Bengal and Kerala saw it serving the bourgeoisie and landlords, when she criticised their behaviours and lifestyles in her novel.

She has written one other novel, but mainly she has published collections of political essays and an account of her travels in 2010 through Communist Party of India (Maoist) liberated zones in the forests of Chhattisgarh with fighters of the Peoples Liberation Guerilla Army.

In October, 2010, at a conference in Delhi, organised by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, she enraged the far right by declaring that Kashmir “has never been an integral part of India.” Her opponents demanded that she be tried for treason. But she remained defiant.

In 2019 she delivered a lecture to an audience in New York just months after Modi suspended Kashmir’s autonomy and imposed a lockdown on Kashmir that included the withdrawal of mobile phone and internet services, and a curfew that saw thousands imprisoned. She said:

The horror that Kashmiris have endured over the last few months comes on top of the trauma of a thirty-year old armed conflict that has already taken seventy thousand lives and covered their valley with graves. They have held out while everything was thrown at them – war, money, torture, mass disappearance, an army of more than half a million soldiers, and a smear campaign in which an entire population has been portrayed as murderous fundamentalists. 

India is not the model democracy so beloved of people like Albanese and Wong.

Assassinations of Sikh supporters of an independent Khalistan have reached as far as Canada and the United States. Pogroms by right-wing Hindu mobs have seen hundreds of Muslims beaten to death and lynched in the streets. The disgusting caste system remains firmly entrenched.

Indian novelist and journalist Siddhartha Deb, who has also championed India’s poor, place the prosecution of Roy in context. Interviewed on Democracy Now on June 17, he said:

But the point isn’t really about Kashmir. The point is really about the fact that the Hindu right don’t want anyone like Arundhati critiquing the government, critiquing its policies, not just on Kashmir, but that it is completely — it’s a fascist political party. It is against all minorities. It is against women. It is against the poor. And that is what Roy has been speaking up and writing about for over 30 years. And that’s what they’re against. And they want to shut down not just speech. They want to shut down thought. And that’s what this is about.

The CPA (M-L) calls on the Indian government to cease the prosecution of Arundhati Roy.

The CPA (M-L) calls on Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Wong to convey to the Indian Government their support for the human rights of Arundhati Roy.

We encourage people to write to the Indian Embassy and to Albanese and Wong, in support of Arundhati Roy.

 

 

 

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Save the nation’s natural resources for the people

Written by: John Gerard on 18 June 2024

 

The national anthem lies about our country. There’s golden soil in Australia but the natural wealth is not for toil.

It’s like there’s two Australias: a corporate wonderland for foreign investors and a labour camp of battling to make ends meet for hard working people in the one nation.

Exports of coal, iron ore, natural gas, and some other resources from Australia are the largest in the world. 

The mining, oil and gas industries produce more than half Australia’s goods exports. The industries’ exports of $455 bn are equivalent to 24% of the country’s economic output. Corporate monopolies plunder the country’s resources.

The mining, oil and gas corporations are making a bundle. Those corporations alone picked up a cool $241.9 bn operating profit before tax in 2022-23. 

Corporate thrive while people struggle

Citizens are told the country is on its knees, in debt and struggling. More and more people are battling with bills, rent or mortgages. The cost of living has gotten away from people. 

In 2022, over three million (3,319,000), of the nation’s 26 million people lived in poverty, including 761,000 children. That’s based on a measure of 50% of median household income, $489 per week for a single person, $1,027 per week for a couple with two children.

More than one in eight people (13.4%) and one in six children (16.6%) lived below the poverty line after taking account of their housing costs. 

That was before the inflation/ interest rate crisis took hold. Things got far worse in the first half of 2024. 

That’s built on top of the situation of the workforce being on the slide since the mid-1970s. Then the labour share of national income was just over 60%. Now its down near 50%. Capital income, the corporations, picked up what people lost and some more, jumping from 23% to 38% of national income. .

We’re told the government is doing what it can. There’s not great comfort in that sales pitch but it’s doing more than the miserable Libs would do. Still its paltry compared to what could be done if our natural resources were used to look after people, not load profits into billionaire corporates. 

There are two Australias. Our country is on its knees but the rich mining, oil and gas corporate monopolies’ country is rolling in billions. 

Aladdin’s Cave of Treasures for the Foreign Corporates

Our nation is the world’s sixth largest in area after Canada, Russia, China, the USA, and Brazil. The economy, at $1,702 billion, is the 13th largest in the world according to the IMF with just 0.33% of the world’s population. Australia ranks around 55th on national population counts internationally. The country is full of natural riches, a capable workforce and lots of modern infrastructure. 

Exports of coal, iron ore, other fossil fuels, gold, copper, aluminium and other minerals amounted to $406 billion in 2023. [Australia’s Top 25 Exports, Goods and Services, DFAT;]

Australia has been the world's largest exporter of iron ore, coal, unwrought lead, 2nd largest exporter of aluminium ores, beef, lentils and cotton, the 4th largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (2017) and 5th largest exporter of wine . 

Since then, Australia overtook Qatar to become the world’s largest exporter of LNG for the first time in November 2018 . Australia now vies with Qatar and the United States as the world's biggest LNG exporter, having boosted export capacity over the past decade, mainly by building three export terminals on the east coast, which use coal-seam gas as a feedstock.

Foreign owners are at the core of the plundering

Contrary to perceptions encouraged by big mining monopolies, major ‘Australian’ mining companies are not Australian owned. They don’t even have large minority Australian-owned shareholdings. An Australia Institute study in 2022 drew the curtain on that nonsense. 

The ‘Big Australian’ BHP Group Ltd with a market capitalisation of $252.81bn is 94.41% foreign-owned. Rio Tinto Ltd’s shares, valued at $182.08 bn, were 95.16% foreign-owned. That mightn’t surprise but even a corporation with a prominent local face, Fortescue Metals Group, much touted as owned by ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, was 89.16% foreign-owned in March 2022 [Foreign Investment in Australia, Australia Institute, revised 10/2023; ]

Across corporations generally, that study found an overall figure of around 30% identifiable Australian ownership of Australian companies, and in turn, around 70% foreign ownership of listed companies in Australia. Even often-touted household shareholdings amount to less than 10% of ownership and have little or no real say. Superfunds investments are only a smidgen more, according to the Australia Institute. And despite making huge profits, 1 in 3 big corporations still pays no tax. 

The mining, oil and gas industries including exploration and support services, employed 220,000 people in June 2023 of the total national workforce of 14,355,100 employed. That’s just 1 employee in each 67 who are employed by the resource plunderers. [Australian Industry, ABS, 31/5/2024; and Labour Force, Australia, ABS 13/6/2024]

There’s more people involved in the supply chains for the mining, oil and gas industries needed to build mines, etc, and get the resources out of the country.  The Minerals Council reckons that all adds up to 1.1 million people. But those numbers are a fair bit of smoke and mirrors. [Mining sustains Australia in uncertain times, Mineral Council of Australia Media release, 9/1/2023]

Mining, Oil and Gas corporates' best interests are to let most people starve

The resource corporates are 85% foreign-owned, and they need just 1 in 67 of us to get the stuff out of the ground and to ports. They make billions from the business. 

Mining, oil and gas corporates don’t have to give a damn about how hard the other 66 workers here are doing in a cost-of-living crisis. And they don’t. 

Look at what they paid in taxes and royalties last year. “The mining and minerals industries paid a record (sic) $74.0 billion to federal, state, and territory governments in taxes and royalties.” Talk about a pathetic record when compared to their exports of $406bn and profits before tax of $242 bn. [Australian Minerals Sector Achieves Record Tax and Royalty Payments, Mineral Council of Australia Media release, 26/5/2024]. The figure paid leaves out the $14 bn of government subsidies paid to the oil and gas monopoly corporates.

In fact, the resources corporates have interests in making sure nothing is done to make things better for people across the country. That would eat into profits the corporate monopolies make from their mining operations here. 

They can keep plundering Australia’s natural resources with the fraction of the local workforce they employ whatever is happening to the rest of us. It makes the mining monopolies among the most reactionary enemies of the working class in this country alongside their finance sector corporate connections. 

Make the rich mining, oil and gas corporates pay for our natural resources. 

For now, the foreign-owned corporate monopolies rule over the people, workers included. They made $242 bn before tax last year. 

Hit them up for half that, $120 bn. They pay out $60bn now. That would add an extra $60 bn to the Federal budget, a big addition to the $698 bn budget this year. It’s a lot of extra government services. 

If workers were in charge, just think about what those billions the corporate mining monopolies would be paying over to help out people in trouble could do; fix up Medicare and the NDIS, free public education, childcare and universities, open up free health clinics all over the country, free up public transport. With the workers supported and freed up from cost of living squeeze to an extent, small and medium consumer businesses could thrive, allying their interests with the workers. 

First Nations communities should have first call on funds for their communities, given their country being exploited was seized from them and never ceded. The harms are graphically revealed in numerous incidents like the Rio Tinto destruction of Juukan Gorge, let alone First Nations people’s conditions of life. 

The Queensland government recently increased coal royalties to 20% to 40% depending on the level of international prices. They promised to invest in hospitals and housing. We’ll see what comes of that but the increase is a first and an overdue change from the Liberal National Party 10-year freeze on coal royalties at piddling 7% to 15% rates.   

The taxes and royalty being paid by mining, oil and gas monopolies are pathetic next to countries like Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and even the UK. 
Saudi Arabia charges royalties on production values at international pricing of 20% of the value of production up to a base level ($70 per barrel for oil), stepped up to 40% for the next portion of higher prices ($30), stepped up to 50% for prices at the next level ($100/barrel). At a 20% rate, the mining, oil and gas exporters in Australia would pay $93 bn in royalties alone.

The UK charges a windfall oil and gas profits tax when prices spike above historic standard rates. The UK Energy Profits Levy is charged at an extra 25 percent on top of the UK headline tax rate of 40% Corporation Tax. The rate of corporate tax on oil and gas enterprises in the UK is 65%. Here its nominally 30% but the tax paid is a small fraction of that. 

Make the rich mining, oil and gas corporate monopolies pay up. 

These monopolies plunder the nation’s natural riches. 

Their interests are currently decisive in the running of the country. They have no interest aligned with the welfare of the country, let alone the people, working people, First Nations, professionals and many small and medium businesses. 

Foreign-owned corporate monopolies have no right of ownership over the natural resources of the nation. 

The call to make them pay and use the funds to benefit the people is the least we can raise.

It has very widespread support, and greater support at a time when many people are doing it so tough. People need these changes. 

The working class can stand together to build working class power here against foreign-corporate monopolies, and bring forward others to join the front against foreign corporates.

 

 

 

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Communist Party of the Philippines: Expose and reject US-manufactured anti-Chinese hysteria

Written by: Communist Party of the Philippines on 17 June 2024

 

(Above: image courtesy of CPP website)

We are reproducing a June 15 statement by the Communist Party of the Philippines. The parallels with anti-Chinese hysteria manufactured by US sycophants in Australia are plain to see.  Here, a so-called “former spy for China’s secret police network” alleged on ABC’s Four Corners that there were 1200 Chinese spies targeting Chinese dissidents in Australia. In 2021, Australia's intelligence chief Mike Burgess, without naming India, said his agency had investigated a "nest of spies". Media speculation was allowed to run rampant with China and Russia thought to be responsible. When it turned out to be the Modi government, a key ally of the Australian ruling class, outrage was muted and media comment diluted. 

Like the Communist Party of the Philippines, we oppose Chinese social-imperialism, the imperialism it has projected after restoring capitalism but still claiming to be socialist. We hold both China and the US responsible for ramping up tensions in our region. But the man obstacle to a genuinely Australian independence is US imperialism. The US, not China, is the main source of the danger of war. The US, not China, is trying to drag us into another of its unjust and unwinnable wars. 
 

Let there be no place for attacks on the Australian Chinese community.

No US bases in Australia!

Smash the AUKUS arrangements!

...................

Communist Party of the Philippines: Expose and reject US-manufactured anti-Chinese hysteria

 
Marco Valbuena | Chief Information Officer | Communist Party of the Philippines
June 15, 2024

Synchronized and bank-rolled by the US State Department and Pentagon, officials and agents of the Marcos government, officers of the military, police and coast guard, senators and congressmen, corporate media, “think tanks,” some “civil society” groups, and social media mercenaries have recently ramped up their campaign to foment anti-Chinese hysteria and Sinophobia among Filipinos.

They fuel speculations and conjure stories of Chinese spies, sleeper cells, infiltration, hacking, and penetration, as part of the so-called Chinese “invasion playbook.” Marcos tops off the hysteria campaign with his “growing external threat” that clearly consider China as a hostile force.

This campaign hypes up valid concerns over overbearing tactics of China with regard Filipino fishermen, as well as criminal operations behind the POGOs (long supported by corrupt government officials of the Duterte and Marcos regimes). But this anti-Chinese hype has also come up with a slew of made up stories.

This campaign to stoke hate against China and the Chinese people is part of the US strategy to use the Philippines to heighten tensions and provoke armed confrontations in the West Philippine Sea. The US imperialists wants the Filipino people to consider China as their enemy, and obscure the fact that US imperialism is the primary national oppressor of the Philippines.

As in all its wars, from the colonial conquest of the Philippines, to its wars of aggression in Korea and Vietnam, to Afghanistan and Ukraine, the US imperialists manipulate public psyche to favor US military intervention and wars. This is pure and simple mass brainwashing.

This campaign to whip-up anti-Chinese hysteria in the Philippines is not new. A recent Reuters investigation exposed how the Filipino public became victims of a US Pentagon-funded campaign on social media to spread misinformation and cast doubts on the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine Sinovac. Hundreds of social media accounts were used by the US to influence Filipinos to favor vaccines made by US companies such as Pfizer and Moderna. This willful campaign of misinformation endangered public health and the lives of Filipinos amid the pandemic.

In the same way, the present campaign to whip up anti-Chinese hysteria is putting at risk the lives of the Filipino people and the country’s security. It is aimed at inflaming disputes between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, which, in fact, have long existed and managed in a diplomatic way. This information war is being carried out by the US while heightening its military presence in the South China Sea and adjacent regions around China, with the aim of creating conditions for armed hostilities with its imperialist rival.

The Filipino people must repudiate this US-orchestrated anti-Chinese hysteria and reject the scheme to stoke war. They must vigorously demand that diplomacy, legal action and negotiations be carried out more robustly in line with the 2016 arbitral ruling along the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS). They must urgently call for dismantling Chinese military facilities in the West Philippine Sea, the withdrawal of all US naval forces, as well as all US military bases in the Philippines.

The Filipino people’s progressive and patriotic forces must consciously expose and fight the spread of anti-Chinese hysteria and Sinophobia. They need to persevere and be indefatigable as they are up against the disinformation machinery of the biggest imperialist power in the world. They must expose and fight the US-Marcos regime’s war-mongering and its rush to instigate armed hostilities with China, as part of the US imperialist plan to drag the Philippines to its conflict with China.

 

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Chinese presence remans in Solomon Islands despite Marles’ visit

Written by: (Contributed) on 17 June 2024

 

(Above; Marles in Honiara at Australian ad project.  Photo: Richard Marles MP Facebook)

Diplomatic statements invariably reveal far more than they contain; the recent high-level visit by Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles to Honiara proved no exception to the general rule. Timed to coincide with the establishment of a new Solomon Island's government, the diplomacy highlighted the strategic significance of the small South Pacific country for Australia's specific Cold War military and security considerations and general 'US interests'. 

Another important factor, however, was not an open agenda item, although it can be regarded as a serious consideration for Australian diplomacy following a recent US global directive to allies when dealing with relations with China.

In late May, Australian deputy-prime minister Richard Marles made a high-level diplomatic visit to the Solomon Islands to meet the incoming prime minister in Honiara, Jeremiah Manele. It was explained in an official media release as 'Australia seizes the opportunity for a relationship reset with the South Pacific's most pro-China nation'. (1) Diplomatic relations between the two countries have proven problematic following a decision by then Solomons' prime minister Manasseh Sogavare to switch from diplomatic recognition of Taiwan to China in 2019.

Subsequent high-level diplomacy between Honiara and Beijing included fears being raised in Canberra of China being able to move at random in the South Pacific country, which has long been used by Australian military planners as a base for projecting influence in the region. Traditional Australia-Solomon Islands diplomacy has been conducted along neo-colonial lines. The challenge presented by China has, therefore, been assessed as a serious problem for Canberra.

A diplomatic statement issued by Canberra noted 'it is a new government that has been formed there. We want to be there very much at the start to talk about how we can take our bilateral relationship to the next step'. (2)

While Canberra openly greeted the demise of the Sogavare administration, little, however, has changed, or will do so. The new Manele government is unlikely to change political course; Sogavare is also the new Finance Minister. A prompt media release from Honiara accompanying the high-level Australian diplomacy noted 'Australia and China as equally important partners for Solomon Islands … its security agreement with Beijing will remain'. (3)  

Elsewhere, however, another statement issued earlier noted the new government and 'its Look North policy, embraced by Manele, says the Solomon Islands' economic future depends upon China, rather than its traditional partners like Australia'. (4) It followed recognition that 'Manele is committed to maintaining his country's China-friendly policies … China is already deeply enmeshed in the country's political fabric'. (5)

The Solomon Islands is a desperately poor country; its 800,000 population live on six major islands, with over nine hundred smaller landmasses. Since achieving independence from the Australian colonial administration in 1976, little meaningful economic development has taken place since that time. Per capita GDP remains at about $600 pa, with more than 75 per cent of the population employed in subsistence agriculture.

The Solomon Islands is dependent upon foreign aid which, invariably, arrives with strings. Some of this is not considered particularly problematic by the Solomon Islands.

Serious studies have concluded 'the neo-liberal framework within which Australia has engaged with the region has not delivered optimal social outcomes. Why would it, given its track records? … Chinese aid is attractive to the Solomon Islands because it largely stays in the Solomon Islands; Australian aid does not … it … is a form of boomerang aid that simply returns to Australia … Australia was the largest direct recipient of its own aid funding'. (6)
   
Australia, therefore, has difficult diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands. In fact, it has been noted that 'Australia is at the cross-hairs of this big shift. It is frozen out by Beijing which is also making a power play in the Pacific islands … that's why the Solomon Islands matters … China has surpassed Australia in terms of two-way trade with Pacific islands nations'. (7)

Accompanying the recent high-level diplomatic visit from Canberra to Honiara, a brief media release was issued from Washington, about US foreign policy initiatives to deal with China. It contained information about the Biden administration raising tariffs on Chinese exports and a request that allies should do likewise to ensure the success of the US-led trade war diplomatic position. (8) Washington has embarked upon classic Cold War diplomatic initiatives 'as a critical way to isolate Beijing on the global stage'. (9)

Due to Australia's close diplomatic links with Washington, it would be almost unthinkable that Canberra would not also follow suit. It is obliged to do so with usual diplomatic protocol. 

The US agenda item did not, however, form part of the stated reason why Australia's diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands were seemingly being re-booted afresh, although would appear the main factor explaining why such a senior government figure travelled to Honiara: Marles, is also Minister for Defence, diplomacy is usually conducted through Foreign Affairs;

                                         We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Marles' diplomatic dash to Solomons, Australian, 21 May 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     PM hails new Solomon Islands leader, Australian, 3 May 2024.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Sub-Imperial Power – Australia in the International Arena, Clinton Fernandes, (Victoria, 2022), pp. 94-97.
7.     As the Solomon Islands heats up, SBS News, 28 November 2021.
8.     US seeks EU support in trade war, Australian, 23 May 2024.
9.     Ibid.

 

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Why we have a beef with capitalism…

Written by: Alan Jackson on 12 June 2024

 

(Above: Meat Industry Employees Union, 2007 Queensland Labour Day March. Photo by  David Jackmanson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Do you remember the last time you saw the iridescent wings of a Christmas beetle bring in the summer? As much as I try to conjure the image or even the thought of the last time, I fall flat. In the younger years of my life, I remember them flying into my house in abundance. There were so many it was a normalised but appreciated event. 

Now their abundance has turned into its opposite, now I no longer see these harbingers of the summertime. What is the cause of this? Why is it that these beautiful, fluorescent scarabs have stopped showing? 

There’s a multitude of reasons with one root cause being the catalyst. What is this mysterious big bad? Capitalism! More particularly Capitalism and its destructive effects on nature and the exploitative agriculture practises it promotes in its procurement of profit. 

What other social, political and environmental effects does this haemorrhaging cause? 

What is one of the main drivers of deforestation in Australia? 

Looking through a report by Greenpeace, we will see that one of the worst contributors is cattle. Is this to say that cows are prancing on their cloven hooves holding our country at gunpoint? Absolutely not, that would be ridiculous. Although they are ‘cows’, the forces responsible are the multibillionaires and monopolies running this country to ruin for profit. 

Whether this is a conscious decision is irrelevant. The mere fact that they operate and exist in a Capitalist system forces them to exploit both land and people alike. 

Look at the main finds from the Greenpeace report. Some key findings from the get-go are “Australia… is the second largest beef exporter in the world behind Brazil. Beef cattle farming covers about 50% of Australia’s landmass, which explains the disproportionate impact of the industry on Australia’s forests and natural ecosystems.” (1.) 

In addition, “Approximately 30% of Australian beef is consumed domestically”. (2.) 

The report also tells us what companies are the main contributors. Those companies being Retailers – Aldi, Coles, Hungry Jacks, McDonalds, Metcash, Woolworths and Processors - JBS, Teys, Tyson and ComGroup Supplies. 

Those that are foreign multinationals, or tied to foreign capital, include:
Aldi -German
McDonalds – US
JBS – Brazilian (3.)
Tyson- US (4.)
Hungry Jacks – Australian/US (5.)
Teys – Australian/US (6.)

Startlingly put, Australia is undergoing a sustained, mostly hidden deforestation crisis of a globally concerning scale. WWF names eastern Australia among 24 global deforestation fronts, alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo. This is because currently an MCG-sized area of forest and bushland is bulldozed every two minutes. This is killing tens of millions of native animals each year, while harming the land, polluting rivers and damaging the Great Barrier Reef. Australian deforestation also contributes considerably to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.” (7.) 

Many operations are centred in Queensland, the state I am from, that faces terrible bushfires yearly with one of the recent most devastating being the fires earlier this year and the bushfires of the 2019-20 black summer. For more see Vanguard Article – ‘For a United Front Against Fossil Fuels and Feral Species.’ (November 2023). 

The last devastating finding I’ll add is “This deforestation is occurring without state or Federal Government controls. In Queensland this is largely, but not exclusively, due to a loophole in the Vegetation Management Act 1999 that makes large areas of land previously cleared as exempt “Category X” land, even if the forest has regenerated to a healthy state and is home to threatened species. Meanwhile researchers have demonstrated that over the course of nearly 20 years the Federal Government has only assessed less than 10% of all deforestation under the national environment law.” (8.) 

Our reliance on the cattle industry results in us producing far more beef than needed for self-sustainability and leads to an overconsumption of beef socially pushed as a result. This puts us into the upper echelons of worldwide heart diseases, cardiac arrests and obesity worldwide. 

With our reliance on the cattle industry the myth of the Australian small farmer is invoked, the masses are appealed to in order to create a fake caricature of a true-blue Aussie farmer struggling on their farm instead of the reality of Corporations paying Migrants peanuts for labour due to their easily exploitable circumstance. 

A recent case was the horrible mistreatment of Chinese meatworkers in Australia’s Visa factories with one specific worker in mind bearing the scars, Wang. “The abattoir clock had ticked into overtime when Chinese meatworker Wang pressed his foot on a button to lower a platform to better cut into a cow carcass. Instead of gliding down, the platform shuddered to a stop and caused a tank of near-boiling water to spill over him. The next day, Wang turned up for work as usual: he did not want to disappoint his employer because soon he would become eligible for permanent residency in Australia. Months later, though, his body still in pain from the workplace accident, Wang found himself without a job anyway, his hope of a better life in Australia in ruins.” (9.) 

If you’re hoping for a happy ending there is none. “Wang is now back in China but is keen to speak out about his experience at Teys Australia’s Biloela abattoir in Queensland. He wants to tell Australians how vulnerable the migrant workers are who come to Australia to do jobs the rest of us shun.” (6.) Wang goes on to say “If you are Australian local people, you don’t have to worry about this. You have equal position with the factory like anyone else. We are poor people. We have no power when we talk with factory.” (10.) Links for more stories on the Migrant Workers plight for the right to work safely in Australia can be found below. (11.)

What stopped the Christmas Beetles? Insecticides, more particularly Imidacloprid and other terrible toxins known to cause ‘Insect Armageddon’ used to protect cotton. Who would’ve thought, inextricably linked to our terrible cattle practices are our cotton practices and with that our agricultural and industrial practices as well. 

This all comes down to Capitalism and its need for profit. With this need for profit, it will put all else before profit even the very thing that is making them profit whether they know it or not. 

Cattle can’t graze a land that is destroyed. The capitalists don’t care. Capitalists only think of profit in the quickest way possible. There is no time to grow trees that our children will see prosper under capitalism. We fell those trees so we can be comfortable, and our children can figure it out for themselves. This is not right. What is needed in Australia is the defeat of Capitalism and Imperialist domination. Economic freedom, self-sustainability, independence and Socialism is the only way we can be free of this turmoil. 

 

Sources – 
(1.) Greenpeace Australia – Deforestation Crises on Their Watch 2024 (Page 8)
(2.) ibid
(3.) JBS is the Australian subsidiary of JBS S.A., a Brazilian company that is the largest meat processing enterprise in the world. The company has been regularly criticised for sourcing meat from farms that contribute to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. JBS was initially established as a slaughtering business by José Batista Sobrinho, a rancher in Anápolis, Brazil, in 1953. His sons Joesley Batista and Wesley Batista share a controlling 42% stake in JBS through J&F Investimentos which, in 2017, agreed to pay US$3.2 billion in fines, for leniency from the Brazilian government "over 25 years after admitting to giving roughly $150 million—mostly in bribes—to Brazilian politicians. The Batista brothers escaped jail as part of the deal. In May 2021, it temporarily stood down 7000 Australian workers and up to 3,000 workers in Canada and the United States while it dealt with a cyber attack, eventually paying a ransom of $US11 million in Bitcoin.
In 2022, the ABC revealed how financial support from the Brazilian government, obtained as a result of bribery and corruption, had enabled JBS to purchase Australian Meat Holdings, the country's biggest beef processor, in 2007, and the following year to purchase Tasman Group, which owned abattoirs in Tasmania and Victoria plus a feedlot in NSW. The ABC said “if you buy Primo ham, Huon salmon, McDonald's burgers or meat from Coles, Woolworths or Aldi, you're likely eating JBS products.”
JBS Australia poor record on workers’ safety: Australia: Meat company JBS repeatedly fails to protect workers from injuries; convicted at least six times over serious safety breaches - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (business-humanrights.org)
(4.) Tyson Foods, Inc. is an American multinational corporation based in Springdale, Arkansas that operates in the food industry. The company is the world's second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork after JBS S.A. Tyson Foods has been involved in a number of controversies related to the environment, animal welfare, and the welfare of their own employees. It has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to US competitors to settle price-fixing claims against it.
(5.) Hungry Jack’s is an Australian fast food franchise of the US Burger King Corporation. When Burger King tried to open up in Australia, it found that its name was already registered to a takeaway outlet in Adelaide, so Canadian-Australian businessman Jack Cowan, who had introduced KFC to Australia, entered a franchising arrangement with Burger King to operate their business under his name.
(6.) Originally established by four Teys brothers – all butchers – in Brisbane, it has since 2011 been in a 50-50 partnership with Cargill, the largest privately held company in the United States in terms of revenue.
(7.) (Ibid Page 9)
(8.) Ibid. (Page 6)
(9.) Ibid (page 6)

 

 

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European elections and dissolution: the fire of crisis consumes French bourgeois democracy

Written by: La Cause Du Peuple on 12 June 2024

 

Much has been made in the Australian capitalist media of the “swing to the right” in the French elections to the European Parliament.  They concentrate on the votes won by RN, the right wing National Rally, but not on the staggering rejection of the parliamentary charade as witnessed by the number of abstentions from voting. We reprint this translation from the website of La Cause Du Peuple in the interest of a better understanding of French and European sentiment -eds.

European elections and dissolution: the fire of crisis consumes French bourgeois democracy
June 10

The ‘European elections’ circus has played out its final act in France. The results are clear: like all the elections since Macron took over the presidency, the rejection of the electoral system (abstention, blank votes, invalid votes) is the big winner with 25 million votes. This is the historical tendency of the broadest and deepest masses in France: to reject the bourgeois state, its government, its system. That is the main lesson.

Bourgeois commentators dwell on the ‘historic turnout over the last 30 years’. They consciously forget that the European elections in France in 2019, 2014 and the 2000s had a ‘European’ character, i.e. the bourgeoisie incited the masses to go and vote in relation to the ‘European parliament’, this powerless instrument where 705 actors (MEPs) play tasteless parts for the benefit of the struggle and collusion between the imperialist powers of Europe and all the monopolies and their lobbies.

2024 was different: after the election of 2022 and the great year of revolt of 2023, in a situation of economic, social and political crisis, the European elections were used by the bourgeois parties, led by the RN and the presidential party, as a rehearsal for the confrontations to come at national level. That's why Prime Minister Attal debated with the RN. That's why Jordan Bardella, who received 7.7 million votes (15% of the electorate), i.e. 1 million less than Le Pen in 2022, immediately called for the dissolution of the National Assembly.

The results speak for themselves: the RN's victory means that its electoral base voted. It's not a meteoric rise. Bardella's popularity is only high because all the parties around him have collapsed. Macron's party has lost 1.5 million voters compared to 2019.

In 2017, Macron opened a period of political crisis in the French bourgeoisie by consolidating a new bourgeois party on the smoking ruins of the PS (Socialist Party - eds.). In his first five years, through his prime minister Édouard Philippe, he managed to bring LR (Les Republicaines-eds) to its knees. He took the king's share of the spoils and became the ideal standard-bearer for the French imperialist bourgeoisie. In 2022, alone against Le Pen, he was re-elected. Today, he is declaring the dissolution of the National Assembly.

The bourgeoisie as a class fights in parliamentary fractions: the interests of French imperialism are defended in common by the presidential party and the RN. These are two parties of the bourgeoisie. There isn't a fireman on one side and an arsonist on the other: they are both arsonists in the service of a reactionary state.

The bourgeois media and politicians are hungover today: how could Macron dissolve the government? What for? According to them, there is nothing logical about it. For the most Machiavellian, it would be a ‘political stunt’, a ‘risky gamble’. For the naive, Macron has simply ‘put the ball back in the people's court’ after the ‘shock’ of the European elections... which shocked nobody because the polls had said it all before the ballot box!

They ignore the reality of the class struggle in France and the process of reactionarisation of the bourgeois state. The bourgeoisie wants to stave off the crisis at all costs, and is prepared to accept any recomposition, any party in power, any regime, in order to maintain itself as the dominant class in the face of its inevitable decline and overthrow by the proletariat.

So to claim that Macron dissolved the National Assembly, one of the exceptional powers of the French president, ‘lightly’, is an outright lie. The only people who sincerely believe it are the outgoing MPs, from both left and right, who are slapping their legs and blinded by the loss of their privileges.

Le Monde revealed on 10 June that a cell had been working at the Élysée for several months on the dissolution. So it was a prepared plan. In France, the President, even with a minority in the Assembly, retains immense power. That's what the French bourgeoisie decided when it chose De Gaulle in the last century. Macron has thrown out the projects of the end of the five years (such as the thawing of the electorate in Kanaky (New Caledonia), which led to the great revolt of recent weeks, but also the end of life or the plans to reform unemployment) to get to the bottom of the crisis.

The early parliamentary elections he has called are not a campaign: with 20 days to prepare them, he is taking everyone by surprise, even the RN, which was calling for them in its speeches. It's a real electoral farce, pure and simple. After 2 years of circus in the Assembly, where the masses were able to understand what ‘parliamentary cretinism’ actually meant, dissolving it is no loss for Macron. If he wins the election with a coalition, he closes a period of recomposition and opposition and can prepare for 2027, which is the real next deadline. If he loses and the RN gets into government, it will move forward with the same reactionary plans, only more assertive, and it too will fail to avert the crisis: just as Meloni is failing at the moment in Italy. Reactionarisation will progress and the French imperialist bourgeoisie will contemplate, as it already does, its possibilities of stripping bourgeois democracy of its trappings during a crisis of regime.

As for the trumpets and bugles of the Left, they are miserable. They think that an opportunistic, unprincipled electoral alliance will bring the broad masses, the 25 million who have turned their backs on the bourgeois chambers and the polling booths, to vote for them. They want to make these ‘disappointed’ and ‘disinterested’ people feel guilty en masse. It's all a waste. In the decomposition of imperialism in which we live, the proletariat has only one policy: boycott the elections, prepare seriously for revolution.

 

 

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Can laws control cyber crime and disinformation?

Written by: (Contributed) on 10 June 2024

 

(Above: a screenshot from the home page of Israeli company STOIC,offering to create automated disinformation)

Draft legislation about fraudulent use of the internet and social media due to be introduced into the legislative process in Canberra over the next few weeks is long overdue. Australians have been targeted by on-line criminal elements and their associates for decades.

Other, related fraudulent use of on-line provision, such as Israeli firm STOIC’s work in spreading disinformation through fake social media accounts, has raised serious concerns about security-related matters and general interference inside political systems and espionage.

Draft legislation scheduled to be tabled in Canberra within weeks is set to bring the giants of the internet and social media to account and ensure they are legally liable for fraudulent and criminal activities, with compensation. The binding codes will impose strict obligations upon those who control provision. The draft legislation has followed revelations that Australians lost $2.74 billion last year in various criminal scams. (1) Social media giants including Meta, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will also be required to establish disputes resolution procedures for victims of scams to enable accountability. (2)

The rapid escalation of the problem remains evidence that criminal elements and their associates have been quick to seize upon opportunities opened with on-line provision. In 2020 it was officially reported that Australians had lost an estimated $851 million in scams, rising to $1.8 billion in 2021 and $3.1 billion in 2022. (3)

Australians appear to have been targeted by criminal elements and their associates based off-shore largely in Asia. (4) Recent revelations about sophisticated cyber-crime facilities on the Myanmar-Thai border where computer-based workers were 'being taught about Australian culture and social media uses of Facebook, WhatsApp and dating sites', leave little to the imagination. (5)

Recent disclosures from the German police, however, have shown how Australians have been targeted by other, European criminal groups. One criminal syndicate monitored by the German police found 34,000 Australians had been defrauded more than $200 million; a decision taken by Canberra-based Australian Securities and Investments Commission leaders continued to regard the information as 'for intelligence purposes only'. (6) Victims, therefore, were not officially notified by Australian government departments. Whether the failure to disclose information by ASIC was undertaken to not compromise those 'the regulator was looking at … individuals … based in Australia … who are believed to have assisted the scammers', or for other motives, has not been divulged. (7)

It is, however, the other, related problem of shadowy players accessing personal information for profiling which remains a serious concern.

Revelations the Andrews government in Victoria used vast amounts of personal data to run a secretive program for election purposes has raised a number of concerns with far-reaching implications. (8) The Melbourne-based administration appears to have been extensively involved in intelligence-gathering about voter opinions in the six weeks prior to the November, 2022, state elections. Questions appear to have arisen about the security of large amounts of data collected and whether it could be re-used for other, non-disclosed purposes.

Disclosures surrounding a shadowy, intelligence-type organisation based in Tel Aviv, STOIC, have, however, raised serious concerns about social media being programmed to mould public opinion about the present Israeli-Gaza war. Consisting of more than five hundred Facebook and 32 Instagram accounts in the US and Canada linked to more than two thousand further profiles, the social media facilities were praising 'Israel's military actions and criticism of radical Islam and campus anti-semitism'. (9)

The STOIC organisation appears to have actively targeted political parties, ministries and municipalities together with advocacy groups, public relations campaigns and lobbyists with the specific intention of moulding public opinion in favour of the Israeli government. (10)

While the official media release from Meta regarding their closing of the STOIC websites could find links with the Israeli government, the use of proprietary companies and business fronts is common throughout the so-called 'intelligence-community'. (11) The standard practice is used to distance governments and their intelligence organisations from controversy should embarrassing disclosures occur.

While the subject did receive some limited media coverage in western and Israeli media outlets, there was no official comment from either STOIC or the Netanyahu administration in Tel Aviv; diplomatic silence would appear the order of the day for those concerned.

It was noted, nevertheless, that STOIC was 'a political marketing and business intelligence firm … using their products nefariously to manipulate various political conversations on-line'. (12) It was also noted, furthermore, that the company provided 'models for tasks generating comments, articles, social media profiles, and debugging code for bots and websites … with fears about … covert social media campaigns'. (13) 

STOIC is also believed to have contracted out its services to support the Hindutva fascist BJP party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (14) The US-Canada operation was ordered and financed by the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. (15)

Covert operations, invariably, have a long history linked to intelligence agencies and diplomacy; studies of the US intelligence services conducted by former agents concluded, long ago, that, 'the CIA's primary task is not to co-ordinate the efforts of US intelligence or even to produce finished national intelligence for the policy-makers. Its job is, for better or worse, to conduct the government's covert foreign policy'. (16)

 

The use of on-line provision would appear to have broadened the scope of intelligence-gathering for covert foreign policy and provided spooks with the ability to pry into the daily lives of the mass of the world's population. Intelligence agents now how little use for opening and reading correspondence to and from those assessed as 'people of interest'. Technological developments have led to past practices being superseded and others revolutionised with on-line facilities. (17)    

Information emerging from reliable sources has revealed the US National Security Agency (NSA) sought to use the internet from its earliest days of operation and that 'the NSA's attention shifted to finding ways to exploit the global reach of Google, Microsoft, Venizon and other US technical powers … including … monitoring cell-phones'. (18)

The tracking of mobile telephones and interception of calls has become standard practice with Australian government departments. A marathon fraud court-case in the NSW Supreme Court, for example, included 'some 130 hours of conversations between the six accused men, captured during tapped phone calls or by strategically placed listening devices … as part of their national investigation into the alleged payroll fraud'. (19)  

Problems, however, arise with the shadowy links between on-line criminal activity and that of official government departments and their intelligence agencies. They would appear blurred, to state the very least. The genuine concern for defence and security considerations and downright political muck-raking, likewise, is also blurred in the eyes of some actors, whether with officially sanctioned state or non-legitimate non-state categories.

Whether forthcoming legislation to deal with the problem is effective, therefore, remains to be seen.

In light of Australia's alliance with the US and their allies, including Israel, and the Five Eyes, it would appear unlikely, however, that any moves will be taken to disturb or interfere with existing 'US interests' and their intelligence-gathering:

                                          We need an independent foreign policy!


1.     See: Fines over social media scams, The Weekend Australian, 25-26 May 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     AI helping hackers to scam better, Australian, 3 June 2024.
4.     Fighting Asian scammers, Australian, 30 May 2024; and, Billions stolen as Big Tech enables deepfake scams, Editorial, The Weekend Australian, 25-26 May 2024.
5.     Editorial, Weekend Australian, ibid., 25-26 May 2024.
6.     ASIC says hands were tied on scams, Australian, 5 June 2024.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Data security 'assured', Andrews team told, The Weekend Australian, 1-2 June 2024.
9.     Fake accounts of Israel tech firm deleted, Australian, 31 May 2024.
10.   Ibid.
11.   The CIA and the cult of intelligence, Victor Marchetti and John D, Marks, (London, 1976), pp. 162-181.
12.   Meta and AI say they disrupted influence operations linked to Israeli company, NBC News, 31 May 2024.
13.   Open AI says it disrupted covert influence operation by Israeli firm STOIC, The Times of Israel, 4 June 2024.
14.   Who’s behind the Israeli startup blacklisted by Meta and OpenAI?, Calcalist.com June 3, 2024
15.   Israeli influence operation highlights global disinformation industry, Cyberscoop.com, June 5, 2004
16.   The CIA and the cult of intelligence, op.cit., page 132.
17.   Ibid., page 121.
18.   The intelligence coup of the century, The Washington Post, 11 February 2020.
19.   Juror in $13m fraud case arrested, Australian, 6 June 2024.

 

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PNG: Wealth for Foreign Exploiters – Sweet FA and Destruction for the People

Written by: J. Clarke on 9 Jue 2024

 

Above: Opposition to sea bed mining in PNG. Photo Civicus.org

While the eyes of the world are focussed on the devastating tragedy of the Enga Province landslide in Papua New Guinea (PNG), it is timely to reflect on the environmental and development issues that foreign investment has brought to the country.

PNG is a country abundantly rich in natural resources. The Indigenous people have utilised these resources for their essential needs sustainably since their arrival in ancient times (estimated to be some 50,000 years ago and agricultural practices commencing around 7000BC).

On the other hand, with the arrival of Europeans and the accompanying colonisation, the exploitation of resources for profit rather than needs intensified with little regard to sustainability. In modern times, exploitation has intensified even more dramatically, resulting in severe damage to the environment.

What caused the devastating Enga landslide in which so many lives were lost? There are multiple reasons. Firstly, PNG is located on an earthquake zone, which creates the conditions prerequisite for landslides. In a nutshell the ground is loosened and water penetrates, creating something akin to a massive sponge. A deluge of rain can make the “sponge” release its contents, with devastating consequences for those living nearby.

The other reasons are man-made. You guessed it! - Deforestation by foreign companies acting to extract as much timber as possible in the shortest time for maximal profits, with little or no subsequent remediation work. There is no substantial vegetation remaining to hold the soil in place, so when a landslide occurs, its damaging effects are amplified.

Add to this, the effects of climate change – more storms, more intense rainfall, therefore more frequent and severe landslides.

Not much can be done about the natural causes (earthquakes) however the last two causes are preventable if a sustainable approach is taken. This will never happen under capitalism, but the people of PNG are valiantly opposing the activities of the foreign plunderers.

The volume of logging has consistently exceeded the target limits. The government appears to be doing very little to curb this. The people, with the assistance of NGOs, are putting pressure on the government to act. In response, logging companies threaten activists with litigation. This is despite the activists exposing not only the over-logging, but money laundering practises by the industry as well1.

An appallingly unscrupulous practice used by foreign companies to obtain access to land for logging is to illegally con traditional holders of customary land into handing the land over to them. As a result, a significant percentage of customary land has become permanently inaccessible to the traditional landholders. This land-grabbing is facilitated by corrupt government officials and others in PNG for selfish gains. (Corruption is rife in PNG, and it is estimated that up to 50% of the government annual budget goes missing as a result. Consequently it is a walk in the park for foreign companies to get what they want.) Such lands are then rubber-stamped as “Special Agriculture and Business Leases” under the Land Act. The categorisation as “agriculture and business” is a con in itself. Essentially it means all out logging.

The government copped a lot of flak from traditional landholders about this illegal land-grabbing practice and in 2014 the government promised to return the lands stolen in this way to their original owners. However, there has been limited progress in this direction. Further, compensation to traditional landholders for being deprived of the use of their land and the destruction of forests on these lands is yet to be agreed to.

Here’s another example of ruthless business practices which are enabled by corrupt government officials. A Malaysian company (actually a logging company) applied to set up the “Wasu Cattle Farm Project” and got the nod. Local people report that they have not sighted any cattle but that there is an awful lot of logging going on!

It is not only the forests that are being intensely exploited by foreign companies. PNG is rich in mineral resources and oil and gas – both on land and sea.

A case in point is the proposed Frieda mine project for the extraction of gold and copper. If it goes ahead, it will be the largest mining project in the history of PNG. The project will operate along the mighty Sepik River. The river traverses some 1100km and is one of the few remaining untouched large rivers on the planet. It provides sustenance, both spiritual and material, to the tens of thousands of people who live in traditional communities along its length.

The mine threatens all this and the people know that it will end their traditional way of life. They have seen it in other communities in PNG. Promises of benefits are made (schools, hospitals etc) but they end up losing everything, including their independence, spiritual life, links to their ancestors and sense of belonging.

The people of the Sepik want to avoid another Bougainville, but the communities are not taking this lying down and are currently organising to oppose the mine. Death threats have been received but people have stated that this river is so important to them that they will die for it.

The foreign corporations are not limiting themselves to mining the land, but also have in mind to mine the sea bed for minerals such as gold, copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese. Sea bed mining has not taken place anywhere in the world yet, due to insufficient knowledge of the environmental, social and economic consequences and the lack of laws to govern its practice.

The PNG government has placed a moratorium on sea bed mining until 2029. However, coastal people living in the vicinity of the proposed sea bed mining area have grave concerns that the government will not live up to its promise. The PNG government has its own vested interests in the project proceeding. The people living here practice their traditional way of life and rely on the sea as their main food source. They are already organising against this project2.

The people of PNG face the same enemy as other Indigenous populations the world over, threatening their traditional existence and the destruction of the lands which they have nurtured over the eons.

Whether it is in PNG, West Papua, Palestine or the First Nations people of Australia there is common ground for the struggle against imperialism and colonialism.

Oppressed people of the world unite!

The CPA (ML) supports the struggle of the people of PNG for justice.
The CPA (ML) supports the struggle of the people of West Papua for independence.

 

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Benny Wenda: West Papua’s path to liberation

Written by: Benny Wenda on 7 June 2024

 

(Above: In March 2024, a shocking video emerged of Indonesian soldiers torturing a West Papuan man confined in a barrel of freezing water. He was repeatedly kicked, punched and stabbed. )

Our near neighbours, the heroic and long-suffering peoples of West Papua, are continuing their fight for liberation from the Indonesian colonising regime. Their struggle has our ongoing support. We are posting a statement from May by their leader Benny Wenda – eds.

 

President Wenda: The United Liberation Movement for West Papua Agenda is West Papua’s path to liberation 
May 14, 2024 

On behalf of the ULMWP and the people of West Papua, I call on all our supporters to renew your support for West Papua and stand behind our agenda for independence: 

A) A visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; 

B) ULMWP Full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG);

C) An internationally-supervised self-determination referendum. 

The ULMWP has a clear agenda for liberation, and our solidarity groups have a vital role to play in helping us fulfil it. Our agenda has been democratically endorsed by the people of West Papua through the 2023 ULMWP Congress, the first people’s mandate the ULMWP has ever received. When you fight for our agenda, you are fighting for the West Papuan people.

Our solidarity groups, artists, musicians, filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, rugby players and other sportspeople, NGOs, Churches, academics, individuals and families, can help by rallying their representatives in Parliament to support a visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. As part of our new campaign for a UN visit, we have held meetings in the UK, EU, Dutch and Scottish Parliaments, and launched the Brussels Declaration directly accusing Indonesia of refusing the UN access. The call for a UN visit has gone up across the world, demanded by over 100 UN member states, including all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum, Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, and the EU Commission.   

Since Indonesia first invited the High Commissioner into West Papua in 2018, over 100,000 Papuan civilians have been displaced by genocidal military operations. At least 1200 Papuans have died, killed by Indonesian soldiers or left to starve in the bush. Many of my people have been tortured or arbitrarily arrested. Indonesia gets away with its crimes with impunity partly because they hide West Papua from the world, banning journalists, NGOs, and international bodies like the UN. To force Indonesia to open West Papua to the world, we need to create even greater public pressure. Solidarity groups can be the voice of the voiceless people. Where we cannot speak, you must speak for us.  

We also need our friends in Melanesia to lobby their leaders and Parliamentarians to do more to support ULMWP full membership of the MSG. The ULMWP gaining full membership is an essential step on the road to peace and justice in the Pacific. Only as full members will we be able to sit across the table from Indonesia and peacefully discuss the status of West Papua on an equal footing. With the war criminal Prabowo Subianto soon to take office as Indonesian President, West Papua needs full membership to defend itself and expose Indonesia’s crimes. Full membership is our guarantee of safety from annihilation. 
Full membership would prove we are a responsible state-in-waiting, ready to manage our own affairs. Like our brothers and sisters in the FLNKS, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), or the Polisario in Western Sahara, we are a political organisation with a cabinet, constitution, and governing structure on the ground. We are ready to take control when our independence arrives.  

The ULMWP is not an NGO: we are not asking Indonesia for internal dialogue, to improve their democracy, or take better care of our forest. West Papua is not an internal matter. We state clearly that all violations of our human rights and environment are rooted in the fundamental and continual violation of our self-determination. Self-determination is the start and the end of our journey. Merdeka is the only answer to our situation.  

To Indonesia, we say that you have nothing to fear from West Papuan independence. We are not fighting to destroy Indonesian sovereignty but simply to reclaim the sovereignty that was stolen in 1961. Our sovereign state was declared that year and recognised by nations including Netherlands, UK, and Australia. It was taken from us and we are fighting to win it back. 

To our people back home, activists, women’s groups, church groups, Indonesian solidarity groups, the Alliance of Papuan Students and KNPB, I ask that you rally behind the ULMWP and the Congress resolutions. We need unity if we are going to defeat our enemy and reclaim our sovereign state. 

Thank you to everyone who has stood behind us in our anti-imperial struggle. Please continue to unite behind us, support our agenda, and support our independence. 

Wa wa wa. Papua Merdeka! 

Benny Wenda
President
ULMWP 

 

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We swim in a toxic sea of capitalism. But we needn’t drown: Humphrey McQueen’s powerful new pamphlet on Capital launched

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 3 June 2024

 

Marking our party’s 60th anniversary, Vanguard invited Marxist historian Humphrey McQueen to Sydney to lead a discussion of his new pamphlet, on Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’. 

The pamphlet’s cover ‘invites job reps and community activists to share insights from Capital into how we are exploited, how nature is plundered and how to put an end to both.’
Veteran comrade Lindy Nolan introduced the discussion.

We’re on Gadigal land, never surrendered, paying respects to all First Peoples for their sacrifices and ongoing resistance. May they grow in unity and strength.

Humphrey! Humphrey McQueen. I doubt there’s an Australian alive who’s studied Capital more deeply, or given more practical guidance from it. But thanking him means thanking Peter Curtis, for connecting us with this rebel with no phone or internet. Humphrey’s in person, so I’ll be relatively brief.

We swim in a toxic sea of capitalism. But we needn’t drown. 

To chart a way forward, we seek truth from facts, not from wishful thinking.

The struggle for communism in the world – and in Australia – is littered with mistakes, rich with lessons. And with inspiring victories. Vanguard and the CPA(ML) are 60 this year. We’ve just reprinted the party’s first book, also from 1964. 

Hogtied to capitalism

Emerging from the most bitter split in our movement’s history, a split destroying lifelong friendships and even families, EF Hill’s Looking Backward: Looking Forward, Revolutionary Socialist Politics against Trade Union and Parliamentary Politics, analysed collective errors, based on deep study of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao. The key was it analysed Australia. 

Hill proved that, despite working class support, Labor was a capitalist party. The left labelled him “sectarian”. 

Workers rightly hate when the left cannibalises itself.  We were all guilty, for the stakes were high, liberation or exploitation, destruction and endless wars for profit. But real sectarianism is separation from the people.

All of Australia’s left grouplets are growing now, but none of us is capable yet of leading a revolution. 

In 1964, Hill also challenged trade union politics, because while trade unions at their best teach workers that if you don’t fight you’ve already lost, and teach them to organise as a class – touch one, touch all – at best unions only win crumbs from the capitalist feast. Now more than ever, unions are hogtied to capitalism. Dialectically, new laws enforcing permanency, applied to those few unions like the NSW Teacher Federation whose members still elect its organisers and officers, now demand, once elected for over two years, members won’t be able to remove them.

Betraying workers for the new US boss

After WW2, the communist party here was over 20,000 strong.  Hill’s book also showed how the anti-Marxist, class-struggle-denying ideology of US “communist” leader Earl Browder gripped the Australian party, paving the way for our new best buddy to shove British imperialism aside, betraying the workers and allies who could have fought this new master.

We’re now little more than a US imperialist puppet. It holds the commanding heights of our economy, our military is a wing of US forces, its culture poisons Australian minds. 

It dominates through division and conquest, deception and force. What ever-diminishing peoples’ rights we still have, were won and defended in hard struggle.  

In 1964 Hill showed Australia was a capitalist dictatorship, with parliament its “democratic” window-dressing.

Examples are endless. 94% of Australians opposed the war in Iraq. Howard joined the US invasion. This week 30% of the NSW prison population is Aboriginal. If the laws, courts, police, military, jails are independent, above classes, why are the biggest criminals living in unimaginable luxury instead of in jail?

The ruling class chooses violence

Resistance is growing. Palestine opens ever more eyes to reality, of who rules, who benefits. Who in their right minds would choose violence, invasion, destruction of the planet? The capitalist class, over and over again. 

Mao Zedong said communists must be like fish in a sea of people, because it’s the masses who create revolutionary change, not small groups of likeminded people isolated in left blocs. We listen, take the ideas of the masses, collectively concentrate them into theory, take them back to the people to be tested in practice, in an ongoing spiral of learning for revolutionary change. Underpinning this, constantly enriched in struggle, are 170 years of Marxist theory. The voice of peoples’ needs demand action from Humphrey McQueen’s new pamphlet.

Marx said there’s no crisis capitalism can’t recover from, until workers and oppressed peoples organise to defeat it. US imperialism and its hangers on will never willingly surrender. If threatened, they will choose violence. 

Right now we need to listen, to study, to organise, to build the peoples’ forces in struggle, build a party steeped in humility serving them, like fish in as sea of people. Our party strives and organises to be one day worthy of the Australian working class and its allies. 

We’re glad Humphrey is a friend of our party.

Today we’ll listen and ask and collectively learn from each other.

My party had the good fortune to marginally contribute to the first version of this profound pamphlet for workers and community activists, then an extraordinarily skinny summary of Marx’s monumental three volumes.

This second bread and butter version launched today is far richer, collectively created from 14 years of group study in Canberra. Humphrey says The Communist Manifesto is poetry that begs to be read aloud. His new pamphlet is an epic poem, for understanding, for organisation, for liberation, for survival.

As Rosa Luxemburg wrote, the choice is simple socialism or barbarism.

 

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US company to design Osborne submarine shipyard

Written by: Nick G. on 31 May 2024

 

US company Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) has been selected to provide concept design services for the new nuclear powered submarine construction yard at Osborne in South Australia. 

Profits from the deal will further enrich the pockets of wealthy US shareholders.

KBR has previously won massive US contracts for supporting the US military in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. 

However, its “Controversy” listing on Wikipedia is one of the longest of any multinational company, including price-fixing, bribery, negligence in relation to employee safety, sexual assault and abuse allegations, and a human trafficking lawsuit. 

As recently as September 2022, 800 Filipino workers were stranded at the remote US military base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean due to an employment dispute with KBR. They alleged it had underpaid wages and denied holiday leave entitlements.

If the old saying is true that you can know a person by the company he or she keeps, we now know a bit more about the Australian ruling class and its subservience to US imperialism.

Withdraw from AUKUS!
Oppose KBR’s contract!

................

Update:  

On Jue 6 2024, it was anounced that KBR had been given an Australian government contract to "monitor space above Australia."

The announcement stated: "KBR’s Iron Stallion technology can find, watch, track and report on the movement of objects in space and now forms an integral component of the Australian government’s space domain awareness. Iron Stallion is a command and control technology that is being used by the Department of Defence to support Australia’s need for advanced space-based surveillance capabilities. It has proved its effectiveness in the US and in the UK."

The militarisation of space is a direct consequence of imperialism's striving for "full spectrum domination".  In the US, the Space Force sits alongside the Army, Navy and Airforce as part of the US military.

 

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Protest Modi government’s genocidal killing of tribal peoples

Written by: Nick G. on 30 May 2024

 

Today, May 30, 2024, is a day of protest in India against the fascist Modi government’s war on tribal communities and fighters of the Communist Party of India (Maoist)’s Peoples Liberation Guerilla Army.

Since 1st January 2024, the Indian state has rapidly mobilised more and more paramilitary personnel into the 6 military camps established in the Abujmarh region of Chhattisgarh, a land-locked state in Central India, under a new Operation Kagar.

This region, home to the Gond, Muria, Abujmarhia and Halbaas tribes also falls in the area which contains 700 million tonnes of India’s iron ore reserves, along with graphite ore, limestone and even uranium deposits. With the onset of Operation Kagar, for every 7 Adivasi persons (members of tribal communities) in Abujmarh, there are now 3 paramilitary personnel in the hills. 

On New Years Day, the security forces attacked Muddum village, near Gangalur, in the Bijapur district, and killed a toddler- Mangli- in the lap of her mother while she was being breastfed. Relentless attacks have been regular, and killings have become routine. On April 2, 13 Maoists were killed in an encounter at Korcholi in Bijapur district. All of them were Adivasis, if not Maoists. Four months into this year, 80 Adivasis and revolutionaries have been shot dead in the name of encounters. Aerial bombing was also carried out for the fifth time on January 13 as a continuation of the aerial attacks carried out by the previous Congress government.

In the last month, three fake encounters have resulted in the deaths of 29 people in Kankar district. On May 10, 2024, 12 tribal farmers were shot dead by the army in Bijapur district. Indian paramilitary forces killed five people from Pedia village and seven from Etawar village in a fake encounter.

The villagers, out to collect 'Tendu' leaves, fled in fear at the sight of the security forces. The forces shot them as they tried to escape. Many villagers were dragged from their homes and shot dead.

This hidden war is a genocide of tribal farmers under the guise of neutralizing Maoists. A wide range of weapons, including airstrikes by Israeli-made drones, have been used in the area. 

Operation Kagar strips away from the “rock star” Modi’s fascist Hindutva government its veneer of “democracy” which is killing the tribal farmers of Bastar district who are protecting their land and water, celebrating harvest and cultivation on their soil, alongside the Maoist revolutionaries fighting against corporates, Brahminical Hindutva fascists, brokers, landlords, and mining mafias. 

The CPA (M-L) voices its solidarity with the protest day movement, and calls on the Indian diaspora in Australia to condemn the killing of tribal farmers labelled as Maoists. We call upon all democratically minded people to unite and condemn this genocide.

 

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US looks to drag Australia into space preparations for war with China

Written by: Nick G. on 29 May 2024

 

Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, head of US Space Forces, Indo-Pacific, told a conference in Sydney yesterday, that the US is “working very closely with Australia” to develop the ability to crack a Chinese space-based defensive line designed to keep US forces at bay.

The cooperation of Australian military officials and civilian contractors further enmeshes Australia into the military confrontation promoted by the US against China.

Mastalir said that “a formidable new technology — a jam-resistant Link-16 that now extends to and from space” enables radios to operate across all five US military services as well as with NATO and other allies so all users can see the same up-to-the minute intelligence, and automate fire control.

He referred to “kill chains” used by both the US and China to deny each other access to areas in the event of war. The kill chains are based on the so-called “island chain strategy” first conceived by US imperialism’s John Foster Dulles in 1951, during the US war of aggression against Korea.

The first island chain runs through Chinese territorial waters down to and including the nine-dash line in the South China Sea. The second island chain runs from Japan through Guam and Palau to the western end of New Guinea. A third island chain runs from Alaska through the middle of the Pacific to New Zealand.

Mastalir said China’s progress in strengthening its kill chain since 2019, built expressly to keep the United States well outside the second island chain, has been “breathtaking.”

But he said that testing of Link 16’s anti-jamming capability had strengthened the US’s own anti-China kill chain.

Further moves are afoot to prepare for war with China.

Mastalir revealed the military is planning to set up a US Space Forces -Japan based on their work in South Korea, where a component was established in December 2022.

“When we stood up Space Forces Korea, that’s the model that I’m using for Space Force Japan,” he said, without offering a date by which he expected the unit to be stood up. 

And a week ago, so-called “regional experts” issued a call for an Arctic Quad comprising the US, Canada, South Korea and Japan to counter a growing Russian and Chinese presence in the Arctic where there is competition for resources and new trade routes being made possible by climate change.

None of these developments indicate any lessening of tensions in our region. 

Despite the comprador media’s repeated references to Chinas “increasingly assertive and aggressive” presence in the region, it is US imperialism’s preparedness to use war to maintain its declining global dominance that threatens the future well-being of the Australian people.

Breaking news:

The embedding of US military and intelligence agents in the relevant Australian government departments underscores our subservience to the Empire.  So it came as no surprise today (May 29) when Monash University and SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre announced the  appointment of Lieutenant General Larry James, former Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a retired lieutenant general with the US Air Force, to their respective space research offices.

“The opportunities for Australia’s space sector are huge, and I hope to share my experience and knowledge with the talented teams at both institutions," Lt Gen James said. 

"I am also keen to strengthen my connections and share expertise with Defence Space Command and the Australian Space Agency,” he said.

 

 

 

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May Day Talk 2024

Written by: Shirley Winton on 27 May 2024

 

We have had requests for the text of Shirley Winton’s speech at the Melbourne May Day event on May 5.  Shirley was speaking on behalf of No AUKUS Victoria – eds.

 

Thank you May Day Committee for inviting us to speak on AUKUS, war and imperialism.
 
I’m on the stolen lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulan nation, never ceded.  I pay my respects to their elders past present and emerging and stand in solidarity with the First Nations people of this country in their 260 year long struggle against the brutal colonialism, for self-determination and sovereignty.  
 
1 May is also 78th anniversary of the heroic First Nations pastoral workers in the Pilbara walking off the cattle stations in a long 3-year strike for pay and working conditions.  And they won. Always was always will be Aboriginal land.
 
May Day is International Workers’ Day. A day when workers around the world proudly celebrate their hard won victories and the ongoing struggles for workers’ rights, for decent and secure livelihoods for all, for peace and a better world. 
 
On May Day workers and their unions pledge their solidarity with struggles of the people around the world against exploitation, oppression and imperialist wars. 
 
This year’s May Day workers around the world stand in solidarity with our heroic Palestinian sisters and brothers in their 76 year struggle against the Zionist Israeli colonial occupation and genocide.  Working people, unions, students and millions around the world from all walks of life stand shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people’s resistance and determination to free themselves from Zionist Israel oppression and its backer, US imperialism.  
 
Palestinian people’s struggle is setting the world on fire. Inspiring and giving confidence to workers, unions, students, the oppressed and exploited, in their struggles. 
 
The Palestinian struggle for liberation is exposing the face of imperialism behind the wars of aggression, invasions, military occupations, political and military coups and foreign interferences in countries.  
 
Most major military and political conflicts in today’s world can be traced to fierce competition between the imperial big powers for control and exploitation of natural resources, markets, people and the environment – the proxy war in Ukraine, in the Middle East, in Latin America, in the resources rich Africa, and in our own Asia-Pacific region.     Imperialism creates wars, refugees, and whips up racism to divide the people.
 
Today, the world is on the threshold of another global imperialist war threatening to engulf workers across the world. 
 
A war that is being instigated and led by the US.  And, as in all the imperialist wars, we the working people and the environment are the casualties, the disposable pawns in the super power competition and the profiteering weapons corporations and military industrial complex.  It’s always us the ordinary people who pay with our lives, our health, our livelihoods and carry the main economic and social burden of imperialist wars.
 
In our region of Asia-Pacific, the US is preparing to start a war with China, its biggest competitor threatening to replace the US as the dominant global super power.  
 
It will be a war of aggression forced on the people of this region.  And Australia, the US deputy sheriff in the Asia-Pacific, is again marching to the beat of US war drums.  
 
Australia has joined AUKUS, an aggressive war pact between US, UK and Australia, created and led by the US, to start a war with China.  AUKUS and its nuclear powered submarines are not for the defence of Australia and peace in the region.   It is an instrument of aggression to protect the US dominance in this region,  not for the defence of the people of Australia, nor for “peace and prosperity” in the region.
 
AUKUS is more deeply enmeshing Australia politically and militarily into the US war plans and its multinational weapons corporations.  
 
Australia, a US deputy sheriff doing the bidding for the US, enforcing the so called US global rules based order in our region, rubber stamping US actions in the UN and supporting Israel’s genocide in Gaza.  
 
AUKUS and Australia’s involvement in a US-led war with China will syphon off more than half a trillion dollars of Australian people’s taxes from urgent needs of Australian people in health, education, housing, social services, aged care, child care, and urgent action to tackle climate crisis.  $368 billion on nuclear submarines and tens of billions more on US military and propping up the US and UK economies.
 
The only beneficiaries are the US economy and the hugely profiteering military industrial complex and fossil fuel corporations. 
 
The winners from AUKUS and nuclear submarines are the multinational weapons and fossil fuel corporations – Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, the military industrial complex – raking in $trillions of dollars in profits from suffering of people and destruction of the environment.   
 
The only imminent threats to the Australian people’s safety and security come from the aggressive AUKUS war alliance, the US military bases across the country, the secretive US controlled Pine Gap spy base, the nuclear weapons carrying US bombers and warships in our ports and airfields, the AUKUS nuclear powered submarines in our ports, the deadly nuclear waste stored on the lands of the First Nations people, the US-Australia Alliance and the devastation of climate crisis These are the real threats to our safety and sovereignty.
 
Australia’s manufacturing industry is being turned into a production line for multinational weapons corporations and imperialist wars.  This is because workers in this country are not in charge of what our labour produces.   These are the weapons used in the horrific genocide of Palestinian people and against our sisters and brothers in other countries fighting for their rights and against oppression. 
 
Multinational weapons corporations are embedding themselves in our universities and our schools.  Public funds and universities are handed over to weapons corporations for research and development of their deadly weapons for wars of aggression.   These are public funds much needed for scientific research into health and wellbeing of people and the environment.  Australia’s military and defence are now deeply integrated into the US imperialist war machine. 
 
Our fight is not against workers of other countries. Our battles are right here – for secure and decently paid work for all, for workers’ rights, for safety at work, for affordable and secure housing for all, for properly funded health care and education and tackling the climate crisis.  For urgently needed funds to support women fleeing domestic violence and to end the violence against women epidemic.
 
Australian people don’t want Australia to be involved in another US war.  
 
Workers, unions and people from all walks of life are coming together, uniting, working together and speaking out against AUKUS, for peace and against war.
Australian workers and their unions have always stood up for peace and against imperialist wars.  Peace is Union Business.
 
We need an independent and peaceful foreign policy that upholds the sovereignty of all countries and builds solidarity with workers and the oppressed around the world.  We must build a broad anti-war movement and fight for peace. The heroic Palestinian people are showing that protracted struggle will unite and mobilise the people against injustice and tyranny. 
 
Pease is Union Business 
Scrap AUKUS and nuclear powered submarines
Remove all foreign military bases from Australia
Close Pine Gap
Cut ties with multinational weapons corporations assisting Gaza genocide 
End US-Australia Alliance
End the Israel Zionist occupation of Palestine
Solidarity with Palestinian people
Solidarity with all workers and the oppressed around the world
Touch one Touch all!    Palestine will live! 
 
Shirley Winton
May 2024 

 

 

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For peace and an end to inter-imperialist wars!

Written by: Nick G. on 26 May 2024

 

It has become a truism in contemporary politics that you cannot believe anything until you’ve heard it denied by a US spokesperson.

A case in point was last week’s denial by US General Stephen Sklenka at the National Press Club that Australia would automatically be dragged into any US war with China over Taiwan.

Sklenka had been questioned about a statement by the director of naval submarine forces for AUKUS in the United States, Dan Packer, that the US Navy would have 440 Australians serving on board 25 American submarines under the first stage of AUKUS.

"We are completely, 100 per cent integrating them into our crew, from a complete and utter perspective – they will do everything that we do," he said.

Packer’s comments come after comments last April by US deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell that Australian nuclear-powered submarines acquired under AUKUS could eventually be deployed against China in any military conflict over Taiwan.

The US online magazine, Breaking Defense, sponsored by arms manufacturer Northrop Grumman, said that General Sklenka’s reply was designed to “mollify” Australian critics of AUKUS.

Sklenka said "I think the Australian government, the policymakers in your government will determine whether or not those Australians will participate or not.”

That, of course, is hardly reassuring at all.  The policymakers in our government are empire loyalists and betrayers of our sovereignty and independence.

It was entirely predictable of Prime Ministerial aspirant Peter Dutton, for example, when he said in November 2021, as Defence Minister, “It would be inconceivable that we wouldn’t support the U.S. in an action if the U.S. chose to take that action. And again, I think we should be very frank and honest about that, look at all the facts and circumstances without pre-committing and maybe there are circumstances where we wouldn’t take up that option, but I can’t conceive of those circumstances.”

And cheerleader for US imperialism within the current government, Richard Marles Labor’s Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, said in October 2023, Australia could not be a “passive bystander” in the event of conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

And in any case, when General Sklenka isn’t trying to “mollify” people, he sings a different tune, as he did in Darwin, in August 2022, when he said “We can talk all day long about trade deals and policy deals, but what says a heck of a lot more is who is by your side when you are in a fight. Australia is always on our side when that time comes, and we will always remember that.”

There is no doubt that inter-imperialist rivalry between China and the United States is intensifying. US imperialism is the main danger of war and the main driver of regional tensions driving the push towards war with China. 

Australia must insist on the peaceful resolution of differences with China and pursue an independent and peaceful foreign policy. US imperialism wants war to try to arrest its decline and secure its position as the head of an empire that feeds off the control of the people and resources of other countries, including Australia. Its major industries are addicted to warfare and the profits that come from the sales of arms. 

Australia must withdraw from AUKUS, expel all US military forces from Australia, and close all US military bases in our country. 

Workers must take the lead. They have nothing to gain from empire loyalism and the sale of Australian sovereignty and everything to lose by being dragged into another unpopular and unjust US war.

For socialism and anti-imperialist independence!

 

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Freshwater sawfish: Iconic species threatened by capitalist development

Written by: Nick G. on 23 May 2024

 

Photo credit: Alex Westover

Gina Rinehart should stop obsessing about destroying an unflattering portrait of herself by acclaimed Western Aranda artist Vincent Namatjira, and concentrate on how to stop destroying the Martuwarra Fitzroy River and the critically endangered freshwater sawfish!

Of seven sawfish species known to exist in the world, four are found in Western Australia. These species – the freshwater, dwarf, narrow and green sawfish – are mainly found in the Kimberley and Pilbara. The freshwater sawfish can grow to 7 metres in length and are thought to live to 30 years or more. Their relatively low rate of reproduction means that sawfish stocks are slow to recover if depleted.

The freshwater sawfish is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is totally protected from recreational and commercial fishing under WA State legislation. In addition, the freshwater sawfish is protected under Federal legislation.

Rinehart

Rinehart, Australia’s richest person with an estimated net worth in excess of A$37 billion, is a mining magnate with extensive pastoral properties.
She has a license to pump water from a tributary of the Martuwarra for her Liveringa Station, a 2,650 square kilometres property with a carrying capacity of over 22,000 head of cattle.
Last November, 17 critically endangered freshwater sawfish died in a dry creek on Liveringa Station. The news has only just been revealed. It is the second mass sawfish kill on the station. Forty sawfish died at the Kimberley pastoral station in December 2018.

Those deaths were initially covered up to protect Hancock. Documents obtained under freedom of information showcased internal government communication, with concerns about a "negative story" and a manager from a government department "trying to prevent the issue getting out to the media".

First Peoples and freshwater sawfish 

The sawfish has cultural significance for First Peoples across northern Australia. 

They are a traditional food source for Aboriginal people living along the Fitzroy River. The species features in stories and beliefs. Bunuba people call freshwater sawfish ‘galwanyi’, the Gooniyandi people call it ‘wirridanyniny’, the Nyikina, ‘pial pial’ and the Walmajarri people, ‘wirrdani’. A traditional way of catching sawfish and other species by the Nyikina and Walmajarri people is to put bark from a freshwater mangrove tree in a waterhole. This removes oxygen from the water, causing the fish to float and become easy to catch. It also makes it vulnerable to declining water quality caused by over-extraction for pastoral and other irrigation purposes.

In early 2017, Gurindji girl Lisa Smiler caught a 2.7metre sawfish in Wattie Creek near Kalkarindji, 800 kilometres south of Darwin. Gurindji elders were surprised that the fish had come so far south, but, known as "kunpulu" in the Gurindji language, it has been documented in the area in Indigenous rock art found on Revolver Creek, a tributary of the Victoria River, near Kalkarindji. The same word is used in languages along the Victoria River.

Manage water for the environment, not Rinehart’s profits
 
The Martuwarra/Fitzroy's massive catchment area spans 40 cattle stations, including Mrs Rinehart's Liveringa, Fossil Downs and Nerrima stations.

Hancock’s company reportedly wants to harvest 325 gigalitres of surface water when the river is in flood to "supercharge" the region's cattle industry.

To put that in perspective, Perth's total overall annual water use is 395GL, according to the WA Department of Water's Water for Growth report.

The Martuwarra’s flow is already impeded by Camballin Barrage, 150 kilometres upstream from the limit of tidal influence. It is thought to obstruct the upstream migration of juvenile freshwater sawfish during much of the year when the river level is below the height of the weir. Originally built to divert water for farming, the weir is now a fishing and tourism spot.

Discussions over the future of water extraction along the river must be separated from capitalist commercial considerations. 

The mighty Martuwarra Fitzroy River is the last stronghold for the sawfish and its last great nursery – which is why protecting the river is crucial for its survival.

This latest fish kill is a sad reminder of why the surface flows of Martuwarra Fitzroy River must be left alone and not put at risk for large-scale development.

Last October, under pressure from campaigners for the Martuwarra, the WA Government announced a commitment for no further surface water take from the Martuwarra Fitzroy River.  This is good, but not enough. The existing water take must be adjusted downwards as the two recent fish kills have occurred under its arrangements.

Local campaigners are determined to stop the Martuwarra becoming another Murray-Darling disaster.

 

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Free Georges Abdallah!

Written by: Campagne Unitaire G Abdallah on 21 May 2024

 

At the request of our French comrades, the CPA (M-L) has signed an appeal for the release of imprisoned Lebanese communist Georges Ibrahim Abdallah (born 2 April 1951), the longest held prisoner in Europe. 

Abdallah was arrested in 1984 by French police and convicted of the killing of a US military attache and an Israeli diplomat in retaliation for the Israeli Zionist regime’s 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon.
 

In 1999, Abdallah completed the minimum portion of his life sentence, but several requests for parole were denied. In 2003, the court granted him parole but the US Department of State objected to the court decision. Again, in 2013, Abdallah was granted parole. The US State Department’s Victoria Nuland intervened to stop his release.

The appeal reads:

At a time when the Zionist entity relentlessly pursues its genocidal historical project of annihilation of the Palestinian people from the sea to the Jordan; at a time when Western imperialists are working today as yesterday, and for more than 76 years, to politically and militarily support this entity – their organic arm in the region – and to tirelessly justify the unjustifiable; at a time when the French State is not a mere ‘accomplice’ but a fully involved player in its support for this ethnic cleansing of the land of Palestine; at a time when this same State is using all the means of its liberticidal violence to gag and criminalise any expression of denunciation of this crime against humanity and all forms of solidarity with the Palestinian people; finally, at a time when, in the very camp of this legitimate solidarity with Palestine, some are still hesitating about the form of resistance to support or are censoring themselves, Georges Abdallah - from behind the walls and after 39 years of detention at the hands of the enemy - and with him all the Palestinians involved in or alongside the Resistance are proclaiming forcefully and unambiguously: ‘Gaza will never carry the white flag of surrender! 

Georges Abdallah himself always refused to make this white flag his own, choosing never to leave the camp that was and remains his: that of the ‘historic Resistance’, of all the Resistance, of the ‘promise of the Fedayeen’. It is for this unwavering support for the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people, but also of all peoples who have joined the resistance against oppression and for their emancipation, that Georges Abdallah remains in detention today. It is for this unwavering support, this refusal to give up and this determination to stand firm that Georges Abdallah remains in the hands of the enemy - for the symbol of resistance that he remains in Lebanon but also for the example that he has always been and remains even more so today for all his supporters in France and internationally.

Today, this support is ever more massive, and ever more people are taking action to ensure that any solidarity with Palestine must also include the demand for the release of one of its most loyal fighters. Just as we did so brilliantly at the 14th demonstration in Lannemezan on 6 April in support of our comrade and the prisoners incarcerated with him, we, the signatories of this appeal, pledge once again to coordinate all our forces in support of the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people and of Georges Abdallah during the next international week of action from 8 to 15 June and to mobilise massively for the new national demonstration organised on 15 June in Lyon to support the 10th request for the conditional release of Georges Abdallah and to demand his release.

The aim of this year's demonstration will also be to express our active solidarity with two comrades from the Ligue de la Jeunesse Révolutionnaire who are supporting Georges Abdallah and who will stand trial in Lyon on 18 June for having displayed the Palestinian flag and a T-shirt calling for the release of Georges Abdallah on 7 October 2022 on the pitch of the Olympique Lyonnais stadium during a football match with the Toulouse club, which was interrupted for several minutes and broadcast on every screen. 

‘Gaza will never carry the white flag of surrender... Neither the Zionists nor any criminal force will ever succeed in breaking the will of the Resistance in Gaza’ (Georges Abdallah). 

Neither the French state nor any criminal force will ever succeed in breaking our determination to snatch our comrade from the hands of the enemy. Free them! Let us free him!

 

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Book review: A View from the Horizon, Peter Duncan, Wakefield Press 2024

Written by: Nick G. on 20 May 2024

 

One evening in 1970, a tall, sandy-haired young man came down the stairs to the basement of the Adelaide Revolutionary Socialists building in Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town.  It was surprising to see him there as he was not a revolutionary but a well-known member of the Labor Party and of the pacifist-aligned Campaign for Peace in Vietnam.

What was more surprising was the handgun he was carrying, which he proceeded to show to his friend Rob Durbridge, leader of Students for Democratic Action at Adelaide University.

Why he had the gun, and what he later did with it, I’ve never known, but it didn’t impede his political career. Three years later, he was elected to the SA Parliament, and two years after that, at age 29, was sworn in as the State's Attorney-General.

Several days ago, I attended the launch of his book of anecdotes and memoires, A View from the Horizon.

Peter Duncan, the author, was later elected to Federal Parliament in the Hawke-Keating era.

He is justifiably proud of his record as a reformist social-democrat although it was never his intention to do away with capitalism: his legislative achievements were all in the area of social policy and did not, nor could have, done away with the economic base of capitalism.

Still, working with a premier who wore pink shorts to Parliament, he was able to achieve the abolition of capital punishment, the abolition of drunkenness in public as a crime, the criminalisation of rape in marriage, the abolition of legal consequences for illegitimacy, recognition of de facto couples, the criminalisation of racial discrimination and drug law reform. But it was his Private Member's Bill, the first in the world, to decriminalise homosexuality and establish equal rights for homosexuals with heterosexuals for which he is best known.

As a reformist social-democrat, Duncan is scathing in his book about the SA Labor governments that came after his and Dunstan's. He writes:

Some people may not be aware of the phrase 'went to water': its origins lie literally in what happens to ice when it melts from a robust solid state to a malleable and wet state. My comrade, Bob Mac, wittily observed that it must have been extremely hot in those Labor Cabinets under Bannon, Rann and Weatherill, because when good people entered those Cabinets, they 'went to water'. Sentiments I endorse entirely.

Later he writes:

Labor government either try to reform society or to manage it. Unfortunately, in the past 40 odd years, the managerialists have held sway. They could just as easily have left it to the Liberals.

It would be unfair to say that these views reflect illusions about capitalism. Both reformism and managerialism accept the permanence of capitalism and the legitimacy of bourgeois parliaments as the sole avenue for both reformism and managerialism. Duncan's post-political forays into business ventures, also examined in the book, illustrate his acceptance of capitalism.

Duncan was one of the few Australian state politicians to successfully move to the federal sphere. He was the federal member for the SA seat of Makin from 1984 to 1996, holding several ministerial positions under Hawke, but having any real influence blocked by the powerful Right and Centre Left factions of the ALP.

One of his first blues with Hawke, a cigar smoker, was over a ban on cigarette smoking on domestic airlines. Duncan gave his Transport ministerial support to a private member's bill introducing the ban. He writes:

…Hawke was furious and carpeted me, to no effect…Hawke’s anger must have been on behalf of the tobacco lobby. Of course, if he had ordered a backdown from what was a very popular initiative, it would have looked as if he was under the thumb of the tobacco lobby, which was the case, since they were significant donors to the ALP at that time. 

In the same year, 1987, he recalls going into Hawke's office as the PM was on a special red phone call to transport boss Sir Peter Abeles, long acknowledged as a personal friend of Hawke. He "told Bob that as one of his ministers, I wouldn't mind having that 'red phone number', to which Hawke replied agitatedly, ‘

'And when you’ve done as much for me as Peter Abeles, you’ll be entitled to it'."

Duncan had been summonsed by Hawke to explain why his department had awarded a contract for northern coastal surveillance, on behalf of Customs, to a small operator, Amann Aviatics. The contract had previously been held by Sky West, but Amann had the superior bid and had won. 

Unknown to Duncan, Sky West had been bought cheaply by Abeles who was furious to have lost the government contract. Hawke and Gareth Evans fabricated a narrative about Amann being unable to fulfil its contract which conflicted with the department's legal advice. According to Duncan, Abeles "lobbied Hawke to get the Amann contract rescinded" and that Hawke "colluded in this perfidy". A subsequent High Court challenge by Amann upheld its right to the contract.

This is not the only example of Hawke using an official position to look after, and curry favour with, influential capitalists. Duncan records that in 1975, when Hawke was still president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, he brokered a deal between Rupert Murdoch and Jimmy Hoffa, notorious boss of the Teamster's Union in the USA, to transport Murdoch's new US newspapers across the USA at a rate which undercut his competitors.

What grease was used to achieve this deal and what benefit Hawke obtained, I have no idea. What is clear that the leader of the ACTU at the time facilitated a deal that cut US workers' income and conditions.

During his book launch, which included a discussion with friend and former SA Premier and Vietnam Moratorium Committee leader Lynn Arnold, Duncan was only once interrupted with spontaneous applause. That was when he volunteered his view that SA’s anti-protest legislation, introduced by the Malinauskas Labor government, was "despicable". It was a strong statement, made in the presence of the current Attorney-General, Kyam Maher, who had overseen the lifting of penalties for "obstruction" from $750 to $50,000 and up to three months' gaol.

Two nights later, on May 16, on the anniversary of the rushed, overnight passage of the anti-protest laws, police arrested eight people who were among hundreds who occupied and held a sit-in at a city intersection to protest the legislation. 

Significantly, and as a measure of popular opposition to the anti-protest laws, the eight were not charged under the new obstruction legislation, and were each fined only $156.

The task of removing the "despicable" legislation still remains. 
 

 

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Albanese Government Facing Charges of "Supporting War Crimes"

Written by: Ned K. on 19 May 2024

 

Last week ALP Senator Fatima Payman broke ranks with the official Party line when she spoke up in the Senate against Israel's acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. She also defended the supporters of Palestinian people's struggle using the chant, "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free."

Albanese and his Cabinet Ministers quickly tried to shut down her comments and isolate her.
However the situation only got worse for the Albanese Government as it tried to shut Senator Payman's comments down.

The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network's AMAN Foundation was endorsed as a deductible gift recipient in the May Budget last Tuesday. A couple of days later AMAN wrote an open letter to the Senate opposing a motion in the Senate which tried to condemn the chant "From the River to the Sea..."

The AMAN letter said " From the River to the Sea is a call for freedom from Palestinians and their allies, fundamentally different from the annexation and colonization promoted by Netanyahu’s ruling Likud under the same phrase." Likud’s founding statement in 1977 said “between the sea and the Jordan river, there will only be Israeli sovereignty”. This expressed Zionist religious exclusiveness and supremacy to be achieved by the extinction of Palestine and its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

The AMAN letter was followed by a director of AMAN, Moustafa Kheir leading a legal move to refer the Prime Minister to the International Criminal Court as an accessory to genocide, sending aa 92-page paper explaining the PM's complicity.

The media commentaries that Albanese may go to an early election are not surprising as each day the PM and his Government become more isolated from the people, especially western suburbs of Sydney where support for Palestinians is high.
 

 

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Workers Take Action at Osborne Naval Base in South Australia

Written by: Ned K. on 19 May 2024

 

Above:On May 9, ASC workers picketed the entrance to confront their CEO as he was leaving the base.

AMWU and CEPU members employed by the federal government's Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) have been taking industrial action against ASC to win better pay and conditions.

ASC is the federal government entity which employs highly skilled workers to build submarines and other navy vessels, including the proposed nuclear-powered submarines.

ASC also employs workers at its naval base in WA. 

However workers at ASC's naval base in Osborne are paid 18% less than workers performing the same type of work at the ASC base in WA.

AMWU and CEPU members at Osborne are taking industrial action to win "wage parity" with workers in WA.

For the last three weeks AMWU and CEPU members have held rolling stoppages but ASC has not yet agreed to workers' wage parity demand. Industrial action is sure to escalate until workers win.

ASC has had a contemptuous attitude towards workers for many years resulting in numerous disputes. 

The Australian Government says that the Osborne Naval Base workers and other defence bases are vital to the defence of Australia of Australia. However, their class position as primarily a representative of the interests of big business comes to the surface when one examines how they treat workers. At the Osborne Naval Base, the poor treatment of workers applies to support services workers at the Base as well. Most support services such as ground maintenance, security, catering and cleaning are contract workers on the low Award minimum pay. AMWU and CEPU members have been informed that in some cases the ASC cherry picks to enable contractors to pay wages on the lowest paying Award they can find.

All this is going on while the current and past federal Governments throw billions of dollars towards AUKUS and nuclear submarines designed to support a US war with China, which is little to do with defence of Australia's vast coasts and lands.  

 

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Ukraine: Comic actor, serious scenarios

Written by: (Contributed) on 17 May 2024

 

Russian military advances in the Ukraine have been viewed with alarm in Kiev and the western backers of the Zelensky presidential administration. Ukraine is faced with a long, drawn out military struggle it is unlikely to win in a straightforward manner. The development has also been accompanied by a classic Cold War spy scandal as Zelensky seeks to consolidate a reliable power-base of support with declining popularity amongst many Ukrainians and little sign of any resolution to the war.

News coverage about Russian military advances in the north-eastern part of the Ukraine around Kharkiv and their seizing of several villages was met with alarm in Kiev; Ukraine is still waiting for further military aid from US-led western supporters of the Zelensky administration. (1) It has been generally acknowledged that Ukraine is confronting a much better equipped Russian military, which has also made recent advances in the east of the country. (2)

A recent announcement from France's President Macron that 'Europe should consider sending troops to help defend Ukraine if Russian forces break through their defence lines', has been taken seriously by European leaders. (3) Increased aid to Ukraine in the form of military personnel would now appear an agenda item for consideration. The move has also been accompanied by European leaders agreeing last week to using billions of Euros seized from Russian central bank assets being allocated for Ukraine for arms sales and post-war reconstruction. (4)  

Macron also provided a bleak analysis of the problems confronting Europe: aggression from Russia in both military and cyber-warfare, it was also falling behind in the economic and technological race between the US and China, the latter being allied with Russia. (5)

Escalating diplomatic tensions between Britain and Russia have also taken place: in early May the British government expelled Moscow's defence attache on allegations of espionage
incompatible with usual diplomatic status and also removing diplomatic status from several Kremlin-owned properties which Whitehall claimed were being used for intelligence-gathering. (6) Discussions appear to have also taken place in Whitehall about confiscating the properties and donating them to the Ukraine.

The British government has apparently been deeply concerned at Russian attempts to 'choke off support for Kyiv … with … hostile state activity in countries including Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland'. (7) The recent official high-level diplomatic meetings in Budapest between China's President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is also likely to be viewed along similar lines, particularly in light of a recent statement from the Hungarian Foreign Minister that the country would not support the proposed $100 bn EU fund for Ukraine. (8) A statement from the Belgian Royal Higher Institute for Defence issued immediately after the diplomatic visit acknowledged 'Hungary as the most likely pawn of Beijing inside the EU'. (9)  

While visiting Hungary President Xi Jinping also used the opportunity to provide a diplomatic position regarding areas of interest: China believes in a multi-polar world, although not all countries have equal status; China should be allowed to be 'a dominant power in Asia, as the US is in the Americas – and as Russia wants to be in Eastern Europe'. (10) It met with complete diplomatic silence from the US and their western allies; there was, undoubtedly, a great deal of discussion behind the scenes inside western corridors of power about the proposed global blue-print!

The present situation in the Ukraine, likewise, is also causing the US and their western allies considerable concern; the announcement that the Ukrainian Security Service had foiled a plot to assassinate Zelensky in early May, has also raised serious issues about the stability of his presidential administration. (11) It was noted 'the involvement of senior officers in the alleged plot highlights the persistent problem of collaborators and moles in Ukraine's security services'. (12) It has been a matter of serious concern that since the beginning of the military hostilities following the Russian invasion, over 2,000 Ukrainians have been found to have committed treason by providing Moscow with co-ordinates for military targets and monitoring the movements of senior government officials in Kyiv. (13) Many of the bombings of infrastructure by Russia would appear not random, but targeted in order to make the Ukraine dysfunctional as a state.

While sacking the head of the security department in mid-May, Zelensky stated one of the two conspirators 'had personally provided rocket rounds, drones and anti-personnel mines for an agent to carry out the attack'. (14) The nature of the military equipment and the ability of the conspirators to access it, raise serious questions about the whole internal security system and accountability of armaments and sensitive equipment.

During the past two years since the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky had apparently survived five or six similar conspiracies aimed at assassinating him. (15)

The developments have also coincided with Zelensky's popularity falling from previous heights of 90 per cent, to around 60 per cent in recent weeks. (16) While he remains the most popular Ukrainian politician, the former comic actor is now facing some serious scenarios, as are the US and their western allies. With US-led military planners and analysts expecting Russia to ramp up offensives during the northern summer aimed at seizing large areas of the eastern Donetsk region, the unresolved issues surrounding the initial invasion in 2022 are now set to become even more problematic and show little sign of any resolution in the foreseeable future.   

1.     Russia opens new front in Ukraine, Australian, 13 May 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     We may have to fight in Ukraine: Macron, The Weekend Australian, 4-5 May 2024.
4.     Europe to buy Kyiv arms with Russian money, Australian, 10 May 2024.
5.     Weekend Australian, op.cit., 4-5 May 2024.
6.     Britain expels Moscow attache, Australian, 10 May 2024.
7.     Ibid.
8.     See: Xi vows help for 'all-weather' friend Hungary, Australian, 13 May 2024.
9.     Orban rolls out red carpet for Xi as the money rolls in, The Weekend Australian, 11/12 May 2024.
10.   Xi vows, Australian, op.cit., 13 May 2024.
11.   Ukraine foils plot to kill Zelensky, Australian, 9 May 2024.
12.   Ibid.
13.   Ibid.
14.   Zelensky fires bodyguard chief after kill plot foiled, The Weekend Australian, 11-12 May 2024.
15.   Ibid.
16.   Australian, op.cit., 9 May 2024.

 

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For the independence of Kanaky/New Caledonia: no to unfreezing the electorate! no to recolonization!

Written by: Collectif Solidarité Kanaky on 17 May 2024

 

The events in New Caledonia, to which France has just sent some two thousand police, are both a legacy of French colonialism, and an extension of France’s alignment with the US imperialists against the growing influence of China in the region.

The US wants to strengthen France’s capacity to deny independence to the Kanaks, fearing that an independent Kanaky might seek closer ties with China. 

At the same time, French prestige is at stake: France still sees itself as a Pacific power as it did when it used the Pacific as a lake for the testing of nuclear weapons. 

The unfreezing of the electorate by the French National Assembly granting citizenship to French citizens with ten-year’s residence in New Caledonia could increase the anti-independence vote by 15%.

This report is from the French-based Solidarité Kanaky collective, which is supported by ICOR affiliate Union Prolétarienne Marxiste-Leniniste (Marxist-Leninist Proletarian Union). We have translated it from French using online translation services, so the text may not read all that fluently – eds.

For the independence of Kanaky/New Caledonia: no to unfreezing the electorate! no to recolonization!

by UPml May 15, 2024

By Collectif Solidarité Kanaky

The constitutional bill to unfreeze the Caledonian electorate is being debated over the past two days in the National Assembly. This law is understood in New Caledonia as a desire to put an end to the decolonization process initiated by the Nouméa agreement. Result: a rise in tensions, multiple and powerful mobilizations throughout the country, and the threat of a conflagration. The Solidarité Kanaky collective is calling on parliamentarians to withdraw this bill.

Paris on May 13, 2024,

To try to stop this dangerous process for the future of the Kanak people, the elected representatives of the Congress of New Caledonia met this Monday, May 13 and managed to adopt, by a majority, a resolution requesting the withdrawal of this bill. on the electorate. Elected officials remind the State that they are mostly against this bill.

30 years after the Nouméa Accord , as well as the transfer of skills and their rebalancing, inequalities remain very significant, the non-respect of priority to local employment: in many sectors, it is the metropolitans (French citizens – eds.) recently arrived in New Caledonia, due to attractive conditions (salary level and indexation, advantages in terms of housing or installation support), who occupy positions to the detriment of Kanak workers with equal skills. Thus continues a long tradition of privileges offered to French people going to work overseas. 

These are conditions which make it possible to strengthen the settler colony that this Pacific territory has always represented for the French state. This is in total violation of international law. Indeed, Kanaky/New Caledonia remains a non-autonomous territory under international law, as such included on the list of countries to be decolonized according to United Nations resolution 15-14.

The Nouméa Accord is a decolonization agreement. It provided for 3 self-determination referendum consultations. The second referendum showed, in 2020, a surge in pro-independence votes: by only 9,000 votes, the “Yes” to the full sovereignty of New Caledonia was in the majority.

The conditions of the third and final referendum, at the end of 2021, are today still contested by all the independence movements, which had requested following the Covid epidemic and the confinement which prevented any campaign, the postponement of the consultation and the respecting both Édouard Philippe's promise to keep it in 2022 and the Kanak mourning period. This 3rd referendum is not recognized by the separatists who did not participate in the vote. A complaint is planned on this subject to the International Court of Justice.

Today , the French government has decided to use force. It unilaterally presents two draft laws on the institutional future of Kanaky/New Caledonia which put at stake the future of the Kanak people, and the stability of the country. They are aiming for an exit under highly contested and non-consensual conditions from the Nouméa Accord, with the consequence of a considerable worsening of divisions.

The first bill concerning the postponement of provincial elections was adopted last March, the second aims to modify the constitution which is central to the Nouméa Accord; no modification should be made by a unilateral decision of the State, without a global agreement between local political forces.

These bills revive the proven practices of putting the Kanak people in a minority in their own country, for the benefit of a local right which would like to find a majority in its favour by modifying the seats in the Congress of New Caledonia. The State is engaged in a brutal modification of the entire organization of democratic life in New Caledonia. This is a way of promoting the recolonization of the territory and the invisibility of the Kanak people!

In response, in Kanaky/New Caledonia mobilizations are growing against these two bills. More than 80,000 people in the streets on April 13 throughout the country. Historic mobilizations which are driven by the CCAT (Cellule for Coordination of Field Actions), which brings together all the independence currents. The objectives are clear: the request for the withdrawal of the bill on the unfreezing of the electorate, the non-recognition of the 3rd referendum, and the continuation of the decolonization trajectory.

This forceful move by the French state brings back sad memories and promotes an extremely dangerous dynamic of tension. The May 1 mobilization was massive and this year marked politically by this political context. The week of May 4, 2024 until May 13, 2024, was a week of continued mobilizations and actions by the CCAT. Started on May 4, 2024 – for the anniversary of the death of Jean-Marie Tjibaou on May 4, 1989, and the anniversary of the massacre of the 19 of the Ouvéa cave on May 5, 1988 – until the presentation of the text to the National Assembly this May 13, 2024. Rallies in front of all the country's gendarmes on May 5, 2024, marches in different cities every day. Many mines are already blocked, such as in Houailou and Thio. The mobilization is entering its 3rd phase.

On May 13, 2024, the two federations USTKE, THT (Air and Land Transport, Hotels) and Ports & Docks went on strike, followed by 99%.
At the port, only essential goods are released (perishable goods and medicines), all port companies have decided to close at 3 p.m. Slowing economy today. The Wetr chiefdom in Lifou has decided to close the island's airport.

At the Tontouta airport, plane flights were seriously delayed due to employees leaving their posts, disrupting the operation of services at the airport. The CCAT’s mobilizations on road access have also disrupted the country. The country is mobilizing everywhere, with roadblocks.

A mutiny broke out at the East Camp prison, where three guards were taken hostage and the RAID intervened.

Young people clashed with the police and mobile gendarmes, who fired flash-bullets at them, provoking their anger.

The country is experiencing extreme tension as it awaits the vote in the National Assembly.

Furthermore, repression is strong. A number of people prosecuted since the demonstration on 21 February went on trial on 19 April at the Nouméa Court, receiving very heavy sentences. Two demonstrators are being held in the East Camp, while five other demonstrators are free but wearing electronic bracelets. Since then, there have been a number of arrests, some people have been released but are still being prosecuted, while others are being held in pre-trial detention or in police custody. They are political prisoners!

On Monday 13 May 2024, 18 people were due to appear in court, but the trial was postponed, some simply because they were carrying the Kanaky flag! Unheard of!

The Solidarité Kanaky collective, created in 2007, brings together different associative, trade union and political organizations with the objective of organizing solidarity in France with the Kanak people in their trajectory of decolonization. Alongside the various pro-independence currents, we reaffirm our solidarity with the union and political struggles of Kanak and non-Kanak separatists, against the colonial, racist, capitalist and repressive situation of the French State in Kanaky….

This bill must be withdrawn.

Let us demand the release and dropping of charges for those accused of the current mobilizations.

Let's take solidarity actions here in France against the two bills and in solidarity with the current movement in Kanaky.

Solidarity with the CCAT and the mobilized Kanak people!

 

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The legacy of Soviet revisionism: the view from Russia today.

Written by: (Contributed) on 13 May 2024

 

Above: Anti-Putin protester dragged away by Moscow cops. Photo: www.reaction.life 

Our Party has good relations with several groups of comrades in Russia. We won’t identify the source of the following description of conditions in Russia because of the danger its authors are in under the rule of the Russian imperialist bourgeosie and Putin’s government. Unfortunately, there are some on the Left in Australia who praise Putin for his rivalry with US imperialism and the NATO bloc. There are no grounds fordoing so. All imperialism is bad and must be overthrown – eds

The legacy of Soviet revisionism and social-imperialism, which completely permeates society and bourgeois power, causes great harm to party building in our country. On the one hand, this completely discredits the ideas of communism in society, equating them with Soviet capitalism. On the other hand, the bourgeois government and the bourgeois “opposition” demagogically use images of the Soviet past for chauvinist propaganda. 

Many people in our country know about Mao Zedong from the fascist tales that were promoted by Soviet propaganda and which are enshrined in official academic discourse in books and the Internet. All this complicates the work of Marxists-Leninists in Russia. Moreover, after the strengthening of the fascist regime and the start of the genocidal war against the Ukrainian people, great-power chauvinism, racism and spy mania dominate in society. 

There is information that about 116 thousand people were subjected to Putin’s repressions. There are many neo-Nazis in the FSB and the police who torture people, and after a recent terrorist attack, neo-Nazis in police uniform festooned with swastikas publicly cut off the ear of one of the suspects on camera and forced him to eat his ear. 

Instructions from the police and army on how to properly torture people with electric shock are being actively distributed online. 

Police and Nazis organize attacks on migrants in factories and commercial establishments, inducing them to go to war. In this way, the Russian army is replenished and at the same time terror is waged against the non-Russian workers remaining at the enterprises. 

Moreover, after the failure of the military opposition in June 2023 and after Putin’s victory in the elections, the fascist regime began to fight with redoubled force against political opponents. Our organization suffers greatly from these repressions. At the same time, all street protests are now prohibited in our country and any unflattering word about the war and the Russian army faces criminal liability, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly have been destroyed. 

In our country, trade unions are subordinate to the ruling far-right United Russia party, on which President Putin relies. Because of this, the economic struggle in our country is seriously complicated.

The left forces in our country are poisoned by Soviet revisionism. The majority of Russian "communists" support Putin, the fascist war against Ukraine and external expansion into European countries. Chauvinist Russian idealist philosophers and various bourgeois concepts, such as the “civilizational approach” or “world-system analysis,” are highly respected among them. Almost all Russian communists and social democrats are sexists and homophobes, supporters of traditional family values and the death penalty.

At the moment, Russian imperialism is merging in foreign policy with revisionist regimes. First of all, with social-imperialist China and the DPRK, which most pseudo-communists perceive as a socialist turn and “anti-imperialism.”

Russian imperialists are attacking feminism, women's right to abortion, and any protection against domestic violence. We are trying to fight this by developing a feminist movement in Russia. LGBT people in Russia are recognized as terrorists, as are Jehovah's Witnesses and many other religious and social forces. Many oppositionists are labeled as “foreign agents”, after which they are deprived of economic and remaining political rights.

May 2024

 

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Inflation hits Interest Rate Relief: The Crisis Grows!

Written by: John G. on 13 May 2024

 

Fruit & Veg prices not rewarding farmers. Source: publicdomainpictures.net CCO

 

Price inflation increased from October to March by 1.6% . That was after a drop in the previous 6 months which had government ministers and economists cheering and carrying on about a series of interest rate cuts coming right up. 

On 7 May, the Reserve Bank swept those hopes aside and locked in the current rate, way higher interest rates than any in the last decade. Now talk is of a possible interest rate increase. 

Price inflation increases have killed off hopes about imminent interest rate cuts and cast a shadow after over the whole country’s economic prospects.

Economists have commented how disastrous it is to have unemployment low at 3.8% while price inflation kicks up. 

For them, “restoring economic activity” relies on unemployment being pushed up to 5%. That’s an extra 200,000 plus people thrown out of work. 

They are disappointed just 7,000 more people were without work in March. In that month, total hours worked across the nation increased by as much as it had over the previous 11 months. 

With price inflation growing and people not being put out of work in large numbers, capitalists and their top managers, top bureaucrats, bankers and government administrators set out for people to suffer much more misery. 

Policy tensions reflect different corporate monopolies interests 

There are tensions within corporate monopolies’ ranks between their economic needs and their political needs, as well as conflicts between different sectional interests. 

The economic needs are for people to be put through hardships, businesses closing, bankruptcies, people unable to get what we want to live, being paid less and consuming less. The political needs are what people will tolerate without a significant turn against the corporate monopolies rule. 

All sorts of differences flare up between financial corporations and bankers, consumer goods suppliers, mining monopolies, industrial manufacturers supplying different industries, and small and medium hospitality businesses. The businesses selling to consumers tend to support consumers being supported to keep business sales up. Others insulated from the consumer market like the mining monopolies and foreign bankers back severe cutbacks. 

 Different corporate approaches expressed in the parliamentary slanging match over spending. 

Labor has been spreading a range of support around: electricity bill reductions, heavily subsidised childcare, increases to wages in aged care, providing free Vocational education for some careers , tax cuts extended to the poorer paid, childcare subsidies, rent assistance and payments that cut energy bills before they went to households, increases to bulk billing rebates, reduced costs of pharmacy scripts, an increase in jobseeker payments , rent assistance up 15%, increased single parent payment and expanded eligibility, opening up restrictions on wage struggles for a few workers, and more. It’s a significant spending program on services and support for people in difficulty.

It is nowhere near dealing with economic problems people face. Labor’s balancing act tries to smooth out some of the harsher effects of the crisis, and stave of tendencies for the troubles to break people’s acceptance of capitalism. They work on the monopolies’ economic needs while paying attention to political needs. Hardship, but trying to hold it to a level where lots of people won’t be rethinking the need to rebel and try to make the rich corporate monopolies pay.  

Chalmers dubs his a ‘no scorched earth austerity’ policy. He presents himself ‘dealing with inflation’ while ‘supporting the economy’. Labor’s juggling defends the corporate monopolies by letting people’s consumption drop and hardships stalk the workers, making people pay to get out of the corporates’ inflation crisis while doing a bit to mitigate the worst effects.

Liberals ‘Cut Government spending policy’ for mining, finance and other corporates 

The Liberals carry on about ending the ‘spend-a-thon’. They say they would ‘contain the growth in spending’ … to ‘take pressure off this homegrown inflation’ as Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor put it after the recent Reserve Bank meeting put interest rates on hold. 

Taylor nominated cutting $209 billion he reckoned was increased spending since Labor’s election. While the Liberals are coy about details of what they would do, they are calling for cuts in spending programs on a variety of government services and support for people. 

It’s the severe policy of the corporates of mining, banking and finance; increasing the harshness of the squeeze on people. It’s not quite the ‘scorched earth’ criticized by Chalmers, but it is policy for a disaster to be imposed on people doing it hard now, more out of work, holding back wage rises, while slashing services and supports Labor has put in place easing the harshest troubles hitting people.  

Liberal’s approach: Devil Take the Hindmost

The Liberal’s and monopolies’ make a cynical and brutal calculation. They reckon better off sections of workers can tighten the belt for a while They work for the better off to turn a blind eye to the plight of poorer workers and non-monopoly business people most affected by recession, loss of consumer markets, government supports and services. The Libs work to bring workers and professionals in industries like mining, shipping and transport, banking and finance in support of the reactionary corporate monopolies’ approach. 

The Liberals try to drag working people in mortgage trouble into the reactionary corporates’ orbit too. They push harsher measures as the path to reduce the time high interest rates torment mortgage holders in trouble. They try to use it as an appeal to outer suburban workers and tradies to back mining, finance and wider foreign monopoly corporates’ interests rather than stand for the workers’ own interests in a better life. 

Insecure, casual and ABN employees cop the brunt of unemployment and hardships. The bottom 25% are crushed. The young are particularly affected by insecure work, shift cuts, high rents and interest rates. Small and medium businesses providing people’s goods and services and subbies in all sorts of industries lose customers and work. People with mortgages and renting cop even higher rates.   

For the bulk of people, the Liberals promise a hell of a lot less ‘economic activity’, a brutal devastation of many people’s lives and the futures of today’s generation of students in their later years looking to get into good paying jobs. 

The Greens perform around the edges of government administration, raising banners for more housing, caps on rents and interest rates. They float various schemes. They perform and act to advocate for Labor to improve its game. Labor does fall short and bumbles on various fronts. The Greens aren’t going to have a decisive say in parliament any time soon. Their policies attach themselves to consumer market interests. They stand against the reactionary corporate interests of mining monopolies, finance and banking corporates. 

Labor and Liberal are wrangling about which way to make capitalism work and get back to profitability, while keeping corporate monopoly rule over the country secure. That’s no real use to workers. 

This system is failing us. It can’t keep going without periodic crashes where the corporate monopolies make working people and small business suffer to prop up their system and get it back to turning over. 

Now is a time to get serious about getting organised to get rid of the dominating US corporate monopolies’ rule over the nation and free the nation and the working class. Standing out as some initial steps to defend poor workers and start to develop organisation for workers to take command: 

First: Organise poorer workers and younger people to stand against severe policies to make poor workers pay for the corporate monopolies’ crisis. Better pay, cheaper rent, lower interest rates, better government support and services, tax the corporate monopolies to relieve peoples’ hardships. 

Second: Win better-off workers, professionals and small business people to stand with poorer workers against policies of leaving people subject to severe hardship.

Third: Reject Liberal/Coalition policies to stop spending to relieve people of some effects of price inflation and high interest rates, while they also work to impose real wage cuts and much higher unemployment. No severe economic shock to get big monopolies out of trouble.   

 

 

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Rival imperialists and their Ukraine agendas

Written by: (Contributed) on 11 May 2024

 

A huge US-led military assistance package for the Ukraine has left little ambiguity in what the Pentagon appears to have assessed as a viable option for prolonging hostilities. 

The Pentagon appears to have drawn up military planning to last several years with the full support of the military industrial-complex. It remains, therefore, to be seen just how long the US-proxy war is kept running and to what cost, financially, and in terms of casualties.

A US-led military intelligence assessment from a senior NATO official about the prevailing balance of forces between the Russian Federation and Europe is best viewed in the context of recent increased western support for the Ukraine. Fears have arisen about western vulnerability to military incursion, particularly in Germany. Some recent developments in Germany have also revealed new Cold War dramas being played out, as a re-run of a previous age.

Toward the end of April an announcement about a previously delayed US$95 billion military package of which two-thirds was destined for the Ukraine, was noted as 'big business for the US defence industry for years to come'. (1) The news was greeted with optimism from Kiev as 'US military jets started flying fresh supplies from Pentagon stocks to Ukraine' the following day. (2) It was noted Lockheed Martin and RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies) were the largest beneficiaries of the already outstanding US$30 billion in federal contracts to supply Ukraine. (3)

The UK military assistance to Ukraine also rests upon previously awarded US$44 billion during the past two years. (4)

The time line of the Pentagon military planning, nevertheless, is particularly revealing; an official media release 'detailed a $66 billion package of new weapons, training and spare parts that will be sent to Ukraine over the next several years … and … Frank St. John, Lockheed's chief operating officer, said the extra funding approved last week would sustain factories for years to come'. (5) No doubt the shareholders are rubbing their hands in glee.

The US economy, it should be noted, is not in a particularly strong position and the failure of Ukraine's armed forces to dislodge areas of the country which are Russian-speaking, has revealed their inability to deal with Moscow's territorial claims. 

The announcement was also accompanied by further military support for Ukraine from US allies: Australia pledged a new A$100 million package of new drones and air defence systems, Canada has allocated $6.154 billion and Japan, $8 billion. (6) Washington appears to have issued directives for their allies to follow.

The developments are best viewed in the context of disclosures from Lieutenant-General Alexander Sollfrank, Commander of NATO's military logistics centre in Germany, who stated 'NATO leaders have suggested the alliance has as little as perhaps three years to consolidate its defences against a possible Russian offensive'. (7) The open source intelligence assessment has placed Germany in the forefront of possible further Russian military incursion.

Elsewhere, similar concerns have also been raised about Russia possibly acquiring basing facilities in Eastern Libya for their nuclear submarines, 'boosting its influence in the central Mediterranean and placing nuclear weapons on Europe's southern flank'. (8) It was also noted, furthermore, that 'Libya is a perfect stepping stone for Russia in Africa as it looks to supply its military presence in Mali, and perhaps Niger, Chad and Burkino Faso'. (9) In recent years imperialist Russia has emerged as a serious challenger to western neo-colonial power in numerous African countries.

While the open source intelligence assessment was linked to interoperability of military equipment and logistics, it noted 'another significant headache for NATO planners is the tangle of regulations restricting the exchange and transport of military equipment'. (10) The Pentagon regarded itself as hindered by numerous political and other obstacles to its military interoperability with different governments in Europe. The implications created by the outcome of the Brexit poll, were not pursued in the intelligence assessment although they clearly remain problematic for the tendering, transportation and logistics of sensitive military equipment.

A recent statement from President Macron has clarified the position of his administration although it had also shown some of the political obstacles: in offering to share France's 'nuclear umbrella to the continent … opposition groups have … voiced outrage at … putting France's nuclear arsenal, consisting of 300 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles, at the service of European neighbours'. (11)

French and German diplomacy was never been particularly straightforward: while France has long treasured a status as a relatively independent military power, Germany has fallen under strict US-led NATO defence and security provision. Similar diplomatic positions exist elsewhere in Europe, as a legacy of the previous Cold War and more recent Brexit.

Moves, for example, by Britain, which have included high-level diplomatic meetings with Germany and increased defence expenditure, were accompanied with the statement 'they were to announce plans for a joint endeavour to develop artillery systems' (12) The stated agenda is one thing, the hidden agenda quite different; the sabre-rattling is intended to prop up the present Conservative administration in Westminster, which has declining support in election year along with Britain not being diplomatically part of Europe for trade, transportation and logistics. Placing sensitive military equipment on the back of a truck destined to Germany, is not as straightforward as the Pentagon would wish.

It is also what has not been openly revealed about Germany's perceived vulnerability which, nevertheless, remains highly relevant; the resurgence of the far-right in the eastern part of Germany and the former GDR, has clearly proved problematic. Forthcoming elections in Germany for the European Parliament are likely to see the far-right Afd being able to create a substantial political power-bloc. In recent years the Putin administration in Moscow has developed strong political links with far-right groups as a means of extending their influence into Europe and elsewhere.

It has been officially noted, for example, that Australia 'is becoming a growing hotbed for far-right extremism given the rapid proliferation of far-right groups and mainstreaming of extremist thought'; many of the groups are openly pro-Russian and have created a huge case-load for the security services. (13)  

Cold War dramas, the logical outcome, are also being played out on the daily basis.

Russian diplomacy toward far-right political groups has also coincided with the discovery of four spies, including one allegedly Chinese agent, working as a parliamentary assistant to Maximilian Krah, a member of the European far-right inside the European Parliament. (14) European countries, in the grip of Cold War paranoia, fear the emergence of a fifth column inside their political systems, particularly lurking under the guise of pro-Russian allies and their Chinese counterparts.

The recent increased US-led military budget for Ukraine would appear aimed at locking Russia into a longer-term war as a means of draining their economy, while deflecting their
attention away from further possible planned incursions elsewhere in Europe and Scandinavia. The US-led military planning might, however, backfire in a spectacular fashion, pushing Russia diplomatically closer to China and draining the US and western economies.


1.     Ukraine aid lifts defence firms amid profit, Australian, 30 April 2024.   
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Marles' $100m aid for Ukraine, Australian, 29 April 2024; and, Ukraine deserves more support, Editorial, Australian, 29 April 2024.
7.     NATO must prepare for Russian attack on Europe, generals warn, Australian, 30 January 2024.
8.     Russia eyes nuclear subs base at Tobruk, Australian, 1 February 2024.
9.     Ibid.
10.   NATO, Australian, op.cit., 30 January 2024.
11.   We can share nuclear arms with Europe, says Macron, Australian, 30 April 2024.
12.   Britain to raise military spending, Australian, 25 April 2024.
13.   See: ASIO reveals up to 40% of its counter-terrorism cases involve far-right extremism, The Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 22 September 2022; and, The shape of far-right extremism in Australia, The Strategist, ASPI., 21 March 2019; and, Scott Morrison signs on with global political network home to 'intolerant far right', The New Daily, 14 September, 2022.
14.   Berlin detains fourth 'China spy', Australian, 25 April 2024.

 

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What is this economic crisis?

Written by: John G. on 11 May 2024

 

Free Food Pantries have sprung up across cities and towns

The capitalist economic system and US imperialist domination of Australia is very destructive for this country and the working class. 

For capitalist economists, commentators and planners, economic activity is measured by stock exchange prices and corporate monopoly profits. Just look at ‘financial’ pages in the press, on TV and in digital media news.  
 
For workers economic activity is measured in wages and what we can get for them. We are looking for wages, government benefits, production and sale of goods and services for people to live. 
 
They are completely contradictory outlooks, the contrast sharpened in times of crisis. 
 
Capitalist economics can only conceive of people’s well-being - having good homes, food on the table, education and healthcare - as an outcome of the capitalist economic system ticking over making profits, propped up by workers’ hard yakka. 
 
Crisis rescue operations for bankers, mining monopolies and corporate giants generally rely on carving holes in reasonable living standards and driving heaps of people into hardship. They can only consider a system with corporate well-being as the foundation on which people can eke out some life. 
 
But what is happening now? We all know our families and friends are in a recession. Our incomes don’t satisfy our wants, just create worries over making ends meet. When you think about it, it’s really dumb relying on the system created by, developed by and dependent on capitalist investments as the starting point to sustain people. 
 
All it’s set up to sustain is the accumulation of profits, not the well-being of people. 
 
In this interest rates/ price inflation crisis, we all know, our lives are poorer. 
 
Small and medium business sales are slow. That pressures them to cut margins and cuts costs to keep sales up. They face high rents and high interest rates on loans for mortgages, stocks and machinery. Dropping turnover, lowered margins, and debt mean small and medium businesses are not able to drop prices.
 
They are forced to hold and increase prices in many categories. 
 
They are in recession. Bankruptcies and closures are rapidly increasing. According to debt monitoring firm CreditorWatch, more Australian businesses are now in the hands of external administrators than ever before, rising more than 22 per cent since this time last year.
 

Bonza airlines one of the latest to hit the wall

 
At the heart of the crisis, workers are in recession. 
 
Current economic news outlines numerous features of the crisis the country’s in, and details how we and others are suffering.  They can help when we are looking at ways to fight our way out of it. 
 
Customers are in trouble, sales down, consumption in recession
 
An MYOB survey of 1000 firms with less than 200 employees across the country found pressure on customers had disrupted their customer purchases. 
 
28% are buying fewer products;
20% have moved to cheaper goods and services;
20% put off purchasing altogether.
That’s 68% of firms seeing customers spending less. 
 
Just 6-7% of firms reported an increase in sales. 
 
It is a national recession in working peoples’ consumption.
 
There were few differences between small, medium and large businesses, and was common to both cities and regional areas. 
 
Retail Sales data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a 0.4% fall in the value of sales economy wide in March alone. In the year to the end of March retail sales grew by just 0.8%. Only the DotCom crash, the GST introduction and the pandemic saw such slow growth in the last 35 years. The fall in sales occurred on both real value and in volume of goods and services. 
 
People are being driven to consume less in volume and in quality, reflected in cheaper goods and services.  In the Pandemic the low growth happened when the population went down. The effect was that ‘per capita growth’ didn’t fall anywhere near as much as now. Current population growth is reported at 3.6%.
 
Sales of clothing, footwear and personal accessories were 4.3% down, and department store sales down 1.6% in the year. Household spending on household goods, cafes, restaurants, hotels, vehicles, and tobacco products, takeaway was also down. Food retailing was up 0.9%. In the December quarter, household discretionary spending was down 0.9%. Eating is not discretionary. With spending on cafés, takeaway and restaurants down, eating at home and taking lunch to school and work makes sense where you’ve got the income. 
 
Prices and wages
 
Prices for education, health, rent, food, fuel and power, and insurance drove inflation rises. Rent rose 7.8% in the year even with the Commonwealth rent assistance rise providing some relief. A nationwide housing shortage guarantees rent inflation will continue.  Insurance prices rose 16.4% in the year, driven by higher costs of reinsurance and ‘natural’ disasters.
 
Education prices were up 5.9% in the March quarter alone, with prices across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. 
 
The increases in household incomes was 4.2% last year according to the Bureau of Statistics. Employee households recorded a rise in living costs of 6.5% over 2023, down from a peak annual rate of 9.6% in April-June 2023. Household incomes were 2.3% lower than the rise in employee household living costs. 
 
Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force reports for March 2024, found  
    
   unemployment rate increased to 3.8%.
    participation rate decreased to 66.6%.
    employment decreased to 14,259,900.
    employment to population ratio decreased to 64.0%.
    underemployment rate decreased to 6.5%.
    monthly hours worked increased to 1,956 million.
    full-time employment increased by 27,900 to 9,853,800 people.
    part-time employment decreased by 34,500 to 4,406,100 people.
 
 
House prices nationwide were up 11.1% in the year to January according to Corelogic. They have kept rising since, though there are minor falls in some localities, notably a 0.1% drop in Melbourne in April. 
 
Population Growth masks the extent of Recession
 
The drop in consumption of day-to-day goods and services has been happening despite a rapid growth in population of 3.6% in the year to March. 
That means the 0.8% retail sales growth in the economy to the end of March translates to a 2.8% drop in sales per capita, a recession in homes across the country. Food sales per capita also dropped 2.7%. Little wonder there is a scramble to bad-mouth and direct the initial distress at supermarket monopolies.
 
Now population increase is being slowed by tightened visa requirements, particularly on international students. That will add to pressures on sales and consumption, giving businesses more headaches.
 
Some International features
 
The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that the global unemployment rate in 2023 was 5.1 per cent, with number of unemployed and underemployed close to 435 million, remaining high. Average hours worked remain below their 2019 pre-pandemic levels. The number of workers living in “moderate poverty” – earning less than US$3.65 per day per person – increased by about 8.4 million in 2023. The number of informal workers reached 2 billion.
 
Over $15 trillion was added to the global debt mountain in 2023, bringing the total to a new record high of $313 trillion. The global debt-to-GDP ratio is 330 per cent.
 
Real interest rate increases in 2023 made the debt burden on many poorer countries unbearable. Since March 2020, Argentina, Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Ukraine defaulted on their government debt, and Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan and Tunisia are in danger of defaulting.
 
Working people and small and medium businesses are carrying the burden of the slowdown of the capitalist cycles of production and sale for profit. 
 
Contradictions within countries worldwide have intensified. Internal civil conflicts are rife. Imperialism is meddling and interfering everywhere. Proxy wars by client states raised tensions. Preparations for war between rival nuclear-armed imperialist camps haunt the globe. Divisions grow within imperialist homelands. 
 
National Liberation struggles are reaching new high points. People’s struggles for freedom from imperialism and its local agents grow.
 
This crisis drags on and capitalism’s hold is weakening. Imperialism is strong but faces billions of people whose lives the imperialist system is devastating.
 
While capitalist crisis keeps hitting people, the call for workers’ power has plenty of fertile soil in which to flourish.   

 

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Free Palestine rally leads Melbourne May Day march

Written by: Bill F. on 6 May 2024

 

Highlight of this year’s May Day in Melbourne was the extended march through the city streets led by Free Palestine supporters who had already marched up to Trades Hall from the usual Sunday rally at the State Library.

This more than doubled the numbers who had earlier turned out for the annual May Day rally, this year falling on May 5th. At least 2000 at a guess.

Prior to this, the May Day event attracted a number of trade union members and activists from Construction unions, Plumbers, Maritime workers, Rail Tram and Bus, Nurses and Midwifes, student unions and individual unionists.  

Various radical, revolutionary and environmental groups set up stalls and handed out literature, while banners and placards supported the Palestinian struggle against Israeli Zionism and condemned US imperialism and its criminal AUKUS war pact.

The popular Trades Hall Choir delivered its usual stirring songs of struggle, and a guest speaker from the Construction union deplored the falling living standards faced by working people whose wages and conditions were being whittled away in the face of ever rising costs and lack of social services. Housing, decent education and accessible and affordable healthcare were all getting further out of reach for many families. He called for workers to take action, to increase the level of struggle and not let the bosses get away with it any longer.

The second guest speaker exposed the rotten AUKUS agreement embraced by the Albanese Labor government. Her powerful speech pointed out that it was a war pact designed to tie Australia into a US instigated war with China rather than anything to do with the defence of Australia. She pointed to the sinister role of the US controlled Pine Gap spy base in supporting Israel’s genocide in Gaza, and the danger of this being a nuclear target in any war with China. “The only imminent threats to the Australian people’s safety and security come from the aggressive AUKUS war alliance, the US military bases across the country, the secretive US controlled Pine Gap spy base, the nuclear weapons carrying US bombers and warships in our ports and airfields, the AUKUS nuclear powered submarines in our ports, the deadly nuclear waste stored on the lands of the First Nations people, the US-Australia Alliance and the devastation of climate crisis. These are the real threats to our safety and sovereignty.”

She continued, “The Palestinian struggle for liberation is setting the world on fire, exposing the face of imperialism behind the wars of aggression, invasions, military occupations, political and military coups and foreign interferences in countries.”

When the Free Palestine rally marched up, they were given a warm welcome as they joined in the May Day crowd, livening things with drums and music. This continued as the whole combined rally marched through the city and then returned to Trades Hall, chanting “Free, free Palestine!”, “The workers united, will never be defeated!”

On the return to Trades Hall, two Palestinian speakers addressed the crowd, expressing the determination of the Palestinian people to win their liberation in facing the genocide and expressing respect for the solidarity shown to them by people across the world, including many Jewish supporters.

The final speaker was the Chairperson of the Melbourne May Day Committee, Len Cooper. He also denounced the role of US imperialism in financing and arming Israel’s aggression and racist genocide in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Melbourne May Day rally ended with the ceremonial burning of a US effigy and flag, which delighted the crowd and was a fitting recognition of the main enemy of the oppressed people of the world.

 

 

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Free Palestine Rally Puts University of Adelaide in Spotlight

Written by: Ned K. on 7 May 2024

 

On Sunday, 5 May, supporters of Palestinian peoples struggle against Zionist Israeli government and its imperialist backers once again rallied on steps of Parliament House in Adelaide.

The speakers at the rally included students from University of Adelaide who joined students from campuses throughout USA and other countries and set up a camp on the University grounds.

The speakers let people know that the University of Adelaide was up to its eyeballs in actively seeking more and more involvement of US military companies like Raytheon and Boeing on campus, with the University facilitating research for new weapons of destruction to be used by the USA and Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The students vowed to continue their campus occupation until the University broke all ties with these corporate merchants of death and destruction.

Following the student speeches the MC of the rally advised that the usual route of the demonstration that followed the Sunday rally would divert to the grounds of the University to join the student occupation.

However the police advised that if the march was going to end at the University grounds,  marchers would be banned from taking to the streets and had to walk to the University via the footpaths!

This was not received well by those at the rally!

In response people took to the street and there were so many people who did so that the police backed off and people marched on the streets as they had done every second Sunday for the last seven months in support of Palestinians.

It seemed like the exposure of the University’s deep involvement with the military corporations has hit a vulnerable spot in the image the University and indeed state and federal governments like to build of the University of Adelaide.

The University is on the verge of a merger with the University of SA which is being portrayed as a great opportunity for young people of South Australia to learn in a world class University!

Students want to learn subjects that benefit humanity and the planet. As expressed by them today, they do not want to be researching new weapons for mass destruction.

 

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How the Australian state machine breeds terrorism

Written by: Louisa L. on 6 May 2024

 

Anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside Phillip Street Court, Sydney. Wiki Commons Image courtesy of the SEARCH Foundation, from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales

In 2003, when Australia joined the US invasion of Iraq, Coalition politicians were obsessed with terrorist threats. 

They ignored the fact that imperialist war is terrorism at its worst. They ignored that Sadam Hussein was an enemy of Al Qaeda. They knew Iraq would become another wartime training ground for terrorists to overflow from the US war on Afghanistan declared just two years earlier, after 9/11.

Yet for years there was only one terrorist attack here, at Sydney’s Lindt Café. The perpetrator was on bail for 43 sexual assaults, and organising his wife’s murder. Not terrorism?

But what has shifted in 20 years since then, for seven teens, at least one with mental illness and disability, to be charged with terrorism? With their right to silence and independent lawyers denied, much reduced levels of evidence needed, and presumption of innocence reversed, not guilty verdicts are unlikely. 
But surely, even with churchgoers quickly defending their priest, a trained terrorist had time to inflict a fatal blow.

US imperialism and traitors like John Howard

People capitalism calls terrorist usually take individual action because they feel powerless against injustice. They don’t understand real change comes from mass action. 

In 2003, at one southwestern Sydney school with a high Muslim enrolment, every staff member, from teachers to cleaners, wore purple ribbons against the war. When students walked out statewide, the school was almost empty of older students of all backgrounds. At a peace assembly, the principal told the whole school, “We should not go to war with Iraq. If we don’t stop the war, at least we will have tried.”

He knew 94 percent of Australians supported his stand. The Muslim community knew their enemies were US imperialism and traitors like John Howard, not our peoples.

And now? At the same school, students have been suspended for refusing to remove the keffiyeh. They’ve been hauled to the principal and berated for drawing Palestine flags on their hands, or wearing Palestine bracelets. 

Teachers at some schools refused orders by principals to remove keffiyehs. Those principals mostly backed down, knowing they risked community backlash.

Staff and students have been told not to discuss Palestine at all. Repeat that at schools across the region. It’s statewide department policy, backed by the government. To their credit, some principals refuse to cave in to this abusive, US imperialist-driven policy.

So, troubled young people without guidance went underground to seek answers.

Funding cuts bite

The NSW Teachers Federation took a good stand on Palestine, much to the fury of Zionists. It has supported staff. But it’s nowhere near as strong as it once was. Funding cuts have savaged the state system. 

State schools enrol the vast majority of students with disabilities, especially the most complex and serious ones. In April, the Australian Education Union revealed, each state school student eligible for Commonwealth disability payments, on average, receive $2,941 while private school students get $10,000. 
The parents of the teenager charged over the stabbing said their son had severe behaviour issues at home and at school. Did that teenager get the help he needed?

Did the school he attended have teachers to staff each class? For two decades, the union repeatedly warned governments of predicted teacher shortages. Ignored! Last year shortages hit with a vengeance. Especially in poorer areas, students frequently had no teachers. Parents who could, turned to private schools. State school enrolments plummeted.

 Instead of tackling the problem, the government squeezed teachers. It demanded deputies and assistant principals head back to classrooms. It didn’t know that in primary schools they’d never left!

For years, elitist private schools with higher wages, better conditions and fewer discipline problems (because any student with problematic behaviours would never be enrolled) lured teachers into their system. 

Collective antidote

Meanwhile, an epidemic of teacher-sackings plagues the state system. It takes just three months to sack a teacher. 

There are still many strong principals who support staff. But authoritarian behaviour and culture is rewarded with promotion. Secretive “Teacher Improvement Programs”, TIPs, are largely a tick-box affair for supervisors. Now union reps are being sacked, or pressured to resign beforehand.

All unions have been systematically disempowered by repressive industrial policies of successive Labor and Coalition governments since the mid-1980s. There’s an old union saying, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all’. Even unions that lead successful wages’ strikes can’t survive if they can’t protect their members. 

In 1970, unionists round the country were strong enough ‘to stop work to stop the Vietnam War’. Despite being bigger than the three 1970s anti-war protests, in 2003 the working class didn’t go on strike against Australian war against Iraq. Unions were no longer strong enough.  

Both war and terrorism arise naturally from capitalism. Collectivism, embodied in the working class, is its antidote. It’s time to do much more, learn much more, build organisation and strength. Capitalism is the problem. It has to go!

 

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May Day rally in Adelaide – strength in diversity in action.

Written by: Ned K. on 5 May 2024

 

On Saturday 4 May, about 2000 people rallied at Tarntanya Warma (Elder Park) and in high spirits marched to Tarntanyangga (Victoria Square)

The rally and march was a "sea" of flags of different colours from the Aboriginal flag to many union flags to Palestinian flags, carried by unionists in their equally colourful union t-shirts.

The rally started with a Welcome to Country from Kaurna woman Rosalind Coleman.

She emphasized the importance to Kaurna people of the starting point of the rally and said that the name of Tarntanyangga, where the march was to end, referred to the red kangaroo and kangaroos only move forward and that was a timely message in itself for a May Day celebration.

The main speaker at the rally was a United Workers Union member who worked in Early Childhood Education. She said that Early Childhood Education workers were one of the first sections of the working class to put the Albanese Government's multi-employer bargaining laws to the test. Thousands of low paid almost entirely women workers in the sector were ready to take industrial action against private for-profit corporate childcare centre owners if they did not agree to at least 25% wage increases as a first step towards valuing the work performed by mainly women workers in what was now an essential service.

A representative of the ACTU spoke about the declining real living standards in Australia manifested in rising prices of food and household goods and the crisis of lack of affordable housing.

The welcomed historic presence of Palestinian flags and members from Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) was a reflection of the ACTU's expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their recent demand that the Australian Government end all military trade with Israel. 

The combination of Kauna leader Rosalind Coleman's Welcome to Country, the diversity of unions represented at the rally and the presence of Palestinian flags and AFOPA was a timely reminder that for May Day 2024, the call - "WORKERS AND OPPRESSED PEOPLES OF THE WORKD UNITE" is as powerful and relevant as ever.

 

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Australia and Imperialism in the 21st Century

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Organisation is the central aspect of the revolutionary question of arming the masses

Written by: Adam K, on 3 May 2024

 

There has been recent media coverage of the creation of a National Firearms Register with accompanying images of the destruction of firearms surrendered under the Permanent National Firearms Amnesty which began on 1 July 2022. Nearly 30,000 firearms and other weapons have been surrendered under the Amnesty. When these measures were first suggested, in 2018, we discussed the issue in the following article, which we thought it timely to reproduce – eds.

 

Guns and gun control laws are once again a topic for discussion following the news of yet another mass shooting in the United States, this time at a high school in the state of Florida. It is a topic that sparks a wide range of responses from various perspectives.

For Marxist-Leninists it is imperative to understand that the most basic element of a correct revolutionary approach to the gun question is that of organisation.
 
Marxism recognises that fundamentally the State is the instrument for the rule of one class over another. In capitalist society that means the rule of the capitalist class (or bourgeoisie) over the working class (or proletariat). In a superficial democracy, like Australia, the ruling class may first try to maintain its rule through deception via institutions like parliament, but ultimately this rule of the bourgeoisie rests on force and violence. It relies on the police, the law, the courts and the jails. Always backing up this force and violence in case it isn’t enough is the central component of state power: the army. The armed force of the capitalist class can only be overthrown by the armed force of the ideologically and organisationally prepared working class. This is a historically proven universal truth and a basic principle of Marxism-Leninism.
 
This is one reason why some communists and revolutionaries often argue against the call for legislation to prohibit and restrict the ability of ordinary civilians to acquire firearms. In short, they argue it renders the working class unarmed and leaves the state and its agents with a monopoly on armed force. While this is partially true, it still neglects the most decisive factor in the question of armed struggle between the classes; the ideological and political preparation and organisation of the working class into a fighting force under the leadership of the Communist Party.
 
Failure to understand and give this most decisive factor its due importance often means falling in to the trap of bourgeois legalism and overemphasising the importance of this or that particular legal reform in order to defend the working class. From a revolutionary perspective, the legality of the working class owning guns is largely irrelevant. The arming of the organised working class in a revolution will not be dependent on any legal right to do so and acquiring arms will mean doing so by any means available. Sufficient preparation and organisation, as well as correct leadership from the proletarian party, will solve these problems at the appropriate time. 

Marx on arming the proletariat

There is a quote by Marx that is often used by those who argue against the introduction of laws to restrict the sale of firearms to ordinary people to give their argument a ‘Marxist’ justification.
 
“Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.” – Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League, March 1850
 
This cherry-picked quote taken out its historical context, and indeed the context of the surrounding text, seems to justify the arming of the working class under any pretext.


 In 1850, the working class of Europe had already experienced two years of revolutionary upheaval against the remnants of feudalism. In France, the revolutionaries were successful in abolishing the monarchy, but in Germany the revolution was mostly defeated. By 1850, the seizure of power by the petty bourgeois democrats in Germany was imminent, and Marx foresaw that they would turn on the workers’ movement the moment they achieved power. Marx was calling for the workers’ party to “go into battle with the maximum degree of organization, unity and independence, so that it is not exploited and taken in tow by the bourgeoisie as in 1848.”

He was not arguing for the spontaneous and haphazard arming of the working class masses regardless of historical context, or arguing in defence of any existing bourgeois legality to keep and bear arms, but was calling for the maximum organisation of the working class to defend its own independent agenda in a volatile revolutionary situation.
 
The centrality of the element of organisation to Marx’s argument is clear if we read the quote in full.
 
“To be able forcefully and threateningly to oppose this party , whose betrayal of the workers will begin with the very first hour of victory, the workers must be armed and organized. The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition, and the revival of the old-style citizens’ militia, directed against the workers, must be opposed. Where the formation of this militia cannot be prevented, the workers must try to organize themselves independently as a proletarian guard, with elected leaders and with their own elected general staff; they must try to place themselves not under the orders of the state authority but of the revolutionary local councils set up by the workers. Where the workers are employed by the state, they must arm and organize themselves into special corps with elected leaders, or as a part of the proletarian guard. Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”
 
Armed struggle and Australia’s revolution
 
The debate over gun control laws has largely been settled in Australia for the time being, and there is little desire among the Australian people to see the sort of lax gun laws or gun culture that exists in the US.
 
Although notable exceptions exist such as the war of resistance by First Nations people to British colonisation (known as the Frontier Wars) and the Eureka Stockade, historically speaking armed struggle has not been a major form of struggle in Australia. One of the main reasons for this has been the strong hold of the illusions of bourgeois parliamentary democracy and the faith of the people in the forces of social democracy and the trade unions which have time after time been used to defuse and funnel the anger of the people back into the peaceful and legal struggle of the ballot box.
Despite this, the people’s movement is continuously met with the force and violence of the state. We see examples of this with draconian legislation against civil liberties, police assaults, the increasing militarisation of the police force, and the deployment of increasing numbers of riot police and their willingness to deploy non-lethal chemical weapons at otherwise peaceful rallies and protests.


Sooner or later, the people will need to confront this state violence. The fact remains that the highest form of revolution is the seizure of political power by armed force. This is a truth and Australia is no exception. 
 
Following our theory of a two-stage continuous revolution, the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) analyses the current stage of Australia’s revolution to be the anti-imperialist universal struggle for independence under the leadership of the working class as the first stage on the road to socialism.
 
To overthrow imperialist domination will require intense revolutionary struggle by Australia’s working class and its allies, and will inevitably be met by the counter-revolutionary force and violence of the reactionary ruling class. To defend against this counter-revolutionary violence the Australian people will need to be well organised for armed struggle.
 
The question of arming the anti-imperialist forces will inevitably arise as the cause of anti-imperialist independence and revolution becomes a mass question. Firstly, this requires the Australian people to be convinced by their own experiences that such a revolution is necessary. But it also requires the Party to be organised deep in the heart of the working class and among other progressive strata of the people, learning from them and in turn teaching them, step-by-step raising their ideological and political understanding. It means building organisations and institutions that can serve their immediate needs and further their struggles, directing them against the main enemy of imperialism in Australia.
 
It is with this spirit of serving the people that our Party and its members approach the revolutionary tasks that lay before us.   

 

 

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May Day Solidarity - Victory for Palestine!

Written by: Alice M. on 30 April 2024

 

Palestinian Resistance Isolates Zionism and US imperialism

By Alice M.
Palestine’s fight for liberation is turning the US imperialist dominated world upside down.

Seven months of relentless Israeli slaughter of the people of Gaza and the West Bank has only spread the flames of Palestinian resistance and the solidarity of the great majority of peoples of the world.

Zionist Israel and its US-led imperialist backers stand isolated and exposed in their massacre of 34,000 Palestinians, nearly half of whom are children. Thousands more are still buried in mass graves under the rubble when Israel bombed countless homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, child care centres, kindergartens and a university.

Not satisfied, Israel is now intent on starving the remaining Palestinian population of Gaza.

Heroic resistance
Yet, Israel, the world’s bloodiest military after the US, armed to the teeth with the most advanced high tech and intelligence weaponry, militarily and politically supported and funded in trillions of dollars by US imperialism, has failed to extinguish the 76 years of the Palestinian  resistance to Zionist Israel’s brutal occupation and oppression.

The seven months of Israeli genocide in Gaza and the West Bank to wipe out the existence of Palestinians, has only strengthened the unity and determination of the 5 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank to resist and fight for their liberation.

Their steadfast fight against the brutal colonial occupation by the fascist Israeli state is an inspiration and a beacon for millions around the world oppressed by colonialism, capitalism and imperialism.

Israel’s genocide and the heroic Palestinian resistance is mobilising millions around the world in solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle.
Millions across the world support Palestine’s struggle for liberation. Palestinians are showing that peoples of the world have the absolute right, and duty, to resist oppression, exploitation and fight for national liberation and freedom.

Seven months into Israel’s invasion and genocide in Gaza and mass rallies of hundreds of thousands across the world in solidarity are growing in numbers and influence.  The Zionist Israeli state and US imperialism are exposed and isolated. 

People’s mass organisations and actions against Israel’s genocide and complicity by imperialist powers and their lackeys, like Australia, have spontaneously sprung up in all corners of the world. People of the world are demanding Israel be boycotted, charged with genocide, and prosecuted before the International Court of Justice for its genocidal war crimes.

US and its lackeys condemned 
The Palestinian struggle has widened the gulf between the people and ruling classes of the capitalist world, sharpening contradictions between the exploited and their exploiters.

Capitalist and imperialist drive for control of the world’s resources, markets and bigger profits are behind Israel’s colonial occupation and genocide. Palestinian liberation is sharpening struggles between the governments of capitalist and imperialist countries and the people.  Palestinian resistance is exposing the leading role of US imperialism and its military industrial complex as accomplices in the genocide.

People power from below is demanding the ruling classes and their governments condemn Israel, stop exporting weapons and aid to Israel.  Dock workers are striking, refusing to handle weapons bound for Israel, banning Israeli shipping lines and blockading international ports.   

Across the world communities are blockading multinational weapons manufacturers’ factories. Students are occupying their universities, demanding multinational weapons corporations are kicked out of universities.  Tens of thousands protesting against Israel and the US are being arrested in the US and Israel.   

Since the start of Zionist Israel genocide in October 2023 in Gaza, growing numbers of Jewish people are condemning Zionism and protesting against Israeli genocide and the 76 years of Zionist occupation of Palestine.  Jewish Anti-Zionist organisations and groups have been formed across the world.

In Australia, Jews Against Zionism, Jews Against the 1948 Occupation, Loud Jew Collective and the reconstituted progressive Jewish Council of Australia are active in the Palestine solidarity movement. The anti-zionist Jewish Council of Australia has commended the university protests and rejected claims that they are antisemitic. https://www.jewishcouncil.com.au/media/university-encampments-are-no-threat

In the US, ruling class support for the Zionist Israel genocide is deepening contradictions between the people and monopoly capital, exposing the US hypocrisy. Democrats are losing their supporters as Biden desperately tries to win them back for the next election, crying crocodile tears, asking Israel nicely not to kill “civilians”, and in the same breath sending $26 billion in military aid to assist Israel in its genocide.

The complicity of US-led imperialist powers in the genocide of Palestinian people is exposing the reality of US global “rules-based order”, hastening its political demise. No longer can US imperialism and its lackeys, like Australia, hide their support and complicity in genocide. 

Australia – puppet of US imperialism
As in everything, the puppet Labor government is dancing to the tune of US imperialism, unwilling to veer one small step away from supporting US world domination and colonial Zionist Israel.  In the UN it loyally follows the US and rubber stamps every move to protect Israel’s brutal occupation and genocide.
Meanwhile, US imperialism uses its Pine Gap spy base to provide military intelligence and co-ordinates to assist the murderous Israeli military’s genocide in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Australian people are disgusted with the Labor government’s complicity in Israel’s and US massacres. In the middle of Israel’s killings of 34,000 Gazans the Australian government signed a $917 million contract with Elbit, Israel’s biggest developer and manufacturer of weapons.  That’s $1billion gifted to one of the world’s biggest perpetrators of war crimes. 

Zionist Israel in crisis
Israel itself is deeply divided, beginning to implode and on the brink of open fascism.

Fault lines and conflict of interests and strategies are opening up between Israel and the US, its biggest and most important sponsor without whose support Zionist Israel would not have survived as long as it has. Israel is a crucial base for the US economic, political and military dominance in the region.  Palestinian resistance is uniting and mobilising the masses of the Middle East against US imperialism.

Israel’s genocide is showing the world the reality of 76 years brutal colonial occupation. The world is learning about Nakba, about Gaza as a concentration camp created by Israel. About violent and armed Zionist settlers, supported by the Zionist state and Israeli army, stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank and brutally evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

The world is learning about Israel stealing water and destroying Palestinian farms and olive groves in the West Bank, deliberately making life unbearable for Palestinians to force them to leave or die.  

The world is learning about the thousands of Palestinian prisoners as young as 10 or 12 rotting for years in Israeli gaols for merely throwing a rock at an Israeli Occupying Force (IOF) soldier, for flying a Palestinian flag.  The world is witnessing Israel’s horrific apartheid.

But the Palestinian struggle is turning the tide and shifting the ground for all the oppressed peoples of the world.

As long as the Palestinian people control their own destiny, they will surely be victorious.

Close Pine Gap!
Kick Elbit out of Australia!
Ban Zim and all Israeli shipping companies from entering Australian Ports!
Impose BDS against Israel!
Support Palestine Liberation!
Independence for Australia from all super powers!

 

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May Day – unite to lift the level of struggle

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 1 May 2024

 

We are reprinting the font page of the paper Vanguard to be distributed free of charge at May Day rallies. The entire paper can be downloaded by clicking the link "Latest Publications" on the left hand side of our homepage. Our Party's statement follows:

 

May Day 2024 sees Australian workers and their communities gripped in a major cost of living crisis. 

Aid agencies and food distribution centres report that it is no longer the unemployed and homeless seeking their support: people in low-paid jobs, people struggling to pay escalating rents and those with mortgages caught out by rising interest rates show that the virus of economic crisis is spreading through the wider community.

No real relief is in sight.

It's called imperialism

At the same time, there are now more billionaires in our country, and their wealth has increased. According to Forbes magazine, Australia’s 50 richest tycoons are collectively better off from a year ago. They added $9 billion or around 4% to take their combined wealth to $222 billion.

On the global stage imperialism continues to wreak havoc. The division of the world into rich and poor nations is backed by oppressive state machines and military pacts. In addition to those serving the needs of US imperialism, there are those of its rivals, Russian imperialism and Chinese social-imperialism. They franticly compete to develop new killing machines and new areas of control. 

Artificial intelligence is identifying people to kill without the need for human oversight. It is being used in Gaza where the Zionists say that it is acceptable to kill 100 citizens using AI “identification” in order to take out one alleged Hamas operative by drone attacks.

In flagrant violation of UN treaties on Outer Space, US imperialism has created the Space Force to ensure US military control of the Space domain.

Australia has agreed to pay the fantastic sum of $368 billion to surrender its sovereignty to US imperialism through the AUKUS arrangements. US spokespersons have confirmed that they expect “our” submarines to take part in any conflict with China over Taiwan. They will determine whether we go to war with our major trading partner.

What does all this mean for May Day in Australia?

May Day is the day of international working class struggle and solidarity for a world free of exploitation, imperialist wars and repression. 

On May Day we express our solidarity with the struggles of the working people of all countries, and send our warmest greetings to the courageous comrades in revolutionary parties and organisations around the world. 

May Day belongs to the working class 

For as long as there are workers determined to fight for the interests of the working class and all oppressed people, no-one can take May Day from us, stamp it out, buy it off, commercialise it or make it acceptable to capitalism. 

It’s a day when workers proudly proclaim their confidence in the future. 

They acknowledge the sacrifices that have been, and will be, made and declare that they will not be deterred by the deceptions and violence of the reactionaries.

Today, the urgent demand is for the defeat of Israeli Zionist genocide and an end to their ethnic cleansing of the homelands of the Palestinian people.

Behind the Zionists stand the US imperialists and their lackeys in various countries.

And beyond the urgency of the defeat of the Israeli aggressors are yet other struggles on every continent against feudalism, capitalism and imperialism and for the rights of working people.

In our country, the best elements of the working class embrace and support the struggles of First Nations peoples, of women and youth, of environmental campaigns, and of struggling rural communities.

The ruling classes use the tactics of racism and religious fundamentalism to try and divide the working class; they prepare war and fascism to try and solve the economic and political crises besetting their system. 

For an independent working class agenda! 

An independent working class agenda, an independent set of demands backed by unity of action in achieving, them are urgently needed. 

That agenda is embedded in struggles against fascism, war and environmental destruction.

We call on Australian workers to strive to lift the level of struggle for the achievement of the people’s demands.

For anti-imperialist independence and socialism!
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!

 

 

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ICOR May Day statement

Written by: ICOR on 30 April 2024

 

Our Party is an affiliate of the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organisations (ICOR). The ICOR May Day statement was drafted by us and based onour own May Day statement which is the lead article on the hard copy of Vanguard which will be distributed at May Day rallies. We will post our statement tomorrow - eds.

 

To all ICOR members 

May Day call of ICOR on initiative of CPA(M-L) Australia: 

May Day – let us unite and develop our struggles! 

26 April 2024 

May Day is the day of international working class struggle and solidarity for a world free of exploitation, imperialist wars, environmental destruction and repression. 

On May Day we in ICOR express our solidarity with the struggles of the working people of all countries, and send our warmest greetings to the courageous comrades in revolutionary parties and organisations around the world. We are united in the struggle for socialism all over the world. 

May Day belongs to the working class 

For as long as there are workers determined to fight for their own class interests and those of all oppressed peoples, no-one can take May Day from us, stamp it out, buy it off, commercialise it or make it acceptable to capitalism. 

It’s a day when workers proudly proclaim their confidence in the future. 

They acknowledge the sacrifices that have been, and will be, made and declare that they will not be deterred by the deceptions and violence of the reactionaries. 

Today, unjust, imperialist wars are flaring up in various hot spots around the world. The Israeli Zionist genocide and ethnic cleansing of the homelands of the Palestinian people must be stopped immediately. Behind the Zionists stand the US imperialists and their lackeys and accomplices in various countries. So it is urgently necessary to defeat the Israeli Zionist aggressors. Beyond that there are other struggles on every continent against feudalism, capitalism and imperialism and for the rights of working people. 

The need for mutual support and proletarian internationalist unity of all progressive forces is more evident than ever. Thus the fight to defeat the Russian imperialist invasion of Ukraine and against US and NATO expansion in Eastern Europe; to defend Rojava against fascist Turkey’s attacks; to end conflicts in Sudan and the Congo; to prevent aggression against Yemen; against US-China rivalry in the Indo-Pacific; against Indian encroachment on Nepal; on the fight for West Papuan independence from Indonesia. 

Working people around the world are under immense and fierce attack from the imperialists and corporate ruling classes. The decaying system of capitalism is in economic and political crisis. Millions of people are struggling to make ends meet, more are thrown into poverty. At the same time, billions in profits, created by the labour of workers, are taken by the parasitic ruling class. Capital’s war on the working class and nature is relentless and escalating. Fight to improve the social situation of the broad masses! Fight to protect the natural environment, the basis of our life! 

The ruling classes use the tactics of racism and religious fundamentalism to divide the working class; they prepare war and fascism to try and solve the economic and political crises besetting their system.

But around the world the masses are rising up, especially against fascism and in solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle. The international working class is speaking out, with a 6-week strike by automobile workers of several monopolies together in the USA and fearless struggles by textile workers in Bangladesh for higher wages.

For an independent working class agenda! 

An independent working class agenda, class demands, and unity of action to achieve the demands of the working class are urgently needed. 

That work is embedded in the agenda of the anti-imperialist united front against fascism, Zionism, war and environmental destruction.

ICOR calls on all revolutionary parties and organisations to strive to lift the level of struggle for the achievement of the people’s demands.

Long live May Day - long live socialism! 

Signatories (as of 29 April 2024)
1. PCPCI Parti Communiste Proletarien de Côte d'Ivoire (Proletarian Communist Party of Ivory Coast) 
2. UPC-Manidem Union des Populations du Cameroun - Manifeste National pour l’Instauration de la Démocratie (Union of Populations of Cameroon - National Manifesto for the Establishment of Democracy) 
3. CPSA (ML) Communist Party of South Africa (Marxist-Leninist) 
4. PCT Parti Comuniste du Togo (Communist Party of Togo) 
5. PPDS Parti Patriotique Démocratique Socialiste (Patriotic Democratic Socialist Party), Tunisia 
6. SPB Socialist Party of Bangladesh 
7. RUFN Revolutionary United Front of Nepal 
8. CPA/ML Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) 
9. PR-ByH Partija Rada - ByH (Party of Labor - Bosnia and Herzegovina) 
10.MLPD Marxistisch-Leninistische Partei Deutschlands (Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany) 
11.UPML Union Prolétarienne Marxiste-Léniniste (Marxist-Leninist Proletarian Union), France 
12.KOL Kommunistische Organisation Luxemburg (Communist Organization of Luxemburg) 
13.RM Rode Morgen (Red Dawn), Netherlands 
14.UMLP União Marxista-Leninista Portuguesa (Portuguese Marxist-Leninist Union) 
15.RMP Российская маоистская партия (Rossijskaya maoistskaya partiya) (Russian Maoist Party) 
16.MLKP Marksist Leninist Komünist Parti Türkiye / Kürdistan (Marxist Leninist Communist Party Turkey / Kurdistan)
 17.KSRD Koordinazionnyj Sowjet Rabotschewo Dvizhenija (Coordination Council of the Workers Class Movement), Ukraine 
18.UMU Union of Maoists of the Urals (Union of Maoists of the Urals), Russia
19.OAPCM Organización Apoyante del Partido Comunista de México (Supporting Organization of the Communist Party of Mexico) 
20.PCP (independiente) Partido Comunista Paraguayo (independiente) (Paraguayan Communist Party (independent)) 
21.PPP Partido Proletario del Perú (Proletarian Party of Peru) 
22.PC (ML) Partido Comunista (Marxista Leninista) (Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)), Dominican Republic 
23.APR Ação Popular Revolucionária (People’s Revolutionary Action), Brazil 
24.CPPD Chinese People's Party for the Defense of Mao Zedong
Additional signatories (Non-ICOR): 
SUCI (C) Socialist Union Center of India (Communist)

 

 

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   May Day 2024

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May Day 2024

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   May Day 2024

 

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Civil defence and the imperialist agenda

Written by: (Contributed) on 28 April 2024

 

The release of a report from a right-wing defence and security lobby organisation with strong links to the military-industrial complex was timed to coincide with the release of the government’s 2024 National Defence Strategy in Canberra. Military planners appear to be considering a return to civil defence provision along similar lines to that used in the previous Cold War. Sensitive military documents from the period, which were subsequently declassified, have revealed some areas of serious concern; the same problems are now set to reappear in contemporary Australia.

In April, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation released a report calling for a return to civil defence provision similar to that used in Australia during the previous Cold War. (1) While the main part of the plan was presented as the defence and security of Australia, the hidden agenda was clearly something else; it provided a chilling picture of shadowy, clandestine organisation, preoccupied with intelligence-gathering and covert operations.
 
The report, in fact, actually specified that the 'defence of the Australian theatre would be a higher priority than sending our forces abroad'. (2)
 
The Williams Foundation was named after Sir Richard Williams (1890-1980), a well-known Australian military figure, and from its official web-sites prides itself on 'independent and innovative thinking'. In reality, it is something else; a high-pressure defence and security lobby organisation inside the corridors of power, with strong links into the military-industrial complex. Multinational armaments manufacturers dominate. Lockheed Martin is a platinum corporate partner; Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are gold corporate partners; Boeing is a silver corporate partner; CAE Inc. (formerly Canadian Aviation Electronics) is a bronze corporate partner; while corporate sponsors include General Atomics Aeronautical and BAE Systems. 
 
The Foundation’s website claims “The Sir Richard Williams Foundation conducts its operations independently and has no political or industry ties.” Yet its Board members have numerous political roles and actively work for companies including its multinational sponsors. The Board comprises:
 
Air Marshal (Retd) Geoff Brown AO. He was operational commander of the RAAF during the illegal war on Iraq after which he became a Director of Lockheed Martin (Australia), and Chairman of the Advisory Board of CAE Asia Pacific and Middle East.
Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Mark Binskin who was recently appointed by the Australian Government to advise on Israel’s response to its murder of Zomi Frankon and other aid workers in Gaza. Since his retirement he has worked as a Non-Executive Director with BAE Systems Australia and Nihon Cyber Defence.
Ken Moore, a former top public servant who is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the INSEAD Business School in France and the Senior Defence Resource Management Program at the US Navy Postgraduate School in California.
Nicole Quinn, head of a government advisory company whose clients include Mitsubishi Motors (Australia), CAE and NEC Australia. She was previously General Manager of the regional security think tank the Institute for Regional Security.
Vice Admiral (Rtd) Tim Barrett
John Conway, who commanded the United Kingdom’s largest Permanent Joint Operating Base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus between 2005 and 2008 enabling the airbridge into Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the owner and Managing Director of Felix, an independent company providing specialist air domain and intelligence capability development, and creative services to Defence and industry. He was previously a business development executive with Raytheon Australia.
Gerard Foley, the Chief of Growth for Raytheon Australia where he has worked for the last 22 years.
Emily Frizell who owns a successful engineering and management specialist consulting company, AeroPM, which is a specialist service provider supporting Defence to acquire complex assets to support the warfighter.
Major General (Retd) Fergus "Gus" McLachlan. He was awarded the United States Legion of Merit for his service in the international coalition force in Afghanistan. He is a Senior partner at Bondi Partners, founded in Washington DC in early 2020 by former Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey. Its website states “With the evolution of AUKUS – a trilateral security pact between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. – Bondi Partners footprint continues to grow across the Pacific and the Atlantic. Today we have teams in Washington, Los Angeles, Sydney, Canberra and London where we partner with businesses which want to grow and invest across allied and global markets.” 
Air Vice-Marshal (Ret’d) Steve Roberton is a full-time senior advisor with US multinational McKinsey and Company.
Katherine Ziesing, Strategic Communications Manager at South Korean Hanwha Defence Australia.
 
 
While great play has been made in the report to the seeming vulnerability of Australia to attack, plans for the new proposed civil defence organisation to deal with 'social cohesion, domestic security and public safety', should not be taken literally. (3) 
 
The discredited reactionary and former senior public servant, former Australian Secretary of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo, spoke at a Williams Foundation seminar on April 11, He said “With very little notice the Australian Defence Force could be called upon to undertake rapid deployments into the nearby arc of small states. While necessary and important, such ventures would only be marginally relevant to today’s great issues of war and peace.” 
 
He added that “the threats in front of Australia now needed to drive a re-set in efforts that considered the engagement of the society in its own defence”.
 
“Now as a practical suggestion to focus relevant effort, we should consider modernizing the earlier practice from the 1930s and then again from the 1950s of the preparation of a war book. The war book of those times were guides on what would need to be done and by whom, in the event of war. Preparing a new war book would help to focus the national mind.”
 
“A new war book would deal with the entire span of civil defense and mobilization which would be required to move to a war footing… All one has to look around you and find the activity of the multi-polar authoritarian world and the end of the American-led “rules-based order” to understand the future is now.” (4)
 
The earlier War Books
 
In all cases a common pattern of government and military policies included the closure of anti-fascist civil defence provision activated during the Second World War and subsequent re-establishing of similar provision in the late 1940s and 1950s with recruitment of 'safe' anti-communists. (5) 
 
At a meeting of the NATO Confederation of Reserve Officers in Westminster in August 1948, a decision was taken to lobby for a revival of a civil defence capacity for Western Europe. A 'representative from the British Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve told the meeting it is not the case of training a force to be kept in reserve doing nothing while waiting for a war that might never happen. It has a useful function during civil emergencies'. (6)
 
While Australia was not a NATO member, its links with the British Commonwealth served a similar purpose.
 
The War Book issued in 1957 took place when Australia was governed by a right-wing Menzies administration which followed US-led Cold War military policy. Publications from the period leave little to the imagination. Those associated with the War Book were the most aggressive side of the business-classes. The main plan was to control civil society and channel political opposition; the main achievement of those concerned was to split the ALP and render it politically unable to win federal elections for decades. Trade unions, likewise, were subject to constant vilification.
 
Reviving conscription?
 
One of the main perpetrators behind the thinking outlined in the recent report is James Paterson, Opposition Home Affairs and Cyber Security spokesman. He is not a quiet, thoughtful individual. Addressing the annual ANZAC Oration at the Robert Menzies Institute in Melbourne, he warned 'that urgent action is needed to bolster the ADF and address a workforce crisis'. (7) 
 
The new proposed civil defence provision would appear part of the same package. The Liberals, likewise, have long toyed with the return of conscription on the basis of social cohesion, terminology used specifically in the report.
 
Similar references can also be found in the main National Defence Strategy 2024 publication which contains an emphasis on the fear of subversion without specifically using the terminology categorically. (8) Emphasis is also placed in the publication on supply-lines and Australian industry. (9)  
 
While stated aims remain, political agendas, however, can easily be hidden.  
 
The main enemy of Australians during the previous Cold War was not the Soviet Union but the 'enemy within': anti-communist far-right organisations developed strong links with those wielding class and state power. The far-right National Civic Council, for example, 'was approached by Australia's spy-chiefs when the possibility of their anti-communist crusade became apparent to ASIO and allied authorities'. (10) The NCC counterpart, the Australian League of Rights (ALOR), likewise, also retained similar links and as the Australian affiliate to the notorious World Anti-Communist League was an advocate of civil defence. (11)
 
The subsequent demise of the Soviet Union in 1990 resulted in vast troves of western defence and security documents from the Cold War suddenly being declassified. Plausible denial was then not possible for those wielding class and state power. 
 
During the mid-1960s, for example, the US military began upgrading training manuals for counter-insurgency and counter-intelligence programs. One program, Project X, included provision for 'aerial surveillance, eavesdropping, interrogation, basic counter-sabotage measures, hiring and firing informants, lock picking and censorship'. (12) It was used through intelligence agents infiltrating 'a wide array of groups, including political parties, labour unions, youth and student groups, religious organisations, and publishing organisations … one manual even cast suspicion on the electoral process. Insurgents can resort to subversion of the government by means of elections'. (13)
 
During the early 1970s the US began 'exporting Project X material to US military assistance groups working with friendly foreign countries. By the mid-1970s the Project X material was going to military forces all over the world'. (14) A noticeable trend with the US military assistance was channelling expertise through seemingly out-sourced private organisations, created to enable the US to use plausible denial if challenged. Studies of the matter have, however, shown that many of those operations during the previous Cold War were 'CIA sub-contracts'. (15)
 
Due to Australia's close military alliance with the US, there is every reason to expect the training material to have been incorporated into Australian Defence Force provision. In fact, ADF training manuals from the same period include similar provision. (16) Military biographies from the previous Cold War provide more than adequate evidence that the US used Australia as a convenient hub for 'US interests' in the wider region from soon after the end of the Second World War. (17)
 
A common pattern with the military training included use of civil defence organisation for a variety of purposes including general surveillance of civilian populations where lists were drawn up following profiling together with the use of paramilitary groups. (18) There was little ambiguity in the eyes of the Pentagon as to whom were the targets: one training manual noted the co-ordinated counter-intelligence activities worldwide were against those who oppose the US Defence Department 'during peacetime and all levels of conflict'. (19)
 
Those associated with the Williams Foundation who lurk inside the corridors of power lobbying for civil defence provision are pursuing a Cold War hidden agenda in support of the US military-industrial complex and a return to the same problems of yesteryear.
 
                                       We need an independent foreign policy!
 
1.     Credible chance of war: Why we must plan for attack, Australian, 19 April 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Website: Williams Foundation.
3.     Australian, op.cit., 19 April 2024.
4.     Ibid.
5.     See: NATO Secret Army's, Daniele Ganser, (2005); and, Secret Army's war on the Left, The Observer, (London), 18 November 1990.
6.     NATO and civil emergencies, State Research, Bulletin 1, October 1977, page 9.
7.     Libs' Defence prescription to head off future conscription fight, Australian, 23 April 2024.
8.     See: National Defence Strategy 2024, (Canberra, 2024), on-line book, page 18.
9.     Ibid.
10.   Benign spy-master built global network, The Age (Melbourne), 3 March 1998.
11.   See: The Australian League of Rights, Andrew A. Campbell, (Victoria, 1978); and, Voices of Hate, K. D. Gott, (Melbourne, July 1965); and, Inside the League, Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, (New York, 1986), Appendix, The League List, pp. 275-85; and, Ted Serong, The life of an Australian counter-insurgency expert, Anne Blair, (Melbourne, 2002), pp. 186-192.
12.   Army's Project X had wider audience, The Washington Post, 6 March 1997.
13.   Ibid.
14.   Lost History: Project X, The Consortium magazine, 31 March 1997.
15.   Inside the League, op.cit., page 305, footnote 18.
16.   See: The Division in Battle, Pamphlet Number 1, Organisation and Tactics, Military Board, Army Headquarters, Canberra, 1 June 1966; and, Infantry Training, Volume 4, Part 2, Army Headquarters, Canberra, 1 May 1967.
17.   See: Ted Serong, Blair, op.cit., pp. 73-203.  
18.   Washington Post, op.cit., 6 March 1997; and, Counter Insurgency Operations, US Army, Army Foreign Intelligence Assistance, ref: 19960709 052; and, US Army Regulation, 381-20, The Army Counter-Intelligence Program, declassified 15 November 1993.
19.   US Army Regulation 381-20, ibid., Section 1.5, Mission and Policy, page 1; and, see also, US Army Field Manual 30-31, Appendix B, about the controversy surrounding those associated with civil defence type provision and the far-right and terrorism.
 

 

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Congratulating the DFLP on the success of its eighth national conference

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 28 April 2024

 

We recently received the good news from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) about the successful conclusion of their eighth national conference. We immediately sent them the following congratulatory message for which Comrade Fouad Baker at the DFLP's Foreign Office has thanked us. A message of congratulations to the DFLP was also sent by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine  - eds

To the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
 
27 April 2024
 
The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) congratulates the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on the successful conclusion of its eighth general national conference.
 
Meeting in conditions of the greatest difficulty, conference participants in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and throughout the Palestinian diaspora elected a new Central Committee with Comrade Fahd Suleiman as General-Secretary and Comrade Nayef Hawatmeh as head of the DFLP.
 
The conference upheld the commitment of the DFLP to scientific socialism and supported the Palestinian people in continuing to rally around the resistance.
 
The 70-plus years of Zionist Israel’s attempts to complete the ethnic cleansing that characterised the Nakba, and the intensified genocidal aggression against Gaza since early October 2023, have brought Australians into the streets every week in their tens of thousands, have seen attempts by activists to disrupt the manufacture and export of war parts to Israel, and to blockade ports against Israel’s Zim shipping line. New groups have emerged to promote the struggle against Zionism, including Unionists for Palestine. Officials of the Maritime Union have been arrested for leading port blockades against Zim ships. 
 
Reflecting the growing involvement of working class Australians in opposition to the Gaza genocide, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has called for an end to the occupation of Palestine, and called on the Australian Government to immediately:
 
Use all influence, pressure, and diplomatic measures to achieve a permanent ceasefire.
End all military trade with Israel
Enact targeted sanctions on Israeli officials who have called for the denial of aid, and military and civil servants denying essential food and materials to civilians of Gaza.
Commit additional funding of $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank
 
Anti-Zionist Jews have responded to Netanyahu’s criminal bloodlust by forming their own Jewish Council of Australia, opposing Zionist attempts to equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.
 
Resistance comes at a cost, but submission means ceasing to exist.
 
We salute the heroic and continuing resistance of the Palestinian people.
 
Death to Zionism and imperialism.
 
Nick G.
Chairperson,  CPA (M-L) on behalf of the Central Committee

 

 

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A workers’ party of a new type

Written by: Ned K. on 25 April 2024

 

If you ask people what comes to mind when you ask them the question "what political party, if any, do you support?" many people will say the Liberal Party or Nationals or Labor Party or the Greens or even "the Teals". An increasing number of people will say " None, they're all the same!"

What all these parties have in common is that they equate a political party with parliament and the people's involvement being the one day of the year every three or four years when elections are held.

Within official trade union circles, most are affiliated to the ALP and their leaderships urge their members to vote Labor because they are "better than the Liberals". If members ask for more information, they may get told that both the Unions and the Labor Party are part of the " labour movement".

So many workers especially, generation after generation, have voted for the Labor Party in the hope of significant changes to their working, family and community lives. More and more workers question what type of "labour movement" the Labor Party leaders are talking about. The decline of the Labor primary vote at elections is an indication of this disillusionment with the Labor Party as the working people's political party. 

Kevin Rudd, the former Labor Party leader and Prime Minister, gave an insight in to what the ALP's "labour movement " means in his first parliamentary speech in December 2006 when he said,

"Our movement for a century fought against Marxism, if you bother to read your history. We have had nothing to do with Marxism and madness. We have always seen our role as what we can do to civilize the market. That is where we come from as a tradition...So when it comes to our Labor values of equity, sustainability and compassion, we do not just believe that these, in themselves, are self-sufficient and worthy of being pursued. We also hold that they are values necessary to enhance the market itself."

Yet it is the volatility of the so-called "free market" of the system Rudd talked about that led to hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs as one manufacturing industry after another moved overseas because the "free market" was more profitable for the capitalists. 

The Labor Party and all parliamentary parties and even the ACTU leaders were powerless to stop it at best and at worst supported this "free market" destructive impact on working people's lives.

Workers Party of a New Type

One day about twenty years ago in Melbourne, I was at a union and community meeting about what needed to be done for workers to break out of the cycle of hope and disappointments experienced with Labor in parliamentary office, I heard a woman who identified as Dulcie (above) start talking about how workers needed a Party of a new type. Someone asked her what she meant by a "Party of a new type".

She replied with words to the effect that parliamentary politics and their parties were a very limited form of democracy which was outside of the involvement and control of the people who put them into parliament on election day. 

She said that people sensed this, and this is why workers and community struggles and issue-based organizations arise on all sorts of issues.
She said in all these struggles, leaders arise at the grass roots level. Some of these leaders were invited to channel struggles into parliamentary channels, but not many. Most remained leaders among the people involved in their particular struggle and community.

Dulcie said that what was needed in her view was a political Party that linked all the leaders within the myriad of people's struggles into an unbreakable network across the whole country. Such an organization would unite people for fundamental change of society away from capitalism's "free market" economy. 

Someone asked Dulcie why she thought this would happen. She replied that through exchange of views between grass roots leaders and exploring ideas and social theories that served working people and their communities rather the free market and profit motive, a people's movement would develop so powerful that the parliament and the small minority of corporations would be overcome and a new society of socialism serving people not profit would emerge. She said the big money people and those with privileges in parliament would not give up without a fight, but "we are many, they are few" 

She said that was what the CPA (ML), of which she was a member, was striving to become: a Party of a new type, but that it was the working people themselves who would determine if it "made the grade".

 

 

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Before Sydney stabbings, capitalism’s cupboard was bare for mental health

Written by: Louisa L. on 24 April 2024

 

(Above: Outside Bondi Westfields where seven people died on April 13)

The tattered remnants of public mental health care in NSW are held together by family members and volunteers. 

The week before six people were fatally stabbed in Bondi, and a mentally ill 16-year-old stabbed a priest, two Uniting Church psychiatric hospitals were closed in Sydney, because they were losing money.

When six strangers in a crowded public place are killed, grief and shock is inevitable. The media fans it to fever pitch. But people are frequently “murdered” by family members suffering psychotic episodes. And police too often shoot mentally ill people who ought to have been in hospital or long-term residential rehabilitation. 

Instead of suggesting triple zero and an ambulance, when “you or someone you know” is mentally ill, the media choruses Lifeline and Beyond Blue. A young friend frequently uses Lifeline’s skilled volunteer services.  Being alone and suicidal is not enough to be admitted to hospital – unless she’s taken an overdose.

On a pension she pays private health cover, so she can have occasional and much needed treatment in an expensive private hospital.

After the ambulance left 

The mental health system is designed to stop people being hospitalised, unless they have money to pay, and they are well enough to understand they need help. 

Last winter, under a suburban Sydney neighbourhood centre awning in pouring rain, a close friend, a mother and two adult daughters, waited for police and an ambulance.

It had taken hard arguing to convince my friend that police be called after her 16-year-old son threatened them, so he could be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. A centre worker did unpaid overtime while they talked. 

What happened? The son, who had previously assaulted his mother, sister and brother, assured the ambulance officers and police he wouldn’t harm himself or anyone else. Imagine the family’s vulnerability when the police and ambulance officers left. Instead of a dangerously ill young person receiving necessary treatment, the three women each found separate accommodation. An uncle and a youth worker checked on my friend’s son the next day, but he lived alone for over two weeks until his still fearful mother returned.

Desolation and grief

But his family’s grief is nothing compared to the desolation of the Bondi attacker’s parents whose son endured a living nightmare, denied desperately-needed health care, his life ended in such terrible circumstances. Nor does my friend’s ongoing worry compare to the grief of the families of those killed in that suburban shopping centre, or the family of the 16-year old on terrorism charges.

The media babbles about “people falling through the cracks in the mental health system”. What system? It’s not cracked. It’s been dismantled brick by brick because the mentally ill and their families are weak and unable to defend themselves. They are the bottom of capitalism’s heap. Their treatment is expensive, not privately profitable. They are disposable.

Mentally ill people are disproportionately part of the homelessness epidemic. Alongside First Peoples, alongside the poor and illiterate, mentally ill people fill our jails. Because under capitalism there’s always money for jails to mop up its normal functioning.

NSW Premier Minns announced an $18 million inquiry into what went wrong in the lead-up to the Bondi stabbings. Unless it’s accompanied by struggle to reinstate public mental health care at all levels, it will be just another whitewash. We know the state government funding cupboard is bare, after decades of corporate plunder and privatisations. 

For mental health, it’s been empty for decades. More deaths, more suffering – that’s capitalism’s promise to profoundly ill people and their families. Seven more dead and a 16-year-old charged with terrorism? Collateral damage. Nothing $18 million, plus media evasions and a lot of sorry talk, can’t sweep from sight. 

We need a new system. We need a revolution.

 

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Productivity Commission wonks still pushing discredited economic rationalism

Written by: (Contributed) on 24 April 2024

 

(Above: The designers of this Mambo t-shirt understood the link)

Commentary from right-wing economic figures about the failure of globalisation to provide sustainable growth have revealed their sense of denial about the main cause of the problem. 

Their failure to also provide a satisfactory explanation for the increasingly dysfunctional state of economic affairs has provided further insights into their peculiar mind-sets.

A serious of pronouncements from two right-wing figures with links to the Productivity Commission have revealed just how out-of-step they are with reliable economic criteria; their continued pushing of an economic rationalist agenda has been shown to not produce sustainability or growth. In fact, a recent IMF report has shown the advanced economies hover at below two per cent growth rates, with little sign of an upturn. (1)

Longer term projections have also shown a steady decline of GDP from the time of the global financial crisis in 2008 to a projection it will sink to zero toward the end of the present decade. (2)

It is, however, the pronouncements of those guiding or commenting of government policy which require scrutiny.

Michael Brennan, former head of the Productivity Commission, for example, has drawn attention to 'three decades of uninterrupted growth which followed the early 1990s recession'; it is not supported with reliable economic criteria or statistics. (3) The Commission is an official Australian government body, nevertheless, with extensive glitzy websites which have advisory capacities. It would appear to be truly stacked with right-wing coalition supporters and others of a similar ilk.   

The present economic debate has become increasingly focussed upon levels of government intervention to provide stable growth and a political division between those who continue to support economic rationalism and those who question its prolonged use.

The general implementation of economic rationalism grew out of right-wing think-tanks during the early 1980s which influenced international financial institutions controlled by the US and Wall Street. Earlier, the Chilean military coup in 1973, had established a test-tube for those linked to the Chicago School of Economics which had quietly pushed economic rationalism for decades, behind the scenes inside the corridors of power.

Economic rationalism was, however, only part of a much bigger picture to place the US at the centre of the global economy.

Submitting as report to US Congress on 21 July 1994 about the so-called New World Order, then President Clinton defined the three main elements of security policy: to enhance security by maintaining a strong defence capability and promoting co-operative security measures; to open foreign markets and spur economic growth; and to promote US-style democracy overseas.

The outcome was the wholesale implementation of economic rationalist policies which included three elements: de-regulation, privatisation, liberalisation.

Economic rationalism has been economic vogue thinking for nearly half a century; the present state of affairs has been the readily observable outcome. The floods of finance capital flung to the four corners of the globe has produced dysfunctional economies often leading to political instability and crisis. The vision of those in control of international financial institutions was akin to that of a casino, where risk-taking was commonplace. It also created the conditions for a drastically reduced manufacturing base in Australia, which subsequently led to revised GDP totals in an ever downward spiral.

An eighteen-month study conducted by the US National Security Council using independent economists found it unlikely globalisation 'would lead to general well-being … because the gap between rich and poor – both between countries and within them – is growing'. (4) The study, conducted around the start of the present century, was subsequently leaked to a Spanish language media outlet, although never publicised in English language outlets and was allowed to remain relatively hidden, for obvious reasons.

The distribution of income from globalisation remains noteworthy; in fact, it can be successfully argued economic rationalism was never intended to provide a sustainable model, only to enrich the already rich and powerful. It was a means to reduce the bargaining power of labour and hinder their political opposition in favour of the business-classes and their cronies overseas, thereby strengthening traditional class and state power.

Early studies of the model showed the income of the advanced countries rose from eleven times greater than the developing world, to 23 times larger by 2000. (5) Economic rationalism can therefore best be viewed as a form of neo-colonialism. Within countries the rapid emergence of billionaires has been well recorded. (6) The manner in which such people flout their wealth on the Forbes websites while paying their workforces well below CPI and inflation rates reveal a great deal about their mind-sets and limited vision of the world. They reside in a parallel world, devoid of the working-class. The fact the latter produce the wealth and the former acquire it, is an issue they never address.

Recent studies of the Australian economy have revealed massive differences between rich and poor. Average wealth of the top ten per cent of the population have recorded faster growth rates than the lowest sixty per cent since 2003. (7) The wealth of the top ten per cent also soared 84 per cent, from $2.8 million to $5.2 million, whereas the lowest sixty per cent only rose 55 per cent, from $220,000 to $343,000. (8) The poorest twenty per cent of Australians had a recorded average wealth of just $41,000, which is only seventeen per cent higher than it was in 2003. (9)

It was noted from a study conducted by the University of NSW and the Australian Council of Social Service that the average housing wealth for those in the lowest twenty per cent of the Australian population was zero. (10)

The wealth gap, for those under 35 years of age, is even more startling; it recorded the lowest sixty per cent accruing an increase in their wealth rising by only 39 per cent, from $68,000 in 2003 to $80,000 in 2022, while the highest ten per cent rose 126 per cent in the same period, from $928,000 to $2 million. (11)  

Despite the spurious motives for retaining economic rationalism, it can clearly be established to not have produced sustainable growth anywhere, or a betterment of life-styles
for the vast majority of people.

When challenged, however, right-wing economists continue to defend the model although they are inclined to offer furphies as additional factors. Those linked to the Productivity Commission, for example, have drawn attention to the failure of Australian entrepreneurs to register patents. Stating Australia is 'among the least innovative economies in the world', a report has recorded under ten per cent of registered patents are Australian-based as opposed to the US where more than seventy per cent are used by US businesses. (12)

The report does not refer to the fact that Australia only contributes 1.67 per cent of global GDP, whereas the US has a 25.3 per cent standing. (13)

Criticism from the Productivity Commission about recent government grants to support Australian manufacturing, likewise, has been revealing, with statements issued which have included reference to 'a return to old think industry protectionism', and not establishing a revival of a strong manufacturing base. (14)

The fact their economic model of choice has proved dysfunctional and created a state of affairs whereby an IMF projection for Australia's GDP being only 1.5 per cent this year, possibly increasing to two per cent in 2025, has, likewise, been conveniently ignored.   

The Productivity Commission and those linked to the organisation can best be regarded as benefiting from economic rationalism and therefore have no reason to change the model; they are quite content to languish in economic mediocrity.


1.     IMF warns on 'stalling' progress to reduce inflation, Australian, 17 April 2024.
2.     Economic decline, 'Goodbye good times, hello reality', Australian, 11 April 2024.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Hunger does not subside and slavery returns, Granma International (Havana), 24 June 2001.
5.     How globalisation fuels poverty, Socialist Campaign Group News (Westminster, London), July 2005.
6.     See: Survival of the Richest, OXFAM Report, 2000.
7.     'Disturbing' gap between haves and have nots, The New Daily, 18 April 2024.
8.     Ibid.
9.     Australian, op.cit., 11 April 2024.
10    Bonanza for rich leaves poor in their wake, Australian, 18 April 2024.
11.   Ibid.
12.   Ibid.
13.   World GDP, World Bank, 25 July 2023.
14.   Australian, op.cit., 11 April.

 

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Honour the Past, Fight for the Future

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 24 April 2024

 

With May Day fast approaching, we reprint the editorial from the 8-page Vanguard newspaper that will be distributed at rallies and marches. It is free of charge, so look out for our distributors and take your own copy – eds.

On May Day, class conscious workers come together to express solidarity with comrades across the world in their struggles for liberation, peace, justice and a decent life.

Only the working class has these deep feelings of international class solidarity, based on their recognition that they are all victims of the class system, all subject to exploitation, abuse, deceit, and all threatened by the murderous war policies of imperialism.

At gatherings, The Internationale rings out, “Arise ye workers from your slumbers, arise ye prisoners of want…” calling on the class to take up its historic mission of leading the masses through fundamental social change that eventually wipes out the class system altogether.

In places, The Red Flag is also sung, recalling the bitter struggles and sacrifices the working class has endured. It pays tribute to the heroes and martyrs that resisted the violence of the state, the hired thugs and fascists. “The workers’ flag is deepest red, it shrouded oft our martyred dead, and ere their limbs grew stiff and cold, their hearts’ blood dyed its ev’ry fold.

In spite of defeats, oppression and betrayals, the working class never gives up, has no choice other than to struggle for survival and a better life, as the chorus rings out “Then raise the scarlet banner high, beneath its shade we’ll live or die, though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

Australia’s working class 
Workers in this country have won many hard-fought battles against local and foreign capitalists and multinational corporations. In the post-war years they achieved improving living standards and some progressive social benefits through union action and solidarity.

But, ever since the days of the Accord under the Hawke government, union membership has fallen away in many trades and professions, with most of the remaining unions falling in behind the parliamentary Labor Party and only mobilising members at election time.

Consequently, there is little strike action, little ACTU activity outside of the courthouse, and practically no solidarity actions which are now illegal.

Result – falling wages, unemployment, rampant cost of living increases, housing and rental crisis, small businesses going broke, banks and supermarkets screwing their customers ever harder.

Capitalism reasserts itself as always. The lesson for workers is that whatever is won by struggle will always be challenged and whittled away, and this cycle can only be finished when capitalism is replaced by socialism. 

Imperialism and the globalised economy 
But that is only part of the story. At the same time, this “restructuring” of the economy encouraged further multinational investment and eventual control of key sections of Australian industries.

Obscene profits and rampant speculation followed, as the rich get even richer while the workers go backwards.

The political influence of US imperialism has now become dominant, reflected in the operational control of Pine Gap, the AUKUS deal and the growing intrusion into Australian military bases and airfields by the US military, aided and abetted by the sucking up antics of the current and previous Labor and Liberal governments.

 

 

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Swissport CEO shows contempt for workers

Written by: Duncan B. on 22 April 2024

 

Recently, Australia was graced by a visit from Warwick Brady, who is the President and CEO of Swissport, which is a giant Zurich-based airline ground handling company.

Swissport controls 45% of the Australian market, and 15% world-wide. It is looking to expand its cargo and airport lounge interests. 

This company is the one to which Qantas outsourced its baggage handling operations in 2020, with the loss of 1700 jobs at ten airports in Australia. The Transport Workers’ Union took Qantas to the Federal Court, which found that Qantas acted illegally, and could not prove that its decision to outsource its baggage handling was not motivated by a desire to avoid industrial action from airport unions.

Brady defended the outsourcing of ground handling by airlines, claiming that this allowed for lower airfares for passengers. Commenting on the Qantas court case he is quoted as saying, “For Qantas, the economic benefits plus the service benefits are still better for the outsourcing.” He went on to say, “In the end, if you’ve got a workforce that costs you a lot of money, your passengers are going to pay more.”

He is also quoted as saying, “unions sometimes get in the way of market dynamics.”

If workers fighting against employers for their rights and for better pay and conditions is “getting in the way of market dynamics,” we are all in favour of workers’ struggle!

 

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Book Review: SLOW DOWN

Written by: Duncan B. on 20 April 2024

 

Slow Down. How Degrowth Communism Can Save the Earth, by Kohei Saito is the second recently-released book which we are reviewing. Kohei Saito is a Marxist scholar and an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. He is a member of the MEGA project which aims to publish the complete works of Marx and Engels, including many works never previously published. 

The author firmly bases Degrowth Communism on his study of Capital and other works of Marx, including unpublished works discovered by the MEGA project.These works show that Marx deeply studied ecology and the relationship between capitalism and the natural environment. Like Vulture Capitalism, Slow Down shows that Marx is still relevant today.
 
The author discusses the effects of the climate change crisis, and how it particularly affects the countries of what he calls the “Global South.” He describes how the wealthy capitalist countries of the “Global North” exploit the resources of the “Global South” and shift the burden of the environmental crisis on to the countries of the “Global South”.
 
He debunks the Sustainable Development Goals being promoted by the United Nations and other world bodies. He also criticises ideas such as the “Green New Deal,” “Green Keynesianism” and other attempts to allow capitalism to keep functioning as normal while reducing the burden on the environment. “Decoupling,” which seeks to use new technologies to allow the economy to grow while reducing carbon dioxide emissions is another example of these ideas.
 
Saito’s answer to the environmental crisis is what he calls “Degrowth Communism.” This means winding back capitalism’s never-ending drive for growth at the expense of the environment, and developing a society where production is carried out to benefit the people within the limits of what the environment can bear.
 
He writes, “Yet it is capitalism, with its demands for unlimited maximisation of profits and economic growth, that is fundamentally unable to protect the earth’s environment. Both humanity and nature become objects of exploitation under capitalism.”
 
There is a need for people to band together in solidarity to rein in capital and protect the planet. To achieve this, Saito puts forward what he calls “The Five Pillars of Degrowth Communism.”
1. Transition to a use-based economy. This means producing goods that meet people’s basic needs, rather than producing luxury items and status symbols.
2. Shorten work hours. Workers will improve the quality of their lives when meaningless work is eliminated.
3. Abolish the uniform division of labour. This means ending the division between physical and mental labour and returning creativity and autonomy to work.
4. Democratise the production process. This means communal management of the means of production and deciding what, and how much should be produced.
5. Prioritise essential work. This means prioritising and valuing labour-intensive jobs such as nursing, education, child care and aged care.
 
Capitalism is destroying our planet. Only the overthrow of capitalism and the creation of a communist society will stop further damage to our earth. Slow Down is a book which should be read by all who are concerned about the destruction of our environment by capitalism.
 
I will leave the last word to Marx. In chapter XLVI of Volume Three of Capital he wrote, “From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuaries and, like boni patres familias, they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.”

 

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Book Review: VULTURE CAPITALISM

Written by: Duncan B. on 20 April 2024

 

Vulture Capitalism. Corporate Crimes, Backdoor Bailouts and the Death of Freedom by Grace Blakeley is the first of two recently-released books which we will be reviewing. Grace Blakely is a staff writer at the English magazine Tribune, and is a political and economic commentator for the BBC.

The book is based around the idea of planning under capitalism. We are led to believe that capitalism is based on the free market, and planning is something that happened in places like the former Soviet Union. However there is a very large element of planning under capitalism.

It is the author’s aim to show how capitalist planning works and how we can start to resist it. She aims to discuss what capitalism is, how it has changed over time, while centralised planning has remained constant. Major institutions capable of planning within capitalist societies: firms, financial institutions, states and empires are examined.  On p13 the author says, “Finally I’ll outline how we can start to replace the current system of oligarchic capitalist planning with democratic socialist planning.”

Vulture Capitalism begins by exposing some of the many scandals surrounding big companies such as Boeing’s sales of faulty aircraft, Henry Ford’s relations with Nazi Germany, the collapse of companies such as Enron and the financial crisis of 2008.

In a chapter titled "Disaster Capitalism" the author exposes how many companies benefitted during the COVID pandemic, receiving large handouts and lucrative government contracts. She shows how companies are benefitting from the climate change emergency and the rise in energy costs arising from the war in Ukraine.

Vulture Capitalism exposes how big corporations, financial institutions such as banks and governments unite to bail out failing companies, including those which really should be allowed to collapse, but which have friends in the right places.

The author refers to initiatives being taken in various countries to base planning at the community level where local people and community organisations are planning for the needs of their communities in areas such as health, education and infrastructure. She sees initiatives like these as a way forward.

However she does recognise that the capitalist state does use violence when challenged. Her analysis of the destruction of the Allende government in Chile makes this clear. She says (p269), “Socialists must struggle within and outside all social institutions - including those of the state - to shift the balance of power within society in favour of workers.”

Vulture Capitalism gives the reader much useful information about the workings of capitalism. A positive feature of Vulture Capitalism is that the author refers regularly to Marx and other Marxist writers in explaining the operation of capitalism and in developing her arguments against it, showing that Marx’s theories are as relevant today as they ever were.

 

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ADSTAR: Info-wars and the military, Canberra, 2024

Written by: (Contributed) on 23 April 2024

 

The organisers of the Australian Defence Science, Technology and Research (ADSTAR) summit in Canberra in September have already publicised their provisional agenda. Representatives of key US allies and defence and security partners are already registered to attend. One of the listed items has far-reaching implications for Cold War Australia; it is doubtful, however, that conference delegates will be discussing the item in the context of a recent US legal decision about non-legitimate intelligence-gathering techniques.

The main agenda for the forthcoming ADSTAR summit has six listed items: hypersonic missiles, directed energy, trusted autonomy, quantum technologies, information warfare, long-range fires. (1) Organisers of the summit are expecting in excess of 1,700 delegates, 'including a line-up of international luminaries' to attend the event, which will provide the military-industrial complex with bigger defence budgets and increased likelihood of 'real-war scenarios', more likely than not, in the Indo-Pacific region.

It has already been publicised the summit will include defence leaders being part of panel-led discussions to prioritise what they regard as 'opportunities across the military realm', from India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, the UK and US together with Australia. (2) It has been noted that Heidi Shyu, US Under-Secretary of research and engineering at the Department of Defence will deliver the keynote speech, while no Australian figures have so far been named as participating at that level.

War, and the preparations for war, are, quite clearly, big business. And ADSTAR figures are, no doubt, rubbing their hands with glee. With western defence budgets set to increase over the next decade, the ADSTAR summit would appear a central consideration for the pushing of military agendas.

It is, however, the fifth listed agenda item which is the most revealing for contemporary Australia; information warfare and countering disinformation campaigns have become a major problem in recent years and has become a major pre-occupation with law enforcement agencies. (3) While it has generally been accepted that social media has enabled disgruntled and disaffected users to gravitate toward conspiratorial far-right political organisations, which then espouse anti-science disinformation and distrust in government, it is also the ability of the state to harvest vast troves of personal information with intelligence-gathering techniques which raise alarm.

A recent legal decision in the US has revealed how Google had tracked users without their knowledge. The outcome of a class-action lodged in a San Francisco federal court, has led Google to plan to destroy a vast trove of data collected from millions of people about their web-browsing histories. (4) It was noted by a lawyer who represented consumers that, 'the settlement required Google to delete and remediate in unprecedented scope and scale the data it improperly collected'. (5)

The legal decision did not, however, note how Google was party to the improper methods of intelligence-gathering from its earliest beginnings. Revelations emerging about US-led intelligence-gathering during the previous Cold War by using Crypton AG equipment also provided information about their later use of the internet; it was noted, for example, that the US National Security Agency's attention eventually 'shifted to finding ways to exploit the global reach of Google, Microsoft, Verizon and other US technical powers'. (6) Such state-controlled intelligence-gathering techniques remain outside usual legal jurisdiction; there is little, if any, accountability.

As attendees of the forthcoming ADSTAR summit participate in the part of the conference dealing with information warfare and countering disinformation, it is extremely unlikely any consideration will be given to the role of their intelligence services trawling daily through confidential communications between internet users. The fact the information accessed by the state is frequently used for profiling purposes was also not addressed in the recent US legal decision; or whether Google had already passed such information onto interested third parties for a whole variety of motives.


1.     Strategic advantage key to ADSTAR conference, Defence Science and Technology supplement, Australian, 3 April 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     See: Australia's far right gets COVID anti-lockdown protest booster, Aljazeera, 5 October 2021.
4.     Google to destroy its 'Incognito' data, Australian, 3 April 2024.
5.     Ibid.
6.     The intelligence coup of the century, The Washington Post, 11 February 2020; and, Compromised encryption machines, The Washington Post, 17 February 2020; and, Operation Condor: The CIA is not innocent, The Guardian (U.K.), 23 February 2020.

 

 

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ACOSS survey and the need for a revolutionary class analysis

Written by: Alan Jackson on 23 April 2024

 

Above: Anti-poverty activists in 2021

Everyday life is getting harder for the average person. This is disproportionately the case for First Nations people, Immigrants, Precarious workers and Pensioners, who are being impacted the hardest in these hard times. 

History continues to show us that under capitalism the poor stay poor while the rich get richer. Time and time again history continues to show us this fact. The fundamental issue in this is Class. 

Capitalists are constantly gutting our livelihood for profit; this is inherent to Capitalism, sometimes when the economy is booming, we are able to get concessions but it is important to remember that these are simply concessions, and inevitably as the boom goes to bust, as History also shows always must bust under capitalism, our concessions are slashed and gutted and we are back to square one. 
 
Where are we now? How are these concessions? The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has released its report on poverty in Australia this year and highlights some very important insights into our situation. 
 
In the Inequality Report it states “According to the latest available data (in 2019), the highest 10% of households ranked by income had an average after-tax income of $5,200 per week, over two-and-a-half times the income of the middle 20% ($2,000) and seven times that of the lowest 20% ($800).”. (1) 
 
The gap here is extremely problematic.  While the bottom 60% of Australians are struggling the highest 10% of Australians are getting up to seven times the amount of the lower 60%. This isn’t even looking at the gap within the top 10% which starts messing with amounts of money that are conceptually hard to wrap your head around. 
 
There is clearly a very large disconnect between the highest 10% and the lower 60% which can be shown in the table below. The ACOSS also found in a previous report in 2020 that “The poverty line (based on 50% of median household after-tax income) is $489 a week for a single adult and $1,027 a week for a couple with two children, based on the latest data from the ABS.” (3.)  The table also says that the lowest 20% earns on average $794 per week. Therefore, the lowest 20% of Australians are on the poverty line. According to Centrelink’s own website you can only earn a maximum of $381 per week as a single person with no children and $408 per week with a child. With a partner the maximum you can earn is $349 per week. This puts most people on Centrelink benefits on the poverty line. (4.)
 
(2.)
The report also states that “Unequal access to employment and wages accounts for 89% of income inequality (before tax and transfers).” (5.) and that “Unequal distribution of earnings is caused by inequality of paid working hours and hourly wages.” (6.)
 
This shows that what is most important is everyone has access to constant and well-paid work. This can mean so much more than what you may think surface level. This means a home where one can sleep and survive, clothes you can wear to an interview, a phone you can use to contact potential employers, food and drink to function and so much more that is near impossible for the average person without these necessities to gain upward mobility. 
 
Not having access to transport, a home or a phone is debilitating for access to employment hurting your chances even more. These things can’t be accessed on government benefits and access is generally a matter of chance. It also reports that “Wealth inequality has escalated over the past two decades, with the highest 10% - who hold an average of $5.2m in wealth capturing almost half (45%) of the overall increase in wealth between 2003 – 2022. Of this 45%, almost half (22%) went to wealthy older households (older households in the highest 10%)” (7.)  
 
This emphatically supports the fact that the rich succeed while the poor suffer. We are in desperate need of change and the contradictions are only sharpening. This can also be shown by further statements such as “in 2019-20, the highest 10% of households ranked by income had an average $5,248 per week after tax, over two and a half times that of the middle 20% ($1,989) and six times that of the lowest 20% ($794).” (8.) 
 
They continue, saying “Wealth is divided much more unequally than income. In 2022-23 the highest 10% of households ranked by wealth (those with over $2.5 million) held 44% of all wealth, an average of $5.2 million each. This is three times the wealth of the next 30% with $1.5 million, 15 times that of the lowest 60% with $343,000 and 126 times that of the lowest 20% (with $41,000).” (9.)  and “In 2023, there were 159 billionaires in Australia with average wealth of $3.2 billion each. Their total wealth was $503 billion – so that 3.2% of all household wealth was held by 0.0007% of all adults.” (10.)
 
Now that some of the key issues have been highlighted, what recommendations do the ACOSS make to fix these issues? In order to fix these issues, the ACOSS has suggested a few things. The policy solutions suggested by the ACOSS are: “Increase the lowest income support payments including Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance; Restore full employment and reform employment services for those unemployed long-term; Reduce tax concessions for investment income (such as the reduced tax rate for capital gains) that primarily benefit those with high income.” (11.) And “Reform the tax treatment of housing to discourage speculative investment that inflates home prices (such as curbing negative gearing, reducing CGT concessions and extending state land taxes to owner occupied dwellings). Remove inequities in the tax treatment of superannuation contributions; and extend the 15% tax on superannuation investment income tax to postretirement accounts, which are currently tax-free.” (12.) 
 
Whilst I would welcome these changes and, on the surface, these are quite commendable changes to the current situation, they are only short-term fixes and don’t address the root of the issue. The issue with the suggested fixes is that they are just concessions and can only be concessions. They can never become full-term solutions. The only solution is Socialism. 
 
Not only are the solutions offered only just band-aid solutions, the problem is these solutions only begin to recognise the knife that is lodged in the back of the peoples. These solutions do not remove the knife and heal the wound in our back like the late and great Malcom X once said. They simply point at the knife in our back and try to wrap a bandage over it. 
 
For immediate actions that can help take us to socialism, check out the ‘Draft Fighting Program of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist).’ 
 
The destruction of capitalism is the only true solution. It is only true way for the masses to heal. For a strategic approach to the destruction of capitalism, for a strategy beyond useful and necessary immediate changes, see the Party’s General Program .
 
Sources – 
1. - Australian Council of Social Service – Inequality in Australia 2024: Who is affected and how? (Page 12)
2. – Ibid.
3. -  Australian Council of Social Service – Poverty In Australia 2022 A Snapshot (page 9)
4. - https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/how-much-jobseeker-payment-you-can-get?context=51411
5. - Australian Council of Social Service – Inequality in Australia 2024: Who is affected and how? (Page 12)
6. – Ibid.
7. –  Australian Council of Social Service – Inequality in Australia 2024: Who is affected and how?  (Page 13)
8. – Ibid
9. – Ibid
10. – Ibid 
11. -  Australian Council of Social Service – Inequality in Australia 2024: Who is affected and how? (Page 12)
12. - Australian Council of Social Service – Inequality in Australia 2024: Who is affected and how?  (Page 13)
 

 

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Rail workers strike for a living wage

Written by: Ned K.. on 20 April 2024

 

(Above: RTBU organiser Hayden Boyle)

Rail workers including suburban train drivers in Adelaide are taking strike action to win a 20% pay rise over four years. 

In their way stands multinational corporation Keolis Downer who operates the suburban train services under contract to the SA Government.

A 20% pay rise over 4 years is by no means an exorbitant wage claim when inflation rates and increases in cost-of-living increases in real terms are arguably higher than 5% per year.

Keolis Downer's current wage offer is 14.7% over 4 years.

The Rail, Tram and Buses Union (RTBU) members have taken strike action of 4 hour to 5-hour periods of time a couple of times a week over the last two weeks.  They have timed the stoppages to escalate the impact of the action which has included overtime bans.

On Friday 19 April, the RTBU members telegraphed to Keolis Downer and the SA Government that they would strike for 24 hours on Thursday 2 May if Keolis Downer did not agree to members’ claims.

Thursday 2 May is the same day that the two SA based AFL teams Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide play their first of two annual "showdown" games. With no trains running on that day, the SA Government will have to organize extra buses to provide alternative public transport to and from the Adelaide Oval. Thousands of fans travel by train to the games and businesses will be pressuring Keolis Downer and the SA Government to "resolve the dispute" before Thursday 2 May.

Bread and Circuses

A big part of the Malinauskas Government's strategy is to keep the people happy by feeding them one "circus" after another in one form or another. The showdown football matches between Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide are two of the annual "circuses",

The potential 24-hour strike action on 2 May will disrupt the showdown "circus " but the SA Government also knows that workers like the RTBU need more than the cost of "bread" being offered by Keolis Downer. 

Publicly the Government is saying that the dispute is an industrial matter between the employer Keolis Downer and its employees represented by the RTBU. Behind the scenes though, bet London to a brick that the Government is in earnest talks with both Downer and RTBU. An added concern for the SA Government is that the higher wages rail workers win, the more likely that other public sector workers will want to match it in their Enterprise Agreements where the SA Government is their employer and the harder it will be for private capitalist businesses to keep wages as low as possible. 

The Malinauskas Labor Government is finding out that it is no easy task to make capitalism acceptable to workers and at the same time be viewed favourably by capitalists!

Suburban trains were outsourced to Keolis Downer by the previous Liberal Government. The Malinauskas led Labor Government won the last state election in March 2022 vowing to reverse the outsourcing of train services if it won the election. 

In 2023 it announced that it would phase out Keolis Downer's contract over four years with train drivers the first to once again be directly employed by the SA Government in late 2025 and other Keolis Downer employees becoming government employees by the end of 2027.

How seriously will the SA Government be looking at introducing an automated rail transport system with no train drivers?  

They would be aware this has occurred in a limited way in NSW. 

Another aspect of the dispute is that the RTBU is a relatively small union. In the age of big unions covering many different industries, the RTBU has maintained its identity and independence and a high level of member engagement in the running of the dispute and solidarity between members.

 

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Communist Party of the Philippines: Persist in armed struggle, frustrate US war plans

Written by: Communist Party of the Philippines on 17 April 2024

 

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) has issued an important statement calling on its New People’s Army (NPA) to continue the armed struggle against the oppression of the Filipino people. It has also called on the Filipino people to reject US plans to turn the Philippines into a base for war against its imperialist rival, China. We salute the CCP and the NPA and call on Australians to oppose Australian military ties with the US-Marcos regime – eds.

 

The NPA must fight more to defend oppressed Filipinos, and to stop US from dragging PH in war against China
 Marco Valbuena | Chief Information Officer | Communist Party of the Philippines
March 31, 2024

1.The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) and all revolutionary forces roundly reject Gen. Romeo Brawner call for Red fighters to abandon the armed struggle. The need to wage armed struggle is now greater than ever before amid the worsening socioeconomic conditions and oppression of the Filipino people and threats to the country’s sovereignty.

For the broad masses of peasants, workers, and other toiling people suffering from land grabbing, economic dispossession, low wages, joblessness, and other forms of gross social injustice, waging armed struggle now is ever more just and necessary. The US-Marcos regime has aggravated the situation of the people by serving the interests of foreign capitalists to the detriment of the Filipino people’s welfare and rights.

Under Marcos, the fascist reactionary armed forces has become even more aggressive and brutal in driving the peasant masses and indigenous minorities from their land to allow mining companies, plantations, real estate, energy and other infrastructure projects to expand their environmentally-destructive business operations.

Only by having the New People’s Army can the peasant masses effectively fight back against the onslaught of foreign and big business economic aggressors. In the interest of the broad toiling masses, the armed struggle can never be abandoned. To fight with arms is the only way for the oppressed to defend their life and dignity and fight for a better future.

2. In the face of increasing danger of the Philippines being dragged by the US military to its conflict with China, there is even greater need for the NPA to fight vigorously. The NPA must further intensify the armed struggle to help prevent US plans to fully utilize the country as a springboard for its acts of aggression. The US imperialists want to see an end to the NPA’s armed struggle so it can fully utilize the AFP as a pawn in its plans of aggression and hegemonic expansion.

General Brawner is a remorseless US mouthpiece when he declared in his statement that “external forces”, clearly referring to China, “undermine Philippine sovereignty and challenge our rights.” Brawner is utterly hypocritical to claim defending the country’s freedom against external forces when as chief of the armed forces, he has opened a number of Armed Forcesof the Philippines (AFP) camps to give foreign military forces from the US extraterritorial rights to station its troops and military equipment, and turn the country’s land and water as their playground.

The US military forces in the Philippines have been using the AFP and the Philippine Coast Guard to raise the temperatures of military conflict in the West Philippine Sea through joint patrols, as well as US-backed “supply missions.” These operations are succeeding in pushing back against China’s incursions into Philippine maritime territory, but are being done at the expense of allowing US and its NATO allies to position their naval forces in Philippine waters.

The US plans to turn Marcos into a new Zelensky–a shameless beggar of military and economic aid from the US and NATO. They want to portray Marcos as a defender of Philippine freedom against the “empire”, while actually turning the Philippines into a protectorate of US-led Western imperialist powers, against their imperialist rival China.

Over the next few days or weeks, the Marcos regime is set to receive a major shipment or deployment of US military equipment for use of the AFP to turn it into a more aggressive force against China. This is timed with US plans to hold the Balikatan exercises in April as cover to deploy more of its troops in the country’s outlying islands, from the northernmost tip of Batanes, to the westernmost tip of Palawan. Even now, the US has already deployed Special Operations Forces in the Kinmen Island in the Taiwan Strait, a mere five kilometers off the eastern coast of Xiamen, China.

The Filipino people reject claims of the US imperialists of being “friends, allies, and partners” of the Philippines. It is utterly repugnant at all levels for the Marcos regime to ally itself to the number one terrorist who has connived with the Zionists in Israel in raining bombs and missiles on the civilian population of Palestine in Gaza, killing more than 32,000, more than half of whom are children. The US and Israel has also been supplying bombs to the AFP to carry out the same terrorist act in the Philippine countryside. The same imperialist US is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos during the US war of occupation of the Philippines, and the subsequent plunder of the country’s economic and human resources.

All the patriotic and revolutionary forces of the Filipino people must heighten their struggle for national freedom and draw inspiration from their long history of resistance to US military intervention and war–from the anti-colonial war of the early 1900s, to the mass protests leading to the eviction of US military bases and American troops in 1991.

Presently, they must vigorously resist US schemes and resist the plans to drag the country into US war provocations against China. Such a scenario will endanger the lives of the Filipino people and further place the country’s fate in the hands of the US imperialists.

 

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Madeleine King: Helping the Pentagon to our nickel

Written by: Nick G. on 17 April 2024

 

(Above:original photo WA Today Nathan Hondros) 

Resources Minister Madeleine King has approved the use of government funds to ensure the US military has access to Australian nickel.

She met with the US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment William La Plant at the Pentagon on March 8 to evaluate available options amid weakening nickel prices that led to several operating Australian nickel facilities either announcing a reduction in operations or going into care and maintenance.

“I think it’s fair to say they are keen to work with us to make sure we’re able to have a nickel industry that survives,” King said.

Nickel is known for its resistance to corrosion, and was a popular metal for coins. The US 5 cent coin was made from nickel and known as a “nickel”.

Nickel is one of eight critical minerals for military purposes.

The US National Mining Association says “Nickel can be used in steel, and this has been used for armor plating in tanks and anti-aircraft firearms. In addition, nickel is used in military batteries for propulsion and storage…A shortage of nickel would hurt goals in both the transportation and defense sectors.”

It is an essential component of high-temperature alloys used in aerospace, and essential to US imperialism’s plans to be the dominant military power in Outer Space.

Nickel (Ni) has long been widely used in batteries, most commonly in nickel cadmium (NiCd) and in the longer-lasting nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries, which came to the fore in the 1980s.

It is also a major component of the lithium-ion batteries used to run electronic vehicles.

The United States is not a major source of nickel. It has only one operating nickel mine which is planned to close in 2026. Last September, the US Department of Defense provided Talon Metals, a Rio Tinto subsidiary, with $26 million to support prospecting work in Michigan and Minnesota.

Taking a leaf out of the US corporate charity book, King, prior to her trip to the Pentagon, placed nickel on the Critical Minerals List, giving nickel companies opportunity to access up to $4 billion dollars in Commonwealth funding.

Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of nickel. 

There are more than 186 nickel mines in operation globally, of which 127 are in Australia.

The five largest nickel mines here are owned by Swiss multinational Glencore, Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, Australian IGO (which is also invested in a lithium focused joint venture with Chinese partner, Tianqi Lithium Corporation, which comprises a 51% stake in the Greenbushes Lithium Mine and 100% interest in a downstream processing refinery at Kwinana producing battery grade lithium hydroxide), and two by BHP (more than 70% US-owned).

It is anyone’s guess how much of the billions of Australian taxpayers’ dollars King is prepared to splash around will go to foreign-owned miners, but she has made it perfectly clear that this is to support a supply chain directly into the murderous US military.

None of this would happen if we were a genuinely independent and anti-imperialist country.
 

 

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Profits before People

Written by: Jed J. on 16 April 2024

 

In the age we live in gas and electricity are necessities. They are not commodities which we can choose to buy or not buy. 

Yet in the capitalist system the supply of these essential needs is in the hands of private companies whose main aim is to maximise profits.

The supply of gas and electricity should be, as they once were, controlled by government Utilities to ensure they are available and affordable for all.

Since these utilities were privatised, many working people are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for these basic necessities. 

There is a cost of living crisis today and energy costs are contributing to it. 

Australian gas is being sold overseas in quantities that allow people in foreign countries to pay less for gas than in the country of its origin.

To maintain their profit levels private energy companies are resorting to large increases in their supply costs.

Many Australian workers, as a result, are finding it increasingly difficult to pay their energy bills while the suppliers make increasing levels of profit.

So what is the government planning to do? Are they planning to introduce price controls? Are they planning to limit export of our natural resources? Are they planning to de-privatise the supply of energy and put it under the control of government controlled Utilities?

No. They are talking about another round of handouts to vulnerable sections of the people, supposedly to help them cope with the price rises.

Actually the public funds used to do this will help guarantee that the energy companies will not miss out on the profits they make selling gas and electricity to these vulnerable people.

The profiteers will be the main beneficiaries of the government’s largesse. Public funds will be used to bolster private profit. 
If the government is serious about helping people cope better in this present cost of living crisis they would de-privatise the energy companies and place them in the hands of government controlled Utilities.

That would be the best way to reverse the present trend and put people before profits. 

 

 

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Israel gets a taste of its own medicine

Written by: Nick G on 14 April 2024

 

Image: www.hiiraanweyn.net

Iran’s retaliatory missile attacks on the Zionist Israeli regime are a necessary and justified response to Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria two weeks ago, which killed 18 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

We know that the Iranian state authorities are reactionaries and that the Iranian people have waged courageous struggles for democratic rights and the liberation of women.

That does not change our opinion towards the justness of their response to the consulate attack.

By way of contrast, the Zionist-supporting Australian government has condemned the retaliation in which more than a hundred drones, dozens of cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles were sent to specific targets in Israel.

For too long, Israel has arrogantly chosen targets in Lebanon and Syria and carried out targeted assassinations with seeming impunity. The assassinations include those of five Iranian nuclear scientists for which Israel has never been held to account.

Its attack on the Iranian consulate was typical of that arrogance. 

It followed reports by Western analysts that Iran was not seeking to escalate regional tensions. That remains Iran’s position, its spokesperson saying after its retaliation that the "matter can be deemed concluded". 

Iran’s retaliation punctures the arrogance of the Zionists and will boost morale among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.  

It comes three days after Israeli PM Netanyahu boasted “We have determined a simple rule: Whoever harms us, we will harm them.”

Netanyahu is now getting a taste of his own medicine.

 

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Museum workers lead action to save SA Museum

Written by: Ned K. on 14 April 2024

 

On Saturday 13 April about 2,000 people held a rally outside Parliament House on busy North Terrace Adelaide to protest about proposed cuts to jobs and research at the South Australian Museum. 

The rally was organized by the Museum workers and their union the Public Service Association and concerned members of the SA community who had made donations, both large and small to the Museum.

In the week leading up to the rally, concerned supporters of, and donors to, the Museum paid for a full page advertisement in the local Adelaide Advertiser headed "An Open Letter: The Future of SA's Museum Is At Risk"

The letter started,

"Dear Premier Malinauskas,

Capturing 165 years of continuous research and tens of thousands of years of First Nations’ cultural knowledge, the collections housed at the South Australian Museum are not only one of the most significant cultural assets in SA, they are among the most significant in the world".

A newly appointed head of the Museum, CEO David Gaimster, and the Museum Executive and Board decided to ram through a "restructure" of the Museum at the expense of research carried out by highly skilled scientists and researchers in the natural sciences including zoology, mineralogy and palaeontology and natural history generally.

Over the last three decades of economic rationalism, the Museum staff had been reduced to just 73 people and the SA Museum, a state government Statutory Authority, was trying to get rid of the top 27 research positions.

During this period, the SA Museum and other SA Government icons next to the Museum, (Library and Art Gallery) had experienced outsourcing of support services such as cleaning, catering, security, maintenance and research assistants. In some areas of the Museum, scientists and researchers relied on the goodwill of volunteers to complete their work.
 
One speaker at the rally said that the loss of the 27 individual research staff equated to the loss of 474 years of expertise and knowledge.

Research into and management of biodiversity is threatened with cuts to scientific staff. Since British colonial invasion, more than 300 species have been lost. Studies of collections as to Museum assists in species adaption and survival.

Speakers at the rally included Ngarrindjeri/Kaurna Elder Major "Moogy" Sumner who expressed concern that the cuts to research would be a loss for First Nations communities. With only one position in the restructure reserved for Indigenous expertise, it was possible that the cultural knowledge of First Nations women could be lost. Lack of funding would bring an end to the repatriation of the thousands of First Peoples’ remains from collections from the UK and other European countries and the USA. 

The SA Museum Act 1976 states that a core function of the Museum is " to carry out, promote, research into matters of science and historical interest, and to accumulate objects and specimens of scientific or historical interest".

One of the placards at the rally summed up just how the proposed restructure by calling the Museum ATM standing for "Automatic Tellya Museum 

Key In Pin
Select Research
Press Enter
Insufficient Funds"

with a picture of a small child trying to make sense of it all. 

The Public Service Association Secretary spoke on behalf of all unionists employed at the Museum and informed the rally participants that the Museum had not even complied with its own Enterprise Agreement in trying to ram through cutbacks to staff at a time when what was actually needed was an increase in funding of both Museum staff and resources.

The SA Government has been caught out. There is plenty of money for supporting the US war machine and football events and stadiums, all at the expense of areas of society that the Government thinks will not get it re-elected for another 4-year term of office. Adelaide Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith, a former Chair of the SA Museum Board and Minister of Education in the Rann Labor Government, said that multiple State government had stagnated funding of the museum. She said there had been no real funding for over 20 years. Cultural institutions, she said, had been neglected by a bread and circuses culture.

More broadly, the struggle of the Museum workers is another example of how most of the surplus value created by the working class as a whole ends up in the hands of the ruling capitalist class rather than being used for the benefit of the working class and those unable to work, such as children, unemployed, and the aged.
 

 

 

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CPI (Maoist) announces the immortalization of 50 people's fighters

Written by: Communist Party of India (Maoist) on 11 April 2024

 

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has issued a statement commemorating the deaths of 50of the fighters of People’s Liberation Guerilla Army. The Maoists and other progressive forces are subjected to brutal attempts at elimination by the Modi saffron fascist regime. We salute their sacrifices-eds. 

....................

April 9, 2024

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) issued a statement announcing the death of 50 guerrillas from January 1 and calling on the people to protest the massacres.

"WE TRUST THE POWER OF THE MASSES"

In its statement, the CPI (Maoist) said, "For the last 50 years, a revolutionary movement has been going on in our country under the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) with incredible sacrifices. The ruling classes are constantly conducting military operations to stop India's revolutionary movement at its very inception. The Government of India, which has declared our party as the only major threat to the internal security of the country, has been carrying out large-scale, long-term military pressure operations for the last 20 years," he said, noting that at least five thousand CPI (Maoist) guerrillas and people have been killed in 20 years.

"Despite this, our revolutionary movement for the democratization of the people in our country continues on its way with great devotion, determination in the face of many tides, with the support of fraternal movements, and by relying on the organized power of the broad masses," the statement continued.

"50 OF OUR COMRADES WERE MARTYRED"

From January 1, 2024, the reactionary Indian state has launched a new military operation called "Operation KAGAR". In a statement, the CPI (Maoist) announced that nearly 50 of its comrades were immortalized within the scope of this operation and summarized the details of the operations as follows:

"Six people were massacred in Chipurbatti, 13 in Korcheli, 3 in Pujari Kanker and 2 in Kerajhiri Dabri. We condemn these murders and commemorate all our heroic martyrs with respect. We will pledge to build a gender-equality, secular and democratic system without exploitation and caste for their unfulfilled dreams.

"For the past two decades, conflict zones across the country have been constantly populated by central and state armed governments, as well as police forces. Unprecedented military repression is being exerted in the conflict zones of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra states of the Central Region, Chhattisgarh and Chhattisgarh, which are the battlegrounds of Bihar-Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Assam states in the Eastern Region, which have been identified by the predatory ruling classes as powerful states for the Maoist movement.

"Only modern weapons, anti-mine vehicles, drones and helicopters fly and shoot in the sky. Police are conducting a search operation in thousands of forests. They attack villages and kill people, especially young people, without even seeing the distinction between men and women and the elderly. They chase the revolutionaries, shoot bullets. In fact, seeing all this reminds us that a war is going on in enemy territory. The Indian government is waging a civil war against the citizens of India. The government's war against the people of India must be stopped immediately."

PRESSURE ON THE PUBLIC IS INCREASING

In the continuation of the statement, it was explained that the people were attacked in order to destroy the Maoists and information about these attacks was given: "The reactionary forces have decided to end the Maoist movement throughout the country in the next three years. They target all those who oppose their exploitative policies, anti-people governments, and divisive policies among the people in the country and carry out different kinds of attacks on them. All kinds of activities of citizens are monitored. Modern industry keeps an eye on this. For the last 10 years, the Hindutva dictatorship of the RSS-BJP forces has been going on in the country. By doing many things and abusing power to put a mask of parliamentary democracy on their administration, the 18th century, they hold their Lok Sabha elections.

"The entire village of Prabal is being crushed under the boots of the murderous police. Due to the constant intensive search operations of the police, the chances of survival of people in villages and forests are getting worse and worse. Today, in the forests, there is no guarantee of the safety of life and property of the tribal people, respect for women, protection of children and youth. The police brutally murder those caught in forests and villages, calling them Maoists and fabricating false and fabricated stories about the seizure of weapons and ammunition from them."

BANDH CALLED

The statement concluded: "Fraternal movements must be built in favour of the peoples who are struggling wherever possible for the survival of the Indigenous people against the fascist regime and to stand against the ongoing arbitrary attacks against them.

"Students, intellectuals, human rights activists, social workers, journalists and friends of the media, writers, artists and lawyers are working to establish peace in the forests. People in the Central Region (Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh), especially Indigenous people, protested against the harsh conditions faced by Indigenous people and condemned the ongoing attacks against them and demanded an immediate halt to the attacks."

The CPI (Maoist) called on the people to carry out propaganda and demonstrations from 13 to 15 p.m. and bandh on April 15.

(A bandh is a 24-hour strike)

 

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Ants and Elephants: Middle Class relations with the Imperialist Bourgeoisie and the Working class

Written by: John G. on 11 April 2024

 

Australia is a capitalist country. 

Big corporates rule the economy, their key owners are overseas capitalists with American moneybags top of the heap. British bosses are next in line with Japanese, German, French and other European capitalists being joined by latecomer Chinese owners.

Their involvement in the country is to make profits, either directly here or by securing resources for profit-making elsewhere, or both.  

Workers

Among Australians, the working class, the people who have to work for a living selling themselves to a boss, is the largest class. 

There’s a section who sell themselves at very generous premiums, doing very well out of looking after capitalists’ interests; managers, top bureaucrats, people doing the dirty work of policing workers in commissions like Fair Work, police and judges and the like. Many are paid handsomely to keep other workers in line and the capitalists on top. 

Still, there’s 3/4s of the population who work for a living in the grind of capitalist exploitation. 

Our interest in having comfortable lives, good education, good accessible healthcare, a good living, stand in conflict with capitalists making the best profit they can get. Working class interests are the mainstay of the opposition to capitalists plundering the country, its people, its resources and its environment. 

However, working class organisation and capacity to stand up for itself is at a low point. Unionism overall is below 10%. In the public sector, it’s higher but still under 20%. In the private sector unionism is in the lower part of single digit percentages. 

Union coverage varies hugely between industries, between industry sectors, and between sections of the workforce within an industry or industry sector. In construction, unionism is higher on major city jobs and tiny in housing construction. Among government school teachers, unionism is very high while it’s much lower in the private sector . In hospitals, unionism among nurses runs well over 70% while among hospital administrative and support staff it’s below 30%. 

Overall, there is weakness in the working class but there are some areas of strength.

 In the confrontation over capitalist profit-chasing at the cost of working-class living standards, the capitalists’ interest dominate, living standards lose out and down we go. 

Middle Classes

Classes other than the working-class superhero and the capitalist supervillain, are wedged between the two. 

Middle classes of small and medium businesses, self-employed professionals and the like, vary between those reliant for their social position on the big corporate capitalists and those screwed down by the system of finance and markets monopolised by big corporates. Sometimes they are in both situations simultaneously.

With the working class relatively quiet, the smaller classes and sections pull their heads in and try to do the best they can in circumstances dominated by big corporate monopolies led by US and British imperial capitalists. Those that get desperate, facing imminent ruin or losing out big time, pop up from time to time and squeal, but generally they hunker down. Some take advantage of workers’ support for local production and use the space that affords them to promote locally-owned businesses and locally-produced products, with the success available. 

In the building industry, there is experience of subbies and smaller builders supporting workers, some providing jobs when the big builders have blacklisted militants. At the same time they are capitalists, making profits from exploiting workers. Working with and struggling against, is just how it works sometimes.  

The main point however is that generally small businesses can’t afford to put a target on their back when the working class is weak, disorganised, lacking direction and fight for its own well-being and freedom and for the nation’s liberty from the plunder of foreign corporate giants.  

Workers' relations with Middle classes

When the working class is not able to impose its overall strength on the imperialists, our strategy has to be defensive. 

Within that defensive position, sections burst out on tactical offensives. Many public sector workers leapt into strike and protest campaigns in a few states last year. Workers’ sufferings grew as their locked down wages left them open to hardships as inflation raged. That wave of struggle gained concessions and has eased now. 

Wollongong Nurses and Midwives in struggle for ratios last year

While workers are on the defensive and under the boss’s thumb, the opportunity to call for middle classes to back the struggle against imperialist rule and get useful responses is limited. It should be carefully considered until workers are on the move. 

If the workers are weak at the moment, those middle classes are pretty hopeless. The limits on anti-imperialist struggle among them reflects the reality of class relations today. There’s a tendency to engage with limited reformism and use what influence they have to hold back the working class from confrontation with imperialism. 

The old African proverb “When elephants fight, ants get trampled” applies to middle classes keeping their distance in our current situation. 

Judgement of the relations of middle classes to the two giant class forces in Australian society and the anti-imperialist struggle won’t really be able to be made until workers are able to take the initiative in offensives against imperialism. 

 

 

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Binskin appointment comes with a conflict of interest

Written by: Nick G. on 10 April 2024

 

Photo credit: militaryleak.com 

The Australian government’s appointment of Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin (Rtd) to serve as Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Israel's response to the Israel Defense Forces strikes which killed Zomi Frankcom, and six of her World Central Kitchen colleagues, comes with a major conflict of interest.

Binskin is a non-executive director for Defence and National Security Policy of BAE Systems Australia. Its UK parent company is literally making a killing out of Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinians.

A non-executive director of a company is usually not an employee, but advises the company in return for fees, equity (shares) and cash payments. 
Binskin’s ties with the commercial life of BAE Systems began in 2018. He was Chief of the Defence Force when BAE Systems Australia was awarded the $35 billion Future Frigate contract, the largest surface warship program in Australia’s history. 

The following month Binskin retired. The contract for the $1.2 billion upgrade of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network was also awarded to BAE in the final months of Binskin’s tenure.

In July 2019, one year later, the minimum timeframe permitted, Binskin joined BAE Systems, a position he still holds.

BAE and Israel

BAE Systems, headquartered in London, supplies the Israeli military with a wide variety of weapons, including components for combat aircraft, munitions, missile launching kits, and armoured vehicles. BAE technologies are also integrated into Israel's main weapon systems, including fighter jets, drones, and warships.

BAE Systems provides weapon systems and components to the Israeli Air Force's fleet of F-15, F-16, and F-35 fighter jets.
In 2018, BAE was contracted to manufacture $20.4 million worth of transmitters for Israel's F-35s through the U.S. government's Foreign Military Sales program. Even before October 7, the Israeli Air Force has used the F-35 to launch airstrikes in and around Gaza. BAE in the U.K. produces 15% of the components for these F-35 jets.

Additionally, BAE has provided the Israeli military with electronic missile launching kits and gunsight technology for F-16 aircraft. Israel's use of these weapons against civilians in Gaza is killing Palestinians in their thousands.

BAE partnered with Israeli state-owned weapon manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to upgrade Rafael's MK-38 Typhoon gun system, a remotely controlled naval weapon system installed on the Israeli military's unmanned Protector drone. The drone has been used to enforce Israel's illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. Gazan fishermen, who are restricted by Israel to severely limited fishing areas, have reported being fired at by the Israeli Navy on an almost-daily basis.

In 2015, in close collaboration with the Israeli military, BAE developed the Rokar Silver Bullet, a precision guidance kit used to transform large-caliber projectiles, fired, for example, by tanks and warships, into highly accurate munitions. BAE has supplied Israeli weapon manufacturer IMI Systems (owned by Elbit Systems since 2018) with its Silver Bullet for integration into M401 155mm cannon artillery.

Israel has routinely fired 155mm heavy artillery into residential areas of Gaza City long before the resistance breakout on October 7.

Mark Binskins

It is not good enough that someone working for genocide profiteer BAE Systems will investigate the World Central Kitchen murders.

If it was thought that someone of his military seniority was required to get past Israeli obstructions, then he should have been appointed as part of a team that included war crimes legal specialists and human rights lawyers. The World Kitchen killings are not an isolated incident and should be investigated as part of the murders of nearly 200 aid workers by the Zionists, of their deliberate starvation of the people of Gaza, attacks on food convoys including the so-called “flour massacre” on 29 February 2024 when at least 118 people were killed and 760 injured after Israeli forces opened fire on civilians seeking food from aid trucks. Anything less than an investigation on this scale will miss the whole point of the Zionist genocide.

If Binskins returns a report that is in anyway inconclusive, that in anyway refuses to see what even Blind Freddy can plainly see, then it will have no credibility given his conflict of interest.

 

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Adelaide People Gather Round For Palestinians

Written by: Ned K. on 9 April 2024

 

Sunday 7 April, marked 6 months of fortnightly rallies and demonstrations in Adelaide in support of Palestinian people oppressed by Zionist Israel regime and its imperialist backers, particularly the USA.

The rally on steps of Parliament House gathered around guest speaker Nasser Mashni (above),  President of the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN).

Nasser is a Palestinian Australian and despite the devastation and loss of over 30,000 Palestinian lives including over 13,000 children, he was full of optimism about the heroic struggles of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Many passers-by on their way to AFL Gather Round game at Adelaide Oval that afternoon stopped to hear what Nasser had to say. There were Hawthorn and Collingwood scarves and jumpers among those at the rally.

Nasser said that the bombing of aid worker vehicles and the killing of aid workers was a tragedy but it was no accident. Nasser explained that it was part of a familiar Israeli Defence Force (IDF) playbook. He said that the main purpose for the bombing of the aid workers and their vehicles was because one element of the Zionist regime strategy is to use starvation to add to Palestinian deaths, as part of their overall strategy to eliminate Palestinians from Palestinian land altogether.

Nasser said that soon after the bombing of the aid workers, a ship containing food supplies and other aid that was headed for Gaza turned around. The bombing of aid workers also took the spotlight off the slaughter of Palestinian health workers and patients in the largest hospital in Gaza.

Nasser said that finally Albanese and Wong showed some anger towards the IDF and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. However Albanese and Wong and their Government still supported Israel as a “democracy”.  They failed miserably by siding with colonial oppressor rather than with the indigenous Palestinian people. Nasser said there was a lot in common between the struggles of the Indigenous people of Australia and Palestinians.

Nasser gave the example of the recent multi-million dollar contract the Albanese government signed with an Israeli owned defence company, Elbit Systems.

Before people at the rally commenced their street demonstration, Nasser urged Palestinians living in Australia to hold their heads high as they had the support of the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the world, including non-Palestinians living in Australia.

Nasser also noted the presence of Unions at rallies across Australia he had been part of.

 

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“Grey-Zone” intelligence assessments and real-war scenarios

Written by: (Contributed) on 8 April 2024

 

The US diplomatic response to credible competition from China in the Western Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific region has taken the form of an intensification of Cold War hostilities using grey zone-type intelligence assessments. They rest upon their desperate attempt to reassert traditional hegemonic positions, although remain fraught with dangers of real war scenarios for the US and their allies upon which they are increasingly dependent.

The recent high-level diplomatic visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Philippines was accompanied with a brief media release high-lighting the perceived threat of China's 'grey-zone strategy' which had been assessed as a threat to 'US interests'; it included reference to 'a constant ratcheting up' of China's diplomatic brinkmanship. (1)

Grey-zone conflict in military jargon has been usually associated with subversion and has included: destablisation, weakening or undermining traditional structures, in order to systematically weaken an adversary. It has become the face of the new Cold War which exists in the murky area in-between 'between peace and conflict'. (2)

It is, however, accompanied by grey-zone conflict in political circles which has far-reaching implications for civil society and contemporary Australia. It has taken Australian society into the darkest depths of Cold War positions whereby anything linked to China is regarded as suspicious in classic 'reds under the beds' scenarios. (3)

A typical example of the crude conspiracy theories entering into mainstream Australia has been the claim by the so-called US Centre for Strategic and International Studies that China's Qinling base on Antarctica 'was perfectly located … to spy on Australia and New Zealand particularly the satellite launch location in the Northern Territory'. (4) More sensible commentary, however, has noted 'many South-east Asian and Pacific countries are closer, and some would be more hospitable hosts. The growing number of Chinese satellites going over Australia could also do the job'. (5)

It is important to note the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies is a Washington-based 'think tank' with tentacles reaching deeply into Australian academia through seemingly harmless associates; to the contrary, it is an arm of the massive military-industrial complex designed specifically to serve 'US interests'. War, and preparation for war, is big business.

The US-led diplomatic position and controversy about the Qinling base has rested on  two significant points: the decision by the Pentagon to transform their Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) early in the last decade to provide as many as 1,600 newly recruited intelligence-gathers 'into a spy service focused on emerging threats'; a highly controversial study conducted in Washington which found 'the US is no longer the dominant power in the Western Pacific and would struggle to win a conflict against China'. (6)

The former has included extensive use of open-source intelligence (OSINT) with intelligence assessments based on information already in the public domain, raising problems that anything even remotely linked to China or Chinese endeavour can be spied upon and subject to surveillance as being regarded as suspicious. Intelligence-gatherers now also lurk on-line or in university libraries accessing post-graduate research documents while Defence publications openly flout links between universities as centres of learning with military-based programs. The position actively promotes the worst aspects of the previous Cold War now being played-out in the present one; publications from the past have revealed the extent of contemporary class, state paranoia and hysterical mind-sets. (7)  

Within those hysterical circles of Cold War fanatics, those who pay the piper, invariably call the tune; the Pentagon remains closely linked with the US military-industrial complex which thrives on increased defence budgets and arms sales. The US defence budget for the last year amounted to $816.7 billion. (8) Vast amounts of US defence spending support the corporate sector and research and development programs, often directly linked into universities which have become dependent upon the hand which feeds them. China, by contrast, had defence spending at only $224.79 billion. (9)

The US imperialists, nevertheless, are relentless and seek to increase their defence budgets on the annual basis in order to reassert traditional hegemonic positions. They fear any competition from China, whether it originates from economic considerations and trade, or defence and security concerns.
 
The increased US defence budgets, however, have not made the world a safer place. In fact, to the contrary, we live in a world of seemingly endless US-led sabre-rattling and escalating diplomatic tensions. Australia is clearly drifting toward a US-led confrontation with China, and successive governments in Canberra have done little to stand-up for national interests; Australia, furthermore, is increasingly out-of-step with regional neighbours.

The recent ASEAN Special Summit in Melbourne in early March, for example, saw Australia assume the role of the sub-imperial power, although it failed to achieve the Cold War US-led consensus it sought. It took place at a pivotal time. The ASEAN countries have a total population of about 600 million and have become China's largest export market with $790 billion in trade, pushing the US into second place. ASEAN member countries, furthermore, see little benefit in choosing sides between the US and China; they have little to gain from side-lining China.

Some ASEAN political leaders were also forthright in their chosen diplomatic position: Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, for example, used his visit to Australia to push for countries in the region to remain neutral and non-aligned, with foreign policies decided upon by their sovereign governments, not foisted upon them by Washington and the Pentagon.

In conclusion, the US-led 'grey-zone' assessments of China have taken the region into a dangerous diplomatic position whereby even Washington has acknowledged the strategy is 'on track to create a serious regional crisis and probably armed conflict'. (10)

                                         We need an independent foreign policy!


1.     Grey-zone response a way to call China's brinkmanship bluff, Australian, 22 March 2024.
2.     Today's wars are fought in the 'grey zone', Atlantic Council, 23 February 2023.
3.     See: Labor's national security kowtow a win for the CCP., Australian, 26 March 2024.
4.     China's Antarctica moves should be a cause for concern, Australian, 4 April 2024.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Pentagon plays the spy game, The Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 7 December 2012; and,
        Study: US no longer dominant power in the Pacific, Information Clearing House, 22 August 2019.
7.     See: None dare call it treason, John A. Stormer, (Missouri, 1964), which was distributed across Australia by the far-right Australian League of Rights. The book was first published in 1964 and was subsequently re-printed twenty times in-between February and October of that year.
8.     Website: US Department of Defence, Biden Signs, 23 December 2022.
9.     See: China to increase defence spending, CNN., 7 March 2023; and, China's 2023 defence spending, Jamestown Foundation, 14 April 2023.
10.   Australian, op.cit., 22 March 2024.

 

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As Australia aids Israeli genocide, Elders say it’s time to target Pine Gap.

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 8 April 2024

 

Above: Peltherre Chris Tomlins at the Frontier Wars protests in Canberra on 25 April, 2018. Mr Tomlins has opposed Pine Gap for decades and is a staunch anti-Zionist. Last month he stepped down as Greens' candidate for the seat of Araluen in NT, after being falsely accused of anti-semitism.

While Palestinians are deliberately murdered and starved, Australia aids Israeli genocide, through Pine Gap near Mparntwe Alice Springs. 

At a recent online forum on Pine Gap and Palestine, Professor Richard Tranter from Nautilus Institute made clear Pine Gap is Australia’s biggest contribution to US and Israeli wars.

In 2003 John Howard declared war against Iraq, against the wishes of 94 percent of our people. Back then, Pine Gap guided missiles to strike Iraq. Now its surveillance and targeting means Australia is at war with Palestine, without declaring it.

First Peoples know undeclared wars are as deadly as any other. The Frontier Wars are proof.

Forum speaker, Aunty Barbara Flick called for a protest at Pine Gap near Mparntwe Alice Springs, like the huge mobilisation she joined in the 1980s. Such a protest would bring allies to Mparntwe when its First Peoples’ communities and their young people most need it. 

Parallel surveillance, parallel genocide
Associate Professor Kathryn Gilbey, an Alyawarre woman, spoke of the two-week Mparntwe curfew, exposing a parallel to Pine Gap’s mass surveillance systems targeting Palestinians with the escalating surveillance of First Peoples, since the 2007 NT Intervention. Its fifteen-year genocide, particularly of children, went almost unreported in mainstream media.

She mentioned the lies against Palestine and lies triggering the Intervention. The key trigger was on ABC’s Lateline where an “Uluru youth worker” falsely alleging “paedophile rings run by Elders”, actually worked for Howard’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister. Truth uncovered didn’t stop further lies. “The little children are sacred” report is still frequently cited as the Intervention’s cause. Yet both report authors vehemently opposed the Intervention.

The “Emergency” legislation to “save children” didn’t mention the words ‘child’, ‘children’, ‘young’ or ‘youth’. It was full of map coordinates. Entry permits were removed and white businesses replaced successful Aboriginal-run projects in communities and towns. Mining and gas corporations were given land rights with no custodian vetoes. 

Young Aboriginal Peoples were swept from the safety of now defunded and disempowered homeland communities, where elders and culture had been strong, into crowded and unsupported regional centres.  

Children of the Intervention
Last year Vanguard said of a Saturday Paper expose, “In Children of the Intervention, Gurnaikurnai Wotjobaluk journalist Ben Abbatangelo gives voice to those central desert Peoples who have yet again been blamed. “He writes, ‘This desert town has been depicted as a war zone and its people as alien-like problems that need to be solved.’

“Of the so-called out-of-control young people, Abbatangelo says, ‘Dispossession and displacement lives within each of these kids. Most adolescents at the centre of the firestorm are also the grandchildren of the Stolen Generations and the great-grandchildren of those who were herded onto missions or massacred.’

“Aranda woman and Ntaria/Hermannsburg community organiser Que Nakamarra Kenny told him, ‘What’s clear is that no one cares more about Aboriginal people than Aboriginal people themselves. We’re at the tail end of the Northern Territory Intervention and these children are a product of that. They are the children of the Intervention who have grown up watching their parents be demonised and rejected.’”

Making clear links
For fifteen years, Elders like Aunty Elaine Kngwarraye Peckham and the late Harry Jakamarra Nelson, and younger leaders like Aunty Barbara Shaw trekked thousands of kilometres from Mparntwe and elsewhere to tell Intervention stories. They did this, even as they lived under the daily brutality of its regime, tried to support their people, especially their children. 

Right now, when genocide in Palestine is mirrored by ongoing genocide against First Peoples, it’s time to make links clear, and return some immediate support and truth telling for those parallel sacrifices. 

It’s time to create to hope through another convergence of allies at Mparntwe, and at the murderous US war base at Pine Gap. 


 

 

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Developers’ divisive dream: First Peoples’ lands to feed real estate bubble

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 6 April 2024

 

(Above:  Collage of demolition of Redfern's Block, which began in 2011. All of the original buildings including the flag mural have been removed. Wiki Commons)

Capitalism must constantly expand. Government decisions on when, where and how to develop Australia have always served it.

Brilliant new research, Unshackled, reminds us how 160,000 convicts created colonies and wealth here for British capitalists. On stolen lands. 

Two centuries later, NSW governments led and fed the current residential real estate explosion. To link distant potential housing estates, they sold public assets to fund a spaghetti of tollways under and over the Sydney basin, and freeways on its north and south coasts.

Transurban, which grew from Macquarie Bank, purchased the government-subsided tollways with guarantees of ongoing mega profits. Transurban’s top security holder is Unisuper Ltd, but combined its three bigger US-owned runners up – State Street Corporation, Blackrock Group and The Vanguard Group – could easily outvote it.

This expansion is underpinned by high immigration. While governments locked up or locked out desperate refugees, and living costs soared, immigration also drove up rents and house prices. A review means soon only skilled migrants, earning $135,000 per year, will get visas (or afford housing).  

Last December ABC’s Nassim Khadem wrote Australian residential real estate value “has hit $10.3 trillion”, around three times bigger than superannuation holdings ($3.5 trillion) or listed stocks ($2.8 trillion). It’s a bubble. 

The cry is now ‘More LAND for housing!’ Ten per cent of NSW, including national parks, will soon be transferred to local Aboriginal lands councils. Corporations aim to grab it.

Land is wealth

In 2017, my Driving Disunity, the Business Council against Aboriginal Community revealed the Business Council’s crowned Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council as custodians because it was prepared to sell sacred lands for real estate. It met fierce collective resistance led by First Peoples who came from that land.

Westpac had trained Darkinjung to claim protected environmental land on the NSW Central Coast. It then sold what’s now a massive coastal resort and suburb, Magenta Shores, to BCA member Mirvac, despite huge local resistance. For all this, plus two other developments where 208 lots were sold, just 30 Aboriginal homes (including mobile ones) were built.

Darkunjung now has 1000 potential land claims, but other big coastal and Hawkesbury River headwater developments have already started. Meanwhile, First Peoples and allies mobilise to defend sacred lands.

Westpac shared its template for removing environmental land caveats to 119 other NSW lands councils and claims are multiplying across the state. On Botany Bay, for example, Mirvac has been in talks with La Perouse custodians.

Separate to this, in Sydney Harbour, Goat Island was given to Sydney Metropolitan Lands Council, initially excluding local custodians, who protested. Future plans for Cockatoo Island with First Peoples’ involvement include a  hotel.

Likewise, the Block in Redfern was a famed 1970s Aboriginal public housing project. Despite a 29-month Tent Embassy occupation, it was redeveloped for the Aboriginal Housing Authority for 24 storeys of fee-paying overseas’ student accommodation. The Embassy won 62 affordable housing apartments for First Peoples including families, at 80 per cent of market rent. It excludes those displaced.

'The wealth is in the land’

This story told about NSW flowed on, though with some differences, nationwide.

Native title is not land rights. While its punishing process can provide benefits to individual First Peoples, successful applicants can’t veto mining and gas projects.

On other projects including real estate, proving custodian heritage can be extremely difficult without research skills and ongoing funding. With corporate backing, such problems dissolve, leaving greater division and dispossession, as the BCA-Darkingjung “partnership” shows.

The famed IATSIS map of Aboriginal Australia is based on public sources up till 1994. It shows what it calls ‘Darkinung’ lands in NSW to the west of coastal Awabakal and Kuring-gai lands of the Central Coast. While, among other things, the map emphasises it’s “not suitable for native title and other land claims”, the shift which eliminated Kuring-Gai claims is telling.

Some First Peoples who have faith in corporations will try to share benefits. But, once some environmental land is sold, pressure will be on to sell the rest. Capitalism will pave the world without remorse.

As Kuku Yalanji man John Hartley points out, “The wealth is in the land. Once it’s sold, it’s gone.”

When the bubble bursts, Australian governments will prop up profits not our peoples’ needs.

Unshackled reveals how often convicts rebelled. So too today. First Peoples and their allies will not give up. Our joint enemies become clearer day by day. As strong as they seem, their foundations are starting to crumble. Injustice breeds resistance.

 

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Haiti: for thousands of new Louvetures

Written by: Alan Jackson on 4 April 2024

 

Above: Portrait of  Toussaint Louverture -artist unknown    Wikimedia Commons

Haiti is a country that has a rich history in revolution and has been an inspiration to revolutionaries across the world ever since the Haitian revolution in 1791, that roared until 1804 when Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared independence of Haiti. 

Deeply inspired by the French revolution, in a French colony once called Saint-Domingue, the enslaved masses stood up and crushed their slave masters. Haiti’s revolution is far more significant today considering this was a slave revolution and Frances’s revolution was a bourgeois revolution.

I’m not discrediting the historical significance and necessity of the French and other bourgeois revolutions but when we look at what Marx and Engels’s vision of the proletariat is, that “The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains, they have a world to win”, (1) we can see very clearly the masses of Haiti that were subjected to slavery literally had nothing to lose but their chains. Sadly, they couldn’t win the world but Toussaint Louverture the revolutionary general of the Haitian revolution and the Haitian masses won a piece of the world in the Haitian revolution of 1791. 
 
Today is a different story though. On the 11th of March 2024, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “announced an additional $100 million to finance the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti following a meeting with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica to halt the country’s violent crises.” (2)  “The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin and Chad have also formally notified the United Nations of their intent to contribute personnel to an international force to help Haitian national police fight armed gangs.” (3) With the history of US Imperialism and the destruction and interference that has followed, it is almost certain that if successful, Haiti will become another puppet government and proxy state like so many other third world countries US Imperialism and their imperialist running dogs have sunk their teeth into. 
 
Before the revolution Haiti was under French occupation and the masses of Haiti were enslaved. The enslaved being “Afro-Haitians” being imported from West Africa by slavers to the colony and the Indigenous population called Taino. Haiti was very much a typical case of settler-colonialist terror with treatment being horrific and harsh. Even freeman who were Black or what was then known as “Mulatto” were treated with the utmost discontent and exploitation. The Slavers and Plantation owners didn’t even want to permanently reside in Haiti and saw France as their true home country. 
 
Seeing their time in Haiti is a lag time in the colonialist’s mindset also led to the degradation of any infrastructure that wasn’t purely for profit. Haiti and its people were overworked and not paid at all. They truly had nothing to lose but their chains. Haiti being a French Colony was inspired when it saw the French masses rise in the French revolution in 1789. Toussaint Louverture was inspired by the Jacobins and Robespierre particularly and rallied the masses of Haiti to overthrow their French slave masters. They were successful and unstoppable. The power of the masses was truly unleashed on their French Colonial occupiers. 
 
Toussaint and the revolutionaries of Haiti were supported by the French revolutionaries until 1799 when Napoleon Bonaparte ordered a coup d’etat that lead to the counter-revolution both in France and Haiti. Louverture was assassinated and 50,000 troops were sent to Haiti to cement the counter-revolution and reinstitution of slavery. Napoleon the person who would be put into the books of history as one of the greatest and most destructive conquerors, could not defeat the revolution. Napoleon was defeated and the masses of Haiti were victorious. The Haitians After many wins and setbacks, officially declared independence in 1804 under Dessalines. 
 
Haiti is the first and only case of a successful slave rebellion leading to the seizure of the old and establishment of a new independent state. This victory of the once toiling and enslaved masses would inspire the oppressed, the world over for centuries to come. 
 
It is important to know that the labour power wasn’t the only economic resource colonialists and imperialists sought in Haiti. Haiti is extremely rich in all resources, timber, copper, hemp, soil, sugar, rum, flour, coal, tobacco and much, much more. Its environment allowed for very profitable resources to flourish. The strongest rising economic power at the time realised this in 1915 and wanted to capitalise from it. This imperialist power was the United States. 
 
On the insistence of the National City Bank of New York, President Woodrow Wilson sent troops to Haiti at this time to take control of its political and economic resources and institutions. This led to an ultra-violent, colonialist occupation and subjugation of the Haitian masses for dominance of the region and resources for U.S Imperialism. 
 
Although the U.S officially withdrew from Haiti in 1934 it continued to interfere with Haiti’s political and economic climate through Haiti’s Bureaucrat Capitalists and U.S Neo-Colonialism. This situation remains to this day and is flaring up dramatically with a multi-national force being readied for deployment in Haiti. If all goes to plan for the U.S, this will result in occupation and overthrow of Haiti’s Government and the establishment of a puppet regime to secure interests for U.S capital. 
 
As Australians we can not save Haiti. Haiti is to be liberated by thousands of new creative and socialist Louvertures and the Haitian masses. The only way we as Australians can help is by overthrowing capitalism at home and establishing socialism in Australia. 
 
Australia as it is, is a running dog for U.S Imperialism. If we can break our leash and become an independent, socialist Australia, we can take pressure off Haiti and stop our support of U.S Imperialism.  
…………….
For an amazing resource on the Haitian revolution I strongly suggest reading C.L.R James – The Black Jacobins
 
Sources – 
(1.) Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels – The Communist Manifesto (Chapter 4)

 

 

 

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On the introduction of supermarket security checkpoints

Written by: Comrade Swanston on 3 April 2024

 

First introduced in mid-2023 to combat the rising number of incidents concerning shoplifting and what the talking-heads of the bourgeoisie have declared to be a sudden and unprovoked “rise in aggression” against their employees in Australian supermarkets, Coles’ and Woolworths’ anti-shoplifting programs demonstrate plainly the bloated and disconnected hubris of the bourgeoisie. 

These programs demonstrate a ruling class that is becoming more severed from the lived experiences of the working-class and working-poor with each passing day. It demonstrates a class with such little awareness of its conditions that it ignorantly believes that its own lies it tells to cheat us will simply be taken as fact: by both employee and customer alike. By those it exploits through undercutting wages, and by those it endlessly price gouges out of every dollar. 

Yet this lie that they repeat, this lie that they are introducing these means to protect some of Australia’s most vulnerable workers, is acknowledged by all those who toil day to day for what it is! As a sham! As a maliciously crafted excuse which has but one true purpose: to protect capital, From South Melbourne to Carrum Downs, from street to street this is acknowledged earnestly by all people. 

One emergency service worker recalled to me that Woolworth CEO Brad Banducci’s panopticon makes them feel as if “everyone is presumed to be a criminal”, and a young single mother told me that ever since those gates first came up in South Melbourne (along Clarendon Street) that she has only seen one thing change. That those “blackshirts” as she calls them, the corporate security of these shopping-centres, have only become ever more energised to brutalise and abuse those they deem “to look too poor” to shop. 

To hide behind excuses of fighting crime and to force people to come behind cameras and into that dreaded back room. To come into that back room and face the consequences of surviving and being able to live another day. This is the reality of these programs. This is the reality of the class conflict. 

Such measures such as the introduction of so called smart gates, of anti-theft fog and security databases, such measures such as the expansion of security teams and of the trolley-lock system only harm those within working-class suburbs. They do not even affect the wealthy and well-off, the bosses, nor the bureaucrat. 

This is even evident in where they place these measures. For what connects South Melbourne to Carrum Downs, what connects my own suburb to all the suburbs chosen for this program is that they are predominantly and historically working-class and host a large population who sit underneath the poverty line. A large population which relies on welfare payments and who reside in public housing. A large population who has long been exploited and shamed by the capitalist system and its supporters.

Like all things in the class conflict, this issue has not remained stagnant over the course of a few months. For it must be acknowledged that this attack has not been one that has been strictly led against consumers, but as ever has been expanded against these corporations’ hard-working employees. 

For as reported by several worker-representatives of the Retail and Fast-Food Worker Union, Coles has further expanded this campaign upon its own workers. That is, Coles now again will harass and coerce its employees alongside customers with their “blackshirts”, who will gleefully collaborate and undoubtedly restrain their hardworking and underpaid retail-clerks for but a suspicion of theft. Likely with threats of reporting them to management if they do not comply. With threats of loss of job and livelihood! 

These scenes though will be ironic to those who know of Coles’ long history of blatant wage theft. For Coles and Woolworths: the happy hypocrites who cry ‘thief!’ as they rob their workers of their rightful wages have always with a crocodile’s smile attempted to cast blame on others. 

They would not dare admit that their employees are being unpaid and should have the ability to shop where they work! They would not admit that the statement from the Retail and Fast-Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) could be true. That as Josh Cullinan, Secretary of RAFFWU puts it, that “the reason they’re bag checking is because they know that their own workers are forced to think about stealing because they can’t afford food”. 

For these corporations and their bosses would rather sit lying between their teeth with yearly salaries so high (collected from all their robbery) that the average person could not achieve such in a lifetime.

 

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Philippines Constitutional change: lingering spirits and the ghosts of the past

Written by: (Contributed) on 29 March 2024

 

Above: Filipinos rallying in February 2024 against Changes (“Cha”) to the Constitutional Charter (“Cha”)

 

Claims by political opposition figures in the Philippines that the presidential administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jnr. is conspiring to make changes to the constitution in order to enable the president to serve longer terms of office, are an indication of US foreign policy complicity inside the Philippine political system. 

The Philippines has long been considered a vital strategic part of US regional defence and security provision with the Marcos oligarchy widely regarded as puppets with Washington and the Pentagon pulling the strings.

The US is still haunted, even in the aftermath of the previous Duterte presidential administration, from when the Philippines democratically distanced itself from the US and sought a more stable diplomatic position toward China; the US do not want a re-run of the problem in any forthcoming elections. Philippine democracy is seen as an obstacle.

On the 18th and 19th March, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken visited Manila for high-level diplomatic talks with the presidential administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jnr. It was Blinken's second such visit to Manila, highlighting the move by the US to push the Philippines into the front-line of US-led regional foreign policy and diplomatic hostilities with China. 

The diplomatic talks were accompanied with officially prepared media releases which contained no ambiguity. It was officially announced, for example, the diplomatic visit was 'to strengthen the US-Philippine alliance in pursuit of common interests ... with … Marcos' desire to be closer to Washington'. (1) The announcement that 'the deepening of Washington and Manila ties had also led to expanding cooperation with neighbours in the Indo-Pacific', was also acknowledgement the Philippines was officially linked into the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS). (2)

The US-led IPS is based on the US-Japan alliance as a global strategy, resting upon the so-called 'Quad' of the US, Japan, India and Australia, effectively hemming in China on four sides. (3) It is, therefore, not coincidental to note forthcoming high-level diplomatic relations scheduled in Washington next month include those between Blinken, Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishada. (4) 

Surprise agendas are unlikely. The IPS has evolved from a previous hardening of US-led attitudes toward China; over a decade ago Japanese diplomatic officials who actually spoke Chinese and had direct contact with counterparts in China were 'removed from the front-line of diplomacy', laying the basis for the present Cold War position. (5)

Two serious considerations have arisen: claims by Philippine opposition figures that the Marcos administration is planning to alter the constitution to extend single six-year presidential terms of office; an official acknowledgement that Blinken's second visit to Manila took place to track 'a serious regional crisis and probably armed conflict'. (6)

The former is a particularly sensitive issue for most Filipinos; the 1987 constitution was designed to deal with the legacy created by Marcos' father who governed the country by dictatorship and repression. For many, the move to alter the constitution remains reminiscent of the 1973 move by Ferdinand Marcos Snr. 'that indefinitely extended his term of office, leading to rampant corruption, human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings'. (7)
The US, nevertheless, would clearly like the present presidential administration to continue to remain in office for as long as possible, in the name of 'US interests'. (8)

One of the most vocal of the critics of Marcos Jnr. has been former president Duterte, who pursued a more independent foreign policy toward China. His presidential administration was subsequently regarded as problematic for both Washington and the Pentagon, and they were glad to see his demise and the rise of Marcos as more in line with traditional regional hegemonic diplomatic positions.

President Marcos Jnr. has already proposed a referendum to take place alongside mid-term elections next year about the proposed constitutional changes which he announced 'was not written for the globalised world … to enable … greater foreign investment'. (9) Foreign investment into the Philippine economy is at present limited to forty per cent of ownership, and the US is only too pleased to further increase their foothold into the political system; the moves can best be viewed as diplomatic manoeuvres akin to a puppet and puppet-masters. The present Marcos presidential administration, for example, has already been noted as 'the new darling of the West because of its principled and robust stance it has taken on China and its expanding security cooperation with western partners and allies'. (10)  

The latter is a problem which has emerged following flawed intelligence assessments that China, the main imperialist rival to the US, has systematically embarked upon 'grey-zone activities in the South China Seas', and been pursuing unclear political and military agendas. (11) In recent years, using the Marcos Jnr. presidential administration, the US has extended its military presence in the Philippines from five to nine bases, including some in the northern part of the country facing Taiwan which they regard as a potential 'theatre of war'.

The US has been concerned about the growing imbalance of power across the Taiwan Straits for over a decade, and a recent announcement that the US were training Taiwanese troops on 'outlying islands that would be on the front lines of a conflict with its neighbour', has coincided with recent developments. (12) One of the islands concerned, Kinmen (Jinmen in Mandarin, meaning “Golden Gate”), has military facilities for amphibious soldiers; it is only ten kms from the Chinese city of Xiamen in Fujian Province, while being 187 kms from Taiwan. Kinmen's beaches have been noted as having numerous anti-invasion spikes, military posts and bomb shelters. (13) The fact US troops are officially based so close to China must be regarded by Beijing as extremely provocative. Moves by many Kinmen residents to push for a de-militarised zone and peace island, with a bridge constructed to link the island with mainland China, has been ignored by the ruling DPP presidential administrations in Taipei, revealing their intention of following Cold War US regional foreign policy. (14)

These are worrying developments, increasing the likelihood of real-war scenarios
in the Indo-Pacific region, with serious implications for Australia:

                                           We need an independent foreign policy!

(Important extra reading -  a statement by Compatriots of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.)  


1.     Blinken's second Manila visit, The Philippine Star, 15 March 2024.
2.     The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Philippine Star, op.cit., 15 March 2024.
5.     Choppy weather in the China Seas, Le Monde Diplomatique, December 2012.
6.     Marcos accused of grab for power, Australian, 19 March 2024; and, Grey-zone response a way to call China's brinkmanship bluff, Australian, 22 March 2024.
7.     Australian, op.cit., 19 March 2024.
8.     See: The Objectives of the US., The Guardian, 6 August 2003.
9.     Australian, op.cit., 19 March 2024.
10.   Ibid.
11.   Australian, op.cit., 22 March 2024; and, See: Pentagon plays the spy game, The Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 7 December 2012.
12.  US trains Taiwanese troops on islands, Australian, 21 March 2024.
13.   A China-Taiwan DMZ., CNN., 1 June 2023.
14.   Ibid.

 

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MUA HERE TO STAY - supporting their members and the Palestinian people

Written by: Ned K. on 27 March 2024

 

 

Above: NSW MUA Branch Secretary Paul Keating was one of 17 arrested at the ZIM blockade.   Photo: UnionistsforPalestine

The members and the leaders of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) are leading the way in working class action in support of the Palestinian people in their struggle against imperialist backed Israeli Zionist regime.

Last Sunday, there was a demonstration against the unloading of an Israeli ship at Port Botany in NSW. Fifteen people including the MUA NSW Secretary, an MUA Organizer and MUA rank and file Delegates were among those arrested on the usual "nonpolitical" charges of obstruction of vehicles and failing to comply with police directives to move off roadways and the like. 

The hundreds of people at the demonstration peacefully assembled at the Patrick Terminal at Port Botany.

They demanded that federal and state governments ban Israeli ships owned by Israeli shipping company Zim from all ports in Australia.

They also demanded the federal government action broader sanctions against the Israeli Zionist government.

The MUA is leading by example in support of the Palestinian people. It is far in advance of many official union leaderships who remain silent, presumably because they do not want to go public against the ALP government. History will not judge their silence well. They will fade away as irrelevant while unions that take a stand against oppression will be like the MUA - HERE TO STAY!

 

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US submarine visits not welcome and will never be “normal”

Written by: Nick G. on 25 March 2024

 

On Sunday March 10, the US Los Angeles class submarine, the USS Annapolis, arrived at the Stirling Naval Base in WA from its home base in Guam.  The date signified the first anniversary of the signing of the AUKUS arrangements. Rallies in Australia cities were held to oppose AUKUS.

The visit was primarily a propaganda exercise designed to normalize the presence of foreign submarines in Australian waters. The propaganda exercise included a “gridiron friendly” between the US submariners and a WA state team. 

Under the AUKUS Optimal Pathway program, up to 4 U.S. Virginia-class submarines and one United Kingdom Astute-class submarine will use HMAS Stirling as a rotational base. The Submarine Rotational Force – West (SRF-West) will operate on the same principles as the US marine rotational base near Darwin, and see more than 700 American personnel at the WA base to support the submarine presence.

The Australian government has announced expenditure of $8 billion to upgrade Stirling’s facilities. According to a March 21 report in the US online Breaking Defense Indo-Pacific, Stirling “needs to be enlarged to cope with larger Virginia-class sub visits and must be secured to meet US and UK standards for protecting nuclear secrets and equipment.”

The $8 billion is on top of the $9.4 billion already gifted to US and UK companies in preparation for building nuclear-powered submarines that will be an Australian appendage to the US Navy as it sits off the coast of China and threatens war with that country.

The US lackey and Prime Minister of Australia, Albanese, claims that once the AUKUS submarines are in operation they will fly the Australia flag and be under Australian sovereignty.

That is not how the US sees it. Former independent SA Senator and submariner Rex Patrick tweeted the text of the conditions under which the US sale of Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines will take place.

They require their use to be “consistent with United States foreign policy and national security interests.” In other words, not the coastal defence of Australia, but deployment off the coast of China.

And, as is now widely known, the sale is provisional on the US having enough submarines for its own imperialist military requirements. Having enough for itself to release second-hand Virginias to Australia requires an annual US production of 2.3 submarines a year.

But the US has just reduced its submarine production to 1 submarine per year, much to the embarrassment of Albanese and Marles.

Hopefully, the program will collapse under the weight of its own stupidity. 

But much more likely is that it will need to be swept away by continuing people’s actions.

 

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A tale of two payments…

Written by: Nick G. on 24 March 2024

 

In the same week that the government gifted $4.7 billion to Rolls Royce in Britain to help them build submarine nuclear reactors, which we will then have to buy from them, the automatic CPI-based indexation of welfare payments will see the unemployed get an extra 97 cents a day.

The JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment Partnered and Special Benefit rates are usually adjusted on 20 March and 20 September each year in line with CPI movements over the preceding six month period.

“This increase – not even a dollar a day – is barely enough to cover a packet of pasta, and will not be noticed by people who are still copping heartbreaking rent rises of $30, $40, $50 dollars, or more, as well as contending with rises in food, medical, utility, and other basic expenses”, Anti-Poverty Network SA spokesperson, Jasmin Witham said.

Ms Witham said: “Almost two years ago, the Albanese government was elected on a promise to ‘Leave No One Behind’, but people on JobSeeker have been largely forgotten. Last year’s Federal Budget saw an insulting and miserable $2.86-a-day rise to JobSeeker. With this latest indexation, JobSeeker will still be $34-a-day – $238-a-week – below the Henderson poverty-line of $88-a-day.

Unlike the Australian unemployed, Rolls Royce must be rubbing its hands in glee.

The $4.7 billion gift from the Australia taxpayer matches exactly the same amount gifted to US shipyards struggling to build one Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine a year.

The government will argue that the $9.4 billion to be shared between US and UK masters of war will be spread over ten years, but so what?

There are currently 565,000 unemployed people in Australia. Shared between them $9.4 billion would mean $16,370,000 per person over ten years, or $1,637,000 per year for a decade.

Instead, they are offered 97 cents a day.

For the sake of selling out our sovereignty, and making it impossible for us to back out of any war the US imperialists wish to drag us into, we are robbing Australians of a decent way of life.

There is no difference between Labor and Liberal in terms of their blind obedience to their US masters.

The waste of money on AUKUS must be stopped.

 

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AUKUS: Jobs diversion scheme

Written by: Nick G. on 22 March 2024

 

Above: For the broader implications of AUKUS, see our  AUKUS video.  

 

The $368 billion (and counting) cost of the AUKUS nuclear-powered subs folly was promised by Labor to create a 20,000 jobs bonanza. Looked a rationally, however, it is a massive jobs diversion scheme and a huge wasted opportunity for working Australians.

Having already committed to transferring $4.6 billion to pump prime the struggling US shipyards, Labor announced today an equivalent $4.6 billion transfer to the struggling British shipyards.(1)

That’s 9,200 million dollars that we will not see in Australian jobs creation, jobs that could substantially ease the ramping crisis in our hospitals, improve rural roads, assist in lifting public schools to the same funding level as the privates, or reduce the gap in Indigenous disparities.

And that’s only 1/40th of the total spend on AUKUS subs.

The $368 billion is said to be the largest transfer of wealth outside of Australia.

And we are promised 20,000 jobs spread over 30 years for that! And only 8,700 of those jobs will actually be on submarine construction itself.

Economist John Quiggin at the University of Queensland pointed out in May last year that the cost of the AUKUS jobs “bonanza” worked out at $18 million per job.

How many teachers, paramedics, road workers or engineers cost $18 million a piece to train and employ?

In 2015, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) reported that automation could replace an estimated 40 percent of Australia’s workforce within the next 20 years. That’s approximately five million jobs that could be replaced by robots.

The World Economic Forum in its Future of Jobs Report estimated that as many jobs will be created through AI - notably machine learning engineers, robotics engineers and data scientists – as will be destroyed. Even if this is true – and not a case of putting lipstick on a pig- there will be a huge mismatch between the skill sets of those who lose their jobs through automation and those required in the new areas of employment. There will be no large-scale employment transfer opportunity. 

While each of the jobs to be created though AUKUS will be welcomed by those who can access them, there are so few spread over such a long time that the promised jobs “bonanza” is in reality a massive jobs inadequacy.

The cost of AUKUS is a diversion of much-needed government funding away from real widespread employment creation.

Imperialism dictates that the public bear the cost of US preparations for dragging Australia into another of its wars.

AUKUS must be stopped.

The movement for an independent and peaceful Australia must be strengthened.

Only a socialist Australia will make it possible to use government funds for socially useful purposes and real jobs creation.

(1)  It has now been revealed by UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps that the Australian gift to the Rolls Royce plant at Derby where nuclear reactors for submarines are built. Shapp was over the moon, saying it would double the size of the Derby site, allowing it to create 1,170 skilled jobs. That's at a cost to Australia of $4 million per UK job.

 

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Transparency: who will the Australian Government listen to?

Written by: Nick G. on 21 March 2024

 

Original photo: Chris Shannen   Flickr Commons

Will a US arms manufacturer have more luck than Australian citizens in getting some transparency from the Australian government? 

Frustration at the lack of transparency surrounding decisions of the government is growing.

At the head of the list is self-styled “Transparency Warrior” and former independent SA Senator Rex Patrick. He has bombarded various government departments including Environment, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence with Freedom of Information requests that are more often than not denied. The former submariner and AUKUS opponent’s X (Twitter) account regularly updates readers with the lack of government transparency.

The Department of Defence is one of the least transparent, with many in the so-called defence community railing against the closed-doorism of the department. They include editor of the online Asia Pacific Defence Reporter Kym Bergmann, who has often complained about the lack of transparency in Defence. He said in a podcast last October that “the cult of secrecy – particularly surrounding anything to do with Defence and national security - is having such a corrosive effect.”

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties recently condemned the government for its lack of transparency surrounding the cancellation of visas for Palestinians escaping the Gazan genocide.

“There has not been any transparency from the government regarding their visa cancellations,” wrote Council President Lydia Shelly in an open letter to the Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil.

Peak legal body, the Australian Law Council, began the year with a call for more transparency in government policy decisions, saying the government had been much more closed off to policy discussions in the wake of the PwC tax leak scandal.

The views above represent a very broad cross-section of the Australian public, yet the government continues to have its ears in its pockets.
However, that may soon change.

US arms manufacturer Northrop Grumman “is readying itself for what it hopes will be a steady stream of business as part of the AUKUS submarine plan for Australia, two company executives” said in Canberra on March 19.

According to a report in the US online Breaking Defense platform, the company was hoping to win contracts for repair and maintenance work on the AUKUS submarines, and was also looking for “small to medium enterprises here that can provide components to the US for the US production”. 

In order to position itself to profit from the AUKUS arrangements, Northrop Grumman told the government it needed to help them by being more transparent.

Northrop Grumman executive Tom Wears called on the government to “Provide transparency on what the path ahead is. You know, what are the ultimate objectives? What’s the timeline? What are the milestones along the way so that all industry can be ready to engage at the right time to bring the information that they need to put the plan together… one thing I would encourage the government to do, is be transparent as possible on what the plans ahead are so industry can respond and be ready.”

There is no doubt that two executives of a major US imperialist weapons manufacturer will get their way where Australia citizens cannot.

This is the outcome of the sale of our national sovereignty to US imperialism and the control of our economy by US capital.

 

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North American Indigenous people support Palestinians

Written by: Assiniboine Nation on 21 March 2024

 

In Australia, the carrying of the Aboriginal and Palestinian flags side by side has been a feature of many of the rallies against the Gazan genocide.

Many Australian First Peoples instinctively recognise the parallels between the struggles of both peoples against settler colonialism’s ethnic cleansing and genocide.

We reproduce here a statement from the Assiniboine Nation of Montana, USA, one of the Indigenous peoples of North America, and their reasons for supporting the Palestinian people. 

The capitalist press seeks to disunite the people, and will never promote the mutual understanding and support between Indigenous peoples. 

We will.
…………….
As “Maka Yuchanch,” “Shakes the Ground,” Lance FourStar of the Red Bottom Clan of the Assiniboine Nation in Northeastern Montana, speaking on behalf of a tribe which faces similar struggles against political and economic manipulation and suppression perpetrated by occupying forces, we recognize and stand in compassionate solidarity with the Palestinian people.

We acknowledge that the United States government's deliberate actions to prevent Indigenous tribes from exercising their right to self-determination, dissent, and cultural healing mirror the oppression faced by Palestinians. We acknowledge that just as our Assiniboine tribe experienced starvation at the hands of an occupying force, so do Palestinian civilians suffer under siege tactics aimed at exerting unearned authority over indigenous populations previously thriving on their own land.

We urgently appeal to the federal government to fully restore autonomy and the right to self-determination to Indigenous tribes, to honor the treaties that have been abandoned, to return rightful control over ancestral lands and provide meaningful support to tribes whose territories have been occupied for centuries, to end the cycle of exploitation and suppression, and urge an effort to embrace a new tradition of genuine partnership and respect for Indigenous sovereignty.

Likewise and in complete solidarity with a similarly oppressed Indigenous people, we call for a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the siege, the blockade, and all actions against the civilian population of Palestine that prevent its Indigenous population from thriving. We call on Hamas to release all remaining hostages, and on Israel to release all prisoners currently held without trial.

Make no mistake, it does not escape us that so many of the dead and wounded children in Gaza look like they could be our siblings, our children, our grandchildren. It does not escape us that the Assiniboine people can look out our windows and see the graves of victims of intentional starvation by our own colonizers, just as the Palestinian people can see mass graves holding the bodies of their similarly martyred loved ones. It does not escape us, and we will not forget.

 

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Poverty in Australia: more entrenched than ever

Written by: (Contributed) on 19 March 2024

 

Original photo by Fernando Goncalves

Some recent studies have revealed just how much the Australian working-class have lost in the past few years with rampant inflation which has undermined living standards. Lower socio-economic groups have been particularly hard-hit. While economists continue to discuss the likely causes of the problem, the seriously dysfunctional nature of the Australian capitalist economy would appear the likely outcome of being part of the imperialist globalised economy.

 

A recent study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has found 970,000 Australian workers were employed in multiple jobs, up by 13,600 compared to the previous quarter ending last December. (1) Many Australian workers find it difficult, if not impossible, to retain their living standards with one job. Australia, in recent years, has been hard-hit with soaring price/profit inflation levels which have reduced spending power by as much as 20 per cent to 25 per cent.

Australian workers have experienced a drastic wage-cut.

While Australia has a total workforce of 14,201,300, the participation rate has remained relatively constant at 66.8 per cent. In reality, therefore, the workforce is only 9,486,468. (2)
Using the official government statistics as the benchmark, therefore, a total of 10.23 per cent of the Australian working class cannot financially survive with only one job.

The what extent the second jobs remain outside the usual structured and policed economy with recorded wages and entitlements together with income tax and super being paid and non-official work with payment in the form of cash-in-hand is difficult to accurately establish. The latter, nevertheless, is a factor which has to be taken into account together with the problem of wage-theft.

A further problem workers experience when employed in more than one job is that entitlements for injuries are affected; income protection insurance for main employment, for example, does not apply usually apply if a worker is injured in a second job. If the second job is in the informal economic system, serious legal and liability issues automatically arise during the subsequent investigation.

The official statistics are all the more appalling when taking other criteria into account.

Those employed on the casual basis or precarious levels of employment, while sometimes earning high wages, usually lack credit ratings to raise a mortgage to buy their own homes. They are, subsequently, frequently found in rental accommodation. A recent study conducted by PropTrack has established rental affordability is now at the worse levels since records began. (3) While the average national median household income has increased 19 per cent during the 2019-24 period, rents have increased by 38 per cent during the same period. (4) Last year an ABS study found city rents across Australia increased by an average of 7.3 per cent. (5)

Soaring interest rates have also exacerbated the problem, with the age of cheap credit well past. Many Australians with credit card debts now experience serious financial difficulties.

While economists continue to argue about the causes of the price/profit inflation, a common theory is that it has been the natural outcome of a financial stimulus by the then Trump administration in Washington, designed to ease the problems caused by the COVID pandemic. It was noted 'every year from 2017 when Trump took over from Obama, his administration increased the federal deficit significantly, ultimately adding more to US debt than all former US presidents combined'. (6)

Due to the globalised economy, the problem quickly spread through financial and banking systems to those countries such as Australia which remain strongly linked to the US.  

At the top-end-of-town, however, unequal distribution of wealth has continued to be a serious problem. The rich and wealthy continue to expand their portfolios well above levels of inflation while giving their workers wage increases below half that of existing inflation rates! (7) There is no sign the problem of price/profit inflation will end in the near future.

  

1.     Multi-job record a sign of bad times, The Weekend Australian, 9-10 March 2024.
2.     ABS: Australian Workforce, January 2024.
3.     Rental crisis worst on record, The Weekend Australian, 9-10 March 2024.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Quoted: Prefabricated and build-to-rent houses, The Conversation, 12 March 2024.
6.     Trump or Biden? It won't matter to the US economy, Australian, 14 March 2024.
7.     Website: Forbes List, where the rich openly flout their wealth and gloat over their ill-gotten gains; information about what they pay their workforces can be accessed through the ABS and trade-unions.

 

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Farewell Judy Henstock Murupaenga

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 18 March 2024

 

Judy Henstock (Huri Murupaenga)
1943-2005

When Sydney journalist Judy Henstock Murupaenga died in November last year New Zealand, her birthplace, and Australia lost a passionate advocate for human rights and equality. For those who knew and loved her, there was tremendous sadness in her passing, but also gratitude for a precious legacy. 

Judy’s son named her the “Joan of Arc of Balmain”. She was always out and about in her local area, talking, but above all listening. For her, an essential part of understanding objective conditions, being able to ‘read’ them, was listening to a large number of people.
 
She spoke of an experience that provided a template for her later activity. As an isolated, young mother, she created a petition against the Vietnam War, door-knocking in her local area with children in tow. She built connections but also gauged people’s attitudes, beliefs and levels of understanding. 
 
Communist methods were her guide. The daughter of leading New Zealand communists Alec and Molly Ostler, Judy understood the strengths and weaknesses of communist practice. According to Judy, communists have to be active in the issues that naturally surround them, and set an example of decent, ethical service to the people. Judy believed communists have to be respectable in its truest sense, of being ‘able to be respected’.
 
Judy experienced first hand what it meant to be broke for long periods of time, yet her willingness to listen to others, her home cooked meals, small gifts and especially her wonderful Maori bread (a reminder of her proud communal heritage and struggle) were legendary amongst friends and family.
 
Judy condemned dogmatism and sectarianism. She was a deep thinker and analyser, determined to see beyond appearances, to discover the essence of things. Activity must be based on current mass understanding, backed up by mass education. She believed in studying real Australian and world conditions, including data from government sources and organisations like St Vincent de Paul and the Brotherhood of St Lawrence. She was adamant that information be sourced: we couldn’t expect people to believe us just because of who we were. 
 
She urged patience and respect for others, rather than rushing into activities like a bull at a gate, yet she coupled this with an intense desire to act against injustice. She hated preaching.  She rephrased Lenin’s advice not to tell people what they already know into the earthier idiom, “Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs.” 
 
She believed we have to discover new ways of organising, new methods of work. “We have to constantly review ourselves, changing from week to week, month to month,” she said. She despised ruling class deceit and manipulation. “I read lots of magazines,” she said. “People reading are having a relationship with people they’ll never meet. Howard has set himself up like this and he does it well. We need to use similar methods.” She singled out key ruling class organisations: “We need to name the names behind the Business Council of Australia, and do it often. It’s people who drive it, who organise it. We need to give life to their class links, their directorships and clubs.”
 
Her deepest motivation, was an optimism based on experience that fundamental change was not only possible but inevitable. Her starting point was an analysis of mass sentiment. “People are angry but feel futile. We need to show that things are winnable,” she said. “We have to keep trying till we find something that works.” 
 
In the latter years of her life Judy became active in the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, but was frustrated by poor health. “We have to keep reminding people that new laws are leading to terrorism by the ruling class,” she warned. “People being picked off, one at a time, like Nazi Germany.”
 
Judy’s eyes would sparkle with a thousand plans. Despite years of illness and intense pain, Judy was determined to help change the world. While it took its toll, her bright words on facing another setback, “Never mind!” showed her refusal to give up.
 
In the last days of her life Judy joined tens of thousands protesting against Howard’s industrial relations’ laws.
 
Judy made the world a better place.
 
 “A red libation to your good memory, friend. There’s work yet, for the living.” Hone Tuwhare. 
(From a biography of Maori poet, Hone Tuwhare, by Janet Hunt)

 

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Jack Shapiro: A star shining in our sky

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 18 March 2024

 

Jack Shapiro, “Our British Correspondent”  died on 29th January, 2010 at the age of 93. Through several generations and many decades his comradeship with our party was both deeply political and deeply personal. How lucky we are to have been his comrade! Our ideas were shaped through his articles, through conversations and letters. No book written by Comrade Ted Hill was published without Jack's clear analysis and criticism. He stood shoulder to shoulder with our party in the struggle against the revisionism that tried to take the revolutionary heart from Marxism-Leninism.

As our party's message of condolence published in the last edition of Vanguard said of him, “Alongside his wife and comrade, Marie, he made an inestimable contribution to the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) … in his unwavering commitment to Marxism-Leninism as a science which must be deeply studied and constantly tested against reality in order to be developed.
 
“Jack truly embodied what the word 'communist' means. He dedicated his entire life to the service of the ordinary people of the world. He knew that if they were led by a working class imbued with Marxism-Leninism, they were an unstoppable force. But he knew that this would not happen spontaneously, that without the guidance of communist parties, organised and steeled in the particular struggles of their own countries, capitalism would continue to triumph.”
 
The finest cause on earth
 
Jack was born on the anniversary the storming of the Bastille by French revolutionaries, and he too took a revolutionary role in momentous events.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the CPGB(ML), described some of his contributions, “Born into the working-class Jewish community in east London, Jack served a full eight decades in the communist movement; decades that took him from a young teenage militant in the ranks of the Young Communist League to Britain’s most cherished veteran communist fighter.
 
“To paraphrase the words of Ostrovsky in 'How the Steel Was Tempered', our Comrade Jack can have no regrets for a cowardly and trivial past. In dying, he can truly say that all his life and all his strength were given to the finest cause on earth, the liberation of mankind.
 
“It is indeed appropriate that his final speech should have been given from his wheelchair on 3 October 2009 at our party’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese revolution.”
 
In his final years Jack became the Honorary President of the CPGB (ML) and of “Hands off China!” The CPGB(ML) wrote that for their party, he was “truly a star shining in our sky”. No better words describe his contribution to our party as well.
 
Mass line
 
Jack was fierce in the struggle to implement for the mass line.
 
“Listening to the workers on the job is vital, for in what they say can be detected the wisdom that carries onto the path of correct activity. That was what Mao meant when he said 'all wisdom resides in the masses'. By listening to those in the front line of the struggle and applying our understanding we can give leadership,” he wrote.
 
On another occasion he pointed out, “The main thrust must be to get rid of US hegemony. In Australia and even in Britain, the heavy hand of USA imperialism holds down the people of the world. The USA has bases in 172 countries. It moves its soldiers and their armaments from one place to another either to clamp down or stir up or to move in with its local collaborators.
 
“In the process of struggle many people begin to see the evils of the USA dominance and it is precisely in the course of this struggle that there will be found people who want to do more than get rid of USA dominance and are then ready to embrace the revolutionary way forward.”
 
A garden grows
 
The breadth of Jack's connections amongst the people was extraordinary. The ceremony to award him Honorary Life Membership of the CPGB (ML), drew 100 people, among them the Chinese First Secretary, the North Korean Ambassador, and the Director of Xinhua News Agency. With characteristic modesty he said, “I had to pinch myself that it was all about me.”
 
As well as various other left publications, the conservative 'Times' newspaper carried an obituary for him. Last year he was a runner-up in the first Times/Sternberg Active Life Award, which celebrated the achievements of older people, for his work on behalf of deaf people and those with tinnitus. In that work he drew in Lord Astley and the Duchess of Devonshire but it was with ordinary people that he worked most closely.  
 
The Times' article contains an extraordinary list of achievements, rightly describing them as 'prodigious'. He truly served the people. Yet 'The Times' did not mention that he was a communist, or include any of his directly political work.
 
Jack wrote of the genesis of his work for the deaf, “Many years ago I posed a question to Ted Hill. As there was no ML party here, what could a restless person like me do? Well, said Ted, you could write for Vanguard and raise some funds...but then I asked Ted, what about the deaf (as I am) and those with tinnitus (like me)? Ted encouraged me to plunge into the work for deaf people and also suggested that we form a Tinnitus Association for people to help themselves as there was no help elsewhere.”
 
In 2002 he wrote in the British Tinnitus Association magazine, 'Quiet”, “The future holds much promise. The BTA can fulfil the hopes of all people with tinnitus. The watchword is always HOPE.”
 
That hope for the future was at the core of his work as a communist. He wrote of his much-loved garden as a metaphor for the revolutionary change be knew to be inevitable, “But the buds are swelling on the magnolia tree, the grass is green and many of the plants already indicate that Spring is on the way. Shelley says, 'If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?' He meant it in a political sense. It augers well for us.”
 
Farewell Comrade. You have helped plant and tend a garden of the people. The buds are swelling on your magnolia. Here the beautiful Australian wattles set their autumn buds, buds of revolution that you from so far away helped nurture.
 
 
 

 

 

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Farewell Marie Shapiro, comrade and internationalist

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 18 March 2024

 

In December, 2008, the working class of the world, but particularly of Great Britain and Australia, lost a comrade who had spent her life in their service. Though few would know her name, Marie Shapiro made an enormous contribution to the cause of communism. 

Marie was born in London on December 11, 1913 of Polish parents who returned to their homeland the following year. In fascist Poland Marie saw the suffering of her own people, but she also heard the stories of the great Soviet working class which was creating a new society under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, led by Josef Stalin. At sixteen she secretly joined the Polish Young Communist League, demonstrating an unwavering bravery that would stand her in good stead all her life. Not long after she served nine months in a Polish prison for distributing leaflets proclaiming May Day. 
 
Her parents obtained a British passport for her, and she was expelled from Poland as a British citizen. By that stage she was already a member of the Polish Communist Party. 
 
Marie’s aptitude for foreign languages and the law saw her accepted at the Sorbonne, but without funds she was unable to remain in Paris, and journeyed to London. Her independent spirit was irrepressible. Determined to support herself rather than live off the charity of her English relatives, Marie become a seamstress. She joined the Tailor and Garment Workers’ Union and also the Communist Party of Great Britain, and actively recruited her fellow workers to both organisations.
 
Yet already she knew that communism, not economism, was the way forward. Trade unions were, and are, great mass organisations and training grounds for the working class, but ultimately only a strong Marxist-Leninist party could lead beyond the day-to-day battles within capitalism to socialism, where the dictatorship of the proletariat could liberate the vast majority of people for the first time and pave the way for the classless society of communism.
 
In 1933, a year after her arrival in London, she met the man who would become her lifelong partner, comrade and best friend, Jack Shapiro. For both, Yiddish was their first language, and they mixed with the progressive element of the East London Jewish community, who were helping to awaken the English working class about the horrors of rising fascism in Germany and Italy.
 
In 1936 Franco attacked the Socialist Government in Spain. Both Marie and Jack were determined to join the International Brigades and fight in Spain. They took Spanish lessons before approaching the party. To their bitter disappointment they were told that they could do much more for Spain if they stayed in England. Nine of their group went to Spain, but only four returned. Their sacrifice made Marie more determined never to waver from the struggle for communist internationalism for which her comrades gave their lives.
 
After World War Two, Jack and Marie made their first of ten trips to the fledgling People’s Republic of China, but it was in the bitter battle against the revisionism that eventually led to the collapse of socialism and the outlawing of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, that they became staunch supporters of and contributors to our party. They recognized the leading international role played by Ted Hill, the founding chairman of the CPA (ML), in repudiating revisionism.  
 
Hill exposed the bankruptcy of the secret speech of Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, just three years after Stalin’s death. While using the name of Marxism-Leninism, Khrushchev  rejected key Marxist-Leninist concepts such as the dictatorship of the proletariat while espousing the path of peaceful transition to socialism, despite Lenin’s searing critiques of  such wishful thinking in classics like ‘The State and Revolution’. 
 
Both Jack and Marie deeply studied the Marxist-Leninist classics and applied them to British conditions, but revisionism had a near stranglehold of the British communist movement at that time. 
 
Jack became Vanguard’s decades long ‘British Correspondent’, but not a word of his that was ever published passed without Marie’s sharp scrutiny. Many drafts were developed before the articles met Marie’s approval. It was in every way a partnership right to the end. 
 
Jack and Marie remained active in many progressive campaigns. Marie was never idle, but it was not until the last years of her life, when she was terribly ill that that she gave her support to the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) that had risen above revisionism and begun to chart a way forward.
 
Jack and Marie lived in frugal comfort, ensuring a constant flow of finance to support our party’s work, but able to provide support for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. 
 
We send our condolences to Jack, to her daughters Doreen, Susan and Rosalind and to her seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, and to the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who have lost a comrade small in size, but mighty in communist stature. 

 

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The return of the Philippines puppet Mark 2

Written by: (Contributed) on 16 March 2024

 

The recent visit of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr. to Australia for high-level diplomatic talks marks a return to the days of the previous Cold War now being played-out with the present one against China.

Taking place on the eve of the ASEAN Summit in Melbourne, the Marcos address to parliamentarians in Canberra was designed to act as a rallying-cry for a further escalation of diplomatic hostilities between US-led positions and China inside the regional trade body.

The Philippines has had a long history of political leaders who acted as puppets for US-led regional diplomacy; the present President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr. is no exception to the general rule. Historically, US military strategists have used the Philippines as the centre of an arc which swings to the more economically developed countries of northern Asia and the under-developed yet resource rich countries of South-east Asia. (1) Operations have followed the regional planning.

An arc from sensitive US intelligence facilities based at Pine Gap, Central Australia, likewise, swings to counterparts on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and Guam in the Pacific which have been upgraded as hubs for regional operations. (2) The arc also cuts across the Philippines where the US now has access to nine military bases in strategic areas of the country based on the defence and security of 'US interests' in Taiwan and sensitive island chains used to restrict access and egress across the region. (3)

While great play was made of the Philippines closing some of the huge US military bases in the 1990s with the end of the previous Cold War, the Pentagon soon returned by stealth; emphasis was placed upon re-opening former military facilities then hosted by the Philippine government, partnered to enable US troop rotations with 'permission to operate from the old installations as guests, mostly on the temporary basis'. (4) The moves in the Philippines were also accompanied by similar diplomacy across the region; high-level diplomacy conducted by then President Obama toward traditional allies included numerous agreements about increasing the US military presence without too much publicity about longer-term implications. (5)

The relationship between US-led regional foreign policy and the Philippines, nevertheless, soured considerably with the election of President Rodrigo Duterte whose administration pursued a popularist and pragmatic line; Duterte, politically, came from outside the traditional ruling oligarchies imposed on the Philippines by the Spanish colonial administrations. Instead of, therefore, pursuing the US-led policies of confrontation with China, the Duterte administration stated that it 'will not take sides with any parties contesting China's move to set up a missile base on some of the islands in the South China Seas … this is to avoid the Philippines being dragged into a conflict between superpowers'. (6) The political and diplomatic position was quite clear. It included reference to 'it is not in our national interest … to … be involved in any armed confrontation between China and the US … an independent foreign policy is the best position to take … everything will be resolved in peaceful and diplomatic means'. (7)

The position of the Duterte administration also included their questioning and possible termination of a 1998 agreement with joint US-Philippine military exercises, which set alarm bells ringing frantically in the Pentagon. (8) It effectively threatened to push the US into a front-line position as opposed to lurking behind regional partners and allies. When then President Obama addressed a graduation of US military cadets at West Point, New York, in 2014, for example, he stated 'it was possible for the US to lead through example and by creating international alliances … and … the promise of a less aggressive American foreign policy', was subsequently used for the later Indo-Pacific Strategy. (9)

With the demise of the Duterte administration and election of Marcos Jnr. the US gave a sign of relief; the oligarchies were back in control, with the Marcos oligarchy holding presidential power. Washington and the Pentagon were subsequently able to return to the traditional hegemonic and diplomatic positions of the previous Cold War, now played-out in the present one against China.

It was, therefore, no surprise to observe President Marcos Jnr. being given a big welcome in Canberra; Australia is a regional hub for 'US interests', with defence and security considerations resting partly on the Philippines. In fact, the US regard the Philippines as the front-line with its diplomatic hostilities toward China, with 'Australia the main rear for US military forces'. (10) The diplomatic positions include preparations for 'real-war scenarios'. In recent times, for example, Australian military facilities have been upgraded specifically for this purpose, coinciding with the formal Visiting Forces Agreements between the Philippines, Australia and the US leaving little to the imagination about longer-term implications.

Marcos, furthermore, used his visit to Canberra and address in Parliament House, on the eve of the ASEAN Summit in Melbourne, to state the Philippines 'is prepared to choose a side', namely the US against China. (11) Most ASEAN member countries, however, prefer to not take sides between the US or China; they benefit from diplomacy with both sides. (12)

No doubt the US is, therefore, pleased with their Marcos Mark 2 puppet in Manila, who is serving 'US interests' well, as his father did before him, together with the sowing of seeds of doubt and division inside ASEAN, the premier Asian trade bloc:

                                      We also need an independent foreign policy!

  
1.     The objectives of the US, The Guardian, 6 August 2003.
2.     See: Peters Projection, World Map, Actual Size.
3.     US plans to expand its military presence in the Philippines to counter threats against Taiwan, USA Today, 2 February 2023.
4.     US eyes return to south-east Asian bases, The Guardian, 29 June 2012.
5.     US signs defence deal in Asia, The Guardian, 2 May 2014.
6.     Duterte won't antagonise China over missile system, The Philippine Star, 9 May 2018.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Philippines rethinks defence deal with the US, Australian, 4 June 2020.
9.     US signals foreign policy shift away from military might, The Guardian, 6 June 2014, and; The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
10.   Guardian, op.cit., 6 August 2003.
11.   Bongbong knows he needs friends, Australian, 1 March 2024.
12.   See: Tapping in to ASEAN needs, Australian, 7 March 2024, with reference to the 'China plus one' strategy of ASEAN member countries.

 

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Aged Care Workers Win Higher Wages and Some Respect

Written by: Ned K. on 15 March 2024

 

Source: United Workers Union, X

On Friday 15 March 2024 the Fair Work Commission handed down its second Decision on wage increases for aged care workers. In 2022 the Commission handed down a Decision increasing nurses and personal care workers and chefs in aged care facilities a 15% wage increase.

The principal unions with membership in the aged care sector (Nurses Union, Health Services Union and United Workers Union) initial case was for a 25% wage increase for all occupations in the aged care sector. 

The second Decision of the Commission handed down on Friday 15 March 2024 increased the wage increase (inclusive of the 15%) to up to 28.5% for nurses and personal care workers and a 6.8% wage increase to support service aged care workers such as cleaners, laundry workers and food preparation workers assisting the chefs.

Although aged care workers did not take industrial action to win increases in pay, they raised their voices in unity exposing to Royal Commissions, politicians and the media the impact that low pay had not just on their own personal lives but on the quality of care of elderly people dependent on aged care. It has been their stories that demanded the Fair Work Commission and the federal government ensure that aged care workers be paid wages that reflect the skill and complexity of the work they perform.

Aged care workers’ wages are paid from money allocated to the aged care employers who own and dominate the aged care sector, both residential and home care.

Many aged care sector employers, even the so-called not for profit operators, have a history of mis-allocating federal government money provided to pay workers.

Sometimes this has been done by outright underpayment (wage theft) of workers and sometimes by "creative rostering" and not replacing staff absent from work. 

With the increase in wages to aged care workers, the temptation to continue bad practices will no doubt continue. 

However, through the workers’ campaign for higher wages and respect for the work they do, they have become more united and organized with thousands joining their appropriate union for the first time. Many are migrant workers who are standing up for their rights and the rights of residents like never before.

The next big battle for the aged care workers and indeed communities is to tackle the question of ownership and control of the sector.

Is it in the interests of aged care residents, workers and communities as a whole that aged care is dominated by private for-profit operators, many of them large overseas owned conglomerates?
 

 

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Party Anniversary and Congress

Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 15 March 2024

 

Today, March 15, 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of our Party’s founding.

To mark the occasion, we are announcing today that we will be holding our 16th Congress this year.

Congress is taking place at a time of intensifying inter-imperialist rivalries and continuing crisis of global monopoly capital.  Although US imperialism is still strong, especially militarily, it is more widely exposed and isolated. The gulf between the ruling classes of monopoly capital and the masses is widening globally.  Conditions for expanding anti-US imperialist forces are strengthening, not least in Australia. Economic and living conditions of the people are worsening.  Climate crisis is rallying the people against monopoly capitalism.  Nevertheless, we need to take account of uneven conditions and developments. 

The heroic Palestinian resistance is isolating reactionary and imperialist forces, inspiring and mobilising the oppressed and progressive forces. The overwhelming international solidarity for Palestinians is an antidote to the ruling class’s push towards fascism.   

The inter-imperialist rivalries between the US bloc and China/Russia bloc are intensifying, threatening imperialist war, giving rise to anti-war and independence movements.   

Congress consultations offer excellent opportunities to examine Australia’s and international conditions, class struggle, the people’s and revolutionary movements, enabling the party to set the direction for our work and study in the next 4-5 years.

Central Committee
CPA (M-L) 

 

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Australia surrenders sovereignty again: integrates with US-UK military exports and RnD

Written by: Nick G. on 13 March 2024

 

A new set of policies on Australian exports introduced last November has been designed to make local research and development interoperable with that of our AUKUS “partners”, the US and UK imperialists.

Hugh Jeffrey, Australia’s Deputy Secretary of Strategy, Policy, and Industry made the announcement during a Canberra speech sponsored by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

Hugh Jeffrey has had 4 overseas postings, including as Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC and to NATO in Afghanistan, where he was Senior Adviser to the International Security Assistance Force Commander and the NATO Ambassador.

Jeffrey said that the changes will mean “a net decrease in regulatory compliance costs, and actually expand the amount of research that can occur internationally without a permit”.

“…with the national exemption for export permits from the US and UK, (the changes will) remove regulation from $5 billion of almost $9 billion in annual Australian defence exports.”

That will please not just the American and British, but also our good friends in the Zionist genocidal army to which we are exporting arms and technology.

But local researchers outside the US loyalists in the Australian military, public service and government, are worried about the implications. 

The president of the Australian Academy of Sciences, Chennupati Jagadish, was concerned about the prospect of a brain drain towards the military. “My ability to attract the best and brightest in the world, wherever they are, will diminish,” he said. “It’s timely to ask what Australia is really seeking to secure if we are restricting the development of technologies that are critical for the future of our country?” 

Even people in the US close to their military are surprised at the gullibility of their Australian servants.

Bill Greenwalt, who as a staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote many of the US export control rules, said he thought “Australia just gave up its sovereignty and got nothing for it.” 

Greenwalt, also a former US deputy undersecretary of Defense for industrial policy, warned that incorporating many of the principles of the International Trafficking in Arms Exports (ITAR) regulations to gain access to US nuclear submarine technology would set Australia back 50 years. 

The changes are designed to more closely bind Australia to the United States and Britain in return for access to the technology and intellectual property that comes with the primary goal of the AUKUS agreement — buying and building nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The gullibility extends to a promised gift to the US of A$4.7 million to pump prime their submarine production at a time when there is no guarantee of that happening. A matching contribution of US$3 billion has yet to pass Congress, held up by the same Republicans who are hoping for a Trump return to the Presidency.

Editor of the online Australia Pacific Defence Reporter, Kym Bergmann, commented yesterday: “In the US the return of Donald Trump to the Presidency is suddenly looking more likely – and if he scraps AUKUS it might do us all a favour by bowing to the inevitable.”

Commenting on US-Australia relations, former Senator and submariner Rex Patrick wrote yesterday that “There are no guarantee the US will actually deliver. US national interests will always take precedence.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also said yesterday that under AUKUS, Australia has ‘lost all sovereignty, all agency’.

Australia will never have the capacity for independent decision-making in matters of foreign policy so long as our economy is dominated by the US, and our ruling circles are blindly loyal to US imperialism.

Related reading: Client State: Australia the "51st state of the US" for deadly weapons destruction by Farah Abdurahman

 

 

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WOMAD: Marley to perform, Palestinian musicians banned

Written by: Nick G. on 9 March 2024

 

Photo: Asbjorn Kanck

Yesterday, members and supporters of the Australia Friends of Palestine Association picketed the entrance to the popular WOMAD music festival calling on audiences to boycott the performance by Ziggy Marley, son of the famous Rastafarian Bob Marley.

Their very vocal calls of "cease fire NOW" and "stop the genocide" rang out during the one and a half hour-long rally. Drivers of passing cars honked their horns in support. 

The AFOPA bookshop in Adelaide said that many with tickets to WOMAD had called at their shop to purchase pro-Palestinian t-shirts to wear to WOMAD.

Excuse to test new anti-protest laws.

The head of security bloke was in civvies walking around outside the entrance talking to people. He was hired direct by Womad whereas the security guards were contract security guards employed by SRS.

He said he had a specific contract with Womad and that the police were running the security show and applying/testing those new security laws that the Malinauskas Government rushed through after an Extinction Rebellion protest last year. The new Bill increased the financial penalties for obstruction of a public place 66 times, to a new fine of $50,000, and introduced a three month’s jail time. 

At one stage a police officer spoke to a Palestinian demonstrator who was walking on the pedestrian side of the two lane pathway on Frome Road. The other lane was for bicycles.

The Palestinian bloke had a placard about boycotting Ziggy Marley as he walked towards the city facing the Womad patrons who were coming from the city.

The Palestinian guy was told by the police he was obstructing the public.

The organisers of the protest AFOPA met with police prior to the protest and under some new law they were told they had to have no placards or flags within 50 metres of the entrance to the event. The police did not enforce this strictly as even the largest gathering of protesters on the western side of Frome Road were less than 50 metres from the entrance.

Why Marley?

Calls on WOMAD organisers to drop Marley from the program owing to his support for Israel and its armed forces, calls rejected by the organisers, had fuel added to the fire when the same organisers, at the last moment, withdrew their invitation for Jordanian-based Palestinian group 47SOUL.

Marley’s wife Orly Agai, is an Israeli of Iranian-Jewish descent. In Israel in 2011 for two concerts, Marley told the Zionist Israeli news agency Ynet: "The history of our connection to the roots of Israel, to David, Solomon, goes way before I met my wife. My father, my Rastafari culture, has a tight link to the Jewish culture. We have a strong connection from when I was a young boy and read the Bible, the Old Testament.” He told the agency that he “felt very close to Israel”.

In November 2018, Marley displayed that closeness when he joined US rapper Pharrel Williams on stage at the annual Friends of the Israel Defence Forces gala which raised US$60 million for the genocidal army.

Their audience included Israeli soldiers in uniform.

Although he claims his music sends a “message of justice, love, and peace for all people,” on October 20, 2023 Marley posted a picture of a raised hand, along with the words, “You know wha! There must be a better way. Free Gaza from Hamas.”

He also signed an open letter affirming his support of Israel amid the war with Hamas. 

The letter instructs Hollywood “to speak out forcefully against Hamas, to support Israel, to refrain from sharing misinformation about the war, and do whatever is in their power to urge the terrorist organisation to return the innocent hostages to their families”.

WOMAD director Ian Scobie tried to defend his decision to allow Marley to perform, saying that it was a lie that he had performed for the IDF and only promoted harmony in his songs. 

47SOUL a no-go

47SOUL, which had twice before performed at WOMAD, were to be banned, he said, because of the way feelings were running in the community at the moment, and his inability under those circumstances to be able to guarantee their safety. He added that they could perform in 2025 if they wanted to. This was a bullshit excuse, because anyone can see how feelings are running in the community at the moment.

47SOUL issued a statement on the withdrawal of their invitation to play:

"Having initially accepted the invitation, we were later informed that WOMADelaide took the decision to rescind 47SOUL's invite, citing doubts at being unable to present a 'suitably safe environment' for the artists and audiences at the festival due to community protests taking place in Australia," it said.

"We find this line of reasoning deeply problematic and disheartening as it feeds into the narrative of Palestinians being an inherent source of danger to others.

"At this critical time, the message of multiculturalism that WOMAD seeks to espouse, and its specific relevance to the events we are witnessing, could not be of greater importance."

British-Lebanese multi-genre music producer and DJ Saliah withdrew from WOMAD in protest, saying “I am of British-Lebanese heritage. Members of my family are currently suffering daily bombardment by the IOF (Israeli Occupation Force)  in Lebanon….WOMADelaide…refuses to provide a ‘safe’ platform for Palestinian artists and their allies at a time when amplifying our voices could not be more critical.”

Australian singer-songwriter Jen Cloher, who is part of Sunday’s WOMADelaide program and has vowed to donate any profits from that performance to 47SOUL and the Palestinian cause, lashed out at organisers’ claims the decision was based on safety.

Tunisian performer, Emel Mathlouthi performed last night, waving a Palestinian flag for a supportive audience.

Writers Week encourages discussion of Gaza conflict

In contrast to the deplorable decisions that have mired WOMAD in controversy, peaceful audiences of many hundreds of people listened with great interest to speakers on Palestinian and Israeli issues at the previous week’s Adelaide Writers Festival.

Avi Shlaim, whose Arab-Jewish family fled their Iraqi homeland after the First Arab-Israel War in 1948, described the discrimination his family faced from the   Ashkenazi Jews who had come to Israel from Europe. He had researched the circumstances of the large-scale migration of Jews from Iraq to Israel at that time, and had discovered “incontrovertible proof” that three of the five terrorist bombs directed at Iraq’s Jewish community had been planted by the Israelis themselves to induce a state of panic, forcing Iraq’s Jews to seek refuge in Israel. He explained why he rejected the “two-state solution” and now sought a singular secular and democratic state of Palestine. His book is Three Worlds: Memoirs of an  Arab-Jew.

Tareq Baconi serves as the president of the board of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He was listened to without interruption by more than 2,000 people at 8am as he outlined the origins of Hamas, its political ambitions and the reasons why it has the support of the people of Gaza. His book is Hamas Contained. 

Several hours later, another huge audience heard Israeli-born Ilan Pappé address the question of Israel and Palestine more broadly. The author of several books on the topic, he is best-known for his detailed study of the Zionist crime of ethnic cleansing that both pre-dated and continued through the Naqba. It was “a crime that needs to be confronted politically as well as morally”, he wrote in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. 

As a tale of two decisions, Adelaide Writers Week and WOMAD could not be further apart.

Further protests are planned at the latter.

 

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Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Written by: Ned K. on 8 March 2024

 

Above: Early Childhood Workers at a rally in 2022.

The dust has settled on the federal government's changes in the Fair Work Act in relation to enterprise bargaining. Workers and their Unions are looking to see where the changes can be used to advantage workers and what are the traps to look for.

The employers said the sky would fall in if the federal parliament approved widening the opportunities for multi-employer bargaining. So far that has not proven to be the case. One of the few sectors where the new multi-employer laws have been applied is the Early Childhood Education sector. The sector is now dominated by private equity companies and other private for profit operators while the wages paid to workers are highly dependent on federal government funding.

The Early Childhood Education workers (predominantly women) and their Union, United Workers Union, initiated multi-employer bargaining and utilised the new provision in the Fair Work Act regarding relevant funding third parties being involved . The third party involved was the federal government as it funded the wages in the sector. While the federal government said it as sympathetic towards the low pay and poor conditions of workers in the sector it dragged its heels on committing to fund wage increases. 

Consequently the sector owners stalled the bargaining process.

The workers and their Union responded in February this year by giving notice of a strike on Internatinal Women's Day, 8 March.

About a week before the intended sector wide strike, the federal government announced it would fund a substantial increase in wages. Union members' Delegates agreed in consultation with members to postpone the strike action and possibly withdraw it altogether once they knew the exact amount that the federal government was going to agree to fund in the form of wage increases and over what time frame.

Delegates thought it best to keep the powder dry as they realised that their members may only get one clean shot of strike action as under the new laws the employers and fderal government had plenty of legal options to try and block on-going industrial action.

The threat of industrial action definitely moved the federal government's position on funding wage increases in the sector.

From the workers' perspective, their Union had utilized changes in the new laws to apply the "rising tide (of struggle) to lift all boats(multiple private for-profit Early Childhood Education Centre owners)".

On International Women's Day, thousands of women workers in the sector will be keeping a close eye on developments and waiting to see the dollar signs from the federal government.

In a completely different sector of the economy, the stevedoring and maritime sector, there is a history of protracted enterprise bargaining disputes between the Maritime Union members and a single employer. The new laws in relation to enterprise bargaining have strengthened the powers of the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate when an employer or group of employers argues that workers and their Union are being "unreasonable" if they have not accepted an employer offer after 9 months of bargaining. The new provisions come under an Intractable Bargaining section of the Act. 

This new provision of the Act went through without headlines in the daily press and for good reason. The big corporations and no doubt both Labor and Liberal governments want to limit the power of the workers in key areas of the international economy such as shipping trade and turn around time of containers on and off ships.

So whatever the laws of capitalism regarding the class struggle within workplaces, workers and their Unions learn how to both use the laws to their advantage and how to avoid the worst aspect of the laws to further the interests of the working class as a whole to maximize the opportunity of a rising tide lifting many, if not all boats!
  

 

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International Women's Day and Palestinians' Struggle

Written by: Ned K. on 8 March 2024

 

In Adelaide, celebration of International Women's Day starts early with the now traditional International Women's Day Breakfast at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Each year thousands of women arrive at the Convention Centre from about 6.30am for a 7am start.

Many school children also attend the Breakfast and there are women from many different backgrounds and occupations in attendance.

This year the guest speaker was Annabelle Crabb and as in previous years, the Breakfast was attended by politicians including Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong who hosted the Breakfast.

Nothing different about that.

The difference this year was that as women approached the Convention Centre from north Terrace's footpath they saw police paddy wagons. Once up the escalator and on the plaza they would have seen more paddy wagons and a large contingent of uniformed police spread across the plaza in a straight line.

Were they there to protect the people entering the Breakfast? Possibly.

Or were they there to keep an eye on the small group of mainly women carrying large Palestinian banners standing behind a blockade especially placed to separate them from people entering the Breakfast, especially Penny Wong, the Foreign Affairs Minister so supportive of Zionist Israel?

Many women entering the event would have put two and two together to see the Palestinian flags behind barriers, a row of police nd Penny Wong being the host of the Breakfast.

 

 

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International Women’s Day lifts struggle for liberation of women and socialism!

Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 8 March 2024

 

All power to women of Palestine resisting the occupation!

On 8 March, International Working Working Women’s Day, women all around the world demonstrate their determination to struggle for the liberation of women and humankind from the shackles of colonialism, capitalism, imperialism and its wars.  Women resolutely oppose fascism in all its disguises.

We fight for our rights as women workers, as carers, cleaners and society’s nurturers, indispensable for the profit making by the capitalist class.  We stand as equals in the long struggle for a revolutionary change. We fight against gender exploitation, commercialisation, abuse and violence against women.  We lead numerous struggles for our livelihoods, for our kids, for the environment, for peace and a better future for humanity and the earth.   
 
Many struggles for women’s rights and liberation are joining the widening stream of people’s struggles flowing in the direction of socialism.  We welcome and celebrate the growing numbers of women joining the revolutionary struggle for socialism and communism.
 
We are inspired by the resilience and tenacity of generations of working women overcoming extraordinary obstacles and hardships of oppression and subjugation, only to rise stronger, and more determined to pass on the baton of struggle for liberation and revolutionary change to the next generation of women.   
 
Palestinian women
 
We dedicate this International Working Women’s Day to the courageous women of Palestine who, after 76 long years resisting the brutal Zionist colonial occupation and genocide, refuse to give up their struggle for the liberation of their people and country from brutal Zionist colonialism propped up and supported by US imperialism.
 
76 hard years of brutal occupation, intimidation, genocide, torture and rotting in Israel’s gaols, has not held back the Palestinian women’s lifelong resistance, many joining the armed resistance and charting the Palestinian people's revolutionary road to liberation.  Women in the struggles for liberation can break the chains of patriarchy.
 
Around the world women weep and rage in solidarity with the women of Gaza and occupied territories, for their unbearable grief and loss of children, families, friends, neighbours and entire communities.  We are inspired by their courage, resilience and generosity, and draw on their strength for our struggles.  
 
We stand in solidarity with the women of Israel who defy the fascist Israeli state in opposing the Zionist colonial occupation and genocide of Palestine. These courageous women are themselves exploited, attacked and vilified by the fascist Zionist capitalist state.   They long for friendship and solidarity with the women of Palestine. 
 
More Palestinian and Jewish voices are calling for one truly democratic, equal and secular state for the people of Palestine, Israel and all peoples, that can guarantee lasting equality, peace and security for all.
 
We also pay special tribute to revolutionary women of the Philippines and India engaged in their people’s armed struggles against colonialism, fascism and imperialism.  
 
Working women of Australia
 
Day in, day out, the great majority of working women are burdened with the rising cost of living, many struggle to make ends meet, in constant fear of losing jobs, unable to pay for roof over their heads, healthcare, education and child care.  Rising homelessness is endemic, especially amongst women.   Equal pay is still unattainable.  Recent figures show the gender pay gap in Australia is on average 29%. Foreign controlled banks and finance sector monopolies have the largest pay gap between women and men workers.  Women still overwhelmingly dominate in insecure and part time jobs.
 
For over a hundred years women in Australia have struggled to alleviate the economic and social burdens on their lives.  The few progressive reforms we’ve achieved to alleviate the burdens on women have only been won through women’s long struggles for better pay and working conditions, affordable child care, legal abortion, laws on sex discrimination and violence against women.  Many are now being take away or made unenforceable by the capitalist state.
 
These are permanent problems and burdens of capitalism, and can never be solved within the capitalist system that totally relies for its survival on the exploitation of people and the environment.  
 
As long as the capitalist exploitation and discrimination of women goes on, generations of women inevitably continue this fight.
 
The First Nations women are leading the militant fight against the settler colonialism and imperialism, demanding land rights and self-determination. They spearhead campaigns to stop the disproportionate incarceration and deaths in custody of young Aboriginal people, against the poverty and dispossession of their people and country.   
 
The First Nations peoples’ long struggles for self-determination is gathering wide support from non-indigenous Australia.
 
Working women - organise and mobilise in workplaces and communities!
  • Equal pay for equal work and work of equal value
  • Lift wages of all workers
  • Bring child care into public hands – make it affordable
  • More public and affordable housing
  • Increase Single Parents’ Benefits
  • Implement and enforce anti-discrimination legislation across society
  • Ban commercial profit-driven culture that commodifies women as sex objects
  • Oppose involvement in imperialist wars
 
Make the multinationals pay!
 
 “Socialism will create the necessary conditions for women to achieve their full potential, economic independence, equality and respect in all sectors of society.  In a socialist system, working women will be empowered to run the society as equals for the benefit of all working people”General Programme of the Communist Party of Australia Marxist-Leninist.
 

 

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Tuvalu’s Taiwan ties remain, but seeks to regain sovereignty from Australian security pact

Written by: (Contributed) on 7 March 2024

 

Above: People of Tuvalu protest Australia's indifference to global warming in 2019

Concerns arising about the new government of Tuvalu led by incoming Prime Minister Feleti Teo switching diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China appear to have been resolved, at least for the time being. A diplomatic note from Taiwan's ambassador to Tuvalu stated he had assurance ties with Taipei would be maintained in line with existing defence and security provision. While Tuvalu is a tiny Pacific Island country, it has important geo-strategic significance for US-led regional diplomacy and Taiwan.

In late February the Taiwanese Ambassador to Tuvalu issued a brief diplomatic statement that the incoming government of Prime Minister Feleti Teo in Funafuti would continue to maintain existing links with Taiwan. Concerns had arisen about a possible diplomatic switch to China, following a statement from former Finance Minister, Seve Paeniu, that 'Tuvalu's new government … would review … its Taiwan ties'. (1)

Tuvalu, a small country strategically placed in the Pacific has, historically, maintained full diplomatic ties with Taipei in return for a 'large assistance program'. (2)

Tuvalu achieved independence in the mid-1970s and although it has low levels of economic development, its membership of the British Commonwealth, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), together with a treaty of friendship with the US, nevertheless, have shown its vital strategic importance for regional western military and security provision. 

Its security pact with Australia, likewise, has revealed its continued significance for Canberra. (3) The Falepili Union, signed last year, allowed for increased migration to Australia, while surrendering veto power over Tuvalu's security arrangements to Canberra. Tuvalu still broadly supports the deal but wants to make changes it says will make the arrangement more "workable" and will safeguard the "integrity of the sovereignty" of the country. Its decision to revisit the pact has dealt a blow to Australia's signature foreign policy initiative in the Pacific. (4)

A major issue arising during recent election campaigning during the New Year was climate change and the very real fear Tuvalu could eventually submerge with rising sea-levels in a few decades. The offer by China, therefore, to create artificial island projects to protect Tuvalu from submerging was taken very seriously by the peoples of Tuvalu. (5) While China's offer was eventually not accepted, the problem, nevertheless, remains unresolved.  

In fact, informed opinion has already noted it was too early to expect the Teo administration to categorically maintain its ties with Taiwan, thereby creating continued disquiet amongst those linked to US-led militaryand security provision. (6)

Studies of Tuvalu reveal little about the role of US-led regional diplomacy, which in itself may be an indication of its highly sensitive nature. The US Department of State, however, acknowledge Tuvalu is part of its Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS). (7) The IPS is based on the global alliance established between the US and Japan, which, in turn, rests upon the Quad. (8) Tuvalu is situated approximately in the centre of the Quad and also strategically-placed at the inter-section of the equator and International Time/Date line. (9)

As Tuvalu also rests on an arc from sensitive signals facilities in Queensland, it would appear an important part of US-led regional military and security provision, particularly for the South and Western Pacific.

The Quad is also composed of numerous lower-level partners inside the main alliance, and Tuvalu would appear part of the regional IPS provision. Part of the US-led IPS strategy has been to build an anti-China missile network along sensitive island chains, used to restrict access and egress of adversaries across the vast region. (10) The geographical, political and diplomatic position of Taiwan is, furthermore, central to the US-led Island Chain Theory.

1.     Tuvalu PM 'rock solid with Taiwan', Australian, 27 February 2024.  
2.     Tuvalu, GlobalSecurity.org – March 2024.
3.     Pact with Tuvalu in the balance, Editorial, Australian, 30 January 2024.
4.     Tuvalu's new prime minister indicates he will revisit deal…, ABC News, 28 February, 2024
5.     See: Fears of Tuvalu turn to China, The Weekend Australian, 20-21 January 2024.
6.     Australian, op.cit., 27 February 2024.
7.     US Relations with Tuvalu, Website: US Department of State, 23 June 2023.
8.     The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
9.     Ibid., and, See: Peter Projection, World Map, Actual Size.
10.     See: US to build anti-China missile network along first island chain, Nikkei, 5 March 2021; and, US Indo-Pacific Command proposes new missile capabilities to deter China,        RFA., 5 March 2021.

 

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ICOR Call for International Women’s Day

Written by: ICOR on 7 March 2024

 

 

Above: Fighters of the Women's Protection Unit, Rojava are in the front lines of women's emancipation

Today we publish a statement from ICOR on International Women's Day. Tomorrow, on International Women's Day we will publish our own statement - eds.

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Women’s consciousness has awakened internationally – for the liberation of women in genuine socialism!
 
This year’s International Women’s Day, March 8, is marked by an awakening international women’s consciousness. Women are standing up against wars and crises. Despite the most difficult living conditions and repression, mothers, sisters and partners of soldiers in the Ukraine are protesting against the sacrificing of men at the front. In Russia, the ban on assembly can no longer prevent women from publicly demanding the return of soldiers from the front. These are important signals in a situation of growing imperialist rivalry and the resulting threat of world war and the accompanying heightened danger of war in many hot spots around the world.
 
The call of women in Iran “Woman - Life – Freedom” (Jin Jiyan Azadi) has gone around the world and can no longer be ignored. In Iran, the women’s and working-class movements are strengthening each other mutually in their resistance against the fundamentalist-fascist mullah regime. In Latin America, women are bravely defying the countless femicides and encouraging women worldwide to do the same. 
 
Seventy percent of the victims of Israel’s barbaric war in Gaza are women and children. This outrages us deeply. Their struggle for survival and their resistance has our deepest sympathy and support. A worldwide movement of solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle has emerged, in which hundreds of thousands of women are active. We vigorously support the fearless struggle of women in the DR Congo, Sudan and the Sahel countries (Burkina-Faso, Mali and Niger). They do not stop fighting against the unjust wars imposed by the imperialist powers to plunder natural resources and destroy the environment. In Congo-Kinshasa, the increasing armed conflicts, controlled from Rwanda and supported by multinational mining companies, continue to claim thousands of lives. Women and children are the main victims. Today, women are in the front line demonstrating in front of the embassies of Western imperialist countries to denounce their duplicity in this tragedy, which has already claimed millions of lives.
 
In the ongoing global economic and financial crisis, capitalism is trying to shift the burdens onto families in particular, and therefore especially onto women. But the bourgeois family system has long since become too restrictive for many women. Women are standing up against the intensification of double exploitation and oppression. Women in Britain, Canada and Germany have developed self-confidence and fighting power in strikes by educators and in the health service.
 
The global environmental catastrophe that has begun is accompanied by women becoming activists for the protection of people and nature. In India, women farmers are fighting fearlessly against the destructive consequences of the steel and cement industries for their livelihoods. In Yemen, despite personal threats, women are revealing the devastating consequences of the war there for the environment and people's health. Their aim is to mobilize women all over the world. 
 
In order to achieve its goals, the imperialist world system is increasingly resorting to ultra-right and fascist methods of government and reactionary demagogy, especially with regard to the role of women. Indian women – especially from minorities, the working class and the peasantry – are greatly suffering under the fascist Hindutva and corporate Modi government. All this has strengthened an international anti-fascist movement.  Women from Russia report that before the elections in March they are already preparing to fight against the ban on abortions that threatens after the elections. Courageous women in Afghanistan are organi