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Eureka flag – more than just a union symbol

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Danny O.

In response to an outright attack on their democratic rights, workers are showing they are willing to fight to protect that most treasured symbol of Australian working class struggle.

After the Turnbull government’s building industry attack dog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), issued a directive explicitly banning the Eureka flag from construction sites in February this year, unions and workers have rallied together in defence of their democratic rights and are taking up the Eureka flag with enthusiasm not seen for years. 

Construction workers are displaying the flag on job sites across the country in active defiance of the ABCC directive. It is now not unusual to see it flying high from the many tower cranes that litter the skylines of our major cities even where it had been absent before.
The construction division of the CFMEU has been leading the way with its call to ‘Break the Ban’, and solidarity has been strong from across the union movement. The Queensland Teachers Union notably came out in support saying that they would “make sure there are Eureka Stockade flags in every school in Queensland”. 

All of this is a very welcome development and should be encouraged. It is an opportunity for workers to rediscover the importance of the Eureka rebellion and its flag to the countless struggles of ordinary Australians. However, it’s also important to realise that the Eureka flag is attacked not just because it is a symbol used by the CFMEU, nor because it’s just a union symbol, but because it stands for so much more.

At the time of its creation, the Eureka flag represented the struggle against the oppressive British colonial authority and growing calls by the Eureka rebels for an independent Australia.

Today it has become a powerful symbol of ordinary people’s determination to stand up for justice, democratic rights, and liberties. It is a flag of resistance and defiance that continues to inspire unity, solidarity, and courage in the collective struggles of Australia’s working people against injustice and exploitation. What it represents scared the ruling class when it was first raised in 1854, and it still scares them today.

The flag of an independent Australia 
Dave Noonan, the national secretary of the CFMEU’s construction division, recently described the Eureka flag as “an Australian flag which represents the struggle for democracy and national independence.” He’s quite right.

In 1854, the British Governor of Victoria, Charles Hotham called it “the flag of Australian independence” that “threatened British rule.” The local newspapers echoed his words. 

For generations, activists, workers and ordinary Australians have rallied under the Eureka flag fighting for workers’ and democratic rights, and calling for national independence. 

Despite having achieved a certain level of formal independence, Australia has never been truly independent and since WW2 has been a client state of US imperialism. 

We see some examples of this in the giant US monopolies that dominate our economy and pillage our resources without paying tax like ExxonMobil and Chevron.

We see it politically when parliamentarians of both major parties fall over themselves to prove their loyalty the US.

Militarily we see it with ever further integration of the Australian armed forces into the US war machine and an unswerving loyalty to the ‘US-Australia Alliance’ and a commitment to fight in its perpetual imperialist wars. 

Our Party logo and the strategy of a two-stage Australia revolution 
The logo of our Party is the Eureka flag flying in front of the red star of socialism. This is a symbolic representation of our strategy of a two-stage continuous revolution in Australia.

In analysing the concrete conditions of society in this country, the CPA (M-L) puts forward the position that the current stage of Australia’s revolutionary struggle for socialism is the struggle against the imperialist interests that dominate this country economically, politically and militarily and for a truly independent Australia under the leadership of the working class. This struggle will continue to flow into the second stage of socialist development.

We unashamedly raise the Eureka flag as a powerful symbol in this revolutionary struggle for real independence and encourage the people of Australia to understand its significance and fight for everything it represents.


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