Written by: on 2 April 2022
May Day rallies were held across Australia celebrating the solidarity of the working class and the international struggle for a better world. Demands were raised for higher wages, the right to strike, abolish anti-worker laws and the ABCC, self-determination for the First People, the right to affordable housing and childcare, secure jobs and dealing with the climate crisis, for peace and socialism.
We reproduce a talk at the Melbourne rally by anti-war activist Shirley Winton who spoke against the ruling class push for war, and the imperialist AUKUS military pact.
"Thank you, comrades. Militant solidarity greetings on this day of working class struggles and international solidarity.
I acknowledge that I’m standing 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 affirm my solidarity with their long struggle against the colonial invasion and dispossession, and for land rights and just treaties.
As we stand here today on 1st May and pledge our commitment to working class struggles for a better world, clouds of war are gathering in our region.
It will be a war between major imperialist powers competing for control of resources, markets, the exploitation of people, natural environment and for spheres of influence. A war that is being instigated and led by the US, with its puppet Australian government obediently tagging along. And, like all the imperialist wars, the working people and the environment are the casualties, the disposable pawns in the super power competition and the profiteering military industrial complex. It is a war of aggression forced on the people of this region. It is the working class who will be paying with our lives, our health, our livelihoods and carry the main economic and social burden of imperialist wars.
AUKUS is an aggressive, US led military pact between US, UK and Australia, put together by the US to ramp up war with its growing economic rival China.
AUKUS and its nuclear submarines are not for the defence of Australia and peace in the region. It is only to boost the US war plans against China tens of thousands of kilometres away from our shores, and pour more profits into the coffers of its military-industrial complex. AUKUS is the NATO of Asia-Pacific.
AUKUS is enmeshing Australia much deeper into US belligerent war plans and its multinational weapons corporations. Australia is, and will be, a US puppet in any imperialist war between US and China. The grovelling Morrison-Dutton government gladly takes its orders from Washington.
AUKUS is bringing nuclear war submarines to Australia, some will probably carry nuclear weapons. The $170 billion cost of building 8 nuclear submarines will be carried by Australian people from our taxes, taking away public funds from the critical needs of the people and the environment.
Nuclear submarines are only a show pony for the AUKUS military pact
$100s of billions of dollars of Australia’s public money will be poured by the Australian government into this imperialist alliance. A new port will be built in Darwin mainly to accommodate visiting US war ships. A new multi million dollar giant fuel storage facility will be constructed nearby to service warships and war planes.
AUKUS is bringing to Australia thousands more permanently stationed US marines, more foreign military installations and foreign bases across the country, more US warships, more US air force bombers, some carrying nuclear weapons, missile launching pads, turning Australia into a major US military base in the Asia-Pacific and a target in any war with China. The Australian government is handing over $billions to US weapons corporations Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to build hypersonic missiles.
AUKUS will syphon off hundreds of billions of dollars of public funds from needs of the people in health, education, social services, aged care, environment and urgent action to tackle the crisis of climate change. This is at a time of ongoing Covid pandemic, of our overworked and exhausted health care workers, understaffed and under equipped public hospitals and aged care facilities, unaffordable housing and child care, overcrowded schools and teacher shortages. Under resourced emergency services dealing with bush fires and floods caused by climate crisis. And the list is endless.
Margie Beavis, retired GP and Vice President of Medical Association for the Prevention of War and Co-Director of International Campaign Against Nuclear weapons, calculated that just $5 billion of $170 billion to be spent on 8 submarines would pay for:
• 3 new regional hospitals, desperately needed in our rural communities;
• 2,500 new nurses
• 1,500 new doctors
• 100 new primary and secondary schools;
• 3,500 new teachers
• 200 new fire, rescue and emergency vehicles – during bushfires and floods
It is obscene and incomprehensible that a country like Australia under no military threat from any other country is spending $100s billions on US war of aggression. In the meantime, 1 in 8 adults, and 1 in 6 children are living below the poverty line. 40-50% children in sole parent households are living in poverty. The First People are living in Third World conditions. And the deepening capitalist economic crisis and imperialist wars will worsen hardships for the people and throw more into poverty. This is the real face of capitalism.
The Government lies to the people that the huge military spending on AUKUS is necessary for the security of people of Asia Pacific and Australia. But it is not the security and safety of the people, of our livelihoods and the environment that these profiteers have in mind. What they really mean is the security for profit making by multinational corporations and protecting the US global economic and political hegemony.
The government claims AUKUS and Australia’s integration into the US war machine will create jobs. This is total hogwash. Very few jobs will be created in Australia. Instead, $ hundreds of billions spent on AUKUS and imperialist wars would go a long way in creating tens of thousands of new jobs in developing and building our own sustainable value added and manufacturing industries. This will include jobs in sovereign self-defence industries and new renewable energy industries. Jobs in health, education, environment, jobs that benefit the people and the environment, not the dictates of US or the multinational military-industrial complex.
Working people in Australia have a long and proud history of organised workers mobilising and leading the fight for peace and against imperialist wars.
It started 240 years ago with Australia’s First People’s resistance to colonial invasion and occupation and continues today.
The fierce anti-conscription struggles against imperialist WW1 in 1914-1918; the 1938 strike by Port Kembla wharfies refusing to load pig iron bound to Japan for production of weapons in imperialist war; against the fascists and nazis before and during WW 2; throughout the 1950s and 1960s opposition to nuclear war. In the mass national campaigns against imperialist war on the Vietnamese people Australian workers and their unions led struggle, strikes and marches. In 1980s, railway and maritime workers refused to transport uranium; opposing Pine Gap and US military bases, and in 2003 the massive national rallies against the war in Iraq that brought out more than 600,000 across the country.
And here behind me, in 2003 the Victorian Trades Hall was turned into the main nerve centre for organising and co-ordinating Victorian mass campaign against the war in Iraq. Together with many community organisations the Victorian unions mobilised and led the working people, culminating in a mass rally of 300,000 pouring out into the streets of Melbourne CBD on 13 February, the day of international action against war in Iraq.
This militant working class anti-war spirit continues today. The announcement of AUKUS nuclear submarines to be based in either Newcastle or Wollongong on the coast of NSW has reignited the organised working class struggle for peace. Together with their local communities, local unions have launched campaigns to stop the basing of AUKUS nuclear submarines in their communities.
In 2021 maritime and other unions in Italy, France, South Africa and Scotland refused to load ships carrying weapons to war against the people of Yemen and Palestine. Their actions received world wide support.
This is the working class solidarity that the capitalist class and imperialists fear. This is the reason behind the draconian anti-worker, anti-union laws in Australia that try to crush workers’ rights to fight and to stand in solidarity.
The struggle for peace and against imperialist war is part of a wider fight by working people for a society that upholds the rights, the needs and the interests of working people, not the profiteering corporations and their lackey governments.
A powerful people’s movement will rise again and fight for a world free of imperialist wars, poverty, the exploitation of workers and the environment. It will be a movement for a genuine socialist society that will put the ordinary people in charge, not corporations and billionaires."
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