VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •


Poverty – not the bandaid, but the scalpel.

Photo by Fernando Goncalves


A report into poverty in Australia, released this month by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales, raises the question of whether capitalist economies can ever be free of the scourge of poverty.

Australia is classified as a relatively wealthy country. It must be to tie itself to US imperialist war plans at a cost of $386 billion for nuclear-powered submarines which, no matter how many “sovereign” Australian flags they fly, will still be forced into  “interoperability” with those of the US.

Yet this wealthy country, according to the report, currently has one in eight Australians (including one in six children) living below the poverty line. That is, 3,319,000 people, including 716,000 children are struggling to survive.

It lists six categories of people most likely to be affected by poverty. Among them are those in public housing, 50% of whom are at risk, and those in private rental. Twenty per cent of the latter face poverty, but those figures rise to 50% for those aged 65 or older.

It noted that Covid income supports (especially the Coronavirus Supplement) greatly reduced the deepest areas of poverty whilst they were available. Of course, once we learned to live with Covid (actually, learning to die with it), those supplements were snatched back by the ruling class.

The report says nothing about capitalism and the persistence of class inequalities. 

It has five proposals for “solutions to poverty”.  They are proposals we support, but they are not solutions.

Our founding Chairperson, Ted Hill, wrote a small booklet in 1975 on Australia’s Economic Crisis – The Way Out. 

On its first page, Hill observed that:

Australian people are haunted by economic and social insecurity…Prices have risen to an unprecedented degree. This involves almost all prices particularly the prices of goods needed in every day life. People have greater and greater difficulty in making ends meet. Rents rise. It becomes more and more difficult and more and more expensive to buy homes…There is no end to it. And the prospects are that these rises will continue. 

Capitalist development occurs unevenly. There are times of relative stability and low unemployment, of low interest rates. But these things never last. The next crisis is always just around the corner. 

Hill’s observation was of capitalism in Australia 48 years ago. 

Can anyone doubt that it applies just as much today?

Can anyone doubt that if we only apply the bandaid measures advocated by ACOSS (and even they are not guaranteed and will be resisted by advocates of class war against the poor), that things will not be the same or worse in 48 years’ time?

As Communists, we can only urge all working people in Australia to develop their own demands for taking over the economy and making it socialist, and making Australia truly independent of the exploitation and control exercised by US and other imperialisms.

That was the direction in which Hill pointed 48years ago.

It is an objective towards which we must have moved much closer in another 48 years’ time.