Thursday, January 17, 2019

Anning: The Senator, the Rally and the Right

(Contributed)    18 January 2019


Controversy surrounding Senator Fraser Anning attending a far-right political rally in Melbourne in early January has highlighted how those concerned, in collaboration with their neo-Nazi admirers, are still able to make a nasty, unpleasant contribution to political discourse in contemporary Australia.


Two further factors with the controversy have tended, however, to be overlooked:
The legacy of a US-led covert operation over four decades ago still has relevance for our understanding of the far-right and their relationship to class and state power;
International allegiances based on race and ethnicity and their use by US imperialism.
Both factors throw considerable light upon secretive class and state power networks, and the links they have to the far-right.
On 5 January Senator Fraser Anning, a direct descendent of violent unsettlers (see here) who stole Aboriginal land and exploited Aboriginal labour, travelled from Queensland to Melbourne to attend a far-right political rally organised by convicted criminal and Nazi supporter, Blair Cotterall 'in protest against Sudanese immigration'. (1) The senator billed Australian taxpayers more than $2,800 for the weekend jaunt, 'flying business-class and using an official Comcar to attend the St. Kilda beach rally'. (2)
The St. Kilda controversy was also not the first time Senator Anning, a former One Nation elected representative, has displayed his far-right political credentials:
Last August he was associated with a speech in which 'he referenced the Nazi-era final solution, called for an end to Muslim immigration and praised the White Australia policy'. (3) The previous month, Anning billed taxpayers for a trip to Sydney where he addressed a rally of white South African farmers, adding his weight to controversy over favourable immigration requirements for white landowners. Later, in September, Anning also attended a rally in Brisbane organised by the Nazi-linked True Blue Crew. (4)
The extra-parliamentary activities of Anning rest upon a far-right political tirade waged early in his parliamentary career; during his maiden Senate speech references to the notion of a 'final solution' were made, leaving little to the imagination. (5)
It has also been noted Anning has become the Australian Senate big spender on domestic airline expenses: in the period July-September last year, a total $31, 287.60 was claimed, for what has been described as 'his rising profile as a far-right figurehead'. (6) His expenses far exceed those of his parliamentary colleagues. (7)
Australia, however, has been no stranger to previous far-right controversy; the country has a marked racist past. Studies of the Australian League of Rights (ALOR) and National Civic Council (NCC) reveal historical links to far-right groups elsewhere, including Apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia. (8) It is important to note the significance of far-right groups and their chosen method of operation; they seek to divide the working-class, undermining support for collective and democratic organisations such as trade-unions. It is, therefore, no surprise they attract support from business circles who use them as agents and strike-breakers. Their ability of the far-right to move into the Liberal, Country and National parties to push spurious political agendas is also part of the same strategy. (9)
The Australian far-right also have a history of using religious organisations as fronts to spread their nefarious political agendas. A previous One Nation website listed a total of ten religious front organisations they used, together with a long list of churches and their various meeting times, which they regarded as sympathetic. (10) The ALOR, likewise, built strong following within established churches. (11)  
Such affiliations have enabled the Australian far-right to gain access to class and state power, and hide behind veils of respectability. Anning is presumably well aware of the elite patronage systems linked to class and state power having been propelled into the Australian Senate after winning only nineteen primary votes in the last federal election; following the disqualification of One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, Anning gained access to parliament through the small print of the Australian constitution. Despite his unusual path to Parliament, he has provided vital support for the present right-wing Coalition government in Canberra. Hansard records reveal Anning has voted for the Coalition ninety per cent of the time, propping up a decrepit alliance of right-wing pro-business types. (12) Both former Prime Minister Turnbull and present PM Scott Morrison, for example, openly accept the support of Anning. They, and figures such as cabinet member MP Peter Dutton, have remained curiously silent over some of the other political activities pursued by Anning. 
The Coalition government in Canberra has remained loyal to the US and followed their directives which include the new Cold War with China, an issue also central to far-right political positions. (13) It is not difficult to find examples of shadowy US influence in Australian politics.
When Anning attended the hundred-strong St Kilda rally in early January, for example, he revealed the legacy of a US-led covert operation over four decades ago in Vietnam. It dated from the US support for puppet-regimes in South Vietnam, which were used to support 'US interests' in Asia. Despite a huge military presence in Vietnam, however, the US lost the war; the problem led to massive asylum-seeker issues. Those Vietnamese government officials who had supported US programs were provided with priority resettlement elsewhere: some opted to settle in Australia. They were settled within the wider Vietnamese communities.
The period has to be viewed in the context of the heady days of the early 1970s when massive anti-Vietnam War protests shook the very foundations of many western governments. Australia was no exception, with major implications for diplomatic alliances. The US was openly concerned about mass opposition to 'US interests' in Australia. A declassified document from July, 1974, for example, has shown how the US was seriously considering 'future relations between Australian and the US' following controversy with the Whitlam administration. (14) The US, therefore, conducted an in-depth intelligence study which included the following areas of interest:
          The prospects for keeping US defence installations in Australia, and,
          The alternatives for relocating essential existing US security functions outside  Australia, and,
          The prospects for locating additional US defence installations in Australia. (15)
It is, therefore, no surprise that US-led defence and security organisations also sought continued assistance from their former 'intelligence assets' to monitor Vietnamese communities and to continue to push Cold War-type agendas into the modern period.  
It is interesting to note that while the main Vietnamese community in Melbourne actively distanced itself from the far-right rally in January, Anning was photographed 'posing with two men bearing the flags of the former South Vietnam'. (16) More than forty years after the fall of South Vietnam, pro-US elements still actively supported recent far-right political initiatives from inside the ethnic minority.
Secondly, a further related matter linking Anning with support for Israel has revealed a further link with class and state power networks:
Despite appearing quite comfortable associating with known Nazis, Anning has been noted as 'a big supporter of Israel' who has used his Senate position to 'support Israel'. (17) Israel, has been, from its establishment in 1948, a major strategic hub for 'US interests' in the Middle East.  Anning, furthermore, has referred to himself as a 'supporter of the Jewish community'. (18) Clearly such a political position would appear incongruous, raising serious questions about the nature of the political exercise Anning is really conducting and on whose behalf.
Or does it?
Like many political exercises conducted from a basis of expediency, the one pursued by Anning would now appear to have seriously backfired; light has been thrown upon some far-right baggage and support for former white supremacist Apartheid South Africa and Zionism. Racialism, and everything which is associated with it politically, remains central to far-right thinking.
Far from having a confused political position, Anning has shown that supporters of Israel are not among the oppressed and nor are they victims of the far-right, but rather an instrumental and organisational part of the problem. Today, supporters of Israel are not fleeing persecution and discrimination, they are the perpetrators of similar behaviour toward the Palestinian people. The political shift which has taken Israel from victim status to the right-wing of the political spectrum has also been accompanied by other military, defence and security considerations. There is little ambiguity in the position Israel has chosen, although they remain highly competent with the act of denial. Their support for Apartheid South Africa has revealed the racialist standpoint of Zionism and its ability to prop-up a strategic part of US-led global military and security provisions, linking the South Atlantic with the Indian Ocean.
Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, former Prime Minister and architect of Grand Apartheid in 1961, for example, following the expulsion of South Africa from the British Commonwealth, said: “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after they has lived there for a thousand years.        Israel like South Africa is an Apartheid State.” (19)
The diplomatic position between Apartheid South Africa and repression and Israel was further clarified with the following statement from a well-placed source: “Much of the efficiency of the South African security services must be placed at the door of Israel, for both army experts and specialists in counter-insurgency operations and interrogation from the MOSSAD have been based in South Africa in a permanent advisory capacity since 1976. Links between the MOSSAD and South Africa have always been very strong.” (20)
Far from weaving a secretive tangled web of political intrigue based upon expediency, Anning would appear a rather hopeless figure and completely out-of-his-depth in Canberra or elsewhere in Australia.
Monitoring the likes of Senator Fraser Anning, nevertheless, has further revealed how secretive class and state power networks, including the far-right remain functional in contemporary Australia. The monitoring job has also been made far easier having someone like Anning in the Senate. His level of political sophistication has not been particularly challenging.
While progressive, sensible people should be on their guard, those who actively oppose racism, racialism and discrimination can, nevertheless, remain optimistic: the St. Kilda far-right rally only attracted a hundred supporters, while the counter-demonstration was at least double the size; Anning has already acknowledged he is unlikely to be able to retain his seat after forthcoming elections, where he needs to attract over 400,000 votes, a far cry from the nineteen numb-skulls who put him there. He will soon be joining the ranks of yesterday's men.

1.     Senator bills for rally trip, admits he's doomed, Australian, 7 January 2019.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Hate Symbols show far-right on march, Australian, 7 January 2019.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Far-right figurehead for real Senate high-flyer, Australian, 8 January 2019.
7.     Ibid.
8.     The Australian League of Rights, A Study in Political Extremism and Subversion,  Andrew A. Campbell, (Victoria, 1978), Appendix C, Links with Parallel Organisations in other Countries, page 170; and Voices of Hate, K. D. Gott, (Melbourne, 1965), pp. 30-42; and, Benign spymaster built global network, The Age (Melbourne), 3 March 1998; see also, Ted Serong, Anne Blair, (Melbourne, 2002), pp. 128-196, which has provided reliable information from official sources about direct links between the Australian and US Defence Departments, their intelligence services and the Australian far-right.
9.     Nazis claim their stamp on all parties, The Age (Melbourne), 13 July 1999.
10.   Website: Welcome! This site is for your information on the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church in this region with links to the rest of the world - This Ring Name site is owned by One Nation.  
11.   Voices of Hate, op.cit., page 38.
12.   Morrison lashed 'repeat offender', Australian, 8 January 2019.
13.   Website: Welcome! Catholic Tradition, Australasia and South Pacific, This Ring Name site is owned by One Nation. Want to join One Nation?, contains references to, 'the growing threat to world peace poised by Communist China's missile program', 
14.   National Security Study Memorandum, 204, 1 July 1974, Partially Declassified, 11 March 1995, Dotpoint 1.
15.   Ibid., Dotpoints, 2,3,4.
16.   Anning not with us: Vietnamese, Australian, 8 January 2019.
17.   Anning is no Nazi or anti-Semite: senator, Australian, 9 January 2019.
18.   Morrison lashed 'repeat offender', op.cit., 8 January 2019.
19.   Birds of a Feather: Israel and Apartheid South Africa – Colonialism of a Special Type, Ronnie Kasrils, Israel and South Africa, The Many Faces of Apartheid, Edited by Ilan Pappe, (London, 2015), pp. 23-24.
20.   The Unnatural Alliance, James Adams, (London, 1984), page 85.

Government “generosity” a barrier to reef protection

Nick G.     18 January 2019


The Australian National Audit Office report on the $444 million grant from the federal government to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation ignores the most important aspects of this uncharacteristic generosity.


It has confined itself to an examination of process and has ignored the political purposes of the grant.


Even on the question of process it has two bob each way: it concluded all ministerial decisions around the grant were informed by departmental advice, and most of that advice was sufficiently detailed and complied with commonwealth rules; at the same time, it criticised the government for not imposing “clear and specific objectives for the funding.”


At the time the grant was made, we looked at the corporate interests involved with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, noting the obvious presence of major fossil fuel and finance capital chief executives, and the so-called “research” priorities of the Foundation which downplayed the need for action on climate change and instead promoted the Reef’s resilience and capacity for regrowth and repair.

The current Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price, defended the government from criticisms in the ANAO report, saying how “immensely proud” she was that the government had provided funding to “protect the Great Barrier Reef”.  It had done no such thing. It had actually provided hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the fossil fuel industry, which had come under local and international scrutiny for its contributions to the global warming that was causing coral bleaching and coral dieback. Its generosity was not to a small, science-based charity, but to a propaganda machine for fossil fuel environmental vandals.

What is quite evident from the Department of the Environment’s response to the ANAO report is that the government will not only cast aside the ANAO’s criticisms of process, but will use the same approach in other areas of controversial policies, areas where corporate interests stand in direct conflict with community needs and views. It said “the partnership serves as an innovative model that could be adopted to address other policy priorities for Australia."

Our detailed analysis of corporate involvement in the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has stood the test of time and provides a real context, missing from the sanitised ANO report, of the political purposes behind this grant.

A full copy of our 10 August 2018 article can be read here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Backing the Adani end of town

Lindy Nolan    17 January 2019

The anti-Adani fight has been a touchstone in the struggle for sovereignty. This unfolding story is the fourth in a series investigating ruptures in a carefully fostered pro-corporate united front among First Nations Peoples.

Alexander the Great’s dad knew he was on a good thing when he invented the strategy divide and conquer. Ruling classes have been using it ever since. 

Environmental activists and Aboriginal Peoples have much in common. But because First Nations have lived on every part of this land, wilderness is an alien concept. Nor have all environmental activists been respectful of Aboriginal Peoples, who have a sovereign right to live off their lands.

Corporations are the inheritors of British invasion, now organised as an imperialist ruling class. Its most reactionary section is the mining and resource industry, which has systematically turned the minor contradiction between First Nations and environmentalists into an antagonist one.

Unfortunately, the industry has enabled and encouraged some like prominent First Nations’ academic, Marcia Langton, to do their dirty work. Rephrasing her own words about Jacinta Price in August last year, Marcia Langton is very ‘useful’ to mining corporations. Or at least she has been, an important distinction. In the past year she has made no pro-mining statements. 

“Marvellous work”

In 2012 Marcia Langton’s Boyer Lectures lauded the mining industry’s involvement in Aboriginal communities. On Yolngu land for the 2016 Garma Festival she stated, “Thank god the corporate sector's here doing their marvellous work”, particularly in providing work. 

Many First Nations Peoples are angered by what they have called her ‘empowerment through mining and jobs dogma’ and particularly her research funding from mining corporations. As late as July 2017 she was still praising mining companies. In June that year she attacked “deceptive” environmentalists for making heroes of “a small handful of Indigenous campaigners who oppose the legitimate interests of the majority of their own people.” 

These “‘cashed-up’ Greens… some funded by wealthy overseas interests” were her stated enemy. Her saviours? Foreign owned, multi-billion-dollar mining corporations paying little or no tax. Adani to be precise.

The case in question was being heard in the Federal Court. It challenged the validity of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement which Adani relies upon.

Neither ‘colonial oppressors’ nor ‘collateral damage’

But, according to Guardian Australia’s Joshua Robertson, Langton’s outburst brought a powerful rebuttal from Australia’s first Aboriginal Queens Counsel Tony McAvoy. Robertson said McAvoy, “a traditional owner fighting to stop Adani’s mine… dismissed claims by… Marcia Langton that Indigenous people had become ‘collateral damage’ as the ‘environmental industry’ hijacked the Adani issue.”

Robertson continued, “McAvoy said the rhetoric of Langton and Warren Mundine, who ‘likened anti-Adani campaigners to colonial oppressors running roughshod over Indigenous self-determination… serves a purpose for them but is just so inaccurate.’”

“We are likely to be one of the best informed claimant groups in the country, we have many people who are experienced in native title, including my own input, and representation by an extraordinary team of lawyers,” McAvoy told Roberson.

Whose law?

Langton continued leading the charge for the mining companies.

The Saturday Paper has a left-liberal readership. The overwhelming majority would oppose Adani. On July 1 Marcia Langton chose it to respond to McAvoy. The article aimed to break or neutralise support for McAvoy’s Wangan and Jagalingou People.

She reckoned she wasn’t not pro-Adani. But…

In her first paragraph she accused Adrian Burragubba, the main public face of the Traditional Custodians fighting the mine, of threatening the rights of the majority of native title holders not only in his own area, but Australia-wide. 

Then, like a coal company executive telling us climate science is far too difficult for mere mortals to understand, she said there were four Wangan and Jagalingou groups, all of which she listed. Which was the real deal?

She spoke of Burrangubba’s “minority faction of Wangan and Jagalingou people”. She stated, “The group to which Burragubba claims allegiance negotiated an ILUA , and at the critical meeting, as confirmed by a court of law, the members voted 294-1 in favour of approving it .” 

The meeting was boycotted by Adani opponents.

This court of law Langton refers to is not the Law of her Peoples, tens of thousands of years old. It’s the invaders’ law. That legal system is part of the superstructure of capitalism. It serves corporations. First Nations have often felt its boot on their necks.

In contrast, not a single corporate leader who knowingly profited from tobacco production or asbestos mining, for example, has faced a criminal court for their mass murder. 

A recent Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council statement casts light on Adani’s tactics leading up to the crucial vote: “Adani employs a member of the W&J community who was central to overturning our decisions to reject Adani’s land use deal, and presided over the collapse of a million-dollar W&J trust fund belonging to our people.

“We have experienced first hand the breach of trust, and the way Adani divides our people. And now over $1m of W&J People’s assets stand to be wiped out while we face mounting costs defending our lands and waters.”

Ms Irene Simpson, former controlling director of trustee company, Cato Galilee, has been referred to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The company traded while insolvent before it was put into administration. A number of serious irregularities are being investigated. 

All expenses paid

Twiggy Forrest was the first to seek out and fly in Aboriginal Peoples who were prepared to support his company’s operations on First Nations’ land. Other corporations have followed suit.

The people at the meeting Langton referred to were sought from across Queensland and attended all expenses paid. This was organised by Queensland South Native Title Services Ltd, QSNTS. The company has a mostly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board but is a federal government authority.

Applicants gave evidence that “Approximately 60 per cent of those people attending the authorisation meeting on April 2016 who claimed to be members of the Wangan & Jagalingou people had not been recorded by as attending any previous meeting of the Wangan & Jagalingou Native Title Claim group in respect of any aspect of the Native Title Claim.” 

Around 70 attendees were named individually or as family members, identifying not as Wangan and Jagalingou Peoples, but of other Peoples, all cited, including the Western Kangouli, Gunggari, Waka Waka and Iman. (Paragraph 136 of the judgement)

Anyone who has seen and heard Senior Women who hold the genealogical knowledge recite the names of their forebears and their detailed clan relationships, going back in time, know the power of this naming, the basis of that evidence.

QSNTS gave details of its own checks on attendees. It included asking people at the meeting to put up their hands if they were eligible members, though there was more to it than that. QSNTS’ details were accepted and the judgement went against those opposing the mine. Langton mentioned none of this.

No veto

Finally, in her article, came the most critical fact, buried in the third last paragraph. By then many readers would have been swayed or confused by her arguments.

“In an ideal world,” Langton wrote, “Aboriginal traditional owners should have a right to veto mining or any other development project. However, the Native Title Act does not give us that right, and stops well short of a veto by offering a ‘right to negotiate’.” 

So, rather than fighting for the right to stop mining or other unwanted developments, Marcia Langton attacked those who dared to protect sacred Country. 

Against First Nations’ aspirations, native title legislation was designed and amended by the likes of John Howard for just this purpose, to divide and rule.

Even worse, waving a huge stick against grassroots Peoples who dare to take on a mining company, Custodians were ordered to pay Adani’s costs. 

Adrian Burragubba is also being sued for bankruptcy, due to be heard in February.

Langton also alleged Burragubba had financial support from GetUp and the founder of Obviously, she’d decided his grassroots’ group should fund the fight against multi-billion-dollar Adani and the wider coal industry with no help.


Langton’s actions greatly assisted Adani, which has been subject to numerous overseas legal battles for alleged corruption and tax avoidance. 

Meanwhile, Adani’s new CEO Lucas Dow has begun to rebuild support for the project. (See some of Dow’s anti-worker history and more, here.) 

An appeal against the ruling will be heard later this year by the Full Federal Court. 

Courts are affected by the relative strength of the opponents. It was a cliché of industrial struggles that nothing was ever won in court that hadn’t been won on the ground. Mass unity of grassroots peoples can often counterbalance the mass of money and connections corporations can bring to bear.

Yet continued multinational domination benefits from such illusions of democracy. As long as the win doesn’t threaten the whole system… Then it becomes clear the only ones with real democracy are the ruling class. 

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples believe Marcia Langton’s role in undermining unity in the Adani case and others does her no credit. And that’s an understatement. 

Yet, sometimes what a person omits speaks more loudly than what they do say. For years Marcia Langton has also praised mining companies. No other First Nations’ person has been so vocal. Mining companies have made sure Australia heard the message. But since July 2017 she has, to this writer’s knowledge, been silent on the topic. 

Recently she’s disrupted the activities of former allies, like Warren Mundine, who continue to push the far right corporate agenda of attacking their own people. Mundine lacks Langton’s wide credibility. He’s widely seen as serving himself in his service to the ruling class.

Perfect rebuttal

On January 8, Adrian Burragubba wrote on Facebook, “Without a skerrick of evidence, Warren Mundine claims I'm being exploited by green groups. Lucas Dow, CEO of Adani Mining, says I'm being supported by the Sunrise Project and others in my court actions. Tania Constable of the Minerals Council bundles the serious legal proceedings my people have taken as nothing more than misuse and abuse of judicial processes.” Sound familiar? 

“I'm to be cast as the patsy, too dumb to know what's going on,” Burragubba said, his articulate response the perfect rebuttal. 

Lucas Dow has helped rebuild alliances between the corporate giants previous Adani leaders had put off-side. In late December he engineered a so-called start to Adani’s mine. It’s smoke and mirrors playing to soon-to-be-government Labor leaders. Plibersek says they may not be able to stop a project that’s already underway.

Meanwhile Peta Credlin may gain Liberal endorsement for a federal seat, with coal industry backing.

Leaders are important. So is each individual who takes a side for the people or against them. But only when grassroots’ peoples unite, empowered and educated, they can change the world. Adrian Burragubba and his W&J mob are helping make that a reality. 

For now, the anti-Adani fight will continue, no matter who’s in charge in the talking shop.