Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brisbane forum on US bases in Australia

US Bases in Australia... Counting the cost

Public Forum

Friday 1st June

Abel Smith Theatre

University of Qld

6:00pm for 6:30pm

• ‘What would “armed neutrality” mean for Australia?’

Dr Peter Stanley - Chief Historian, National Museum Australia

• ‘US Bases in Australia - where, what, when?’

Felicity Hill - Former Director UN WILPF

• MC: Ron Monaghan QCU General Secretary

What do we want to achieve?

A genuine military and economic security for Australians, based on...

• Australian independence in economic, political, military and cultural affairs

• Mutual trust and understanding between the peoples of Australia and the Asia-Pacific region

• Relationships of real meaning and equality between the countries of the region.

Melbourne meeting on US forces in Australia

US Forces in Australia

Public Meeting 19th June

Melbourne Trades Hall Meeting Room 1

6.30pm – 8.00pm

Part of resolution on the US Alliance

from the 13th Congress of the CPA (M-L)

“The new US imperialist military expansion in the Asia-Pacific  is a threat to peace and

national sovereignty of countries and people in the region. Australia’s military integration into

the US war machine assists the US to wage predatory wars against peoples and nations. The

Australian people want peace and independence and to build friendship and solidarity with the

people of Asia-Pacific.”

Fighting back against casualisation

Vanguard June 2012 p. 12
Marcus H.

Delegates of the National Union of Workers (NUW) converged on The Meadows Racecourse, located in the solid working class suburb of Broadmeadows, on Monday May 8th, to launch a campaign in the fight back against casualisation.
The ‘Jobs You Can Count On’ Campaign was devised and launched by the rank and file on this occasion, in response to the rapid increase in casualisation in the workforce. The past eight years has seen casualisation reach frightening heights in Australia. In 2004, around 28% of the total workforce was employed as casuals. At this point in time, in 2012, casualisation is at the 40% mark.
The casual mode of employment is one pushed by the employers, and the Industry Groups, in a way to divide and intimidate workers. It is used as a mechanism to displace and eliminate permanent, secure employment. The bosses use shorter, overlapping shifts, in order to avoid shift penalties, allowances and meal breaks.
Casual workers, in many circumstances employed by third party labour hire providers, often feel intimidated to join the Union, and to voice their opinion on matters in the workplace, for fear of reprisal.
There is no security in casualisation, and this situation amounts to negative social implications. Often times, these casuals are working unsocial hours, which in turn detracts from time being spent with family, time participating in the local community, in charities and in local sports clubs.
So the fight back against the growing trend of casualisation begins. The ‘Jobs You Can Count On’ is a long term campaign aimed at once again providing secure jobs for secure lives, and reversing the previous thirty years.
At a recent rally in the City of Melbourne, prominent unionist Dave Kerin sent a strong message to the corporations; “Stop telling us that casualisation is flexibility, freedom and choice, its none of those, casualisation is a lie, casualisation means our children have no future.”
From little things big things grow; the short term must see the rank and file, be they casual or permanent, unite on the job, and fight as one team. We must not play into the bosses hand, and believe that casual workers are second class citizens. Every worker counts! That is a key element of this campaign, to engage with our casual comrades, provide solidarity, and give them the confidence to stand up and join the union. Tim Kennedy, Victorian Branch Secretary of the NUW, clearly states “We have no future as the National Union of Full Time Workers; we must become the National Union of WORKERS!”
But the campaign is not just about the NUW, the campaign will be taken into the broader community. Discussions must be had in our localities, and the first step is to encourage the people to join their union. The class solidarity seen in recent times through the Qantas dispute, the Nurses struggle, and through the Baiada Dispute must continue in this campaign in the fight against casualisation. The Baiada dispute was about this very campaign, a fight against contract and cash in hand work.
For more information go to

Police intent on crushing opposition to the Browse Gas Hub

Vanguard June 2012 p. 12
Max O.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett ordered 250 police officers to Broome in the middle of May, to crush community opposition to the proposed gas industrial complex at James Price Point.
The Wilderness Society’s National Director, Lyndon Schneiders stated (May 14): “This could be the biggest police deployment to crush a regional community protest since the Eureka Stockade.”
The Broome community, particularly the indigenous people, the Greens and the Wilderness Society, are against the project being situated at James Price Point and have repeatedly called for Browse Basin gas to be piped south to Woodside's existing North West Shelf facilities in the Pilbara region. They oppose Australia’s biggest industrial development being built on their doorstep. This project has no environmental approvals or social licence.
The Broome community had already been traumatised by last year’s heavy-handed use of police and Woodside’s own private security force. Many local protesters, including elderly indigenous people, were last year hauled away by police and locked up.
However, the Premier of Western Australia and the Browse joint venture partners — Woodside, BP, BHP Billiton, Shell, Chevron, Mitsubishi and Mitsui — are intent on using the fascist measures of a police state to push ahead with the James Price gas project.
More than 600 people gathered outside Broome police station in Western Australia’s Kimberley in a showdown with authorities over the proposed gas hub. An estimated 250 police with riot gear carried out a pre-emptive clearing operation against the protesters from the controversial James Price Point gas hub site 60 km north of the town.
“The community is feeling like they’re in lock-down here,” a Broome resident said.
“We’re expecting a showdown … because the Shire has instructed one of the protest camps to be removed ...”
This person pointed out that the heavy police presence was “unprecedented since the Noonkanbah dispute”, referring to the confrontations of the 1970s and 80s between WA police and protesters near Fitzroy Crossing, when oil company AMAX was given state approval to drill on an Aboriginal sacred site.
The James Price Point dispute is comparable to the past Noonkanbah struggle, with the WA government similarly locked in a fight with conservationists, local Aborigines and other Kimberley residents over plans to compulsorily acquire the site for a $30 billion liquid natural gas (LNG) processing plant.
The Browse joint venture partners demonstrated their malevolent skill of splitting indigenous communities during April, by getting those Aboriginal families who had signed over the rights to the use Aboriginal land, to perform a traditional ceremony for Woodside to open their new office. However, roughly 30 protesters expressed their hostility, as two Aboriginal women held a traditional smoking ceremony.  They shouted out, “Don't sell out. How can you stand there and do a ceremony when you’re not the traditional owners?”
These classic tactics of divide and rule and fascist strong-arm force are used to guarantee that the industrial complex at James Price Point, the biggest industrial precinct in the world, is built on time. As the Broome community points out, this gas hub will have largely a detrimental impact on local families and the environment!
The Browse Gas Hub struggle is a salutary reminder of the role played by the capitalist state in such disputes. It is never neutral! The state is there to implement the will and orders of monopoly capital, in this instance the mining corporations. Their intention is to exploit Australia’s sovereign mineral resources and extract surplus value from those workers involved in the construction and running of the LNG processing plant. The state apparatus really belongs to the likes of Woodside, BP, BHP Billiton, Shell, Chevron, Mitsubishi and Mitsui!

Students in Quebec resist oppressive law

Vanguard June 2012 p. 11
Bill F.

On May 22, over 100,000 students and supporters marched through the streets of Montreal and other cities in Quebec, Canada, protesting about the fascist repression of the provincial government.

Ever since the start of the year, students had been meeting and demonstrating against savage increases in college and university fees. The new fees, which progressively increase 80% over a period of time, will mean annual payments almost double, from $2,200 up to $4,000 on average.
Over several months outraged students went on strike and organised a series of protests and demonstrations, many in the city of Montreal. Often they were met with violent repression by the police, with thousands arrested and dozens injured. Not deterred by the violence and intimidation meted out by the reactionary Charest government, students bravely persisted in their struggle, winning support from the wider community. Teachers, academics, trade unionists, ethnic communities joined in support.
Bill 78
Alarmed by the growing fightback, the government of Jean Charest rammed through Bill 78, a new law which is described by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) in the following terms...
“Bill 78 is a Special Law that the Charest government adopted on May 18, which deprives students of their basic civil liberties and negates the right of all Quebeckers to organize against government policy. Among other things, it shuts down affected post-secondary institutions, forces employees back to work, bans public assemblies of 50 or more people, and permits the government to arbitrarily defund student associations. It also imposes heavy fines (ranging from $1,000 to $135,000) on individuals and organizations who exercise their right to demonstrate. Also, the law empowers the Ministers of Education, Justice and Public Security to violate the very laws of Quebec in dealing with the student unions and their supporters.
“Quebeckers from all walks of life have denounced this attack on civil liberties of not just the students but the entire society. The law negates the rights of all to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and the right to conscience, as well as their right to oppose and resist government policies which are not in their interest. Once governments refuse to negotiate and instead resort to draconian law and order measures and launch brutal police attacks against students, workers and others fighting for their rights, what is left? It must not pass!”
Patterns are emerging
All over the developed world, a pattern is emerging of governments subservient to the interests of monopoly capitalism and the globalisation agenda of the IMF.
Alongside of grabbing resources and markets and ‘restructuring’ economies in the undeveloped countries, modern imperialism is forced by its crisis of overproduction to implement policies of austerity and further shifting of the burden of crisis onto the backs of the people in the developed countries. Rising unemployment means less need for the skills and education of the masses, and also less taxes available to distribute to the rich and powerful. Fees and costs are jacked up.
The other pattern is resistance. All across Europe protests against austerity measures have broken out, uniting workers, students, professionals and small producers and traders in what is objectively a great anti-imperialist struggle.
Laws such as Bill 78 are invoked, not just to clear students from the streets, but to head off even more threatening actions by the organised working class. It just raises consciousness of the need for revolutionary change in society.

Greek people stand up against imperialism

Vanguard June 2012 p. 11
Bill F.

Greece is heading into another election to overcome the current inability of the parliamentary parties to form a government. The result may well be a progressive anti-imperialist government headed by the Syriza coalition.

Syriza improved its vote from 4.7% in 2009 to 16.8% in the May election, taking 52 seats, just behind the conservative New Democracy with 18.8% and 58 seats. As New Democracy came in first, it was constitutionally awarded an extra 50 seats bonus, supposedly to ensure stable government!

Meanwhile the Socialist Party (PASOK) slumped into third place with just over 13% of the vote. In the next round this is likely to be further eroded as PASOK is now seen as a vile collaborator with German/European imperialism and is compromised and totally discredited in the eyes of the toiling masses.
Communist Organisation of Greece (KOE)

Syriza is a coalition of a number of groups, including the Communist Organisation of Greece  (KOE) which had 3 representatives elected as part of the bloc. It played a very positive role in mobilising workers, students and unemployed youth in the massive demonstrations against the cruel austerity measures imposed on the people by the “troika” – the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank.
In its mass work, the KOE applied the dictum of Mao Zedong, “Broaden the base, narrow the target” to build the anti-imperialist united front, and actively participated at all levels of the mass movement, in mass organisations, on the streets and in the parliamentary arena. At the same time, they have maintained an independent position, as demonstrated by the Press Statement of May 11.
“The bargaining discussions among the pro-troika political parties, aiming at the formation of an “ecumenical government” with the addition of the “Democratic Left”, constitute an attempt to reconstruct the pro-troika reactionary block and to save the trembling, rotten and guilty political system.
“These attempts are a direct violation of the verdict of the Greek People on the national elections of 6 May. At the same time, these attempts constitute a continuation of the subordination of the pro-troika political parties to the provocative and sustained interventions of Merkel, Schäuble, Barroso, Dragi and the like against the will of the Greek People.
“The Greek People has sent a categorical and majoritarian message on 6 May against the “agreements” with the IMF-EU-ECB troika. The colonial regime imposed by the “agreements” and by the troika is once and for all condemned by the Greek People. The same goes for its servants, no matter if they wear a blue (right wing), green (PASOK) or pink (“Democratic Left”) costume.
“The Greek People demands that its vote is respected. The Greek People demands a way out that excludes this political system, which either tolerated or imposed the colonial regime of the new occupation by the imperialists and the bankers.
“All these forces, which openly or covertly obey to the troika’s demands, can be sure that any attempt to counterfeit the People’s will, shall only further grow the popular rage, which will sweep away any pro-troika ‘government’. The forgery of the People’s will shall fail!”
The masses responded with great enthusiasm for the Syriza position as it crystallised their demands, their search for unity and their hatred of the imperialist agenda. Left parties and groups that stayed aloof from the popular movement had little impact, and are unlikely to win wider support until they catch up with the mood of the people.
Nevertheless the situation is fluid, and dark forces will be at work. US imperialism has air and naval forces based in Greece, while the Greek military has a history of violent intervention on behalf of the most reactionary sections of the ruling class. The working people of Greece know their history well, and will be prepared for the battles that lie ahead.

TAFE cuts fightback

Vanguard June 2012 p. 10
Jim H.

Anger against the Victorian government’s TAFE $300 million funding slash is rising.  Two thousand general staff and teaching positions will be axed and student fees will double or even treble.

Regional TAFE institutes will be the hardest hit by Baillieu’s savage cuts. Well attended community rallies to support TAFE campaigns were held in Mildura and Ballarat in late May. June will see rallies in Traralgon, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Bairnsdale and Warrnambool. 
This follows the successful 5000-strong rally in Melbourne on May 10 when TAFE general staff, lecturers and students were joined by supporters from unions such as the CFMEU, MUA, CEPU, AMWU, CPSU, ASU, ANF, ETU, etc.

Privatisation vs the public good
It does not take a brains trust to see that this is not about sound financial management, but a cynical move to swing an axe against public education, to cut it down, in order to set the ground for a new wave of privatisation. In this way, the government gets to look after its big business mates wanting to profit from the wreckage.
Nor is it just the Baillieu government to blame. Colin Long, National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Victorian Secretary, was correct to identify the previous state Labor government’s support for “contestability”, the euphemism for forcing TAFEs into a rigged market system.  Let us not forget that the ALP opened the gate and let the barbarians in,” he said at the May 10 rally. “The ALP must now show where it really stands. Here is an opportunity for it to cast aside the free market madness that has infected it for years, to show that it stands with TAFE teachers, students and local communities in fighting for quality, accessible public education.”

We won’t hold our breath waiting, however, particularly when essential elements of privatising the vocational education and training (VET) market are driven by the Gillard Government through COAG agreements with the states and territories.
TAFE teachers are the immediate victims. The funding cut focussed on taking away money that had been earmarked for the payment of wages. The current agreement with teachers has been torn up.
TAFEs are forced into cutting hours. They will be forced into increasing class sizes and fewer classroom hours. Larger class sizes and fewer classroom hours will have an effect on the quality of training.

Students are also victimised by the changes. Fees are set to rise substantially. So-called “income contingent loans” are simply a mechanism for shifting costs onto students – and demanded by Federal Labor as a precondition for states and territories to access funding under the National Partnership Agreement for Skills Reform.

This is disgraceful, not only in terms of the impact on teachers and students, but also in that it damages the skills base in Australia. With the decline of manufacturing, capital’s need for technically skilled workers in this sector of the economy is diminishing, and it is cheaper to import Section 457 visa workers, trained at another country’s expense, who can be sent home when they are no longer needed. This is another instance of the tendency under capitalism to destroy the forces of production.  

Conflict between the people and capital
The cut must also be seen in the context of a capitalist education system in an era of deepening capitalist economic and social crisis. In the first place, every opportunity to turn a profit is taken advantage of. Public resources are pillaged, with the aid of a government and public institutions in the pocket of the corporations.
Whilst capitalist education serves the interests of capitalism, thousands of teachers and others pull in the opposite direction. Their efforts are to serve the Australian people and work for a better future. Big business and its government fear this sentiment. And in the present circumstances see a need to go on the offensive.
The TAFE funding cut aims to carry on the process of consolidating a two tier education system, with a declining public part, and a private part designed to be better resourced, more directly and firmly tied to the interests of big business and service to capitalism, and increasingly restricted to the most privileged. In just four years, the TAFE share of VET fell from 75% (2008) to 49% (2011). Over the same time private VET providers increased their share from 14% to 40%. A further 11% held by adult and community education organisations remained constant over the same period.
Market promotes scams, undermines quality

The TAFE cut, we are told, is about ‘refocusing’ vocational education. What that means in terms of courses offered is that socially necessary but costly courses with relatively low enrolments, such as of the Australian Sign Language course at Kangan Institute in Richmond, the only one of its kind in Victoria, which provides sign language training to deaf people as well as interpreters, teachers of the deaf and other professionals, is threatened, whilst large enrolment courses of poor quality and short duration in the private sector are proliferating.

A case in point is the so-called “Diploma of OHS” offered by SafetyNet Management Solutions which promises to give participants more specialised knowledge within the field of Occupational Health and Safety. A field of study vital to the question of safety for workers, and which has the self-proclaimed status of a Diploma course, is nothing more than a 5-day fast track course.  It would be a joke if it wasn’t so serious, but at least one private provider is making money and that’s all that counts.
A deregulated market place is to shonky operators what a dung heap is to blow flies. Take the case of the Vocational Training Group (VTG) scam. This private provider offered a Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation. The “same” certificate undertaken in a TAFE College requires 800 to 1200 hours of study. VTG cut it down to 90-minute sessions, or 15 hours. For each student they enrolled they were entitled to $10,000 from the Government.  So a whole bunch of Louie the Fly types were sent out to community sporting clubs, offering $500 “education scholarships” to each participant, and a kickback of $1000 to his or her club. These payments were to be made by the Supreme Athlete Foundation, a “charitable project” registered at the same address as VTG. Capitalists always want “small government” when it is a question of providing for the people’s welfare, but are happy to
use it as their own personal milch cow when there’s an easy buck to be made.
The inequity is being entrenched in other ways too. For example, while TAFEs will get a modest $1 an hour for equipment heavy courses, private providers will get $2.50 for the same.
But every action causes a reaction. Already, teachers and students are taking action. Under the leadership of the Australian Education Union (AEU) and the NTEU, the TAFE4all campaign is up and running. It fits in with mounting action against attacks on other sectors of the public education system.
This is going to be a long battle however. Success will be based on continuing efforts to involve teachers, students and parents and continuing development of active community support, as well as clever strategy suited to the twists and turns of ongoing battle. The attack can be turned back. Victoria’s nurses recently showed what is possible.
Within the context of bringing people together for a common cause, here is an opportunity to raise the question – education for whom? Turning back the attack on public education is extremely important. It is also important to build the strength of those forces that work for education to serve the interests of the people.

Quarantine and manage profits – not welfare!

Vanguard June 2012 p. 9
Nick G.

(Above: the BasicsCard, first imposed on prescribed NT Aboriginal communities, and now heading to a poor community near you...perhaps your own!)

When compulsory income management (or “welfare quarantining”) was imposed on prescribed Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, this paper warned that it “would become generalised across the rest of the community.”
The measure, which at first applied only to Aborigines, necessitated the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.  This blatant racism harmed Australia’s image in the international arena.
Labor took Howard’s racist NT scheme and extended it to some non-Aboriginal welfare recipients in the NT, thus deflecting the charges of racism whilst leaving the essentially racist application of the scheme intact.
Labor then announced the Place Based Income Management scheme, imposing five year “trials” of income management to five low SES communities – Playford (SA), Shepparton (Vic), Bankstown (NSW) and Rockhampton and Logan (Qld).   The so-called “trials” will begin on July 1.
The affected communities have been poorly prepared for this.  An online survey conducted in the Shepparton area revealed that 62% of respondents said that they had found it difficult to find out information about the measures, and that 80% regarded the level of consultation between the Government and the community as inadequate.
Sister Michelle Madigan of the Catholic Josephite Order said few income support recipients in the Playford Council area (incorporating suburbs built to provide the workforce for General Motors around the city of Elizabeth) were aware of the five-year long trial, not its start date on July 1.  A spokesperson for homeless services in the region said the scheme would come as a “shock”.
Residents of Bankstown in Sydney are in a somewhat better situation having been the focus of community activists who have brought the experiences of NT communities to public discussions.
There is a Say No to Government Income Management Campaign Coalition with strong roots in the community sector including Aboriginal and migrant communities and held a major seminar on May 26 to discuss strategies for opposing income management.
Ms Randa Kattan, Executive Director of the Arab Council of Australia and spokesperson for the Bankstown Coalition, visited NT communities late 2011 to see firsthand the impact of income management.
“People in the NT told us of the humiliation and degradation of being forced to go on income management and how this hurt their families rather than helped them. 
“The government wants to take the community sector down a path where the relationship between client and worker is about control and punishment.
“From the bush to Bankstown, people do not need income management.  They need job opportunities, higher incomes and improved social services,” she said.
Labor’s extension of the welfare quarantining, Basics Card approach to people who need dignity and self-empowerment comes at the same time as Liberal Joe Hockey’s call to “end the era of entitlement” which attacks the same poor and marginalised communities from yet another direction.
It shows that between social democracy and outright conservatism there is only service to the rich, and punishment for the poor.

Grain handling monopoly disadvantages wheat farmers

Vanguard June 2012 p. 8
Duncan B.

Traditionally, the marketing of wheat within Australia, and of wheat and flour for export, was undertaken by a single statutory authority, the Australian Wheat Board.

(Above: a Cargill grainflow receiving site)


The Board’s trading monopoly derived from complementary Commonwealth and State government legislation. State legislation empowered the Board to acquire wheat grown in each State, except for wheat committed to interstate trade, and made the Board responsible for intra-state marketing.
Under Commonwealth legislation the Board was made responsible for handling exports of wheat and wheat products, and for interstate marketing of wheat. Storage and rail transport of grain was handled by State-owned grain elevator boards, or their equivalent, which acted as agents for the Wheat Board in each state. Upon delivery of wheat to the railway siding, the grower received a first advance from the Board: the first advance represented a substantial proportion of the estimated final price of the wheat, and was financed by means of a government-guaranteed loan from the Reserve Bank.
This system worked well for many years to the benefit of wheat farmers, but of course it had to go! The agri-business giants could not make a profit from Australia’s grain harvest while grain handling and marketing was in Government hands.
The Australian Wheat Board and the state grain handling authorities were the victims of the privatisation mania that swept Australia in the nineties. Since then there have been various take-overs and mergers, so that we have the situation today where 50% of the Australian wheat market is controlled by two companies, Cargill and Glencore.
Swiss-based Glencore is the world’s largest commodity trader, with interests in oil, grains and metals. Glencore is working on a take-over of miner Xstrata and also controls 60% of the world’s zinc, just to mention some of its activities.
Glencore recently took over Viterra, which was Canada’s largest grain trader in a $6 billion deal. In this way Glencore acquired Viterra’s grain handling facilities in Australia. Thanks to this deal, Glencore will control 90% of South Australia’s up-country storage and handling infrastructure and the state’s export terminals. Glencore is now selling the Viterra operations in Canada and Australia to Canadian fertiliser and pesticide company Agrium. This includes the grain trader ABB, formerly the Australian Barley Board, which Viterra acquired in 2009.
In 2010, Agrium sold the AWB grain handling and trading business to Cargill for $870 million, after earlier purchasing AWB for $1.2 billion.
Vanguard readers are excused for being confused by all this! Australian wheat farmers were told that deregulating the Australian wheat export market would drive efficiencies and ensure the best use of resources. All that has happened is that they have traded a Government-owned monopoly for monopolies owned by some of the world’s biggest agri-business exploiters. Unlike the Government-owned grain handlers, these companies act in their own interests, not those of the grain growers. That’s why we have to kick them out.

Re-building the manufacturing industry

Vanguard June 2012 p. 8
Ned K.

While the big job loss stories like Toyota’s 350 make the headlines, there are thousands of stories of ruined lives caused by the decline of manufacturing that never make the news.
Whether you are a white collar professional, work in construction, a hospital, a school, local government or a so-called service industry, you encounter some form of manufactured item.
In fact even when cleaning your own house, you use a manufactured piece of equipment. Have a look at the brand name and see where the product was made. Chances are, most of the manufactured items you use every day are made overseas.
Ask your co-workers and your boss whether the items were once made in Australia, and what happened to the workers and their community when their jobs went off-shore. Or whether there is an alternative Australian-based manufacturer who could have supplied the item.
This is no academic exercise. Take the Commodore car manufactured in Australia by General Motors. Until a couple of years ago, the steering wheel the Australian citizen grasps and the rubber seals to keep the windows and doors secure were made by car component workers in Adelaide, in a factory owned by a Japanese multinational company with a workforce of several hundred. Now these car components are imported from the same multinational’s factory in Thailand. Now the workforce is down to about 150. Three weeks ago, the company sacked all the engineers, the company safety officer, production casuals and even the factory occupational nurse (a service worker).  It foreshadowed a further 30 production jobs to go in coming months. How can this be allowed to happen?
In most cases it is caused by multinational companies who both sack workers and move production elsewhere, or they source component parts and services for their own manufactured product from overseas on the basis of cheaper price.
Some state governments, especially in South Australia and Victoria (traditional manufacturing states), are genuinely concerned about the decline of manufacturing and are making efforts to do something about it, because of pressure from the people.
In South Australia, the government appointed a manufacturing ‘expert’ Professor Goran Roos as its 2011 Thinker in Residence, and subsequently published a Green Paper on manufacturing. In the paper, Roos emphasises the importance of manufacturing to a modern economy by stating, “Manufacturing now includes the whole chain of activities from research and development through to the manufactured product. This expansion of the role of manufacturing underpass its importance as a crucial component of any advanced economy”. The Green Paper adds that “while the mining and manufacturing  sectors account for similar level of economic activity in Australia (7% and 8% of GDP respectively, manufacturing – with almost one million workers across the nation – employs four times more than mining.”
Environmentally sustainable manufacturing
Where the Green Paper falls down is that it sees the role of government as creating the conditions for privately owned capitalist manufacturing, but there is no mention of government regulation, government ownership or part ownership or controlling interest over new manufacturing.
For many years, both ALP and Liberal-Coalition governments at both federal and state levels have poured millions into sections of the manufacturing industry, particularly the car industry, but ownership (and hence decision-making) has remained with the multinationals who control the industry.
Manufacturing unions, while not calling for nationalisation of key manufacturing industries, are at least demanding that governments require mining companies to source a significant proportion of machinery and equipment from Australia, as well as the value-adding processing of mineral ores being done locally. Only a sustained campaign led by workers and local communities will make this a reality.

We’ll give Murdoch class struggle all right!

Vanguard June 2012 p. 7
Nick G.

In the wake of the 2012 Federal Budget, the Murdoch media and the Liberal opposition have left no stone unturned to paint Julia Gillard and her Treasurer Wayne Swan as advocates of class struggle.

Readers of Vanguard might wonder why we bother to deal with such tripe.  After all, comparing Julia Gillard to a genuine advocate of proletarian class struggle is rather like holding a candle to the sun – except that there is real doubt as to whether the candle is even alight!
However, comment serves a double purpose here.  Firstly, we need to acknowledge the influence that reactionary populism has particularly when it is served up by a virtual media monopoly.  Secondly, we need to draw a clear line of distinction between our own understanding of class struggle and that which is said to be the position of our social democratic friends in the Labor Party.
Reactionary populism
The post-Budget attack on Gillard and Swan was led by the misnamed Australian, the home place of reactionary comprador journalism.
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, the Australian’s editors took the unusual step of front-paging a cartoon showing a Soviet style art work in which Swan and Gillard are leading a screaming mass out of the factories under a hammer and sickle flag.

Swan was in the visually most dominant position both because he had responsibility for the Budget as Treasurer, but also because the ruling class is still smarting from a very mild criticism of billionaire excesses he published some months ago in the Monthly magazine and repeated during an appearance at the National Press Club.
The next day, another of ex-Citizen Murdoch’s kept columnists, David Penberthy, suggested that the idea of class struggle was “stupid” in a country like Australia, and that Gillard might have to back off if the electorate found it unpopular.  The cartoon accompanying Penberthy’s piece depicted Gillard as Delacroix’s bare-breasted Liberty leading the people. 

Joining Murdoch’s editors and writers in denouncing any increase in welfare for people doing it tough is a whole chorus of right-wing talk-back hosts, twitterers and writers of Letters to the Editors who complain that welfare is theft from the productive members of society for the benefit of the lazy.  This inversion of the reality of capitalist exploitation is to be expected from its apologists who see the world from an upside down perspective as they bend over to put their heads up their own backsides.
The reality of class struggle
“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
 Those were the words of billionaire Warren Buffett, chair of Berkshire Hathaway, an insurance and investment holding company in 2006 during a NY Times interview. Buffett is the second-richest man in the world.
Buffett’s disarming honesty reflects the aggressive nature of capitalism which everywhere seeks to grind down the people and which, in the era of the complete domination of finance capital over all other forms of capital, has seen massive transfers of wealth from the world’s poorest people and even middle-income earners to what the Occupy movement identifies as the 1%.
In the face of this onslaught against living standards, the people fight back.
This is also class struggle even when those participating in this or that minor struggle or partial protest do not immediately see it in those terms.
We advocate class struggle, not as a thing in itself or out of some romantic notion of a holy proletariat, but because in its highest form, that of conscious revolutionary struggle for change from capitalism to socialism lays the only solution to the future of humanity.
Social democrats also acknowledge the existence of class struggle, although they subordinate it to peaceful, parliamentary channels for reforms within the rotten system of capitalism which they seek to “civilise from within”.  Probably very few of the major leaders of the Labor Party these days even go so far as to advance a traditional social democratic position.  They are much more comfortable trying to win acceptance as neoliberals in international financial and political circles.
Marx hit the nail on the head when he differentiated his understanding of class struggle from that of the reformists of his day.
“And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists, the economic anatomy of classes. What I did that was new was to prove:
(1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with the particular, historical phases in the development of production,
(2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat,
(3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society” (Marx, Letter to Weydermeyer, 1852).

Indeed, there would be nothing particularly challenging to capitalism as a system if Gillard and Swan did advocate class struggle, as the Murdoch press accuses them of doing, providing they did not also advocate the three matters in Marx’s statement above.
Needless to say, they would both die with a leg in the air before advocating any such thing.
The incredible reaction to their Budget from the defenders of monopoly capitalism shows what our class can expect if push ever really came to shove. 
That is why we organise as we do, why we protect our members’ identity as Communists as best we can, and why we hold no illusions about the possibility of legislating for a peaceful transition to anti-imperialist independence and socialism.
It is why as Communists we hold – in opposition to some of our young anarchist friends in the Occupy movement - that those who are genuine in their advocacy of class struggle must extend that to the need for the working class to utilise the apparatus of a state after power has been taken from the imperialists and local monopoly capitalists, and why our class must be the sole holder of state power throughout the socialist era.