There’s a growing public concern about the relentless erosion of democratic rights and civil liberties in Australia.
The main target of the new wave of anti-democratic, anti-worker state and federal laws are unions, civil rights and community groups, farming and rural communities, resisting big business attacks on their working conditions, livelihoods, living standards and the environment.
Moslem communities, migrant workers and motor bike clubs are marginalised and demonised by the ruling class whipping up fear, and used as a pretext to push through the anti-democratic laws directed against all.
The new wave of draconian anti-democratic, anti-worker laws and regulations are a part of the big business’ ruling class preparations to suppress the people’s resistance and struggle against the deeper austerity agenda and crushing of wages and conditions demanded by the ruling class of monopoly capital.
On 13 November, 180 people attended a public forum in Melbourne on the erosion of human and democratic rights in Australia. The forum pulled together the seemingly separate laws, developments and actions against the people in struggle. A picture emerged of systematic attacks on people’s struggles.
Speakers included Rob Stary, well known democratic rights lawyer; ACTU President Ged Kearney; Ann O’Rourke, Vice-President of Liberty Victoria and Humphrey McQueen, well known Australian historian and activist in the working class movement.
The meeting focused on the wide sweeping attacks on workers’ and union rights to organise, take industrial action, strike, the unions’ right of entry and disappearing job security.
Speakers and representatives from unions pointed out that the ABCC is intended against all organised sections of the working class and unions who refuse to submit to the big business agenda of intensified exploitation of workers, lower pay and loss of many hard won workplace conditions.
The recently legislated anti-bikie club laws in Queensland, the anti-terror laws and the draconian laws against community and environmental protests are another layer of the capitalist state’s legal apparatus created in preparation for the suppression of people’s struggle and resistance.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a tool of US imperialism to remove any impediments that stand in the way of profit maximisation by the multinationals. Many of these government regulations and standards on health and safety, protection of the environment, protection of local jobs have been forced on Australian governments by people’s mass actions.
Democratic rights do not sit above classes. In real life workers have few democratic rights. Thousands of workers are regularly sacked and lose their livelihood, whilst the rights and prerogatives of big business to maximise their profits and exploit the working class mercilessly are upheld as sacred and unchallengeable.
Multi-nationals like GMH and Ford, have unrestricted and unfettered rights to close down factories, throw tens of thousands of workers and their families on the scrapheap, so they can maximise their profits in the cheap labour markets in the developing countries, where workers have even fewer rights, if at all.
In his book Revolution and the Australian State, written in 1974, Ted Hill, the founding Chairman of CPA (M-L) sharply exposes the Australian capitalist state in all its functions, including the entire legal apparatus, as fundamentally dictatorship of the foreign and local monopoly capitalist class.
"In its essence, the (bourgeois) dictatorship is unrestricted by any laws other than the economic laws that govern capitalism. Those economic laws were elucidated by Marx... Suffice it to say that no amount of liberty, freedom of the press, habeas corpus, legal rights is of much use to the man (or woman) who is dismissed in exercise of the monopoly capitalist’s dictatorship or who is unable to get a job because of the monopoly capitalists’ unrestricted right to hire and fire."
"In the evolution of capitalism, a state apparatus to carry out these functions of dictatorship arose and developed. As class antagonisms have developed, so the apparatus of the state has been strengthened and refined."
"The legal apparatus in Australia is simply the system of repression built up in the course of British imperialist occupation and domination of Australia, then US imperialist extension to Australia and the collaboration of certain Australian monopolies with those imperialists."
"The formal liberties such as freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of organisation, what liberal traditions in the there are have an importance for the working class, and other patriotic people. They enable the workers to organise, to study, to fight. True there are limitations. The workers and other patriotic people work to understand that the struggle to preserve and extend democratic rights is not an end in itself but part of a revolutionary struggle for the seizure of state power."