Sunday, March 30, 2014

Queensland laws strengthen class dictatorship

Vanguard May 2014 p. 6
 Nick G.

Recent legislative changes in Queensland reveal with great clarity the class nature of the state.

The state encompasses those agencies, institutions and individuals whose job it is to obstruct, to restrict, to threaten and to oppress the working class and its allies in the interests of the minority who own and benefit from capitalist property relations.

In the uneven application of tactics against the workers, the state sometimes uses softer, at other times harder, methods.

In the current era, Queensland is at the forefront of state use of harder measures against the people.

Intimidation of union officials

In 2013 the State government amended the Industrial Relations Act. 

The Act now requires the ten highest paid officials of a union to declare on a public register the assets held by themselves, their spouse and children and “any person who is totally or substantially dependent on the officer” such as a dependent parent. 

The officials and their related persons must declare whether they have shares, investments, property, bank accounts and other assets.  The assets extend to gifts, non-cash benefits and remuneration.  It includes declarations of reimbursements for costs of travel and accommodation used in the course of the official’s union work.

It is highly intrusive and treats union officials as nothing better than criminals placed under a strict parole regime.

The clear intention is to scare people away from taking on leadership roles within unions.

Obstructing unions in their work

The changes also place restrictions on the ability of unions to campaign on behalf of their members.

Any amount in excess of $10,000 spent on a political purpose in any one financial year must be approved through a ballot.

The ballot will only authorise the expenditure if at least 50% of the union membership vote, and more than 50% of those voting support the spending.

For a union of a reasonable size with members spread across the State, such as the Queensland Teachers Union, this will mean weeks and weeks of dependency on the electoral commission and payment of costs of the ballot to the commission. 

It may well take such a union $40-50,000 to conduct a ballot for the expenditure of $10,000.

A political purpose includes donations to a political party and “publication or distribution in any way, including through advertising, of material about a political matter” and even ascertaining “a person’s opinion about a political matter, including, for example, by opinion polling”.

Restricting unions in their work

Other amendments to the Industrial Relations Act restrict the scope of “allowable matters” in Enterprise Agreements.  Employment security provisions and conversion of contract to permanency requirements must not be included.  Anything that encourages or facilitates union membership such as payroll deductions or providing resources at the workplace for union activity must not be included.  Any agreement around funding programs in the workplace must not be included.  Anything that addresses union right of entry must not be included.  Anything that restricts “flexible” work practices must not be included.

On the other hand, so-called “individual flexibility arrangements” must be included.

The amendments give the Minister for Industrial Relations power to terminate industrial action “if the Minister is satisfied that the action is threatening the safety and welfare of the community, or is threatening to damage the economy”. 

Thus the window is effectively shut on what little there is in this country of the right to protected industrial action.

Oppressing the workers and their allies

Although these legislative changes are written with specific reference to unions and their officials, they are actually the iron fist of the ruling class around the throats of all working people.

We have no illusions about the trade unions and their non-revolutionary nature, of the fact that they are tied in a thousand and one ways to the continuation of the social system of capitalism.

Workers need unions. 

The best of them actually do try to protect workers at work and win better wages from the employer.

That is why threatening, obstructing and restricting unions is central to the oppression of workers by the ruling class.

The workers of Queensland are the heirs of Barcaldine and the 1890 strikes, of the great Townsville Meat Workers’ Strike of 1919, of the struggles against Jackboot Joh, of the SEQEB dispute.

When push comes to shove, they will fight back, and hard!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Social inequality is a fine thing!

Vanguard June 2014 p. 4
Nick G

A new regime of fines enforcement is hitting working people in SA.
Some might say it is not a class issue, but a $500 fine represents a different order of penalty to a person on the Newstart allowance compared to a professional or business couple with a combined income of three or four hundred thousand a year.

As someone said, the majestic impartiality of the law…..
The SA Labor government has been bashed around the ears by the big end of town for the allegedly high level of state debt.

It is clamouring for ways to reduce the debt and get back into the good books of Standard and Poors and Moodys.
So, corners have to be cut.

Recently a young woman who had been contesting a dog expiation notice from her local Council received a “warning of enforcement” notice from the SA government Fines Unit.
It transpired that the Magistrates Court no longer deals with negotiations around late payment of fees or appeals.  That’s too time consuming and costly.

Instead, the Fines Unit, which has a website but no identifiable physical location, makes arbitrary determinations about payment of fines.
Complaining to friends on Facebook, the woman said: “And 'due to high volume of calls' you cannot even speak to a human being...can only correspond via email...(good luck if you're too poor to have computer access!). Suddenly, i'm blocked from registering my car or renewing my license, cos of a paltry Council fine when my neighbor let the dog out of the house!!! ..this is GUARANTEED to create criminals out of the poor!”

She is currently planning to transfer ownership of her car to a family member so as to reduce her seizable assets and was distressed to find that in addition to the original fine, she had now been hit to pay a “victims of crime” levy as a “criminal”.

A person who responded to her angry message and who works in the public service claimed to have been dealing with “HEAPS of people with this at work lately” and offered to get someone from the Fines Unit to call her.  He added that the Fines Unit phone line doesn’t even have a hold and wait function.
“There's nothing quite like 'being politely 'hung up on'- by a ROBOT!” observed the woman.

This is the system of capitalism.
Fines of unequal social severity cause immense hardship to working people and the unemployed, who are then deprived of legal recourse to appeals and negotiations around payment terms, and subsequently find themselves dealing with robots who determine that they are criminals because they can’t afford to pay their fines.

Meanwhile, the ruling class and its sycophants and servants in the lucky part of the country are free to burn their frivolous wealth in the casinos of the stock exchange without a care for the morrow.
Or so they think………….

Reference link:

No more compulsory income management!

Vanguard May 2014 p. 5
Nick G.

Compulsory income management (CIM) is being rapidly expanded.

It is being expanded in the five so-called place-based “trial” sites of Bankstown (NSW), Greater Shepparton (Vic), Playford (SA), and Logan and Rockhampton (both in Queensland).

It has been expanded to the Ngaanyatjarra Lands (NG Lands) and Laverton Shire (Western Australia) and to South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

First they came for the Aborigines…

CIM was first imposed in the Northern Territory as part of the racist NT Intervention.  Aboriginal people in 73 identified locations were issued BasicsCards into which welfare payments were deposited.  Cards could only be used in certain shops and on certain products.  The measure was racist and required the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act in the NT.

At the time we warned “how repression directed at a minority may become generalised across the rest of society”, and we then saw the incoming federal Labor government extend these draconian measures to non-Aboriginal people in the Territory and then in the five trial sites.

Great opposition to CIM developed in the affected communities which made it hard for social workers and welfare officers to implement CIM as quickly and as broadly as intended.

Indeed, as late as May 2013, only three people were on CIM in Playford.  There was a larger number of people (51) who had accepted inducements to register as voluntary participants in income management.  The latter only have 50% of their welfare payments quarantined onto the BasicsCard unlike people on CIM who have 70% quarantined.  The “volunteers” also receive a $250 bonus every six months they are on the scheme.

Labor expanded the scheme last year targeting young welfare recipients.  By December 27 2013, 495 people in Playford were on income management of whom 403 or 81% were on CIM rather than in the voluntary scheme.

This represented an increase of around 700% in just six months.

The same pattern was seen in other trial sites.  Rockhampton, which had no-one on CIM in May last year had 396 people by December, most of whom were under compulsion to have their welfare quarantined.

Across the five trial sites as of last December 2204 people were on BasicsCards of whom 535 were “volunteers”, 72 were under compulsion having been referred by social workers, and 1597 were under compulsion as young people automatically transferred from the Unreasonable To Live At Home rate of Youth Allowance.

Referring to the Playford figures, Pas Forgione, Spokesperson for Stop Income Management in Playford (SIMPla) said, “This is an enormous blow-out in the number of income management clients, the vast majority of whom have been pushed onto the program without their consent. It is a failed policy.  It is a counter-productive measure that does not build the capacities of at-risk clients…”

Simon Schrapel, Chief Executive of Uniting Communities said, “The rapid rise in Playford residents being forced on to Compulsory Income Management should sound a warning for the whole community - the basic right to be in control of how you spend your own money is being eroded and it will only foster a greater level of welfare dependency which is one of the things the scheme was supposedly designed to reduce.”

Inga Baker, local resident and SIMPla member said, “Hundreds of people receiving Centrelink payments are being forced onto the BasicsCard without justification. Why are we being treated differently? Why are people in the Playford region being treated like second-class citizens? What did we do wrong? This policy is a heavy-handed approach that limits the spending options of the participants and takes away the right to control personal finances.”

We join with SIMPla and other opponents of CIM in demanding no extension of the scheme to other communities, its termination where it currently operates, its administration costs being put into services that build the skills of low-income and marginalised people, and for Centrelink payments to be lifted to alleviate poverty and distress.

Further reading:

1.  Government report on income management figures:
2.  Facebook page against CIM in SA:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Aboriginal speaker Karranjal John Hartley at "March in March"

Extract from speech by Karranjal John Hartley (above) – March in March Adelaide 2014
Brothers and Sisters

We gather today in the un-ceded homelands and territories of the Kaurna Peoples. I speak today on behalf of my Family as a guest in Kaurna Country.

I also acknowledge the continuing sovereignty of all First Nation Peoples throughout our continent

It is an honour to be here in solidarity with you all today.

Brothers and Sisters

In our country, the long resistance of First Nation Peoples did not begin with
Tony Abbott and it will not end with Tony Abbott

This Country is the only commonwealth nation throughout the world – which has not entered into Treaties with First Nation Peoples.

First Nation Peoples know body and soul and all too well the lies, impacts and effects of the cult of rampant individualism and free marketers and the cold hearted policies of successive governments who act in their interest.

It is true we the First Nation Peoples are the oldest continuing culture on the face of the planet, yet, in 2014 in country that houses many of the world’s economically rich - it is also true, we are among the worlds most impoverished and the fastest dying human-beings on the planet.

The reality for First Nation Peoples in over 225 plus years of resistance is that in our communities today – we are struggling with the highest rates of suicide in the world.

[The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 996 suicides of First Nations people between 2001 to 2010. – Human rights activist Gerry Georgatos’s research estimates that it is closer to 2000 suicides when other unnatural deaths are taken into account. Between 1 in 12 to 1 in 24 of all First Nations deaths are by suicide. In the last three years - Gerry Georgatos has estimated there have been another 400 suicides, a rise of 30 per cent per annum on the preceding ten years. By 2020 he estimate nearly every First Nations nuclear family will be touched by suicide]. Sourced: Stringer Website.

Brothers and Sisters

We share a country with the highest Indigenous incarceration rates, 1 in 18 adults and 50% - 50% of our youth are being now being incarcerated, Rates higher then black South Africa during the apartheid era

The highest infant mortality rates,

The highest illness through curable disease rates,

The lowest life expectancy rates and where trachoma a third world disease eradicated in most nations throughout the globe is still rampant.

We share a Country with the world’s highest recorded rates of rheumatic heart disease, another third world condition linked to overcrowded housing,

A country where First Nation children are being removed from their families at over 10 times the rate for other children – at rates higher than at any time during the Stolen Generations era.

A country where the cattle industry prospered using First Nations men and women as slave labour, and where the mining industry today - makes profits of a billion dollars a week from the desecration of First Nation Homelands

We share a Country whose governments in your name sends in its own army into remote First Nation Homelands on the basis of lies and deliberately constructed falsehoods to enact racist legislation such as the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act, later to become the Stronger Futures Legislation still enforced to this day.

We share a Country that, also records the highest language extinction rates on the planet.

We share a Country recorded to have one of the greatest appropriations of First Nations land in world history,

Brothers and Sisters

We share a country whose governments have suspended the 1975 racial discrimination act 3 times since its introduction in order to knowingly racially discriminate in order to deny us justice and further oppress First Nation Peoples.

As we stand here today the Abbott government under the guise of ‘free speech” are typing changes to section 18C of the racial discrimination Act referred to as the ’Bolt Law” These changes will impact most severely on First Nations Peoples and will have consequences not unlike income management that will also ripple throughout all areas of our shared communities.

Brothers Sisters

Until the rightful political status of First Nation Peoples is secured - until our rights to share in the economic wealth illegally extracted and generated from our Homelands is secured - until the myths of the “lucky country” and so-called peaceful settlement of this Country are exposed and embraced and transformed by each of us - until justice in the light of current and historical truths is afforded First Nation Peoples – Until we the people change the power imbalance from one of oppressor and oppressed - of coloniser and the colonised - to one of respectful relationships and acceptance for each other’s world-view – until we enter into binding treaties - “not constitutional recognition” but Treaties that lay the foundation for peaceful co-existence with First Nations Peoples and so-called “settler” states - there can be and never will be true justice in this Country, we all call home.

Brothers and Sisters,

It is we who must demand of politicians of all persuasions to right the many injustices and end the oppression of First Nation Peoples evident in our own backyard – we will then get it right for all people - not only here - but throughout the globe.

Brothers and Sisters

Tony Abbott and his stable of elitist free market ideologues are out to silence our collective dissent, frustrations and anger at their careless and shameful scorched earth policies implemented solely in the interest of Profit-for-a-few

Brothers and Sisters

We are here joined together today, to organise collectively in the interest of a better life for all – It is we the people who make and determine change –not politicians and Mr Abbott, we the people - begin that change today.

Abbott Government Attacks Low Paid Cleaning Industry Workers' Pay - "Not In Our Name"!

Vanguard June 2014 p.5
Ned K.

On 20 March 2014 the Abbott Government announced that it was abolishing Commonwealth Government procurement guidelines and regulations that required contractors to pay cleaners above award wage increases.

For a cleaner employed on a Clean Start Union Collective Agreement by a contract cleaning company in, for example, the High Court building in Canberra or Parliament House itself, will receive a wage cut from 1 July 2014 of between
14% and 20% and over the next four years of another 8% .

The Abbott Government's cold hearted attack on cleaners’ wages comes at a crucial time during  cleaners' struggle to win a second Clean Start Agreement. The Agreement is being strongly resisted  by the big commercial property owners and their mouthpiece the Property Council of Australia. No doubt they were gloating at the Abbott announcement to cut cleaners’ wages in government buildings.

However their gloating may be short lived as cleaners re-group with even more determination to hold on to what they have won through years of struggle and to win moderate wage increases to keep up with rising costs of day to day living.

Since Abbott came in to administer capitalism on behalf of the ruling class he has deliberately attacked the wages of some of the lowest paid workers in Australia – child care workers, aged care workers and now cleaners.

All these workers are covered by United Voice union which has coverage of many non trades service industry workers. It has developed innovative strategies to organise these workers who are often isolated and in precarious insecure work. It is these workers that the Abbott Government on behalf of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) is determined to keep on poverty wages. These workers are what the BCA consider to be “non- core” workers and they need to keep these workers on very low pay so they can bribe or buy off their higher paid “core” workers without eating in to their thirst for rising profits.

As thousands of people yelled on March In March day recently, the attack on workers’ wages is “Not In Our Name”.

Next on the BCA and Abbott agenda for a low wage country is abolishing weekend and shift rates.

Resistance from workers is sure to grow.

Further reading:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Imperialism creates wars

Vanguard April 2014 p. 1

by Alice M.

This year marks 100 year anniversary of the outbreak and carnage of the 1914-1918 imperialist World War 1.

WW1 was a fierce battle between the major European imperialist powers (and the Ottoman empire) and their ruling class masters, the corporate conglomerates and big banks at that time, in a grab for more resources, markets and the economic and territorial spoils of Europe, the Middle East and their colonies.

Hundreds of thousands of working class soldiers were slaughtered on the battlefields, with many more suffering horrific injuries, fighting in their ruling class masters’ wars.

In 1914 Australia was a semi-colony of the British Empire.  Thousands of Australian soldiers were sent to the slaughter on the other side of the world to fight for British colonialism and imperialism.

One hundred years on and imperialist wars are more sophisticated, but no less brutal. The world is in a constant state, or threat, of imperialist wars, in many regions of the world.

The imperialist drive for economic and political domination has not changed, but intensified.

US imperialism is the main instigator of wars either through direct military invasions and occupations or through their local proxy puppets. The hand of US imperialism can be found behind most wars today; Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Ukraine/Crimea.

Australia – a pawn of imperialism
Australian workers have always been used as dispensable pawns in imperialist wars of Australia’s economic, political and imperial masters – fighting first for the British empire, and now US imperialism. 

The US-Australia alliance has deeply integrated Australia into US imperialist plans.  Australia’s foreign policies, military forces, defence facilities and industries are an inter-operable part of the US imperialist war machine.

Like ventriloquists and hand puppets, successive Australian politicians mimic every US imperialist threat, intimidation and pronouncement on international affairs. Australian governments enthusiastically click their heels and salute the US masters.

The US imperialist Pivot into Asia is seeing the build up and expansion of US military in the region to protect and expand its economic interests and ambitions. US troops and bases are reinforced or being built up in the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Guam, South Korea and Australia.

Pine Gap in central Australia has expanded to become the most important intelligence gathering and surveillance centre for the US military, and a base for launching its drones into Asia.  For the first time in our history Australia will be a permanent military base for thousands of US marines, warships and planes.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is the economic side of US imperialism’s Pivot into Asia. It goes hand in glove with the military expansion of the US and the threat of war in the region.

But many in the community are not accepting US imperialist plans for Australia as a military base and important launching pad for imperialist wars. A new people’s movement is emerging calling for a foreign policy that is independent of US and big powers, builds peace not wars, and demands the closing down of US bases and an end to US-Australia military alliance.

On the eve of ANZAC anniversary, people from across Australia are gathering in Canberra from 21-25 April, in a week of protests and activities calling for end to wars, for an independent and peaceful Australia. A national peace conference on 22 April in Canberra will bring together peace groups, religious organisations, indigenous communities, young activists, unions and many others seeking an end to the devastation of imperialist wars.

For the working class and all ordinary people striving for peace, the legacy of the imperialist WW1 is the inspirational struggle against conscription and today’s struggle to end the inhumane and predatory system of capitalism that spawns imperialism and its wars.

Working class agenda raised at Perth 'March in March' - speech by WA comrade

Vanguard May 2014 p. 3

Friends, fellow workers and comrades, on behalf of the Bolshevik Club of Western Australia I’d like to thank you all for giving me the opportunity to speak and also thank you for coming here today to demonstrate your opposition to the policies of the Abbott government.

I'm supposed to be talking to you about the life on disability pensions and the incessant attacks that are directed at welfare recipients, some of which only receive the bare minimum required to sustain life. A miserly sum of roughly $150 per fortnight, for some.
Comrades, these welfare payments weren't a generous "gift" from the Labor Party or Liberal Party. No, First and foremost, they were a direct response to the social spending policies of the mighty Soviet Union, which had abolished economic recessions, depressions and unemployment. Secondly, they were a result of the needs and demands of an impoverished and struggling working class of the 1920's. Who looked to the Soviet Union for answers. It was a time when mass unemployment, housing evictions, "move on" laws, anti vagrancy laws and anti association laws were being enacted. Does anything sound familiar?

Comrades, for the first time in many people’s lives, job insecurity and unemployment is becoming reality for you the Australian worker. Recent events with Holden, Ford, Toyota, Alcoa, SPC ARDMONA and Qantas, just to name a few, are forcing many people to seriously consider their future and indeed their children's future. Add to this the increasing cost of living; utilities, rent, fuel etc. then many fears are becoming reality, which are forcing some people out of their homes, out of the State or even out of the country. Also we can see a shift from the relative comfort and security of the realms of the middle class and into the realms of uncertainty within the ranks of the working class.
In other words, we are witnessing a destruction of Australia's productive forces. 

However, there is another form of welfare that is quite often overlooked by many, praised by some and undemonised by its sycophants. It’s called "Corporate Welfare".

Recently, we've seen almost $500 million in corporate welfare offered to Holden, Toyota and the Ford motor companies. Not to produce anything, but just to stay in Australia. But not even this exorbitant amount wasn’t enough to convince the CEO's and share holders, who produce NOTHING, to stay here. So in the private interests of these CEO's and share holders, you the Australian worker, face the stigma of unemployment and all its humiliation and demonisation. Not to mention the possible threat of homelessness and conditions of poverty and being forced onto a crumbling health and education system. Crumbling not because they are NO GOOD or USELESS but thanks to reduced public spending. The very cause of the demise of the public sector.

 Look around you people, everything you see has been made and produce by the collective efforts of you the working people. This includes your Wages, Taxes and EVERY CENT of THEIR PROFIT. These attacks on social spending, welfare cuts, wages and conditions, job losses and corporate welfare, all represent a redirection of wealth. A redirection, in order to prop up falling profits. With this redirection of wealth we see you the working people, unable to purchase the very things you have COLLECTIVELY produced. This results in a crisis of over production. Hence the markets, shops become glutted with surplus commodities and so more jobs have to be slashed in order to maximise profits and on and on this psychosis goes until we have economic depression, which results in the destruction of the countries productive forces, which is you comrades. None of us are immune from this phenomenon. In case your wondering comrades, this phenomenon has a name, it’s called CAPITALISM.

So fellow workers, friends and comrades, what can we do about this? I've heard some people say, "Vote Labor In" or even "Vote Liberals Out" or "Vote Greens, Nationals, Clive Palmer"... And indeed we could. Alas, we've been swapping the jockeys of this ageing horse since the formation of the ALP. But none of this jockey swapping has SOLVED the inherent problems that exist in this moribund economic system. If it could, then we wouldn't be having this discussion today.

One suggestion comrades and I hope the trade unions would seriously consider this option, is to say "Goodbye" to the CEO's and share holders of these foreign Nationals. Send them home and they can leave the machinery here. Then the workers in these industries and factories should form management committees and take over these production plants. Run them not for the CEO's and share holders of foreign countries, but for us, the Australian people who still have a need for these items and products. We know how to run these plants. We've been doing it for years. You have the brains and the skills necessary. If they can do it in Argentina, then surely we can do it here.

Comrades, we should be taking over these closed factories and increase taxes on foreign business. If they won’t co-operate, send them packing and nationalise these industries. This course of action removes the PRIVATE PROFIT MOTIVE from the equation (which is clearly jeopardising yours and your children’s future) then we can use this newly created PUBLIC PROFIT to sustain and expand better social benefits to all according to needs.

It's time to put Socialism back on the agenda!

Thank You.

"March in March" a step forward

Vanguard April 2014 p. 3

(above: March in March in Melbourne)

After less than five months of the Abbott Liberal-National Coalition government, large numbers of the Australian people have flooded onto the streets to express angry opposition to the policies of neo-liberalism and subservience to big business.

What can we learn from the ‘March in March’ rallies held across Australia (see page 8) and the coming together of wide sections of the people with many different concerns and issues?

Firstly, we learned that many people are not prepared to meekly cop whatever the government dishes out and are not content to sit back and wait for the next election to change things.

They see the value of organised collective action to express their discontent and rejection of the government’s reactionary social policies, their big business agenda of cutting services and attacking workers’ jobs, wages and conditions, their destruction of the environment and vicious persecution of asylum seekers.

The enthusiasm and passion of ordinary people was in stark contrast to the hesitant and defensive attitude of the Labor Party leaders and quite a few Labor-aligned union leaders as well. They were conspicuous by their absence, out of touch and out of step with the masses. But those union leaders, officials, organisers and activists who did attend can hold their heads up.

We also learned that people felt comfortable taking part in an activity that was bigger than a single issue, that they could see a common thread across the many government policies that were harming the Australian people and were happy to unite around many different concerns.

And we learned that the fact that ‘March in March’ was initiated by unaffiliated people mainly through social media meant that there was little formal ‘organisation’ and this allayed some people’s fears of being manipulated or used by this group or that.

To take this movement to the next level, from protest to positive demands that can assist in building a powerful people’s movement for fundamental change – that is the challenge. 

Demands should come from the struggles of the people, independent of parliamentary parties, and be practical and yet provide some vision of a better future.      

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March in March

Vanguard April 2014 p. 8
by Henry L.

Between the 15th and 17th of March, tens of thousands of ordinary Australians took to the streets to take part in the ‘March in March’ demonstrations, which occurred all over the length and breadth of the nation.

 The demonstrations that occurred in the capital cities drew some of the biggest crowds seen marching and having their voice heard for a long time, in some places braving heavy rain.

Conservative estimates suggest that at least a crowd of 35,000 in Melbourne (left) braved the elements, with at least 20,000 in Sydney, 5,000 in Adelaide (below) and 4,000 in Perth. On the final day thousands gathered in Canberra to deliver a motion of no confidence directly to Parliament House.

The sheer sizes across the board came as a surprise to both organisers and police. In addition to this, in an almost unprecedented manner, in almost every major regional centre and indeed a smattering of smaller localities, sizable demonstrations did occur, demonstrating both the widespread and diverse nature of discontent as well as the organising potential provided by effective use of social media platforms.

Although portrayed in the capitalist media as containing a simple anti-Abbott sentiment, this would do a disservice to the diversity and nature of the issues that the masses present across the county felt strongly enough to march about. Many of these are inherently caused by the nature of the society we currently live in, which is propped up by both major sides of the parliamentary coin.

This includes the need to sow division amongst the working class which leads to inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and the continuing subjugation of the First Nations, the relentless attacks on the working class, the proposed sale of Australia Post and the ongoing US imperialist domination of Australia, currently most clearly represented by the odious ongoing negotiations to seal the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), to name just a few that were expressed widely.

The sheer amount and intensity of discontent that has been building up within the Australian populace within recent times over the aforementioned issues and more, with many individuals simply waiting for an outlet to express this discontent was self-evident to all those present at the various marches.

Among the reasons the March in March was such a quickly built and runaway success with people, many of whom who had never attended a demonstration before in their lives, was that it was a clearly non-partisan and organically organised phenomena. It was a genuine expression of discontent with what the political system is inflicting on the people.

(Above: Spirit of Eureka spokesperson and former South Australian state secretary of the CFMEU, Martin O'Malley addresses the Adelaide rally on the recognition of class struggle as the decisive factor in fighting neo-liberalism and capitalism).
All across the country, a broad array of speakers were involved, including trade union figures and rank and file workers involved in struggle, Indigenous leaders, peace activists, environmentalists and anti-imperialists.

The lack of response and input from the ALP in particular, which claims to be involved with many of the issues marches were critical of, proved a very interesting and promising part of the evolution of the rallies, providing a shining example that working people don’t need to rely on parliamentary politics to prove a point.

Whilst Tony Abbott was a particular target of anger, as is to be expected with such an aggressive first six months of government, it was by no means an ALP love-in or ‘day of hate’ directed at one man.

It is vital that this impressive show of strength and discontent is built upon, and not lost. Such a broad array of people, protesting and expressing their anger over issues that can all be linked back to the bankruptcy and chaotic nature of capitalism in the imperialist stage, has real potential to give this rotten system a shock.
Further reports:

Bolshevik Club speaker in Perth: 

Aboriginal speaker John Hartley in Adelaide:

Profiteers from human misery

Vanguard April 2014 p. 3
Duncan B.

“Where there is misery there is money” could be the motto for the companies providing services to the Department of Immigration connected with running detention centres for asylum seekers.

 The four biggest companies involved are G4S, Serco, Transfield and Toll. Between them they have reaped contracts worth more than $5.6 billion from the Department of Immigration.

Serco, which runs the Department’s network of detention centres in Australia, is the big winner with $3.22 billion since 2009. Transfield is in second place with $1.57 billion since 2010. Transfield, which runs the detention centre on Nauru recently won a $1.22 billion contract to run the detention centre on Manus Island.

This was at the expense of G4S which has made $828 million since 2003. Toll comes in way behind with only $68.8 million since 2008.

The Government’s new contract with Transfield means that it will cost about $61 million per month to run the two detention centres. This is about $900 per day for each inmate.

This money could be better spent in helping asylum seekers, once processed, to settle into the community and give them the necessary housing and support services they need.