Friday, November 21, 2014

“So we must fly a rebel flag…”

Vanguard December 2014 p. 1

by Alice M.

The 3rd December marks the 160th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade Rebellion that holds great significance for Australia’s working people, in particular the organised working class.

The 1854 armed uprising was more than a rebellion. For that time it was a revolution for freedom from oppression and exploitation, a call for genuine democracy for the people, and national independence from the domination of the British colonial ruling class.

The rebels’ demands carried the seeds for far-reaching fundamental change in Australia and the necessity for the working class to eventually become the masters of an independent Australia. This was the beginning of social and political movements in Australia for a thorough-going change in class relations.  It continues today.

The issues and demands around which the Eureka rebels united are still with us in a fundamental way. Those early strivings for justice, a genuine democracy for ordinary people and independence for Australia have yet to be achieved. The many struggles and mass movements of the people today, flow towards the realisation of these demands.

Colonial oppression

The British colonial ruling class forcefully dispossessed Australia’s Aboriginal people in 1788, and violently suppressed the indigenous resistance to the occupation of their lands. Aboriginal land was brutally stolen by the British colonial state and given away to the wealthy squatters from the British aristocracy and later to the newly arising ruling class of wealthy merchant bankers and industrial capitalists. A heavy mining tax was imposed on the impoverished gold diggers whilst the wealthy squatters paid no taxes on the stolen land, from which they made their fortunes growing wheat, sheep and cattle.

By November 1854, the oppressed, and mainly poor gold diggers, most of whom flocked from many corners of the world to Ballarat searching for gold to make a living, banded together, taking  up arms to resist the harsh and unjust treatment by the colonial ruling class. 

The Eureka rebellion was the first organised political class struggle and mass uprising in Australia by a newly emerging working class. They demanded the abolition of mining licences and the right to vote for parliamentary representation through which they hoped the will of the people would prevail. 

They called for Australia to become a republic, independent of Britain.

The Eureka rebellion laid the foundations for many future progressive political movements and workers’ struggles, and produced the militant trade union tradition of working class solidarity.  It gave birth to Australia’s working class fighting spirit against injustice, and the power of the collective and united action by the people. 

This was the first sign of class struggle between the young, organised working class and British colonial capitalism, the ruling class in Australia at that time.

Eureka flag

For 160 years the Eureka flag has appeared above many battles uniting and giving hope and courage to working people.

The flag of blue and white appeared in 1856 battles for the 8 hour day, in the formation of unions in late 1880s, the 1891 shearers strike in Barcaldine, Qld, and many countless struggles of working people. To this day the Eureka flag is raised in many workplace, community and environmental struggles; in the struggles for democratic rights.  

The passionate hopes and yearnings of Eureka rebels and their supporters, that the visionary demands they had fought for would bring real equality, fairness and a genuine democracy for the people, have yet to be realised in a thorough-going way.

For independence and socialism

The ruling class of British colonialists and wealthy capitalists running Australia in the 19th Century have today been replaced by the local and foreign monopoly corporations and banks.

The Business Council of Australia, the mouthpiece of 100 biggest foreign and local corporations dictates the neo-liberal economic policies and agenda to whichever parliamentary party is in power, Liberal or Labor.

The mining corporations, multinational monopolies and banks pay little tax, if any, whilst more of ordinary people’s taxes are being syphoned off from public health, education, welfare, to subsidise big business profits.

The ISDS in the TPP and other Free Trade Agreements will further erode what’s left of Australia’s sovereignty and independence, destroy jobs, workplace rights, our public health, education and the environment.

US imperialism and its multinational corporations have replaced the British colonial ruling class as the dominant class of monopoly capitalism in Australia.

Parliamentary democracy and the right to vote that Eureka rebels had fought for is being exposed as a farce where the real power still lies in the board rooms of big corporations.

The democratic and civil rights to protest, to fight for workers’ and union rights, are whittled away as more legal power and force is used by the bourgeois state. 

The organised working class will fulfil the revolutionary aspirations of Eureka in 1854, and continue to struggle to resist capital’s onslaught, and finally take charge of the country and rule for the interests of working people.

The vision of the Eureka rebels will be achieved in an independent and socialist Australia.

Notice: Vanguard final issue

Vanguard December 2014 p. 2

This is the final issue of Vanguard for 2014. Vanguard will not be published as a printed newspaper next year.

Vanguard articles will continue to appear on the internet at together with downloads of leaflets, booklets and other material of interest to our readers. is updated regularly to provide readers with timely news and analysis of national and international struggles. Your comments and feedback are always welcome and will assist the further development of the website.

The decision to go fully online has been made in recognition of the fact that most young people use the internet as their primary source of news and communication. Computers and tablets are commonly used in schools and by workers in many workplaces, while libraries, councils and clubs conduct basic computer training for older people and others in their communities.

While another factor has been the ever-rising cost of production, with postage particularly expensive even with bulk mailing, the release of human resources will allow us to devote more time to deepening and extending our tasks, both theoretical and practical.

Naturally, there will still be substantial costs. Readers are urged to support this initiative by continuing their donations to Vanguard, P.O. Box 196, Fitzroy, Victoria 3065.

Your contributed articles, comments and criticisms are all welcomed and carefully considered.

To stay in touch with Vanguard and the position of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) bookmark the website:

The last print edition of Vanguard

Vanguard December 2014 p. 9
by Duncan B.

As someone who has been a reader of Vanguard and a contributor for many years I can’t help feeling a twinge of sadness that this is the last print edition of Vanguard.

I understand the issues with finances and human and other resources that have necessitated the change to a solely on-line version of Vanguard.

One benefit of the on-line format is that Vanguard will be able to react quicker to the fast-changing world situation, instead of being overtaken by events.

I still have a copy of the very first Vanguard published over fifty-one years ago in September 1963. It is interesting to read the editorial of the first Vanguard.

Under the heading “Why Vanguard is Published”, the editorial says, “The publication of Vanguard is an historic event. It is now the only paper which upholds the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism. The paper has a big and noble job to do. Its main task will be to give a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the major events of our time.”

Vanguard has continued to give this Marxist-Leninist analysis of world and Australian events since 1963.

The editorial of the second Vanguard, published in October 1963, elaborated on the role of Vanguard. It said, “In essence, the task before Vanguard and its supporters is to make Marxism-Leninism the property of the masses so that the people can distinguish what is right and wrong for themselves.

“Vanguard will not merely report events. It cannot cover all the day-to-day struggles of the working people.

“But in the light of Marxism-Leninism it will attempt to analyse all the main events affecting the working people so that correct conclusions can be drawn as a starting-off point for further action.

 “In the process of generalising experience theoretically the people will learn, from life and in struggle, the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism and how to apply it to particular, concrete situations.”

This is as true today as it was when written back in 1963. Vanguard has tried very hard since then to help the Australian people to learn the truth of Marxism-Leninism. In its on-line format Vanguard will continue the “big and noble job” it started in 1963.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine statement

Vanguard December 2014 p. 11

Extracts from a statement by Khalil Maqdesi, member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on November 18, 2014.

(Above: Israeli police storm the Al Aqsa mosque)

Occupation is responsible for escalation in Jerusalem

“Resistance is our only path; there is no other way in which Palestinians can liberate their land and achieve their rights. Resistance includes many methods of struggle, including, centrally, armed resistance and armed struggle. Revolutionary violence is necessary in order to confront and overthrow the colonization of our land and the confiscation of our rights,” said Maqdesi.

“Oppressed people are determined to seek their freedom. It is the responsibility of the so-called ‘international community’ to hold Israel accountable for its attacks on the Palestinian people. It is the occupier who should be labeled ‘inhuman’. Instead, their settlement building, their killings, their mass attacks on Palestinian rights are met with approval and silence by the United States and the European Union, who have shown themselves to be consistently on the side of Israel, on the side of colonialism and imperialist hegemony,” said Maqdesi.

 “The PFLP is not a religious organization and our resistance is not based on religious convictions. We are struggling to liberate Palestine from a settler colonial project imposed on our people. Occupiers and racists do not belong to the land of Palestine; there are, and must be, consequences and repercussions for the theft of our land and our rights,” said Maqdesi.

“Our message to the Palestinian people inside Palestine and in exile is that you have maintained your resilience and resistance to the occupier for 66 years. You are strong and have the ability to continue on the path of struggle. No power can liquidate your cause. The PFLP reaffirms its commitment to you, and your cause, and your rights. We call upon all Palestinian political forces to unify under the banner of the Palestinian heroic people, to protect their sacrifices, and unite to march forward toward a new stage and a new intifada,” said Maqdesi.

“The PFLP is committed to redirecting and recentering the compass of the region and its people on the central issue – towards Palestine, towards Jerusalem, confronting Zionism and imperialism; away from sectarian wars and chaos in the region. Palestine is still the issue, and Jerusalem is at the heart of this struggle,” Maqdesi said. “Today, the PFLP has a message to the Arab people, that your battle is with imperialism and Zionism and not with each other, and that the fragmentation of the Arab people can only benefit the occupier who is colonizing your beloved Palestine. The masses must awaken and shake the collective consciousness of the Arab nation to confront the real enemy.”

“The PFLP also wants to send its message to a billion and a half Muslim brothers and sisters that our fight is not with Jews and is not based on religion; it is about justice, liberation and return to the homeland, and this is your struggle,” said Maqdesi.

(Above: Israelis opposed to government policies protest illegal settlements in East Jerusalem)

“Our message today to the Jewish people around the world is that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was never a conflict between Muslims and Jews. Palestine has embraced the Jewish community for hundreds of years. What stands between us is this colonial project. We know that thousands of Jews around the world are true and genuine voices for the struggle, leading boycott movements and joining the Palestinian struggle for liberation on a daily basis. We salute each and every one of them. And for those Jews who are misled by the Zionist discourse, Israel is nothing but a deathtrap for both Jews and Arabs. Racism can never resolve conflicts, and apartheid is not a solution. You must stand by the side of the oppressed, and not the oppressor; raise your voice against the Zionist criminals who are oppressing our people in your name,” Maqdesi said.

“As for the threats of Netanyahu and Yaalon to our people,” Maqdesi said that they are “worthless and carry no weight and reflect a racist settler mindset that thinks that through coercion and oppression we will become silent and defeated. The battle with the occupation will not be limited to Jerusalem. It is going to expand to every inch of Palestine, and through the borders of Palestine. Today, also, the PFLP wants to send a message to the solidarity movement with Palestine, to intensify their efforts and their struggle to support the resistance on the path of establishing a democratic Palestine where all people live in equality and freedom.”

TAFE cuts - and fightback - happen under the radar

Vanguard December 2014 p. 4
by Louisa L.

In November, Pat Forward of the Australian Education Union asked the question, “What is at stake when Australia's private vocational colleges implode?”

She illustrated her answer using Vocation Ltd, which faces a class action by shareholders and has been forced to pay back almost $20 million in subsidies to the Victorian Government because the training it provided was substandard.

Ms Forward stated, “On its public listing twelve months ago, Vocation Ltd.’s owners withdrew $225 million in clear profit in the same year that Victorian TAFEs had a further $212 million cut from their funding. Vocation's profits came exclusively from the Victorian public purse.

“But it is likely that this is only one example of many. The ASQA’s (Australian Skills Authority) annual report for 2013/14 found that 75 per cent of RTOs (Registered Training Organisations) failed to meet basic training and assessment standards, and that 21 per cent still could not do so after being given a chance to improve. Add to that the widespread reports of the activities of some providers as they attempt to entice students - many of them some of the most disadvantaged in our community - into enrolling in courses of dubious value at exorbitant cost.

“This is not what the proponents of privatising vocational training told us would happen. These providers are not trying to compete on quality, innovation or value. They are simply trying to exploit the funding system to boost their profits,” Ms Forward wrote.

For Ms Forward, TAFE “one of Australia's most trusted education institutions” is “crucial to a fair and just society”, but is being destroyed to benefit “voracious profit-driven private colleges”           The  destruction, she writes, is “under the radar”.

Little victories
NSW has faced big cuts to jobs and courses, even before the so-called Smart and Skilled policy decimating TAFE in Victoria and SA. But small battles happen under the radar too.

Geoff Turnbull is NSW Teachers Federation Vice President and a head teacher at Randwick TAFE in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Earlier in the year he was told that two HSC teachers who had been made redundant would exit the Institute in July.

For a teacher that's unimaginable. How could anyone abandon students just a term before their exams? No problem. Bring in casuals, even though they mightn't have expertise for the specific topics studied or know any of the students. That was the plan. So Geoff told his bosses that he would refuse to employ any part-time casuals to take up the HSC classes. And that he wasn't going to be quiet about it.

They backed down. Yes the teachers will still lose their jobs, but not only were they given a reprieve till the HSC, but their final day of service was 28 November. Four months’ pay is better than a kick in the teeth. This little victory lets those students and teachers know that they were valued enough for others to take a stand with their backing.

Alongside the public campaigning, these little victories on the job make it harder for the corporate giants, who aim to profit from TAFE's destruction, to get it all their own way.

Immediate and long term solutions
Pat Forward states, “The immediate solution is simple and cost effective. Serious limits must be imposed on how much public funding is open to this shoddy market. This would not cost governments a single cent.”

With hundreds of million dollars at stake, she called for standards to be developed and enforced through a well-resourced regulator before allocating more funds, plus a ban on outsourcing training to unregistered third parties.

These immediate demands shape a way forward. But capitalism's compulsion to ever-increasing profits will mean that reversing privatisation will not be easy. Meanwhile the knowledge that capitalism destroys the lives of ordinary people grows in many more minds. Getting rid of that system is a much longer term struggle.

Read Ms Forward's article at:

Tandara Spirit: Seamen stick up for Australian jobs

by Bill F

For more than 2 weeks, 18 seamen on the tanker Tandara Spirit have held the ship at anchor in Port Phillip Bay in a dispute over jobs and fuel security.

Viva Energy had been using the ship to transport petrol from the Geelong refinery, but had instructed the crew’s employer Teekay to sail the ship to Singapore and then lay off the crew.

It then turned out that Viva had hired another ship, the Vinalines Galaxy, which carried a Vietnamese crew working for $2 an hour – Gina Rinehart rates!

The Vina Galaxy had previously been pinged by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for almost 50 breaches of health and safety, and several pollution issues. This, with the slave labour rates of pay, ought to put this particular ship “off limits” in Australian waters.

In contrast, none of the 5 Australian coastal tankers have recorded any defect notices over the last 5 years.

(Above: Seamens' Union officials and members on the Tandara Spirit)

The assistant national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Ian Bray, stated, “The union is very sympathetic to the workers on board, not only about their jobs but also their unanswered questions about fuel security and the future of Australian shipping around the Australian coast.

“We now import 91 per cent of Australia's fuel task, so in times of economic crisis when ships are laid up, in times of acts of terrorism, acts of war, shipping lanes being closed, we're not guaranteed that supply.
“The second part of that is once we lose control of how it's regulated, it probably has a direct effect on consumers at the bowser, where we're subject to price-gouging.”
A further issue was raised by Matt Ruchel, executive director of the Victorian National Parks Association, which was concerned at the risk of defective ships leaking oil into Port Phillip Bay and damaging sensitive bird habitats and sea life. “The risk of some kind of damaging oil or fuel spill from ships that are not up to scratch is much higher.” he said.
With Australia now importing over 90% of its petrol and diesel, and nearly 100 foreign tankers involved, the threats to jobs, fuel security and the environment have multiplied.
As Ian Bray said, “The attempt to justify international seafarers taking the jobs of Australian seafarers and only pay them $2 per hour was an absolute joke. To our members out on Tandara, we know other seafarers and wharfies are watching this dispute with keen interest and support you.”

So do millions of Australian workers concerned about their own job security and happy to see someone prepared to have a go.
Further reading: 

China Free Trade deal: three issues

Vanguard December 2014 p. 10
by Bill F.

(Above: China Shipping Line vessel at Melbourne's Swanston Dock)

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has been hailed as a great benefit to Australian exporters, but there are at least three issues that will cause dismay and concern to progressive supporters of friendship between the Australian and Chinese people.

Of greatest concern is the inclusion of an Investor State Dispute Settlement clause (ISDS) in the agreement. This mechanism allows a foreign company to sue the Australian government if changes to Australian law harm their investments here.

For example, a future government might pass legislation restricting genetically modified foods or banning coal seam gas exploration and mining on agricultural land, or change visa conditions for 457 workers. The ISDS clause couldn’t prevent these changes to Australian law, but it could be used to sue the government for loss of profits.

The other effect of ISDS clauses is that they may inhibit a future government from adopting decent policies on social issues such as health and education to improve the living standards of the people, because this may cut across the profits of the foreign corporate investors in these areas.

ISDS clauses undermine the national sovereignty of countries. Governments that accept them betray the interests of their people.  Under the Marxist-Leninist leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist Party and the government of the PRC were exemplary as defenders of China’s national sovereignty. One might have expected respect for the national sovereignty of other independent nations to guide the trade policies of China, but this appears not to be the case.

US corporations have a history in using similar clauses to sue governments, such as the recent action by Phillip Morris over Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws. Will China go down the same road?

Dr Kyla Tienhaara, from the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University said that “Corporations can challenge pretty much anything under these agreements” and noted that Australia would now have to include an ISDS clause retrospectively in the Japan-Australia free trade deal, as this was a condition required by Japan if an ISDS was in the deal with China.

In spite of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Trade Minister Andrew saying that there are “… strong safeguards to protect the Australian Government's ability to regulate in the public interest and pursue legitimate welfare objectives in areas such as health, safety and the environment”, the text of the agreement is being kept secret, just like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal being negotiated (pushed) by US imperialism.

Trans Pacific Partnership
A second concern is the knock-on effect this deal with China will have on the TPP negotiations.
For starters, it has killed off any faint chance of keeping out an ISDS clause.

There will now be extra pressure to conclude the TPP deal, as Australia now has ‘free trade’ deals with South Korea, Japan and China, plus the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. (US FTA)

The US FTA didn’t deliver everything US imperialism demanded, so the TPP is another opportunity for the US corporate monopolies to further penetrate the Australian economy and tighten their grip over our nation.

China’s “market socialism”
 As for China, the deal allows Australian private healthcare providers and health insurance funds to operate in the country, further undermining the extensive public health system built up by socialism. Even this public system is no longer free, as “market socialism” has taken over.

Similarly, Australian private education and training companies are also welcome, undermining the public education system established by socialism.

The parasites are coming, and just like us, the Chinese people will end up with two-tier health and education systems – one for the rich and well-off and one for the poor.

There are also concessions to financial institutions and taxation lawyers to help the Chinese “market socialists” minimise their taxes both here and in China, leaving more for speculation around the globe.

What a sorry thing is “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Now is the time….

Nick G

With the December 2014 issue we bring to a close the regular publication of Vanguard as the Party newspaper.
We are doing this in the year following its 50th anniversary.
We are doing this mindful of the importance attached by Lenin to the role of a Party newspaper as a collective organiser.
We are doing this reluctantly, but with optimism about the sustainability of revolutionary organisation and opportunities afforded by the Internet and social media.

Transitioning through new media

In his day Lenin and the Bolsheviks communicated through Party newspapers, agitational leaflets, books, posters and soapbox oratory.

Each of these had its advantages as well as its limitations.

We believe that there will be some disadvantage for us in no longer having a monthly print paper, but that the immediacy and accessibility of an online presence can compensate, and in time, outweigh any negative fall-out.

Just as it was in Lenin’s time, the crucially important task is to build the working class’s leading organisation, an organisation that is proletarian in ideology, in its political line, and its demographic representation.

A working class party

(Above: E.F. Hill's August 1973 booklet is an essential document on the history and development of the organisational, ideological and political foundations of the CPA (M-L).  See the link below this article.)

For that reason, with this final issue, we appeal to members to cast aside any hesitation that might prevent them from disclosing, among trusted friends and workmates or community activists, their support for the CPA (M-L).  In appropriate circumstances, membership can be divulged as the beginning of a process of approaching sympathetic persons to actively support and join the Party.

For the same reason, we appeal to non-Party members and readers of Vanguard to cast aside any hesitation in putting themselves forward as potential members and associates of the CPA (M-L).

This is not to suggest that basic organisational principles be abandoned. The Party is a working class party.  Its membership has to come mainly from the working class. Because it is a party that is always under the surveillance of the state, and to protect members as far as possible from harassment by the state and by right wing activists, its membership is largely secret.  To be sustainable under conditions of intense attack, it needs to be like an iceberg – partly visible, but mostly hidden.  Circumstances in each work place, community organisation or neighbourhood will determine when and where it is appropriate and to whom it is appropriate to extend trust and take into confidence.

Unions and the Party

People involved in unions have to carry on the vital and necessary struggle for improvement of wages and conditions.  But we need people who can look beyond that, who can see the bigger picture, who can push the boundaries and encourage a spirit of defiance and rebellion.

We need people who can try and steer the union and its members towards anti-imperialist independence and socialism, whilst recognising that unions cannot be vehicles for revolution as they are bound in a hundred and one ways to operate within the “due processes of the law”.  Such comrades would see the Party, through its policies and publications and the way it organises itself, as striving towards leadership of a revolutionary movement.  Such comrades would feel a responsibility for making sure the online and occasional print publications of the Party are available around the union office, and where appropriate, distributed to other officials and organisers; they would recommend particular articles to others to read.  They would provide feedback on whether or not our message is getting through to workers and if not, how to improve it.

Strive for leadership in mass work

We need people who can lead the involvement of their workmates and community members in participation in the struggles of the whole working class and in its support of community actions, including those of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  We need people who can keep politics to the fore and not be just another “trade union official” or content to lead a narrow community struggle without trying to make the links to the bigger picture. 

We need people who will read Party publications and articles and papers recommended by the Party.  Workers are often resistant to reading and writing: schools that have failed to develop them as readers and writers leave them feeling inadequate and ashamed; one of the legacies of schooling is that reading and writing never seemed relevant or purposeful - it was seen as tedious and a waste of time.  For a revolutionary, reading is a discipline like having a job, and getting up early every morning to get to the job. It’s just something that time has to be found for.  Workers are skilled at hands-on tasks, but workers’ leaders need to develop theoretical understanding of the way capitalism works and of the way socialism can be achieved.

We need people who have good social contacts and who will not always associate only with people of a like mind. A broad range of social contacts stops a person getting isolated within a small group of fellow activists, and helps develop him/her as a leader within society more generally.

We need people who are well-liked, respected and trusted by workmates, friends, family and people in the community.  Because of the hostility that surrounds communism in this country, such a person should not openly declare their membership of the Party.  It too often creates an artificial barrier to working with people politically.  However, their standing with others will enable them to find those moments and those situations where a good political line can be injected into discussions and where exceptions can be made to non-disclosure of membership as mentioned earlier.

In short, the new era of transition to an online presence has its challenges, but with a confidence in Marxism-Leninism as our ideology and the working people as our social base, we can move ahead and build the Party under the new conditions.
Further Reading: