Friday, September 24, 2021

Organized Workers In Collective Action Provide Leadership To Australian People

 Written by: Ned K. on 25 September 2021

The week leading up to the AFL Grand Final on 25 September saw two contrasting trends in the working class movement in Australia.

One trend, strongly promoted by the imperialist media outlets, was epitomized by the extreme right wing influenced street demonstrations in Melbourne under the Trump like banner of "freedom" of workers to take no responsibility for the impact of actions, such as opposing vaccinations against Covid 19, and opposing restrictions on movement of people to stop the spread of Covid 19. This trend suited the needs of big corporations who oppose any restrictions that retard their production and services for profit maximization.

The other trend, disciplined, united collective action by workers in pursuit of the working people's interests received hardly any publicity in the imperialist media outlets.

In the Riverland and Southern Vales of South Australia on Thursday, winery and vineyard workers employed by US multinational Accolade, the largest winery in the southern hemisphere, took strike action and marched through the streets of Berri.

The workers and their union, United Workers Union, took this collective action to prevent Accolade eroding conditions of employment that would have dire implications for the whole community. Accolade want to reduce workers' retirement income (superannuation) and undermine community standards by accelerating a two-tiered worker system by increasing insecure work at the winery and vineyards. Workers' future action will depend on whether Accolade back off or not.

In the city and regional areas of South Australia, workers employed by SA Water went on strike on Friday and held a rally outside SA Water House in protest at SA Water's intention to change rosters, enforce longer working hours and its consequent negative impact on safe work standards.  These workers look after the quality and supply of water, an essential service to the people of South Australia.

On Thursday, 2,000 Transport Workers Union members employed by Australia Post’s StarTrack parcel delivery service went on a 24-hour strike to oppose provisions in an “offer” made by the employer as part of a new Enterprise Agreement. The corporate bosses have mischievously described their offer as generous, but they have been outsourcing jobs to companies like Amazon’s Flex service which use lower paid sham “sub-contractors” and labour hire employees. Delivery service standards have fallen at the same time as outsourcing has occurred.

The vote strike was carried by a 97% majority vote. Next week 2,500 TWU members at FedEx will also strike.

In the examples described above, workers actions were well organized and in the interests of the people.

During the week, both the Maritime Union of Australia and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union on behalf of their members made strong public statements opposing the Morrison Government and US imperialism's intention to intensify military tensions with China and threaten the people's security and well-being by building nuclear-powered submarines in Australia. At Friday’s anti-nuclear-powered subs rally in Adelaide, a strong message of support was sent by the SA State Secretary of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union.

This latter trend of organized workers taking collective action to defend and extend living standards and for peace, not war mongering, is the dominant trend and is sure to grow while the former trend promoted by big business does not have the support of the overwhelming majority of working people and is sure to fail.

Rally to stop AUKUS-strating for war

Written by: Nick G. on 24 September 2021

Several hundred people rallied in Adelaide late on Friday afternoon to protest nuclear-powered submarines and the latest war AUKUS-strations.

The rally was called by organisations including the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), Friends of the Earth, SA Greens, and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.

The rally was called by organisations including the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), Friends of the Earth, SA Greens, and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.

The rally was held at Parliament House just as commuters were leaving the city via the nearby Train Station. 

Several speakers connected the issue of nuclear-powered submarines with the proposed nuclear waste dump at Kimba on Eyre Peninsula, commending the Barngarla First Peoples for their staunch opposition to the dump on their land. 

Arabunna elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, well-known for his opposition to uranium mining and to big corporations like BHP, bemoaned the fact that materials for the submarines were likely to be taken from Aboriginal lands without the permission of traditional owners. He said that for the future of our children, war must be opposed.

Greens Senate candidate Barbara Pocock condemned the nuclear-powered submarine decision and the AUKUS Pact for further embedding Australia in the war plans of the United States. 

IPAN’s Stephen Darley  said AUKUS denied Australia the capacity to act independently, contributed to regional tensions and imposed an extraordinary economic burden on the Australian people.

It was a very good beginning for what is going to be  a long campaign. 


CPA (M-L) Statement on Melbourne Rallies

 Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 24 September 2021

When protesters including some CFMEU members smashed the John Cummins building, all trade union leaderships and their members received a wake-up call. Former Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash (and the giant multinationals she represents) must have danced with joy.

The CFMEU has sustained unrelenting ruling class attack to crush any ability of workers to organise. They have continued to mobilise members to achieve big wage rises, good conditions and safety standards in a notoriously dangerous industry.  

All this in the face of millions spent on the Australian Building and Construction Commission, to threaten, charge and fine the union and its members. 

The late John Cummins was the epitome of what the ruling class feared. Not only did he and his comrades rouse workers to united militant struggle and were jailed for it, he did so as a communist, a leading member of our party. He and those around him, including a young John Setka, educated workers to exercise their strength by facing up to the ruling class of giant corporations. 

Construction workers understood who they were in this imperialist system, and who were their enemies. They knew from struggle the power of the Eureka Flag, as a symbol of unity of all peoples in Australia living under the thumb of US imperialism. 

In the face of this ruling class power, construction workers educated in class struggle joined Cummo and the CFMEU leadership in going into hell and back, knowing they would come out victorious, despite some wounds. 

The ruling class took good note of this. 

Its pervasive ideology and power, unless we constantly struggle against it, draws us all to individualism and compromise with capitalism. 

Trade union ideology seeks to win the best it can from the system. It’s a capitalist ideology of compromise. At its worst it puts our own individual interests before others. 

When people speak of keeping politics out of unions, or only allowing Labor Party politics, or refuse to fly the Eureka flag, they leave a vacuum into which the divide and conquer of capitalist ideology leaks. Capitalism brings out the worst in us. 

The people want and need more!  

Unless they are given this lead, they will take it from others. 

Most people understand that governments have lied to us again and again. 

They see the staggering profits of giant pharmaceutical companies.

They know we are not “all in this together”. 

Right now, we ask workers and their leaders to think of those who will suffer most in this pandemic, our frontline workers, First Peoples, the poor, the prisoners. 

We are your class sisters and brothers. We are nurses, and ambos, doctors and teachers. We work in supermarkets and in distribution centres. We deliver your food, working ever increasing hours.

Think of nurses working in Covid hospital wards in Sydney and Melbourne, describing the terror in Covid patients’ eyes; how they are run off their feet not able to take breaks, collapse at the end of their shifts in utter mental and physical exhaustion, the deep pain from suffocating and tightly fitting masks, of dehydration because to take a break or a drink would mean they have to remove their PPPs to drink and again later to go to toilet.  The concern and anxiety about their sick patients, about being infected themselves and infecting their own families and community, is constantly on their minds.  These nurses beg people to be vaccinated.

Governments are not the only ones lying to us. The billionaire far right – the US weapons’ corporations, the Murdoch empire and Clive Palmer – despise us as they lie about vaccines because they think they can manipulate us.  They divide us to conquer, to protect their profits from the threat our united class poses.

In both Sydney and Melbourne, police have used anti-vax rallies to practice methods of suppression that will later be used on genuine people’s protests. This includes militarised riot squads using rubber bullets. The Army keeps a lower profile but is there if and when it is needed. In Sydney police helicopters and drones have been flying over working class southwestern suburbs as part of the state’s surveillance and monitoring of people’s movements below.

A storm of Covid is rising as this continent opens up to it to “get the economy moving”. Vaccines are our best protection. They are not perfect, but without them our hospitals which are just coping now will be completely overwhelmed. 

If you are afraid of the vaccine, think what your decision not to take it will mean for others, working day after day dealing with a virus empowered by capitalist division and an unvaccinated population. 

We ask all union leaders and workers to follow the lead of those on the front lines. Stand against conspiracy and lies. Educate workers to act as one class.

United we stand. 

Central Committee
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)

Tightening of security vetting a threat to rights

 Written by: (Contributed) on 24 September 2021

Shortly before the recent announcement about Australia joining the US and UK to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines another related announcement was given the barest minimum of coverage. It is not difficult to establish the reason for limited publicity.

It included information about a recent report from the Auditor-General on security vetting. (1) The controversy has far deeper considerations in Canberra than many suspect. It also has far-reaching implications for the trade-union movement in the defence and contracting industries.

It arose following right-wing Defence Minister Peter Dutton lobbying his US counterparts for Australia to have greater involvement in US-led defence manufacturing. There is, however, a great deal more than meets the eye with the stated position of the Department of Defence and their leader.

At stake is greater involvement of the US intelligence services in Australian affairs of state and sovereignty, thereby strengthening the 'alliance' in favour of Washington and the Pentagon; a classic right-wing position in the present US-led Cold War.

In mid-September, shortly before the announcements about the new defence and security alliance between Australia and the US and UK, the Australian Auditor-General Grant Hehir’s report about security vetting highlighted problems arising from another inquiry which had concluded the Defence Department had repeatedly allowed contractors access to highly classified information without the necessary vetting procedures.

Many of those are “defence” industries housed in facilities within the South Australian manufacturing sectors and eager to capitalise on increased defence spending, particularly with the probability of US-led military designed equipment being made in Australia.

Security vetting is a grey area of domestic intelligence and used to assesses a worker's suitability for specific and sensitive employment positions. While it basically concentrates upon character traits which include: honesty, trustworthiness, maturity, tolerance, resilience and loyalty, it can also include the individual worker's family and close associates also being subject to the same intelligence procedures. (2)

It can be used to exclude those regarded as undesirable from suitable employment and career opportunities, a matter with significant political implications.

Research conducted decades ago in the UK found vetting procedures highly controversial. As Australia has, historically, been so close to the UK through Commonwealth and Five Eyes connections there is every reason to assume the research findings also apply to the Australian workforce.

The UK research findings established, for example, that those applying for clearances in sensitive industries were grouped together with family and 'known associates' and the 'intimate knowledge of a prospective employee and her or his acquaintances'. (3) Such procedures invariably include scrutiny of a worker's sexual preferences, life-style, financial spending patterns, and general attitudes to a variety of criteria regarded as important.

The biggest problem which was established, however, was in relation to definitions of terrorism. All those placed under surveillance by the Police and Security services were invariably considered to be potential terrorists. (4) The definition of terrorism was, nevertheless, problematic and was eventually resolved with reference to the term 'subversion', which is not a legally defined crime.

Using a quotation from a State Minister for the Home Office in Whitehall, Lord Harris, it was resolved the term terrorist/subversive was defined as 'as activities threatening the safety or well-being of the State'. (5) No reference, however, was made to traditional notions of class and state power. It is quite clear, nevertheless, how those residing in the comfort of the corridors of power in Whitehall or Canberra regard many quite legitimate industrial relations procedures. While being quite legal, some procedures have bearing upon their traditional benefits with class and state powers and are, therefore, regarded as unacceptable and 'subversive' as a means of dealing with opposition.

The matters arising have been muddied still further with declassification of US intelligence material which concluded co-ordinated counter-intelligence procedures have been conducted world-wide against all those 'who oppose the US Defence Department during peacetime and all levels of conflict'. (6) Merely attending a peace or Greenpeace rally or having a family member or close associate involved in such organisations would be sufficient to have files opened on a worker. Once opened, security files remain so until death, thereby potentially providing the State with opportunity to restrict access to what they regard as sensitive material.

The Australian vetting procedures appear quite haphazard, providing those in control with random means to either allow or restrict security clearances without too much scrutiny or questioning. Once established, however, a worker has very limited or little right of appeal or of even checking the reliability of incriminating information used against them on the grounds of 'security'.

It is also doubtful whether research has been conducted on the allocation of defence contracts to those companies providing financial support for the Liberal Party and its coalition partners, although would appear quite likely. The present Morrison coalition government in Canberra, furthermore, had been responsible for 16,503 active defence contracts estimated to total more than $200 billion, although was 'unsure which … required security clearances'. (7) As they are well known, elsewhere, for rewarding their associates with honours, other benefits and patronage, one can but question the whole matter.

The Auditor-General report, for example, established the government had been found to have awarded thirteen companies with 'secret or above security classifications' without valid clearances even being given. (8) It also found one of Australia's biggest defence contractors, Austal Ships Pty., Ltd., was among companies being awarded work without the necessary clearances. One can, perhaps, forgive a small, inconspicuous workshop employing a handful of people to have been overlooked; a big, corporate business is too big to escape the notice of even the most short-sighted and inept intelligence officer.

The timing of the release of the report from the Auditor-General came just ahead of a major push by Defence Minister Peter Dutton to gain greater access to US missile technology at high-level talks in Washington the following week. It is also useful to note those associated with the present Morrison coalition government stated immediately on publication 'the report had exposed a major national security risk'. (9)

Such developments carry the hallmarks of 'Yes, Minister' political chicanery, designed specifically to allow the US intelligence services greater access into the corridors of power in Canberra and State capitals with specific reference to Adelaide which is in the Defence State. Under the present circumstances, marked by the present Cold War, the shadowy, faceless wonders of the CIA's corridors of power in Langley must be rubbing their greasy little mits with glee as they plan operating with impunity inside the Australian system.

On 23 May 2017 the Trump administration introduced new US visa security vetting procedures which included all applicants having to submit social media handles for the previous five years together with biographical information for the past fifteen years which included email addresses and telephone numbers together with all employment and travel details. (10) It is not particularly difficult to see problems arising with chance association and personal contact, including previous partners and their past and later contacts and on-line spamming from anonymous websites controlled by those of dubious character.  

US Cold War sights are now focused on Australian workers, their families and friends. They seek to make Australians prisoners of their intelligence-collection and data-mining procedures.

The developments carry all the hallmarks of the main theme of novels by Franz Kafka (1883-1924) where alienated individuals are isolated and excluded and their fate forever lies in the hands of faceless bureaucrats, officialdom and their general lack of sensible accountability.

                                         We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Defence in dark on contractor security, Australian, 14 September 2021.
2.     See: Australian Government, Active Security Clearances, March 2015; and,         Australian Government Security Vetting Agency, Department of Defence, Character Traits, September 2021.
3.     State Research, Bulletin No. 5, (London, April-May 1978), Vetting and Surveillance, pp. 77-78.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Army Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program, AR 381-20, Section 1.5, Mission and Policy, page 1.
7.     Australian, op.cit., 14 September 2021.
8.     Ibid.
9.     Ibid.
10.   Trump administration approves, Reuters, 1 June 2017.

The Gig Economy – The Latest Innovation in Exploitation

 Written by: Duncan B. on 24 September 2021

The working class is no stranger to precarious employment. From the earliest days workers often lived with being employed day by day or even hour by hour. Workers could be hired and fired at the whim of the capitalist. Older workers remember having to line up outside wharves or railway yards hoping to get a day’s work. 

Workers have for many years faced casual employment in hospitality, retail, transport and warehousing. They often do the same job for the same employer working full-time hours, but are still classed as “casual.”

In recent years a new form of precarious employment has come into existence—the “gig” economy. The gig economy involves workers in short term work arrangements doing flexible, temporary or freelance jobs. The workers and employers are often connected through on-line platforms.

The gig economy covers many sectors of the economy including rideshare, food delivery, parcel delivery, personal care, performing tasks in people’s homes and freelancing jobs in areas such as information technology. Renting out spare capacity in accommodation, cars or caravans is another example.

Australians will be familiar with companies such as Uber, Deliveroo, Airtasker, and Air B&B. World-wide there are hundreds of companies covering various areas of the gig economy. About 7% of Australians participate in the gig economy. (Queensland University of Technology study, 2019.)

 Many people participate in the gig economy to earn extra income, but for many it is their only source of income. They juggle several ride share-driving or food delivery gigs with low paid casual jobs such as retail work or as cleaners or security guards to try to make ends meet.

The majority of the companies behind the gig economy are based in the US, although Airtasker, Menulog and Mable are Australian companies. Rideshare company DiDi is based in China and Deliveroo is a British company.

Exploitation is rife in the gig economy. For example, Amazon Flex pays people $108 to use their own cars to deliver 30-40 parcels in a four hour “block.” Drivers face being cut off from work for alleged “violations” without explanation. Food deliverers have been injured or killed on bicycles or motor bikes while delivering food. Ride share drivers have been assaulted and robbed during their shifts. Support workers complain of difficulty getting paid by on-line agencies.
The gig economy companies try to treat their workers as independent contractors, leaving them with minimum pay and none of the benefits or protection such as sick pay and workers’ compensation enjoyed by workers classed as employees.  

Gig workers are starting to organise in defence of their rights with the help of unions such as the Transport Workers’ Union. Recent court cases in Australia and the UK have gone in favour of gig workers being treated as employees. However in California, ride share companies Uber and Lyft are appealing against a court ruling which will make them treat their workers as employees rather than independent contractors.

No worker is safe! The wholesale closure of many manufacturing companies in Australia has led to the destruction of some of the most unionised and militant sections of the working class. Many skilled workers who enjoyed well paid jobs were forced into early retirement, unemployment or low paying jobs in the service sector. This is what happened when Alcoa closed its smelter in Geelong (Vic) in 2014. Workers were offered retraining as prison guards or aged-care workers. No doubt some had to go into the gig economy to survive.  

The changes to the workforce stemming from deindustrialisation and the rise of the gig economy pose challenges to working class organisations. They need to find new ways of organising and connecting with workers who today are more dispersed with the closure of the large factories and workshops which were the traditional places where organisation and recruitment once took place.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Workers Struggle Against Impact of Privatisation and Outsourcing On Many Fronts


Written by: Ned K. on 18 September 2021

Government privatisation and outsourcing of services has been a feature of capitalism in Australia for many decades affecting public transport, water utilities, public health, aged care, disabilities and education and many more sectors. For example, road traffic controlling where road works are undertaken, used to be performed by workers directly employed by state or federal governments. 

In many public hospitals most of the support services have been contracted out to multinational companies like Serco, ISS, Spotless or Compass.

In public schools, maintenance and school cleaning has been contracted out for years to both large companies like Spotless as well as smaller locally based companies.

A common outcome of this outsourcing is more insecure work, higher workloads, lower wages and lower quality of service to the people who use the services.

The practice of privatisation and outsourcing over the decades has become so entrenched that governments have become almost servants of the capitalists delivering the service rather than delivering all the assurances the people were given that services would improve, and governments would ensure contractors did not put profits before workers' working conditions and service to the people.

In the last decade particularly there has been a fightback by workers to prevent further privatization and outsourcing and also campaigns to reverse privatisation and outsourcing.

Unions and their members have often supported election of a Labor Federal, State or Territory Governments with high hopes that if elected they would reverse privatisation or at least ensure that workers’ wages and conditions would be the same as if directly employed.

Workers have had some success in their struggles. For example, in the ACT several years ago, the Government agreed to take school cleaning back in house with improved wages and conditions as a consequence. In WA and Queensland, directly employed school cleaners have successfully resisted attempts by both Liberal and Labor Governments to outsource cleaning to private for-profit contractors.

In South Australia, public hospital directly employed support services workers won an Enterprise Agreement which included a clause that at change, renewal or extension of commercial contracts with companies where services had been already contracted out twenty years ago, the workers had to be paid the same wages as directly employed public sector workers.

In Victoria, workers employed by private contractors to provide support services in schools forced the state Labor Government to kick out contractors who were not even paying workers minimum award wages and conditions. This was a first step in the workers' struggle to win back direct employment as public sector workers.

Labor Governments Do Some Good Things, Some Bad Things On Privatisation Front

During the Covid-19 period, there has been even more pressure on governments to provide better services, especially to ensure a hygienic environment for people using public services. 

In Victoria for example, the Andrews Labor Government decided to increase cleaning services on public transport and areas like railway stations and tram stops. Here was a perfect opportunity to directly employ more public sector workers, ensure they were well trained and with public sector standard pay and conditions.

However, the Government fell well short of this. It gave this extra Covid-19 related cleaning work to a major contract cleaning company GJK who said thank you very much and then engaged cleaners as individual contractors on under-award pay.

In some States and Territories when under a Labor Government, through pressure from workers and their Unions, there has been a move by these Governments to disguise the continuation of the neo-liberal privatisation and outsourcing agenda by giving assurances to Unions and their members that only "responsible contractors" would be given contracts to provide public services. 

However, this has usually resulted in the Government Department bureaucrats allowing the so-called "responsible contractors" from continuing on their merry way of cutting corners, reducing worker numbers by not replacing those who leave, or replacing full time and part time workers with casuals or labor hire casuals.

At the federal level of Government, the Labor Government of Rudd and Gillard did some good things for workers such as introduce at least some regulations in relation to contracted out services such as ground maintenance and cleaning. This only came about because of workers' struggles over a number of years.

However as soon as the Abbott government came in to office, these services were again completely deregulated with severe consequences for workers.

So, while Labor Governments do some good things when pressured by the collective struggles of workers, the changes they make are often half measures at best, or temporary due to the short-term electoral cycle. 

This often demoralises workers who always vote Labor, but they also see the limitations of parliamentary system of which Labor governments and Labor out of office are a part.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

No to nuclear-powered submarines!

 Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 16 September 2021

The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) condemns the announcement that Australia will build nuclear-powered submarines.

The decision further embeds Australia within the military structures of US imperialism and significantly raises the degree of interoperability between the US and Australian armed forces. It significantly reduces any capacity by Australian governments for independent decision-making in matters of foreign policy.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating said last week: "The whole notion of Australia’s right to an independent foreign policy – a right to be itself and act in its own interests – is being suborned by a government determined to subordinate its interests to those of another country."

Australia has been led by the nose into one US military disaster after another, into one unjust act of aggression and invasion after another. Now we are being positioned to be part of US preparations for war with China. 

The nuclear submarine proposal is a significant escalation of military threats aimed at China. It has nothing to do with preparations for the defence of Australia. A submarine fleet for coastal defence would be significantly different to submarines designed for long-distance, global movement at the service of US imperialism.

First Peoples are denied control of their own affairs to fix the huge negative consequences, in all aspects of their lives, of ongoing invasion, especially the cynical failure to ensure their safety during the pandemic. Our hospitals are bursting at the seams, public schools remain poor cousins to the rich private schools, aged care is a mess, mental health is under great strain, road infrastructure needs massive upgrading, our rail services belong to centuries past – and none of this will be properly funded because the US wants us to be part of their nuclear-powered submarine fleet.

We need to redefine and revive our relationship with China. It is our major trade partner. It is a country that has abandoned socialism and embarked on economic and political expansion. We no more want to be under China’s thumb than we do to remain under that of the US. But supporting the provocations of one imperialist power against another is not an act of independence. It is not in our interests.

We demand an independent and peaceful, socialist Australia.

Central Committee, CPA (M-L)

Canadian take-over of Australian agriculture continues


Written by: Duncan B. on 15 September 2021

The Canadian take-over of Australian agriculture, forestry, fisheries and water continues unabated.

In 2015-16 Canadian investment in Australian agriculture was a mere $240 million, jumping quickly to $2.62 billion in 2017-18.

Canadian companies have invested over $10 billion in Australian agriculture since 2014-15. In 2019-20 they invested $2.55 billion. The Canadians are behind the four biggest farming deals in Australian history.

Recently the Alberta Investment Management Corporation paid Macquarie Agriculture more than $550 million for its Lawson Grains portfolio which comprises 105,000 ha of cropping land in NSW and WA which produces over 250,000 tonnes of grain and oilseeds.

As reported previously, Canadian companies have been very active again this year with multi-million dollar purchases of orchards, cropping land, cotton farms and sheep and cattle grazing properties.

Of special concern is the hold Canadian companies have on Australia’s limited water resources. Canadian companies now control almost 850 gigalitres of Australian water entitlements, making them the largest holders of Australian water.

Australian farmers are annoyed that while Canadian investment in our agriculture is seemingly unrestricted, most Canadian provinces impose very strict controls on the amount of farm land that foreigners can buy.

A Covid welfare state or corporate vultures feeding?


Written by: Louisa L. on 9 September 2021

 During the 2020 bushfires, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian won kudos when she unfailingly gave precedence to frontline experts in daily media conferences. Meanwhile the prime minister sunned in Hawaii, and her Nationals’ Deputy Barilaro attacked her from his London holiday. 

In last year’s initial Covid outbreak, she bowed to increasingly organised action from health and education workers, and closed schools despite public pressure from the PM.

Earlier, in 2019, she stood relatively firmly on women’s rights to safe abortion, despite an onslaught from the opportunist cabal within Coalition ranks drawing new groups into far-right action. This time Barnaby Joyce and company attacked her while she was overseas on a work trip and unable to organise effectively. 

All the while, Ms Berejiklian remained a model state capitalist manager, keeping corporations and their economy afloat with multibillion dollar construction projects for public schools, hospitals and transport. 

Not that they had enough nurses or teachers to fill the hospitals and schools. Early this year, there were regular short walkouts by state school teachers over staff shortages. Public hospitals, facing increasing staff shortages, were stripped of nurses to staff vaccine clinics, while Ramsey Health raked in billions from governments for accepting public patients.  

Meanwhile the Federal Government tore desperately needed funding and threw it at private schools and hospitals. In lockstep, the NSW government enforced its miserable squeeze on public sector workers’ wages, which mandate huge fines – for merely threatening industrial action! 

Road profits everlasting 

Government-funded motorways pushed across the state, drastically cutting travel times, riding roughshod over residents’ protests. This allowed monopolising real estate chains to pave and plunder profits across the Sydney basin, the NSW coast and some regional towns. 

Motorways claimed the biggest slab of the NSW budget, but instead of lowering tolls so everyone could use them, in Labor electorates, roads which were once free are now outrageously tolled, $27.80 each way for trucks to Port Botany, Australia’s second busiest container port. It pushes huge volumes of trucks onto local roads.

In Coalition electorates trucks are fined for using local roads instead of motorways.

As mega-roads are finished, one off payments from slated privatisations will fill election war chests. More to the point, megaprofits will be guaranteed ad infinitum for beneficiaries like giant Transurban. 

Sharing the pain?

All this puts the NSW Coalition’s Covid response into sharper focus. Unlike experts at bushfire press conferences, government appointed Medical Officer Kerry Chant is relegated to second, third or even fourth place. She speaks after Gladys Berejiklian, the “Health” Minister Brad Hazzard, and the police chief.  Brad Hazzard (who stood with Berejiklian in the abortion struggle) has joined the faction undermining hard lockdown. 

The ongoing battle was reflected in closure announcements of some monopoly retail outlets one Friday being reversed by Sunday. The construction industry was open, then closed and now half open. But arts’ workers can’t come together at all to create, even outside. (At least some are doing so, brilliantly, online.)
Unlike the sighs of relief of initial lockdowns, most working from home say every minute is accounted for, as managers see all time as worktime. 

Despite some improvements, state school teachers are still embattled, using second rate online programs. Teachers are distressed as many students disengage. 

In contrast, pain is eased in elitist private schools by the streamlined rollout provided by full-time IT teams. Some schools, like Perth’s The Hale School that ‘educated’ Christian Porter and Ben Roberts-Smith, took well-publicised $7m JobKeeper handouts despite an $8m surplus.  

Word has leaked out, that we aren’t in this together, and Mr Morrison’s moved on to his next catchcry.

The learning-to-live-with-it polka

As Delta continued its gallop through Sydney, the Business Council of Australia spruiked ending lockdowns sooner rather than later. By September 1, it had lined up 79 supportive member CEOs including Qantas and Transurban for an open letter. 

The PM had long danced the “learning to live with it” polka. But sniffing the air, he sensed that salvaging his reputation – after failing miserably to provide vaccines – was a good idea. Fire up the electronic printing presses! Time to save the poor and suffering.

It was nothing to do with peoples’ suffering, which normally means capitalist administrators put in the boot. Think the half a million Centrelink penalties to First Peoples in the NT since 2015. The unemployed a still copping frequent penalties in locked down Sydney. Others find themselves with huge public housing debts.

Let’s ask, then, are the 2500 Qantas workers - sacked while the company is on target to receive a total $2bn bailout with more to come from state governments – receiving the PM’s largess? The Transport Workers Union and pesky journalists still ask why the government didn’t re-nationalise part of the company in return for the dough. Sixty two percent surveyed said they should have. 

Regional airport workers were excluded from a rescue package favouring Qantas. Rex, which keeps regional areas connected with cities and each other, lost out in the 2020 money shovelling too. 

Vultures circle above Sydney Airport

Unless they bring revolution, imperialist crises concentrate monopoly. Lenin and others made this clear in their works on imperialism.
Let’s stay with the airline industry.

Anti-corporate warrior Michael West targets Macquarie Bank “vultures” trying to buy back the now struggling Sydney Airport. 

Privatised and sold to Macquarie in 2002, Macquarie “structured the company to rip out billions in fees” ensuring it paid no tax and raked in more billions before it was forced to sell. West describes “Homeric profits” from the sale by this self-described “home of good borrowers”. 

Now they want in again, at a rock bottom price. 

“It wouldn’t happen in the corporate world”

Like many people, West harbours a dream that capitalism can be reformed. 

But Federal parliament’s democratic window dressing is in tatters. The despicable patriarchy of upper class alleged rapists and abusers, imposed even upon tough, talented, but overwhelmingly capitalist-serving female politicians, opens more eyes. 

“It wouldn’t happen in the corporate world” is a frequent refrain of Annabel Crabb’s ‘Ms Represented’.       

No. Corporations blow up priceless caves, poison the air and water of whole countries, profit from endless US wars where murder and rape are daily business. 

Corporations routinely use women to clean up in such “tricky” situations, as they are more trusted than men. Think another tough, talented woman, Business Council CEO Jennifer Westacott. Patriarchy is a class question. It arose with classes and it can only disappear when classes do. This was true when Karl Marx stated it in the 19th Century and it’s till true in the 21st. Even under socialism class struggle and women’s struggles for equality still continue because classes still exist. 

Welfare state reincarnated?

When governments belatedly reintroduced support for those whose incomes collapsed, some proclaimed this as the welfare state reincarnated. In some ways that’s true. The alternative was outraged action compelled by hunger and insecurity previously unknown to tens of millions of Australians. It would have utterly submerged the so-called Freedom march that diverted attention from real causes and solutions, as well as threatening people’s health.  

Governments are simply handing out money. They aren’t rebuilding a welfare system. The poor have systematically and systemically been denied decent health care beyond emergency wards. The public psychiatric hospital system that provided long term residential rehabilitation has been dismantled. Jails have picked up that “responsibility”, and now Covid is spreading in western Sydney’s Parklea Prison. Public housing is in crisis. Public transport has been privatised and services stripped. 

For those who disappear through these cracks, there’s little to cushion the fall. 

People are learning desperate lessons on a wide scale. They need to see a way forward. We have to organise!