Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Celebrate Eureka Anniversary

 Written by: Nick G. on 1 December 2021

(Above - invitation from Ballarat organising Committee for the 167th anniversary celebrations)

December 3, 2021 will mark the 167th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade rebellion.

We have long promoted the Eureka Stockade as a potent symbol of the Australian people’s struggle for democratic rights and for national independence from colonialist oppression and imperialist control.

Together with the socialist red star, it is part of our Party’s logo.

The Eureka flag belongs to the working class. From the Great Strikes of the 1890s to workers’ struggles of the present day, the Eureka flag has demonstrated workers’ resolve to dare to struggle and dare to win.

For nearly 50 years some neo-fascist groups have deliberately tried to steal the flag’s true legacy, with the intention – stated in the mid-1970s – to stop “Maoists” from using it. They call everyone Maoist (a label we proudly wear) who simply raises the flag to unite the people. They try to promote it as a symbol of white nationalism and as a banner of racial pride.  Their followers are ignorant of its origin as a unifying factor on the multiculturally diverse Victorian goldfields where miners were called upon by Rafaello Carboni “irrespective of nationality, religion or colour, to salute the Southern Cross as a refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on Earth”.

The Ballarat goldfields were located on the lands of the Wadawurrung peoples. The miners unsettled the stable communities of the Wadawarrung, staying on their lands without observing the necessary reciprocities. There were some positive relationships built. Carboni learned language from the Wadawarrung and wrote a musical, Gilburnia, in which he highlighted injustices done by the unsettlers. Had they built better ties with the Wadawarrung, the miners could have used their knowledge of Country to ambush the approaching troopers well before they reached the Stockade.

In the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Eureka flag has been taken to anti-vaxxer rallies to protest the coercive powers of state governments applying lockdowns and mandating vaccinations for some categories of workers. We disagree with this use of the flag which essentially places the "right to bodily autonomy of the individual in refusing the vaccine" against the collective need for community control over the spread of the virus. This is just an extreme manifestation of petty-bourgeois individualism. It is, however, different from the use of the flag by racists.  We place the latter in the category of contradictions between ourselves and the enemy, and the former in the category of contradictions among the people.

On the home page of the Spirit of Eureka  is the text of a presentation give to SA Unions by a delegate in 2015 and subsequently endorsed by SA Unions executive. It addresses the question of “to whom does the Eureka flag belong?” It looks at the use of the flag by the workers’ movement from 1854 to the present day, and concludes with these words:

Clearly, the Eureka flag belongs to the unions, republicans, anti-racists and refugee advocates.

The best argument against its misuse by racists is a widespread public embrace of the flag as the first expression in Australia of a multicultural aspiration for democracy, freedom and Australian independence from imperialism.

No union should be ashamed to claim the flag as part of this inheritance.  It is part of our history, of the history of our class and our people.  It can only be a divisive symbol so long as Nazis and racists are allowed to carry it unchallenged as to its symbolism and its multicultural origins.

Unions, more than any other organisations, should protect and defend the Eureka flag from misuse by those who would divide the unity of the working class.

The organising committee for the Ballarat celebrations of the 167th anniversary of the Eureka rebellion calls on supporters to “Reclaim the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion”.

We certainly agree!

Monday, November 29, 2021

US behind Australian military expedition into Solomons


Written by: John G. on 30 November 2021

 Instability in the Solomons arises from capitalism operating within the country. Problems arising from development conflict with traditional customary land ownership as more people are dragged into capitalist relations of production and exchange. There is a deep background to the current conflict in the Solomons and the Australian-led imposition of armed forces in the streets of the capital. 

For starters the national government has been fraught with financial troubles. A goldmine operation, representing nearly a third of Solomons exports, closed in 2014. 75% of its main export, tuna, is processed overseas leaving local plants selling internally and to a handful of island nations. The price of canned tuna, the main product, has been in decline for decades. The problems in the export sector and high transport costs limit the imposts the government can place on exports, a key element of government finances. The nation faces big financial hurdles when considering development projects and providing basic services to people. 

People face problems with jobs, housing in urban centres, prices of necessities, education, healthcare and basic services; power, water, sewage and waste.

They intensify divisions existing with multiple languages, clan loyalties and rivalries. 

Development centred in Honiara

75% of the labour force is involved in subsistence agriculture and fishing at any one time. Virtually every family has members who engage permanently, occasionally or for a limited time in the cash economy (capitalist relations of production and exchange) to provide funds for purchases of trade goods, clothing, building products, homewares, etc. The portion engaged in the cash/capitalist economy is steadily growing. 

Capitalist development in the Solomon Islands has centred on Guadacanal, traditional lands of what are locally called Guale people, since American forces focused their headquarters and extensive bases at Honiara in WW2. Government offices, international trade, international tourism, port and other transport development have centred on Guadacanal. The island now has one third of the nation’s population including large numbers of migrants from other islands and overseas, while development on other islands with two thirds of the population has languished. The most populated of the nation’s island, Malaita, remains relatively undeveloped.

At Independence in 1978, all alienated customary land was returned to its traditional communal custodianship and is legally absolutely inalienable. 

85% of the Solomon Islands lands are managed under ‘customary’ tenure in which control lies with local clans and clan groups, in which the people belong to the land. In the capitalist economy, this provides for clans and clan groups to rent land. There is a tendency for Honiara’s customary landholders to become landlord capitalists renting out land to work-seekers from other islands and overseas, thereby exploiting a portion of migrant income. 

Housing prices are off the charts in Honiara in the last few years. Prices for basic necessities in the Solomon Islands are generally very high relative to incomes. 

International & Internal Migrants compete for Guadacanal homes

Foreign migrant communities largely of Australians, NZers and Chinese along with government workers and institutions as well as traditional customary owners have dominated land use in the centres of capitalist development, particularly around the capital Honiara on Guadacanal. The growth in overseas immigration since the Australian led intervention of 2003 to 2017 has intensified pressures on land use in and around Honiara.

Intra-Solomons migrants from less developed islands are drawn to Honiara for work, education, healthcare, and to engage in trade. They find themselves economically exploited with very high rents and house prices. The poorly-paid are forced out to unserviced informal shanty-town settlements on the outskirts of Honiara, with poor if any water, power, sewage or waste services, as well as workers forced into separation from their families due to poor conditions. 

While customary tenure is the constitutional framework, under capitalist development that is being compromised as village norms are being swept aside as urban capitalist life overtakes the Pacific idyll. Urges towards commercial and other developments weigh heavily on Pacific governments and local communities. 

The need for housing for inter-island and intra-island migrants moving in or around Honiara for work, education, marriage, health services etc. is growing. By 2017 NZ researchers estimated 40% of Honiara’s population was living in informal settlements with patchy jerry-rigged water and power supply, limited if any sanitation and toilet facilities. They reflect the squeeze on housing and the difficulties of the migrant population. Formal urban housing is beyond the reach of the Solomon Islands villager going urban seeking employment, education, healthcare, etc.  These tendencies run counter to traditional authority, custom and culture. 

Growing urbanism and integration into capitalist relations of production and exchange, confront the land impasse aligning traditional customary land control with landlord capitalist tendencies.          

Urban land and landlord capitalism 

The landlord-tenant relationship between Guadacanal customary land owners and Malaitans, involves landlords taking a significant portion of surplus values Malaitan production workers create, taking a slice of tenant traders’ profits, and part of wages other commercial, government and other non-production workers earn. It is an exploitative relationship involving accumulation of capital within the control of people of Guadacanal, their building developers and financiers. Add the monopoly element of rents in developed areas and it’s also quite oppressive. It is right to rebel against such exploitation and oppression.

This broke out into open rebellion in 1998 with riots followed by repression by government police and armed forces. Malaitan migrants on Guadacanal turned to armed insurrection led by the Malaitan Eagle Force.

Australian armed forces and police were sent in in 2003, and led forces from NZ, Fiji and PNG, which decisively turned events in defence of Guadacanal customary landowners suppressing Malaitan migrants on Guadacanal and the wider Malaitan rebellion.  It took 14 years before conflict settled enough and Solomon Islands state forces were trusted to maintain order sufficiently for the RAMSI forces to be withdrawn. It has taken just 4 years for the internal contradictions to reassert themselves, in a pressure cooker of conflict heated by big power rivalry and meddling.       

Big Power Meddling, US-China rivalry

The imposition of unsustainable outcomes on the Solomon Islands by suppression of working people in favour of landlord capital has broken down. Key to that breakdown has been meddling by superpower rivals. 

The Sogovare government had been in negotiations for some time in 2020 over establishing diplomatic relations with China, and was committed to ending the Solomon Islands recognition of Taiwan. 

Not long prior to the Sogovare government’s announcement of establishing diplomatic relations with China, the US government sent a high-powered delegation in August 2020 including members from the Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Trade, as well as embassy and aid personnel to meet with Malaitan Premier Daniel Suidani. There was no press statement, photograph, or social media post issued about the meeting and no announcement of what had been on the agenda and nor of any agreement. 

But Suidani began crowing about American support and his intention to invite the US and Australian governments to assist with “Malaitan security.” The hand of US imperialism was clearly at the back of the Maliatan Premier.

With some form of assurance of American support, Suidani set out on instigating a pogrom. In addition to denouncing Chinese aid projects he announced Chinese nationals would not be allowed to visit. A pro-independence outfit “Malaita 4 Democracy,” demanded all ethnic Chinese businesspeople leave Malaita within 24 hours on 1 September. Many shops in the Malaita provincial centre of Auki were boarded up on September 2, before police intervened to prevent attacks.

In mid-September, Malaitan Premier Suidani announced he was planning an Independence referendum, touting it could be held in a few weeks. 

On 17th September Suidani sponsored pro-Taiwan demonstrations on the island, whipping up anti-Chinese sentiment through anti-communist and evangelical Christian, anti-atheist rhetoric. The Malaitan provincial administration has been coordinating aid and economic assistance from Taipei, in defiance of Solomons national sovereignty. Suidani announced no Chinese aid projects or economic investment would be permitted on Malaita, and no Chinese nationals would be allowed to visit. 

On the 25th of September 2020 the Solomon Islands switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. The US was furious. Vice President Mike Pence cancelled a meeting with Sogovare at the UN. Republican Senators threatened sanctions and called for aid to be stopped. 

On 30 October 2019, the National government entered into agreements with the Chinese government, just 35 days after diplomatic relations were switched from Taiwan to China, for an $825 million development of a port, railway and hydro power station at Honiara and to reopen a nearby goldmine.  

On 21 November 2019, the Malaitan Provincial government announced an agreement with the US to build a new fisheries and tourist harbour project on Malaita, the Bina Harbour and cannery project. The project had been bubbling away for ages without any firm undertakings. Australia quickly announced grants to support the American move. That development has been added to a major road project for 230kms of main roads and a new hospital build on Malaita funded by the World Bank.

US and Australia skirting sovereign national government

The US and Australian governments have been negotiating with the Malaitan provincial government directly skirting the National government and diplomatic norms, and meddling in the internal affairs of the sovereign Solomon Islands nation. 

Despite the meddling, the National government has supported the Bina Harbour project, but has been locked in a familiar national leaders/ provincial leaders brawl. 

In October, figures in the PM’s party pushed for a no-confidence motion in Premier Suidani to be pushed through the Malaita provincial legislature. It was withdrawn when thousands protested in the Malaitan capital Auki and women occupied the steps in front of parliament. Tensions between Malaitans and the national government leaders were high and being intensified. 

In mid November, Malaitans held a solemn traditional ceremony, attended by cultural, ethnic, religious, and political leaders, bringing Malaitan communities together in an act of reconciliation after generations of enmity between clans. 

The enmity went back to a 1927 killing of a colonial district officer and Malaitan members of his protection force in resistance to imposition of a colonial head tax. An extensive reprisal massacre was carried out by colonial administrators and foreign plantation owners leading relatives of the Malaitan dead. The reconciliation buried the hatchet on more than 90 years of Malaitan trauma and division. They also unveiled a plaque in honour of the leaders of the Solomon Islands independence movement, an implied slight to PM Sogovare. Not one of the PM’s party MPs attended. 

A week later the national parliament resumed with a very large protest against “corrupt foreign influence” in the streets of Honiara. Malaitans were in the lead but not the sole participants. Police tried to drive the protesters away using tear gas. Rioting followed with burning and looting targeting Chinese merchants and homes of Chinese migrants, but not excluding other premises. Damage ran into many millions. The pogrom element was certainly prominent. 

Days of rioting saw the national government call for foreign forces to enter and decisively suppress unrest. It represented a victory for foreign interference by the US using its sycophants in the Australian and NZ Governments. The Sogovare government was reminded that its hold on office was dependent on the ‘grace and favour’ of the US and its local agents the Australian and NZ governments.

Internal contradictions magnified by big power meddling 

The Malaitan Premier’s reactionary agitation is built on the back of provincial rivalries and capitalist oppression. It serves US interests. 

The disputes, with their countervailing elements threaten to tie the Solomons in a number of long-term internal wrangles. Contradictions between traditional customary land title and exploited renters in developed areas exacerbate historic inter-island and inter-clan rivalries, underpinned by opportunist political rivals, all stoked by superpower rivalry, bullying and bribery.   The financial troubles of the National government hamstring its capacity to ease the internal conflicts.  

No good will come of US-instigated unrest and imposing decisive foreign forces on the people. 

The Solomons need an end to US-China meddling. The people need assistance with basic urban living conditions, decentralised development and finances for compensating customary landholders but not at the expense of internal migrants. The country needs aid to facilitate that. 

The sooner foreign forces are out the better. 

It is for the people of the Solomons to resolve their problems with aid, but without the conditions superpower rivalry imposes.   

Friday, November 26, 2021

US imperialism embeds the Northern Territory in its war plans

 Written by: (Contributed) on 27 November 2021

Residents of Australia's Northern Territory might have noted publicity surrounding recent plans to upgrade military facilities. A great deal of it has been attributed to defence and security provision.

Australia's Northern Territory has a long history of being regarded as sensitive; it looks out across the South Pacific where regional tensions are intensifying. In recent times, military planning has included the transformation of Darwin as a support centre, linked to Diego Garcia and Guam as military and intelligence hubs for US-led regional operations. 

The plan has an added significance as US-led Cold War diplomatic tensions with China continue to escalate; a recent statement from Canberra, for example, drew attention to the US adjusting its regional military planning according to which the Northern Territory 'could become the lynch-pin in the chain of US bases running from the Aleutians in the North Pacific to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean which support US strategy and military operations', in a direct reference to Island Chain Theory. (1)

A recent study of the Northern Territory stated that 'our north is, in fact, the essential southern rampart of the Indo-Pacific … with … the Port of Darwin a central strategic question'. (2)

In recent diplomatic jargon, the Northern Territory was noted as part of a military plan which will include 'the transformation of the Top End from a very convenient military training area for the ADF and its allies to a vital southern US defence anchor … and … an important defence springboard into the Indo-Pacific'. (3)

While residents of the Northern Territory have become used to observing US troop rotations over the past decade, military plans now include enlarging the rotations to include 'the capability to train, sustain and co-ordinate allied and partner-nation military forces'. (4)

Reference was also made to the planned importance of the Northern Territory for armed forces and military personnel from France, Germany, the UK, Japan and India, all expressing an interest 'to get more mobile across the region'. (5) Plans appear already under-way for those concerned to 'locate military units with their ADF counterparts in the Top End'. (6)

The US lays great emphasis upon the strategic importance of Darwin Harbour; it is five times larger than Sydney Harbour, and deeper than San Francisco Bay and has, therefore, been assessed as 'uniquely placed to facilitate and support an enlarged regional alliance'. (7)  

References to Australian-hosted facilities being used to project military power and presence over the wider region are not difficult to find.

Emphasis has already been placed upon upgrading RAAF Tindal, just outside of Katherine, for use as a 'forward operating location for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions throughout the region'. (8) The air-base hosts seven RAAF units which include five for combat and two for surveillance. (9) Planning is already under-way for a significant upgrade. Early last year an announcement was made by Canberra for the base to have a $1.1 billion upgrade which would include an extension to the runways and fuel storage to enable re-fuelling facilities. (10) The financial figure was later adjusted and raised to $1.7 billion. (11)

RAAF Tindal is already used extensively by the US military with their troop rotations. It also has an important part in battle plans for US-led real-war scenarios: during such a crisis the US envisages its outlying military facilities coming under attack with its forces 'scattered from bases in Japan, Guam and Hawaii … although ... with Australian agreement … significant numbers of these aircraft will be in northern Australia … American strategy is to spread its forces … making them as difficult a target as possible'. (12)

While information about regular military forces can be accessed from official media releases and tenders issued for purchasing, other covert operations tend to be more guarded and subject to higher levels of classification. US imperialism is no stranger to the dark world of such operations. (13)

It has, nevertheless, been possible to establish that RAAF Tindal was an important part in the failed mercenary attempt by Sandline in 1997 to re-open the Bougainville mine in PNG. Successive Australian governments have continued throughout to deny any active involvement in the military debacle.  (14) But then, that is what such people do.

With reliable information emerging about Australian arms manufacturing businesses expanding their exports from $1.5 billion in 2017/18 to $5.2 billion in 2020/21 one can but question whether RAAF Tindal has also been used for transporting vast quantities of arms to countries to be used for repressive purposes. (15) Secrecy would appear an important consideration.

It is not surprising to note that Australian arms exports remain shrouded in official secrecy with relations established and maintained with a number of countries without serious questions being asked about officially sanctioned government repression: Indonesia is but one example. It has been noted, for example, that 'Australia has not produced detailed annual reports on weapons exports since 2004'. (16)

In conclusion, planning to upgrade military facilities in the Northern Territories has little to do with Australian defence and security, it is directly linked to US-led directives to maintain and extend 'US interests' across the Indo-Pacific. A recent study also noted that due to the changing balance of forces the 'US faces the prospect of military defeat … and there are growing signs they could draw the US into a war it could not win'. (17)

 We need an independent foreign policy before we are drawn into a US planned regional limited war which would clearly not be in Australia's best interests!

1.     Interchangeable forces key to submarine success, Northern Territory Defence supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
2.     Unsafe harbour of the north, The Weekend Australian, 20-21 November 2021.
3.     Security pact to boost US presence in the Top End, Supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
4.     Darwin at the centre of exciting new space race, Supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
5.     Darwin port, harbour need future to be anchored, Supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
6.     Unsafe harbour, op.cit., Weekend Australian 20-21 November 2021.
7.     Interchangeable forces, op.cit., Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
8.     Tindal to be hub for projection of air-power, Supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
9.     Wikipedia: RAAF Tindal.
10.   Ibid.
11.   Tindal to be hub, op.cit., Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
12.   Unsafe harbour, op.cit., Weekend Australian, 20-21 November 2021.
13.   See: Air America, Christopher Robbins, (London, 1988).
14.   RAAF Tindal, op.cit., wikipedia.
15.   Wikipedia: Australian arms exports.
16.   The secretive world of Australia's arms exports, Overland, 2 March 2021.
17.   Chinese entry to trade pact unlikely: PM., Australian, 23 November 2021.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Australian Tree Nut Industry

 Written by: Duncan B. on 25 November 2021

The tree nut industry in Australia is big business. This year the farm gate value of the production of almonds, macadamias, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and chestnuts was almost $1.2 billion. This is forecast to rise to over $2 billion by 2030. $500 million of new investment has been poured into new nut plantings every year for the past five years.

Almonds are Australia’s most valuable horticultural export crop. In 2021, almond exports were worth $545 million. The two biggest growers of almonds in Australia are Singapore-based Olam and Australian-owned Select Harvests. Almond plantings in the lower Murray irrigation area total about 34,000 hectares, up by 7000 ha since 2018.

Macadamias are the second most important nut crop after almonds in Australia. Production currently worth $350 million is tipped to double by 2030. The big players are getting involved in macadamias as well. Australian-owned Rural Funds Management plans to invest $500 million over the next decade in macadamia plantings. Belgian Finasucre has bought 1000 ha of macadamia plantations for $59 million, and the Canadian Public Sector Pension Fund, PSP, is there of course. They own a macadamia cracking plant in Queensland, and are expanding their plantings of macadamias. 

A firm called Stahmann Webster, recently purchased by the Canadian Public Sector Pension Fund, dominates the production of walnuts and pecans in Australia, producing more than 85% of the national crop. 

It is not surprising that the big boys are into growing tree nuts. Gross revenue per hectare from tree nut crops ranges from $20,000 to $30,000.  The rate of return of $2000 to $3000 for every megalitre of water applied to nut trees is 10 to 20 times higher than the return from traditional horticultural crops such as tomatoes and other vegetables. These returns are also well above the returns from dairying on irrigated farms.

Almond trees are thirsty! 12.5 megalitres of water per hectare are required to grow almonds. This compares with 9.9-12.2 for rice, 9-10 for table grapes, 8-10 for citrus, 7 for cotton and 4 for olives. It is estimated that the horticulture industry in the Murray-Darling Basin, (much of it being nut plantations), will require 1.5 million megalitres of water from the river system within five years. Citrus and grape growers are expressing concerns about future water availability.

The high returns from crops like almonds allow the big horticulture companies to manipulate the water market to force the price of irrigation water in the Murray-Darling Basin to levels beyond the means of ordinary horticulturists and dairy farmers. These foreign and Australian-owned agribusiness giants make sure that they have plenty of water while many small irrigation farmers have been forced out of farming due to the high price of water.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A “fundamental game changer”: Australia’s increased role in US war plans

 Written by: (Contributed) on 24 November 2021

Any remaining controversy surrounding recent decisions for Australia to use US nuclear-powered submarines should be easily dispelled following recent disclosures contained in a high-level diplomatic statement.

Former US admiral and head of the Indo-Pacific Command, Harry Harris, also proved extremely forthcoming about the perceived role of Australia in US-led regional military planning, with increased responsibilities for the defence and security of 'US interests'. The US imperialists are preparing for war in the Indo-Pacific region, and expect Australia to provide a major contribution for their war effort.

The decision taken by the Morrison coalition government in Canberra to cancel submarine contracts with France and pursue others in conjunction with the US and UK, was responsible for unleashing a torrent of controversy. In mid-November Australia's most senior diplomat in Washington issued a formal statement specifying the decision had been taken 'for their ability to operate further up into the region, providing effective confirmation they are intended to lurk off the Chinese coast'. (1)

Submarines have a long history of being part of intelligence-gathering while submerged and relatively inconspicuous.

A few days later further confirmation was issued through former US admiral and head of the Indo-Pacific Command, Harry Harris, that the submarines were regarded as a 'fundamental game changer', enabling Australia 'to extend its reach to the limits of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, which is so important to all of us … and … also enable Australia to make a stronger contribution to its alliance with the US'. (2)

Previous statements had usually specified the French submarines were a better model for the defence and security of Australia. Harris, however, has left little to the imagination: the US seeks Australia to provide a bigger contribution as a southern regional hub for 'US interests'.
He stated, candidly, that the decision had been taken as 'the only way the US could prevent its military advantage from being eroded over time … and that is … why the development of a nuclear submarine force for Australia is so important'. (3)

The statement was also accompanied by further acknowledgement from US military officials that 'the nuclear submarines decision would mean much deeper interoperability among the US, UK and Australian navies and their nuclear infrastructures … this decision would bind Australia to the US and UK decisively for generations'.(4)

The decision would also appear to have been taken following the conclusion of a US Congressional Committee in 2018 that 'the US is no longer clearly superior to the threats it faces around the world and that it could struggle to win wars against China or Russia'. (5)
The study, furthermore, also recommended the US 'further relying on traditional allies, including Japan and Australia'. (6)  

In recent times Australia's alliance with Japan has, therefore, been systematically strengthened: an official diplomatic statement from Tokyo noted 'military ties between Australia and Japan have been growing so fast that they amount to a 'quasi-alliance'. (7) The alliance has also included successive Japanese governments re-interpreting Clause 9 of their Pacifist constitution to enable their armed forces to participate in US-led military exercises across the wider region.

Moves, taken by the Japanese governments, have also been accompanied by decisions taken in Canberra to develop Darwin as a major hub for US-led regional operations. One proposal contained within the plan is for Australia to invite allies to locate their military units alongside 'their Australian Defence Force counterparts in the Top End'. (8)

Two further factors have been immediately brought into play.

Firstly, an announcement that Australia would be signing a treaty with the US and UK, under provisions outlined in the AUKUS strategic partnership, to formalise access to their allies’ submarine 'secrets', has also included provision for Australian military personnel to receive nuclear training in the US and UK and has shown how Pentagon war planning contains a sense of urgency. (9)

Secondly, however, the Morrison coalition government in Canberra have not had it all their own way. An advisory paper produced for a highly influential body has questioned the war-mongering approach of the AUKUS. It suggested that US-led planning for war with China 'will not work to preserve US leadership in Asia … it will likely destroy it … Australia cannot expect to preserve the regional order … once war starts that order would probably be utterly destroyed … and … America's dwindling chances of winning makes its threats to fight less credible in Beijing'. (10) Pentagon war planning would appear counter-productive.   

Under circumstances such as these:

                                           We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     'Project power'”: subs not-so-secret mission, Australian, 11 November 2021.
2.     Nuke subs to pack global punch, Australian, 17 November 2021.
3.     Ibid.
4.     We're at the sharp end, Defence Special Report, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
5.     Study: US no longer dominant power in the Pacific, Paul D. Shinkman, Information Clearing House, 22 August 2019.
6.     Ibid.
7.     Ties with Japan amount to quasi-alliance, says Tokyo, The Age (Melbourne), 27 October 2014.
8.     Unsafe harbour of the north, The Weekend Australian, 20-21 November 2021.
9.     Treaty signing opens door to subs training, Australian, 22 November 2021.
10.   See: China now more likely to call America's bluff, Australian, 22 November 2021, which has provided an edited extract from a paper by Hugh White, presented at the annual symposium of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, 2021.  


Resolving Differences Within The Working Class Movement - Make Unions Schools Of The Working Class Movement

 Written by: Ned K. on 24 November 2021

The ruling class of every stage of capitalism up to its current stage of imperialism in decline have always seized on opportunities to cause and inflate division and differences within the working class. 

In recent times there has been a lot of effort by the ruling class to divide workers on the issues of climate change, Covid 19 lockdowns and vaccinations. Within workplaces there are deliberate employer strategies to divide permanent workers from casual or labour hire workers, new migrant workers against workers born in Australia, First Nations workers against workers whose descendants were part of the still existing colonial settler society and so on.

That is why the bosses hate it when workers take united action against the boss class itself because not only does this unity lead to workers winning short term victories but workers experience their collective power and they see that whatever differences there have been between workers, that they can be resolved on the basis of the need for principled unity.

There are also different ideas, different views and harmful behaviour within the working class that are the result of centuries of ruling class ideology bombarding the working class from all directions every day. For example, the idea that women should be subservient to men or that First Nations people are lazy and if only they went and got a job like respectable white working class people, everything would be ok.

Sometimes the ideology of capitalism manifests itself within working class mass organizations as well. For example, a respected union member may make sexist comments to a woman worker or racist comments towards a migrant worker without even realizing that their behaviour is unacceptable and harmful to those workers and divisive to the workers' movement. It is the responsibility of other progressive workers to "call out" this type of behaviour before it gets out of hand and turns into not just a genuine mistake but a pattern of unacceptable behaviour and harmful to the workers' movement.

The great leader of the Chinese workers’ and peasants’ revolution in 1949, Mao Zedong, understood the importance of preventing and addressing bad mistakes and bad ideas within the movement. 

He said the aim in these circumstances should be to "cure the sickness to save the patient" and within the people's movement always practice the principle of "unity-criticism-unity".

Unions are in a good position to become schools of the working class by devoting more time to education and combating capitalist ideology within the working class. Unions are part of capitalism but their leaders also have a choice as to whether they contribute to the struggle against the ideology of capitalism in all its manifestations or whether their own leadership style actually reinforces capitalist ideology.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Workers Struggles Intensify As ACTU Calls For New Industrial Laws

 Written by: Ned K. on 21 November 2021

 As inflation rises and more workers come out of Covid lockdowns, workers struggles are also on the rise. 

* Public hospital support service workers in  SA are escalating bans and strike action for secure jobs against the imploding Liberal Party Government.

* Country Road warehouse women workers in Victoria are taking strike action to win permanent rather than casual jobs and to win wage increases of up to $10 per hour than bring their rates of pay up to the going rate paid to male warehouse workers.

* Toll Logistics workers across three states went on strike last week and won wage increases but equally as important, they forced Toll to agree to better redundancy/redeployment conditions and conversion of over one hundred casual jobs to full time permanent jobs

* MUA members continue to take industrial action to prevent the privatized sea port operators from further casualization of the waterfront

* Ambulance Officer/ Paramedics, Doctors and Nurses across multiple States continue to take various forms of action against the general crisis in public hospital systems

These and many more collective actions by workers against big capital and the latter's political parties in governments at State and Federal levels receive far less media attention than the anti-vaccination, anti- Covid 19 restrictions "freedom" rallies.

However the power of workers voices and actions are forcing the media of capital to seriously think about new ways to stem the tide of worker unrest about declining living standards and the widespread growth of different forms of insecure work.

So we see on the front page of the Australian on Saturday 20 November the heading, "UNIONS SEEK MORE POWER FROM LABOR - Albanese to face pressure on IR Policy"

In the article Sally McManus, the ACTU Secretary, and Tim Kennedy, the Secretary of United Workers Union are both quoted. They both say in summary that the Fair Work Act was facilitating record profits for big business and that the enterprise specific bargaining system had collapsed. It was no longer "fit for purpose" and that the collective bargaining scheme in the Act was "beyond repair" and needed "root and branch review".

Thousands of workers would agree with this as they know that the enterprise bargaining system is not really collective bargaining between the class of owners of capital and workers because most Agreements isolate one group of workers from another and actually limit solidarity actions of workers within the same sector or industry and within supply chains. 

What capital can see is that despite all its limitations, workers are finding ways to struggle and more workers are using the limited "right" to take protected industrial action at a site level and co-ordinate this action with similar protected industrial action at another site owned by the same company or related company.

This is what happened in the recent Toll warehouse workers strikes last week,

Some more far-sighted sections of big business can see the writing on the wall and so they have some level of agreement with what McManus and Kennedy are saying.

So the far-sighted capitalists will more than likely seek an agreement with the ALP if they win the federal election to a collective bargaining laws that enable workers to claim for collective agreements at multi employer,  sector or industry levels as well as across supply chains. 

They will rely on the ALP selling this to the ACTU as a "victory" and who knows they may even dress it up with a new name and scrap the name "Fair Work Act" and call it something like the "Secure Work Act".

The real struggle though will be about the ALP and ACTU supporting workers' demand to get rid of limitations on workers'  right to take collective action at any time, not just in the extremely limited bargaining period, whether that be at a site level, sector or industry level or across a supply chain. 

Interesting times ahead

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Dutton – don’t drag us into another unwinnable American war!


Written by: Nick G. on 19 November 2021

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton is making increasingly provocative statements about “defending Taiwan”.

Several days ago, he said “It would be inconceivable that we wouldn’t support the US in an action if the US chose to take that action.”

His comments came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said that the US and its allies would take unspecified “action” if China were to use force to alter the “status quo” over Taiwan.

What is this “status quo”?  

The status quo is that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China. 

The status quo is that it continues to use the name of the government which was defeated by the Communists in 1949 and which fled to Taiwan, the “Republic of China” (ROC), but it cannot participate in any major international event under that name.

The status quo is that China has, since the formation of the PRC in 1949, maintained that its goal is reunification with Taiwan Province, and that it will not rule out the use of force should the Taiwanese authorities try to achieve independence from the PRC.

The status quo is that both the US and Australia – and every other one of the vast majority of countries that have diplomatic relations with China – recognise that Taiwan is a part of the PRC.

The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is quite clear about this.

Its website says that with the establishment of diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1972, “Australia’s Joint Communiqué with the PRC recognised the Government of the PRC as China’s sole legal government, and acknowledged the position of the PRC that Taiwan was a province of the PRC”.

It says that “the Australian Government does not recognise the ROC as a sovereign state and does not regard the authorities in Taiwan as having the status of a national government”.

Dutton and others of a like mind speak of Taiwan Province as if it were already a “sovereign state” with the “status of a national government”.

They are deliberately confusing the Australian people in order to prepare for war.

They are not being honest about what it would cost Australia to be involved in such an adventure.

Hu Xijin, editor of the Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper, said in response to Dutton, that “"If Australian troops come to fight in the Taiwan Straits, it is unimaginable that China won't carry out a heavy attack on them and the Australian military facilities that support them. So Australia better be prepared to sacrifice for Taiwan island and the US."

He was referring to Australian military facilities on Australian soil.  

If China sends troops to part of its own country, as could occur if the Taiwanese authorities declare independence, then that is an internal matter for China.

China did not threaten to go to war when the Howard government suspended the Racial Discrimination Act in 2007 and sent its troops to the Northern Territory to impose the Intervention on Aboriginal communities.

As deplorable as that was, it was an internal matter for the Australian people to deal with.

China is not the socialist country that it was in 1949.

It now has its own great power ambitions.

But the question of Taiwan is a matter for China.

It is not a matter over which the US, Australia, or any other country has the right to go to war with China.

Dutton and his ilk should stop claiming that Australia should be involved in war over Taiwan, or pretending that Australia and its US overlord could in any way prevent the Chinese from exercising that sovereignty over Taiwan Province which is recognised by his government and made clear on the DFAT website.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Micronesia: farewell Paradise, hello superpower rivalry


by: (Contributed) on 16 November 2021

A communique from the Australian Department of Defence has revealed US-led military planning to upgrade facilities for Micronesia as part of a regional militarisation program. The communique outlined clearly Australian military and intelligence involvement with the defence and security of 'US interests'.

Micronesia, historically, has been regarded as a strategic location for US-led regional military and security provision; a multitude of small islands, (“Micronesia” is Greek for “tiny islands”) many of which remain US territories and others with independent governments and neo-colonial relations with the West. The Micronesian sub-part of the vast Pacific Ocean would now appear to have been placed under the spotlight of the Pentagon as a potential theatre of war with China.

In late October the Australian newspaper published a Northern Territory Defence supplement using Australian Department of Defence media releases. It provided a useful insight into present day US-led military planning for the Indo-Pacific region. (1)

One part of the supplement, however, dealt specifically with Micronesia, a sub-part of the region resting to the north of the South and Western Pacific regions. It has always been regarded as important for US-led military and intelligence provision being centred upon Guam, a US-territory and regional Pacific military hub on the same arc from Pine Gap to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. In recent years both Guam and Diego Garcia have been upgraded to hubs specifically for military operations, with Darwin as the support centre.

Other areas of Micronesia, likewise, remain important for the US: the Marshall Islands has been used extensively by US maritime facilities for flags of convenience for shipping vessels. The fact so many of the small islands remain under US control is evidence itself of their continued significance for US regional foreign policy: many host sensitive facilities.

The recent upgrade for fuel storage facilities at RAAF Base Darwin was conducted for long-range flights of military aircraft. It is not surprising to find elsewhere in the same supplement reference given to Australia's Triton program for regional surveillance and intelligence-gathering and the use of military facilities in Guam. (2)

Micronesia now looks set for a further upgrade to its existing military facilities.

The communique noted, for example, that 'spurred by growing perceptions of a rising Chinese threat … the AUKUS trilateral defence agreement … will see the transformation of the Top End … and will concentrate upon the … vital southern US defence anchor, linking Guam to the north and Hawaii to the east'. (1) Hawaii has been important for the US regional military presence for decades as the centre of their regional command facility.

An actual/real size regional map shows the triangular military plan to encompass Micronesia. (3) The arc from Darwin to Guam cuts directly through Manus Island and the Lombrum Naval base and South Pacific region, the Darwin to Hawaii arc cuts through the Rajik Group of Islands controlled by the US and the Marshall Islands also under US control. The arc from Guam to Hawaii, furthermore, cuts through Wake Island, also under US control, while also covering the Western Pacific.

The same communique also drew attention to the role of Darwin as having undergone a 'transformation of the Top End into an important defence springboard into the Indo-Pacific'. (4) An example of the use of the Top End would appear the potential use of Guam by RAAF Triton aircraft for 'patrolling to the north of Guam … for up to ten hours at a time'. (5) The flight time would indicate RAAF aircraft manoeuvring in highly sensitive areas of the region contested by China.

A further consideration when dealing with Micronesia, however, remains the problem of Taiwan, which has become a US-led preoccupation in recent years. Australia has also been closely drawn into the problem with recent high-level diplomatic meetings between Taipei and Canberra. It is not coincidental that the present ruling President Tsai Ing-wen administration in Taipei has directed much of its 'New Southbound Policy' (NSP) specifically at Micronesia where it still retains some limited official diplomatic presence. It has, however, been challenged by China in recent times, which has left most of the NSP foreign policy in tatters.  

Elsewhere, across the region China, likewise, has been able to establish far stronger diplomatic links and investment programs. They have seriously challenged traditional US-led hegemonic positions which historically included support from compliant governments to maintain neo-colonial relations with the West. It is, therefore, no coincidence the US military planning for Micronesia has taken place at the present time; China's increased role in the region has been assessed by the Pentagon as a serious challenge.

Most countries now, however, have full diplomatic relations with China and due to the United Nations One China policy, restrictions have been placed upon Taiwan. While Taipei has administrative offices in 112 countries, including four in Australia, they only have 17 official diplomatic missions worldwide. The recent diplomatic switch, by the Solomons Islands in the South Pacific and Kiribati in the central Pacific, from Taipei to Beijing in September 2019, for example, was a major blow to President Tsai Ing-wen.

Taiwan, as a means of projecting their neo-diplomatic presence elsewhere, has increasingly become reliant on a shadowy, out-sourced yet governmental-type body, the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD), formerly the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). It was established by the US during the earliest days of the previous Cold War and consists of a conglomerate of right-wing and far-right political organisations which have been noted from reliable studies as consisting of 'a world of ideological fanaticism, racialism, ignorance and fear … and composed of … many people who are as much opposed to democracy as they are communism'. (6) It also has intelligence functions and involvement with the CIA and operations across all continents. (7)

The WLFD would appear to also have an extensive presence in Australia although members and affiliates lurk behind sealed websites to maintain a level of secrecy which would arouse suspicions with even the most gullible of observers. (8) It has been noted, for example, that senior Liberal and Coalition partners, including John Howard and those associated with him, have active involvement with the WACL/WLFD. (9) Others, including senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers, through involvement with the WACL/WLFD were able to build on their work with the CIA to continue operations in Australia through far-right networks of supporters and civil defence provision, including with reservists. (10)  

With developments such as these taking place, which draw Australia ever closer to a US-led limited war with China:

                                          We need an independent foreign policy!


1.     Security pact to boost US presence in the Top End, Northern Territory Defence supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.  
2.     $200m thrust for aircraft base to service Triton, Northern Territory Defence supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
3.     Map of the World, Peters Projection, Actual Size.
4.     Security pact, op.cit., Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
5.     $200m thrust, op.cit., Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
6.     Inside the League, Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, (New York, 1988), Foreword.
7.     Ibid., pp. 55-56.
8.     Ibid., page 59.
9.     Website: WACL/WLFD, 9 January 1990; and, Ted Serong, Anne Blair, (Melbourne, 2002), pp. 183-91; and, Howard keeps link, The Age (Melbourne), 1 January 2007.  
10.   Ted Serong, ibid., Sleevenote, and, pp. 174-196.