Thursday, April 28, 2022

Chinese billionaire has big plans to change the Kimberley landscape


Written by: Nick G. on 29 April 2022

A Chinese-owned pastoral company has received a “letter of reprimand” from the WA Government after illegally clearing vegetation from 120 hectares of land near Derby in 2019.

Traditional owners, the Nyikina Mangala people, prevented further destruction when they blockaded the property and prevented contractors from entering.

The land comprised a 24-kilometre-long section of road built to cater for huge earth-moving dump trucks and other equipment. 

The company is Zenith Australia Investment Holdings, a subsidiary of Shanghai billionaire Gui Guojie’s Shanghai CRED investment company.

In response to the 2019 blockade, the WA government placed a stop work notice on Zenith and ordered rehabilitation of the cleared lands. Zenith appealed the order, but lost the case.

However, the government failed to impose penalties available under the old Aboriginal Heritage Act (it has now been replaced by a new Act) and the Environmental Protection Act.

Its “letter of reprimand” is equivalent to slapping the Chinese giant on the wrist with a leaf of wet lettuce. The Nyikina Mangala have described it as an “act of disrespect” towards their people; the Kimberley Land Council CEO said it was “inadequate and unacceptable”; environmental and conservation groups have alleged that the McGowan government continues to be soft on land clearing by corporations.

Shanghai CRED moves in 

Shanghai CRED is major player in the cattle industry.

It owns seven properties in Western Australia including Yakka Munga and Mount Elizabeth stations in the Kimberley.

In 2016 it established a joint venture with Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, called Australian Outback Beef (AOB). Rinehart controlled 67 per cent of AOB and Shanghai CRED 33 per cent. AOB made a takeover bid for Kidman’s cattle empire, which went ahead after the then Treasurer, Scott Morrison, took Anna Creek station in SA out of the deal.

Its assets include 150,000 cattle on stations covering 80,000 square kilometres across three states and the Northern Territory.

In April 2016, Gui Goujie, in the company of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Shanghai, signed a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with Port Adelaide aimed at bringing AFL to China.

Chinese explore for oil on Yakka Munga

2016 was an active year for Shanghai Zenith. It purchased the pastoral lease for Yakka Munga from Buru Energy for $9.9 million. Buru had purchased the lease in 2015 for $7 million, but its main interest was not pastoral, but oil and gas exploration. It has continued those activities, announcing in 2019, “good to excellent” oil shows in cuttings samples while drilling its Adoxa-1 exploration well on the Yakka Munga prospect. 

Buru holds a 50% operating interest in the well, with the other half held by Roc Oil, a subsidiary of Chinese investment group Fosun.

Incorporated in Australia, ROC listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in 1999.

Following the takeover by Transcendent Resources Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Fosun International Limited) in 2014, ROC delisted from the ASX in late January 2015, and continues to operate as an upstream oil and gas company under Fosun International Limited.

The Fosun group is a large investment group, and has substantial operations and business interests in China and internationally.

In June 2019, Hainan Mining Co. Ltd acquired 51% of ROC from Fosun International Limited. Fosun has a controlling stake in Hainan Mining and continues to be ROC's ultimate parent company.

What Yakka Munga means to the Nyikina Mangala

Commenting on the land clearing by Shanghai Zenith at Yakka Munga, traditional owners said they lost significant sites during the bulldozing, including ancient trees and termite mounds that housed the bones of their ancestors.

Organiser of the 2019 blockade, Rosita Shaw, was close to tears as she explained the significance of the land.

"This foreign company just come to our land, on our back yard, don't even come and negotiate with us," Ms Shaw said.

"They are just being so ruthless and ripping our country up.

"Our old people walked this country.

"All this has meaning to us … it was passed down to us from our ancestors.

"We still practise that today … bring our young ones out on country."

Ms Shaw organised her family to protest and travelled from Fitzroy and Jarlmadangah community to camp overnight at Yakka Munga to be ready for the workers the next morning.

“This land is very important, it has a lot of meaning in the Dreamtime,” Ms Shaw said.

“We’ve got trees they’ve knocked down, shrubs we use for bush medicine, trees we use to collect and make artefacts, bush fruits, all in a pile of rubble. This is our supermarket; we’ve got to teach our children. What are we going to show them?”

The Nyikina Mangala people's native title rights over a 26,000 square kilometre area were recognised in 2014.

They have exclusive rights over 40 percent of the claim area, including three Aboriginal pastoral stations and co-existing rights over Yakka Munga.

An Indigenous Land Use Agreement setting out the rights of the pastoralists and the native title holders was signed by Shanghai Zenith in 2016.

The document states that nothing in the agreement "limits the rights of the pastoralist to conduct pastoral activities in the agreement area".

But it also says that the pastoralist must first enter into "good faith negotiations" to ensure that "heritage is protected".

Land clearance just the tip of the iceberg

A 2020 Freedom of Investigation by Environs Kimberley has revealed that Shanghai Zenith has massive plans for altering the Yakka Munga and greater Kimberley landscape.

The FOI documents revealed the Shanghai-based company had a vision to create an ‘’all-weather” station at Yakka Munga pastoral lease, with plans to excavate drainage channels across the entire 190,000 hectare pastoral lease to enhance grazing, which would change and threaten the Kimberley’s landscape and culture.

The FOI also revealed an initial proposal by Zenith in March to irrigate more than 10,000 hectares of land of Yakka Munga to grow castor beans, which would have likely involved drawing water out of tributaries of the Fitzroy River according to Departmental officers.

Environs Kimberley Director Martin Pritchard said the plan to transform the pastoral lease into a grid of drainage channels would be devastating for the Kimberley’s world-famous landscapes, nature and culture.

“If this proposal to clear and excavate channels across the whole of the 190,000-hectare pastoral lease, with suggestions this could be replicated across the whole Kimberley, had gone ahead it would’ve been disastrous,” he said.

“The damage caused by land clearing would be complete destruction of the vegetation including boab, bush tucker and medicine trees and the loss of habitat for threatened species like the bilby – it would have been devastating.

The FOI documents clearly showed why the Chinese company wanted a new road on Yakka Munga to take mining-industry sized dump trucks and earth-moving equipment.

It clearly shows why traditional owners and environmentalists are incensed at the WA government’s failure to prosecute Zenith for the illegal land clearing and simply issue a “letter of reprimand”.

As Kimberley Land Council CEO Tyronne Garstone said, “We continue to see government acting in favour of industry and not in the best interests of Aboriginal people."

The only way to fight capitalism’s destructive war on nature, and its denial of the people’s rights, is to organise in workplaces and communities, rely on the strength found in those places, and continue to take direct action such as the blockades and protests.


Book Review: Class in Australia


Written by: Duncan B. on 26 April 2022

The concept of CLASS, the existence of classes and the struggle of classes is central to Marxism-Leninism. It is essential for Marxist-Leninist parties to analyse the class structure in the society of their country. Mao Zedong carefully analysed the classes in Chinese society in his 1926 article Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society. This is an excellent example of class analysis.

It is also necessary to review the analysis of classes as the situation changes. Mao Zedong did this in his 1940 article On Policy. Mao analysed the various classes and strata in Chinese society to determine who could be allies and who would be enemies in the war against Japan. In Australia we need to consider the effects of the large-scale de-industrialisation that has taken place in recent years, and the effects of COVID on each class. 

A new book Class in Australia (Edited by Steven Threadgold & Jessica Gerrard, Monash University Publishing, $40) contains twelve essays and two interviews on the subject of class in Australia. Class in Australia “brings together a range of new and original research for a timely examination of class relations, labour exploitation, and the changing formations of work in contemporary Australian society.”

Topics covered by the various contributors include the evolution of classes in Australia from its origins as a convict settlement, the place of workers in precarious employment and the emergence of a middle class among Indigenous Australians.

Some bourgeois ideologists and politicians have tried to deny the existence of classes in Australia. John Howard’s “battlers” and Morrison’s “quiet Australians” are examples of this. This book strongly argues against the claims that classes do not exist in Australia.

Many of the essays in Class in Australia are not written from a Marxist perspective and are couched in academic and sociological terminology, but I consider that Class in Australia is definitely worth reading by anyone interested in the question of classes in Australia.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Auto workers build unity and mutual support through struggle


Written by: International Auto Workers Coordination on 26 April 2022

From time to time, we have posted messages of support and appeals for support from the International Auto Workers Coordination.  The destruction of car manufacturing industry in Australia and elsewhere has brough home to workers who remain in that industry a heightened political understanding and awareness.

For example, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, representatives of Ford workers in Spain, Venezuela, France and Germany issued a joint statement condemning “the imperialist attack of Russia on Ukraine. Stop the bombing immediately! Russian troops out of Ukraine! The NATO military alliance under the leadership of the USA with its gradual eastward enlargement has provoked this situation.” 

The statement rejected “all rearmament programmes of our governments. This does not serve peace, on the contrary. They do not get our support for their war policy.”

It called on Russia and the US/EU/NATO to keep their hands off Ukraine.

A call on auto workers, their families and fellow workers to come out on May Day ended with the slogans:

Workers of the world, unite!
Against the destruction of jobs and for the 30 hour week or 6-hour day with full wage compensation - worldwide!
For a full legal right to strike in all matters!
Against the rightward development and fascization of governments!
We fight for a world free of imperialist wars, hunger, poverty and environmental catastrophes!
Our vision is a world without exploitation and oppression, where people can live in peace!
Long live International Solidarity!

Several days ago, a call was issued for solidarity with workers at a General Motors plant in Mexico.  We are sure that former workers of the closed car plants in Australia, and workers in other industries in this country, will feel the solidarity called for in these statements.

Solidarity with the National Independent Union for Workers in the Automotive Industry (SINTTIA)!
We, automotive workers from around the world, express our solidarity with the valiant GM workers at Silao, Mexico who recently organized and fought to form the independent union, SINTTIA, and who are now negotiating their first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on behalf of 6,000+ truck builders.
We stand with SINTTIA under the leadership of General Secretary Alejandra Morales in its quest for a CBA which provides family-supporting wages and benefits, humane work hours, and good health and safe working conditions.
General Motors will attempt to force SINTTIA negotiators to accept an inferior agreement, or refuse to negotiate a contract at all, to make an example of the first breakthrough grassroots union formed by GM workers in Mexico. GM will rely on the former corrupt CTM officials and their allies who were voted out by the workers, to undermine their determination to win a just and equitable first contract.
We therefore urge autoworkers throughout the world to militantly and resolutely support SINTTIA in its quest for victory, which will lift the living and working standards for the GM Silao workers and all workers, especially in the former colonized countries.   
Long live international workers’ solidarity! Long live SINTTIA!


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Cash promises new attacks on construction workers.

 Written by: Nick G. on 20 April 2022

The Morrison Government’s Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash today stated that if the Morrison Coalition Government is returned at the May 21 election, it will double the maximum penalties for serious, deliberate and repeated breaches of the law covering workplace behaviour in the construction industry.

Before you start applauding, she was talking about the behaviour of construction unions, and the CFMEU in particular, and not the major construction monopolies whose behaviour is corrupt and criminal.

Builders have been murdering construction workers for years.  That is the only interpretation that can be placed on their deliberate evasion of safety requirements upheld by unions, that lead to deaths and maimings each year on building sites.

It has taken many decades of struggle by construction unions to have the principle of employer responsibility for the manslaughter of workers accepted, and even now, it is only done at the state and territory level, and is incomplete across those jurisdictions.

Labor and Liberal federal governments have never established a “tough cop on the beat” to hold employers responsible for deaths in the industry. Both have supported the anti-worker Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in its war on building unions.

The state and its various institutions are hard-wired to carry out the behests of the ruling class -  and in this historical moment, that class is not the working class.

And now we have Michaelia Cash promising to hit the working people in the construction industry twice as hard as before, and the record to date is one of millions and millions of dollars in fines on their unions, and harassment and persecution of their leaders.

Meanwhile other corrupt and criminal activity by building bosses goes unpunished by Cash and Co.

For decades, building bosses have overseen the spread of the cancer of sham sub-contracting throughout the industry where workers have not been employed as workers with entitlements to Award provisions such as long service leave, sick pay and holiday pay.  Instead, they have been required to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) identifying themselves as independent sub-contractors and employed as casual workers through labour hire companies.

Cash has done nothing to stop this insidious malpractice. Instead, it has been left to the CFMEU to pursue the matter through the courts, themselves a part of the capitalist state machine. Two Federal Court decisions went against the union, the court in effect determining that bosses who try to rip their employees off by mislabelling them as independent contractors were not engaged in deliberate underpayment.

Success finally came last February when the High Court found that a construction worker who was engaged through a labour hire company but required to work under an ABN for 25% less pay was, in reality, an employee of the labour hire company and not an independent contractor.

The "tough cop on the beat” was conspicuously absent from the proceedings.

Nor will the decision prevent the other criminally corrupt practice of building bosses who tender for work on major construction projects at 10 per cent or so below their expected real cost, and then screw their sub-contractors in various ways to not only make up the short fall, but come out of it with a healthy profit.

This practice was the subject of a review commissioned by the Turnbull government in December 2016 and ironically announced by Michaelia Cash who was, at the time, Employment Minister.

The review was headed by John Murray AM, a specialist in building-contract disputations and security of payments legislation. The Murray Review was handed down in May 2018 with 86 recommendations, including cascading statutory trusts, which ensure money payable to sub-contractors is reserved rather than distributed to other secured creditors in the event of an insolvency.

Murray also called for national harmonisation of legislation which, like the industrial manslaughter laws, is inconsistent across the jurisdictions. 

Four years down the track, the Morrison government has done nothing to implement Murray’s recommendations, effectively guaranteeing building bosses their right to impoverish and exploit subcontractors, who commonly do up to 85 per cent of the work on a construction project, but whose payment is funnelled through the builders who employ them, and who then decide when and with what contract “variations” the payments are passed on.

It is corruption and criminality, pure and simple, yet Cash and Co turn a convenient blind eye and fill the media with absurd claims of union “lawlessness”. 
In a class society, the question of law cannot be abstracted from its social context and remains a class question.

We are all for unions challenging the rule of capitalist class rule, and agree that bad laws must be broken.

We are all for building bosses being restrained by strong union and worker militancy and their protection by bad laws being stopped.

Our day will come, when workers rule society and develop a legal framework for the building of an independent and socialist Australia.

Out with the Coalition, and have no illusions about Labor!


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Sparks of struggle threaten capitalism’s dark shadow

(Above: Gomeroi man Raymond Weatherall outside the Federal Court on April 8.) 

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 20 April 2022

In Gomeroi language, ‘Gamil’ means ‘No’.

Across the country, in almost daily protests, people are saying no to increasingly rapacious capitalist attacks. Sydney is no exception.

In less than a week in early April, a national link-up by Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney brought voices and faces from across the Northern Territory into our homes; supporters of Gomeroi gathered against fracking in the Pilliga; striking health service workers demanded safer conditions and pay; and at Palm Sunday people marched for hope and for peace and against the incarceration of refugees that wars create.

The following day Sydney bus drivers rallied outside NSW Parliament against unsafe conditions. A woman driver said shifts on the recently privatised networks were now regularly five and a half hours without a toilet break. Repulsive NSW Transport Minister, David Elliott, said it had nothing to do with his government. Not a breath about its promise not to privatise buses, nor pledges that workers’ pay and conditions would not change nor any services be cut when they WERE privatised.

Young people are stepping up

First Peoples make up just three percent of our population, yet they carry the heaviest load of oppression. This writer will concentrate on just their two events that week.

On Wednesday, April 6, Lardil man Steve Kumanjayi Bunbadgee Hodder Watt who writes for IndigenousX told online viewers that the NT Intervention (or Northern Territory Emergency Response, the NTER) was “a licence for racism”.

First Peoples were “watching apologies happen… while they were still doing the same thing”, he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Liberal or Labor.”

Steve Hodder Watt referred to a recent anti- fracking article. He wrote “The closed hearing session was the first time ever that only Aboriginal parliamentarians have sat to hear out impassioned and inspiring community-driven leadership.” 

Greens senators, Yamatji-Noongar woman Dorinda Cox from WA and DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe from Victoria took part. Steve Hodder Watt expressed hope that the third parliamentarian attending, NT Labor senator and Garrwa-Yanyuwa woman Malarndirri McCarthy, might stand against fracking despite her party’s pro-fracking policy.

Steve Hodder Watt spoke from Mparntwe Alice Springs alongside Arrente Custodian Elaine Kngwarraye Peckham who said, “We’d like to see something that our children and grandchildren can be happy for.”

Living, breathing, walking and fighting the Intervention’s “never ending” despair for 15 years, Aunty Elaine and others from the Strong Grandmothers Group from the Central Desert Region give hope and cultural support to young people each night, through patrols on Mparntwe streets.

Gudanji Wakaya woman Rikki Dank thanked Aunty Elaine, “We want you to know the younger people are stepping up… Our Old People have done enough. They need to be able to rest.”

She spoke of the importance of learning in Language, an antidote to the Intervention’s “dark shadow”.

“We are tired of listening to governments”

Dr Greg Marks spoke of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which he said was “just as important as the Northern Territory Intervention”.

Without warning, three months after the NTER began, the Federal Government secretly dumped its responsibility for housing on remote communities.

It banned any Commonwealth support for hundreds of Aboriginal communities and town camps, covering over 5000 residents.

Dr Marks said over 40,000 people are directly affected by the MOU, as less housing on homelands puts pressure other communities in regional towns and cities. Young First Peoples flood into these centres where disfunction and destruction are rife.  They are cut off from lore, language and culture, and from the far better health and education outcomes that strong well-funded homelands provide.

Warlpiri man Bruno Jupurrurla Wilson from Yuendumu described “third world” conditions. He said that before the Intervention, “our school was bilingual for 50 years.”

He spoke of police on community “dressed up like they was going to Afghanistan. Before that we used to have a permit system,” he said.  First Peoples decided who could enter Country.

“We are tired of listening to governments,” he said.

Gomeroi say NO!

Just as the NT is covered with potential fracking sites, so too is the Pilliga 250 kilometres north west of Tamworth in NSW.

Gomeroi Native Title holder, Raymond Weatherall spoke outside the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday 8th April, as Santos challenged the unanimous decision of Gomeroi Native Title holders to block the Narrabri Pilliga Gas Project.

Each of the 850 planned wells would cost each NSW resident $5 in government subsidies, Raymond Weatherall said.

“We have an obligation not only to ourselves but to those who surround us,” he said.

He called the police “Santos’s private security company”.

“There will come a time when each and every one of you will be invited to come to Gomeroi Country,” he said. “For the future, keep your ears to the ground. Don’t walk behind me. Walk beside me.”

Speakers from the Maritime Union of Australia and the Electrical Trades Union supported the protest. The ETU spokesperson said Santos would be hard pressed to find electricians to work on the wells.

(Above: emerging leaders, including Gamilaraay Next Generation's Ian Brown.)

A message from Gamilaraay Next Generation spokesperson, Ian Brown, currently in the Pilliga, decried Santos attempts to extinguish native title.

Like all speakers, he stood against the threat to the Great Artesian Basin posed by fracking.

He said, “We cannot proceed down this destructive path.”

“Gomeroi have said ‘No!’”

Fanning flames and gathering wood

‘NO’ is a strong place to start. No to our common enemy, monopoly capitalism, that bullying US imperialism “our” top politicians and parliaments here bow down to.

Yes, to the lessons we learn in struggle, that support this bigger fight. Yes, to building our own united, organised strengths to combat pessimism and passivity.

The masses, not small groups, make history. At present, the forces of capitalism are far stronger and more organised. Drawing common threads together, our task is to target our main enemy, build organisation that goes beyond spontaneous outbreaks for reform.

Capitalism won’t fall unless people learn from their own experience that there is a way forward, that they can win.

Sparks can create a bushfire. There are frequent small fires.

It’s time to organise more deeply among the people, study our enemy’s weakness and build on our own strengths. It’s time to fan flames.

Gamil to destruction. Yes, to a future when corporations don’t rule our world.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Bold Resistance grows to Corporates’ Economic Crisis and War


Written by: John G. on 18 April 2022

Ongoing capitalist economic crises are being driven hard by superpower rivalries and war.

Already sharp contradictions between imperialist powers are deepening. International finance is awash with money-capital, debt and credit, desperately seeking places to invest to realise average profits while interest rates are effectively negative. 

The capitalist house of cards is poised for a new crash. One commentator has joked the only thing stopping the financial and commercial system collapsing is that the termites in its beams are holding hands. 

That is also driving imperialist powers to war in a self-reinforcing two-legged dynamic of struggles to snatch territories from each other where their capitalists can expand the regions of their investments, production, markets and accumulation of profits. 

Ongoing economic crisis 

In the wash-up of the 2008 credit implosion, the US Federal Reserve pumped money into US corporations through buying their government bonds. They spent over $8 trillion dollars. 

It left US capitalists sitting on great stashes of dollars, capital they couldn't find lucrative places for. It saw them roll huge sums into stockmarket and new real estate speculation.  With Trump’s tax cuts in 2017, their rush into stocks saw the Dow Jones Index of the New York Stock-exchange jump over 25,000. It’s now at 34,000. 

In 2015 investors received $1.00 for every $17 spent on shares on the New York Stock Exchange. By 2018 that had slumped to $1 for every $30 worth of shares. By March 2021, it had reached $1 for every $40 in shares. In April 2022 it has been racing down to $1 dividend for each $53 paid for shares. Dow Jones had share prices at more than 2 ½ times the book value of the companies NYSE shareholders owned. 

Capitalists have pumped up share prices as governments considered safe have pulled back from issuing bonds. That effectively means they have slowed down on borrowing trillions and issuing IOUs payable at a nominated time a few years down the track at a fixed rate of return. Safe government bonds are normally a safe refuge but even lousy basket case governments have been finding they could issue bonds and find swags of money prepared to take looney risks. 

In 2017 Argentina offered to sell nearly $18 billion of bonds to mature in 2117, a hundred years away. The offer was oversubscribed 2 days after opening. Argentina had defaulted on international debts in 2014. It was the 6th time it had defaulted in the last 100 years. By August 2018 Argentina sought an IMF bailout seeking $59 billion.  The international capitalist system is awash with credit, with production capacity way in excess of any capacity of markets to take the products. 

The system is choking on its own excess, the accumulation of money-capital, of productive capital, of credit and debt in quantities never seen before.
To resolve the problems involves what bankers gently call ‘rebalancing’. That quaint expression actually means destruction on a grand scale.

Destruction represented by scenes of empty decaying suburbs in the US, imploding residential towers in China, ‘rustbelts’ in many countries, closure of car factories in Australia, and much more in all corners of the globe are just an entree to the answer key international banks and institutions identify. Destruction of astounding amounts of value in the system is their recipe for recovery. 

Plant and equipment, goods, buildings, all forms of assets are to be destroyed to get rid of the excess of capacity in the system, an orgy of capitalist crisis so the system can set off again on its journey of production and sales, for accumulation of value exploited from working people. 

Superpower rivalry driven by economic troubles

But that is just one leg of the bi-pedal capitalist crunch. Superpower rivalry is driven by that crisis of capitalist ability to find lucrative places for investment, markets for excess products, new territories for profit and expanded accumulation of capital.   

That rivalry and war in Ukraine sees two camps emerging more clearly defined, a western imperialist bloc under US domination and a China-Russian bloc. 
The western imperialist bloc sees the US overwhelmingly dominant with the UK in close alliance while the Johnson and the Conservative Party is in government. UK Labor has a less cosy relationship with the US. It has tended to lean towards European powers. Germany and France. 

France has taken a more openly independent position from the US for many years including calls for recognition of Russian security concerns over relentless expansion of NATO, with US influence, eastwards towards Russia’s borders. 

Each side is driven to impose its burdens on people within its empire, particularly aimed at their non-homelands and the working class. We have already seen it with the closure of the car industry in response to the glut of vehicle manufacturing capacity across the globe in the middle of the last decade. US and Japanese car companies walked out, destroying the last of Australian vehicle manufacturing capacity, as part of a wide-ranging destruction of value encompassed in plant and equipment world-wide by massive corporations as investors fled their share registers and credit dried up.

The capitalist debt crisis rumbles on despite huge credits being thrown at banks and other corporates by governments over the past decade. When it will collapse is yet to be seen but a reckoning is on the way. 

Central Bankers hitting the Brakes on Credit, Interest rates rising.

The US Federal Reserve and Australia’s Reserve Bank have flagged imminent moves to stop creating credit. 

At its April 2022 meeting the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate unchanged at 0.1%, as it has for the last 2 ½ years. But it flagged it will be raising that rate soon. The money market has priced future bond prices at rates that say they expect the hike to be in May. 

It will be the first time it has raised the rate since 2010. 

The last meeting of the US Federal Reserve Bank Management Committee showed they are looking at starting to tighten credit in May by upping interest rates by hikes up of 0.5% at a time.  

Banks will raise interest rates on mortgages and business loans here and in the US. Its already affecting emerging economies. 

People’s debt costs will rise, house prices have started to drop, squeezing the ratio of the outstanding debt to the house being the security on the loan.  Inflation has hit the prices of daily necessities. The rich corporates are already shoving the cost of their crisis onto working people. Imperialist powers push the problems onto countries they hold under their economic, financial, political and strategic domination. Australia is right in US cross-hairs. 

With Hardships, People Rebel against them

The coming period will see rapid intensification of people’s hardships. Nothing will change with that even if the government changes at the Federal election. What will happen is that remnants of people’s belief that things can be changed with changes of government, will be getting dashed even more deeply than they have been. 

Workers’ industrial struggle is already more widespread than we have seen in years. That tendency can only grow as the financial aspect of the crisis hits home and finds reflection in slowdowns in production, tightening of government funding, and destruction of values across industries and commodities.  

People are cynical about governments, parliaments or the two major parties as refuges that can help them through crises. The trend towards non-party independents is one expression of the decline in belief that governments change anything much to people’s benefit. Cynicism has great strength.     

The situation has turned in favour of rebellion against corporate power. It calls for bold actions to support and develop people’s struggle to make the rich corporates pay for their economic and political crises.  People are taking action. That is the first and key thing right now. Getting experience in action against people’s hardships is the first thing. The working class has moved to take action across a wide front. Workers are creating organisation and politics against the crises. 

At this stage the action is directed against the symptoms. Help to identify the disease of capitalist power and the system of wages exploitation is key among those on the move. It’s needed to avoid the dead-end of compromise and concessions keeping capitalist power oppressing working and other working people. 

Support and spread the wave of industrial action and organisation of working people.

Alert and organise among workers for workers’ power to target corporate power and the wages system of exploitation.

Be bold. Rely on the workers and other working people to stand up for their struggle to make the rich corporates pay, against hardships being imposed on the people and their leaders in struggle.      


NSW public sector workers stand up


Written by: John G. on 18 April 2022

Lots of NSW workers have been up in arms about their wages, about short staffing They have realised just how important they are to keeping the community going and keeping people safe. 

They have good reason to be mad as hell and they’re backing themselves, taking action in campaigns to get real wage rises, demanding more staff, and better community services. 

Against government resistance they are standing up for themselves as human beings, clear how their lives and work have value. They’re essential workers. They can’t be fobbed off with being thanked for their service, a common thread that has lots of traction.

‘More than Thanks’ is the catch cry of a campaign the NSW Teachers Federation has been running. It’s fired-up teachers at public schools across the state. Nurses have their own slogan “Thanks is not enough”. Health Services Union hospital workers and paramedics went on strike on April 7 behind the banner ‘Stand Up, Fight Back, 2.5% doesn’t cut it.’  

Bus drivers in government-funded services across western Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, struck a week ago for pay increases and safety. They followed hot on the heels of hospital workers, the bulk of the hospital workers who aren’t nurses or doctors. Those workers along with ambulance paramedics meetings state-wide was the first time they’ve been out in years. 

Nurses had a second state-wide strike on 31 March over the hospital staffing crisis when 5,000 rallied outside parliament house. Aged care nurses (left) had their go. Public-school teachers went on strike in defiance of an Industrial Commission order on 7 December last for the first time in years over pay and staffing. Ongoing meetings and local protests have seen the campaign persist with more action likely in the near future. 

The Public Service Association held meetings across the state on April 12 to get behind their campaign cry ‘The Public Sector needs a pay rise’. 

The government has officially frozen pay increases for the last decade at 2.5% max, really often well below that. With official (understated) inflation running away at 3.5% plus, our cost of living increases are way above that limit. No increases can respond to the changes to work practices and productivity. There is the growing issue of security of employment with casualisation. Increased workloads and staffing shortages are common across the board. Covid has increased the dangers and the workload and staffing issues. 

Truckies have been on strike over pay, security of employment and workloads too. Rail workers pursuing a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement have found a lot of friends, allies, comrades in the battle, a whole lot of new strength together.

Inflation is making paying for our necessities so much harder after years of pay limits. My favoured litre of yoghurt for breakfast went up from $5 a litre last year to $6 a litre now. The fancy sourdough bread I like with eggs and tomatoes has gone from $5 a loaf to $6 now. Unleaded petrol went from $1.80 towards $2.20 a litre then settled back to around $2.05 last month, before the government felt an election coming on and took half the excise off it. But they were cynical enough to cut it only until the election is over. 

House prices and rents have been going through the roof. If you have bought a house, the Reserve Bank has flagged, they are going to lift interest rates soon. Mortgage repayments will be going up.   

Inflation is up, wages are locked down by the state government to less than inflation. Talk about lockdowns, the government pay lockdown was locked tight for years before the pandemic.

Food, fuel and housing prices up. Wages locked down and losing value as prices go up. The credit squeeze is being lumped onto us as far as governments and big corporates are concerned.

Wages, the price you sell your working time for, needs to be able to buy your necessities of life, and a bit of extra would be nice. You need it, and the boss really needs it, to be what you need to live and front up to work next week, on and on. Among wage slaves, some live a bit better, some live a bit worse. None of us get the real cream. 

Clive Palmer, the slug running for parliament and advertising endlessly in scabby yellow, told the National Press Club last week his income last year was $650 million or so. We don’t get that. 

The average salary and wage of employees in Australia in 2022 according to Jobst is $67,860 a year. Palmer’s income as one of the smaller corporate types, was equal to more than 9,500 average wage and salary earners in total. It was the same as 12,500 hospital cleaners on standard hours were paid before tax. 

Even at his size, he can’t be eating that much. And Clive’s just a sardine among the sharks of multinational corporate business. 

Jeff Bazos, owner of Amazon, says he is paid US$81,840 per annum but Forbes Magazine had his worth increasing by $24 billion in 2020. Every 5 minutes of 2020, Jeff Bazos’s wealth increased by more than 4 Hospital cleaners were paid for the whole year.

Despite being small fry in that pond, Clive Palmer is still a capitalist on a bit of the cream, while the bulk of us are locked into the wages system on a relative pittance. Inequality between capital and labour has been soaring as house prices rise, corporate profits soar and wages are locked down by government directives. 

Whatever governments, or new governments, do the reality of inflation has been, and is going to be, belting people’s standard of living while their wages stagnate, which in real terms means they are going down. Whatever happens in elections, nothing much different seems to happen for us. Its only action that starts things moving.

The world economy and the Australian corner of it have government and business debt-to-GDP ratios at levels greater than World War 2. There are enormous accumulations of money-capital and credit sloshing around capitalist economies hunting for somewhere to get an average profit. Governments are a bit stymied in going much further to provide boltholes for the capital sloshing around. It all adds up to trouble more than brewing. All this was in place prior to the Covid and Ukraine crises. The crises have intensified the problems.

Initial surges of revolt have been breaking out – in Sri Lanka, in Peru, in Sudan for starters. Withdrawal of government subsidies on grains, fuels, cooking oils and the like have fomented anti-government revolts. 

The US and other major powers are trying to take advantage of the difficulties of governments who have been flirting with US rivals, China and Russia, to create trouble, as can be seen in Pakistan. 

We saw an example of it nearer home last year when the US Ambassador to the Solomons Islands gave a regional leader the green light to foment racist anti-Chinese riots using racism, Christian fundamentalism and local tensions over exploitative rents by the capital’s traditional owners on other islanders working in the capital. It was aimed at Solomon Islander leaders’ association with Chinese business and government. A kerfuffle over closer security ties with China continues to percolate away amidst both powers meddling, the US through its Australian minions.    

The war in Ukraine is totally enmeshed in the US-Russia rivalry over eastern Europe, and the struggle to find new territories for investment, new masses of workers to exploit and to make profits from their labours, new markets to flog goods and invest capital which all the powers have in overabundance. 

Inflation and debt, government and business debt as well as household debts, housing costs running away from people. They were the recipe for the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements in Europe and North America in the Global Crisis of 2008-2011. Much more can be said about that. 

We have elements of resistance breaking out here. For the last couple of years health, hospital, education, transport and aged care workers have been told they are essential. They have realised just how important they are, how valuable they are and how powerful they can be. They want a whole lot more than thanks. 

It’s great working people are mad as hell across a wide swathe of NSW workplaces. Their colleagues in other states are in action too at levels not seen for a long time. The contradictions between workers and capital are rising as the conflicts between the great powers flare. 

Workers demand people before profits. They’re in action to make the rich pay.  

They’re not taking it lying down anymore. 


Saturday, April 16, 2022

US Forces “Get the Nod” – Whoever Wins Federal Election


Written by: Ned K. on 17 April 2022

This weekend’s "The Saturday Paper" has an interesting article by journalist Brian Toohey.

The article is about the United States- Australian satellite intelligence base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs. 

Toohey notes in the article the "growing importance of Pine Gap to the US." He refers to the "extraordinary growth" of the base. Initially it was a ground station for a single satellite to gather what's called signals intelligence while orbiting 36,000 kms above the Earth.

Now, according to Brian Toohey, there are at least four much more powerful satellites connected to the base.
"Their antennae automatically intercept everything transmitted within their frequency range. This includes a huge army of electronic signals for intelligence analysis, including text messages, emails, phone calls and much more. In addition, ground-based antennas at Pine Gap and other Australian sites intercept a vast volume of information transmitted via commercial satellites".

No wonder Whitlam got the boot in 1975. Just the mere mention about more control of the base by an Australian Government, far short of closure, was enough for US forces to do a job on Whitlam.

Now in 2022, according to the election campaigns of the main parliamentary parties, it is all the way with Biden as the danger Pine Gap presents to peace loving Australians is now far greater than in 1975. 

"Big brother is watching you" before and after the election - via Pine Gap and satellites all for the good of the US empire as it faces off with the rising imperial China from the East.