Monday, May 30, 2022

How US imperialism is shaping Australia’s regional approaches


 Written by: (Contributed) on 31 May 2022

Within hours of the Australian Labor Party winning recent federal elections the Biden presidential administration presented Australia with a major diplomatic challenge, potentially escalating regional diplomatic tensions with China. The endorsement of the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) regional bloc the same weekend has also presented Canberra with an alternative trade organisation to accommodate. The US has already clearly set the agendas for what they expect a compliant Australian government to follow. References to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) diplomatic meeting hosted by Japan, two days later, has also presented the incoming ALP federal government with a massive US-created agenda spanning issues usually associated with defence and security provision and economic considerations for 'US interests'

Before the celebrations of the ALP federal election victory had even died away, the US issued the incoming administration of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with an ultimatum; their support was required for US-led regional planning. The attendance of Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong was required for the 'Quad' summit hosted by Japan, billed as the new 'US-led Asia-Pacific economic bloc aimed at countering Chinese regional dominance'. (1)

The high-level diplomatic meeting, which included the US, India, Japan and 'key regional partners in the 13-member economic alliance', took place, seemingly, in a cordial manner. (2) Behind the scenes, however, it was accompanied by the IPEF endorsement, consolidating 'the Biden administration's most ambitious attempt to build economic ties with Asian nations'. (3) The move, an attempt to reassert traditional US hegemonic positions following the legacy of the Trump administration and their foreign policy blunders, was noted by a White House spokesperson for a policy which 'collectively represented about forty per cent of global GDP'. (4) The Australian component in the new move would appear to be a $470 million foreign aid partnership and a new special envoy for the region 'in addition to a $525 million plan to boost ties with Pacific countries', together with other responsibilities. (5)

It was, therefore, not surprising to find the Quad meeting had a distinct focus upon the South Pacific nations. (6)

The moves, however, have to be seen in the context of other considerations, which have far-reaching implications for the Biden administration and their regional allies. While Biden has waxed lyrical about resetting strong diplomatic links with the ASEAN regional trade body, many of the organisation’s members are apprehensive; they, 'have made it clear they do not want to take sides in the escalating power fight between Beijing and Washington'. (7)

The ASEAN leadership, likewise, has taken steps for over a decade to directly distance the organisation from controversy toward successive US presidential administrations. In 2011, for example, the initial plan for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), was conceived at the ASEAN Summit. Negotiations began the following year at the later ASEAN Summit, which included Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China; India was not included. Following years of preparation, the RCEP was finally established in January, 2022, following the signing of official documentation by fifteen member countries in the Asia-Pacific region; it has been noted it is the largest trade bloc in history. (8)

It was soon noted by representatives of the Biden administration that they regarded the RCEP as 'Chinese dominated'. (9) The sense of urgency by the Biden administration toward countering the RCEP during the past five months formed a conspicuous part of their Cold War regional diplomacy. Those countries associated with the RCEP, furthermore, have taken a position of diplomatic silence, presumably as they have no wish to be seen to take a hostile line toward the US.

Throughout the high-level diplomatic talks in late May the Biden administration placed great emphasis upon Taiwan, which they have assessed as under threat from China. In recent years the US has escalated arms sales to the small island regarded by China as merely a renegade province. It has also been noted the US diplomatic position toward Taiwan has included 'letting US officials meet openly with counterparts and pressing the island's inclusion in international organisations'. (10) The fact the US relies upon Taiwan for an estimated 92 per cent of its most advanced semi-conductors was, nevertheless, played down; 'US interests', remain an important consideration.

The moves also took place in conjunction with calls from the UK to expand NATO provision 'to become more active in confronting Chinese expansionism in the Asia-Pacific'. (11) A number of strategically-placed countries across the wider region remain members of the British Commonwealth. The right-wing Johnson government in the UK has already provided an outline of a new 'global NATO … to expand its reach to boost Indo-Pacific security', although to what extent these sabre-rattling moves have been specifically designed to deflect attention away from Johnson's sex-life and after-hours drinking patterns, has yet to be established. (12) He is a man with considerable baggage, of which he has no intention of discussing or even acknowledging openly.

While the so-called western alliance relies upon frantic 'fiddling' and crying 'wolf', China's economy continues to grow; it presents a formidable challenge to US-led hegemony. Serious commentary about the under-lying economic factors surrounding these US-led defence and security initiatives, for example, have already noted 'all western nations increasingly resemble the chronic debt and deficit economies of Western Europe. Long term, those economies are sclerotic and stagnant, and so are their societies'. (13) It has also been noted global debt, as a percentage of GDP, has already risen from 269 per cent to 348 per cent since the global financial crisis over a decade ago. (14) Throughout the recent US-led high-level diplomatic talks there was no reference to Australia even considering an independent foreign policy as a precaution against being drawn into problems not of their own making; perhaps, however, the matter should now be placed firmly on future agendas, before real-war scenarios actually take place in the Indo-Pacific region.

1.     Albanese signs up to new US-Asia alliance, Australian, 24 May 2022.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Biden deepens US-Asia links, Australian, 24 May 2022.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Albanese signs, op.cit., Australian, 24 May 2022.
6.     See: Albanese's day one: change the climate, Australian, 25 May 2022.
7.     Biden pledges funds to reset ASEAN ties, The Weekend Australian, 14-15 May 2022.
8.     See: Wikipedia – The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
9.     Biden hits China with Asia-Pacific bloc tackle, Australian, 24 May 2022.
10.   Biden sticks to policy on Taiwan, Australian, 25 May 2022.
11.   Strategic partnerships crucial, Editorial, the Weekend Australian, 21-22 May 2022, which has included a high-level diplomatic statement from UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss.
12.   UK push for 'a new global NATO', Australian, 29 April 2022.
13.   Strategic partnerships crucial, op.cit., Weekend Australian, 21-22 May 2022.
14.   Challenges for Albanese, Australian, 25 May 2022.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Reflections On The Federal Election


 Written by: Ned K. on 25 May 2022

The federal election on Saturday 21 May resulted in the Morrison Government being replaced by the Labor Party with Albanese as Prime Minister.

The Labor Party became the government under the parliamentary system which swears allegiance to the British monarchy and its representative in Australia the Governor General.

The Labor Party recorded its lowest primary vote of about 32% as voters showed their lack of hope in the two major parties of capitalism, Liberal Party and Labor Party. 

Several "safe" Liberal Party Seats in capital cities fell to either wealthy individual candidates called "Independents" or the Greens.

The main reason for the wealthy Independents and the Greens (in Brisbane) kicking out Liberal and Labor "safe" Seat candidates was people's concern about climate change and global warming. 

In other electorates such as Boothby in SA, the Labor Party with Greens preferences kicked out the Liberal Party for the first time in decades with the Labor candidate campaigning on local community issues such as aged care crisis, funding for schools and better transport and road traffic systems.

The Liberal Party in these "safe" Seats thought that they were "born to rule" and that would get them over the line, despite them knowing that Morrison as a Prime Minister was disliked intensely by people within the bourgeoisie itself. 

Even the Murdoch press saw the writing on the wall predicting a 3% plus swing against the Morrison Government.

However, the Murdoch press knows that fundamentally capitalism and in particular US imperialist interests in Australia will be in safe hands under an Albanese Government.

So, on the Tuesday after the election, the Murdoch press The Australian has headlines - "Albanese signs up to new US-Asia Alliance". 

The new Albanese Labor Government will continue the Morrison Government's subservience to US imperialism in the latter's struggle for world supremacy against rival imperialist power China. This is a big problem for the Australian people who do not want to be involved in a war between the two largest imperialist powers.

It appears that Labor with the support of the Greens will have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Therefore it will probably have no choice but to carry out working class pre-election demands such as abolishing the ABCC, funding a wage increase for aged care workers and improving staff to resident ratios.

However, beyond that, other pre-election demands by workers through their unions such as industry wide collective bargaining, right to strike, recognition of union Delegates to name a few, will get swallowed up by a proposed Accord like summit between big business, government and unions with the goal being to "increase productivity" through reducing the "Better Off Overall Test" in collective agreement approvals. The "Work Choices Lite" Fair Work Act will remain pretty much as it is now.

It is a good thing that the reactionary Morrison Government has been kicked out by the people. 

Many people will have high hopes that the dents made in the two-Party parliamentary system will shake up parliament and make it a vehicle for real change.

The practice of parliament over the next three years will provide people with more experience of the limitations of parliamentary road to changing capitalist society and bring more people to the understanding that it is the system itself that has to be done away with completely. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Russian Maoists: “Feminism is not toxic!”


(Above: Protesting the decriminalisation of domestic violence, Moscow, February 2017)

 Written by: Russian Maoist Party on 21 May 2022

The CPA (M-L) has sent a message of solidarity to the Russian Maoist Party and support for its efforts to fight the deplorable misogyny of the Putin regime. Our message, below, is followed by a statement from the Russian Maoist Party under the heading “Feminism is not toxic!”

Solidarity with the Russian Maoist Party

The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) warmly supports the Russian Maoist Party’s call for the first all-Russia day of action against the misogynist repression of the Putin regime on May 22.

That repression includes the restrictions on abortions and the appalling decriminalization of domestic violence.

The repression of women also extends to the measures taken against the LGBT community.

We pay tribute to the release of the immense potential of working class women in socialist Russia (1920s - 1950s) and their achievements in all fields of life.  Socialist Russia (and the Socialist Soviet Union) laid the foundations and conditions for the liberation of women and inspired all oppressed peoples to struggle for their liberation.

We highly evaluate the attempts by the Russian Maoist Party to unify the feminist organisations and to lead the Russian women’s movement in the direction of a socialist future.

Nick G.
Chairperson
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) 
………………………….
Feminism is not toxic!

RMP Russia calls for a day of action on May 22, 2022 under the slogan "Feminism is not toxic"

AGAINST ANTI-WOMEN CENSORSHIP AND REPRESSION IN RUSSIA!

After the fall of bureaucratic capitalism in 1991, the mass women's movement in Russia began to grow gradually. This was facilitated by the vanishing power of Soviet revisionism and a strong cultural exchange with Western countries. 

However, the most important basis for the development of Russian feminism was the government's neo-liberal reforms, which severely affected the position of women in society. The number of women's workplaces decreased because of the collapse of whole sectors of the economy. Women's incomes were hit by the general decline in living conditions. The number of women involved in prostitution increased and there was an active export of women abroad. During the 1990s, the criminal environment did not improve due to the high level of banditry and the high level of alcohol consumption. All this led to a consistently high level of violence against women. However, the Yeltsin government did not pursue an active anti-feminist policy.

A new era in the development of the mass women's movement began with the New Imperialist rise of Russia and Putin's accession to power. As in any new-imperialist country, Russia witnessed both the growth of liberation movements and the reactive growth of regime fascism and reactionary transformations in society. 

Since the late 2000s the Russian government, increasingly clerical and anti-democratic, began to consistently advocate restricting abortion in the country ("week of silence" - a time for contemplation for a woman if she really wants an abortion, consultations with a psychologist and priest, sudden week-long abortion bans in certain regions of the country, discussions regarding the need to adopt German practices of articles 218-219 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Germany). 

In 2013, a homophobic and lesbophobic law against "propaganda of homosexuality" was adopted, followed by a crackdown on the LGBT community. In 2017, domestic violence was legalised in Russia. In parallel, the rhetoric of imposing childbirth (as part of a fertility incentive programme along with financial rewards for having many children) and anti-feminism on the part of the ruling United Russia party as well as Putin's proxy opposition in the CPRF, LDPR and Just Russia has intensified. At the same time, the Russian women's movement was actively developing. 

Whereas in the early 2010s Russian feminism borrowed heavily from Western trends in the women's movement and relied on the support of Western foundations for its activities, in the second half of the 2010s Russian feminism shifted massively to radical feminist stances, which had a more solid mass base. 

The early 2019-2020s saw the first major street demonstrations by feminists as the Russian State Duma considered a law against domestic violence (which was not eventually adopted). The Russian women's movement is growing rapidly on social media as well. Unfortunately, however, the movement is still decentralized. All attempts to create a nationwide feminist organization/feminist party have so far failed. Feminists are scattered across the cities. In some cities there are 2-3 feminist organisations that are at odds with each other.

Finally, on 29 January 2022, at a meeting of the Russian Human Rights Council, Putin instructed his deputy chief of staff, Sergei Kiriyenko, to consider creating a register of "toxic content" by 1 June. By "toxic content," Putin's order includes demagogically equated radical feminism, LGBT, and Child Free on the one hand, and violence, zoophilia, and anti-vaccination on the other. Furthermore, it is important to note that officials understand radical feminism as any kind of feminism, as they are ignorant of the trends. To them, anything that requires some kind of change in the position of women in Russia is radical. This last initiative, if successful, will have a serious impact on the rights of women and LGBT people in Russia, which is what the monopolistic bourgeoisie is counting on, promoting it through its reactionary politicians.

Russian feminism remains fractured at the moment. The women's movement in Russia has also been hit hard by the wave of mass emigration of democratic activists from the country following the outbreak of the war of aggression against Ukraine. The LGBT movement has been severely stifled by repression in recent years. The imperialist war with Ukraine is a convenient excuse to force fascism and reactionary reforms. Putin's regime is fast moving towards a fascist dictatorship, total censorship and mass repression.

The Russian Maoist Party is actively preparing a protest against the anti-woman initiative of the Russian bourgeoisie. We have scheduled the first all-Russia protest for 22 May. We are trying to unite the feminist movement of the country, we are setting up a resistance committee, we are strengthening the initiative on the local levels. We're trying to involve in the struggle all the democratic, women's and youth forces that will be affected by the repressive, censorship initiative of the Russian authorities.

We are calling on our ICOR comrades from other countries to show international solidarity and to hold actions of solidarity with our struggle for women's freedom in Russia, the struggle for democracy and true socialism on 22 May 2022.

 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Martin O'Malley: Australian Communist Party condolence message


Written by: Australian Communist Party on 20 May 2022

 The CPA (M-L) has received a message of condolences on the death of our comrade, Martin O’Malley, from the Australian Communist Party. We thank them for their generous and sincere evaluation of Martin’s qualities as a working class leader.

Dear comrades, 

My apologies for not writing earlier on behalf of the Central Committee of the ACP regarding the recent passing of comrade Martin O’Malley. Please accept the condolences of our Party for this major loss to the movement and pass it on the members of the CPA-ML. 

I have nothing but fond memories of the decades-long contribution of comrade Martin. His leadership of workers in building and construction is still well-known and sadly missed. I noticed from my first encounter with Martin at public events in support of many struggles that he was a forceful advocate for workers’ rights and various other causes in solidarity with the oppressed in general. 

But he had that important additional element in what he would communicate to workers. He would explain in very simple and earthy terms what the immediate challenge was. He would then identify the relationship between the current issue and the class interests at stake, pointing out the overall strategy of the ruling class to further oppress working people. He would advise workers to recognise their own independent agenda and pursue their own strategy to secure their rightful place in society, that is as its ruling class ushering in an era of progress and justice. 



Comrade Martin was a committed Marxist-Leninist with a gift for uniting people from a variety of backgrounds and outlooks behind just struggles. He was a motivator of people. I recall on the May Day Collective that, if we felt the crowd needed extra attention to get it revved up and receptive, we would put comrade Martin early on the speakers’ list. He never disappointed. 

We might wonder where the next batch of leaders like comrade Martin will come from but I know that his example and the lessons he imparted will reap rewards as capitalism and imperialism draw new combatants into the massive struggles ahead of us. Again, please pass on our condolences to your members at the passing of comrade Martin. 

In socialism, 

Bob Briton 
General Secretary, Australian Communist Party

 

Oppose the Taliban’s war on women!

 


Written by: Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan on 19 May 2022

The following statement on the Taliban’s misogynistic repression of Afghan women was recently released by the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan. It followed the Taliban’s reactionary decree on enforcing the wearing of the hijab.  Down with patriarchy everywhere! 
 

Organize, Resist, and Fightback against the Taliban's war on Women.

The Taliban has stepped up its efforts to establish a gender apartheid regime, re-enacting the unnerving misogynist policies that earned them infamy in the 1990s. The vile Taliban Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which is callously yet meaningfully and deliberately housed in the compound of the now-defunct Ministry of Women's Affairs, has ordered all women in the country to hide their faces in public and even avoid going out of their houses altogether, as "the best option to observe sharia hijab."

On May 7, the notorious ministry, in a male-only event, announced a decree aimed at the total erasure of women from public life. The order states that "women, who are not very young or very old must cover their faces." The decree identifies the burqa, which covers women's head-to-toe and only allows the eyes to see through a small grille, "as the best form of hijab."

The Taliban announced, "obeying the decree obligatory" and, in a sinister scheme, obliges women's male "guardians" or employers to enforce the order, denying women's humanity and agency. The decree warns that women who do not obey the order will have their houses identified, and their male "guardians" first warned and later punished and imprisoned. Moreover, women working in public service and government institutions who don't comply will be fired. The decree announces to suspend government male employees if their female relatives fail to comply.

This new draconian misogynist decree is the latest in a series of attacks on women's rights since the Taliban returned to power in August last year. They ordered women to stay home in their second week in power because their fighters weren't trained to respect them. Later, in September, they banned education for girls beyond grade six. In December, they banned women from traveling without a male chaperone. Now, the new decree requiring all women to cover their faces will compound’s oppression and rob them of their personal and social identities and deny them the basic right to choose their clothes. These misogynist policies are further intensifying Afghanistan's social and economic crisis. When 98 percent of the country's population is starving, the Taliban put the country's female population under house arrest and deny them the very right to earn a living.

The very essence of the Taliban's ideology and politics put them in enmity with the masses in the country. Their regime lacks any modicum of legitimacy. In the Taliban's reactionary ideology, which claims to be ruling on behalf of God, there is no value given to the masses' consent. Their only method of governance is to use coercion and brute force.

The Taliban's Islamic Emirate is a textbook example of a weak and illegitimate political regime with a thin social base. It is no wonder the question that their rule will not last long is the topic of discussion everywhere. No doubt the Taliban's plague will fade away and collapse. However, the real question is, will the country's people be able to determine their own political destiny? Because if they fail to form their own popular, revolutionary leadership and take charge of their social and political future, the collapse of the Taliban regime could bring about new social and political disasters. For more than forty years, the people of the country are suffering by the barbarism that imperialists, social-imperialists, and reactionary Islamists are brewing for them. This barbarism will stay and could intensify if it is not met with the organized response of the masses of people. The people of Afghanistan will continue to suffer in the wretched hell of imperialism, reactionary Islamism, and ethnonationalism, or they will organize and become the masters of their destiny and move towards a progressive new democratic and socialist future.

As we have witnessed repeatedly, there is no end to the Taliban's irrational animosity towards women. Yet, women of Afghanistan have bravely stood up and continue to oppose the Taliban's anti-human policies with tenacity and determination in the face of severe repression and violence, which is a source of courage and hope for a better future. Therefore, communist, and revolutionary forces must organize against the Taliban's war against women. Communist and revolutionary forces must enhance their organizing, agitation, and propaganda among women masses towards shattering the Taliban's gender apartheid regime.

Our struggle in Afghanistan is part of the global struggle of the toiling masses for a better future. Therefore, we are calling on all democratic, progressive, workers, and communist forces worldwide to stand in solidarity with the people’s, especially women's struggle in Afghanistan, and support the fight against the normalization of the Taliban regime.

Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan condemns the Taliban's insane misogyny and war against women. We are determined to struggle and organize until the Taliban regime is buried in the people's anger and overthrown patriarchy, semi-feudalism, bureaucratic capitalism, and imperialism, making the people the master of their destiny.

Down with the patriarchy!
Down with Taliban's misogynist theocracy!
Long live the new democratic and socialist revolution!
Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!

Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan
10 May 2022

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Federal election and the khaki component


Written by: (Contributed) on 17 May 2022

Any doubts about the Morrison coalition government's attempt to make the 2022 federal election one steeped in US-led militarism, can easily be dispelled by their last-minute announcements about their acquisition of over forty naval helicopters from the US together with other related diplomatic hostilities toward the Solomon islands.

The manner in which the announcement about the helicopters was finally made in Canberra has raised serious questions about the nature of the political and diplomatic standpoint taken by the outgoing Morrison coalition government. 

Meanwhile, Labor is complaining that it was shut out of preliminary AUKUS discussions and hoping that their loyalty to the US – verified by the US desire to have them involved at the start – will defuse any wedging  in a “khaki contest”.

A short single column in the Australian, days before the federal election, announced that the Department of Defence would be purchasing 29 Boeing-built AH-64E Apache helicopters and a further thirteen Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo helicopters, to replace existing Airbus ARH Tiger helicopters. (1)

The helicopters are designed for use in military operations from naval vessels at sea. An official Department of Defence comment, however, noted 'the new helicopters will be used to fly cargo and personnel between ships at sea in the embarked logistical support helicopter role and fitted out to carry up to five passengers'. (2) No information was provided about the specific role of the five 'passengers' and whether they would be deployed for operating sensitive military equipment.

The detailed costing of the acquisitions amount to more than A$2.5 bn and they will be based at HMAS Albatross, in NSW. (3) The main naval-air base also hosts an Electronic Warfare Support Section, indicating the sophisticated radar and signals systems in the 'armed reconnaissance helicopters', would be used primarily for intelligence-gathering. (4)

They are scheduled for delivery in 2025, following concern in the department about the reliability of the Airbus systems which have been plagued with problems. It was also officially noted the 'Tiger suffered from communications systems compatibility issues', indicating difficulties had arisen linking its operations with US-led defence and security provision. (5) The Pentagon, with its main focus upon the Indo-Pacific region, has enhanced Australia's position for future regional operations in recent times; their emphasis is now based on the notion of 'real-war scenarios' with Australia having a decisive position. Compatibility of military and signals communications, particularly those in the areas of intelligence and operations have, therefore, become an issue of paramount importance.

During his election campaign, PM Scott Morrison, has continually played the military option to boost the coalition's political position. It would appear, however, to have not worked according to plan; the coalition have fallen heavily in opinion polls with present cabinet ministers likely to lose their seats. The whole coalition organisation has been plagued with serious in-fighting, which has increasingly spilled over into the public arena.

Morrison, nevertheless, announced during the election campaign that, 'our world and our region are changing but we're investing a record $270 bn in the defence and security of Australia over the decade to 2030'. (6) Elsewhere, carefully worded media releases emphasised 'the government's plan for a safe and secure Australia in the face of regional and global uncertainty'. (7) It would appear to have fallen rather flat with the electorate.

Another Morrison ploy during the election campaign has been to create widespread innuendo and speculation following the Solomon Islands switching their diplomatic alliance from Taiwan to China, which has included numerous added speculative references that Beijing might attempt to establish military facilities in the South Pacific country. (8) Not one scrap of evidence, however, has been provided to substantial the claims. A daily deluge of diplomatic hostility toward Solomon's Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, nevertheless, has included continual references to his ruling administration in Honiara as not being on-side with the Australian vision of 'our Pacific family' and accompanied by little other than political muck-raking. (9)

Anyone expecting a more independent position to emerge under Labor, if it wins the election, should have no doubt about its loyalty to US imperialism. For months, Albanese and Wong have been repeating the mantra that the US “alliance” was a Labor creation, developed by Labor PM Curtin during World War 2. They are right, of course, and their “bipartisan support” for AUKUS and the switch to US nuclear submarines, and their boasting about having established the US marine base outside Darwin, are testimony to their subservience to imperialism.

The final moves by the Morrison coalition clique leave little doubt they are staging a khaki election campaign, designed to whip up sub-rational hysterical fears amid a fug of nationalist sentiment about 'Australian values'. The decision to purchase the Apache and Romeo naval helicopters was apparently included in the March federal budget, but noted it was 'kept secret … under the heading decision taken but not yet announced'. (10) The timing of the announcement was left until the election campaign was well under-way.

It was, furthermore, later officially reported the Morrison government had approached the US in October 2021, with the specific intention of requesting availability and pricing data. (11) The move was kept secret to avoid unnecessary controversy:

                                       We need an independent foreign policy!

 

1.     Choppers to have $8 bn price tag, Australian, 9 May 2022; and, Australia details Romeo, Apache helicopter acquisitions, Janes, 9 March 2022.
2.     Navy backs Romeo advantage, Indo Pacific supplement, Australian, 10 May 2022.
3.     Janes, op.cit., 9 March 2022.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Australian, op.cit, 9 May 2022.
6.     Ibid.
7.     Ibid.
8.     See: Election 22, 'Rogue PM holding Solomons back', Australian, 10 May 2022; and,Long history to Beijing's move to capture Sogavare, Editorial, Australian, 10 May 2022.
9.     History of neglect fuels our Pacific family feud, The Weekend Australian, 7-8 May 2022.
10.   Australian, op.cit., 9 May 2022.

11.   Indo Pacific supplement, op.cit., Australian, 10 May 2022. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Locals stand up to developers at Toondah Harbour


 Written by: Ross Gwyther on 16 May 2022

The Cleveland – Redland Bay area of Brisbane is on the shores of Moreton Bay – a traditionally working class and small farming region, it has been gradually “gentrified” over the past few decades as the market farms were sold to developers building large housing estates.

One the northern side of this region is a canal estate, Raby Bay, that was constructed -by filling in wetland and mangrove swamps-  by one of the notorious “white shoe brigade” developers during the Bjelke Petersen era.   Now one of the few remaining wetland areas of the Bay is on the Cleveland foreshore.  It consists of wide stretches of mudflats, and is bordered by mangroves.  Critical as a rest and feeding area to migratory birds such as the Eastern Curlew during their long flights from the Arctic circle to southern Australia, its importance has been recognised by previous Federal Governments as a designated RAMSAR site (the international convention on protection of wetlands).

During the short-lived term of the Campbell Newman Qld Government, this area was designated “priority development area”, so that development could be fast-tracked and any checks and balances ignored.  A large development company, Walker Corporation, has designed a major development on these wetlands, with 3600 luxury apartments.  They pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the LNP party at that time.

Local concern and opposition has been growing over the 10 years since this was first mooted, and a campaign has been developing in strength.

Last Sunday over 4000 people, mostly locals, joined together in a rally and march to demonstrate their total opposition to this attempt to steal even more of Australia’s fragile ecosystem for short term profits to large corporations.   The crowd gave a particularly big welcome to ABC Gardening Australia presenter Jerry Colby-Williams, who spoke passionately about the importance to all of us in preserving our environment, and rejecting the manipulations of large corporation.

The march was headed up by local Indigenous people, and a huge model of an Eastern curlew. 



 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Martin O’Malley – Comrade and Friend


 Written by: Michael Williss on 12 May 2022

Martin O’Malley, former State secretary of the CFMEU and President of SA Unions, died on April 29, 2022.  Speakers at his funeral, held today in Adelaide, included his daughter Lisa’s fiancĂ© Ben; former CFMEU organiser, now working for the United Workers Union, Darren Roberts; Kuku Yalangi man John Hartley; and friend and comrade from Chrysler Rank and File days, as well as the BLF and CFMEU, Allen Harris.

The following eulogy was read on behalf of the CPA (M-L) by Michael Williss.

 

Martin O’Malley, Comrade and Friend

I’d like to something about the politics of this man whose life we are celebrating today. 

They are politics which Martin lived by, and which guided him in his union work and in his personal life.

I am speaking on behalf of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) about our member, a leading state and national comrade.

Some of you will have known, and others will have suspected or guessed, that Martin was a Communist.

That he became a Communist probably surprised no-one more than Martin himself.  Educated at a Catholic school at a time when that Church was obsessively anti-Communist, Martin was definitely influenced by those views.

However, he was also conscious of the division of society into classes, and that he was of the working class. 

As a worker at Chryslers, his class consciousness led him to a group of like-minded workers who hated the pressures they were under to produce cars, and resented the failure of their sell-out union, the Vehicle Builders Union, to support them.

One day, it was suggested to him that he ought to have a word with a leading militant, Will Heidt, about setting up a rank and file group to fight the bosses.

“Nah,” he said, “I’m not talking to him- they say he’s a Communist”.

Well, talk they did, and friends they became, and both of them outstanding leaders of the Chrysler Rank and File, the influence of which soon challenged that of the VBU. As the intensity of the struggle grew, so did Martin’s eventual embrace of the politics he had initially distanced himself from. He saw that militancy by itself was not enough, and that workers needed a party to the left of the ALP, a party unequivocally for the working class, not one that would be compromised by the object of trying to reform capitalism through parliamentary means. He joined our Party.

On October 17, 1975 police were called to Chrysler after 2000 angry workers demanded the reinstatement of Will Heidt, who had been sacked. Workers closed in around Will and prevented the police from taking him off the grounds. Later that day, as Will and Martin entered a local pub, they were both set on by police and arrested.  Martin regarded that as probably as valuable a lesson in the nature of the state under capitalism as anything he later read by Marx or Lenin.

In July 1977, Chrysler, aided and abetted by the VBU and using a name list of workers supplied by them, sacked 700 workers and effectively smashed the Rank and File organisation.

However, stamping out the flames of struggle at Chrysler ony served to spread the sparks to other areas.

In Martin’s case, he went into construction and eventually became an organiser with the Builders Labourers’ Federation which was led at that time by another great comrade, Ron Owens. Like Ron, who spent time in jail for his union work, Martin was unafraid of where militancy might lead, and epitomized the BLF slogan, “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win”.  

Martin thought deeply about social issues. Workers are often resistant to reading (and writing): schools that have failed to develop them as readers leave them feeling inadequate and ashamed; one of the legacies of schooling is that reading never seemed relevant - it was tedious and a waste of time.  Martin knew that workers’ leaders need to develop theoretical understanding of the way capitalism works and of the way socialism can be achieved. So, he read. A lot. One day I said he was in danger of becoming an intellectual.  Martin paused, then said, quietly and seriously,  “There’s no worker who can’t become an intellectual. You’ve just got to be disciplined in your approach to thinking about things. And you’ve got to read. I think I became intellectual when I first understood Marx’s theory of surplus value. You can never go back to just fighting for a ‘fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’ once you understand the nature of exploitation.” 

Martin was a warm, compassionate and welcoming person, who never put airs on himself or stooped to lecturing people about his beliefs. If you were disrupting working class organisation and unity, he’d let you know about it straight away. Apart from that, he genuinely welcomed talking with and learning from others, regardless of whether they belonged to some other organisation or not. 

The proof of that pudding was the relationship he developed with Benny Carslake when it became apparent that the BLF would have to amalgamate with its arch-rival in the building industry, the BWIU. The CFMEU owes its origins in this state to that relationship and to them placing the desire for unity above the recriminations of the past. 

Martin himself sometimes wrote for our Party, often under a pseudonym, because we try not to identify too many of our people to surveillance by the authorities. 

Martin wrote about his great passion for First Peoples and the justice of their demands. Martin and John Hartley, a Kuku Yalanji man, were both arrested and jailed when the union supported the Ngarrindjeri women at the Hindmarsh Bridge dispute. Later they both organised for SA union leaders to visit the APY lands, and the CFMEU assisted in the construction of a community building at the NT community of Ampilawatja. In an article he wrote for us on May 7, 2020 about the colonial invasion of Country, Martin said:

Laws were drawn up, the country carved up, the First Peoples sliced up, their languages, traditions and cultures ripped up and their basic way of life, stuffed up, all based on the original lie, Terra Nullius. The lies continued developing, expanding from generation to generation. All-encompassing, all powerful, promoted at every opportunity, undermining the basic values encompassing the First Peoples culture, traditions and life.

He called on us to “show respect to the First Peoples, accept without equivocation their original ownership of this land,” and said we should “celebrate the world’s oldest continuous culture of tens of thousands of years instead of celebrating their subjugation”.

Martin had worked in an industry where workers can be, and are being, killed and maimed in the relentless search for profits. He had worked with BLF organiser and SA Unions representative Jack Watkins on asbestosis, and saw in silicosis yet another insidious workplace disease that was killing workers. On March 4, 2019, he posed the question:

Why are workers still dying? 

Governments and their agencies, combined with employers’ responsible for workers safety, have once again failed to protect workers from the oldest industrial disease known to humans. In the most technologically advanced era ever, why are workers still placed in this danger? The drive for greater profit, unfettered competition, survival at all and any cost, greed, lack of appropriate government oversight, reduction of “red tape”, corruption, deliberately dumbing down of workers’ safety knowledge, interwoven with unfettered technological advances owned and controlled by the few, all equate to the one cause, Capitalism.

Martin’s adult life was spent in the fight against capitalism, and its exploitation of, and harm done to, the people.  

He didn’t do it blindly, but thoughtfully, guided in his practical activities by the theoretical teachings of Marxism-Leninism.

The young worker who wanted nothing to do with Communism, embraced it and became the courageous, generous, open-hearted, laughing and engaging person that we all knew and loved. 

To his family, and particularly Sandra, the love of his life, and to Lisa, his carer, protector and guardian angel, we offer our sincerest condolences. 

To his friends and comrades – let’s keep his light shining and his inspiration enriching us.

Vale - Stephen Darley


 Written by: Michael Williss on 11 May 2022

(The following eulogy was read at the funeral of Stephen Darley by Michael Williss)

It is a great privilege for me to talk today to the family and close friends of our comrade, Stephen Darley.

I make these remarks formally on behalf of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) of which Stephen was a member.

Stephen worked tirelessly for the great cause of anti-imperialist independence and socialism. His Northern Irish background made his anti-imperialism doubly significant, and his family who were deeply involved in the Northern Irish struggle, reinforced each other’s political and ideological awakening. His working class background made his fight against exploitation and oppression second nature.

Stephen was well-known to environmental and anti-war activists in South Australia and nationally. During the giant “No War” protest movement of 2003, when hundreds of thousands came out onto the streets to condemn US plans to invade Iraq, Stephen made an immense contribution as a speaker and main organiser.

For many years, he presented “A Peace of the Action”, a radio program with strong anti-imperialist content on 5UV (later Radio Adelaide). He was also a co-presenter of “The Environment Show” on Adelaide’s Three D Radio.

Stephen had been a university lecturer and tutor in environmental studies for 20 years at the three Adelaide universities until 2010.

His current political involvement was in the national coordinating committee of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), and the National Anti-AUKUS Coalition. He was a founding member in SA of Spirit of Eureka, a democratic and anti-imperialist mass movement. He had also been involved in the Living Incomes for Everyone (LIFE) coalition of union and welfare grassroots groups, and the Anti-Poverty Network.  

Stephen was a main organiser, and often main speaker, in Adelaide of rallies on topics such as opposition to AUKUS, opposition to the nuclear submarine program, support for Venezuela against US imperialism and other causes.  

The numerous tributes to Stephen that have been posted on his sister Eileen’s Facebook page, are testimony to his influence and the respect in which he was held.

Stephen embraced Marxism-Leninism out of a belief that capitalism could never be reformed and that exploitation and oppression could only be ended when the working class held state power and brought to an end the system of private ownership of the means of production.

The day before he died, he was discussing anti-AUKUS and IPAN related matters with comrades interstate who said that he seemed in good spirits and was doing terrific work.

But there were demons that accompanied Stephen in his life.

Stephen was afflicted with the disease of depression, an involuntary illness that affects the mental health of too many Australians. He shared the onset of depressive episodes with his comrades, often saying that he would not be able to attend meetings or deal with things for a couple of weeks. When the illness passed, he would pick up where he left off and throw himself back into the struggle.

We thought, as comrades, that we were supportive of Stephen’s situation, but his loss of life, at his own hands, is a tragic reminder that this illness is still too poorly understood. 

There was a song of my childhood that went:

Catch a falling star
And put it in your pocket,
Never let it fade away.

I have Stephen in my pocket. He’s in my breast pocket, above my heart. 

I will not, we will not, let him fade away.

Our comrade has passed. We will miss him enormously. We will always honour his memory and hold him in the highest respect. To his family and friends – love and strength.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Up in the air over copter sales


 Written by: Nick G. on 7 May 2022

Authorities in China’s Taiwan Province have announced that they will not proceed with the purchase of 12 new MH-60R anti-submarine helicopters.

The helicopters are made by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky.

Asked in parliament about Taiwan's purchase of the new U.S. weapons, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said, "The price is too high, beyond the scope of our country's ability." 

The Taiwanese have often complained of being played as suckers by the US, which has used the island province’s captive market as one capable of being exploited by US arms manufacturers.

Last October, Australia announced it would purchase 12 MH-60Rs for US$985m. 

One would expect that the Taiwanese would face an equivalent cost. 

However, the US government-funded Radio Free Asia has estimated the cost to be at least US$1.425bn. 

The actual cost has been hidden in a confidential section of Taiwan’s budget, and Chui’s very blunt comment may indicate an underlying tension between the Taiwanese authorities and those trying to whip up a war scenario for the benefit of US imperialism. 

The Australian Navy currently operates 24 MH-60Rs.

Why do we need 36?

Will they ever be used?

Or are puppets like Peter Dutton happier than the Taiwanese to keep subsidising US war profiteers so they can keep beating their drums of war?