Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Governor-General and the hurly-burly of political corruption

Written by: Nick G. on 27 August 2022 

When the disclosures of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s secret gathering of multiple ministries unto himself were revealed, some people were quick to rush to the defence of Governor-General David Hurley, saying that he was an innocent party, that he was simply under an obligation to act on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The revelations about Morrison, and the tumult associated with them, are because the democratic and constitutional fig leaf covering the naked dictatorship of the bourgeoisie has been brought into question, and nothing is more important to the bourgeoisie than its capacity to keep those it exploits and oppresses comfortable in their delusions about the freedoms and rights that they enjoy through democracy and the Constitution.

Thus, Albanese frames the issues in these terms: “We have a Westminster system of parliamentary democracy that relies upon conventions, it relies upon accountability and checks and balances in the system. Those checks and balances have been thrown out by the former government.”

However, he said he would not criticise Hurley, and legal experts say a constitutional crisis could have been triggered had Hurley refused Morrison’s request.

So, why the reticence to call Hurley to account?

Former SA Senator Rex Patrick was quite certain that he should be held accountable.

“The Governor-General was in effect complicit to a conspiracy to defraud the parliament, of which he is the ultimate, of which he is sovereign,” he said.
A few independent journalists and commentators have questioned aspects of Hurley’s track record in ways that the mainstream media have avoided.

For example, both Michael West Media and the Kangaroo Court of Australia (KCA) website have questioned Hurley’s role in an $18m federal government grant to a charity, the Governor-General’s Australian Future Leader’s Foundation. They alleged that Hurley lobbied Morrison to provide the grant to the charity which has no office, website or staff, apart from three directors, and has been inactive in the first 16 months of its existence. The grant was supplied despite no tender process having been used.

The KCA website describes the grant as a fraud: “It is nothing more than a fraud scam that has illegally stolen money from the government.”

Generous grants that have gone through no competitive tender process are nothing new for the Morrison government.

Remember the Paladin scandal?

Back in 2019, a tiny spurious security company, Paladin, which was registered to a beach shack on Kangaroo Island, was awarded a $423m contract through a “limited tenure” process in which it was the only company invited to tender, to provide housing for refugee detainees and security on Manus Island concentration camp. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was clearly embarrassed by the scandal and said he had “no sight” of the tender process.

And remember the Great Barrier Reef Foundation scandal?

As Treasurer, Morrison approved a $444m grant to the Foundation.  There was no competitive tender process.  The Foundation had not even applied for the grant! As we revealed at the time, the Foundation was a front for finance capitalists and fossil fuel corporations who wanted to minimise climate change activism by pushing the “science” of reef resilience. It remains the largest ever federal government grant to an NGO.

Leaving aside the crony capitalism of untendered grants to bodgy recipients, the Governor-General has his own corrupt practices that occurred whilst he was Chief of the Defence Forces.

Remember the sex Skype scandal when an 18-year old female cadet was filmed, without her knowledge, having sex? It was also live streamed via Skype onto a computer into a nearby room where there were 6 other cadets watching. They also took pictures and showed them to other cadets. The cadet was told by Defence, wrongly, that what happened would be illegal in any of the Australian states but it was not illegal under ACT law so virtually nothing would happen.

This was done on Hurley’s watch.

Remember whistleblower and army officer David McBride’s attempts to have allegations of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan dealt with by the Army? These war crimes, later substantiated by the Brereton Report, occurred while Hurley was Chief of the Defence Forces. McBride went to the media with his allegations after his attempts to lodge complaints with the Defence Forces were denied. As a result, he still faces life imprisonment for violating national security.

He has called on the Federal Police to visit Defence Headquarters and ask for all major documents Hurley signed in his tenure, to see whether any of them seem to be attempts to hide the truth or cover for dubious political requests.

“Hurley didn’t start signing dubious but, highly important, documents just while he was Gov Gen,” tweeted McBride on August 22. “He was given the GG job because he was well known to be a ‘signer’. He signed off on many a dubious order: ‘not’ to investigate BRS (Ben Roberts-Smith – eds) allegations, but also to investigate scapegoats.”

“The same evidence that is used now to prosecute me, will support of prosecution of Hurley: in fact that is precisely my defence: Hurley was covering up war crimes (and many other things) -and the org. was complicit.”

It is no longer tenable to Hurley as an innocent in the “multiple ministries” affair.

Plausible allegations suggest that he has been corrupt on a number of levels. Even such a minor indiscretion as appearing with his wife in an ad for a Canberra building company that completed renovations on their private home suggest his lack of judgement and openness to “favour for mates” deals that compromise his office.

Australian workers have a justifiable cynicism directed at politicians, but they are still encouraged to believe that system itself is fair and equitable, and that it will look after them in the long run. 

We beg to differ. Even the most open and incorruptible bourgeois democracy enforces the rights of the owners of the major means of production and the financial corporations that grease the wheels of exploitation. 

The right to vote and stand for election is promoted as the ultimate expression of democracy, but beyond that, the people have no say in how society operates.

Only by fighting for and winning anti-imperialist independence and socialism will the superficialities of our system be swept aside and real democracy emerge as workers make themselves the ruling class over society.


Friday, August 26, 2022

Cyber security and rights at work


Written by: (Contributed) on 26 August 2022

 In August, the Albanese government announced a national overhaul of cyber security provision. In a society where cyber attacks have been estimated to cost the economy more than $33 billion a year, with an attack taking place every eight minutes, it was a welcome announcement. (1)

Australia, in recent years, has experienced an epidemic of identity thefts and other related cyber problems. It has been estimated that more than one Australian in every six have had their identities stolen. What has not been so well publicised, however, is the emerging problem of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) provision in wider society and the implications for Australian people.

In July the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner began a probe into FRT systems following disclosures that the Good Guys, Kmart and Bunnings were using the technology randomly with their customers. (2) The Commission noted the retail outlets were recording bio-metric data of customers, without their consent. FRT technology enables the analysis of personal images and facial appearances, known as face-prints. Later, it was announced that a number of gambling and alcohol premises in South Australia were also using FRT technology on customers. (3) Fears had arisen that proprietors could potentially use the confidential information for other purposes without consent. Serious ethical issues, therefore, arise about uses and abuses of personal information data.

A study of the latest FRT technology has revealed it is readily available and easy to obtain with a minimal financial outlay. More sophisticated systems, still readily affordable, can also be used and controlled through cyber space on mobile telephones and drones; foreign governments, criminals and employers are able to act with relative impunity. (4)

Elsewhere, other investigations of TikTok social media by the British and Australian governments and the University of Melbourne, have already noted face-prints together with voice-prints, can be used as 'dangerous permissions' enabling third parties to 'hijack a phone's camera and microphone, collecting photos and voice recordings of users at any time … allowing the company to share this bio-metric data with third parties … these face-prints and voice-prints are comparable to finger-prints as they can help others identify, surveil and profile people of interest'. (5)

Workplace Surveillance

It is also important to note that in most Australian States, laws concerning the use of spy-cameras are notoriously lax, with serious implications for traditional civil liberties. A worker, for example, filmed operating a mobile phone and drinking a cup of coffee in a rest area of a workplace or office might be having a timed 'smoko' or meal-break, and not being work-shy. Manufacturing workers  have specifically timed breaks of 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes and 24 minutes at different times of their standard 7.6 hour and/or 12.0 hour shifts and overtime entitlements as specified in the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award, September 2020, and their own Enterprise Bargaining Agreements which also allow for further washing-time and walking-time. Those in control of surveillance systems placed over tea-areas tend have no localised knowledge of which worker was taking which break-time, leading to allegations to management of excessive time taken away from work-stations.

In South Australia the official government information centre, MyGov, has also been found to be notoriously 'leaky' on numerous occasions, particularly in the area of health records. Highly confidential personal information has regularly entered the public domain. There is also highly limited and virtually non-existent accountability for those whose civil liberties have been infringed. The reliability of personal data on MyGov has also been shown to be a major problem; ordinary citizens rarely, if ever, gain access to the massive computer banks to check their personal information. 

 Another area of controversy has also arisen with the widespread use of private security companies in Australia and their use of personnel for intelligence-gathering in everyday society. Recruitment to such organisations is conducted through a one week-long training course and a registration for work in open society. While private security companies are subject to government scrutiny, they also operate in 'grey areas' with questionable legal considerations which are often overlooked.

The reliability of those providing the personal information to computer banks, likewise, has also been shown to be questionable on occasions; with serious implications for employers using the personal information systems for selection and recruitment purposes for workforces. Recent studies conducted by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Data-com, have found Australian organisations have fallen behind on 'best practice in cyber security … with almost half of those surveyed in the report yet to implement leading verification practices'. (6) 

A number of leading law firms dealing in industrial relations offer employers website advice on the extent to which they can legally place employees under surveillance. The surveillance includes accessing employees’ emails, inbound and outbound phone call and internet usage, as well as monitoring by CCTV cameras (now including FRT) and GPS location tracking.

Only NSW and the ACT have laws governing workplace surveillance. Victoria, SA, the NT and WA have no specific workplace surveillance legislation; instead, there is general legislation covering surveillance. Tasmania and Queensland have no legislation on surveillance at all. 

SO, for many workers around Australia, there are no laws or regulations restricting an employer or others using FRT technology on their workforces or social gatherings. Used in conjunction with MyGov and other state and federal data-banks, furthermore, very real fears arise about confidentiality of personal information for millions of people.

1.     Labor wipes slate on cyber, Australian, 19 August 2022.
2.     Kmart, Bunnings in privacy probe, Australian, 13 July 2022.
3.     Call to halt gambler facial recognition, Australian, 19 August 2022.
4.     See: Websites – Facial Recognition Technology Systems.
5.     It's time to stop TikTok harvesting our children's data, Australian, 12 August 2022.
6.     Business fails cyber security, Australian, 11 August 2022.

Australia’s food manufacturing industry in foreign hands

 Written by: Duncan B. on 24 August 2022

Vanguard has often reported on the extent of foreign ownership of Australian farm land and our grazing, cropping and horticulture industries. Another cause for concern is the degree of foreign ownership of our food and drink manufacturing industries, the next step in the food chain from grower to consumer.

Many well-known Australian food manufacturing companies have finished up in foreign hands. Arnott’s, Fosters, Goodman Fielder, Uncle Toby’s and Golden Circle are just some of them. There are many more.

Apart from Bega and some small dairy companies which are still Australian-owned, most of our dairy processing industry is owned by companies based in France (Lactalis), New Zealand (Fonterra) and Canada (Saputo).

Lactalis is the world’s largest dairy company, with a dairy sales turnover of US$ 26.7 billion in 2021. It owns Australian brands such as Paul’s milk and recently purchased Jalna Yoghurt.

Fonterra is the world’s sixth-largest dairy company with a turnover of US$14.8 billion. Western Star Butter is one of Fonterra’s famous Australian brands.
Saputo comes in at number ten with a turnover of US$10 billion in 2021. Devondale is one of Saputo’s Australian brands.

Brazilian-owned JBS is Australia’s largest meat processor. JBS brands include Primo small goods. They supply meat to McDonald’s and to Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

Frozen vegetable production in Australia is mainly owned by the US company JR Simplot. Bird’s Eye, John West, Edgell, Leggo’s and Chiko are among the Australian brands controlled by Simplot.

It now appears that Tassal, the last of Australia’s largest salmon producer is to fall into foreign hands. Canadian aquaculture giant Cooke has finally succeeded in its fourth attempt to take over Tassal. As we reported previously, environmentalists are very concerned about this take-over due to Cooke’s poor environmental record.

One notable exception to the trend is Treasury Wines, the makers of Penfolds and many other well-known brands. With a market value of $10 billion, Treasury is a major player in the world’s wine industry. Experts suggest that even Treasury is not immune to takeover by a larger company.

Australian consumers are being hit with rising food prices. Australian farmers are seeing little or no increase in the prices they receive for their products while the prices they pay for fertiliser, power, fuel and other inputs are sky-rocketing. The big two supermarkets (Coles recent $1 billion profit for example!) and the mainly foreign-owned food manufacturing companies are the ones benefitting from the high cost of food in Australia.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

SA First Peoples win against miner

 Written by: Nick G. on 26 August 2022

A decision by SA Chief Justice Chris Kourakis has vindicated a campaign waged by united groups of First Peoples to oppose exploratory drilling on Lake Torrens.

We gave unqualified support to the First People’s campaign, and background to the issue, last year.

Approval was first given by the State Labor government of Jay Weatherill and extended by Liberal Premier Steven Marshall, who was also Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, despite objections from his own department.

Up to 1000 holes were proposed and the permission gave the company, a subsidiary of a uranium miner, permission to "damage, disturb or interfere" with any sacred Aboriginal site, objects or remains. 

The campaign brought together members of the Adnyamathanha, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Arabana, Barngarla, Kokatha and Kuyani First Peoples who share songlines across the vast salt lakes of South Australia. 

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation launched judicial review proceedings in the Supreme Court in an attempt to halt the drilling, arguing the conditions imposed by Marshall were not valid and “failed to take relevant considerations into account”.

Kourakis’s ruling is doubly sweet for the Barngala whose “relevant considerations” were excluded when they were denied a vote in a community poll relating to the federal government’s proposed low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste dump on Country near the Eyre Peninsula town of Kimba.

An appeal on that matter is currently before the Federal Court.



SA Public Hospital Workers Take Action Over Increases To Cost Of Living

Written by: Ned K. on 19 August 2022

Early on Friday 19 August, blue collar hospital workers led by the United Workers Union from SA public hospitals in Adelaide and metropolitan area descended in bus loads on the SA Health Minister's office building in Hindmarsh Square. 

Hundreds of workers assembled at the main entrance to the building with placards and plenty of voice, demanding that the recently elected ALP SA Government reverse their decision to re-introduce user pays car parking for weekly paid hospital workers.

Background To The Demonstration:

When Covid-19 hit over two years ago, the then Liberal SA Government and its health department bureaucrats announced that car parking for hospital workers would be free during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to an inadequate public transport system and shift work, most public hospital workers drive to and from work. They have to use the car parks at the hospitals as most of the surrounding streets have time limits on them for parking and metres that charge more than the hospital car parks!

So, prior to the free parking due to Covid-19, hospital workers would pay an average of $1300 a year on car parking.

The Liberal Government decision to introduce free car parking was in recognition of what a vital role ALL hospital workers, including cleaners, food services, orderlies, security, play in the efficient and safe operation of the public hospitals. It was also an attempt to minimize absenteeism and lift morale of what even a Liberal Government could not avoid calling "essential workers"!

In March 2022 the Malinauskas-led ALP Government came to power with most blue collar hospital workers voting for them. These workers accepted a modest pay increase in a new Enterprise Agreement, realizing that the whole public health system was struggling. They accepted a new Agreement with modest wage increases even though inflation was rising at a rapid rate.

Then, a couple of months later, the Premier Malinauskas and his Health Minister Chris Picton announce that the free car parking will end! 

This made hospital workers extremely angry. They rightly felt let down by a new government who they thought was "for the workers". In early August the United Workers Union supported by other health sector Unions planned a strike and demonstration outside the Health Minister's office.

The SA Government was surprised by the number of workers who turned up and their determination which was shown by workers standing right in front of the building entrance and ignoring repeated calls from the Police Security to move away.

The demonstration received widespread media attention. As the demonstration started the SA Government Deputy Premier was on the radio saying that the Government would not be moved. The Government thought it had made a concession by agreeing to address the parking issue at least for nurses during their on-going enterprise bargaining negotiations.

However, the lower paid hospital workers saw this as more evidence that the Government was out of touch with lower paid hospital workers regarding cost of living rises. Also, these workers' next enterprise bargaining negotiations were not until 2025! 
The demonstration ended with workers even more determined to continue their fight over this car parking issue which at the end of the day was a cost of living issue and about a lack of respect for their work in the hospital system.

The Right To Strike

The workers at the demonstration were directly employed SA Government workers. This meant their strike action was not the so-called "unprotected action" under the federal Fair Work Act. Public hospital workers employed by contractors in SA did not walk off the job because they would have been leaving themselves open to fines under the federal Fair Work Act.

One of the demands on the federal Labor Government from the ACTU and affiliated unions is that "all workers must have the right to strike" at any time without any need for a secret ballot. This is a demand that should be supported and worth fighting for.

It is the ruling class's and federal government's worst nightmare to have workers in the private sector walking off the job without notice, not just during a bargaining period of an enterprise agreement, but at any time.

A big test for federal Labor will be "whose side are they on" when it comes to changing actual industrial laws currently enshrined in the Fair Work Act and other laws that prevent one group of workers from supporting others by not crossing a picket line.

Interesting times ahead!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Western Australia: Strategically Important Within Inter-Imperialist Rivalries


Written by: (Contributed) on 15 August 2022

Moves by the UK to re-establish a diplomatic post in Perth have coincided with calls by the West Australian government to increase defence and security provision with Canberra. WA, facing the Indian Ocean, has long been assessed as strategically important and having special naval and security considerations. 

he moves have also coincided with increased British pressure in the Indo-Pacific region which has far-reaching implications for Australia: issues re-emerging from the previous Cold War, the forthcoming defence review, an important inter-government meeting in mid-August, and domestic spying and surveillance can also be included on the set agendas.  

An announcement that the UK were re-opening their diplomatic mission in Perth with a Consul-General has followed similar moves in the Indo-Pacific region as the British Commonwealth seeks to extend its influence. The gargantuan bureaucracy has long been associated with MI6 and British political connivance and chicanery. The moves, nevertheless, were couched in formal diplomatic protocol by Amanda Milling, the visiting UK Minister for Asia and the Middle East, along lines of increasing trade and investment in the region and to 'strengthen our diplomatic footprint'. (1) She included reference to 'our shared focus on economic security … as well as our support for the large number of Brits in WA'. (2) No doubt the new UK consular facilities in Perth will be making use of their 'intelligence assets' in any manner in which they see fit.

The British Comonwealth has a long history in the wider region and across the world: composed of 56 member countries, many of which are regarded as highly strategic, the centralised organisation has long been associated with lavish displays of patronage and benevolence together with assimilation of disparate figures to add to their immense power and influence behind the scenes of seemingly open political and diplomatic dialogue. The roots of their vast intelligence networks have been shown to be very long indeed. (3)

In the past three years the UK have doubled their number of High Commissions in the Pacific region to six, basing their influence now in Fiji, PNG, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu. (4) The fact Australia is regarded as a Mother Country to Pacific Islanders, has thrust greater responsibilities upon Canberra and provincial capital cities.

Underpinning the announcement, British High Commissioner to Australia, Vicky Treadell, stated the new post in Perth 'recognises the importance of WA to the UK'. (5) WA, facing the Indian Ocean, is a prominent part of Australia's military and security provision with a large coast-line and hosting a significant part of the national economy. In fact, moves by the Whitlam government in the mid-1970s to openly support the Indian Ocean as a 'zone of peace', ran counter to joint US/UK regional defence and security provision centred upon Diego Garcia and Pine Gap and may well have proved the decisive reason why the dismissal took place in November, 1975. (6) Immediately after the dismissal an official CIA briefing in the National Intelligence Bulletin noted the incoming Fraser government had 'underscored the importance of Australia's ties with traditional allies … and … Fraser's first initiative … was … to strengthen the US connection back to the US/UK base project for Diego Garcia Island … the Whitlam government had strongly opposed the project and had supported an Indian Ocean 'zone of peace', appealing to the world navies to stay out of the area. (7)

Later, toward the end of the previous Cold War a statement issued by Australian Brigadier Ted Serong, likewise, concerned fears about the defence of WA and the need to involve other countries with similar Indian Ocean borders, including South Africa, then in the beginning of dismantling its repressive racialistic Apartheid system. He recognised an ALP government 'would not align with South Africa, but a Liberal one could', leaving little to the imagination about political expedience and Australia's own sordid past with its Whites Only Immigration policies. (8)

With the new Cold War, many of the previous issues are now re-emerging.  

During mid-August, for example, an inter-governmental meeting has been scheduled for WA Defence Industries Minister Paul Papalia, and his federal counterpart, Defence Minister Richard Marles, in Canberra. (9) The stated agenda is a relic of the previous Cold War. Fears have apparently arisen over 'some of the nation's most vulnerable industries … being … chronically under-defended'. (10) When Papalia stated 'if the purpose of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is defending Australia, then WA needs far more capability and activity', it struck an important factor under-lying Australia's subservient relationship with the US. (11)

It was noted the Pilbara region of WA 'is home to massive iron ore mines and liquefied natural gas plants', which have been left largely undefended. (12) It was noted, furthermore, that WA generates forty per cent of Australia's national revenue.

From the earliest days of the previous Cold War to the present day, Australia has been in a subservient military relationship with the US: the so-called 'alliance' was also primarily designed for 'US interests', not those of Australia. As a result of slavish adherence to the 'alliance', Australia has been drawn into many US-led military adventures on the Korean Peninsula, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others, together with Canberra being expected to host US military personnel and their facilities, including Pine Gap.

 The forthcoming defence review, planned by the Albanese government in Canberra and conducted by former ADF chief Angus Houston and former ALP defence minister Stephen Smith, will also be addressing some of the outstanding problems in the context of a changing regional balance of forces and the present Cold War.

While the mid-August inter-governmental meeting will be considering re-locating maritime surveillance aircraft at present stationed in South Australia to WA, and possibly re-opening the dormant Learmouth base near Exmouth in WA's north-west coast, Australia's 'alliance' with the US will not be openly discussed for obvious reasons. It would raise discussion points which the US has no wish to publicise. The whole matter of the AUKUS alliance and maritime issues has, for example, fused the navies of the UK and US with Australian counterparts to operate together in the sensitive South China Seas. (13) Australia, due to its geo-strategic location has been designated the role of a forward base for future operations together with similar bases in the ROK and Japan. It carries responsibilities.

References included in the agenda of the forthcoming inter-governmental meeting about WA being close to main approaches to Australia from the Indonesian archipelago have to be evaluated in that light. The fact that Indonesia has very strong trade and diplomatic links with China has proved problematic for Canberra: recent studies of the Indonesian telecommunications system, regarded as vital for joint military operations with Australian signals, have shown Chinese companies have trained 'tens of thousands of Indonesian tech workers, government officials and students every year'. (14) Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company banned from operating in the Australian 5G system, furthermore, has a long-time plan to train at least 100,000 Indonesian workers over the next five years. (15) Such facts raise serious doubts in the minds of those conducting intelligence assessments in Canberra.

The irony that contemporary South Africa now has a progressive, centralised government in Pretoria with strong trade and diplomatic links with China and the Russian Federation will also raise defence and security considerations for WA and, therefore, is also likely to be an agenda item in the meeting.

It has been strongly speculated both the UK and US are seeking to open further military facilities across the Indo-Pacific region, adding to their already huge collection: the former has 145 based in 45 countries while the latter has over eight hundred globally. (16) WA, was, and remains, a prime geo-strategic location for planning real-war scenarios as it faces the area in question.

Other agenda items for the forthcoming defence review and the inter-government meeting, will also include the assessment of 'threats within' and continued political stability, reminiscent of the previous Cold War. (17) They are unlikely to be openly discussed although they will include wholesale domestic spying and surveillance of those considered a threat and obstacle to successive waves of US-led militarism sweeping the Indo-Pacific region. No doubt members of the trade-union movement employed in the extractive industries and their counterparts in strategic infra-structure in WA, likewise, will have already been identified by workplace spies providing the information for faceless wonders in the corridors of power to be assessed in line with so-called Homeland Security vetting procedures.   

1.     Britain bolsters ties to region,  Australian, 8 August 2022.
2.     Ibid.
3.     See: State Research, Volumes/Bulletins 1-31, (London), October 1977-August/September 1982.
4.     Britain bolsters, Australian, op.cit., 8 August 2022.
5.     Ibid.
6.     See: Commonwealth Heads of Government, Meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, 29 April – 6 May 1975, Final Communique, Classified Secret / Declassified, Page 3, Section 13.
7.     The 1975 Dismissal, The Book of Leaks, Brian Toohey and Marian Wilkinson, (NSW, 1987), pp.100-01; and, The Secrets of Pine Gap, William Pinwill, Australian Penthouse, (Sydney), October 1979, pp. 62-68.
8.     Brigadier lays down the law on defence, The West Australian, 3 July 1990; and, Ted Serong, The life of an Australian Counter-Insurgency Expert, Anne Blair, (Melbourne, 2002), The Final Campaign, Chapter 8, pp. 174-196, which has provided a deep insight into the linkage between class and state power, particularly in WA, and the role of the far-right.
9.     Call to beef up military presence in the Pilbara, Australian, 4 August 2022.
10.   Ibid.
11.   Ibid.
12.   Ibid.
13.   See: Our dangerous ally, Pearls and Irritations, 3 August 2022.
14.   China trains Indonesia 'under our nose', Australian, 20 July 2022.
15.   Ibid.
16.   See: Revealed, Daily Maverick, n.d.
17.   State Research, (London), op.cit.

Workers Struggle Is Only Way To Reverse Declining Standard Of Living

 Written by: Ned K. on 14 August 2022

As the cost of living increases and insecure work escalates, the hope given to workers by the new Government is that its Jobs Summit in September will show the way out of a cost of living and insecure work crisis.

The ACTU is hoping the Jobs Summit will be "a chance to chart a path towards an economy that works for people". 

There may be some good things for workers that come out of the Summit if the Government implements some of the ACTU's ideas such as 
Regulation of multinational companies' energy prices
public ownership of key segments of the energy industry
accelerating transition to renewable energy to reduce vulnerability to future fuel price hikes (profiteering)
expanding public housing
affordable child care
right of workers to collective agreements across whole industries
an excess profits levy on multinational energy companies
These and other measures are needed. Even the Adelaide Advertiser (a Murdoch paper) cannot ignore the impact of rising cost of living which is affecting even the more affluent sections of the working class who have an income equal to or greater than the average employee earning of $69,400 per year.
The Advertiser on 12 August included an article which provided some eye-opening statistics on the plight of workers with average earning of $69,400.
The article based on research by Finder analysed the cost of family necessities against this average income figure of $69,400 per year. 
The research found that "simply paying for petrol, groceries and their mortgage costs 28 hours of work each week" based on a net pay rate of $33.68 per hour.
28 hours is equivalent to 75% of a full time 38 hour week. 
The research found average rent per week in Australia is $522 per week and average home loan payments are $647 per week. This is equivalent to 19.2 hours of the income for a full working week.
The research found that the "typical grocery bill" is five hours’ worth of work for someone on the average wage and a single tank of petrol consumes another 3.9 hours of work per week.
So, if workers on or above the average wage of $33.68 net per hour are struggling, where does that leave the majority of the working class who struggle to survive on as low a wage as $23 an hour!
An indication of the dire situation for workers is when sections of the working class who rarely take strike action are doing just that - going on strike in a desperate struggle to increase their income and job security.
A case in point is the strike action by mainly migrant cleaners at the Brisbane Airport. The Airport contracts out the cleaning to a multinational company called Securecorp who pays minimum wages, cuts hours and generally treats these workers like second class workers. Meanwhile the Brisbane Airport, part-owned by industry superannuation fund interests, rakes in big profits. 
These contract cleaners know that it is class struggle that will improve their income and working conditions and that the more collective action by workers, the more chance something good for workers may come out of the Jobs Summit and subsequent government measures. They are raising their voices and urge other workers to do the same 

People of China’s Taiwan Province Have Endured Many Years of Struggle Against Western Colonialism and Japanese Militarism.

 Written by: Ned K. on 12 August 2022

The growing rivalry between USA and China has thrown the spotlight on the island of Taiwan in recent weeks. The Australian Government and the "Opposition" led by Peter Dutton have been competing to show who has the greater allegiance to the USA in this big power rivalry.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong initially leads the charge by "pointing the finger" at China's reaction to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. This is soon followed by Wong and Acting Prime Minister calling for de-escalation between China and the USA over Taiwan.
Peter Dutton tries to outdo Penny Wong by calling Taiwan an "independent country" and then a few days later having to back track on that as his master the USA does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country and neither did his own Party when in government in Australia!

The Chinese Ambassador to Australia then comes out at the National Press Club and says China will take back the province of Taiwan by any means necessary but that China wants to "reset" the relationship between China and Australia.

Relationship between People of Mainland China and Island of Taiwan Goes Back A Long Way

Meanwhile the people of Taiwan continue their daily lives as do the people on mainland China. There is a strong historical link between the two.

Both have been subjected to exploitation of western colonial/imperial powers over hundreds of years.

Taiwan's Indigenous peoples have lived in Taiwan for the last 15,000 years. They are Malayo Polynesian with a strong migratory history extending from Madagascar to Easter Island to New Zealand in the south Pacific. Their languages belong to the Austronesian linguistic family. 

There are 14 separate Indigenous groups in Taiwan and in 2010 the total population of all 14 groups was estimated to be about 512,700 people, approximately 2% of the population of Taiwan. They lived as hunter gatherers and self-sufficient farmers. Three indigenous groups, Amis, Paiwan and Atayal account for 70% of the total indigenous population of the island.

In 1542 the Portuguese colonialists "discovered" the island and called it Ilha Formosa which means "Beautiful Island"

However, it was the Dutch colonialists through the Dutch East India Company in 1624 that changed the then Formosa for ever. The Dutch set up a base in the southeast of the island and built a trading port. They tried to force the Indigenous people to work for them on large cash crops for sale and exports but the Indigenous people resisted this.

So the colonial Dutch rulers offered tax breaks and free land (on Indigenous land!) to Chinese from Fujian province initially from the mainland. 

The Dutch colonialists saw an opportunity for cheap labour as thousands of Chinese wanted to flee from the invading Manchu armies from the north.

The Dutch military pledged protection of the Chinese from assaults by the indigenous people on the island. (See: How Taiwan Became Chinese by Tonio Andrada, 2007).

So, Taiwan effectively became a Chinese settlement under Dutch rule. In a short space of time thousands came from the mainland to the island looking for a better life due to the invasion of China at the time by the Manchus.
The Dutch colonialists got their pound of flesh from the Chinese farmers who settled in Taiwan through imposition of taxes, tolls and licenses.

This exploitation of the Chinese by the Dutch led to a Chinese merchant Prince Zheng Chenggong's army sweeping the Dutch off the island in 1642.

In 1683 the Qing empire of mainland China tool control of Taiwan.

In 1885 Taiwan was declared a province of the Qing dynasty of China but in 1895 the island became subjected to aggression from Japanese imperialism. Under the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan with Japan occupying Taiwan until 1943.

In 1943 under the Cairo Declaration between the KMT-led Republic of China (ROC) government on mainland China, the USA and UK, Taiwan came under the rule of the ROC. 

In 1945 the ROC became a founding member of the United Nations and when the Chinese Communist-led Peoples Liberation Army defeated the KMT in 1949, the KMT under Chiang Kai-shek fled under US protection.

In 1971 the ROC withdrew from the United Nations and due to the overwhelming power of the People's Republic of China, the One China Policy of both the USA and Australia emerged. In 1979 diplomatic ties between the ROC and the USA ceased.

Since the 1970s the working people of Taiwan including the Indigenous peoples have lived honest, hard-working lives and they are the people who actually built through their mental and physical labour the manufacturing and telecommunications industries that modernised the economy on their island home.

However, their historical ties with mainland China remain strong as are their economic ties.
In 2010 41.8 % of Taiwan's exports went to mainland China. 15% of Taiwan's imports come from mainland China.

 US Imperialism Main Danger of People of Taiwan

Since the 1620s western powers and Japanese militarism have exploited both the Indigenous people of Taiwan and the Chinese people of Taiwan who comprise 98% of the population.

In one way, the Chinese Taiwanese and the non-Indigenous people of Australia have something in common. Both are settler societies but also both have been menaced by western imperial powers over the last few hundred years.  Both the Taiwanese people and Australian people face the same principle imperialist aggressor, the USA, at the moment. 

Both Australian and Taiwanese people have a common interest in seeing a withdrawal of US military forces from Australia and the western Pacific region which includes the island of Taiwan. 

Withdrawal of US forces from the western Pacific area is the greatest hope of a peaceful reunification of the province of Taiwan with the People's Republic of China and in the best interests of people in Australia.

US expands Garuda Shield war games

Written by: (Contributed) on 9 August 2022 

The 2022 Garuda Shield military exercise taking place the first two weeks of August, has included Indonesia, regarded as a key western Cold War ally.

Recent high-level diplomatic initiatives with Indonesia and other regional countries, however, have revealed the predicament confronting the vast Indo-Pacific region: US-led foreign policies have been foisted upon the region without consideration for important domestic economic concerns.

The 2022 Garuda Shield US-led military exercise is the largest ever with the addition of Japan as a major regional player, with its defence forces joining the US, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia, together with Canada, France, India, Malaysia, South Korea, PNG, East Timor and the UK also participating as observers. (1) Moves, by pro-US figures in Japanese politics including the late Shinzo Abe, for the country to 're-interpret' Clause Nine of its pacificist constitution to enable it to become a fully-fledged regional hub for 'US interests' and Asian diplomacy, have now become a fact of life.  

For the first two weeks of August the Garuda Shield participants will act out simulated war games in North Kalimantan and on Batam, the noted gateway to Indonesian islands and the South China Seas. (2) According to an official Defence Department media release, 'the drills were 'unprecedented in scale and sophistication'. (3)

At least 4,000 Indonesian and US troops from all defence services 'will share war tactics, simulate fighting and search and rescue operations with forces from Australia, Singapore and Japan in South Sumatra and on the Riau islands'. (4)

The military planner of the 2022 Garuda Shield exercises have also drawn on other factors: in the lead-up to the military exercises, for example, the US Navy moved the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its strike group from Singapore to the Western Pacific toward the South China Seas. (5) The moves follow an almost continual sabre-rattling stance by the Pentagon, sending shock-waves across the vast Indo-Pacific region.

Secondly, the Garuda Shield military exercises have also coincided with a regional high-level diplomatic series of talks conducted by US House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who has visitited Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, together with a provocative stop-over in Taiwan. (6) The US diplomatic delegation has also included house foreign affairs committee chairman, Gregory Meeks, and other members of various house committees with responsibility for the intelligence services and armed forces. (7) A delegation containing such high-level dignitaries is clearly not intended for frivolous diplomatic exercises based on little other than courtesy calls.

In another high-level US diplomatic position, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Mark Milley, visited Canberra in late July, where he met US Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral John Aquilino alongside Australian Defence Chief, General Angus Campbell: brief media releases from the Defence Department noted the deterioration in US-China relations across the region. (8) Why it took such a high-profile meeting to note the obvious, while the main causal factors were left unanswered, is particularly revealing.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has already led China to send aircraft and vessels into the Taiwan Straits as tensions between the US and China escalate. (9) China remains very sensitive about the Taiwan issue. These high-level diplomatic rivalries should, therefore, not be under-estimated: in late July, for example, Assistant US Secretary for Defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs, Ely Ratner, noted that 'it was only a matter of time before there is a major incident or accident in the region'. (10) US-led military planning and exercises are increasingly likely to become 'real-war scenarios'. There is a wealth of information to suggest that is their stated intention.

As US-led diplomatic rivalries escalate across the region, however, other factors have considerable bearing upon important allies. China has become a major trading partner of choice in recent decades, and Indonesia is no exception. From the latest economic statistics China has already become Indonesia's largest trading partner. Last year, the two-way trade amounted to US$124.3 billion, while Japan as the main US Asian hub, was only Indonesia's twelfth largest source of imports. (11) Indonesia, therefore, at the end of the day is hardly very likely to want to seriously upset China, in fear of serious disruption to its chosen trade pattern. Such developments reveal the changing balance of forces taking place across the Indo-Pacific region: in coming decades the changes will become even more pronounced.

US-led regional diplomatic initiatives across the Indo-Pacific have, therefore, not been established on a particularly strong base of support. While the Pentagon has been quick to state the Garuda Shield military exercises are intended to 'develop interoperability and modernise our militaries collectively to ensure they could meet whatever challenges that China poses', the longer-term outcome will amount to little other than wishful thinking. (12) Rather, various countries participate in US-led diplomatic ventures, as they have with the Garuda Shield military exercises, from a position of short-term political expedience.   


1.     Japan to join regional war games, Australian, 28 July 2022. 

2.     Ibid.

3.     Joint war games 'send signal' to China, Australian, 2 August 2022.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Pelosi's trip leaves open stop in Taiwan, Australian, 1 August 2022.
6.     Ibid.
7.     Ibid.
8.     China 'using bully boy tactics' in Indo-Pacific, Australian, 28 July 2022.
9.     Pelosi's trip, Australian, op.cit., 1 August 2022.
10.   Joint 'war games', Australian, op.cit., 2 August 2022.
11.   Japan to join, Australian, op.cit., 28 July 2022.
12.   Ibid.


Pelosi's reckless visit to Taiwan also threatens Australia

 Written by: B. Bill on 8 August 2022

You might be inclined to look at Pelosi’s interference in internal Chinese issues by speaking in Taipei as simply a desperate display of arrogance and self importance by a politician on the way out. This couldn’t be more wrong.

It is part of an intricate strategy to raise tension with China by the career warmongers in Biden and Pelosi that currently direct US imperialism. The endgame of this strategy is catastrophic war. We don’t know how far away this war is, but one thing is for certain.

That certainty is that if this war were to break out while we are as blindly subservient to US foreign policy as we have been since WW2, be it tomorrow, be it in 40 years time, it is Australia who is going to be feeling China’s wrath the most devastatingly.

In allowing our country to be used as the staging ground for Pine Gap and other US military installations that make us the number one intelligence asset the US has in watching China, we have made ourselves a legitimate target for devastating attack the second war breaks out.

Being the US’ ‘deputy sheriff’ in the Pacific means that our military will be sent in as the very first wave to be slaughtered by Chinese forces. If you think Gallipoli was bloody, this will be Gallipoli on a 100x scale.

We gain NOTHING from our military ’alliance’ with US Imperialism. The ‘security’ it provides us from China is a crock and is only needed because we aid and abet US imperialism in the Pacific, facing China.

The minute we establish ourselves as a nation with a completely neutral, peaceful and independent foreign policy the ‘need’ for any of the ‘protection’ disappears. I really hope you have a think about how vital it is and the urgency with which we need to act. Your children’s future depends on it. Pulling out of AUKUS is the way to start.