Sunday, October 30, 2022

"Secure Jobs, Better Pay" Bill - Will It Assist Or Dampen Workers’ Struggles?

(Above UWU members, Woolworths, October 2022      Photo source: UWU Facebook)

 Written by: Ned K. on 31 October 2022

On Thursday, 27 October, Labor IR Minister Tony Bourke tabled the "Secure Jobs, Better Pay" Bill in the Lower House of Federal Parliament. 

The Bill has been tabled as a response to workers' demands through their Unions to break the shackles of single employer/single worksite Enterprise Agreements. 

Cartoonist Bruce Petty captioned one of his cartoons in the early 1990s "Enterprise Bargaining - To Stuff The Worker Completely" as he could see how the Enterprise Bargaining system championed by Hawke and Keating at the time would be a "divide and conquer" the working class strategy of big business. 
Three decades of declining real wages and increased profits have proven Bruce Petty's cartoon caption to be correct.
In 2022, the "Secure Jobs, Better Pay" Bill provides two new collective bargaining streams in addition to the two existing streams - Single Enterprise and Voluntary Multi-Employer stream.
The two new Streams are:
"Supported Bargaining" for "low paid" and/or "government funded" sectors such as aged care and early childhood education which rely on federal government funding of wages of workers in those sectors
"Single Interest Multi-Employer Bargaining" for other sectors of the economy (excluding small business)
The significant difference between the two streams for workers is that the "Supported Bargaining" sector does require a Union to gain "majority support" of workers in the multi-employer list which the Unions seeks to collectively bargain with, whereas the "Single Interest Multi-Employer" stream requires a Union to provide evidence to the Fair Work Commission that the majority of workers of each of the Employers support collective bargaining with the multi-employer group. 
The Fair Work Commission on presentation by the Union of the evidence of majority support, makes a "Majority Support Determination" that the group of employers must then "bargain in good faith"
Unions will have to show the Commission that the employers in an industry or sector of the industry have what the Bill calls "a common interest" and that the targeted employers are "fairly chosen" and "in the public interest"!
What "common interest" and "fairly chosen" and "public interest" actually means is anyone's guess.
However as with all laws of the past, the relative strength of the contending class interests between workers and the bosses targeted for a new collective Agreement will play on the Commission's mind in determining the answer to what these terms mean.
Most workers and their Unions would expect that employers in the same industry or a sector of an industry have a "common interest" in maximizing profits based on "market rates" for wages and therefore would not be too worried about multi-employer Agreements.
However, the "Secure Jobs, Better Pay" Bill does not enable Unions to force employers in different layers of a supply chain to be bound by the same multi-employer Agreement.
For example, Unions may be able to do one Agreement with say three vegetable growers who supply Coles and Woolworths but under the proposed Bill, Coles and Woolworths could go to alternative vegetable suppliers with cheaper labour costs or force their original suppliers to intensify workloads of workers of the vegetable suppliers so that under a new multi-employer Agreement the vegetable suppliers remain "cost competitive" for their customers Coles and Woolworths.
No Real Right To Strike
The ink is still not dry on the new Bill and it has to pass through the Senate before being in a final form as law. However, one thing is clear about the new Bill. There is no real right of workers to strike to win better pay and conditions under a multi-employer Agreement.
Workers involved in both of the new bargaining streams are to be subjected to the same time-wasting secret ballot process before "protected industrial action" is possible. 
In fact, for Agreements under the "Single interest Multi-Employer" stream, workers and their Unions will have to give 120 hours-notice of intention to take "protected industrial action" instead of the current 72 hours of working days’ notice.
The new Bill also requires compulsory conciliation by the Fair Work Commission during a workers' ballot for industrial action and either the multi-employer bosses or a Union can apply for arbitration during which industrial action would not be legal.
The whole new Bill in its final legislated form will only commence from July 2023 and any employer with an existing single employer Enterprise Agreement will not be able to be "roped in" to a new multi-employer Agreement until the expiry date of the existing single employer Agreement. So as a mechanism to quickly increase workers' wages as inflation rises above 7% or even above 8% by Xmas 2022, the Bill fails.
Workers, with or without Union leaderships determined to maximize the collective power of members they represent, will find a way to navigate through this new mine field of laws to reverse the decline in real wages that has occurred over the last few decades.
Secure jobs and better wages will always be a struggle when the legal system serves the economic interests of big business spearheaded by multinational corporations. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin targets our kids.


(Above: Lockheed Martin and Space      Photo from Flickr  CC-BY-NC)

Written by: Nick G. on 23 October 2022

US multinational arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin is the latest merchant of death to target young Australian students with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

Others have included US Raytheon and the British BAE Systems (see British arms manufacturer announces new initiative to engage with school kids).

Lockheed Martin is one of the largest defence contractors to the US military. In some years as much as 80% of its revenue comes from sales to the US Defence Department.

It manufactures the F-35 jet fighter, the C-135 military transport plane and a range of missiles including the Javelin, Longbow, and Hellfire missiles, and the submarine-launched Trident missiles.

One of the four major divisions of Lockheed Martin is its Space Division. 

It is a component part of former US President Donald Trump’s sinister vision for the militarisation of space. In August 2019, Trump announced the creation of Space Command, and in December, of Space Force, the first new military service in 70 years and part of the US Air Force.

The big weapons manufacturers and military contractors like Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin are very much aware of the opportunities for profits embedded in global uncertainty and inter-imperialist rivalry. 

They are increasingly involving themselves in Australian schools to seek out and cultivate those that they consider to be the “best and brightest” to serve in their workforce.

Resource-strapped teachers often fall for their curriculum materials and special projects aimed at both primary and secondary students.

Last August, Lockheed Martin announced a partnership with private provider STEM Punks to run “a space-focused educational program”.

Based initially at Armidale Secondary College in New South Wales, with “many others planned ahead”, the “flagship STEM learning initiative will deliver school curricula designed to educate, upskill and inspire Australia’s future space workforce”.

It has already run a two-day intensive education experience which involved 150 students across years 7 to 10 learning new STEM skills in radio frequency communications and coding.

“Career pathways” into Lockheed Martin were a feature of the sessions. Plans are underway to “engage a diverse array of students in 80 primary and secondary schools across Australia. By working closely with Lockheed Martin Australia,” a company spokesperson said, “we can provide these students unparalleled opportunities to connect with industry and learn from some of our nation’s leading experts in space.”   

The company says that its partnership with STEM Punks is to “help fuel the workforce in supporting the development of Lockheed Martin Australia’s proposed JP9102 solution – a next-generation, sovereign military satellite communication (MILSATCOM) capability to the Australian Defence Force.”

On October 17, Lockheed Martin announced it will invest A$74 million to establish a National Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) Ecosystem in Australia.

The company went on to say that it “has a responsibility to uplift industry and help build the workforce of the future.”

That will be a workforce expected to compliantly assist in building the technologies to murder and kill opponents of US imperialism, whether they be other imperialists looking to expand at the expense of the USA, or people fighting for their liberation from imperialist domination and control.

That workforce is currently sitting in a primary or secondary school classroom.

That workforce is dreaming of rockets and astronauts, of satellites and space travel.

That workforce doesn’t yet know of the chaos it will work towards here on Earth.

Fired with courage, First Peoples demand NSW let UN inspectors into prisons


(Above: Kyah Patten speaks at the rally)

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 23 October 2022

Sydney is the first point of British invasion. Aboriginal warriors across these lands have been fighting ever since. On Saturday 22 October, deaths in custody activist Paul Silva told Sydney protesters, ‘People on remand are still coming out in body bags.’

It took years of organisation and struggle to get UN prisons’ inspectors here. He said those officials currently gathering information about torture of prisoners in Australia had been refused entry to NSW jails. 

What are they hiding? We already know! They fear the truth escaping their cage of lies.

Paul Silva is nephew of Dunghutti man David Dungay Jnr. 

David’s mother Leetona Dungay told yet again the terrible circumstances of her son’s suffocation in Long Bay Jail. Her dignity is unflinching. She said the killings go back to 1788, but for state enforcers they are just numbers, statistics, not people.

In cages for 23 hours a day

Gwenda Stanley a Gomeroi representative of both the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Fighting in Solidarity Towards Treaties said, ‘This country needs a bill of rights! It doesn’t matter which party, Liberal or Labor, they’ve fucking failed us! 

‘The system isn’t broken, it’s working perfectly. It’s working how they planned. We don’t need to fix it. We need to break the fucking system down!’ she thundered.

‘On January 26, 1838 Major Nunn travelled throughout my Country and killed my ancestors,’ she said. ‘Raped and pillaged. Galloped ‘em down with horses. There’s a place called Slaughterhouse. 

‘They used their swords, their sabres. They hung my people in trees, deboned them to enforce genocide and generational trauma on us. Understand why I’m fucking angry. Understand why I’m on these streets each time,’ she said.

Gwenda Stanley read a Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) statement from Central Australia and the Top End demanding closure of Don Dale and abolition of youth prisons. 

The statement said, ‘Torture in our prisons is not an accident … have not been found guilty of a crime, yet they are locked in cages and cells for 23 hours a day. Some are young as ten! ]

It continued, ‘The NT Government won an election promising’ to change all this, but ‘threw the promises in the bin. It has ramped up the criminalisation and incarceration of Aboriginal kids,’ violating the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child.


The 26 January 1938 Day of Mourning was the first Aboriginal protest to break colonial state borders. It was jointly organised the Aborigines Progressive Association and the Australian Aborigines League. The site is always honoured with a sit down by First Peoples’ Sydney protests. 

Yorta Yorta man Jack Patten was a leader of both the Day of Mourning and the 1939 Cummeragunja Mission walk-off.  

Kyah Patten is his great granddaughter. She is also the granddaughter of Arthur and Leila Murray, who battled much of their lives to bring justice for their murdered son, Eddy Murray.  She is small but courageous. 

She raged at police, ‘Youse are taking kids away from their parents! How do you sleep at night when you know that you murdered a person for the colour of their skin? You walk with your head held high. You wouldn’t do it to your own brothers and sisters. You wouldn’t do it to your own children. Why do you do it to ours?’ 

Racism remains the most vicious of the colonial state’s weapons. But how brave these fighters are, both young and old!

How can we not be inspired by them?  

Despite everything she’s been through, despite the relatively small crowd and the overkill in police numbers, Leetona Dungay has confidence in the quietly growing awareness of our peoples. 

She looked up at the crowd, smiling. ‘We’re gonna win,’ she said.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Exposing Glencore's greenwashing

 Written by: Omar Vera on 23 October 2022

Omar Vera is a Colombian journalist, researcher of environmental conflicts and social movements, and director of the techno-activist and journalistic collective El Turbión ( ). He is leading a campaign to link together people opposed to mining multinational Glencore which operates 16 of Australia's coal mines. The following is a presentation recently made to an ICOR webinar on the environment - eds.


Coal, energy and war

The coal business has become one of the most lucrative in the world today. The post-COVID-19 economic revival plans of the major economies of the global north have called for a significant increase in the production of electrical energy destined mainly for analog and digital industries, commerce and, to a lesser extent, domestic consumption. This has multiplied the demand for fossil fuels, mainly extracted from southern countries, and destined to be burned in thermoelectric plants.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2021 the global demand for electricity rose by 6% to more than 1,500 Twh and the use of thermal coal for electricity generation increased by 9% to a level never before recorded to cover 36% of this voracious consumption that has China, the United States, India and Europe, especially Germany, as the countries that burned the largest amount of this mineral. Likewise, according to the international entity, CO 2 emissions related to electric energy were 36.3 billion metric tons, the highest amount ever recorded, of which the majority were related to coal burning, which corresponded to 15.5 billion tons (gigatonnes). Europe was the largest contributor of this greenhouse gas with more than 700 grams of CO 2 per kWh produced, followed by China, the United States and India.

At the beginning of 2022, war broke out in Ukraine, after months of tensions over gas prices from Russia and uncertainty about the future of energy production in Europe. The shortage not only sent international fossil fuel prices soaring, but also caused the world's strongest economies to turn to coal, which reached its highest price in history on March 8 at USD 439 per tonne.

In short, the big mining companies are richer today than ever before thanks to the dependence on fossil fuels to enforce the economic revival plans of the imperialist bourgeoisie, to the unjust war in Ukraine and to the power they wield over coal exporting countries which, like Colombia, are located in the global south. Meanwhile, we see how the plans for 'decarbonization' of the world, the agreements of the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP) and the internal regulations of the countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are going down the drain.

The voracious appetite of the most powerful economies and the large international financial monopolies is destroying life on the planet, while the peoples who suffer colonial and neocolonial oppression are left with holes in the earth, the waters of our rivers and our contaminated soils, displaced communities and thousands of sick and disabled workers to deliver coal to them.
Our research

Since 2012, El Turbión has accompanied union organizations of mine workers and communities affected by coal mining in northern Colombia. At that time, workers at the La Jagua de Ibirico mine, which until a few years ago was the fourth largest open-pit coal mine in the world, rose up and carried out a 92-day strike against Glencore, a company they accused of evading taxes in Colombia, committing all kinds of abuses against workers (an estimated 1,200 workers were ill out of the more than 4,000 who worked at the mine) and environmental damage that is impossible to repair after almost three decades of operations.

From there, we have documented the impacts of coal mining on the rainforest, rivers, soils and air in northern Colombia, where the country's largest extraction pits are located, and we have accompanied the struggles of the workers and the affected indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant communities to vindicate their rights and strengthen, through investigative journalism, their capacity for organization and collective bargaining. We have also investigated human rights violations committed in mining regions and the responsibility of companies such as Glencore and Drummond in the murders of trade unionists, forced displacement of communities and the death of at least 4,000 indigenous Wayúu children from physical hunger and thirst due to water grabbing for mining at El Cerrejón, the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America.

Over time, Glencore became the largest mining company in the world, precisely thanks to the 'relaxation' of the rules of the global north regarding the consumption of coal for electricity production and the global shortage of the mineral derived from the port crisis and the war in Ukraine. This, of course, in addition to various financial maneuvers by the company to strengthen its monopoly, which included aggressive acquisitions of mines around the world, closure of some of its facilities with massive layoffs of thousands of workers, evasion of taxes and environmental remediation obligations, and even the use of child slave labor by its suppliers, all of these behaviors denounced by different social organizations worldwide.

In 2021, this company whose headquarters are located in the city of Baar in Switzerland, reached total revenues of USD 203,751 million dollars (203.7 billion in English), and counts among its investors the pension funds of countries such as Sweden and Denmark, public companies in the electricity sector and various capital funds (many of them of a public nature in the countries of the global north) that benefit from the company's bad practices in oppressed nations and its gigantic contribution to the emission of greenhouse gases. It currently operates 16 coal mines in Australia, the leading exporter of this fuel; 8 in South Africa, the fifth largest exporter; and 1 in Colombia.

In this country, in this Colombia that is located in a corner of South America, between 2021 and 2022 Glencore took control of the El Cerrejón mine and closed those of La Jagua de Ibirico and Calenturitas, throwing thousands of workers into the street and returning to the Colombian State the mining lots and licenses to be sold to another company or to resume activities there, depending on the winds of the international market. In this way, it managed to evade a good part of its responsibilities with environmental, labor and criminal reparations for three decades of activities, while informing its shareholders of an exemplary conduct in its operations and assuring to maintain one of the lowest carbon emissions of the extractive industries in a gigantic greenwashing operation that assures it an important flow of capital.

For the first half of this year Glencore had extracted 55.4 million metric tons (mt) of thermal coal from its mines in the world, of which it had already sold 35, obtaining revenues of USD 13,598 million: 27.6 mt were exported from Australia, 6.3 mt from South Africa and 10.8 from Colombia, according to the half-yearly report published for its investors on its website. Despite complaints from environmentalists, Indigenous peoples and workers, the company expects to increase production by the end of this year, as well as its sales to the global north and its profits.

We at El Turbión are working on a cross-border investigation with investigative journalist collectives from South Africa, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden, and information from Australia to expose this 'green' greenwashing and other questionable behavior by the company.
With this we intend to:

1. reveal the environmental impacts produced by the coal mining activity developed by Glencore in Colombia and the possible contradictions between these and the information reported by the company in Switzerland and to its investors in different European countries.
2. Compare this situation with that of Australia and South Africa, and possibly include Canada, where exploration work is being carried out.
3. Expose the green lies that Glencore spreads in its home country (Switzerland) and among its investors in terms of environmental impacts and violations of human and labor rights.
4. Create a public repository of information on Glencore's misbehavior (which can be organized as a mapping database, for example) in its coal mining operations, which can then be extended to its other activities.
5. To provide the world's social and workers' movements with meaningful information about the company's behavior, so that knowledge about it can be deepened and more effective strategies can be built as people around the world struggle to stop the human, environmental, social and labor rights violations it commits.

Thank you.

Statement by Marxist-Leninist Platform (Russia) on the world situation, the war in Ukraine, and the threat of nuclear war

 Written by: MLP (Russia) on 23 October 2022

(The Marxist-Leninist Platform is one of two Russian organisations affiliated to the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organisations, ICOR. The other is the Russian Maoist Party, a statement from which we published on October 3.  Both organisations are fighting to survive the harsh repressions directed by the Putin regime at genuine Communists – eds.)



We are currently witnessing historic events. Imperialism is entering the last and final stage of its degradation. The victory of the Revolution is still a long way off, but its dawn is getting closer.

In Ukraine we are witnessing a bloody clash of two imperialist blocs: the American-European NATO imperialism and the Russian-Chinese imperialist bloc.

Contrary to the reasoning of some so-called "leftists" about the progressiveness of one force or the other - we have insisted and continue to insist that neither side in this conflict can be supported not only by real communists, but by all honest people.

Thus, a de facto neocolonial fascist dictatorship is now established in Ukraine, similar to the regimes of Uribe in Colombia or Duterte in the Philippines. This is a pseudo-democratic regime, which differs from classical dictatorships in that its highest political authority is formally replaceable. But neither the president nor parliament has any power in this system, even according to bourgeois notions. All real power belongs to the ambassador of the United States, various officials of international organizations under the UN, transnational corporations, and local oligarchs.

This is exactly the kind of peripheral, "Latin American" regime that is now established in Ukraine.

The total mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people into the state army, military censorship, rampant street and sexual violence, the legalization and arming of criminal gangs at state expense under the guise of "territorial defense", repression of all who disagree with the oligarchic policy is the essence of President Zelensky's regime.

The Ukrainian army, committing terrorist acts on the territory of other countries, carrying out genocide against civilians, is all under the command of NATO military advisors.

Nevertheless, the disgusting regime of President Putin is not the best either.

Under the guise of "traditional values," the neoconservative Russian dictatorship, which spreads ignorance, passivity, cynicism, greed, avarice, and racism, is doomed. In its thirty-year history, it is now the closest it has come to total ideological and political bankruptcy.

The defeats of the Russian army at Balakleya and Krasny Liman, the destruction of Russian gas pipelines, the strikes on the Crimean bridge and other important facilities in Russia, the "partial" mobilization and the flight of hundreds of thousands of people from the country - all this brings the death of the Russian regime closer.

The opposition movement in the country grows wider every day. Every day we receive reports of military commissariats being set on fire, of attacks on government buildings, and on the offices of the ruling United Russia party. We see a huge number of different actions against the state and capital. Symbols of "special operations" (banners, billboards, cars with the letters Z), rails on which military echelons and rolling stock with military equipment are systematically destroyed.

In short, everywhere we see resistance to the current regime.

In spite of this, the government is still extremely strong. The repression of the left and of the Communists in particular has intensified considerably. Dozens of our comrades have been imprisoned or forced to emigrate. Some continue activities from abroad.

The "partial" mobilization has caused a mass protest of the bulk of the workers, on whose shoulders the authorities want to shift the entire burden of their own miscalculations.

At present, we find ourselves in a dangerous situation in which the regime of President Putin is trying to save itself from imminent doom by undertaking dubious and dangerous actions.

In the current circumstances, even nuclear war cannot be ruled out, especially considering that not only some figures of the Russian regime, but also Ukrainian President Zelensky, are calling for it.

The collapse of Russian imperialism will inevitably lead to a change of power in Russia. The question arises: who will be able to take advantage of this?

At present, the most obvious contenders for power after the fall of Putin are the Russian liberal democrats. They are the ones who can give the left a dangerous competition.

We should do our best to strengthen our internal party ties, increase our canvassing and get more people to join our ranks: only this will give us a chance to later emerge as a much more formidable force.

We must remember that our enemies are not only Putin, but also Russian bourgeois liberals, Russian and Ukrainian nationalists, NATO and European Union officials and military advisors.

It is necessary to expand the struggle against fascism and war, against the power of capital, against all forms of opportunism and nationalism, against the power of the military and the rich.

Nationalism is the enemy of the workers, and the military is the best friend of the rich.

Ukraine and Russia are very different, but in fact dialectically they are incredibly similar. In both, we see an oligarchic power that has grown fat at the expense of the workers, the domination of foreign capital, an aggressive government that dreams of a nuclear war, a Goebbels-type nationalist propaganda, the total poverty of the people, repression and the all-powerful security services.

We must stop it! Communists must uproot the contagion of peripheral post-Soviet capitalism with its glamor, kitsch, its cynicism and greed, its spiteful attitude toward nature and people, the constant threat of nuclear war.

This is the only way we can save the planet from complete and utter destruction.


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Whom did Gillard’s leadership really serve?

(Above: cartoon by Simon Kneebone from the SA Branch Australian Education Union Journal) 

Written by: Nick G. on 15 October 2022

 As Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard is perhaps best remembered for her famous "misogyny" speech.

The speech itself is rightly applauded for having given women who had suffered under decades and centuries of male superiority and contempt a voice that reverberated around the globe.

But to what extent does Gillard deserve the plaudits now being thrown her way as we remember that 10-year-old humiliation of Tony Abbott as leader of the Opposition?

ALP: a capitalist party that cynically uses the working class

Gillard rose in the ranks of the Labor Party not as an activist championing progressive causes, but as an apparatchik determined to advance her political career. 

The same could be said of most Labor politicians – they play the factional games, they manoeuvre for pre-selection, they distance themselves from involvement with any issue likely to later prove embarrassing to them.

And they know that whilst they are in a Party that has based its chances of electoral success on winning the support of working class Australians, they need to keep the big end of town on-side or risk being campaigned against by the powerful media that is owned by and serves that class.

Gillard shared the Labor politicians’ readiness to cynically use the working class for their own electoral advancement.

Gillard warns strikers: "You will face the full force of the law!"

Gillard was given the shadow portfolio of Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion. In that capacity, and buoyed by a wave of working class anger at Howard’s and Abbott’s  "work choices" policy, she began negotiations with the ACTU for a replacement policy that would not empower workers but rather bind them to exploitation and loss of rights through a seemingly more “enlightened” set of legislation.

When Labor won the 2007 Federal election, Gillard was its Deputy leader and took on the portfolios of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. She rushed to copy the very worst of US educational policies, setting herself up for conflict with parents and teachers. She abolished the hated WorkChoices, but replaced it with the equally bad Fair Work Australia bureaucracy with a vast repressive machinery directed at unions and at individual workers.

As Deputy PM and Industrial Relations Minister, Gillard got off to a very bad start when she savagely attacked Woodside-Burmah oil workers who went on strike in WA after the company downgraded their accommodation arrangements, threatening them with fines and imprisonment. "You will face the full force of the law!" she said, echoing the same anti-worker rhetoric that had previously been the hallmark of the Liberal Party.

As Acting Prime Minister in 2009, she threatened Australia Post, Qantas and NSW bus drivers – all declaring they would strike over new agreements - that "those who take unprotected action will face severe penalties". 

When the Australian Education Union developed a campaign with parents to boycott the NAPLAN tests that she had modelled on standardised testing in the USA, she first tried to break the unity of teachers and parents by urging parents to "rouse up" against the teachers, then threatened to use strike-breakers to run NAPLAN tests. "I’m not ruling anything in or out", she declared.

Gillard was a supporter of the Liberal Party’s Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Rather than getting rid of this attack dog of the construction bosses, she brought it under the auspices of the Fair Work Act, arguing that the industry needed a "tough cop on the bea"”.  When construction worker Ark Tribe, persecuted by the ABCC for attending a safety meeting on site, and facing six months in jail, tried to talk to her at an election meeting, he was brushed aside. She refused to talk to him.

US bases get the nod

Gillard has all along been a cheerleader for US imperialism. In a 2008 speech in Washington, Gillard endorsed the ANZUS Alliance and described the United States as "a civilising global influence".

In March 2011, Gillard travelled to the US to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS Alliance.  She met with Barak Obama and addressed a joint session of the US Congress, delivering what Richard Butler AC, former diplomat, former UN weapons inspector, former Governor of Tasmania described as having "reached unprecedented heights of sycophancy". 

"You have a friend in Australia," she said. "And you have an ally. And we know what that means. In both our countries, true friends stick together … in both our countries, real mates talk straight. So as a friend I urge you only this: be worthy to your own best traditions. Be bold."

Her call for US imperialism to "be bold" was made in the context of a reference to Afghanistan, in relation to which she promised "Australia will stand firm with our ally the United States".

For Butler and others, the sycophancy reached its height as Gillard, voice breaking with emotion, referred to Ronald Reagan, saying: "This year you have marked the centenary of President Ronald Reagan's birth. He remains a great symbol of American optimism. The only greater symbol of American optimism is America itself.'"

Visiting Australia later that year, Obama announced that a "marine rotational base" would be established at the Robertson Army Barracks near Darwin. Thus, under Gillard, US imperialism was gifted Australian territory to use for military purposes.

Opening the door to the mining companies

As Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd had been trying to win support for a new tax on miners. His Resources Super Profit Tax (RSPT) was a 40% tax on the 'super' profits made from the exploitation of Australia’s non-renewable resources including gold, nickel and uranium mining as well as sand and quarrying activities. 
Where Rudd thought he could isolate the big miners from other sections of the capitalist class and use the extra revenue to serve the wider interests of that class, a big campaign, led by Gina Reinhart and "Twiggy" Forrest, both decked out in workers' clobber, convinced Gillard that Rudd had gone too far. 

She orchestrated a campaign against him, seized the Prime Ministership and, in her first announcement post the coup, stated that she had now "opened the door of the government to the mining companies". The RSPT was consigned to the rubbish bin.

Hatred of women directed at Gillard

Despite Gillard’s anti-worker, pro-business and sycophantic service to US imperialism, her gender served to unite a chorus of women-hating males against her.

She was attacked as "barren" for not having children, as a "lesbian" for being unmarried. Cartoonist Larry Pickering drew cartoons showing her as a big-arsed naked woman with a large dildo strapped to her front. Shock jock Alan Jones said her father had "died of sham" which was cruel not just to Gillard but also to her grieving mother Moira.

At anti-Government rallies, Tony Abbott as leader of the Opposition, stood in front of placards with slogans to "ditch the witch". 

This unremitting stream of gender-based abuse came to a head when Gillard defended her appointment of Liberal defector Peter Slipper as Speaker of the House. It had come to light that he had sent text messages of his own containing vile and misogynistic content. 

Abbott leapt to the attack, criticising Gillard for standing by Slipper. Gillard then delivered her "misogyny" speech, declaring that "the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever."

It was a fitting response to the abuse she had suffered. It not only went viral, but diverted attention from an issue that had seen women criticising a new policy being put through parliament by Gillard that day: an attempt to cut the single parents' pension.

Learn from Gillard's time to prepare for more attacks from Labor

There is a bit of a silly merry-go-round where working people grow sick of the reactionary policies of a Liberal government, and place their hopes on a change to Labor.  For a while there is a honeymoon period, and then the gloss wears off and disillusion sets in as Labor once again sets about serving the big end of town.  The Liberals then cash in on the disillusion and get another guernsey as the government.

It is right to acknowledge Gillard’s "misogyny" speech.

But it is better to remember the essential service she provided to the ruling class and to US imperialism.

If we can be forearmed to expect that service by Labor to the class that oppresses and exploits us, then we can better develop our own independent working class organisation and activity.

It is important to cast away parliamentary illusions and fight for genuine anti-imperialist independence and for socialism.

Julia Gillard Fan Club? I ain’t joining!


(Above: Young people did way more for climate action than Julia Gillard)

Written by: Louisa L. on 15 October 2022

Tony Abbott loved every minute of Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech, now a decade old. He smiled, smirked, laughed like a clown. 

I enjoyed her speech because from the mid-1970s I heard of sexist scumbag Tony Abbott terrorising Sydney Uni. 

Kim Beazley, an all-the-way-with-the-USA minister under Hawke and Keating, called him ‘the Bomb Thrower’, because Tony chucked a smoke bomb into an indoor NSW Uni event for visiting National Liberation Front of Vietnam speakers. UNSW was way more working class than Sydney. Tony was smashed to the floor. Roars of approval! He copped more outside, and never came back. 

So, if I despise Abbott why aren’t I Julia’s fan?

Comedian Groucho Marx from pre-TV days quipped that he wouldn’t join any club that would have him as a member. My refusal is something else altogether.

Work Choices and Climate Change

Kevin “Everyone Except Me Is Stupid” Rudd came into the prime ministership on two floods of struggle in 2007. The biggest was against Howard’s Work-Choices-for-Capitalists. Union “leaders” promptly shut the floodgates against worker organisation. Kevin with Julia’s “loyal support” starved funds to the Australian Building and Construction Commission, but failed to legislate it out of existence. (1)

Then they set up Work Choices Lite, Unfair Work Australia, with its raft of measures to undermine the ability of workers to organise.

The second people’s flood demanded climate change action. 

Kev immediately began hammering out a scaffold to cut emissions. UPROAR! Big Coal foamed at the mouth, stamped round yelling. Murdoch too. 

Picture Kev up a ladder, hammering away. Like frightened poodles, Julia plus Bill Shorten started digging a hole under that ladder. Down tumbles gutless Kev – AND the emissions’ scheme scaffolding. 

It told the people the ALP wasn’t fair dinkum. It sowed a seed in people’s minds, watered and fed and propagated and spread by the carbon corporations, that climate change wasn’t fair dinkum either. In 2007, people understood it as an existential threat. After Kev’s Julia-enforced about-face, many wondered whether it was really so dangerous. Otherwise, why did they back down? 

Her later emissions trading scheme was much weaker.

Cold, cold heart

Gillard turns my stomach. It’s not about her as an individual. It’s a class thing. 

As Kev’s education minister she was on the opposite side to kids, teachers, parents and community. 

Instead of increasing funding and reversing TAFE’s scandalously high casualisation, she drafted legislation making Federal funding reliant on states introducing a “competitive” market for vocational education. This already operated in Victoria. The privatised virus of outrageous rip-offs and sky-rocketing profits plaguing Victoria spread nationwide, despite huge efforts from unions. Instead of education for life and work, lists of repetitive skills were funded and ticked off… or not. 

Not content she met Rupert Murdoch in New York.  

In 2008 Rupert slagged off public schools on his ABC Boyer Lecture. Next, he lectured the G8 on ‘Education the Last Frontier’ (for mega profits). Rupert sent Julia to Joel Klein, a former corporate lawyer turned “educational genius”, then running NY schools. (2) 

Giant edu-corporations wanted to reduce teaching to narrow skills marketed online. For that they needed tests to show where schools, teachers and above all kids were “failing”.

Julia brought Klein to lecture here. In 2010 she launched NAPLAN.  

In the first ever Australia-wide teacher industrial action, the AEU banned the tests. It was rock solid, especially in NSW. Finally she used Unfair Work provisions to threaten teachers in Victoria, NT and ACT with $4000-$6000 fines, ending the ban.

NAPLAN remains the cold corporate heart in Australian schools. After years of rear-guard actions, but with no strikes for a decade until last year, NAPLAN’s results are entrenched. Informal league tables falsely comparing schools gutted comprehensive public high schools, curriculum continues to narrow and teaching to the test is all some teachers know. 

“As good as a man”

Julia proved a woman can do just as good a job for capitalism as a man.

Of course, Ms Gillard’s arch enemy Tony, plus Malcolm, Scummo and all their state mates, built on it. 

When spontaneous outrage exploded at the vicious patriarchal treatment of Brittany Higgins and others in Parliament House, Julia’s misogyny speech was remembered and welcomed. 

That movement raised wider questions about how women are treated – the homelessness; the working poor; the nurses, teachers, child care, aged care and gig economy workers with crushing workloads and shitty pay; the ongoing colonial state violence facing First Peoples’ women.  

Julia’s speech might be of some use in raising spirits. But fixing this mess a class thing, a women’s liberation thing not an individual one. In that, Julia is no use at all. 

Go for the shorter stuff, says anonymous 1980s writer


(Above: Some things never change under capitalism. We have to organise. GBAR workers' winning picket in The Rocks, Sydney in 2019)

Written by: Louisa L. on 13 October 2022

This morning an old article emerged from my desk, months after escaping a cupboard. Written during Hawke and Keating’s Capitalist Golden Age of neoliberalism, before Keating announced the ‘recession we had to have’ that got Howard installed, this gem was marked ‘Contributed’.

It began, ‘A couple of mates and myself have been discussing what we’d like to see in Vanguard.’ It briefly praised the paper, then raised concerns.

‘Our discussion arose because we were feeling particularly frustrated at the loss of another working condition. 

‘What it was and what industry we work in aren’t important, but we only found out some time later that this had been stitched up between the union and the management in our factory. It stank. Many of us were very angry. But we know if we stick our heads up, they’ll get chopped off, not by the bosses but by our own union leaders doing the dirty work for the bosses.’ 

Sound familiar?

If we’re in the dunny “too long” we cop a blast

‘We didn’t have much idea what “restructuring” meant. Nor did we have clue about “multi-skilling”. Our shop steward was taken off for a talk and to get the good oil. He came back and said it sounded okay, but there was so much to read and absorb he wasn’t too sure what the whole the whole thing was about.

‘Now we’ve found out it means some of our fellow workers have been made redundant, and they were the ones who were militant and union supporters. The sucks are getting all the good jobs. The rest of us are having to work like demons now, and if we’re in the dunny “too long” we cop a blast.

‘It makes us sick that we are losing practically everything we’d won in the good times, and there’s no consultation with us who have to flog ourselves to death. Nowadays there are very few stop-work meetings and when we do have them, it’s to be given orders, not to find out what we, the union members, want or think. 

‘We reckon this must be happening across the board and that there must be a lot of anger and unrest around the traps. What we’d like to suggest is that Vanguard get a series of articles going each week about how other workers are making out, the problems they face, whether unions are doing a good job or not, and perhaps get some stories from veterans who’ve been involved in battles over the years and can share their experience.

‘We don’t think each item needs to be too long – three or four paragraphs would do. As for the length of articles generally, we’d like to see them shorter. Your heart drops when you look at a full page of print, and it’s hard going if you’re tired after work. It’s tempting just to go for the shorter stuff and give the longer bits the go-by. Other than that – keep up the good work.’

Have a go mate

The problems are way worse now, but workers still celebrate when they break out collectively.

Not everyone is confident or has energy in this world of unrelenting overwork to write articles, but what about a few paragraphs or some dot points?  What have you learned by listening to workmates, neighbours, family and other friends about what’s happening in the world? We don’t want fancy words, just write like you speak. Simple and straightforward is great, though there are times for longer articles, and deep analysis that draws multiple truths together.

Quantity becomes quality. A whole lot of bullshit becomes a mountain of lies ready for demolishing. A lot of short truthful pieces that matter to people become a weapon in their hands.

So, come on you lot, why not have a go? As some Russian bloke said, only those who do nothing make no mistakes.