Saturday, June 3, 2023

Big Ben tolls no more


Written by: Bill F. on 4 June 2023

"Murderer, war criminal, bully" are the words used to describe Australia's fallen war hero, Ben Roberts-Smith. "Liar" can also be added to the list after his unsuccessful defamation case against courageous truth-seeking journalists.

This is the same man who was friend and personal mentor to NT police officer Zachary Rolfe who shot and killed Warlpiri-Luritja man Kumanjayi Walker at Yuendumu in 2019.

What words can be used to describe his skulking cheer-squad? Kerry Stokes the millionaire boss of Channel 7, Brendon Nelson former director of the Australian War Memorial, board member Tony Abbott, Gina Rinehart – all have cosied up to Big Ben and fondled his Victoria Cross, all have scoffed the rumours and leaks and scorned the Brereton Report. 

The same gang were among the loudest supporters of US imperialism when Australia joined the US in the illegal and catastrophic invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The legacy of that invasion lives on in the misery and hardship of the Afghan people, victims of imperialist war and victims of hideous war crimes.

Will the war criminals ever be brought to justice? In Roberts-Smith's case, if he is prepared to even return to Australia where he will be pariah number one, there could be an appeal on the defamation case, followed by charges, trials and appeals on the war crimes and other matters. Will his wealthy and powerful backers continue to cough up the dollars?

Contrast this to the treatment of real heroes like Julian Assange and David McBride who exposed serious crimes, especially war crimes, and not to forget Bernard Collaery who helped to expose efforts to swindle Timor Leste of its resources wealth. And don’t forget US-born Australian citizen Dan Duggan who, as of the time of writing, is in his 226th day of solitary confinement in Lithgow’s maximum security prison. He has not been charged with any offence under Australian law, but is facing extradition to the US for having participated, legally at the time, in the training of Chinese pilots. His wife Saffrine’ s visits are conducted in a tiny cage with guards, and Saffrine is subjected to 40 minutes of sniffer dogs, pat downs, scanners, and finger print checks to get in. Duggan’s struggling Aussie family is even forced to pay for Dan's cruel arbitrary incarceration. On top of refusing to help pay the legal costs, the Government is billing the family $400 a month for Dan's calls and enough food to stay fit, and even more for warm bedding and clothes. Yet Ben Roberts-Smith is free to enjoy a relaxing holiday in Bali!

Overshadowing all of this is the subservience of Australia’s governments to the political, economic and geostrategic interests of US imperialism. However, unlike the US, Australia has ratified the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, where war crimes can be tried when the country involved cannot do so.

To undo some of the shame Roberts-Smith has brought on Australia, the Albanese government must demand the immediate release of Julian Assange, drop all charges against David McBride, and refuse the US demand for the extradition of Dan Duggan.

“Decent Work” – Nice If You Can Find It


Written by: Ned K. on 4 June 2023

The Fair Work Commission handed down its National Wage Case Decision last week.

The minimum wage was increased by 8% and Award wages increased by 5.75%. The increases apply from July 2023. The increases were a higher percentage than the usual pittance. 

The higher increase was due to the struggle of the workers for a living wage. With the escalating cost of living increases reflected in the official rate of around 7% and rising interest rates, real wages continue to decline. This has resulted in more working-class families not having enough income for food and a roof over their heads. The more astute sections of the capitalists realize that workers need enough income to be able to remain fit and healthy to front up to work each day. 

A few days before the Fair Work Commission announced its National Wage Case Decision, employers, including government departments were complaining about high absenteeism and difficulty in finding workers to fill vacant positions.

However even the astute capitalists will be compelled to "recover the increase in operating costs" when the 5.75% wage increase kicks in from July this year. With Award minimum wages rising by 5.75%, there will be demands by workers employed under Enterprise Agreements to maintain their above Award wage rate margins as well.

Work Intensification:

One of the main ways capitalists seek to "recover increased costs" from increased wages is through work intensification. This is of course not a new phenomenon.  Work-intensification has increased alarmingly in the 21st Century.  This was noted by progressive researcher John Buchanan at a Festival of Ideas session in the early 2000s in Adelaide called "Decent Work - Nice If You Can Find It". His research found that the biggest issue by far and across the board was work intensification and understaffing. John said that "quiet time" had been squeezed out of most workplaces. There was no time for workers to pass on skills to new or younger workers.

He said that while wage increases are essential to keep workers heads above water, the struggle against work intensification and decent work was equally important for workers. 

He said that from earliest times, decent work had been a struggle by those performing the work. Aristotle described work as the "essence of existence through thoughtful activity".

John contrasted Aristotle's description of "work" with the word "labor" and pointed out that the word "labor" means "hard activity, punitive".

Under capitalism, decent work is a rarity while "labor" as defined above is the norm. 

John Buchanan saw the issue of work intensification and the struggle for decent work as an opportunity to mobilize workers around the ideas of decency, dignity, time to work, time to recover. 

He added one more important insight on the issue of decent work and the struggle of workers against work intensification.  He said that while the struggle for real wage increases is constant under capitalism, governments had stripped away workers’ rights to organize.

He asked the audience the following question.

"Is it any wonder that there is a shortage of good rank and file union delegates and an abundance of unorganized workplaces?  Who would be a delegate today? What legal rights have they got under current laws? Very few. They are not even mentioned in name in the Act!"

This question is still relevant today. Decent work will only be achieved where workers organize and win the right to representation on the job. The development of a well-organized mass movement within the working class is a pre-condition to free workers and the whole society from the control of the capitalists and their extensive state machine of which the Fair Work Commission is a part.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

With war on the horizon, we must prepare for the future

(Above: Original image by David Costa Fernandez)

 Written by: Leo A. on 2 June 2023

For the first time in nearly a century, a major imminent war between global powers in the Asia-Pacific is plausible. 
In November of last year, we warned that the United States may be approaching the conclusion that the only remaining way to put an end to the PRC, and the geopolitical opposition it presents to American hegemony, is through a direct war. In the time since then, things have gotten worse. 

These days it seems hardly a month goes by without some new escalation – as recently as May 8, for example, it was reported that the US is planning to move $500 million of weapons to the island of Taiwan. China has made it clear that in the event of war, it will treat Australia as being effectively a part of the United States. In other words, Australia will automatically and unwillingly become a participant if an armed conflict between the PRC and USA begins. Even if China did not take this stance, the United States would force Australia to join the war anyway. Unless Australia adopts an independent foreign policy before the war starts (which would only be possible through revolution), there is no way we would be able to take a neutral stance in this catastrophic conflict. 
Therefore we, Australia’s revolutionary Marxists, need to start carefully thinking about – and establishing clear, detailed plans for – the outcome of these escalations and provocations. 
First it must be emphasized that an exact prediction of how this hostility will develop in the coming decade or two is still difficult. As for how this could potentially develop, however, the following distinct possibilities are apparent. 

Potential developments
First, it is still plausible that the uneasy peace in the region will be maintained, and a direct war between major powers will be avoided, as was the case in the First Cold War. In this case, things will primarily continue on as they currently are, although we can expect pro-war fearmongering to nonetheless intensify, and unless the Australian people are to take action against it, the American militarization of Australia will also continue to worsen, as will Australia’s own military buildup - to the pleasure of the military-industrial complex and imperialist warmongers, and to the detriment of Australia’s future. Inevitably, something has to snap at some point, but that may not be as imminent as it appears. 
Second, a Sino-American war may erupt but remain “conventional”. Many assume that war between nuclear-armed powers necessarily means an escalation into nuclear warfare, but this is uncertain. However, even a conventional conflict of this scale would cause immense damage and create the most severe capitalist crisis of the 21st century. Its realistically almost impossible for the Chinese bloc to invade Australia, even if it wins decisively in Taiwan, but it is wrong to believe that the damage from warfare would remain above the equator. US Military bases in Australia would still face missile strikes, which would likely devastate nearby towns and cities such as Alice Springs and Darwin. In other words, Australia’s submission to US imperialism has made it more of a target, which could have deadly consequences. Additionally, Australians would be sent in large numbers to be slaughtered in battle. The Gallipoli campaign killed 7594 Australians. This could kill dozens of times as many. 
War has historically been tied to a surge in working class dissatisfaction with capitalism, and this could happen again. However, Australia’s capitalist class could use the war as an excuse to suppress revolutionary sentiment. As we know, bourgeois propaganda does not distinguish between revolutionary socialism and revisionism – we call ourselves communists, the CPC calls themselves communists, that’s all it’ll take for false accusations of collusion to be made and spread. Every Marxist group in Australia could be in danger if caught off-guard. Even in our current peacetime we suffer from a militarised police force, and an army that is being trained for use against Australian citizens. What further layers of weaponised state machinery will supplement these in the future, we do not know, but what we do know is that the resulting struggle will be intense. 
Third, there is the possibility that a Sino-American war will escalate into nuclear warfare. Here a popular misconception must be addressed. Some believe that a global nuclear war would kill everyone on Earth, and thus that we should not bother thinking about the aftermath. This is inaccurate. Let me be clear, a global nuclear war would be the deadliest event in human history, and probably cause more damage to the global environment than anything else since the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction 66 million years ago that wiped out three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs. But the story would not end. According to a research study published less than a year ago in August of 2022, even in an absolute-worst-case scenario nuclear winter, Australia would not be at risk of starving under “nuclear famine”. I will not go into the technical details of what would put Australian lives in danger, but to simplify a very complicated situation, there would still be many of us left. Our task as Marxists would not be over, and it would be important for us to ensure that the capitalist class does not retake control over Australia again during the rebuilding process – our nation’s best hope of recovery would be under revolutionary socialist leadership. 
Fourth and finally, we cannot rule out the possibility of some unforeseen factor changing the situation in an unexpected way. If the history of geopolitical forecasting has proven anything, it is that no-one is perfect at predicting the future, and it is possible that all three above possibilities will be seen as completely inaccurate just ten or twenty years from now. This is of course hard to prepare for, although if secure plans are in place for the first three scenarios, we will be able to account for any unexpected eventualities too. 

Preparations for the future
To prepare for the future, we are laying the foundation for an Australian united front for anti-imperialist national independence and socialism. This is one of many projects one could label “the hard part”, but its necessity is absolute. The socialist revolutions of the past were only possible because immense effort was made to unite all who can be united around the working class, against the capitalist class. Right now in Australia, the working class lacks sufficient unity, and even many of those who oppose the results of capitalism – the upcoming war for example – are still looking in the wrong direction for answers and solutions. We need to spread the word however we can to get people looking in the right direction, and we need to do it faster than we currently are. 

Some inspiration can be gained from how this has been accomplished in past revolutions, and in actively ongoing revolutions such as that in the Philippines, although fresh new ideas to suit Australia’s situation may also deserve careful consideration. No capitalist crisis can result in revolution if the working class doesn’t know that it’s a capitalist crisis and doesn’t know that revolution is both possible and necessary. Only when the working class knows these things, and has a powerful vanguard party to lead them, can we all make history together. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SA anti-protest Bill gets the nod


Written by: Nick G. on 31 May 2023

Just before 7am this morning, the SA Upper House passed the Labor government’s changes to the Summary Offences Act.

Unlike the Lower House, where Liberal and Labor combined to introduce the changes in a world record 22 minutes, the presence of SA Best and SA Greens MPs in the Upper House stretched the debate over the Bill into a 14-hour all-night sitting.

The four cross-bench MPs sought to amend the Bill to send it to a committee for further deliberation, give it an expiry date, and add a reasonableness test, and remove references to “indirectly” causing a public obstruction. In the end, only the removal of a reference to “reckless intention” was carried.

The new Bill increases the financial penalties for obstruction of a public place 66 times, to a new fine of $50,000, and introduces a three month’s jail time. It also makes defendants potentially liable for emergency services costs responding to a public obstruction, which could also run into thousands of dollars.

The all-night sitting of the Upper House followed yesterday’s rally, called by SA Unions, and attended by 800 people including officials and members from 15 unions. 

Part of the hysteria whipped up by Malinauskas and sections of the media included the prospect of the whole city being thrown into gridlock, and ambulances being prevented from taking critically ill patients to hospital, if actions such as the woman who dangled above traffic from a city bridge were allowed to occur.

However, Ambulance Employees Association general secretary Leah Watkins said this needed to be debunked entirely. “Our members are trained to deal with obstructions to their passage on a daily basis.  It’s a stretch to say that the bridge incident required changes to this law”.

Referring to AEA rallies in 2021 against the then Liberal government, she said ““We blocked both sides of North Terrace. Labor, the Greens, SA-Best and many independent MPs stood with us in protest of the then-dismissive Liberal government… Our rallies were big, they caused disruption, they closed roads and they stopped trams… obstructing a public place to peacefully protest for a safer community for all.”

Other members of emergency services union present were the Firefighters Association and a healthy presence of members of the Police Association – although the latter were there to “supervise” the rally rather than to support it.

Although the denizens of the Cowards’ Castle on North Terrace have got their way with the passage of the Bill, the unity shown by 80 community groups who signed a public letter to the Premier, the resolve of the thousand people who took to the streets and deliberately conducted sit-downs, the defiance of the unions who held their own rally of 800 people yesterday outside a meeting of the ALP State Caucus – all provide a solid basis for a continuing defence of the right to protest with disruptive intent.

Australian Economic Trends 2023 – A “Fair Go”?


(Above: Photo by Chris Devers   Creative Commons Flickr)

Written by: (Contributed) on 31 May 2023

 Information emerging from reliable sources has revealed a looming crisis in Australia: forty years of economic rationalism has produced a dysfunctional economy based on short-term profit, with little resilience or sustainability. 

The problem has been exacerbated by political spin and carefully edited statements from government departments and private business intelligence bodies to hide the deep-rooted economic malaise. The business model has also been accompanied by standard management practices which, at best, can be aptly described as questionable; at worst, they are frequently illegal.

In mid-May a business report noted the Australian economy was 7.2 per cent bigger than at the start of the pandemic in December, 2019. (1) Taking the problems of the pandemic period the report, at face value, made an interesting read. Reading between the lines, however, economic developments are not what they appear; 6.5 per cent of the increased size of the economy was explained by Australians working more hours than before 2019. (2)

The price / profit inflation which has become a major problem in Australia during the past couple of years has eaten into household budgets with declining living standards. Inflation was virtually zero in 2020, in December last year it reached eight per cent. (3) The figures are all the more appalling when taking other detailed statistical records: the noted cost of living for an employee house has increased by 9.6 per cent during the past twelve months. By the end of the year the Reserve Bank of Australia has forecast mortgage repayments will reach 9.9 per cent of disposable income. (4) Increased costs of basic food items have reached a peak of 9.6 per cent in April. (5) Workers, in present day Australia, are now more inclined to work overtime or even have second jobs to make ends meet.

The outcome of forty years of economic rationalism has not produced a stable economic environment. In fact, present day Australia has become increasingly unstable. Massive discrepancies in distribution of income have been recorded elsewhere: Australian company tax receipts have risen from $123.3 billion in 2021-22 year to a forecast $190.2 billion by 2026-27. (6)   

Company profits, however, remain based on rampant levels of exploitation and inside the sphere of financial speculation in an economy increasingly resembling a casino. Recorded levels of GDP growth, the only accurate economic criteria for studying the health of an economy, nevertheless, remain continually slow. During the early 1960s, for example, GDP growth rates hovered around seven per cent, by the early 2020s it averaged a dismal two per cent. (7) If the trend is continued into the next decade GDP growth rates are likely to sink to zero, heralding serious economic problems and crisis.

A recent study of the building trades found an increasing number of businesses already failing: there have been fifty per cent more failures in 2022-23 than the previous year. (8) A trend has been established due to increased interest rates and operating costs.

During the early days of economic rationalism political spin and media releases from government departments were quick to push the business model: the years of the Howard coalition governments were a prime example. A race-to-the-bottom mentality of cost-cutting was accompanied by anti-trade union legislation designed specifically to undermine awards and workplace agreements and boost company profits with master-and-servant style industrial relations procedures. Their praise of so-called free enterprise was little other than a massive cover for dubious and often illegal behaviour: one noted feature of the business model has been the rampant casualisation of work.  

Taking the Australian workforce as composed of about 13 million, a participation rate of about 66 per cent has given an actual workforce of about 8.5 million in full-time equivalents. Research conducted by the ACTU has established that close to 2.6 million Australian workers are casuals, meaning over thirty per cent of the present-day workforce are without paid holidays, sick-leave and other entitlements. (9) Casualisation, furthermore, has been used by employers to systematically undermine trade-union organisation and worker's bargaining power, while pushing up company profits.

The ACTU report also noted a large discrepancy between hourly pay rates between casual workers and those in permanent employment, growing to 28 per cent: a national average has shown casual workers earn $11.59 per hour less than their permanent counterparts, with $28.95 per hour to $40.54 per hour. (10) Such developments are best viewed along lines of the business classes forcing wage rates down, with no concern for the under-dog.

Australia also has a major problem with wage-theft; it is an integral part of the economic rationalist business model. A recent study found underpayment of Australian workers and unpaid Super was in excess of $6 billion a year. (11) When viewed in the context of the actual size of the Australian workforce of about 8.5 million, the problem is widespread.

New immigrants into Australia are the prime target for unscrupulous employers: a recent study found up to sixteen per cent of recent arrivals are paid less than the national minimum wage and are twice as likely to be exploited than longer term residents. (12) The report also found forty per cent of recent migrants were more likely to be underpaid than longer-term workers with the same skills and expertise, and eight per cent of recent arrivals were being underpaid at least three dollars per. (13) When taken in the context of the size of the recent immigrant workforce as being well over one million recent arrivals on temporary visas from a total of 8.5 million, the problem is clearly not a peripheral issue.

Economic rationalism runs counter to Australia being a lucky country with a fair go for all!

1.     Pandemic accentuates problem of our productivity flatlining, Australian, 22 May 2023.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Statistical Report, Annual Wage Review, 2022-23, The Fair Work Commission, page 41.
4.     Young who borrowed low and paid high cop the crunch, Australian, 17 May 2023.
5.     More pain as food inflation reaches 9.6 per cent, Australian, 23 May 2023.
6.     Tax bonanza but slower growth ahead, Australian, 10 May 2023; and, Survival of the Richest, Oxfam, 16 January 2023.
7.     GDP growth rates – Australia, The World Bank; and, Australia – GDP growth rates, 1961-2023, Macrotrends.
8.     No worse time for IR reforms: builder, Australian, 24 May 2023.
9.     Casual pay gaps at record levels, Australian, 23 May 2023.
10.   Ibid.
11.   Senate inquiry calls for laws to stamp out ‘systematic sustained and shameful’ wage theft. ABC News, 30 March 2022.
12.   New migrants the key victims of wage theft, Australian, 24 May 2023.
13.   Ibid.


Sunday, May 28, 2023

Malinauskas and Modi, With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?


(Original photo: MEA Photography on Creative Commons Flickr)

Written by: Ned K. on 28 May 2023

The other morning when I went to buy a newspaper at the local petrol station, I was served by an international student, Harmandeep, who was working to support his time here while studying at an Australian university. 

I asked him what he thought about Indian Prime Minister Modi's visit to Australia. He said that his family lived in the Punjab in India where there were many small farmers, his father being one of them. 

He said he was surprised that Albanese literally embraced Modi when Modi met Albanese here. I asked him why he was so surprised.

He said that Albanese was meant to support democracy for the ordinary people, being leader of a Labor Party government. Yet Modi was definitely not a fighter for the common people in India. Harmandeep said that Modi was directly responsible for the massacres of Muslims and Sikhs, including farmers from the Punjab. The farmers were fighting the Modi Government and agribusinesses who wanted to kick small farmers off the land and turn agriculture over to the control of Modi's friends in agribusinesses.

I asked Harmandeep why so many Indian people in Australia went to see Modi and Albanese at the sports ground in western suburbs of Sydney recently?

He said the Indian business Hindu community in Australia support Modi, but the Modi government had done nothing for working people in Indian big cities and farming areas, most of whom were poor, regardless of their different religions.

I said that maybe Albanese was so desperate to get India on the side of USA and Australia in their military build-up against China that he ignores the crimes committed by Modi against farmers from the Punjab in particular.

Harmandeep agreed and said that Modi would do deals with any foreign government if it meant more profits for his corporate friends in India

Harmandeep's comments made me think that Modi and SA Labor Government Malinauskas were alike in some ways.

Both were mainly interested in supporting their friends in business and both had taken action against the ordinary people who wanted to protest in public spaces about issues of concern to them.

Modi used force to suppress farmers participating in demonstrations in public spaces.

Malinauskas passed new laws in a flash in parliament in SA in an effort to make people's protests about issues of importance to them ineffective.

Modi amd Malinauskas have similar objective when it comes to suppressing people's protests.

Just different methods to achieve their ends.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Thousand disrupt streets to protect protest

Photo: ABC News Che Corley

 Written by: Nick G. on 27 May 2023

It took hundreds of years of bloody struggle to establish the right to use public space for expressions of protest.

And it took the Liberal and Labor parties in the SA Parliament just 22 minutes to introduce changes to the summary Offences Act to introduce harsh new penalties to take away that right.

As one commentator on radio said, you usually need a calendar and a sundial to follow the snail’s pace of legislation through parliament, but this only needed a stop-watch.

It beat the previous record of just under 24 hours that it took for SA politicians to vote to effectively exempt themselves from scrutiny by the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption in September 2021.

No wonder a thousand people braved overcast skies and the threat of rain last night to gather at Parliament House to voice their opposition to the changes.

For around an hour, they listened to speakers from among the 80 unions and community groups that had signed an open letter to the government calling on it to withdraw the changes.

The changes came in the wake of an Extinction Rebellion protest against the Petroleum Producers and Explorers conference, at which the State’s Minerals and Energy Minister had pledged the government to be at the “disposal” of the fossil fuel industry.

Among the speakers was the President of the Australian Education Union in SA, Andrew Gohl, who linked the Eureka Rebellion, the Suffragettes, and the anti-Vietnam War protests as examples of the necessary disruption required to change bad laws. He ended by reciting the Eureka Oath: We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.

By this stage, the crowd had swelled out onto North Terrace, blocking two lines of traffic.

When the time came to march, the whole of North Terrace was blocked, as was King William Street, into which they turned.

Massed chanting of slogans filled the air.

“Whose streets? Our streets?”
“Tell me what democracy looks like – This is what democracy looks like”.

Then, in joyful shows of defiance, several sit-downs occurred as the march turned into Rundle Mall.

Even if the Labor government and the Opposition (better named “Partners”) get these laws through, they won’t cow people prepared to dare to struggle.

They won’t silence those who believe that defiance of reactionary laws is a good thing.

The harsher the laws, the sharper the struggle.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Latest on foreign investment in Australian agriculture

 Written by: Duncan B. on 20 March 2023

The latest figures on the extent of foreign investment in Australian agriculture have just been released. As always, they make interesting but disturbing reading.

The Top Ten investors with their country of origin and the amount of their investments are:

1. PSP Investments (Canada $6 billion).
2. Macquarie Agriculture (Australia $3 billion).
3. TIAA-CREF-Nuveen (USA $2.2 billion).
4. Rural Funds Group (Australia $1.6 billion).
5. CK Life Sciences (Hong Kong $1.5 billion).
6. Manulife (Canada $1.2 billion).
7. Auston Corporation (Canada $1billion).
8. Australian Agricultural Company (Australia $1 billion).
9. goFARM (Australia $850 million).
10 Fiera Comox (Canada $800 million).

We can see that Canadian investments far outstrip the others. PSP operates over 120 properties across all states and territories in a wide variety of cropping, horticulture, cattle, sheep and nuts.

Foreign companies also control the majority of our dairy processors, sugar refineries, ports, meat processors, cattle feedlots and bulk grain terminals.
There are some wealthy Australians not far behind the big investors. Well-known names such as Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Kerry Stokes are among the Top Ten Australian investors in agriculture.
(Details of these investments can be found in the May edition of AgJournal published by the Weekly Times.)

There is a great divide between Australia’s small and medium farmers and the foreign and Australian millionaire and billionaire investors in agriculture. The small and medium farmers must seek unity with the Australian working class and its allies in the struggle for an independent Australia.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

SA Parliament introduces harsh laws against protest

Written by: Nick G. on 18 May 2023

South Australia is the latest state to massively ramp up penalties for protests that cause public disruption. 

The state that regularly closes CBD roads in the east of the city for a fortnight for the fossil fuel extravaganza Adelaide 500 race, will join NSW, Victoria, and Queensland in attacking people who cause temporary inconvenience in order to make their protest more effective.

The changes to the law were introduced into State parliament by the Liberal Opposition, but quickly endorsed and applauded by the Labor government.
If passed by the Legislative Council, where the Greens will try and oppose it, the laws will increase the fines for obstruction from $750 to $50,000 or three month in jail.

That’s the sort of increase that the Reserve Bank could well say was inflationary!

The proposed changes to the law were a knee-jerk reaction to a member of Extinction Rebellion (ER) lowering herself in abseiling gear from the Morphett Street Bridge near the venue of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) conference being held at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Ironically, it was the same day as the latest warning from scientists in the World Meteorological Organisation that the word is on track to surpass the 1.5 degrees tipping point for climate disaster. 

Their report said there will be a 66 per cent likelihood that between 2023 and 2027 the annual average near-surface global temperature will be more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year. Global temperatures are set to break records in the next five years, they said, with a 98 per cent chance one will be the warmest ever recorded. 

Despite this warning, SA minister Energy and Mining, Tom Koutsantonis told the Conference on Wednesday: “We are thankful you are here. We are happy to a be recipient of APPEA’s largesse in the form of coming here more often. The South Australian government is at your disposal, we are here to help and we are here to offer you a pathway to the future.”

Extinction Rebellion’s protests against the APPEA Conference began on Sunday when about 60 people, in two shifts, lined the road opposite the exit from the airport to “welcome” APPEA delegates. I was one of them and can testify to the appreciative waves, thumbs up, and beeping of car horns from the traffic passing by. 

The ER people were joined by other groups including the anti-AUKUS Nonuclearsubssa, the Wilderness Society and the Port Adelaide Resident's Environment Protection Group.

This was repeated, by a smaller group, on Monday morning.

Also on Monday morning, a group of ER activists entered the foyer of the South Australian Drill Core Reference Library at Tonsley, with plans to protest the gas and oil industry.

Two protesters were arrested for entering and then refusing to leave the building, including Violet Coco who had been jailed for disrupting traffic in Sydney last year. When asked for her name, Violet replied “Gina Rinehart”. Her presence was a great display of a refusal to be cowed by the sort of laws now being resorted to by the two main parties in SA.

On Wednesday morning, Nonuclearsubssa organised a “Don’t dice with nuclear war” protest outside the Adelaide Casino where the American Chamber of Commerce was hosting a panel with Federal Defence Minister Richard Marles and former Liberal Defence Minister and military industry consultant Christopher Pyne as speakers. The anti-AUKUS group was joined by ER, Wage Peace – Disrupt War, and Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN). Protesters entered the venue and held a banner reading “Climate collapse is the only security threat” in front of the speakers’ platform before being dragged away.

Thursday’s protest against the APPEA Conference saw one lane of traffic closed while the firies removed abseiling 69-year-old Meme Thorne. It also saw white paint thrown over the ground floor windows of fossil fuel giant SANTOS’s Adelaide premises, and a rally outside Parliament House.

No matter what the state throws at us, we won’t be stopped.

Our cause is just. 

Budget exposes myth of falling profitability and productivity


\(Source: Andy Pucko on Creative Commons Flickr)

Written by: (Contributed) on 18 May 2023

The 2023 Australian federal budget has a myriad of figures and technical detail amongst which are some that give the lie to claims of falling profitability and productivity.

In fact, if measured against the ability of companies to remain profitable in the face of regional competition from low-wage economies where millions of workers earn a few dollars a day, the Australian working class must rate amongst the most profitable and productive in the world. Here are current and projected figures as calculated from Budget projections:
                                                   COMPANY TAX RECEIPTS (1)


Amount Paid ($bn)

Increase on 2021-22

% increase on 2021-22












2022-23 to 2026-27




In conclusion, the years of low-wage settlements for workers, cost-cutting and the race-to-the-bottom mentality of imperialist globalisation has systematically lowered the standard of living for the Australian working class. The business model is also in acceleration, with ever increasing returns for capitalists: widespread casualisation has been used to systematically undermine trade-unions with industrial relations.  Even their own statistics, from inside the corridors of power and the Australian Tax Office, the facts show the outcome of present-day employer's industrial relations techniques and lies about failing profitability and productivity.
For the record, Australian has a workforce of approximately 13 million, with a two-thirds participation rate reducing the figure to 8.5 million, of which well over a million are holders of temporary work visas.
Those in the latter category are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by employers, as a recent test case in Sydney revealed with a sponsored skilled worker on a 457 visa. (2) A federal court imposed $291,000 in penalties and back-payment orders on the owners of a Sydney hairdressing salon for exploiting a South Korean hairdresser. Over a four-year period, from 2015 to 2019, the worker was underpaid $49,000 and also required to repay $105,000 of wages and entitlements to the salon owner. The court also imposed a $100,000 penalty against the employer. The legal hearing included the worker stating they had not asked questions of their employer as they did not want to jeopardise their working opportunities in Australia, which, it would appear, is commonplace among temporary visa holders.  
The recent Australian Company Tax Receipts presented above, furthermore, should be viewed in the context of rampant tax avoidance procedures and 'creative accounting techniques', whereby companies only pay the bare minimum of what is expected. Multi-nations, based in Australia, for example, can use other countries as 'tax havens' by shifting their main assets elsewhere.
The true figure, relating to the productivity of the Australian working-class, is likely to be much higher!
1.     Tax bonanza but slower growth ahead, Australian Business Review, 10 May 2023.  
2.     Hairdresser ordered to pay worker $291k, Australian, 14 April 2023.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

No more Operation Kasangga!


Written by: Nick G. on 17 May 2023

Australian soldiers have begun a training exercise, Operation Kasangga, with the Philippines Army in the province of Rizal, 57 kilometres east of Manila.

The Philippines Army is a reactionary, anti-people armed force which has long been deployed to counter the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army.

In training the army of the Filipino ruling class, the Australian Defence Force is standing on the wrong side of history, standing in the way of the liberation of the people of the Philippines from imperialism, feudalism and capitalism.

It comes immediately after last month’s involvement of the US military in the biggest Balikatan joint US-Philippines training exercise so far.

Operation Kasangga will involve around 200 troops from the Philippines and 50 from Australia in a monthlong exercise. It will focus on urban operations, combat tracking, jungle warfare and survival training, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

The first Kasangga exercise was conducted in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, from April 11 to June 27, 2022. It lasted two months.

We demand the ADF withdraw from Operation Kasangga.

We support the armed struggle of the people of the Philippines for liberation.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

May Day March, Sydney 1st May 2023


Written by: Jed J. on 14 May 2023

Sometimes when participating in a May Day March it pays to look, listen and learn and on this march learn I did just that.

The march was noisy. There was an aura of power and militancy in the air as unionists from a diverse range of unions marched together in solidarity.

There was a sense of unity and a comradely atmosphere. Even the police sent to deal with any disturbance that might arise were friendly and some even mixed freely with those they were sent to keep an eye on.

When the chant “the workers united will never be defeated’ was aired it was clear that the chant and march were on the same page.

The fact that the march was taking place on May 1 was also significant. It linked the workers of Australia with those of other countries who would over the next 24 hours also be marching.

That workers all over the world were marching on the same day reinforces the call for workers of the world to unite.

No doubt in many places the same grievances will be aired as living standards are under threat due to the attack on workers wages and conditions by capitalists the world over.

While most unions didn’t join the strike, many sent contingents to express solidarity. 

At the Sydney rally one speaker pointed out that over 90% of the economic growth that has been achieved in the last period has been gobbled up by 7% of the population. 

Workers are clearly not getting the benefit from the creation of wealth their labour power has been responsible for.

Without the labour power of the workers there would be no economic growth. The capitalists are parasites on the working class. 

Those who spoke at the rally pointed out how the industrial laws that prevail in Australia clearly favour capitalists and at the same time they make it very difficult for workers to struggle for better wages and conditions.

It was made clear by those who spoke that they expect changes to the industrial laws and they want them changed now.

Some laws were singled out. Workers are concerned that although the ABCC has been abolished, as Labor promised before the federal election, key ABCC leaders have been shifted to the Fair Work Ombudsman and boast about “continuing ABCC methods” there. 

In reality, Labor’s promise has been broken.

It was made clear that as far as the organised working class goes, it’s not good enough.

Speakers said the “Fair Work” Commission is anything but fair and needs to be replaced.

The new Labor Premier of NSW was also put on notice to deliver on promises, including changing industrial relations laws and repeal of anti-protest laws. Unions present fully support a mass rally to be held in June to put pressure on them to do so.

It was clear from the march that some key unions are increasingly united, militant and deadly serious.  Just helping to bring about a change of government is not enough.

There is every indication that workers are coming to a realisation that they need to continue to struggle no matter which party is in government if they are to achieve laws that recognise their rights.

If there is one lesson to be learnt from the march, it is that there are unions up for the fight and are prepared to play a leading role.