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.
(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.
(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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Above: Another of our publications that examines the extent of US domination of Australia)
Written by: Nick G. on 11 May 2023
It is often said by critics of our Party’s support for anti-imperialist Australian independence that Australia is already an independent country and, moreover, an imperialist country in its own right.
Evidence for this is said to be the number of Australian companies investing overseas to secure raw materials and to exploit cheap labour.
It is certainly true that this occurs.
But equally, our critics need to properly investigate the source of the capital that sits inside companies based in Australia and described therefore as “Australian”.
Yesterday, there was an announcement on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) that an Australian company, Magnum Mining and Exploration has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mitsubishi Corporation RtM International (RtMi) for the offtake of its Buena Vista iron products and waste materials.
The Magnum website describes the company as
an Australia-based company (ASX: MGU), which is engaged in iron ore concentrate and green pig iron production
The Company's Buena Vista Magnetite Iron Ore and HIsmelt Pig Iron Project is in the US State of Nevada.
The Company's Appalachian Iron HIsmelt Pig Iron Project is in the US State of West Virginia.
Our company will produce green pig iron for EAF steelmakers on the US west coast and in the Ohio River Valley.
Note that the company says it is “Australian-based” and not “Australian-owned”.
Its major shareholders are:
As an ASX listed company, it will have many Australian “mum and dad” shareholders, but the decisive capital whose interests drive the company are foreign.
We chose to investigate the following Australian companies in detail as each of them figured in searches we did for Australian companies involved in illegal or harmful activities in Africa: Sundance Resources, Resgen, Theta, Danakili, and Mineral Commodities.
In each case, these companies were Australian-based, but their largest shareholders were Chinese or nominee companies associated with big foreign banks. In respect of the nominee companies, we wrote:
These giants of international banking feature in the lists of top twenty shareholders of a huge number of Australian companies, but it is almost impossible to determine on whose behalf they are acting. Indeed, for international investors this anonymity is one of the advantages of working through a nominee company. The other is that the nominee company does all of the paperwork in whatever country it is operating, freeing the investor of red tape.
In 2017, we published Australia and Imperialism in the 21st Century which analysed claims that Australia was an imperialist country, and came to the following conclusion:
It is true that some Australian capitalists engage in imperialist activity in their own right, but they do not constitute the majority of the Australia bourgeoisie and their activities are not so representative of that bourgeoisie or so independent of US imperialism as to be able to characterise the Australian state as an independent imperialist entity.
We said that it was more accurate to define Australia as sub-imperialist, characterised by a continuing subordination to, and dependency on, US imperialism on the one hand, and some capacity for autonomous activity at the regional level, on the other.
Pursuing a policy of building a broad united front against US imperialism to end its domination of Australia does not mean advocating an independent capitalist state, or turning our back on unity with the oppressed of the world.
Our policy is for the smashing of the existing machinery of state and the creation of socialist state institutions led by the working class. Now, and in the future, we will practice proletarian internationalism and oppose any Australian capitalists exploiting the people and resources of other countries.
When a person strangling to death on the end of a hangman’s rope is told that, rather than being suspended 3 feet above the floor, they will be lowered to within 2 feet of the floor, it would be somewhat presumptuous to expect gratitude from the victim – or to praise the compassion of the executioner.
But that is exactly how Labor has cruelly taunted the “most vulnerable”, as it self-righteously refers to people in poverty.
It expects to be greeted with applause because it has given JobSeeker recipients an extra $2.86 per day, leaving them still deep in poverty, still gasping for breath on the end of a rope that is said to “leave no-one behind”. At $52 a day, JobSeeker will still be $35 a day ($250 a week) below the Henderson poverty-line
Far above the reality of poverty, Labor keeps alive the disgusting welfare for the rich Stage 3 tax cuts. Living well beyond the reach of poverty, not having to scrimp and save as rents rise, not having to house the family in the car when made homeless, those on an annual income of $200,000 will be gifted an extra $24.66 per day from July 2024.
Well may we thank Labor for raising the age of children from 8 to 14 for the sole parent Parenting Payment – it was Julia Gillard’s Labor Government that reduced it in the first place. And why so meanly only restore it to the age of 14 when most young people remain dependent on their parent until the end of the years of compulsory schooling? Would it have hurt to extended it another two years?
The Anti-Poverty Network in SA released a press statement yesterday that perfectly expressed the anger over the Budget: It was headed “We Demanded Bread, We Received Crumbs: Federal Labor’s Pathetic Budget Betrays People In Poverty”.
Labor knows that its so-called “surplus” budget will go straight into deficit in coming years. It has committed to its US masters that it will proceed with the AUKUS expenditure of $368 billion to purchase attack submarines pointed by the US at its imperialist rival, China.
Capitalism is a system in which the greatest imaginable cleavages between classes are produced by the marketplace in which labour power is sold for wages. And for those unable to sell their labour power, the generosity of the rich ensures the most abject poverty, justified by a blame-the-victim mentality kept alive in the monopoly media and the paid opinion-makers, the “influencers” of think tanks and academia.
Capitalism is a system that requires two types of party for its maintenance and administration. One openly works for the rich, the other is kept in reserve because its professed concerns for “all Australians” is a necessary deception when the former starts to stink.
Both are parties of capitalism. Both are parties which carry out the directives of the US imperialists who dominate the economy and all the agendas that suit their purposes.
We support all actions called to protest against Labor’s “leaving the poor behind” Budget.
Lift JobSeeker and all Centrelink payments above the poverty-line!
One of the first acts of the incoming Albanese Labor government was the commissioning of a review of Australian Defence requirements. The review was headed by former Labor Defence Minister (currently the Australian High Commissioner to the UK) Stephen Smith, and former Chief of the Defence Force, Sir Angus Houston.
It should be said from the outset the “defence” here is a misnomer: with the exception of that stage of World War 2 when the defeat of fascism was on the agenda, and when the Japanese imperialists threatened invasion of Australia and bombed our cities, the Australian military has never been deployed in conflicts to defend Australian sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is owned by the ruling class, and used to serve whichever imperialism that ruling class is required to support.
To deceive the people into supporting its acts of loyalty to imperialism, the ruling class develops narratives maintained by the mainstream media. The current narrative features an external threat, the “threat of an aggressive China” and an internal benefit, the “jobs bonanza” from the defence industry.
Because they are basically lies, more and more people start to see through them. Unions, anti-AUKUS mass organisations, and rank-and-file members of the Labor Party are rejecting the AUKUS arrangements. The Electrical Trades Union, for example, in adopting an anti-AUKUS policy, stated quite clearly that “The newly announced AUKUS deal will reduce Australian jobs and sovereign capability and could be a dangerous step towards lifting Australia’s prohibition on nuclear.”
But it is not just amongst the people that opposition develops. A section of the national bourgeoisie speaks out against the cancellation of military contracts in order to more firmly attach the Australian military to US supply chains.
This section of the national bourgeoisie is prone to vacillation and switching loyalties. So long as the Defence Department lays the golden eggs of defence contracts, they could not be happier. They have world class high-tech and advanced manufacturing skills and sell them to the highest bidders, including overseas regimes that use them against their own people. However, once those contracts are cancelled and all-too-obviously replaced with contracts going to US suppliers, they cannot conceal their disappointment.
And this replacement of Australian suppliers by US contractors is at the heart of the Smith-Houston Australian Defence Review.
Thus, the online Australia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) editor Kym Bergmann lashed out today against the decision to spend over $A307 million “to buy towed array sonar systems that could – and should – be made locally.” His article was headed “Latest AUKUS outrage – buying towed array sonars from the US”. He said the decision to buy the sonar systems from the US rather than from Australian industries already supplying the equipment to the US, UK and French Navies “has left local industry totally gobsmacked”.
This follows April’s reaction by Australian companies to the release of the Defence Review. The Defence Teaming Centre said that the Review “may cost the industry millions of dollars in lost investment. This has the DTC predicting a decline in the number of businesses working in the Defence sector due to the continued lack of commitment and certainty from government.”
The Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN), a peak body for national bourgeois elements seeing to gain from contracts with the military, said of the Review that “The references to Defence Industry appear cursory at best. Of concern is the statement that Australian industry content and domestic production should be balanced against timely capability acquisition.”
It went on to say:
Allowing Internationally owned large Defence contractors the ability to provide advice to Defence on ‘speed to capability’ without due regard or requirement for work to be transferred to Australian Industry, means that these overseas companies will simply use the ‘speed to capability’ mantra to employ their existing overseas supply chain. And there will be no development, enhancement or creation of an Australian Indigenous sovereign industrial capability, a capability our national requires in order to achieve national strategic resilience.
Another commentator said of future Australian defence contracts, “if you’re not from the U.S. no need to apply.”
In a separate comment, Bergmann said “the pro-U.S. faction only want things with the stars and stripes plastered on them – and AUKUS will make that mentality even worse”.
Other examples of decisions to bail out US industries at the expense of the local capitalists include the decision to scrap the building of more than 300 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 45 Self-Propelled Howitzers and resupply vehicles worth about $A15 billion to local industry and instead spend $A4 billion on 30 year old U.S. Abrams main battle tanks with zero Australian content.
This led one reader of the APDR to respond: “This Review (so far) is nothing more than an excuse to tie the ADF to U.S. Supply Lines and Manufacturing Bases at the expense of Australian Industry and Sovereignty.”
Australian workers do not need to sympathise with the vacillating national bourgeoisie.
What they must do is understand that the pro-US narrative is based on deception and falsehood, and that there is no future in tying employment opportunities to an imperialist power that only seeks to serve its own interests.
An anti-imperialist independent and socialist Australia must be fought for.
Our future depends on smashing the existing machinery of state and taking control of an economy without capitalists.