Saturday, September 30, 2023

ASEAN Solidarity Exercise keeps US and China at a distance


(Source: Ministry of Defence, Singapore)

Written by: (Contributed) on 1 Octobe(r 2023

The ASEAN Solidarity Exercise, a joint military drill, has provided further evidence of a growing reluctance by South-east Asian nations to get drawn into escalating US-China diplomatic hostilities. 

There was, for example, no official US or China involvement.

While it will take time to assess the significance of the exercise, it is important to note the response as indicative of deeper problems and issues. It is highly relevant that the exercise took place with widespread publicity across the region. In Australia, the main hub for 'US interests' in the southern part of the region, however, there was near silence; a brief official media release from Canberra was terse in style and did not follow the stated ASEAN line but merely reiterated the standard US diplomatic position.

On 19 September ASEAN member countries began a five-day joint military exercise, ASEAN Solidarity Exercise, near Batan Island, adjacent to Singapore on the eastern approach to the Straits of Malacca, a sensitive maritime area with congested shipping-lanes. (1) The host country, Indonesia, chose the area for the drills due to it not being contested by China and its claim to sovereignty of the South China Seas. The exercise was initially planned for the southern edge of the South China Seas although it was relocated to not provoke a confrontation with China. (2)

Singapore is regarded by the US as highly strategic: it is placed on a straight line from US intelligence facilities of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and Guam: the facilities have undergone extensive upgrading in recent years as part of US regional military and security provision, and rest upon an arc from base facilities at Pine Gap in Central Australia. Singapore is also situated approximately half way between Diego Garcia and Guam. (3)

Military personnel and their civilian counterparts working for US signals intelligence (Sigint) were, no doubt, working overtime throughout the ASEAN Solidarity Exercise, sitting silently focused on computer screens in numerous regional facilities.

While officially planned in June, there was very little publicity in western media outlets although widespread coverage across South-east Asian countries, highlighting a welcoming stance after years of escalating US-led diplomatic hostilities toward China as a serious competitor and rival to their traditional hegemonic positions. Stand-offs in the contested South China Seas have become common, as the US moves toward real-war scenarios.

Official ASEAN diplomatic positions were pragmatically stated along the lines that 'by uniting together, we can maintain stability in the region for the favour of the people … and the drills were … about ASEAN centrality'. (4) The softer style diplomacy has highlighted ASEAN's attempt to accommodate China as a major trading partner with trade agreements.

The response from Canberra, however, was both direct, but extremely limited; a 32-column centimetre news item explained the ASEAN Solidarity Exercise was, 'largely aimed at countering Beijing's muscular defence of its claims to the disputed water-way', with reference to the South China Seas. (5) Scant on details, the official Australian diplomatic position slavishly followed the recently implemented US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy. (6)

A recurring problem is that the US bases its foreign policy upon geo-strategic goals for control with neo-colonial designs and finance capital, whereas China's foreign policy is more trade-based and subtle. Played-out in the ASEAN example, the sub-region forms a significant part of the US first island chain running from the Kuril Islands in the north to Borneo in the south; during the past and present Cold War the island chains are regarded as a first line of defence, with reference for the defence and security of Taiwan. (see diagram)

China, by contrast, has regarded Borneo as an important centre for its part-financing of a huge $132 billion trade zone and manufacturing hub; China has provided a hydro-plant for electrification. (7) The US has responded to the whole matter with icy diplomatic silence.

China's financing of overseas facilities also tends to be extensive, with outlays for longer-term planning. Flows into Indonesia, for example, doubled to $3.2 billion in the 2021-22 period. (8) Behind a great deal of economic development planning across South-east Asia, however, there is concern that the rapid growth could unleash new social and political forces. The nature of the independence struggles of yesteryear waged against unwanted outside interference in their own and neighbouring countries, continues to shape a great deal of political thinking of later generations of leaders across the sub-region; they fear politicisation of the working class and small farmers due to exploitation by the corporate sector and big land-owners who wield enormous power and extensive influence.

It is interesting to note, therefore, that while the ASEAN drills were officially billed as non-combat exercises, some coverage revealed a photograph of a counter-insurgency operation exercise in jungle terrain with Indonesian soldiers from the 112th Infantry Battalion (9) Indonesia has a long history of highly repressive military operations designed to stifle any political opposition, including in Indonesian Papua and East Timor, which is now part of ASEAN.

A number of the ASEAN countries have opposition political groups which has led to involvement with US-led military personnel and their allies for training local military forces in counter-insurgency and counter-intelligence operations. Those countries associated with ASEAN through various regional forums and observer status, likewise, include some with highly questionable political, economic and social stability: Ski Lanka, Bangladesh, DPRK.

Inside ASEAN, the Philippines, for example, has had a long-time insurgency led by the Communist Party New People's Army. As the US remain highly unpopular in the country, Australian Special Forces have been used, in their place, for training Philippine counterparts in recent years.

Thailand, furthermore, witnessed serious political upheaval following economic planning for agricultural areas by the World Bank over twenty years ago. It unleashed new popularist social and political forces which shook the foundations of Thailand's electoral system and saw the military step into civil society. Controversy surrounding recent elections was merely a continuation of the massive political discord sweeping Thailand.

Elsewhere, Malaysian politics has remained bogged down by massive corruption scandals and political intrigue; the problem could easily spillover and destabilise one of the dominant diplomatic players in ASEAN, particularly amongst rival ethnic groupings.

In conclusion, the ASEAN Solidarity Exercise can best be viewed initially as a highly localised attempt to deflect unwanted US-China diplomatic rivalry, regarded as an obstacle to further and higher levels of economic development amongst member countries and their associates. 

1.     See: ASEAN holds war games amid regional tensions, Australian, 20 September 2023.
2.     Ibid.
3.     See: Peters Projection, World Map, Actual Size.
4.     First ever ASEAN drills held,  21 September 202; and, ASEAN kicks off joint military exercise near Batan Island, The Diplomat, 19 September 2023; and, ASEAN kicks off, REUTERS, 19 September 2023.
5.     Australian, op.cit., 20 September 2023.
6.     See: The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019, which has provided a fully detailed account of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy.
7.     China doubles investment, Benar News, 24 October 2022.
8.     Ibid.
9.     Star, op.cit., 21 September 2023.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

US wants AUKUS to expand into outer space

(Above: As sinister as it looks, the emblem of the 23 Space Operations Squadron of the US Space Force.  Public domain image)


Written by: Nick G. on 27 September 2023

In April 2001, the US Department of Defence announced that its objective was “full spectrum dominance”. It included the domain of space in its definition of the term, which was:

The cumulative effect of dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment, which includes cyberspace, that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.

It was the clearest statement so far of US imperialism’s desire to completely control the world.
Various attempts were made by the US to create a body to implement its domination of space.
They came to fruition in 2019 when President Trump created the US Space Force as the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces. According to Trump’s legislation, the aim of the Space Force is to:
1. Provide freedom of operation for the United States in, from, and to space;
2. Conduct space operations; and
3. Protect the interests of the United States in space.
The US remains the only nation to maintain an armed force for operations in space and does so in defiance of the international community which, through the United Nations, had established the Outer Space Treaty as far back as 1966. The Treaty includes the following provisions:
the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
The AUKUS arrangements are seen by senior US personnel as a door through which the US can achieve its aim of dominance in the space domain.
Speaking a week ago at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference in Hawaii, the US Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman referred to the “lack of sensors in the Southern Hemisphere” needed to provide “comprehensive” coverage of the space domain. 
He added that the Space Force’s Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC), will first look at “what’s the fastest way to evolve the architecture that we know we’re going to need?” That “architecture” would depend on what “our allies and partners can bring to bear on this mission set”.
Having publicly flown this kite, a US military think-tank, MITRE Corporation proposed the expansion of the AUKUS Pact to include space monitoring. In a paper delivered to the same AMOS conference, MITRE said that an AUKUS space pact “could have a lot of promise to help tackle the challenges that make the space environment less stable”.
The paper the outlines the “mutual benefits for the US and Australia of tighter collaboration on Space Domain Awareness — a relationship that already is in its formative stage, for example with the US planning to put one of three planned sites for the Deep-Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) system” in Australia. 
“Through AUKUS, measures could be taken to enhance space resilience against military or natural crises by ensuring that countries maintain minimum viable capabilities across key elements of the supply chain for the space industry. This may involve concentrating on the components necessary to reconstruct vital space-based assets, as well as systems for disaggregating and enhancing existing capabilities. This process should involve AUKUS governments collaborating to integrate new and emergent technology firms into the supply chain of the space industry,” the paper states.
Regrettably, certain sections of the Australian “defence” community and leading politicians will be only too happy to be handed the kite strings of the US proposals.
People like Albanese, Marles and Wong have proven adept at dressing their subservience to US imperialism in the fancy dress of skills development and jobs “bonanzas” – and hang the cost.
The opponents of AUKUS must be prepared for a fight to keep Australia out of any expanded AUKUS arrangement.
They must fight to ensure the principles of the UN Outer Space Treaty are upheld; namely, that space belongs to all humanity, that it must not be dominated by any one nation by any means, and that peaceful purposes must drive its exploration and utilisation. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

When Workers Unite, Bosses Tremble!

 Written by: Ned K. on 23 September 2023

Poultry Workers Getting Organized. Strike Against Corporate Greed And Rising Cost Of Living 

About 1,000 workers at Inghams Poultry processing plants in WA and SA went on strike on Friday 22 September. They are demanding wage increases that keep up with the rising cost of living and better working conditions.

Inghams have increased profits by about 70% in the last 12 months with the increased profits coming from the surplus value created by these workers. Apart from the 70% increase in profits, the workers on the picket line when interviewed by the mass media said that the CEO had a 9% salary increase. 

Inghams' wage offer after months of negotiations with the workers' Union Delegates was well short of their demands for 6% per year, just to keep up with inflation.

As with most strikes, wage levels are not the only issue. Delegates said work intensification, repetition strain injuries and increased fatigue levels had reached unbearable levels. 

Before taking the strike action, workers spent months building their own networks and organization on the job to ensure that the required Protected Industrial Action Ballot was supported by a big majority of workers,

There are many strike actions by workers across many different industries despite the limitations of the Fair Work Act  enterprise bargaining laws

What is important about the Inghams workers' strike is that the the company's strategy of hiring new migrant labour from diverse cultural backgrounds (a divide and conquer strategy) has met its match. 

The strength of the workers in this dispute lies in the unity of a diverse workforce.

When workers unite, bosses tremble!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

70th anniversary of Emu Field A-Bomb tests approaches


Written by: Nick G. on 22 September 2023

As a kid growing up in the western suburbs of Adelaide, a hand-painted slogan on the old bridge over the railway line on Henley Beach Rd (where the underpass is now) is firmly imprinted on my memory. I suspect it was done by CPA members in the late 50s.  It read “Ban all A- and H-Bomb Tests”.  It was unmistakable and lasted there for years.

A similar slogan had been painted on the wall of Government House in 1957 and a young member of the Moulders Union convicted and ordered to remove the slogan. 

The CPA paper Tribune gave regular coverage to atomic and hydrogen bomb tests on Monto Bello Island and at Emu Field and Maralinga. These were carried out by British imperialism and its local servants in violation of Australian independence and sovereignty, and against the wishes of the people.

Even before the tests, the CPA had begun a campaign against the creation of the Rocket Range on Mt Eba pastoral station. A town, later known as Woomera, was built to service the testing of rockets. Alf Watt, SA State Secretary of the CPA, published a booklet in the late 1940s titled Rocket Range Threatens Australia which first raised the issue of threats to First Peoples from the weapons tests.

The Central Australian Aborigine Reserve is to be violated. Across its 65,000 square miles there will pass a rocket range 200 miles wide. Falling missiles, some fitted with war-heads (including atomic war-heads) will endanger both the lives and food supply of the natives. With observation posts placed at I00 mile intervals along the range, the Reserve will be opened to white men, with disastrous effects upon the aborigines and their tribal organisation. 

Another crime is to be added to the long list by which the aborigines chiefly know us. It is the fashion of governments to proclaim New Deals for the natives. But practice, without exception, has been to destroy the aborigines as a race, and turn the survivors into virtual chattel slaves for the white exploiters.

The following drawing illustrated the passage above:

When the first tests of atom bombs on Australian soil were announced in 1953, Tribune again exposed the dangers to First Peoples:

Truth (October 4) said that “nomadic tribes of Aborigines have been rounded up…It is impossible to round up these tribes, impossible to stop them returning to their hunting grounds…Even if the atom blast does not kill and mutilate a number of Aborigines, it will devastate their hunting grounds, destroy their water holes, and devastate tribal territory that is sacred to them, and to which they believe their spirits will return after death. The inevitable result will be disastrous to the tribes.

Tragically, the scenario painted by the Tribune materialised with the first A-Bomb test at Emu Field on October 15, 1953. A second A-Bomb was detonated on October 27, 1953. The effect of these explosions was to render Emu Field contaminated by nuclear radiation, so the test site was moved to Maralinga where further tests were held in 1956.

Aboriginal people did die as a result of nuclear explosions on their lands. Yankunytjatjara man Yami Lester later became well-known for having suffered blindness from the black mist which blew across his family in the aftermath of a test. He became a much-admired activist against nuclear energy and for the rights of First Peoples. Paul Kelly’ song Maralinga references Yami Lester.

On September 21, 2023, the Adelaide Advertiser revealed that for nearly 70 years, the British imperialists have kept hidden from nuclear veterans and First Peoples the results of their blood tests taken between 1956 and 1960. The blood tests would have benefitted doctors treating people exposed to radiation from the bomb tests, but would have significantly assisted those tested in lodginf claims for compensation from the British and Australian governments. Keeping these blood tests secret for all these years is a crime against the people concerned. Yami Lester’s daughter Karina has called for the records to be made public. 

During the time that atomic and hydrogen bombs were tested on Australia soil, the Communist Party encouraged unions and peace committees and the Union of Australian Women to condemn the tests and demand their cancellation. 

This was a strong campaign, but ultimately unsuccessful in achieving its objectives.

As the 70th anniversary of the Emu Field tests approaches, we must redouble our efforts against the contemporary abominations of the AUKUS arrangements, the preparations for fighting the US war against China, and the push to create an Australian nuclear energy industry.

Please seek out Emu Field commemorative activities and take part in them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

We are always stronger when we stand together

 Written by: Louisa L. on 18 September 2023

Palawa lawyer and activist Michael Mansell recently called for the referendum to be abandoned, labelling it divisive. 

Michael Mansell has a long and militant history. As a young man his existence as a Tasmanian Aboriginal person was denied and he was demonised above all other First Peoples’ leaders. His lived experience makes his words today particularly potent. 

He was present and voted for the Statement from the Heart. But his repeated and powerfully argued preference is for Treaty over Voice if – as Anthony Albanese made clear – only one is on offer in this parliamentary term. Michael Mansell says to non-Indigenous people, “You have every right” to vote Yes or No without fear of being attacked.

A cry for justice

Younger activists are rightly impatient for justice because lives are at stake. 

Before January 26, Tom Tanuki a white YouTube activist and satirist publicised the voices of strong Blak opponents of the Yes campaign like Amy McQuire and Linda-June Coe, and encouraged people to attend Invasion Day rallies. But, instead of attacking the ruling class, he repeatedly ridiculed those allies who actively support the Yes vote as “Age-reading, white Australian, leftie brothers and sisters.” 

Many of them are older women, unionists and workers with long history in struggle. While some think a No vote will be a victory for racism, most now understand the view of First Peoples who oppose the Voice because it is not enough. Overwhelmingly, like many First Peoples, they see no alternative to the current system, including parliament. Hardly surprising given the sea of sophisticated and all-encompassing propaganda against alternatives, particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union and 1989 events and rise of capitalist corporations in China.

Those whom Tanuki targets are not stupid. They have generations of experience. 

Underlying Tanuki’s concern, but not mentioned, is the huge job done by the Business Council of Australia to hide First Peoples’ suffering from non-Indigenous people, to mesmerise them with vibrant culture and successful individuals, voting Yes to convince themselves that real change is afoot. There may be some who fit this description. But while 9 network’s ‘Age’ may be one-sidedly pro-Yes, many articulate No activists have now appeared on NITV and the ABC this year, because they are so numerous and active their voices can no longer be effectively suppressed. 

Tanuki’s negative mantra mimics “the latte-sipping inner-city lefties” so mocked by the right before they discovered “woke”. It’s not helpful. But his anger as he sees the carnage wrought on First Peoples is a cry for justice.

While growing numbers of non-Indigenous No voters are influenced by First Peoples’ concerns, those influenced by Sky, Advance Australia and official Government Referendum No propaganda know far less about First Peoples lives than Yes voters. 

Far right No propagandists ridicule and belittle Yes advocates, including First Peoples, as they ridiculed and demonised Lidia Thorpe when she used parliament to consistently expose tax avoiding multinational corporations. Even worse when she showed just who parliamentarians swear allegiance to, “the colonising queen” of England. 

We have not lived the lives of First Peoples. We cannot speak for them. We cannot act for them.

First Peoples often remind us they are only 3 percent of the population. They need allies to stand alongside them if they are to win this centuries’ long war.

Our comrades have consistently amplified First Peoples’ voices silenced by capitalist media as the twin constitutional recognition and reconciliation juggernauts rolled forward. 

We were far from the only ones, and others did far more. Many, many non-Indigenous groups and individuals dedicate their lives to First Peoples and make sure quieter voices were heard and supported.

But we have not lived the lives of First Peoples. We cannot speak for them. We cannot act for them. 

Like others we shared the stories of Grandmothers Against Forced Removals who said, “Sorry means you won’t do it again”, as state-sanctioned theft of First Peoples children skyrocketed. 

Together we reported from coroner’s courts and protests years before Black Lives Matters erupted.

Together we spread the words of women and men, young and old, from all over the lands, speaking for Treaty and unifying inter-clan treaties. 

Whether our joint enemies were mining, fracking, damming or poisoning lands and waters, denying the frontier wars, crushing culture, raiding communities, torturing children in prison, within and beyond the even greater myriad of First Peoples struggles over decades, we all tried to listen, learn, share and act. 

The non-Indigenous people the far right targets to vote No are undermined by ignorance and motivated by fear. They didn’t create the lies, but they believe them. As we build our own forces, Non-Indigenous people who support First Peoples need to gradually drive wedges into the far right’s support, just as it does to us.

People learn from their own experiences

One key leader of the Yes campaign, a former Trotsky-aligned firebrand, later saw the terrible carnage all governments ignored as she worked in depths of the Deaths in Custody royal commission. Soon after, she became a vocal advocate of the “opportunities” provided by mining corporations. She now bitterly condemns the industry. 

Her own experience showed the truth, even before Rio Tinto destroyed the cave at Juukan Gorge. Her anger is also a cry for justice.

Awabakal man Terry Mason says the Voice will undoubtedly disappoint most who have faith in it, if against the current odds, it is implemented. But we believe they’ll learn from its failure in practice.

Sixty years ago, our party said the ALP was a capitalist party and said parliament is part of the deceptive apparatus of the ruling capitalist class. That didn’t mean parliament, the ALP or even Liberals like Malcolm Fraser did nothing of benefit to the people, especially when waves of struggle forced their hands.

Other left parties condemned us as sectarian. Experience has accumulated since then. Now every left party looks askance at Labor. Out of office it makes all sorts of claims. In office it never delivers on fundamentals. Capitalism still runs the show, even when Labor prosecutes things like Robodebt that widely expose capitalist cruelty, but don’t threaten profits.

How is it that so many people now see through the Labor Party? Is it because we condemned it? Or is it because their own experience convinced them the Labor Party would never bring about the change that is necessary in this country? Could the same be true of the Yes vote? We know it could deliver nothing fundamental. We know it could overpower the voices of others. 

Yet, the struggles surrounding the referendum process have seen the voices of those demanding fundamental change grow louder. 

Collectively and individually, especially in struggle, people learn from their own experiences.

The masses make history. First Peoples and non-Indigenous people have different lives, different priorities, different battles. But we have the same enemies.

We are always stronger when we stand together.


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Is Jacinta serious?


Written by: Mike W on 17 September 2023

You’ve got to hand it to Jacinta Nampijinpa Price – she sure knows how to prettify colonialism and its aftermath.

Speaking at the National Press Club, Price, who is the Opposition’s shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and one of two prominent Indigenous advocates for the reactionary No vote in the Voice Referendum, denied that colonialism had negatively impacted upon Australian First Peoples. 

Instead, she said that it had impacted positively. “Absolutely. I mean, now we’ve got running water, we’ve got readily available food.”


But First Peoples always had “readily available food”, according to Geoffrey Blainey, a conservative historian. He said that famines were rare. “It may well be that on most days of 1788 the Aboriginals ate a much greater number of fresh fish than the 13 million Australians eat today,” he argued in his 1975 book Triumph of the Nomads (p. 133). After making similar comparisons based on waterbirds, shellfish, seeds and meat, he concluded, “If we specify the main ingredients of a good standard of living as food, health, shelter and warmth, the average aboriginal was probably as well off as the average European in 1800…” (p. 225).

What changed was the impact of colonialism which, by force and violence, or the threat of force and violence, separated First Peoples from their lands, and then destroyed the bountiful habitats that had sustained human life in favour of sheep and cattle runs that brought in feral grasses and destroyed the medicinal and food stores of the First Peoples. Changes that wiped out biological diversity included clearing land for grain crops. 

I have seen the terrible quality of the “readily available food” in canteens and stores on the APY Lands and throughout northern Australia, and I have seen the prices asked of people living on or below the poverty line. The quislings are wrong.


First Peoples have had their water sources: soaks, water holes, creeks and rivers, and certain tree roots and ground-burrowing frogs, exchanged – violently – for the “benefits” of running water from taps.

I say violently, because farmers and pastoralists, and in more recent time, miners, have taken the pure waters of the land from their fellow human beings and given them over to the stock and the crops and the minerals whose value capitalism places above that of the welfare of people.

Waterholes were poisoned, the shit from stock fouled others, and First peoples were “dispersed” by guns and whips.

In 1856, John Bowyer Bull recorded how he had visited waterholes on Flinders Ranges stations. At Minbrie, Wilpena and Aroona, he reported seeing only women of the Adnyamathanha. They all said the same thing “Whitefella shootem all about blackfella”.

At Angepena Station, “Stewart took me down the creek…and showed me a camp of lubras and children all cut to pieces with the stockwhips. The women’s breasts were cut open and little children six to twelve months old were bleeding all over.” Bull was told that the women and children went to a little spring to get a drink when stockmen whipped them to keep them away from waters now reserved for cattle.

In 2011 I wrote a poem about this:

Angepena Waters

Angepena waters were always just there
For all of the yura to share
And the birds and the creatures 
Danced through its virgin features
As the yura chanted the songlines

Angepena waters are sparkling in the sun
But white men took the land for their cattle to run
And for them it makes more sense 
Than to build a big long fence
That the yura are dispersed with the gun

Though yura men lay dead
Their families had not fled
They still huddled near Angepena water
So the stockmen took whips
And slashed their breasts with great rips
And cut the heads and the backs of their children

At Angepena waters there were genocidal slaughters
So that cattle could drink without disturbance
With the water holes mud
Mixed with cow shit and blood
Angepena’s a shame job for whitey.

But the shame job continues today in First Peoples communities. 

Almost all of what city people call remote communities are reliant on bore water and, as a result, there are concerns that groundwater is being exposed to large amounts of minerals, particularly heavy metals. These are a major cause of kidney disease in First Peoples.

In some communities, uranium is the problem. Laramba is an Aboriginal community, roughly 205 kilometres west of Mparntwe (Alice Springs), that is home to about 300 people. Its water comes from a bore, and uranium occurs naturally in the area. A 2020 NT Power and Water report found the community's water was contaminated with 0.052 milligrams per litre of uranium, more than three times the concentration limit recommended in the Australia's drinking water guidelines.

Salt and calcium are also present in bore water. Washing machines, taps, electric jugs become heavily calcified and require regular replacement. In addition to these ongoing costs, communities often have to purchase bottled water. 

Jacinta Price cannot plead ignorance about these things. Just last June, the community at Ali Curung, 400km north of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) started trucking in bottled water because issues with local water quality — including contamination, taste, colour or even temperature — are causing many residents to turn to the sugared poisons of soft drink instead.

Controversy surrounding the bottled water issue is well-known in the Territory following a decision by the government to grant a private water licence to Fortune Agribusiness at the nearby Singleton Station. 

The licence will allow Fortune to extract up to 40,000 megalitres a year for a major fruit and vegetable project in Central Australia that will mostly supply China.
Kaytetye Warlpiri woman Maureen Nampijinpa O’Keefe is one of the local mob who fear any drop in the water table could risk "irreversible damage" to sacred springs, soakages and trees.

"This is about people's lives, this is about human rights," she said. "The impact will be devastating, and we will hold the government responsible for the damage."

Nor should Jacinta Price be unaware of problems closer to Mparntwe. 

Her mother, Bess, was NT Community Services minister in August 2014 when water was cut off from the town camp of Ingerreke (Whitegate).

Because it is not an official camp, Whitegate residents, who live in tin sheds, do not get basic services, including electricity. The population fluctuates from a handful to up to 30 people, and they organised a rally against Bess Price in September 2014 to demand access to water.

As the daughter of a Warlpiri women, Jacinta surely knows the story of her own people’s denial of access to water by pastoralists. In her June 2023 Arena Quarterly article on the police killing of Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker, Melinda Hinkson wrote:

Such an attitude marks the character of a lot of what occurred across the Australian continent in the early brutal years of colonial invasion. It is a vital ingredient to the othering that enables one person to kill another, and that rationalises the dispossession and destruction of entire societies in the name of European progress. On Warlpiri Country this process acquired purposeful intent in the 1920s and was felt most profoundly with the granting of a pastoral lease over Pikilyi, a tract of land of great cultural significance which contains the only precious permanent water source throughout the vast Tanami Desert. Having secured the pastoral lease and named it Mt Doreen for his wife, William Braitling set about a brutal campaign to exclude Warlpiri from the life-giving spring and surrounding lush hunting grounds. Through their starvation he forced them to mine wolfram in return for meagre food supplies. There were documented cases of malnutrition, of floggings, of women and girls suffering venereal disease, of a group of Warlpiri being neck-chained and forced to walk the 250 miles to Alice Springs as part of investigations into the death of a white man. The work of missionaries and anthropologists to expose the brutal conditions on Mt Doreen station was one significant factor in the establishment of settlements and reserves across Central Australia in the 1940s and 1950s.

Why Jacinta Price wants to put lipstick on the pig of colonialism is beyond me.

She will not stop First Peoples fighting for their rights.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

The reactionary No vote and a term we must revive


Written by: Nick G. on 17 September 2023

When Labor PM Albanese decided that the No campaign in the Voice referendum would not be attacked for being racist, he opened the floodgates of racist opinion.

We all know from the treatment of Adam Goodes, Stan Grant, Lydia Thorpe and many more First Peoples, that to have a First People’s voice is to make oneself a target of the vilest residual racism that still infests much of the non-Indigenous population.

What enables the die-hard racists to persevere with their racism is the legitimacy given to their views by certain conservative First Peoples themselves.
An appropriate term to be attached to such people is “quisling”.

Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian fascist who headed a domestic Nazi collaborationist regime during World War II. He headed the government of Norway during the country's occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. He was a traitor to his people and identified completely with the occupiers.

The Nazis were adept at using quislings in their areas of occupation. Other notable quislings were Croatia’s Ante Pavelic and Ukraine’s Stepan Bandera. At the end of the war, Quisling was tried and executed for crimes against his own people.

During the lead-up to the Voice Referendum, racists have claimed that a Yes vote would create apartheid in Australia, that it would extend privileges not enjoyed by other Australians to First Peoples, that it would divide the country.

A form of apartheid already exists in Australia. It is not enshrined in law, as was its South African version (itself inspired by the treatment of First Peoples in Queensland), but is for that reason so much harder to identify and oppose. The invisible apartheid can be seen, however, in the social avoidance of First

Peoples by many non-Indigenous Australians and the informal closing of doors to their employment and advancement.

Some more recent arrivals in this country, themselves facing barriers to education, housing and employment, are susceptible to the poison spread by racists that the Voice would privilege First Peoples ahead of other Australians. A Voice that is purely advisory does not do that. 

Those who claim that the Voice would divide Australia engage in the real racism of denying existing division as witnessed in the appalling gaps that exist between First Peoples and the rest of the population in areas such as housing, health, education, incarceration and suicide rates, and employment. 

Die-hard racists in the community, and in the ranks of Liberal and Country Party politicians say all of these things and more, not only because Albanese has said not to name racism for what it is, but also because these views are legitimized by quislings among the First People. 

They deny the need for Treaty, decry the “romanticism of Culture” and deny the ongoing trauma of unsettlement and colonialism.

When some people defy Albanese and call these quislings out for their treachery and complicity with Australian racism, they cry foul and behave like pitiful victims of the same racism that they have themselves covered up, aided and abetted.

Our use of the term “quisling” does not extend to those First Peoples who advocate a No vote based on their refusal to acquiesce in reliance on parliament, and their rejection of the explicitly racist Australian Constitution.

The quislings to whom we refer represent and do the work for the most reactionary section of the mining industry who want unhindered and unlimited freedoms to exploit and plunder the lands of the First Nations Peoples.   

Capital's economic imperatives create the capitalist ideology of neo-neoliberalism and reactionary conservatism.  Racism is a tool of colonialism, of capitalism, of imperialism.   

The racism displayed by the quislings on behalf of the most reactionary section of the ruling class needs to be challenged by facts - truth telling.

That's why Truth Telling (educating about, and challenging, the intense propaganda and lies) should have been the first step, before the Voice.

First Peoples will make up their own mind about how to vote in the Referendum. 

We have refrained as a Party from advocating a Yes vote out of respect for the divergence of views among First Peoples, but we will call out the racist underpinnings of the reactionary No vote for what they are.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Article review: Changing Composition Of Working Class In Australia

 Written by: Ned K. on 15 September 2023

George Megalogenis has written a very good article in the latest edition of The Monthly about the history of past Referendums in Australia, He provides a convincing argument that the most reactionary sections of the ruling class led by Peter Dutton should be careful what they wish for in campaigning for a No vote in the coming Voice Referendum. 

Megalogenis demonstrates that the inner-city parliamentary electorates that the Liberal Party need to win back in the next federal election contain the largest number of people likely to vote Yes in the Referendum. Dutton and those he represents may well campaign successfully for a No vote in the Voice Referendum, but Megalogenis predicts this may be a hollow victory for them as it will make their chances of winning the next parliamentary election very remote.

Megalogenis invites the readers of his article to visualize the people in Australia as a "family tree".  The roots are the First Nations Peoples, the Old Australia trunk comprises non- First Nations people born in Australia and so were their parents and grandparents.

The "new Australians" are the tree's branches and comprise migrants and their locally born children.

Megalogenis points out that First Nations People now outnumber the English-born population in Australia for the first time since the 1820s!

The roots of the family tree (First Nations People) and the branches (migrants and their Australian born children) according to Megalogenis, "now account for almost 55% of the national population: 56% in Victoria, 57% in NSW, and 68% in WA. But Old Australia retains a majority in SA (51%), Qld (53%) and Tasmania (65%)".

These percentages are a reflection of the diversity of the working class in Australia, a trend that is likely to continue with increased permanent migration, which further enriches the working class giving truth to the saying "strength in diversity"

The reactionaries represented by Dutton become less appealing to a larger section of the people, sending them further in to the parliamentary political wilderness.

This puts the ALP in the driver's seat of the ruling class's parliamentary vehicle as their natural party of government whichever way the Voice Referendum goes.


Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Voice referendum: What’s wrong with the Constitution? Everything.

 Written by: Louisa L. on 11 September 2023

'Surely one of the biggest truths we need to be tell in the first place is how the Constitution came to be and why it was deliberately written to exclude us. And given this, is the answer really our inclusion, or is it coming to the table as equals, sitting down and nutting out, as sovereign peoples, treaties that could ensure a better, more inclusive, way forward?' Arrernte woman Celeste Liddle

The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) acknowledges that it is not our place to advise First Peoples how to vote in the forthcoming referendum. 

The Statement from the Heart organisers worked within Constitutional Convention, guaranteeing a decision on the Voice through Constitutional change would be decided by all adult Australians in a referendum. That immediately established an obstacle to a process which should have been one for self-determination by First Peoples themselves. It empowers the divide and rule structures of the original colonies, now called states.

Other divisions were deliberately fostered by the Business Council of Australia which interfered in the process from the beginning, using its enormous resources. 

First Peoples are right to be suspicious of the process that has led to the Referendum on a Voice to Parliament. The Statement from the Heart, as a first step, diverted First People’s aspirations to parliament, ahead of demands for Treaties (including unifying ones between various First Peoples’ clans) which many of those present saw as a more important first step. Some who walked out of the meeting rejected the parliamentary approach altogether, others because of attempts to silence dissent, particularly against DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe. 

The Constitution thrown out and a new one written

Some First Peoples hope fundamental change will come through parliament listening to a constitutionally enshrined First Peoples Voice. 

We believe that focussing on the Constitution was problematic from the start. It was unfit for purpose even before the ink of its signatories had dried. It tried to affect a compromise between the British Crown as “owner” of the Australian colonies, the local elites which had their own political and economic base in a particular colony, and that section of the capitalist class that needed a national framework for its development. The result was a weak three-way compromise in which each of these competing elements tried to grab power from the others. All, however, accepted the correctness of the colonial seizure of First Peoples’ lands and consequently refused to even acknowledge First Peoples as citizens of the newly emerging nation. 

The Constitution legally recognised the nationwide character developed in industry and transport. Australia-wide working class industrial action and political struggle against plunder of the people and country by British Imperialists and their local collaborators reflected national development in the economic base. Mass maritime’, shearers,’ and miners’ strikes in the 1890s, including acts of sabotage and armed camps of strikers, forced the hands of British and local elites. Federation saw Britain legally establish the nation, but hold onto separation into states. The unity alongside division sought to secure a legal form of apparent independence while ensuring continuing real imperialist dominance.

To add to the confusion of the Constitutional referendum, at the time of its adoption in 1901, the Northern Territory was part of South Australia. In 1911, the NT was excised from South Australia; at the same time, the ACT was excised from NSW. Both remained as Territories whose laws were made by the Commonwealth. In 1978 they were granted responsible government but not Statehood. The Constitution requires a referendum to be carried by a majority of electors and by a majority of the six States. Voters in the two Territories are included in the nation-wide result, but are disenfranchised from the tally of the States. This particularly disenfranchises First Peoples in the Northern Territory and the ACT from one of the two tallies that determine the result of the Referendum. The injustice of this can be seen in that the State with the largest number of First Peoples is NSW. First Peoples in NSW make up 3.55% of the NSW population. By contrast, First Peoples in the NT comprise 30.34% of its population, but they are excluded from the decision-making process enjoyed by people in the States.  

We believe that to change this Constitution to recognise First Peoples by way of a Voice to parliament is window-dressing. Yet, despite that, the desire for a Voice that they hope can't be dissolved or fragmented is supported by many First Peoples who have fought alongside their communities for land rights, for First Peoples' control of their own affairs, for justice against corporations.  

We say this Constitution enshrines violence and attempted genocide, that the sovereignty of First Peoples was never ceded to the colonialists, and remains in force alongside, and as the foundation of, any true sovereignty that the Australian people aspire to. 

As Lidia Thorpe so powerfully pointed out, Australian politicians swear allegiance to a foreign power. 

We work for the day when united struggle of all Peoples is strong enough for the Constitution to be destroyed and a new one written, beginning with the truth-telling – already understood by all –  that the Australian nation was created by the unsettlement of, and theft from, the sovereign First Peoples, whose dispossession was everywhere attempted by the force and violence, or threat of force and violence, employed by the unsettlers and their police and troopers, that every land was defended in warfare. 

We struggle for just settlement that creates enduring peace between our Peoples.  

From there we can begin again.