Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Australian Dairy Industry News

Written by: Duncan B. on 9 July 2024

 

Twenty Australian Manufacturing Workers Union maintenance workers employed at the Burnie (Tasmania) plant of Canadian-owned dairy processor Saputo have been on strike for a month.

They are seeking to be paid the same as Saputo employees doing the same job on the mainland, claiming they are receiving 21% less than their mainland colleagues. They have called for a boycott of Saputo products, which include the Cheer, Devondale, Cracker Barrel, Mersey Valley and several other brands of cheese.

The majority of the Australian dairy processing industry is foreign-owned, with Saputo (Canada), Fonterra (NZ) and Lactalis (France) the main players. Bega is the only major Australian-owned dairy company, along with some smaller companies such as Norco.

The same dairy companies that exploit Australian dairy factory workers also exploit Australian dairy farmers. Recently the processors announced this year’s farm gate price offers to dairy farmers for their milk. The prices offered are actually less than last year’s, being around $7.80 to $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids. 

These prices are around the farmers’ cost of production or even less. It is estimated that dairy farmers will be $200,000 to $300,000 worse off, as they are also being hit by rising costs for water, electricity and all their other inputs. More dairy farmers are expected to leave the industry.

Dairy farm numbers last year were 4163, down from 4420 in 2022, and 6308 in 2014. Australia’s milk pool has shrunk to around eight million litres. It is not surprising that we are seeing a massive increase in the import of dairy products into Australia from Europe, the US and New Zealand. In 2022-23, dairy imports rose from around 293,000 tonnes to around 344,000 tonnes over the previous year. This was an increase in value from $2.1 billion to $2.7 billion.

Farm gate prices paid by processors to dairy farmers in New Zealand are about 30% lower than in Australia, giving New Zealand companies a considerable price advantage over Australian processors, allowing them profit from exports to Australia.  Last year Australia imported 47,500 tonnes of butter, mainly from New Zealand. Much of the imported butter and cheese is being sold by supermarkets under their own house brands. 

In a move which will shake up the dairy industry in Australia, New Zealand-based Fonterra has announced that it will put its Australian operations up for sale. Fonterra employs 1600 people at eight sites in Victoria and Tasmania and processes 1.4 billion litres of milk each year.

The Canadian-owned superannuation fund PSP is deeply involved in Australian dairy farming through its company Aurora Dairies. This company has 450 employees and has 48,000 cows producing 280 million litres of milk on 54 farms in Australia. Aurora’s economies of scale will allow them to make a profit from dairying while small farmers struggle to make a living. It will be interesting to see if PSP makes a bid for Fonterra’s factories. This would give them control over the whole dairy business from cow to consumer. 

Australia’s small farmers and workers have the same enemy. Only unity in struggle will end the exploitation.

Why is it so hard to get by?

 

Written by: John Gerard on 11 July 2024

 

(Cartoons from TNC Workers Research Brief 13 1986)

 

Why in one of the richest countries in the world do we have to scramble to get by?

People have trouble paying for the roof over their heads, stressed by the costs of putting food on the table, fuel in the car and paying power bills.
Why? 

Why, when Australia is a resource powerhouse, first or second in the world in gas exports, first in coal, huge in iron ore, one of the biggest suppliers of rare earths for the electronic digital world and important in so many others resources?

Why when farmers, working with nature’s bounty, produce more than enough to feed everyone in the country a few times over.  

Who isn’t sick to death of the scramble people are forced into just to get a decent living. 

Discovering that profits come before people won’t win you the Nobel Prize. Its slapping us in the face all the time. 

An old maxim goes: It’s the rich that get the pleasure, and the poor that get the pain. In this system of producing and selling for profit, the super-rich getting richer and richer. The people doing the work struggle. That’s capitalism, the capitalist economic and political system. 

But there’s more to it than a ‘system’. More than some elusive, invisible, shadowy thing we can’t get our hands on.   

There’s capitalists. Real people. Visible, flesh and blood, that run this system, that own it, that prosper from it, that unleash forces to defend it and expand their reach.  We don’t often see them because they don’t do much and most of them don’t want us to know them. 

It’s important to be clear about capitalism and capitalists. It’s not just an abstract haze of a system. 

Capitalists are behind this disastrous system

This is the CAPITALISTS’ SYSTEM. A system of capitalists. There’s people who run the system and that it runs for. 

Be clear about the capitalist system producing our problems, but don’t stop there. Get down to the people behind the system, CAPITALISTS.

Capitalists are more than local people like Gina Rhinehart and Andrew Forrest. We need to look past appearances. Australia Institute research in 2022 found Forrest’s Fortescue Metals was 94% foreign-owned. They also identified the mining industry was 85% foreign-owned. 

Identifying the actual people who are behind the system in Australia needs to be checked out in depth or we’ll be pointing at the wrong people and wasting a lot of effort. 

But let’s get the basics clear about who we’re dealing with.

Blame the capitalists and call them out. That crew of people are what stands between us and decent lives.

They have quite a few people they employ to look after them and their interests. They have governing administrations, the legal systems, CEO’s, police, armies and other institutions lined up looking after their system of capitalism and the pipeline of riches into their hands. 

Those people are agents of the capitalists, not the people owning and driving the system. 

The set up is a lot like in the ‘noble sport’ of horse racing.

The ‘sport’ involves owners, trainers, strappers, jockeys, breeders, and institutions including racing clubs, and has governing bodies and government regulations. Feeding off and sponsoring races are bookmakers and betting corporates, along with media empires. We’ll leave the wider industry aside for this illustration.  

The horse side of the ‘industry’ has lots of people with lots of roles. The hierarchy operating between them mirrors capitalism in some ways. 

At the top of the ‘industry’ are horse owners, and not just any old owners in a syndicate who bought a nag hoping they would get lucky. The industry’s dominated by the super-rich, the business tycoons, emirs, sheiks, kings and the like. Just look at the position of Godolphin Racing owned by Sheik Maktoum .

The horse side of the industry is run for the horse owners.  

They employ or contract trainers, who are their top managers as in a corporate structure. The trainers manage the horses, their feed, exercise, health, well-being and other activity. The big owners employ managers of their racing interests, often across the globe. The managers advise and ensure owners’ decisions and interests are carried out and the trainers and their systems are performing. The big owners also employ or contract horse buyers and breeders, sometimes owning their own breeding studs. 

Trainers employ a lot of people, pre-trainer/horse educators, stable hands and strappers, trackwork riders, stud grooms, office managers, book-keepers, clerks, assistants, farm managers, transport drivers and contract others like vets, construction/maintenance workers, jockeys. Significant numbers of people work in a big stable like those of Chris Waller, the Hayes, Cummings, Waterhouse, or Freedman families. 

Chris Waller directly employs just over 100 people in 4 big stables across the eastern States.  All those people are employees or paid one way or another to work for the trainer or trainer’s business to keep the horses healthy and prepare them to race. 

Jockeys ride horses to trainers’ instructions and their own racing skills to try get the best result out of the horse, when they’re operating honestly (for the owner who gets the prizemoney and some kudos). 

The trainers’ job is to get the best out of the horse for the owner, just like the manager of any business.  So do all the people employed by the trainer.   

The owners do nothing or next to nothing in handling the horse.

But they are the ones calling the shots, picking up the winnings, and who the whole industry rotates around. The talk in the form guides is about the trainers and jockeys, with the owners getting mentioned in passing. 

On race day, sometimes, owners jump into the limelight. Owners of Australia’s major corporate empires hide from the limelight but they call the shots just the same. Their interests drive capitalism in this country.  

Capitalism is not just some system, it’s capitalists exploiting workers 

It’s capitalists who prosper while we struggle. And not just some general amorphous rich faceless mob. They have names. They have businesses. They are actual people whose wealth is gained from our work. 

It’s capitalists behind the laws crushing unions. It’s capitalists getting rich from the minerals dug out of the ground and sold overseas while we do the work. It’s capitalists grabbing the money that could provide housing, healthcare, good education, roads, etc. 

A reduction in the standard of living while production ploughs on increases this or that capitalist’s riches even more. More of what workers produce goes to bloating

capitalist riches, leaving us struggling to get by.  

Think of some tanned tycoon basking on a super yacht in the Bahamas or Monaco while miners dig coal, train drivers haul it to ports, operators scoop it out of piles and others load ships full of coal, one after the other. That’s capitalism in Australia, or one major part of it. 

If we’re going to get rid of capitalism from Australia, we need to be much more aware of the capitalists who are prospering from the value workers produce. 

If we’re going to overthrow capitalism, it means overthrowing the people who rule over us. 

In their 18th century revolts, French peasants got rid of feudalism, and they knew they had to get aristocrats’ necks under the guillotine to do it.  

We also need to know who. Otherwise, we’ll just be striking out blindly, often at the management monkey or the political hack, not the organ-grinding capitalist.

It would be a great use of an academic’s time, to delve deeper into who these capitalists are. Where they come from is covered to an extent in the booklet “Who Owns Australia”  . There’s work to be done on who they are. 

What is clear is that 85% of the mining, oil and gas industries in Australia are foreign-owned, with the biggest portion American. There’s similar levels of foreign-ownership in many major sectors of the economy, banking and finance, chemicals and others. Foreign capitalists are at the heart of capitalist ranks in Australia.

The US stranglehold over the country is apparent in how little tax they pay, in billions devoted to preparations for another war to defend and extend the American empire while people are struggling with bills. It points the way towards hitting foreign capitalists as the first step in giving the system a whack.

Moaning about an abstract system doesn’t cut it.  

It’s not just capitalism, its capitalists. We have to target the actual people and the forces that keep them safe from us.     

Appendix:

Godolphin Racing and its super-rich owner, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

One of the biggest and richest race horse owners here and across the world is Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister ruling over Dubai, with horses racing in the royal blue silks of Godolphin Racing. 

He’s the Chief Executive of Emirates Airlines, Chair of Dubai Real Estate Corporation, with his family owning various tremendously lucrative enterprises. 

Godolphin Racing was set up in 1992. By 2018 they’d won over 5,000 races in 14 countries including Australia, the US, UK, France Germany Japan among others.  

The Sheik has two racing stables in Sydney, one in Melbourne, two in Newmarket, UK, and two in Dubai, as well as horses in training with contracted trainers in the UK, Australia, France, Japan, the United States, and Ireland. James Cummings of the famous family of trainers is Godolphin’s head of operations in Australia. 

The Sheik got into racing through owning horses in the UK in 1977. He set up Darley breeding studs in the UK in 1981, subsequently expanding them to Australia, France, Ireland, Japan, and the United States. He owns Channel 4 racing media in the UK. 

Sheik Al Maktoum’s position at the top of the racing tree involved in setting the rules, is apparent in Maktoum’s Godolphin having representatives on the boards of governing bodies on three continents.

One sits on the board of the Melbourne Cup organisers, the Victoria Racing Club, alongside bankers, media execs, corporate accountants and lawyers. Not a stable hand or trackwork rider in sight. 

A former Godolphin CE sits on the board of the British Horseracing Authority as an owners’ representative. An appointee of Sheik Maktoum’s as General Manager of Emirates Racing Authority, Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, has been elevated to vice-chairman of Asian Racing Federation’s Board. The Sheik’s sons serve as Chairs of Dubai’s two horse racing clubs.

Through all the studs and stables, as one racing journalist put it: ‘Each horse has a race path to follow and a commercial purpose to fulfil, from winning prize money to earning a lucrative post-career at stud.’ It’s all about Maktoum’s ‘commercial purpose’ to create value for the Sheik. 

Along the way there’s a dash of horses being this tycoon’s playthings in operation, a display of his wealth delivering prestige among the super-rich while it delivers the money as winners of top races and value as breeding bloodstock. 

 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Important webinars build the movements against imperialism.

 Written by: Nick G. on 9 July 2024

 

 

 

Two important webinars, one recently held and the other still to come, are building the people’s movements against imperialism.

On July 4, the Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition (AAAC) presented a webinar titled “Independence – Breaking the US Stranglehold in Australia.”

In publicity for the event, the AAAC stated:

The U.S. is the dominant global power with extensive political, economic, military influence and power over many countries, including Australia.
 
In Australia this U.S. dominance also extends to Australia’s foreign policies, and impacts on our democratic rights.
 
AUKUS is locking Australia more deeply into US global militarisation and US led wars, in particular the Asia-Pacific Region.
 
The webinar was opened by AAAC member Shirley Winton, and chaired by lawyer and activist Kellie Tranter.
 
More than 300 people registered for the event, with over 200 actually participating. 
 
Our Party was one of 30 organisations endorsing the webinar.
 
There were four speakers:
 
Alison Broinowski, President, Australians for War Powers Reform, and former Australian diplomat, provided a political perspective;
Brian Toohey, Journalist and author specialising in the economy and politics covered the economic aspects of the US stranglehold;
Prof. Richard Tanter, Researcher at the Nautilus Institute, author, spoke on Pine Gap, nuclear weapons, AUKUS and militarization;
Greg Barns SC, democratic rights lawyer and Barrister, commented on the erosion of democratic rights under the Stranglehold.
 
The speakers and some in the audience provided links to a number of important resources.
 
The forthcoming webinar “Why is the Pacific being prepared for war?”, looks at the US-led RIMPAC military exercise in Hawaii, Exercise Pitch Black and AUKUS. It will be held on Saturday July 13 at 1030am AEST.
 
Exercise Pitch Black is an air force exercise that has been held roughly every two years since 1981 and under US leadership since 1983. The 2024 event will occur between 15 Jul – 01 Aug 2024 and be based around Darwin and the Tindale base outside of Katherine.  The previous exercise involved air forces from 17 participating countries.  The exercise involves mock battles and explosive ordinance. Public safety will require the designation of large areas of the NT as “military restricted” and “danger” areas.
 
This webinar is hosted by the Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) and includes voices of resistance from throughout the Pacific region.
 
Registration for the event can be arranged here:
 
Such events are crucial in building opposition to the war plans of US imperialism, and to preventing the heightening of tensions in our region.
 
They contribute significantly to the winning of anti-imperialist Australian independence and socialism.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Fatima Payman: Young ALP Female Senator Stands Strong For Palestinian People and Palestinian State

 Written by: Ned K. on 8 July 2024

 

ALP Senator Fatima Payman resigned from the ALP last week after courageously "crossing the floor" of the Senate to support a Greens motion that Australia recognize a state of Palestine. 

Over 100 other countries have already taken this position. The ALP leadership could not bring itself to do so. The Albanese Government was more concerned about not getting out of step with the USA and Zionist Netanyahu Israeli Government.

Senator Payman, only 29 years young, went into the Senate on an ALP ticket with the genuine belief that she could make a difference by being a member of a political party that stood for social justice, for solidarity with oppressed peoples both within Australia and internationally.

She came into the Senate supported by United Workers Union where she was an Organizer and where union members learned through their own experience that there is real strength in diversity.

She must have been bitterly disappointed when she found that the same values were not practiced by the ALP leadership when it came to the issue of the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli Government backed by western powers led by the USA.

We do not know exactly what was said to her by Albanese and key Ministers to try and "persuade" her to toe the Party line.

However, they met their match in Senator Payman when she announced her resignation from the ALP, but her continuation in the Senate as an Independent Senator.

When she made this decision, it was easy for her to see who her enemies are and who are her friends. 

The ALP leaders joined the Murdoch Press with the idea that she may be ineligible to be a Senator due to dual citizenship with Afghanistan and Australia. 

Of course, the ALP never thought this when Fatima Payman was put on the ALP Senate ticket. 

At that time, the leaders probably thought it would add to their appearance as supporting diversity in representation in parliament to have a young, female, Muslim woman in ALP Seante ranks "under the wing" of Senators Wong and Farrell.

What a contrast between this barrage of hate against a Senator standing her ground and the hundreds of cheering unionists and diverse communities that greeted Senator Payman when she arrived at Perth airport from Canberra!

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Report on Russia by Russian Maoists

 

Written by: Union of Maoists of the Urals on 7 July 2024

 

Last May we published an analysis of conditions In Russia by our comrades in the Union of Maoists of the Urals. Today, they have sent us the following update which will be of interest to Australian anti-imperialists. Long live the proletarian friendship between the workers of Russia and Australia-eds. 

Hello, dear Australian comrades!

Dear comrades, we would like to inform you about the situation in the economy of our country in order to better show the prospects for the imperialist war waged by Russia and the likelihood of revolutionary changes. 

Until relatively recently, sanctions worked extremely poorly. Everything was on the shelves and regularly arrived at industrial enterprises for various purposes: both civilian and military. In fact, Western products prohibited by sanctions are imported into Russia from Turkey and Kazakhstan. This happens extremely freely and without serious problems. This primarily concerns industrial electronics and a number of food products. What cannot be imported through them is imported from China (cheap industrial goods) or has been replaced by Russian production. However, in recent months, due to the threat of sanctions against Chinese banks, it has become much more difficult for Russian enterprises to purchase products from China. Deliveries of many types of goods from China are severely delayed. However, we cannot yet say that this is somehow affecting Russian industry or consumers, and therefore we cannot assume that this is what will revolutionize Russian society or create a strong crisis in industrial production.

The 2022 mobilization and continuous Nazi pogroms against migrant workers have led to a huge labor shortage in Russia. Highly skilled workers are constantly leaving Russia after the start of the war - we are talking about hundreds of thousands of anti-war Russians. Capitalists don't like this very much. Bourgeois politicians talk about a shortage of 5-10 million workers. Officials regularly discuss programs for the return of specialists with anti-war views, and anti-abortion initiatives are also promoted with the emphasis that there is no one to work in Russia. 

The massive involvement of prisoners in military service also plays a role in the labor shortage. Russian prisons are engaged in industrial production and now there is no one to produce prison products either - mass repressions in Russia do not keep pace with the physical extermination of criminals. 

The labor shortage is leading to rapidly rising wages for Russian workers. We are talking about a doubling of wages over the past year. The growth of the military industry due to the war plays a role. As a result of this, Russian workers are now happy with their situation, they enjoy the fruits of imperialist policies and prosperity from the blood of their more unfortunate dead fellow citizens. They change jobs as soon as necessary, it is common for capitalists to lure workers away from each other, and bonuses for workers bringing new workers to fill vacancies are extremely common. There is no unemployment.

The Russian army is holding on because of the forced involvement of migrant workers in it and because it pays wages 10-15 times higher than in other areas of employment. Huge military spending, a social sector for the military, the growth of the military industry - all this is paid for from a deficit state budget. There are expert estimates that there will be enough money in the budget for a year and a half (including the state reserve accumulated before the war is now being wasted; Russia did not spend it during the Covid epidemic), after which the country, if the war continues, will begin an economic crisis and today’s prosperity will end a very rapid decline in living standards, indignation of the popular masses and the rapid growth of revolutionary sentiments. However, forecasts for the duration of the economic crisis may not take into account Russia's ability to inflate public debt.

In any case, it is extremely dangerous for the Russian imperialists to prolong the war; they need peace on their terms, and therefore they are trying in various ways to push through an agreement to suspend the war until Russia again accumulates reserves. Or they immediately propose recognition of Russia’s military claims in Ukraine and the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from a number of Ukrainian regions, the population of which will then be assimilated by the Russians.
Under these conditions, we are trying to analyze the situation, carry out organizational work among the masses and promote Marxism-Leninism.

With revolutionary proletarian greetings from Russia,

International Department of the Union of Maoists of the Urals

Friday, June 28, 2024

Kenya - Too Little, Too Late: Ruto Must Resign

 Written by: Communist Party of Kenya on 29 June 2024

 

Too Little, Too Late: Ruto Must Resign

Statement by the Central Organizing Committee of the Communist Party of Kenya
27 June 2924

In the wake of intense demonstrations against the Finance Bill 2024 and the consistent, resolute demand for the resignation of President William Ruto, the President has made a belated and insincere about-face, declaring that he shall not consent to the bill and ostensibly acceding to the people's demands. This disingenuous capitulation comes only after Ruto ordered the brutal murder of more than 10 confirmed protesters and unleashed death squads to massacre more innocent lives in Githurai.

We must not allow Ruto to escape accountability for the innocent blood he has shed in the streets. These demonstrations have clear and simple demands that we insist the President comply with. During the post-election protests, Ruto was responsible for the murder of l many innocent souls. It is imperative that the police bosses, all of Ruto’s henchmen, and Ruto himself be held legally accountable for these crimes. 

We also demand restorative justice for the survivors of the avoidable massacres orchestrated by the corrupt Ruto regime. 

Let’s tell Ruto we are aware that the President is legally unable to withdraw a bill that has already matured for assent. His options are limited to returning it to Parliament with a memorandum for the inclusion of his proposed amendments, which, if rejected by a two-thirds majority, would become law. 

Why dupe Kenyans into imagining he can withdraw it in totality? This is a legal conundrum, a deceitful ploy to buy time and distract Kenyans from their urgent demands.

Moreover, this morning Parliament went on recess until June, so how will the bill that has been referred to a Parliament on recess be amended?

We, today, put forth the following ten collective demands to sum up the temporary pause of protests:

1. A total cessation of taxation on basic commodities such as food, healthcare, and education, and the complete rejection of the Finance Bill 2024. We totally reject window dressing paltry amendments that may happen with the bought crowd in parliament 

2. An immediate end to the interference with our national sovereignty by foreign institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, NATO, and their financiers.

3. The provision of decent jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and the implementation of Article 43 within six months.

4. Quality housing and compensation for all those illegally evicted.

5. Free and quality education for all.

6. Free and quality healthcare for all.

7. An immediate end to state violence in the form of abductions, excessive use of force by police during demonstrations, and extrajudicial killings.

8. The return of all stolen public land and a clear plan for food sovereignty.

9. Fair compensation for all workers providing essential services to the country.

10. An immediate end to the privatization of public institutions and state-owned enterprises.

President Ruto, your time is up! The people of Kenya reject your bloodstained hands and your corrupt administration.  

#RutoMustGo! 

No IMF ! No World Bank! 

Signed,

The Central Organizing Committee of the Communist Party of Kenya

Thailand: Looming political crisis

 Written by: (Contributed) on 29 June 2024

 

(Above: The Royal Thai Army suppreesed 2010 "Red Shirt" rallies.  Photo: Flickr Commons)

A brief political assessment about Thailand in the Australian business press has revealed widespread concern about a likely resurgence of opposition forces in one of the most important US-led centres for regional defence and security and trade. Thailand, historically, was and remains a major diplomatic player in South-east Asian affairs, including the ASEAN trade bloc. Any return to previous widespread opposition to the traditional centres of Thai power are likely to cause serious issues for the US and their allies across the wider region.

In mid-June, limited media coverage about Thailand carried an unambiguous warning that 'in reality, the South-east Asian constitutional monarchy is on the brink of another round of convulsive protests by young Thais who have had enough of the cheating and distorting of an ageing establishment that refuses to acknowledge its time may be coming to an end'. (1)

Thailand has maintained a shaky democratic facade for decades under the nominal control of a monarchy although it has also experienced thirteen military coups in the past ninety years.

Previous widespread opposition to the monarchy and political establishment took the form of supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra who wore red-shirts and demonstrated in their millions against perceived corruption and political chicanery. The supporters of the status quo wore yellow-shirts to identify their allegiance to the monarchy. There were violent clashes.

While the political divisions between the red and yellow shirts have officially been regarded as a problem of yesteryear, bitter divisions still exist beneath the surface of Thai political culture. Following the coup of 19 September 2006, which deposed Thaksin Shinawatra, he fled into exile, his political party was outlawed and he was banned from political activity in the country. Remnants of his supporters, nevertheless, re-grouped and continued to operate behind numerous front organisations.

Returning to Thailand on 22 August last year, Thaksin Shinawatra was able to prove he still retained huge popularity with ordinary Thai people. (2) He is now set on a collision course with the Monarchy and political establishment after being 'formally indicted for defaming the Monarchy while the failure of the current Prime Minister and main opposition hang in the balance'. (3)

While the legal status of Thailand's political opposition forces remains under legal consideration following months of court hearings, fears have been raised that a further round of banning opposition 'will not only mark the end of the country's shaky democracy, but trigger more political uncertainty'. (4) The centres of traditional Thai class and state power now appear increasingly vulnerable, being out-manoeuvred by opposition forces.

It has already raised serious concerns for Washington and the Pentagon's Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) whereby Japan has been elevated to the US-led diplomatic position of a global alliance, while other countries including Thailand, are linked as lower-level partners for 'US interests'. (5) Political upheaval in Thailand is, therefore, likely to have far-reaching implications for the IPS; effective intelligence-gathering rests upon political stability.

The US intelligence services regarded Thailand as an asset during the previous Cold War, and there is every reason to believe it continues to be so during the present Cold War; its close proximity with Cambodia and their close diplomatic relations with China is considered by the US as problematic. (6) Thailand also has a large Russian diaspora, most of whom settled in the country after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

The political crisis in Thailand has also come at an unfortunate time for the US and their allies; moves by the US to attract support for their trade war with China have been seen to not be particularly well supported. In fact, while the US seeks to 'isolate Beijing on the global stage', numerous allies have been noticeably reluctant to follow suit. (7)

Meanwhile, China's foreign trade has increasingly focussed upon South-east Asia and elsewhere in the emerging economies, as exports to the US have dropped. (8)

Thailand, historically, has been a major player in traditional US-led hegemonic positions in South-east Asia. A founder member of the ASEAN trade bloc during the previous Cold War,
Thailand hosted one of the largest US diplomatic missions of anywhere in the world in Bangkok. As with other countries in the near region, however, its rapid economic expansion followed the emergence of China as a major diplomatic player. China's GDP, likewise, rose from $397 billion in 1990, to an estimated near $15 trillion by 2020. (9)

During the 2007 to 2014 period, for example, ASEAN nearly doubled its GDP ratings, as a result of closer links with China. (10)

Thailand, however, has entered into a period of economic uncertainty and decline in recent years; in 1960 it had a GDP rate of a little over five per cent, falling to slightly above two per cent during the early 2020's. (11) While its high-spot was the late 1980s, when Thai growth rates rose to over thirteen per cent, massive fluctuations followed together with a general decline to only 1.9 per cent last year, possibly rising to an optimistic projection of 2.2/3.2 for this year. (12) The optimism may sour with a political crisis.

Thailand, nevertheless, has remained a central player inside ASEAN, which collectively has continued to regard little benefit from siding totally with either the US or China. They gain benefits from both, using skilful diplomacy.

The Thai big bourgeoise has also positioned itself to make a killing from neighbouring Burma/Myanmar’s bloody suppression of anti-regime and ethnic liberation struggles. Thai banks have become the main supplier of cross-border financial services for Myanmar’s military government, enabling its purchases of arms and equipment despite sanctions against the regime. (13)

ASEAN, in which Thailand has a major influence also presents the US with a major problem: its status has grown to be a central player in regional diplomacy. Studies have noted the 'ASEAN and Chinese economies are becoming inseparably inter-twined'. (14) And, while ASEAN is navigating an increasingly challenging regional environment … China's surging influence raises concerns, as do US responses, which increase strategic tension and gives short shrift to economics and regional prosperity'. (15)

The extremely limited nature of coverage in pro-US media outlets would tend to indicate the sensitive nature of recent developments in Thailand! More, nevertheless, may follow in due course if the political tensions beneath the surface rise to the fore.

1.     Thailand bonfire waiting for match, Australian, 13 June 2024.
2.     See: Thaksin Shinawatra, BBC News, 22 August 2023.
3.     Political crisis grips Thailand, BBC News, 19 June 2024.
4.     Australian, op.cit., 13 June 2024.
5.     See: The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
6.     See: From the Shadows – The ultimate insider's story, Robert M. Gates, (New York, 1996), page 312.
7.     US seeks EU's support in trade war, Australian, 22 May 2024; and, Europe takes new strategy to China Shock 2.0, Australian, 25 June 2024.
8.     China's export machine moves on, Australian, 14 June 2024.
9.     AUKUS a strong hand in a region under threat, Australian, 26 June 2024.
10.   What is ASEAN? The World Economic Forum, 9 May 2017.
11.   GDP Growth (annual percentage) Thailand, World Bank Group.
12.   Ibid., and, Executive Summary, Perspectives, Global Inflation Cools, Deloitte.
13.  Thai banks are the top suppliers of financial services to Myanmar’s military, UN expert says, Washington Times, 26 June 2024
14.   Towards an equal partnership, East Asia Forum, Volume 15, Number 3, September 2023, pp. 3.5.
15.   Japan as a diplomatic asset to ASEAN, East Asia Forum, Volume 15, Number 3, September 2023, pp. 6-8.

 


Kanak independence struggle cannot be defeated

 Written by: Nick G. on 29 June 2024

(Above: "We are allTein Bichou"  Source; Suport Internacional Kanay on X)

Following French President Macron’s decision to withdraw the “thawing” of citizenship in New Caledonia, the vindictiveness of the French bourgeoisie has only heightened.

The French proposal was to include all French citizens with more than ten year’s residence in New Caledonia as citizens of the French territory, effectively bolstering the votes for opposition to independence.  

It was a clumsy manoeuvre to restrict the growing influence of Chinese and Russian imperialists within New Caledonia.

The Kanaks erupted in defiance and lives were lost.

But French imperialism was not reconciled to its defeat. 

On the morning of June 19 in Nouméa, a raid by the police took place on the premises of the Caledonian Union (UC) in Magenta and the main leaders of the CCAT (Coordination Cell for Field Actions) were arrested on their way to a press conference. A search took place and eleven members of the CCAT, most of whom are also political and trade union leaders, were placed in police custody on several very serious charges, relating to organized crime, for a period of 96 hours (4 days).

On Friday 21 June, Kanaks rallied throughout New Caledonia in support of arrested CCAT leaders, including General Commissioner Bichou Tein. The arrested leaders have been deported to France to stand trial depriving them of the right to defend themselves before a jury of their peers.

This is kidnapping, pure and simple.

Far from taking advantage of Macron’s withdrawal of the citizenship changes to de-escalate tensions in New Caledonia, the French imperialists have only lifted a heavy rock to drop on their own feet.

Already meetings in support of the deported Kanaks have been held in large towns in France.

(Above: Support arrested CCAT leaders, June 21, 2024)

And in New Caledonia Kanak activists have continued to rally and demand the return of their kidnapped comrades.

They will not be intimidated by French colonial troops or pro-French armed militias.

They want all charges dropped against the leaders of the CCAT, and the entire Kanak independence movement.  

Solidarity with the entire Kanak independence movement!

 

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Class struggle at nuclear submarine site

 Written by: Ned K. on 26 June 2024

 

(Stopwork at Osborne, June 3, 2024.  Source: CEPU SA Facebook)

For the last few months union members of the AMWU and CEPU have been taking industrial action against the federal government owned Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) at Osborne Naval Base in South Australia.

Members of both unions have been taking short stoppages and work bans. Members are demanding wage parity with ASC workers in WA who are paid 17% higher rates than SA workers for performing same and similar work.

The workers actions are having an impact with ASC forced to make higher wage offers but so far, still short of wage parity.

Now the ASC reactionary management are in a bit of a bind. They need to dry dock a Collins Class submarine which is tied up at the Osborne wharf.

ASC want to proceed with dry dock maintenance of the submarine but the likelihood of work stoppages in the process of moving the submarine to dry dock is a thorn in their side.

AMWU and CEPU workers have a long, proud history of class struggle at the ASC and are sure to win a significant victory in their current struggle for wage parity with WA ASC workers.

How a Labor Government can justify such inequity in wages between workers performing the same work will not come as too much of a surprise to the thousands of privatised workers in both federal and state government services where contractors pay minimum Award rates and sometimes not even the Award minimums.

A win for ASC workers at Osborne will be a win for all workers providing government services