Sunday, March 24, 2024

US submarine visits not welcome and will never be “normal”

 Written by: Nick G. on 25 March 2024

 

On Sunday March 10, the US Los Angeles class submarine, the USS Annapolis, arrived at the Stirling Naval Base in WA from its home base in Guam.  The date signified the first anniversary of the signing of the AUKUS arrangements. Rallies in Australia cities were held to oppose AUKUS.

The visit was primarily a propaganda exercise designed to normalize the presence of foreign submarines in Australian waters. The propaganda exercise included a “gridiron friendly” between the US submariners and a WA state team. 

Under the AUKUS Optimal Pathway program, up to 4 U.S. Virginia-class submarines and one United Kingdom Astute-class submarine will use HMAS Stirling as a rotational base. The Submarine Rotational Force – West (SRF-West) will operate on the same principles as the US marine rotational base near Darwin, and see more than 700 American personnel at the WA base to support the submarine presence.

The Australian government has announced expenditure of $8 billion to upgrade Stirling’s facilities. According to a March 21 report in the US online Breaking Defense Indo-Pacific, Stirling “needs to be enlarged to cope with larger Virginia-class sub visits and must be secured to meet US and UK standards for protecting nuclear secrets and equipment.”

The $8 billion is on top of the $9.4 billion already gifted to US and UK companies in preparation for building nuclear-powered submarines that will be an Australian appendage to the US Navy as it sits off the coast of China and threatens war with that country.

The US lackey and Prime Minister of Australia, Albanese, claims that once the AUKUS submarines are in operation they will fly the Australia flag and be under Australian sovereignty.

That is not how the US sees it. Former independent SA Senator and submariner Rex Patrick tweeted the text of the conditions under which the US sale of Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines will take place.

They require their use to be “consistent with United States foreign policy and national security interests.” In other words, not the coastal defence of Australia, but deployment off the coast of China.

And, as is now widely known, the sale is provisional on the US having enough submarines for its own imperialist military requirements. Having enough for itself to release second-hand Virginias to Australia requires an annual US production of 2.3 submarines a year.

But the US has just reduced its submarine production to 1 submarine per year, much to the embarrassment of Albanese and Marles.

Hopefully, the program will collapse under the weight of its own stupidity. 

But much more likely is that it will need to be swept away by continuing people’s actions.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

A tale of two payments…

 Written by: Nick G. on 24 March 2024

 

In the same week that the government gifted $4.7 billion to Rolls Royce in Britain to help them build submarine nuclear reactors, which we will then have to buy from them, the automatic CPI-based indexation of welfare payments will see the unemployed get an extra 97 cents a day.

The JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment Partnered and Special Benefit rates are usually adjusted on 20 March and 20 September each year in line with CPI movements over the preceding six month period.

“This increase – not even a dollar a day – is barely enough to cover a packet of pasta, and will not be noticed by people who are still copping heartbreaking rent rises of $30, $40, $50 dollars, or more, as well as contending with rises in food, medical, utility, and other basic expenses”, Anti-Poverty Network SA spokesperson, Jasmin Witham said.

Ms Witham said: “Almost two years ago, the Albanese government was elected on a promise to ‘Leave No One Behind’, but people on JobSeeker have been largely forgotten. Last year’s Federal Budget saw an insulting and miserable $2.86-a-day rise to JobSeeker. With this latest indexation, JobSeeker will still be $34-a-day – $238-a-week – below the Henderson poverty-line of $88-a-day.

Unlike the Australian unemployed, Rolls Royce must be rubbing its hands in glee.

The $4.7 billion gift from the Australia taxpayer matches exactly the same amount gifted to US shipyards struggling to build one Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine a year.

The government will argue that the $9.4 billion to be shared between US and UK masters of war will be spread over ten years, but so what?

There are currently 565,000 unemployed people in Australia. Shared between them $9.4 billion would mean $16,370,000 per person over ten years, or $1,637,000 per year for a decade.

Instead, they are offered 97 cents a day.

For the sake of selling out our sovereignty, and making it impossible for us to back out of any war the US imperialists wish to drag us into, we are robbing Australians of a decent way of life.

There is no difference between Labor and Liberal in terms of their blind obedience to their US masters.

The waste of money on AUKUS must be stopped.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

AUKUS: Jobs diversion scheme

 Written by: Nick G. on 22 March 2024

 

Above: For the broader implications of AUKUS, see our  AUKUS video.  

 

The $368 billion (and counting) cost of the AUKUS nuclear-powered subs folly was promised by Labor to create a 20,000 jobs bonanza. Looked a rationally, however, it is a massive jobs diversion scheme and a huge wasted opportunity for working Australians.

Having already committed to transferring $4.6 billion to pump prime the struggling US shipyards, Labor announced today an equivalent $4.6 billion transfer to the struggling British shipyards. (1)

That’s 9,200 million dollars that we will not see in Australian jobs creation, jobs that could substantially ease the ramping crisis in our hospitals, improve rural roads, assist in lifting public schools to the same funding level as the privates, or reduce the gap in Indigenous disparities.

And that’s only 1/40th of the total spend on AUKUS subs.

The $368 billion is said to be the largest transfer of wealth outside of Australia.

And we are promised 20,000 jobs spread over 30 years for that! And only 8,700 of those jobs will actually be on submarine construction itself.

Economist John Quiggin at the University of Queensland pointed out in May last year that the cost of the AUKUS jobs “bonanza” worked out at $18 million per job.

How many teachers, paramedics, road workers or engineers cost $18 million a piece to train and employ?

In 2015, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) reported that automation could replace an estimated 40 percent of Australia’s workforce within the next 20 years. That’s approximately five million jobs that could be replaced by robots.

The World Economic Forum in its Future of Jobs Report estimated that as many jobs will be created through AI - notably machine learning engineers, robotics engineers and data scientists – as will be destroyed. Even if this is true – and not a case of putting lipstick on a pig- there will be a huge mismatch between the skill sets of those who lose their jobs through automation and those required in the new areas of employment. There will be no large-scale employment transfer opportunity. 

While each of the jobs to be created though AUKUS will be welcomed by those who can access them, there are so few spread over such a long time that the promised jobs “bonanza” is in reality a massive jobs inadequacy.

The cost of AUKUS is a diversion of much-needed government funding away from real widespread employment creation.

Imperialism dictates that the public bear the cost of US preparations for dragging Australia into another of its wars.

AUKUS must be stopped.

The movement for an independent and peaceful Australia must be strengthened.

Only a socialist Australia will make it possible to use government funds for socially useful purposes and real jobs creation.


(1)  It has now been revealed by UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps that the Australian gift to the Rolls Royce plant at Derby where nuclear reactors for submarines are built. Shapp was over the moon, saying it would double the size of the Derby site, allowing it to create 1.170 skilled jobs. That's at a cost to Australia of $4 million per UK job.

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Transparency: who will the Australian Government listen to?

 Written by: Nick G. on 21 March 2024

 

Original photo: Chris Shannen   Flickr Commons


Will a US arms manufacturer have more luck than Australian citizens in getting some transparency from the Australian government? 

Frustration at the lack of transparency surrounding decisions of the government is growing.

At the head of the list is self-styled “Transparency Warrior” and former independent SA Senator Rex Patrick. He has bombarded various government departments including Environment, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence with Freedom of Information requests that are more often than not denied. The former submariner and AUKUS opponent’s X (Twitter) account regularly updates readers with the lack of government transparency.

The Department of Defence is one of the least transparent, with many in the so-called defence community railing against the closed-doorism of the department. They include editor of the online Asia Pacific Defence Reporter Kym Bergmann, who has often complained about the lack of transparency in Defence. He said in a podcast last October that “the cult of secrecy – particularly surrounding anything to do with Defence and national security - is having such a corrosive effect.”

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties recently condemned the government for its lack of transparency surrounding the cancellation of visas for Palestinians escaping the Gazan genocide.

“There has not been any transparency from the government regarding their visa cancellations,” wrote Council President Lydia Shelly in an open letter to the Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil.

Peak legal body, the Australian Law Council, began the year with a call for more transparency in government policy decisions, saying the government had been much more closed off to policy discussions in the wake of the PwC tax leak scandal.

The views above represent a very broad cross-section of the Australian public, yet the government continues to have its ears in its pockets.
However, that may soon change.

US arms manufacturer Northrop Grumman “is readying itself for what it hopes will be a steady stream of business as part of the AUKUS submarine plan for Australia, two company executives” said in Canberra on March 19.

According to a report in the US online Breaking Defense platform, the company was hoping to win contracts for repair and maintenance work on the AUKUS submarines, and was also looking for “small to medium enterprises here that can provide components to the US for the US production”. 

In order to position itself to profit from the AUKUS arrangements, Northrop Grumman told the government it needed to help them by being more transparent.

Northrop Grumman executive Tom Wears called on the government to “Provide transparency on what the path ahead is. You know, what are the ultimate objectives? What’s the timeline? What are the milestones along the way so that all industry can be ready to engage at the right time to bring the information that they need to put the plan together… one thing I would encourage the government to do, is be transparent as possible on what the plans ahead are so industry can respond and be ready.”

There is no doubt that two executives of a major US imperialist weapons manufacturer will get their way where Australia citizens cannot.

This is the outcome of the sale of our national sovereignty to US imperialism and the control of our economy by US capital.

North American Indigenous people support Palestinians

 Written by: Assiniboine Nation on 21 March 2024

 

In Australia, the carrying of the Aboriginal and Palestinian flags side by side has been a feature of many of the rallies against the Gazan genocide.

Many Australian First Peoples instinctively recognise the parallels between the struggles of both peoples against settler colonialism’s ethnic cleansing and genocide.

We reproduce here a statement from the Assiniboine Nation of Montana, USA, one of the Indigenous peoples of North America, and their reasons for supporting the Palestinian people. 

The capitalist press seeks to disunite the people, and will never promote the mutual understanding and support between Indigenous peoples. 

We will.
…………….
As “Maka Yuchanch,” “Shakes the Ground,” Lance FourStar of the Red Bottom Clan of the Assiniboine Nation in Northeastern Montana, speaking on behalf of a tribe which faces similar struggles against political and economic manipulation and suppression perpetrated by occupying forces, we recognize and stand in compassionate solidarity with the Palestinian people.

We acknowledge that the United States government's deliberate actions to prevent Indigenous tribes from exercising their right to self-determination, dissent, and cultural healing mirror the oppression faced by Palestinians. We acknowledge that just as our Assiniboine tribe experienced starvation at the hands of an occupying force, so do Palestinian civilians suffer under siege tactics aimed at exerting unearned authority over indigenous populations previously thriving on their own land.

We urgently appeal to the federal government to fully restore autonomy and the right to self-determination to Indigenous tribes, to honor the treaties that have been abandoned, to return rightful control over ancestral lands and provide meaningful support to tribes whose territories have been occupied for centuries, to end the cycle of exploitation and suppression, and urge an effort to embrace a new tradition of genuine partnership and respect for Indigenous sovereignty.

Likewise and in complete solidarity with a similarly oppressed Indigenous people, we call for a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the siege, the blockade, and all actions against the civilian population of Palestine that prevent its Indigenous population from thriving. We call on Hamas to release all remaining hostages, and on Israel to release all prisoners currently held without trial.

Make no mistake, it does not escape us that so many of the dead and wounded children in Gaza look like they could be our siblings, our children, our grandchildren. It does not escape us that the Assiniboine people can look out our windows and see the graves of victims of intentional starvation by our own colonizers, just as the Palestinian people can see mass graves holding the bodies of their similarly martyred loved ones. It does not escape us, and we will not forget.

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Poverty in Australia: more entrenched than ever

 Written by: (Contributed) on 19 March 2024

 

Original photo by Fernando Goncalves

Some recent studies have revealed just how much the Australian working-class have lost in the past few years with rampant inflation which has undermined living standards. Lower socio-economic groups have been particularly hard-hit. While economists continue to discuss the likely causes of the problem, the seriously dysfunctional nature of the Australian capitalist economy would appear the likely outcome of being part of the imperialist globalised economy.

 

A recent study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has found 970,000 Australian workers were employed in multiple jobs, up by 13,600 compared to the previous quarter ending last December. (1) Many Australian workers find it difficult, if not impossible, to retain their living standards with one job. Australia, in recent years, has been hard-hit with soaring price/profit inflation levels which have reduced spending power by as much as 20 per cent to 25 per cent.

Australian workers have experienced a drastic wage-cut.

While Australia has a total workforce of 14,201,300, the participation rate has remained relatively constant at 66.8 per cent. In reality, therefore, the workforce is only 9,486,468. (2)
Using the official government statistics as the benchmark, therefore, a total of 10.23 per cent of the Australian working class cannot financially survive with only one job.

The what extent the second jobs remain outside the usual structured and policed economy with recorded wages and entitlements together with income tax and super being paid and non-official work with payment in the form of cash-in-hand is difficult to accurately establish. The latter, nevertheless, is a factor which has to be taken into account together with the problem of wage-theft.

A further problem workers experience when employed in more than one job is that entitlements for injuries are affected; income protection insurance for main employment, for example, does not apply usually apply if a worker is injured in a second job. If the second job is in the informal economic system, serious legal and liability issues automatically arise during the subsequent investigation.

The official statistics are all the more appalling when taking other criteria into account.

Those employed on the casual basis or precarious levels of employment, while sometimes earning high wages, usually lack credit ratings to raise a mortgage to buy their own homes. They are, subsequently, frequently found in rental accommodation. A recent study conducted by PropTrack has established rental affordability is now at the worse levels since records began. (3) While the average national median household income has increased 19 per cent during the 2019-24 period, rents have increased by 38 per cent during the same period. (4) Last year an ABS study found city rents across Australia increased by an average of 7.3 per cent. (5)

Soaring interest rates have also exacerbated the problem, with the age of cheap credit well past. Many Australians with credit card debts now experience serious financial difficulties.

While economists continue to argue about the causes of the price/profit inflation, a common theory is that it has been the natural outcome of a financial stimulus by the then Trump administration in Washington, designed to ease the problems caused by the COVID pandemic. It was noted 'every year from 2017 when Trump took over from Obama, his administration increased the federal deficit significantly, ultimately adding more to US debt than all former US presidents combined'. (6)

Due to the globalised economy, the problem quickly spread through financial and banking systems to those countries such as Australia which remain strongly linked to the US.  

At the top-end-of-town, however, unequal distribution of wealth has continued to be a serious problem. The rich and wealthy continue to expand their portfolios well above levels of inflation while giving their workers wage increases below half that of existing inflation rates! (7) There is no sign the problem of price/profit inflation will end in the near future.

  

1.     Multi-job record a sign of bad times, The Weekend Australian, 9-10 March 2024.
2.     ABS: Australian Workforce, January 2024.
3.     Rental crisis worst on record, The Weekend Australian, 9-10 March 2024.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Quoted: Prefabricated and build-to-rent houses, The Conversation, 12 March 2024.
6.     Trump or Biden? It won't matter to the US economy, Australian, 14 March 2024.
7.     Website: Forbes List, where the rich openly flout their wealth and gloat over their ill-gotten gains; information about what they pay their workforces can be accessed through the ABS and trade-unions.

Friday, March 15, 2024

The return of the Philippines puppet Mark 2

Written by: (Contributed) on 16 March 2024

 

The recent visit of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr. to Australia for high-level diplomatic talks marks a return to the days of the previous Cold War now being played-out with the present one against China.

Taking place on the eve of the ASEAN Summit in Melbourne, the Marcos address to parliamentarians in Canberra was designed to act as a rallying-cry for a further escalation of diplomatic hostilities between US-led positions and China inside the regional trade body.

The Philippines has had a long history of political leaders who acted as puppets for US-led regional diplomacy; the present President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr. is no exception to the general rule. Historically, US military strategists have used the Philippines as the centre of an arc which swings to the more economically developed countries of northern Asia and the under-developed yet resource rich countries of South-east Asia. (1) Operations have followed the regional planning.

An arc from sensitive US intelligence facilities based at Pine Gap, Central Australia, likewise, swings to counterparts on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and Guam in the Pacific which have been upgraded as hubs for regional operations. (2) The arc also cuts across the Philippines where the US now has access to nine military bases in strategic areas of the country based on the defence and security of 'US interests' in Taiwan and sensitive island chains used to restrict access and egress across the region. (3)

While great play was made of the Philippines closing some of the huge US military bases in the 1990s with the end of the previous Cold War, the Pentagon soon returned by stealth; emphasis was placed upon re-opening former military facilities then hosted by the Philippine government, partnered to enable US troop rotations with 'permission to operate from the old installations as guests, mostly on the temporary basis'. (4) The moves in the Philippines were also accompanied by similar diplomacy across the region; high-level diplomacy conducted by then President Obama toward traditional allies included numerous agreements about increasing the US military presence without too much publicity about longer-term implications. (5)

The relationship between US-led regional foreign policy and the Philippines, nevertheless, soured considerably with the election of President Rodrigo Duterte whose administration pursued a popularist and pragmatic line; Duterte, politically, came from outside the traditional ruling oligarchies imposed on the Philippines by the Spanish colonial administrations. Instead of, therefore, pursuing the US-led policies of confrontation with China, the Duterte administration stated that it 'will not take sides with any parties contesting China's move to set up a missile base on some of the islands in the South China Seas … this is to avoid the Philippines being dragged into a conflict between superpowers'. (6) The political and diplomatic position was quite clear. It included reference to 'it is not in our national interest … to … be involved in any armed confrontation between China and the US … an independent foreign policy is the best position to take … everything will be resolved in peaceful and diplomatic means'. (7)

The position of the Duterte administration also included their questioning and possible termination of a 1998 agreement with joint US-Philippine military exercises, which set alarm bells ringing frantically in the Pentagon. (8) It effectively threatened to push the US into a front-line position as opposed to lurking behind regional partners and allies. When then President Obama addressed a graduation of US military cadets at West Point, New York, in 2014, for example, he stated 'it was possible for the US to lead through example and by creating international alliances … and … the promise of a less aggressive American foreign policy', was subsequently used for the later Indo-Pacific Strategy. (9)

With the demise of the Duterte administration and election of Marcos Jnr. the US gave a sign of relief; the oligarchies were back in control, with the Marcos oligarchy holding presidential power. Washington and the Pentagon were subsequently able to return to the traditional hegemonic and diplomatic positions of the previous Cold War, now played-out in the present one against China.

It was, therefore, no surprise to observe President Marcos Jnr. being given a big welcome in Canberra; Australia is a regional hub for 'US interests', with defence and security considerations resting partly on the Philippines. In fact, the US regard the Philippines as the front-line with its diplomatic hostilities toward China, with 'Australia the main rear for US military forces'. (10) The diplomatic positions include preparations for 'real-war scenarios'. In recent times, for example, Australian military facilities have been upgraded specifically for this purpose, coinciding with the formal Visiting Forces Agreements between the Philippines, Australia and the US leaving little to the imagination about longer-term implications.

Marcos, furthermore, used his visit to Canberra and address in Parliament House, on the eve of the ASEAN Summit in Melbourne, to state the Philippines 'is prepared to choose a side', namely the US against China. (11) Most ASEAN member countries, however, prefer to not take sides between the US or China; they benefit from diplomacy with both sides. (12)

No doubt the US is, therefore, pleased with their Marcos Mark 2 puppet in Manila, who is serving 'US interests' well, as his father did before him, together with the sowing of seeds of doubt and division inside ASEAN, the premier Asian trade bloc:

                                      We also need an independent foreign policy!

  
1.     The objectives of the US, The Guardian, 6 August 2003.
2.     See: Peters Projection, World Map, Actual Size.
3.     US plans to expand its military presence in the Philippines to counter threats against Taiwan, USA Today, 2 February 2023.
4.     US eyes return to south-east Asian bases, The Guardian, 29 June 2012.
5.     US signs defence deal in Asia, The Guardian, 2 May 2014.
6.     Duterte won't antagonise China over missile system, The Philippine Star, 9 May 2018.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Philippines rethinks defence deal with the US, Australian, 4 June 2020.
9.     US signals foreign policy shift away from military might, The Guardian, 6 June 2014, and; The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
10.   Guardian, op.cit., 6 August 2003.
11.   Bongbong knows he needs friends, Australian, 1 March 2024.
12.   See: Tapping in to ASEAN needs, Australian, 7 March 2024, with reference to the 'China plus one' strategy of ASEAN member countries.

  

Aged Care Workers Win Higher Wages and Some Respect

 Written by: Ned K. on 15 March 2024

 

Source: United Workers Union, X

On Friday 15 March 2024 the Fair Work Commission handed down its second Decision on wage increases for aged care workers. In 2022 the Commission handed down a Decision increasing nurses and personal care workers and chefs in aged care facilities a 15% wage increase.

The principal unions with membership in the aged care sector (Nurses Union, Health Services Union and United Workers Union) initial case was for a 25% wage increase for all occupations in the aged care sector. 

The second Decision of the Commission handed down on Friday 15 March 2024 increased the wage increase (inclusive of the 15%) to up to 28.5% for nurses and personal care workers and a 6.8% wage increase to support service aged care workers such as cleaners, laundry workers and food preparation workers assisting the chefs.

Although aged care workers did not take industrial action to win increases in pay, they raised their voices in unity exposing to Royal Commissions, politicians and the media the impact that low pay had not just on their own personal lives but on the quality of care of elderly people dependent on aged care. It has been their stories that demanded the Fair Work Commission and the federal government ensure that aged care workers be paid wages that reflect the skill and complexity of the work they perform.

Aged care workers’ wages are paid from money allocated to the aged care employers who own and dominate the aged care sector, both residential and home care.

Many aged care sector employers, even the so-called not for profit operators, have a history of mis-allocating federal government money provided to pay workers.

Sometimes this has been done by outright underpayment (wage theft) of workers and sometimes by "creative rostering" and not replacing staff absent from work. 

With the increase in wages to aged care workers, the temptation to continue bad practices will no doubt continue. 

However, through the workers’ campaign for higher wages and respect for the work they do, they have become more united and organized with thousands joining their appropriate union for the first time. Many are migrant workers who are standing up for their rights and the rights of residents like never before.

The next big battle for the aged care workers and indeed communities is to tackle the question of ownership and control of the sector.

Is it in the interests of aged care residents, workers and communities as a whole that aged care is dominated by private for-profit operators, many of them large overseas owned conglomerates?
 

Party Anniversary and Congress

Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 15 March 2024

 

Today, March 15, 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of our Party’s founding.

To mark the occasion, we are announcing today that we will be holding our 16th Congress this year.

Congress is taking place at a time of intensifying inter-imperialist rivalries and continuing crisis of global monopoly capital.  Although US imperialism is still strong, especially militarily, it is more widely exposed and isolated. The gulf between the ruling classes of monopoly capital and the masses is widening globally.  Conditions for expanding anti-US imperialist forces are strengthening, not least in Australia. Economic and living conditions of the people are worsening.  Climate crisis is rallying the people against monopoly capitalism.  Nevertheless, we need to take account of uneven conditions and developments. 

The heroic Palestinian resistance is isolating reactionary and imperialist forces, inspiring and mobilising the oppressed and progressive forces. The overwhelming international solidarity for Palestinians is an antidote to the ruling class’s push towards fascism.   

The inter-imperialist rivalries between the US bloc and China/Russia bloc are intensifying, threatening imperialist war, giving rise to anti-war and independence movements.   

Congress consultations offer excellent opportunities to examine Australia’s and international conditions, class struggle, the people’s and revolutionary movements, enabling the party to set the direction for our work and study in the next 4-5 years.

Central Committee

CPA (M-L)  

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Australia surrenders sovereignty again: integrates with US-UK military exports and RnD

 Written by: Nick G. on 13 March 2024

 

A new set of policies on Australian exports introduced last November has been designed to make local research and development interoperable with that of our AUKUS “partners”, the US and UK imperialists.

Hugh Jeffrey, Australia’s Deputy Secretary of Strategy, Policy, and Industry made the announcement during a Canberra speech sponsored by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

Hugh Jeffrey has had 4 overseas postings, including as Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC and to NATO in Afghanistan, where he was Senior Adviser to the International Security Assistance Force Commander and the NATO Ambassador.

Jeffrey said that the changes will mean “a net decrease in regulatory compliance costs, and actually expand the amount of research that can occur internationally without a permit”.

“…with the national exemption for export permits from the US and UK, (the changes will) remove regulation from $5 billion of almost $9 billion in annual Australian defence exports.”

That will please not just the American and British, but also our good friends in the Zionist genocidal army to which we are exporting arms and technology.

But local researchers outside the US loyalists in the Australian military, public service and government, are worried about the implications. 

The president of the Australian Academy of Sciences, Chennupati Jagadish, was concerned about the prospect of a brain drain towards the military. “My ability to attract the best and brightest in the world, wherever they are, will diminish,” he said. “It’s timely to ask what Australia is really seeking to secure if we are restricting the development of technologies that are critical for the future of our country?” 

Even people in the US close to their military are surprised at the gullibility of their Australian servants.

Bill Greenwalt, who as a staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote many of the US export control rules, said he thought “Australia just gave up its sovereignty and got nothing for it.” 

Greenwalt, also a former US deputy undersecretary of Defense for industrial policy, warned that incorporating many of the principles of the International Trafficking in Arms Exports (ITAR) regulations to gain access to US nuclear submarine technology would set Australia back 50 years. 

The changes are designed to more closely bind Australia to the United States and Britain in return for access to the technology and intellectual property that comes with the primary goal of the AUKUS agreement — buying and building nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The gullibility extends to a promised gift to the US of A$4.7 million to pump prime their submarine production at a time when there is no guarantee of that happening. A matching contribution of US$3 billion has yet to pass Congress, held up by the same Republicans who are hoping for a Trump return to the Presidency.

Editor of the online Australia Pacific Defence Reporter, Kym Bergmann, commented yesterday: “In the US the return of Donald Trump to the Presidency is suddenly looking more likely – and if he scraps AUKUS it might do us all a favour by bowing to the inevitable.”

Commenting on US-Australia relations, former Senator and submariner Rex Patrick wrote yesterday that “There are no guarantee the US will actually deliver. US national interests will always take precedence.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also said yesterday that under AUKUS, Australia has ‘lost all sovereignty, all agency’.

Australia will never have the capacity for independent decision-making in matters of foreign policy so long as our economy is dominated by the US, and our ruling circles are blindly loyal to US imperialism.

 

Friday, March 8, 2024

WOMAD: Marley to perform, Palestinian musicians banned

 Written by: Nick G. on 9 March 2024

 

Photo: Asbjorn Kanck

Yesterday, members and supporters of the Australia Friends of Palestine Association picketed the entrance to the popular WOMAD music festival calling on audiences to boycott the performance by Ziggy Marley, son of the famous Rastafarian Bob Marley.

Their very vocal calls of "cease fire NOW" and "stop the genocide" rang out during the one and a half hour-long rally. Drivers of passing cars honked their horns in support. 

The AFOPA bookshop in Adelaide said that many with tickets to WOMAD had called at their shop to purchase pro-Palestinian t-shirts to wear to WOMAD.
Calls on WOMAD organisers to drop Marley from the program owing to his support for Israel and its armed forces, calls rejected by the organisers, had fuel added to the fire when the same organisers, at the last moment, withdrew their invitation for Jordanian-based Palestinian group 47SOUL.

Marley’s wife Orly Agai, is an Israeli of Iranian-Jewish descent. In Israel in 2011 for two concerts, Marley told the Zionist Israeli news agency Ynet: "The history of our connection to the roots of Israel, to David, Solomon, goes way before I met my wife. My father, my Rastafari culture, has a tight link to the Jewish culture. We have a strong connection from when I was a young boy and read the Bible, the Old Testament.” He told the agency that he “felt very close to Israel”.

In November 2018, Marley displayed that closeness when he joined US rapper Pharrel Williams on stage at the annual Friends of the Israel Defence Forces gala which raised US$60 million for the genocidal army.

Their audience included Israeli soldiers in uniform.

Although he claims his music sends a “message of justice, love, and peace for all people,” on October 20, 2023 Marley posted a picture of a raised hand, along with the words, “You know wha! There must be a better way. Free Gaza from Hamas.”

He also signed an open letter affirming his support of Israel amid the war with Hamas. 

The letter instructs Hollywood “to speak out forcefully against Hamas, to support Israel, to refrain from sharing misinformation about the war, and do whatever is in their power to urge the terrorist organisation to return the innocent hostages to their families”.

WOMAD director Ian Scobie tried to defend his decision to allow Marley to perform, saying that it was a lie that he had performed for the IDF and only promoted harmony in his songs. 

47SOUL, which had twice before performed at WOMAD, were to be banned, he said, because of the way feelings were running in the community at the moment, and his inability under those circumstances to be able to guarantee their safety. He added that they could perform in 2025 if they wanted to. This was a bullshit excuse, because anyone can see how feelings are running in the community at the moment.

47SOUL issued a statement on the withdrawal of their invitation to play:

"Having initially accepted the invitation, we were later informed that WOMADelaide took the decision to rescind 47SOUL's invite, citing doubts at being unable to present a 'suitably safe environment' for the artists and audiences at the festival due to community protests taking place in Australia," it said.

"We find this line of reasoning deeply problematic and disheartening as it feeds into the narrative of Palestinians being an inherent source of danger to others.

"At this critical time, the message of multiculturalism that WOMAD seeks to espouse, and its specific relevance to the events we are witnessing, could not be of greater importance."

British-Lebanese multi-genre music producer and DJ Saliah withdrew from WOMAD in protest, saying “I am of British-Lebanese heritage. Members of my family are currently suffering daily bombardment by the IOF (Israeli Occupation Force)  in Lebanon….WOMADelaide…refuses to provide a ‘safe’ platform for Palestinian artists and their allies at a time when amplifying our voicescould not be more critical.”

Australian singer-songwriter Jen Cloher, who is part of Sunday’s WOMADelaide program and has vowed to donate any profits from that performance to 47SOUL and the Palestinian cause, lashed out at organisers’ claims the decision was based on safety.

Tunisian performer, Emel Mathlouthi performed last night, waving a Palestinian flag for a supportive audience.

In contrast to the deplorable decisions that have mired WOMAD in controversy, peaceful audiences of many hundreds of people listened with great interest to speakers on Palestinian and Israeli issues at the previous week’s Adelaide Writers Festival.

Avi Shlaim, whose Arab-Jewish family fled their Iraqi homeland after the First Arab-Israel War in 1948, described the discrimination his family faced from the   Ashkenazi Jews who had come to Israel from Europe. He had researched the circumstances of the large-scale migration of Jews from Iraq to Israel at that time, and had discovered “incontrovertible proof” that three of the five terrorist bombs directed at Iraq’s Jewish community had been planted by the Israelis themselves to induce a state of panic, forcing Iraq’s Jews to seek refuge in Israel. He explained why he rejected the “two-state solution” and now sought a singular secular and democratic state of Palestine. His book is Three Worlds: Memoirs of an  Arab-Jew.

Tareq Baconi serves as the president of the board of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He was listened to without interruption by more than 2,000 people at 8am as he outlined the origins of Hamas, its political ambitions and the reasons why it has the support of the people of Gaza. His book is Hamas Contained. 

Several hours later, another huge audience heard Israeli-born Ilan PappĂ© address the question of Israel and Palestine more broadly. The author of several books on the topic, he is best-known for his detailed study of the Zionist crime of ethnic cleansing that both pre-dated and continued through the Naqba. It was “a crime that needs to be confronted politically as well as morally”, he wrote in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. 

As a tale of two decisions, Adelaide Writers Week and WOMAD could not be further apart.

Further protests are planned at the latter.

 

Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

 Written by: Ned K. on 8 March 2024

 

Above: Early Childhood Workers at a rally in 2022.

The dust has settled on the federal government's changes in the Fair Work Act in relation to enterprise bargaining. Workers and their Unions are looking to see where the changes can be used to advantage workers and what are the traps to look for.

The employers said the sky would fall in if the federal parliament approved widening the opportunities for multi-employer bargaining. So far that has not proven to be the case. One of the few sectors where the new multi-employer laws have been applied is the Early Childhood Education sector. The sector is now dominated by private equity companies and other private for profit operators while the wages paid to workers are highly dependent on federal government funding.

The Early Childhood Education workers (predominantly women) and their Union, United Workers Union, initiated multi-employer bargaining and utilised the new provision in the Fair Work Act regarding relevant funding third parties being involved . The third party involved was the federal government as it funded the wages in the sector. While the federal government said it as sympathetic towards the low pay and poor conditions of workers in the sector it dragged its heels on committing to fund wage increases. 

Consequently the sector owners stalled the bargaining process.

The workers and their Union responded in February this year by giving notice of a strike on Internatinal Women's Day, 8 March.

About a week before the intended sector wide strike, the federal government announced it would fund a substantial increase in wages. Union members' Delegates agreed in consultation with members to postpone the strike action and possibly withdraw it altogether once they knew the exact amount that the federal government was going to agree to fund in the form of wage increases and over what time frame.

Delegates thought it best to keep the powder dry as they realised that their members may only get one clean shot of strike action as under the new laws the employers and fderal government had plenty of legal options to try and block on-going industrial action.

The threat of industrial action definitely moved the federal government's position on funding wage increases in the sector.

From the workers' perspective, their Union had utilized changes in the new laws to apply the "rising tide (of struggle) to lift all boats(multiple private for-profit Early Childhood Education Centre owners)".

On International Women's Day, thousands of women workers in the sector will be keeping a close eye on developments and waiting to see the dollar signs from the federal government.

In a completely different sector of the economy, the stevedoring and maritime sector, there is a history of protracted enterprise bargaining disputes between the Maritime Union members and a single employer. The new laws in relation to enterprise bargaining have strengthened the powers of the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate when an employer or group of employers argues that workers and their Union are being "unreasonable" if they have not accepted an employer offer after 9 months of bargaining. The new provisions come under an Intractable Bargaining section of the Act. 

This new provision of the Act went through without headlines in the daily press and for good reason. The big corporations and no doubt both Labor and Liberal governments want to limit the power of the workers in key areas of the international economy such as shipping trade and turn around time of containers on and off ships.

So whatever the laws of capitalism regarding the class struggle within workplaces, workers and their Unions learn how to both use the laws to their advantage and how to avoid the worst aspect of the laws to further the interests of the working class as a whole to maximize the opportunity of a rising tide lifting many, if not all boats!