Tuesday, April 30, 2024

May Day – unite to lift the level of struggle

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 1 May 2024


We are reprinting the font page of the paper Vanguard to be distributed free of charge at May Day rallies. The entire paper can be downloaded by clicking the link "Latest Publications" on the left hand side of our homepage. Our Party's statement follows:


May Day 2024 sees Australian workers and their communities gripped in a major cost of living crisis. 

Aid agencies and food distribution centres report that it is no longer the unemployed and homeless seeking their support: people in low-paid jobs, people struggling to pay escalating rents and those with mortgages caught out by rising interest rates show that the virus of economic crisis is spreading through the wider community.

No real relief is in sight.

It's called imperialism

At the same time, there are now more billionaires in our country, and their wealth has increased. According to Forbes magazine, Australia’s 50 richest tycoons are collectively better off from a year ago. They added $9 billion or around 4% to take their combined wealth to $222 billion.

On the global stage imperialism continues to wreak havoc. The division of the world into rich and poor nations is backed by oppressive state machines and military pacts. In addition to those serving the needs of US imperialism, there are those of its rivals, Russian imperialism and Chinese social-imperialism. They franticly compete to develop new killing machines and new areas of control. 

Artificial intelligence is identifying people to kill without the need for human oversight. It is being used in Gaza where the Zionists say that it is acceptable to kill 100 citizens using AI “identification” in order to take out one alleged Hamas operative by drone attacks.

In flagrant violation of UN treaties on Outer Space, US imperialism has created the Space Force to ensure US military control of the Space domain.

Australia has agreed to pay the fantastic sum of $368 billion to surrender its sovereignty to US imperialism through the AUKUS arrangements. US spokespersons have confirmed that they expect “our” submarines to take part in any conflict with China over Taiwan. They will determine whether we go to war with our major trading partner.

What does all this mean for May Day in Australia?

May Day is the day of international working class struggle and solidarity for a world free of exploitation, imperialist wars and repression. 

On May Day we express our solidarity with the struggles of the working people of all countries, and send our warmest greetings to the courageous comrades in revolutionary parties and organisations around the world. 

May Day belongs to the working class 

For as long as there are workers determined to fight for the interests of the working class and all oppressed people, no-one can take May Day from us, stamp it out, buy it off, commercialise it or make it acceptable to capitalism. 

It’s a day when workers proudly proclaim their confidence in the future. 

They acknowledge the sacrifices that have been, and will be, made and declare that they will not be deterred by the deceptions and violence of the reactionaries.

Today, the urgent demand is for the defeat of Israeli Zionist genocide and an end to their ethnic cleansing of the homelands of the Palestinian people.

Behind the Zionists stand the US imperialists and their lackeys in various countries.

And beyond the urgency of the defeat of the Israeli aggressors are yet other struggles on every continent against feudalism, capitalism and imperialism and for the rights of working people.

In our country, the best elements of the working class embrace and support the struggles of First Nations peoples, of women and youth, of environmental campaigns, and of struggling rural communities.

The ruling classes use the tactics of racism and religious fundamentalism to try and divide the working class; they prepare war and fascism to try and solve the economic and political crises besetting their system. 

For an independent working class agenda! 

An independent working class agenda, an independent set of demands backed by unity of action in achieving, them are urgently needed. 

That agenda is embedded in struggles against fascism, war and environmental destruction.

We call on Australian workers to strive to lift the level of struggle for the achievement of the people’s demands.

For anti-imperialist independence and socialism!
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Civil defence and the imperialist agenda

Written by: (Contributed) on 28 April 2024


The release of a report from a right-wing defence and security lobby organisation with strong links to the military-industrial complex was timed to coincide with the release of the government’s 2024 National Defence Strategy in Canberra. Military planners appear to be considering a return to civil defence provision along similar lines to that used in the previous Cold War. Sensitive military documents from the period, which were subsequently declassified, have revealed some areas of serious concern; the same problems are now set to reappear in contemporary Australia.

In April, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation released a report calling for a return to civil defence provision similar to that used in Australia during the previous Cold War. (1) While the main part of the plan was presented as the defence and security of Australia, the hidden agenda was clearly something else; it provided a chilling picture of shadowy, clandestine organisation, preoccupied with intelligence-gathering and covert operations.
The report, in fact, actually specified that the 'defence of the Australian theatre would be a higher priority than sending our forces abroad'. (2)
The Williams Foundation was named after Sir Richard Williams (1890-1980), a well-known Australian military figure, and from its official web-sites prides itself on 'independent and innovative thinking'. In reality, it is something else; a high-pressure defence and security lobby organisation inside the corridors of power, with strong links into the military-industrial complex. Multinational armaments manufacturers dominate. Lockheed Martin is a platinum corporate partner; Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are gold corporate partners; Boeing is a silver corporate partner; CAE Inc. (formerly Canadian Aviation Electronics) is a bronze corporate partner; while corporate sponsors include General Atomics Aeronautical and BAE Systems. 
The Foundation’s website claims “The Sir Richard Williams Foundation conducts its operations independently and has no political or industry ties.” Yet its Board members have numerous political roles and actively work for companies including its multinational sponsors. The Board comprises:
Air Marshal (Retd) Geoff Brown AO. He was operational commander of the RAAF during the illegal war on Iraq after which he became a Director of Lockheed Martin (Australia), and Chairman of the Advisory Board of CAE Asia Pacific and Middle East.
Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Mark Binskin who was recently appointed by the Australian Government to advise on Israel’s response to its murder of Zomi Frankon and other aid workers in Gaza. Since his retirement he has worked as a Non-Executive Director with BAE Systems Australia and Nihon Cyber Defence.
Ken Moore, a former top public servant who is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the INSEAD Business School in France and the Senior Defence Resource Management Program at the US Navy Postgraduate School in California.
Nicole Quinn, head of a government advisory company whose clients include Mitsubishi Motors (Australia), CAE and NEC Australia. She was previously General Manager of the regional security think tank the Institute for Regional Security.
Vice Admiral (Rtd) Tim Barrett
John Conway, who commanded the United Kingdom’s largest Permanent Joint Operating Base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus between 2005 and 2008 enabling the airbridge into Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the owner and Managing Director of Felix, an independent company providing specialist air domain and intelligence capability development, and creative services to Defence and industry. He was previously a business development executive with Raytheon Australia.
Gerard Foley, the Chief of Growth for Raytheon Australia where he has worked for the last 22 years.
Emily Frizell who owns a successful engineering and management specialist consulting company, AeroPM, which is a specialist service provider supporting Defence to acquire complex assets to support the warfighter.
Major General (Retd) Fergus "Gus" McLachlan. He was awarded the United States Legion of Merit for his service in the international coalition force in Afghanistan. He is a Senior partner at Bondi Partners, founded in Washington DC in early 2020 by former Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey. Its website states “With the evolution of AUKUS – a trilateral security pact between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. – Bondi Partners footprint continues to grow across the Pacific and the Atlantic. Today we have teams in Washington, Los Angeles, Sydney, Canberra and London where we partner with businesses which want to grow and invest across allied and global markets.” 
Air Vice-Marshal (Ret’d) Steve Roberton is a full-time senior advisor with US multinational McKinsey and Company.
Katherine Ziesing, Strategic Communications Manager at South Korean Hanwha Defence Australia.
While great play has been made in the report to the seeming vulnerability of Australia to attack, plans for the new proposed civil defence organisation to deal with 'social cohesion, domestic security and public safety', should not be taken literally. (3) 
The discredited reactionary and former senior public servant, former Australian Secretary of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo, spoke at a Williams Foundation seminar on April 11, He said “With very little notice the Australian Defence Force could be called upon to undertake rapid deployments into the nearby arc of small states. While necessary and important, such ventures would only be marginally relevant to today’s great issues of war and peace.” 
He added that “the threats in front of Australia now needed to drive a re-set in efforts that considered the engagement of the society in its own defence”.
“Now as a practical suggestion to focus relevant effort, we should consider modernizing the earlier practice from the 1930s and then again from the 1950s of the preparation of a war book. The war book of those times were guides on what would need to be done and by whom, in the event of war. Preparing a new war book would help to focus the national mind.”
“A new war book would deal with the entire span of civil defense and mobilization which would be required to move to a war footing… All one has to look around you and find the activity of the multi-polar authoritarian world and the end of the American-led “rules-based order” to understand the future is now.” (4)
The earlier War Books
In all cases a common pattern of government and military policies included the closure of anti-fascist civil defence provision activated during the Second World War and subsequent re-establishing of similar provision in the late 1940s and 1950s with recruitment of 'safe' anti-communists. (5) 
At a meeting of the NATO Confederation of Reserve Officers in Westminster in August 1948, a decision was taken to lobby for a revival of a civil defence capacity for Western Europe. A 'representative from the British Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve told the meeting it is not the case of training a force to be kept in reserve doing nothing while waiting for a war that might never happen. It has a useful function during civil emergencies'. (6)
While Australia was not a NATO member, its links with the British Commonwealth served a similar purpose.
The War Book issued in 1957 took place when Australia was governed by a right-wing Menzies administration which followed US-led Cold War military policy. Publications from the period leave little to the imagination. Those associated with the War Book were the most aggressive side of the business-classes. The main plan was to control civil society and channel political opposition; the main achievement of those concerned was to split the ALP and render it politically unable to win federal elections for decades. Trade unions, likewise, were subject to constant vilification.
Reviving conscription?
One of the main perpetrators behind the thinking outlined in the recent report is James Paterson, Opposition Home Affairs and Cyber Security spokesman. He is not a quiet, thoughtful individual. Addressing the annual ANZAC Oration at the Robert Menzies Institute in Melbourne, he warned 'that urgent action is needed to bolster the ADF and address a workforce crisis'. (7) 
The new proposed civil defence provision would appear part of the same package. The Liberals, likewise, have long toyed with the return of conscription on the basis of social cohesion, terminology used specifically in the report.
Similar references can also be found in the main National Defence Strategy 2024 publication which contains an emphasis on the fear of subversion without specifically using the terminology categorically. (8) Emphasis is also placed in the publication on supply-lines and Australian industry. (9)  
While stated aims remain, political agendas, however, can easily be hidden.  
The main enemy of Australians during the previous Cold War was not the Soviet Union but the 'enemy within': anti-communist far-right organisations developed strong links with those wielding class and state power. The far-right National Civic Council, for example, 'was approached by Australia's spy-chiefs when the possibility of their anti-communist crusade became apparent to ASIO and allied authorities'. (10) The NCC counterpart, the Australian League of Rights (ALOR), likewise, also retained similar links and as the Australian affiliate to the notorious World Anti-Communist League was an advocate of civil defence. (11)
The subsequent demise of the Soviet Union in 1990 resulted in vast troves of western defence and security documents from the Cold War suddenly being declassified. Plausible denial was then not possible for those wielding class and state power. 
During the mid-1960s, for example, the US military began upgrading training manuals for counter-insurgency and counter-intelligence programs. One program, Project X, included provision for 'aerial surveillance, eavesdropping, interrogation, basic counter-sabotage measures, hiring and firing informants, lock picking and censorship'. (12) It was used through intelligence agents infiltrating 'a wide array of groups, including political parties, labour unions, youth and student groups, religious organisations, and publishing organisations … one manual even cast suspicion on the electoral process. Insurgents can resort to subversion of the government by means of elections'. (13)
During the early 1970s the US began 'exporting Project X material to US military assistance groups working with friendly foreign countries. By the mid-1970s the Project X material was going to military forces all over the world'. (14) A noticeable trend with the US military assistance was channelling expertise through seemingly out-sourced private organisations, created to enable the US to use plausible denial if challenged. Studies of the matter have, however, shown that many of those operations during the previous Cold War were 'CIA sub-contracts'. (15)
Due to Australia's close military alliance with the US, there is every reason to expect the training material to have been incorporated into Australian Defence Force provision. In fact, ADF training manuals from the same period include similar provision. (16) Military biographies from the previous Cold War provide more than adequate evidence that the US used Australia as a convenient hub for 'US interests' in the wider region from soon after the end of the Second World War. (17)
A common pattern with the military training included use of civil defence organisation for a variety of purposes including general surveillance of civilian populations where lists were drawn up following profiling together with the use of paramilitary groups. (18) There was little ambiguity in the eyes of the Pentagon as to whom were the targets: one training manual noted the co-ordinated counter-intelligence activities worldwide were against those who oppose the US Defence Department 'during peacetime and all levels of conflict'. (19)
Those associated with the Williams Foundation who lurk inside the corridors of power lobbying for civil defence provision are pursuing a Cold War hidden agenda in support of the US military-industrial complex and a return to the same problems of yesteryear.
                                       We need an independent foreign policy!
1.     Credible chance of war: Why we must plan for attack, Australian, 19 April 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Website: Williams Foundation.
3.     Australian, op.cit., 19 April 2024.
4.     Ibid.
5.     See: NATO Secret Army's, Daniele Ganser, (2005); and, Secret Army's war on the Left, The Observer, (London), 18 November 1990.
6.     NATO and civil emergencies, State Research, Bulletin 1, October 1977, page 9.
7.     Libs' Defence prescription to head off future conscription fight, Australian, 23 April 2024.
8.     See: National Defence Strategy 2024, (Canberra, 2024), on-line book, page 18.
9.     Ibid.
10.   Benign spy-master built global network, The Age (Melbourne), 3 March 1998.
11.   See: The Australian League of Rights, Andrew A. Campbell, (Victoria, 1978); and, Voices of Hate, K. D. Gott, (Melbourne, July 1965); and, Inside the League, Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, (New York, 1986), Appendix, The League List, pp. 275-85; and, Ted Serong, The life of an Australian counter-insurgency expert, Anne Blair, (Melbourne, 2002), pp. 186-192.
12.   Army's Project X had wider audience, The Washington Post, 6 March 1997.
13.   Ibid.
14.   Lost History: Project X, The Consortium magazine, 31 March 1997.
15.   Inside the League, op.cit., page 305, footnote 18.
16.   See: The Division in Battle, Pamphlet Number 1, Organisation and Tactics, Military Board, Army Headquarters, Canberra, 1 June 1966; and, Infantry Training, Volume 4, Part 2, Army Headquarters, Canberra, 1 May 1967.
17.   See: Ted Serong, Blair, op.cit., pp. 73-203.  
18.   Washington Post, op.cit., 6 March 1997; and, Counter Insurgency Operations, US Army, Army Foreign Intelligence Assistance, ref: 19960709 052; and, US Army Regulation, 381-20, The Army Counter-Intelligence Program, declassified 15 November 1993.
19.   US Army Regulation 381-20, ibid., Section 1.5, Mission and Policy, page 1; and, see also, US Army Field Manual 30-31, Appendix B, about the controversy surrounding those associated with civil defence type provision and the far-right and terrorism.


Saturday, April 27, 2024

Congratulating the DFLP on the success of its eighth national conference

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 28 April 2024


We recently received the good news from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) about the successful conclusion of their eighth national conference. We immediately sent them the following congratulatory message for which Comrade Fouad Baker at the DFLP's Foreign Office has thanked us - eds

To the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
27 April 2024
The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) congratulates the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on the successful conclusion of its eighth general national conference.
Meeting in conditions of the greatest difficulty, conference participants in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and throughout the Palestinian diaspora elected a new Central Committee with Comrade Fahd Suleiman as General-Secretary and Comrade Nayef Hawatmeh as head of the DFLP.
The conference upheld the commitment of the DFLP to scientific socialism and supported the Palestinian people in continuing to rally around the resistance.
The 70-plus years of Zionist Israel’s attempts to complete the ethnic cleansing that characterised the Nakba, and the intensified genocidal aggression against Gaza since early October 2023, have brought Australians into the streets every week in their tens of thousands, have seen attempts by activists to disrupt the manufacture and export of war parts to Israel, and to blockade ports against Israel’s Zim shipping line. New groups have emerged to promote the struggle against Zionism, including Unionists for Palestine. Officials of the Maritime Union have been arrested for leading port blockades against Zim ships. 
Reflecting the growing involvement of working class Australians in opposition to the Gaza genocide, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has called for an end to the occupation of Palestine, and called on the Australian Government to immediately:
Use all influence, pressure, and diplomatic measures to achieve a permanent ceasefire.
End all military trade with Israel
Enact targeted sanctions on Israeli officials who have called for the denial of aid, and military and civil servants denying essential food and materials to civilians of Gaza.
Commit additional funding of $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank
Anti-Zionist Jews have responded to Netanyahu’s criminal bloodlust by forming their own Jewish Council of Australia, opposing Zionist attempts to equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.
Resistance comes at a cost, but submission means ceasing to exist.
We salute the heroic and continuing resistance of the Palestinian people.
Death to Zionism and imperialism.
Nick G.
Chairperson,  CPA (M-L) on behalf of the Central Committee


Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A workers’ party of a new type

Written by: Ned K. on 25 April 2024


If you ask people what comes to mind when you ask them the question "what political party, if any, do you support?" many people will say the Liberal Party or Nationals or Labor Party or the Greens or even "the Teals". An increasing number of people will say " None, they're all the same!"

What all these parties have in common is that they equate a political party with parliament and the people's involvement being the one day of the year every three or four years when elections are held.

Within official trade union circles, most are affiliated to the ALP and their leaderships urge their members to vote Labor because they are "better than the Liberals". If members ask for more information, they may get told that both the Unions and the Labor Party are part of the " labour movement".

So many workers especially, generation after generation, have voted for the Labor Party in the hope of significant changes to their working, family and community lives. More and more workers question what type of "labour movement" the Labor Party leaders are talking about. The decline of the Labor primary vote at elections is an indication of this disillusionment with the Labor Party as the working people's political party. 

Kevin Rudd, the former Labor Party leader and Prime Minister, gave an insight in to what the ALP's "labour movement " means in his first parliamentary speech in December 2006 when he said,

"Our movement for a century fought against Marxism, if you bother to read your history. We have had nothing to do with Marxism and madness. We have always seen our role as what we can do to civilize the market. That is where we come from as a tradition...So when it comes to our Labor values of equity, sustainability and compassion, we do not just believe that these, in themselves, are self-sufficient and worthy of being pursued. We also hold that they are values necessary to enhance the market itself."

Yet it is the volatility of the so-called "free market" of the system Rudd talked about that led to hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs as one manufacturing industry after another moved overseas because the "free market" was more profitable for the capitalists. 

The Labor Party and all parliamentary parties and even the ACTU leaders were powerless to stop it at best and at worst supported this "free market" destructive impact on working people's lives.

Workers Party of a New Type

One day about twenty years ago in Melbourne, I was at a union and community meeting about what needed to be done for workers to break out of the cycle of hope and disappointments experienced with Labor in parliamentary office, I heard a woman who identified as Dulcie (above) start talking about how workers needed a Party of a new type. Someone asked her what she meant by a "Party of a new type".

She replied with words to the effect that parliamentary politics and their parties were a very limited form of democracy which was outside of the involvement and control of the people who put them into parliament on election day. 

She said that people sensed this, and this is why workers and community struggles and issue-based organizations arise on all sorts of issues.
She said in all these struggles, leaders arise at the grass roots level. Some of these leaders were invited to channel struggles into parliamentary channels, but not many. Most remained leaders among the people involved in their particular struggle and community.

Dulcie said that what was needed in her view was a political Party that linked all the leaders within the myriad of people's struggles into an unbreakable network across the whole country. Such an organization would unite people for fundamental change of society away from capitalism's "free market" economy. 

Someone asked Dulcie why she thought this would happen. She replied that through exchange of views between grass roots leaders and exploring ideas and social theories that served working people and their communities rather the free market and profit motive, a people's movement would develop so powerful that the parliament and the small minority of corporations would be overcome and a new society of socialism serving people not profit would emerge. She said the big money people and those with privileges in parliament would not give up without a fight, but "we are many, they are few" 

She said that was what the CPA (ML), of which she was a member, was striving to become: a Party of a new type, but that it was the working people themselves who would determine if it "made the grade".



Before Sydney stabbings, capitalism’s cupboard was bare for mental health

Written by: Louisa L. on 24 April 2024


The tattered remnants of public mental health care in NSW are held together by family members and volunteers. 

The week before six people were fatally stabbed in Bondi, and a mentally ill 16-year-old stabbed a priest, two Uniting Church psychiatric hospitals were closed in Sydney, because they were losing money.

When six strangers in a crowded public place are killed, grief and shock is inevitable. The media fans it to fever pitch. But people are frequently “murdered” by family members suffering psychotic episodes. And police too often shoot mentally ill people who ought to have been in hospital or long-term residential rehabilitation. 

Instead of suggesting triple zero and an ambulance, when “you or someone you know” is mentally ill, the media choruses Lifeline and Beyond Blue. A young friend frequently uses Lifeline’s skilled volunteer services.  Being alone and suicidal is not enough to be admitted to hospital – unless she’s taken an overdose.

On a pension she pays private health cover, so she can have occasional and much needed treatment in an expensive private hospital.

After the ambulance left 

The mental health system is designed to stop people being hospitalised, unless they have money to pay, and they are well enough to understand they need help. 

Last winter, under a suburban Sydney neighbourhood centre awning in pouring rain, a close friend, a mother and two adult daughters, waited for police and an ambulance.

It had taken hard arguing to convince my friend that police be called after her 16-year-old son threatened them, so he could be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. A centre worker did unpaid overtime while they talked. 

What happened? The son, who had previously assaulted his mother, sister and brother, assured the ambulance officers and police he wouldn’t harm himself or anyone else. Imagine the family’s vulnerability when the police and ambulance officers left. Instead of a dangerously ill young person receiving necessary treatment, the three women each found separate accommodation. An uncle and a youth worker checked on my friend’s son the next day, but he lived alone for over two weeks until his still fearful mother returned.

Desolation and grief

But his family’s grief is nothing compared to the desolation of the Bondi attacker’s parents whose son endured a living nightmare, denied desperately-needed health care, his life ended in such terrible circumstances. Nor does my friend’s ongoing worry compare to the grief of the families of those killed in that suburban shopping centre, or the family of the 16-year old on terrorism charges.

The media babbles about “people falling through the cracks in the mental health system”. What system? It’s not cracked. It’s been dismantled brick by brick because the mentally ill and their families are weak and unable to defend themselves. They are the bottom of capitalism’s heap. Their treatment is expensive, not privately profitable. They are disposable.

Mentally ill people are disproportionately part of the homelessness epidemic. Alongside First Peoples, alongside the poor and illiterate, mentally ill people fill our jails. Because under capitalism there’s always money for jails to mop up its normal functioning.

NSW Premier Minns announced an $18 million inquiry into what went wrong in the lead-up to the Bondi stabbings. Unless it’s accompanied by struggle to reinstate public mental health care at all levels, it will be just another whitewash. We know the state government funding cupboard is bare, after decades of corporate plunder and privatisations. 

For mental health, it’s been empty for decades. More deaths, more suffering – that’s capitalism’s promise to profoundly ill people and their families. Seven more dead and a 16-year-old charged with terrorism? Collateral damage. Nothing $18 million, plus media evasions and a lot of sorry talk, can’t sweep from sight. 

We need a new system. We need a revolution.


Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Productivity Commission wonks still pushing discredited economic rationalism

Written by: (Contributed) on 24 April 2024


(Above: The designers of this Mambo t-shirt understood the link)

Commentary from right-wing economic figures about the failure of globalisation to provide sustainable growth have revealed their sense of denial about the main cause of the problem. 

Their failure to also provide a satisfactory explanation for the increasingly dysfunctional state of economic affairs has provided further insights into their peculiar mind-sets.

A serious of pronouncements from two right-wing figures with links to the Productivity Commission have revealed just how out-of-step they are with reliable economic criteria; their continued pushing of an economic rationalist agenda has been shown to not produce sustainability or growth. In fact, a recent IMF report has shown the advanced economies hover at below two per cent growth rates, with little sign of an upturn. (1)

Longer term projections have also shown a steady decline of GDP from the time of the global financial crisis in 2008 to a projection it will sink to zero toward the end of the present decade. (2)

It is, however, the pronouncements of those guiding or commenting of government policy which require scrutiny.

Michael Brennan, former head of the Productivity Commission, for example, has drawn attention to 'three decades of uninterrupted growth which followed the early 1990s recession'; it is not supported with reliable economic criteria or statistics. (3) The Commission is an official Australian government body, nevertheless, with extensive glitzy websites which have advisory capacities. It would appear to be truly stacked with right-wing coalition supporters and others of a similar ilk.   

The present economic debate has become increasingly focussed upon levels of government intervention to provide stable growth and a political division between those who continue to support economic rationalism and those who question its prolonged use.

The general implementation of economic rationalism grew out of right-wing think-tanks during the early 1980s which influenced international financial institutions controlled by the US and Wall Street. Earlier, the Chilean military coup in 1973, had established a test-tube for those linked to the Chicago School of Economics which had quietly pushed economic rationalism for decades, behind the scenes inside the corridors of power.

Economic rationalism was, however, only part of a much bigger picture to place the US at the centre of the global economy.

Submitting as report to US Congress on 21 July 1994 about the so-called New World Order, then President Clinton defined the three main elements of security policy: to enhance security by maintaining a strong defence capability and promoting co-operative security measures; to open foreign markets and spur economic growth; and to promote US-style democracy overseas.

The outcome was the wholesale implementation of economic rationalist policies which included three elements: de-regulation, privatisation, liberalisation.

Economic rationalism has been economic vogue thinking for nearly half a century; the present state of affairs has been the readily observable outcome. The floods of finance capital flung to the four corners of the globe has produced dysfunctional economies often leading to political instability and crisis. The vision of those in control of international financial institutions was akin to that of a casino, where risk-taking was commonplace. It also created the conditions for a drastically reduced manufacturing base in Australia, which subsequently led to revised GDP totals in an ever downward spiral.

An eighteen-month study conducted by the US National Security Council using independent economists found it unlikely globalisation 'would lead to general well-being … because the gap between rich and poor – both between countries and within them – is growing'. (4) The study, conducted around the start of the present century, was subsequently leaked to a Spanish language media outlet, although never publicised in English language outlets and was allowed to remain relatively hidden, for obvious reasons.

The distribution of income from globalisation remains noteworthy; in fact, it can be successfully argued economic rationalism was never intended to provide a sustainable model, only to enrich the already rich and powerful. It was a means to reduce the bargaining power of labour and hinder their political opposition in favour of the business-classes and their cronies overseas, thereby strengthening traditional class and state power.

Early studies of the model showed the income of the advanced countries rose from eleven times greater than the developing world, to 23 times larger by 2000. (5) Economic rationalism can therefore best be viewed as a form of neo-colonialism. Within countries the rapid emergence of billionaires has been well recorded. (6) The manner in which such people flout their wealth on the Forbes websites while paying their workforces well below CPI and inflation rates reveal a great deal about their mind-sets and limited vision of the world. They reside in a parallel world, devoid of the working-class. The fact the latter produce the wealth and the former acquire it, is an issue they never address.

Recent studies of the Australian economy have revealed massive differences between rich and poor. Average wealth of the top ten per cent of the population have recorded faster growth rates than the lowest sixty per cent since 2003. (7) The wealth of the top ten per cent also soared 84 per cent, from $2.8 million to $5.2 million, whereas the lowest sixty per cent only rose 55 per cent, from $220,000 to $343,000. (8) The poorest twenty per cent of Australians had a recorded average wealth of just $41,000, which is only seventeen per cent higher than it was in 2003. (9)

It was noted from a study conducted by the University of NSW and the Australian Council of Social Service that the average housing wealth for those in the lowest twenty per cent of the Australian population was zero. (10)

The wealth gap, for those under 35 years of age, is even more startling; it recorded the lowest sixty per cent accruing an increase in their wealth rising by only 39 per cent, from $68,000 in 2003 to $80,000 in 2022, while the highest ten per cent rose 126 per cent in the same period, from $928,000 to $2 million. (11)  

Despite the spurious motives for retaining economic rationalism, it can clearly be established to not have produced sustainable growth anywhere, or a betterment of life-styles
for the vast majority of people.

When challenged, however, right-wing economists continue to defend the model although they are inclined to offer furphies as additional factors. Those linked to the Productivity Commission, for example, have drawn attention to the failure of Australian entrepreneurs to register patents. Stating Australia is 'among the least innovative economies in the world', a report has recorded under ten per cent of registered patents are Australian-based as opposed to the US where more than seventy per cent are used by US businesses. (12)

The report does not refer to the fact that Australia only contributes 1.67 per cent of global GDP, whereas the US has a 25.3 per cent standing. (13)

Criticism from the Productivity Commission about recent government grants to support Australian manufacturing, likewise, has been revealing, with statements issued which have included reference to 'a return to old think industry protectionism', and not establishing a revival of a strong manufacturing base. (14)

The fact their economic model of choice has proved dysfunctional and created a state of affairs whereby an IMF projection for Australia's GDP being only 1.5 per cent this year, possibly increasing to two per cent in 2025, has, likewise, been conveniently ignored.   

The Productivity Commission and those linked to the organisation can best be regarded as benefiting from economic rationalism and therefore have no reason to change the model; they are quite content to languish in economic mediocrity.

1.     IMF warns on 'stalling' progress to reduce inflation, Australian, 17 April 2024.
2.     Economic decline, 'Goodbye good times, hello reality', Australian, 11 April 2024.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Hunger does not subside and slavery returns, Granma International (Havana), 24 June 2001.
5.     How globalisation fuels poverty, Socialist Campaign Group News (Westminster, London), July 2005.
6.     See: Survival of the Richest, OXFAM Report, 2000.
7.     'Disturbing' gap between haves and have nots, The New Daily, 18 April 2024.
8.     Ibid.
9.     Australian, op.cit., 11 April 2024.
10    Bonanza for rich leaves poor in their wake, Australian, 18 April 2024.
11.   Ibid.
12.   Ibid.
13.   World GDP, World Bank, 25 July 2023.
14.   Australian, op.cit., 11 April.


May Day 2024: Honour the Past, Fight for the Future

 Written by: CPA (M-L) on 24 April 2024


With May Day fast approaching, we reprint the editorial from the 8-page Vanguard newspaper that will be distributed at rallies and marches. It is free of charge, so look out for our distributors and take your own copy – eds.

On May Day, class conscious workers come together to express solidarity with comrades across the world in their struggles for liberation, peace, justice and a decent life.

Only the working class has these deep feelings of international class solidarity, based on their recognition that they are all victims of the class system, all subject to exploitation, abuse, deceit, and all threatened by the murderous war policies of imperialism.

At gatherings, The Internationale rings out, “Arise ye workers from your slumbers, arise ye prisoners of want…” calling on the class to take up its historic mission of leading the masses through fundamental social change that eventually wipes out the class system altogether.

In places, The Red Flag is also sung, recalling the bitter struggles and sacrifices the working class has endured. It pays tribute to the heroes and martyrs that resisted the violence of the state, the hired thugs and fascists. “The workers’ flag is deepest red, it shrouded oft our martyred dead, and ere their limbs grew stiff and cold, their hearts’ blood dyed its ev’ry fold.

In spite of defeats, oppression and betrayals, the working class never gives up, has no choice other than to struggle for survival and a better life, as the chorus rings out “Then raise the scarlet banner high, beneath its shade we’ll live or die, though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

Australia’s working class 
Workers in this country have won many hard-fought battles against local and foreign capitalists and multinational corporations. In the post-war years they achieved improving living standards and some progressive social benefits through union action and solidarity.

But, ever since the days of the Accord under the Hawke government, union membership has fallen away in many trades and professions, with most of the remaining unions falling in behind the parliamentary Labor Party and only mobilising members at election time.

Consequently, there is little strike action, little ACTU activity outside of the courthouse, and practically no solidarity actions which are now illegal.

Result – falling wages, unemployment, rampant cost of living increases, housing and rental crisis, small businesses going broke, banks and supermarkets screwing their customers ever harder.

Capitalism reasserts itself as always. The lesson for workers is that whatever is won by struggle will always be challenged and whittled away, and this cycle can only be finished when capitalism is replaced by socialism. 

Imperialism and the globalised economy 
But that is only part of the story. At the same time, this “restructuring” of the economy encouraged further multinational investment and eventual control of key sections of Australian industries.

Obscene profits and rampant speculation followed, as the rich get even richer while the workers go backwards.

The political influence of US imperialism has now become dominant, reflected in the operational control of Pine Gap, the AUKUS deal and the growing intrusion into Australian military bases and airfields by the US military, aided and abetted by the sucking up antics of the current and previous Labor and Liberal governments.