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Issue #1898      December 11, 2019

Editorial

What a year!

In its concluding remarks, the Political Resolution adopted by the Communist Party of Australia at its 13th Congress in 2017, stated: “The current global situation, with its dangers and threats of worse to come, does not spare Australia in any way. This is a time of potential for catastrophe but, at the same time, there are great possibilities for the organisation of resistance and a major breakthrough for left and progressive forces.”

On the international front, 2019 was a year of mass protests as people marched against their economic plight, government corruption, against anti-immigration laws, and oppressive regimes. Millions of people took to the streets in India, Chile, Mexico, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Ecuador, France, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Peru, Hungary, Indonesia, Belgium, Serbia, Poland, and elsewhere. Millions of students took part in climate strike actions across the globe. Whereas these actions were strongly opposed by western powers, the counter-revolutionary forces protesting in Hong Kong received external support, including assistance from Ukrainian fascists.

US imperialism started the year by announcing that it would suspend its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It continues to use blockades and trade sanctions as a weapon against countries that attempt to take an independent path, including Cuba, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, and Venezuela. The trade war it launched against the People’s Republic of China could have dire economic consequences for the global economy. The US has continued to heighten tensions in south-east Asia, the Middle East, and with Russia. In Latin, a US-backed coup saw the popular and newly re-elected President Evo Morales deposed. It has not let up in its attempts to bring about regime change in Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela.

In Australia, the Coalition government and employers that it represents went on the offensive following the Coalition’s narrow win in the May general elections. Legislation designed to crucify the trade union movement, the Ensuring Integrity Bill, was defeated earlier this month in the Senate. The government wasted no time in bringing the Bill back and ramming it through the House of Representatives on the last sitting day of Parliament. It is set to head the government’s agenda in 2020. This gives trade unions and other democratic forces a few months to lobby their Senators and convince them not to support it – in particular Jacqui Lambie and the two from One Nation.

This year saw further regression on the wages front, with another cut in penalty rates, ongoing wage theft, and the expansion of the gig economy with its highly exploitative, slave-like working conditions, and low wages. Despite all the legislative shackles they face, trade unions waged successful campaigns, including the building and construction, maritime and transport workers’ unions.

The government is preparing for an onslaught on workers’ rights and living standards in 2020. This includes the privatisation of the not-for-profit industry superannuation funds; measures to deny thousands of people eligibility for the age pension; extension of the cashless card to all recipients of social security payments; and public sector cuts that will see mass sackings, salary reductions, and understaffing of services.

In 2019, Australia felt the full brunt of climate change with once rich farmland, now brown dust; dry river beds; hundreds of thousands of dead fish; water shortages; unprecedented intensity and spread of bushfires; and forecasts of record high temperatures. Climate scientists now believe that a number of tipping points may have been passed, raising the possibility of major cities in Asia and Australia as well as the Pacific islands being under water in 30-40 years time. Yet the government still worships coal, or more accurately, the donations from the mining corporations.

This head-in-the-sand approach goes hand in hand with the increasingly reactionary nature of the Coalition government. The government ignores UN reports on its racist and brutal treatment of Indigenous Australians and asylum seekers. The Coalition continues to treat the most vulnerable and disadvantaged as undeserving and to blame them for their position. These include the unemployed, sole parents, age pensioners, people with disability, and Indigenous people who still experience high rates of poverty, incarceration and deaths in custody. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are under serious threat, as are the rights of whistleblowers.

This is a government of secrecy that now has an armoury of repressive laws and powers to spy, stop and search, detain and question people, and permits secret trials. It is a government that is totally unaccountable to the people, one that sees itself above international law and national law.

Capitalism has passed its use-by date. The agenda for struggle in 2020, when the CPA celebrates 100 years of the communist movement in Australia, is fundamental change. To replace this corrupt, moribund, capitalist system with one that serves the people and protects the planet – that is socialism. The Communist Party of Australia aims to play its role in building a movement for change. We ask you to join us. The future belongs to socialism.

Next article – New year’s greeting

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