The Guardian • Issue #2061


Common cause

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2061

In 2014 mining magnate Andrew Forrest presented the Abbott Coalition government with “Creating Parity,” a government-commissioned report that was a recipe for wiping out Native Title, clearing outback Indigenous communities off their land, private sector control of their lives and assimilation. Simplistic, paternalistic, racist; it was a strategy for the dispossession and further disempowerment of Indigenous Australians, produced by a mining magnate and his head office team for the sole benefit of mining corporations.

“No individual has benefited more from this mining boom than Andrew Forrest, whose personal wealth derived from massive iron ore deposits on his company’s mining leases in the Pilbara is well into the billions,” said the ABC’s Four Corners program at the time.

The so-called “Creating Parity” was a blueprint to drive those already doing it tough into deeper poverty, homelessness, and destitution. “To address poverty and disadvantage, the government should be investing in better employment services and training opportunities and ensuring that income support payments are adequate and provide the assistance people need to live without being exposed to poverty,” noted Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.

The close relationship between government and big business is known as state monopoly capitalism. As can be seen from the above examples, finance, mining, and property interests are tightly interconnected with government. As is US capital and the IMF and World Bank. The mining companies will fight to hang onto every dollar of profit they can. They are also determined to teach the lesson that no government, under threat of its existence, dare challenge their authority.

The struggle against the mining corporations is a struggle against monopoly capital. It is the class struggle. This struggle takes place in all sectors of the economy. These private interests hold key positions on government bodies, influence governments with huge political donations and the promise of six figure incomes to politicians when exiting parliament.

The struggle of Indigenous people against the mining companies draws them into a parallel struggle – that of the working class who are subjected to exploitation by the mining companies. It is the same enemy, with the same pro-capitalist government doing their bidding.

This struggle is not unique to the Northern Territory but affects Indigenous people across Australia who are subjected to racist policies and practices.

There is a compelling need for both the Indigenous people and the working class to recognise the common enemy and to forge ties of understanding and solidarity in the struggles that lie ahead.

The Voice is a first step towards winning Indigenous rights by giving Indigenous people access to parliamentarians when issues that affect them including the opening of new mines and land rights are being determined. But it will not be enough on its own.

If there is to be real change in the interests of Indigenous people, then that means taking on and defeating the monopolies. It requires the nationalisation of major industries, in particular the resources sector. Only then can protection of cultural heritage, sites of significance and land rights be guaranteed.

Only a government of a new type can do that, a government with the backing of a broad movement of forces including the working class, students, small farmers and small business people. It requires a government that puts people and the environment before profits.

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