The Guardian • Issue #1999

ON DEFENCE: ALP and Coalition of little difference

The Royal Australian Navy Collins Class Submarine HMAS RANKIN sits pier-side at Naval Base Pearl Harbour. (Photo: BRADLEY J SAPP – US Navy.)

There is little more powerful evidence of how far the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has moved from traditional social democracy than its current policies on national security and Ukraine.

Social democracy, as it developed in the 19th-century, advocated a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism. Today, the ALP is firmly locked into imperialism and defence of the capitalist system at any cost.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute on 11th March this year, ALP leader Anthony Albanese insisted that Australia’s “national security interests should transcend the partisan divide” and that “Labor offered bipartisan support for […] the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.”

He said, “Labor will ensure that Defence has the resources it needs to defend Australia and deter potential aggressors” and added that “We recognise this will mean defence budgets beyond the two per cent benchmark.”

It is clear Albanese was working hard to neutralise the Coalition’s political attack on Labor over national security and to present the ALP as a small target in what the Liberals would like to be a khaki election.

Labor backs the AUKUS partnership with the US and the UK. Albanese pledged to consider other ways to boost defence capabilities in the decades before the nuclear-powered submarines were ready.

A Labor government would “explore whether our naval power could be bolstered through upgraded weapons on the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels or through additional Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyers” and “whether tomahawk missiles can be fitted to the Collins-class submarines.”

Albanese said Labor is committed to a Defence Force Posture Review that would “provide a more reliable basis for decisions on the final location of a new submarine base” – a project already facing growing local opposition in Wollongong and Newcastle.


Using the Ukraine crisis as an excuse to attack China, Albanese could have been Dutton or Biden when he claimed that China “has failed in its special responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council while offering Russia relief from sanctions.”

He said that the “search for false distinctions between the government and opposition on China is not in Australia’s national interest” and that both “have the same position on the South China Sea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and human rights abuses against Uighurs and Tibetans.”

Albanese also said, “We will deepen our regional defence co-operation with close partners – including Japan, India, Singapore and others – to bolster our joint capabilities, shape our strategic environment and uphold the rules of the road.” This is imperialist spin for encircle, constrain, and defeat socialist China.

Some military strategists believe the US is working with Australia and the UK to goad China into what they hope will be a limited war over Taiwan, aiming to force China to fire first and then use that to paint China as the protagonist, the bully that the rest of the world must unite against.

With Asia now the centre of global economic power, imperialism is working to retain its economic and political primacy and to dismiss China as an “autocracy” or “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” regime.


Albanese stated that “our longstanding alliance with the United States is a central pillar of our foreign policy” and that a “Labor government will be an energetic and trusted alliance partner.”

He claimed that Russia’s “unprovoked attack on Ukraine” is “an attack on the values free nations hold dear: representative democracy, the rule of law, the right to live in peace.”

This is a false, biased picture being sold – extremely effectively – by Western governments and media.

The recent CPA 14th Congress stated that: “The war between Russia and Ukraine is part of a wider conflict between capitalist powers, between Russia on one side and Ukraine and the expansionist NATO powers on the other.

“Neither side in this war stands for the real interests of the peoples of Russia and the Ukraine, which include living in peace and determining the future of their own society free from outside domination.”

The Russian invasion followed decades of US determination to continue the aggressive expansion of NATO towards the Russian borders.

The Cuban Government has commented that “It was a mistake to ignore for decades the well-founded demands for security guarantees by the Russian Federation and to assume that the country would remain defenceless in the face of a direct threat to its national security. Russia has the right to defend itself. It is not possible to achieve peace by encircling or cornering States.”

The US has been arming Ukraine and training its troops since 2015 and provided it US$1.5 billion in military support before the war. On 11th March, the Senate approved a further US$3.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine. By early March, the US had sent 17,000 anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

The Communist Party of Turkey stressed: “It is of course absurd to equalise the sides in this confrontation; despite all their internal contradictions, the US, NATO, and the European Union bloc are the primary threat to humanity. But the critically important point is that almost all of Europe, including Turkey, is under the yoke of a pro-NATO class domination.”

Lenin wrote in Socialism and War that “The Socialists have always condemned wars between peoples as barbarous and bestial […]. We understand the inseparable connection between wars on the one hand and class struggles inside of a country on the other, we understand the impossibility of eliminating wars without eliminating classes and creating Socialism […].”

“Whoever wishes a durable and democratic peace must be for civil war against the governments and the bourgeoisie.”

The Communist Party of Australia calls for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, a halt to all military operations, and negotiations to bring about a constructive and realistic diplomatic solution, by peaceful means, which guarantees the security and sovereignty of all, as well as regional and international peace, stability and security.

ALP and Liberal policies on defence and security are essentially the same but this is not true in other areas. In coming weeks the Guardian will publish articles on the differences between the two parties on issues including the environment.

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