The Guardian • Issue #2002

Reflections on the outcomes of the CPA 14th Congress

The Communist Party of Australia successfully hosted its 14th National Congress at the end of February 2022 and elected a new Central Committee.

COVID restrictions forced a postponement of the original date from October 2021 to February 2022. COVID clusters in the eastern states and WA borders remaining closed into February saw the Central Committee make the decision to take congress online. This was a challenge but all congress delegates embraced and adapted to it with discipline and commitment coming together around our slogan “Build the Party for a Socialist Future.” The slogan reflects the historical importance of a Marxist-Leninist party in the building of socialism. The building of the Party will be the key priority for the next period.

For many delegates the 14th Congress was their first experience of participating in the highest decision-making body of the Party; a testament to the growth the CPA has seen since the 13th Congress.

Many of the contributions by delegates reflected on how to improve the work of the Party.

It is crucial to improve internal discipline and democratic centralism, and to build a united and strong collective leadership. The Party must improve its education of existing and new members to consolidate the working-class organisation.

Congress also had a message to the many newer members that the decision to join the working-class Party is a lifelong commitment. Congress reflected on this and paid tribute to Party veterans, many of whom have given their entire lives to the cause of socialism.

The Party has been built by hundreds of working-class fighters who faced repression and discrimination by the state throughout the CPA’s one hundred years of existence. Despite this, they never gave up. We acknowledged the work of comrades such as Dr Hannah Middleton, the first woman to become General Secretary and Anna Pha, whose 41 years in the Party has seen her serving in many areas of work including the Guardian of which she was editor for nineteen years; Silvia Salisbury, with a very long record of party membership coming from a communist family; Jim Donovan, an expression of the working-class commitment which still goes strong in the Maritime Union of Australia’s retired members; Savvas Lioupas whose work for freedom in Greece brought him to Australia; Ovidio Orellana, a freedom fighter and political refugee from Guatemala, found in Australia and the CPA the best opportunity to continue the struggle for socialism. Congress also paid tribute to comrade Rob Gowland, a member of the Party’s 13th Central Committee who passed away in November 2021. Congress acknowledged their work and inspiration for many in Australia and the world in the struggle for socialism.

A special online public opening event welcomed special guests from the diplomatic representations of Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine and China, who joined us by Zoom on Friday evening of 25th February.

Many fraternal parties sent written or video messages which were shared on the evening. Comrade Kat Buissink represented the TeNuku Maui Party of Aotearoa (formally Communist Party of Aotearoa). In fact, the CPA received an unprecedented number of greetings from fraternal parties and from organisations and diplomatic representations accredited in Canberra which were read over the course of Congress. Those messages expressed the CPA’s fraternal relations with Communist and Workers’ Parties.

Congress adopted a Political Resolution that will guide Party work for the next four years. Delegates voted on special resolutions on AUKUS, Ukraine, Cuba, bosses’ lockouts, and a number of more specific resolutions to guide Party work into the future.

The political resolution analyses the events since the 13th Congress which saw bush fires, the COVID pandemic, floods and the AUKUS and QUAD agreements. Those events demonstrate the failures of capitalism and the necessity of socialism. The damage to the environment, and climate change has become an urgent task for the people in general and especially for communists.

The CPA must continue to organise, educate, and mobilise the young and the old, working-class men and women for a new world that is possible and necessary. The struggle for socialism is more urgent than never before. Working-class families are acutely feeling the sting from the system of exploitation. They have experienced an ongoing deterioration of wages and conditions in the workplace. Workers, particularly young workers, face precarious employment with job insecurity, unaffordable housing, climate change, attacks on unions and the right to organise, and substandard access to education and health. It is under these conditions that people are finding their way to the looking for the better world many of us believe is possible.

Congress applauded the establishment of a second industrial branch in NSW. The Logistics and Manufacturing branch will kick goals in the industry where the Party has experienced particular growth. They will join the Maritime branch as an example of many more industrial branches we aim to set up in the period ahead. We have high hopes that there will be more such branches being formed over the next four years.

What isn’t new is that CPA comrades are active in their workplaces as members, delegates, and union officials. Peace and anti-war is another area where comrades will be at work in the community to deal with issues such as AUKUS and QUAD.

In all of this we acknowledge that we live and work on stolen land and we commit to working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for land rights and a better society for all, a socialist Australia.

The CPA will continue to develop its press and social media capable to organise, educate, and agitate the working class and other strata in society.

We invite all readers and people in general to join the struggle for workers’ rights and economic justice with the Communist Party of Australia: cpa.org.au/join-cpa

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