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Party Statements – 2015

Greek workers need and deserve our solidarity

CPA Secretariat statement

July 2015

The Communist Party of Australia and all progressive Australians have a duty to act in solidarity with the workers and other exploited people of Greece. From the onset of the current economic crisis, Greek workers have resisted the destruction of the remnants of their country’s independence and defended gains made through decades of struggle and sacrifice. The PAME trade union organisation has been in the forefront. The will of the Greek people was expressed clearly in the referendum of July 5. They insisted on an end to austerity, an end to the diktat of the banks and other transnational corporations and that the people responsible for the debt crisis be forced to pay.

Unfortunately for Greece, the Syriza government, which carried the hopes of so many Greeks with its anti-austerity message, has quickly shown its true ideological position. It has caved in to the threats of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund and has gone back on its undertakings to the people. This betrayal was predicted by the Communist Party of Greece, which has maintained a consistent and correct position that Greece should exit the EU and rebuild the economy on the basis of nationalised industries.

The European Union is not a gathering of equals. It is dominated by the bigger economies of Europe, Germany and France in particular, and furthers the profit-making interests of the ruling classes of those countries. It is no friend of German or French workers, either. It is the economic arm of the NATO military bloc that has wrought so much death and destruction on the peoples of Europe and the Middle East.

Since Greece’s entry into the EU in 1981, its agriculture and other industries have been systematically undermined under the rules of the EU imposed upon it. It was set up to fail. Each new “rescue” package imposes further austerity measures on the people to line the coffers of those responsible for the crisis. Now what little of the country’s very independence that remains is for sale to the highest bidder and the workers are faced with the prospect of third world pay and conditions. There can be no question Greek workers will fight back and, in that just fight, the hopes and solidarity of left and progressive Australians are with them.


FTAs not in workers’ interests

CPA Secretariat statement

July 2015

The Communist Party of Australia stands with workers and trade unions in voicing their concern at aspects of the proposed China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The CPA supports the just demands of workers in Australia for the protection of local jobs, rates of pay and conditions and action in support of those rights. We also support the right of Australian governments to legislate to protect Australian workers and the environment without being sued. The CPA opposes free trade agreements negotiated in secrecy that adversely affect local workers and the environment in the interest of rapacious local and multinational corporations.

Having made this position perfectly clear and with protests set to take place across the country in the coming days, some background to the current situation is necessary.

Firstly, workers would be wrong to hold ill-feeling towards the people or government of China. While some publicity material states that “racism is not welcome” at protests, other information being circulated is misleading and encouraging of xenophobic responses and is being used to attack China. It is the Abbott government that must take responsibility for selling out the interests of Australian workers in the interest of multinational profits.

Official ACTU statements have not been helpful: “Chinese companies will be able to sue Australian governments if they believe that an Australian law adversely impacts on their business. So while Abbott is trumpeting the benefits of the deal, the simple truth is it will destroy job opportunities and we will give up our right to make laws beneficial for working people,” says one statement. The converse is also true, Australian-based corporations (including US corporations) will be able to sue the Chinese government if it attempts to tighten its regulations.

Capitalist globalisation is not an invention of developing countries such as China. It has been imposed on much of the planet by the US and its allies, including Australia, to advance US monopoly interests. The process of trade “liberalisation” in Australia was begun by the Hawke and Keating Labor governments and advanced by every federal government since. The Chinese didn’t sabotage Australian manufacturing. Australian governments and the transnational corporations that control them did. The accusation that Chinese companies are “unfairly subsidised by their government” is a free trader’s criticism of exchange with China. It is not an appropriate position for a trade union organisation. After all, Australian trade unions have on many occasions called for government assistance.

The claim that China is “Not bound by fair labour laws that provide workers with decent wages and conditions” is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Australia doesn’t have “fair” labour laws. We have a construction industry Gestapo and a witch-hunt of a Royal Commission to prove it. China has good labour laws but very inadequate means of enforcement. Corruption is a widespread problem in China, too.

The claim that Chinese companies are “Able to ignore environmental standards and regulations” does not acknowledge Australia’s deplorable record. China’s environmental problems are an immense challenge to the government of the People’s Republic of China but its recent record of major improvement stands in contrast to the vandalism of the Abbott government.

That “Chinese companies will be able to sue Australian governments if they believe that an Australian law adversely impacts on their business” raises an important point. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) carries an even bigger threat to Australia in this regard but, it seems, the possibility becomes particularly objectionable when it comes to Chinese companies. Clauses that allow for the suing of sovereign governments as a result of legislation must be struck down and greater energies devoted to exposing the TPP. The key characteristics of recent Free Trade negotiations are their secrecy and the lack of environmental and labour rights. They do, however, advance the interests and profit making of multinational corporations, in particular US corporations.

The question of a potential attack on the interests of Australia ignores the current international situation in which the US is manoeuvring to isolate and attack China. Its military is conducting a re-focus to the Indo-Pacific region with the help of the Australian government. The Australian government has provided the US with extended military facilities in Darwin, vast expanses of territory for its training and exercises as well as other facilities. Australians pay $87 million a day for the military including the purchase of massively destructive war-fighting equipment with China as the “enemy”. Meanwhile, China has not taken a single aggressive step against the US or Australia. These matters should be kept in mind during upcoming protests so that we don’t forget who our real enemies are.

The CPA opposes the adoption of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement in its current form, which includes the totally unacceptable concept of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that allows for corporations to sue sovereign states. The CPA supports the protests taking place across the country this week and encourages members and supporters to take other forms of action, also.


CPA policy statement

NO to paternalistic recognition

July 2015

Starting in 2007 with former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, the Australian government has been pushing for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Both Labor and Liberal Parties support recognition.

In May 2015 community support, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, for a YES vote in a referendum on recognition had reached 72 percent, even though the exact proposals to go to a referendum have not yet been decided.

While the Communist Party respects the support for Indigenous rights that lies behind these community views, we ask why we should trust a recommendation from the government of a capitalist state interested not in morality, democracy and human rights but in controlling land and resources for profit making.

The US, Canada and New Zealand have recognised Indigenous people in their respective constitutions. However, this has not solved the problems of their Indigenous communities – discrimination, poverty, high levels of crime and drug taking, suicide, incarceration and more.

Many Aboriginal political activists and others are questioning the motives behind the multimillion dollar Recognise campaign. Significantly most of the criticisms come from seasoned political activists who have fought decades of broken promises, wasted funding, spin and lies.

Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, commented that “the addition or lack of some ‘secret English’ words adds not one day to our life expectancy, our rights to our self-determination, or one footprint of our ancient lands.”

Noted Indigenous lawyer and activist Michael Mansell commented: “Effectively, the expert panel legitimises the invasion of Aboriginal lands, with whites having the right to govern and Aborigines the right to be governed. The bottom line for the panel is to promote assimilation.”

Chairman of the Centre of Indigenous Cultural Policy Bob Weatherall said that “constitutional recognition is yet another paternalistic government policy. Nothing has changed. It’s just a new Act and new provision that’s being imposed on us, keeping our people down. We’ll still have the dominant society over the top of us who make laws and policies that continue to deprive us of our basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Vote NO

Many years ago Charles Perkins called for a treaty written into the Constitution which covered issues of the prior ownership of land, sovereignty, compensation for land lost, and recognition of the customs, laws, languages and sacred sites.

The current proposals go nowhere near this. If the words used in the proposals were to assist in achieving these rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Communist Party would advocate a Yes vote. Until they do, the Communist Party will campaign for a NO vote in the referendum.

However, a NO vote is not enough. Most Aboriginal spokespeople are saying that recognition that is simply symbolic is not acceptable. The CPA will also campaign for Indigenous land rights and sovereignty to be recognised.

Land rights

The key to the recognition of the rights of the Aboriginal people remains land rights. The Communist Party insists that the special position and inherent rights of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as dispossessed, Indigenous minorities in Australia must be recognised and that this recognition must be based above all on the return of Aboriginal and Islander lands.

The January 2012 recommendations of a 19 member Gillard government appointed “expert panel” include a new section 51A which recognises that Australia was first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There is no constitutional recognition of their prior ownership of the land.

Inclusion of the notion of occupation of the land in the constitution now will effectively mean prolonging the status quo. Correcting the constitution to reflect the real situation as colonisation (not “settlement”) and of ownership (not occupation) of the land will be extremely difficult.

This is hardly surprising. Land rights are an immediate threat to the economic interests of major corporations and also a dagger aimed at the very heart of capitalism.

Land is a major source of wealth – its use for sheep, cattle and farming, the natural resources in and on it (gold, oil, bauxite, copper, diamonds, timber and so on), as real estate and for tourism. All this and more makes land one of a country’s most valuable assets.

To return some part of this valuable asset to the people as community property sets a dangerous precedent for monopoly corporations who are intent on owning or leasing all the resources of this country in order to make the most profit possible.

Aboriginal land is owned communally, by a whole community. Private ownership for private profit would no longer be the only way things are done – there would be an alternative of collective ownership for the benefit not of an individual but of a group.

Sovereignty

The Aboriginal demand for sovereignty is defined in different ways by different Indigenous groups. In most cases, however, it approximates to the Communist Party of Australia’s Program which gives priority to winning communal, inalienable land rights for Aborigines based upon traditional ownership, religious association, long occupancy and/or need. These are rights which must be returned; they are not gifts to be bestowed by the dominant society.

Aboriginal land title must include full rights to minerals and other natural resources as well as to all sacred sites, heritage areas and areas of traditional significance.

Another essential feature is the establishment of autonomous areas for communities on the basis of their communally owned land where they can develop their own economic, social and cultural life.

Regional Communal Autonomous Areas would be comparable to the States and have an equivalent representation in the Australian Federal Parliament.

The Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) describes Aboriginal sovereignty as:

“ … the Aboriginal Provisional Government wants an Aboriginal state to be established, with all of the essential control being vested back into Aboriginal communities. The land involved would essentially be crown land but in addition there would be some land which would be needed by the Aboriginal community other than crown land ...

“The areas would be scattered far and wide around Australia and would be the land needed by local Aboriginal communities.

“While some have scoffed at the peculiar boundaries such a division of land would create, it is not unusual in international circles. For example, the United States is a nation yet is separated completely from its territory in Alaska. Its territory in Hawaii is halfway around the other side of the world. This has not been seen as a reason to laugh at the jurisdiction of the United States ...

“The local communities must have absolute control over their day-to-day activities and the direction in which the local Aboriginal communities are to move ...”

The way forward

The focus must be on national land rights legislation, ending the NT intervention, protecting isolated communities, Aboriginal self-determination and Aboriginal representation in Parliament.

The Communist Party of Australia works for unity in action to be built between Aboriginal, Islander and non-Indigenous Australians, stressing that:

“The working class movement must realise that part of their movement is made up of Aboriginal and Islander workers and that the national liberation and working class movements are allied. The revolutionary and anti-monopoly content of the land rights campaign is as important for the white workers as it is for the Aborigines and Islanders.” (1978 Program)

The non-Indigenous working people of Australia suffer at the hands of the same rapacious transnationals and monopolies, the same political forces which have inflicted so much injustice on the Aboriginal and Islander people. We have a common struggle. It’s not a question of “helping” or “supporting” Aborigines. It’s a matter of solidarity in the common struggle.

As Karl Marx wrote: “Labour in the white skin can never be free while labour in the black skin is in chains.”


Condemning acts of aggression against Venezuela

February 2015

The Communist Party of Australia stands with the people of Venezuela as they resist yet another attempt on the part of reactionary forces to crush the Bolivarian Revolution begun in the country in 1998. A plot to assassinate President Maduro, which was thwarted last week, is just the latest in a long series of efforts to terrorise the people of the country who have benefited greatly from programs put in place by the governments of presidents Chávez and Maduro.

The expression of the will of the overwhelming majority of the people, particularly poor people, through their democratically-elected government has been met by acts of economic disruption, outrageous defamation in the mass media, sabotage of the state-owned oil industry, a strike by the business sector, an attempted coup that included the kidnapping of the late president Hugo Chávez in 2002, and a campaign of random, extremely violent acts against innocent members of the public last year.

In recent times there has been a coordinated attempt to create shortages in shops by hoarding of the goods needed by the population. Other forms of sabotage in the sphere of international trade have worsened economic conditions already under threat from the dramatic drop in the price of oil manipulated on international markets by the US and its allies in the Middle East. In fact the hand of the US can be seen in all the attempts to reverse the revolutionary process entered into by the people of Venezuela in 1998. This includes massive direct funding to pro-US opposition groups. The Communist Party of Australia expresses its solidarity with President Nicolas Maduro, the people of Venezuela and their Bolivarian Revolution and condemns the US administration’s policy of “regime change” in the strongest possible terms.


Threats to the Internet rights of Australians

Statement from the Communist Party of Australia

February 2015

The Communist Party of Australia condemns ongoing attempts on the part of the federal government to increase surveillance on ordinary Australians and to deny them their right to privacy and other political and human rights.

The current push to legislate for the retention of Internet users’ metadata must be defeated. Labor must stop its supine “bi-partisan” compliance with the demands of the Abbott government for more police state powers and stand up for the rights of Australians. Revelations from NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden confirm that the electronic communications of people across the planet are being subjected to mass surveillance and harvested for later analysis. The Australian government must be compelled to protect the rights of the people it purports to represent.

The excuse offered for the mass spying project being put in place at the moment is that it protects Australians from acts of terrorism. Recent history puts lie to this claim. The perpetrator of the Lindt Café siege could not have done more to draw the attention of the responsible security forces to his violent potential. It is claimed 60 Australians are currently fighting with IS in Syria and Iraq and it has been confirmed that one person left Australia for this purpose using his brother’s passport. The recent arrest of two alleged would-be terrorists in Sydney followed a tip-off from a neighbour. Religion is being used for perverse political purposes. If the intention of the Australian government is truly to protect the population from terrorism this can and must be done without trampling on the rights of people to the privacy of their communications and without the construction of a police state.



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