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Party Statements – 2016

The passing of the ABCC bill

CPA statement

December 2016

The Communist Party of Australia condemns in the strongest possible terms the passing of the bill re-establishing the former Howard government’s Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) by members of Turnbull’s Coalition government and nine unprincipled Senators on the cross benches. The passing of Tony Abbott’s bill leaves workers more vulnerable to dodgy workplace practices including those involving health and safety, criminalises legitimate trade union activity and for the first time ever outlaws pickets, including community pickets.

The Turnbull government bought off One Nation Senators, the Nick Xenophon team, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch in dirty backroom deals. Jacqui Lambie was the only cross-bencher to retain a principled position and oppose the bill. The Australian Greens and Labor Party remained solid in their opposition.

Already, one worker on average per week dies on Australian building sites. That figure will worsen as trade union organisation on the job becomes more difficult. The bill strips construction workers of rights taken for granted by other workers including the right to silence.

Companies seeking government contracts will be banned from including any provisions in their enterprise agreements that limit casualisation, promote the employment of apprentices, specify safe hours of work or limitations on excessive overtime. It removes the right for an equally qualified and experienced Australian worker to be retained in a redundancy situation over a temporary overseas worker. It also restricts the ability a trade union to negotiate an agreement or to take action regarding job security on building sites.

The intention of the government is to destroy an effective trade union and then come after the others with further legislation early next year. The government wants “yellow”, compliant trade unions or no union representation at all. In this way they will do the bidding of the employers to boost profits out of the wages and conditions of workers. The Communist Party of Australia is committed to defending trade unions and their right to take action in the defence of workers. It is opposed to opportunistic trade union “leadership” and the theft of basic democratic rights by treacherous politicians.


Viva Fidel!
Message of condolence on the passing of Fidel Castro

CPA statement

November 2016

The Communist Party of Australia expresses its heart-felt condolences to the family, the Communist Party of Cuba and to the people of Cuba on the passing of the father of their revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

While Fidel was identified with the revolutionary transformation of his country from a backwater and semi-colony of the US into an outstanding example of socialist construction, his legacy belongs to the world.

The volume of tributes made since his death on Friday night demonstrates the influence he had on generations of people all over the world who keep struggling for a better, socialist world.

The list of the achievements of the revolution inspired and guided by Fidel is very long. It touches millions around the world in the form of medical aid, literacy campaigns and other assistance. It played a crucial role in the defeat of Apartheid and the end of colonialism in Africa. This mighty effort has been maintained despite the illegal economic blockade imposed on Cuba by the US and its imperialist allies. Our region benefited massively from this generous outpouring of practical internationalism. In Australia, Aboriginal communities have embraced assistance in the form of the Yi Si Puedo (Yes I Can) adult literacy program.

The personal commitment of Fidel to his dream of a socialist Cuba and a socialist world is an example to all Communists. It was sometimes possible to forget that he was a simple human being with a family. His wife, Dalia, was a mighty support to this man of destiny whose entire adult life was sacrificed to the cause of the poor and oppressed of the world.

His energy, patience and judgement endured to the very end of his life and his absence will be felt by all progressive people. All over the world, Communists and other progressive people are united in loss and in their understanding of Fidel’s great contribution to the struggle for a better world.

It is the wish of the Communist Party of Australia that this unity can be extended to the many struggles ahead as the workers and other exploited people of the world fight back against capitalism and imperialism, the enemies of humanity. This is the way we can give life to his inspiration. This is the way we will honour the memory of Fidel Castro Ruz.

Viva Fidel! Viva Cuba!


Trumpism, the class struggle and Australia

CPA statement

November 2016

The election of reactionary billionaire Donald Trump as president of the US is a clarion call to the progressive people of the world. It is time to organise and counter-attack. The hand wringing and analysis has begun but it is clear that the outcome is the result of class issues, not identity politics. People in the US (and elsewhere, including Australia) feel disenfranchised by the political establishment – those who manage the two-party system on behalf of the ruling class – and are hurting badly as a result of capitalist crisis and globalisation. Unfortunately, in the absence of a united left with a consistent program, people are looking in the wrong places for answers.

It would be wrong to downplay the significance of Trump’s election. His populist campaign has delivered a stunning result. Notably, it bucked the editorial consensus of much of the corporate media. However, it would be wrong to over-emphasise the magnitude of the shift it represents. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were both candidates pushing variations of the capitalist agenda and US imperialism. Their argument was about how to make both of those institutions stronger.

The results do not support the “landslide victory” conclusion, either. Hillary Clinton attracted slightly higher total of votes from US citizens than Donald Trump. In 2012, failed Republican candidate Mitt Romney received more votes than Trump did last week. The Electoral College system, to which all candidates are subject, played its part. So did the meddling of the Democratic National Committee, which made sure that reforming Democrat candidate, Bernie Sanders, never stood a chance. There is widespread speculation that Trump would have been defeated by the long-time activist Senator from Vermont.

While Trump’s victory may be less crushing than presented in the media that, up until last Tuesday, were happy to dismiss him, it does give encouragement to the most reactionary elements in society. Reports of racist attacks are coming in but people are responding. Recent days have witnessed massive protests against the election of Trump and the sorts of anti-people attitudes expressed during his election campaign. This could be the beginnings of what must become a people’s movement – a movement of workers and other exploited people against the sustained attacks on their basic rights and needs.

Much has been said about Trump’s erratic, idiosyncratic and contradictory approach to domestic and foreign policy. We should remember that in politics many a rooster has wound up a feather duster. The president of the US and his counterparts around the world head up a committee for the management of the affairs of the capitalist ruling class. Anybody seeking to buck that status will quickly find themselves an ex-president.

Time will tell if Trump will oversee the nuking of ISIS, the construction of a massive wall along the border with Mexico and a trade war with China. It is noteworthy that Trump has already indicated he will essentially retain the “Obamacare” health insurance arrangements he previously derided as disastrous.

The Trump ascendency has many lessons for Australians. The nervousness caused by his foreign policy pronouncements underscores just how subservient we are to US diktat. Many Australians who previously felt, incorrectly, that the deployment and activity of the US military was under stable and benevolent leadership will now question those assumptions. The recklessness, extreme danger and cost of US aggression in our region and beyond has been placed in question. The calls for an independent path in relations with nations in our region will get stronger.

Trump’s election says a lot about the sense of disenfranchisement and disengagement felt by people in the US, Australia and comparable countries. Trump sold himself as an opponent of the establishment and that appealed. Voter turnout was low and disenchantment was high.

Former Australian PM Tony Abbott commented that disillusionment with the political system was already high in Australia. As he pointed out during his Radio National interview, ten percent of registered voters didn’t bother to vote in the most recent federal election. Five percent voted informal. Twenty five percent voted for other than the two major parties of capital.

Abbott says there is the danger of a right populist figure or party establishing themselves in Australia politics. This ignores the fact that many of the right populist attitudes expressed by Trump – sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-working class – already have an elevated place in the Coalition parties. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and other right-populist groups do not yet have a large voter base.

Toxic messages like those of Trump and One Nation do encourage dangerous extremists to act on their bigoted ideas. That’s a danger to the community. These forces stand to get stronger because, as stated above, the left and progressive forces of this country are disunited and are not presenting a coherent, alternative program to the people of Australia. The election of Trump may not be as epoch-making as some pundits are claiming but we should extract the positive from this development. People are looking for political direction and engagement as a result. We must be ready to welcome and involve them.

The Communist Party of Australia calls for the formation of a broader alliance of working class, left and progressive forces working towards a new type of government in the interest of the people.


Stop the workplace carnage – Touch one, touch all!

Statement by the Central Committee, CPA

November 2016

The war on workers has turned even more deadly recently. The needless deaths of five workers in three weeks on construction sites across Australia has put the human cost of the government and employers’ policies into tragic perspective. Well organised union jobs are safe jobs; non-union jobs can be deadly jobs.

Trade unions, the very force that can protect workers’ health and safety, are being prevented from doing so. The increase in workplace fatalities and serious injuries is a direct result of government and employer attempts to exclude trade unions from construction sites and criminalise legitimate trade union activity.

Under the Australian Building and Construction Commission and Labor’s successor Fair Work Building and Construction unions are fined millions and workers thousands of dollars for doing nothing more than protecting the safety and lives of workers.

Speed-ups, long hours, lack of training, the use of unskilled temporary visa workers, cost-cutting including on maintenance and inspection, the exposure of workers to contaminants and risks to the public arising from the manic drive for profit have worsened as a result of the current anti-union push.

The Communist Party of Australia expresses its condolences to the families and friends of the workers who didn’t come home in recent weeks. It also recognises the trauma suffered by fellow workers of these victims of anti-worker policies and work practices.

The Party stands with the unions resisting the imposition of a profit-first, not safety-first, culture in the construction industry and other hazardous industries. It supports their struggles and seeks to rally members of the broader community to demand an end to the persecution of workers as they strive to defend their safety, conditions, incomes and jobs. Even before the most recent events, at least one worker per fortnight died on Australian building sites. The figures for other dangerous industries are similarly shocking and intolerable.

The CPA welcomes initiatives aimed at driving back the attacks of the government and employers. The CFMEU has called for workers to wear black armbands on site on November 3.

The CPA supports the call for the criminal charge of industrial manslaughter to be established. A large rally in Brisbane the weekend before last supported the long-overdue change to the law. The public has been shocked by current developments and is sympathetic to demands for change to stop the senseless loss of life.

The federal government has blood on its hands. The long witch-hunt against the CFMEU has hampered the right of workers and their trade unions to control safety on jobs across the country. The Cole Royal Commission of 2003, the Howard government’s establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission in 2005, the failure of the Rudd/Gillard government to completely scrap this construction industry Gestapo, the provocatively-named Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption and now the Turnbull government’s push to totally revive an ABCC – on steroids – have led to the present outrageous situation.

For all the employer and government claims of thuggery and corruption in the industry, few charges have arisen and none have stood up. The real scandals in the construction industry, including abysmal workplace safety standards, are not being addressed.

The public is witnessing the shameful spectacle of anti-union, Family First Senator and failed home building company owner, Bob Day, clinging to his seat in the Senate. This is despite the fact he has admitted he should step down. “Marriage plebiscite legislation, ABCC and our other work too important to Family First to have a vacant seat for even one day in November,” he tweeted recently.

Black lung, a scourge in the mining industry of a by-gone era, has re-emerged as a result of “flexible” practices imposed by project owners and managers and the failure of governments to ensure adequate and independent monitoring and enforcement of regulations.

The recent deaths of four people at the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast took place despite warnings from unions and members of the public.

Governments and industry groups won’t fix the problems. It is their single-minded drive for maximum corporate profit that has put workers in this intolerable situation. Unions must be free to take any action necessary to achieve safe workplaces and overcome deadly practices. The community must support them.

The right to stop work, to inspect workplaces and books and the right of entry should be restored.

Political forces committed to the interests of the working class, foremost of which is the Communist Party of Australia, must be strengthened to reverse the dangerous current direction of industrial relations in the country. The Communist Party joins others in calling for a campaign for safe workplaces and the scrapping of legislation for the ABCC and the removal of its remnants in the form of the so-called Fair Work Building and Construction.

It is the right of all workers to return home safely.


In solidarity with Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution

Statement by the Central Committee, CPA

November 2016

The Central committee of the Communist Party of Australia sends a message of solidarity to President Nicolas Maduro during these crucial times for the Bolivarian Revolution.

The well organised right wing attack perpetrated by the US, mainstream media and others on the extreme right aims to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution. We reject this interference in the internal affairs of the Venezuelan people and the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.

In the words of President Maduro: “This is Simon Bolívar’s land, this land is sacred and cannot ever be touched by foreign and imperialist boots, and we must assure it with our own lives if necessary.”

This moment in time is of serious threat to Venezuelan national sovereignty and to the Bolivarian Revolution’s achievements. Those achievements have been significant; among them infant mortality down by 49%, life expectancy increased from 72.2% to 74.3%, child malnutrition reduced by 40%, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and minimum wages increased 32 times.

The Venezuelan opposition, aided by the US, is trying to incite violence among the people in an attempt to overthrow the government. A part of this is the attempt to collect signatures for a recall referendum. The Supreme Court has upheld the regional court decisions to suspend the collection drive after the fraudulent behaviour of the opposition was exposed.

The CPA stands in solidarity with President Nicolas Maduro in the fight against this referendum. We also stand in solidarity with his government who we know will remain in power. We will not sit in silence while imperialist forces incite violence and brutality to cause any regression in the continuous struggle for self-determination and freedom.

Bob Briton
General Secretary
Communist Party of Australia


Devastation, cause and response

Statement by the Central Committee, CPA

October 2016

The Communist Party of Australia expresses its sorrow at the loss of nearly 900 lives and the mass homelessness caused by Hurricane Matthew, which smashed through the Caribbean last week. Particularly hard hit was the long-suffering nation of Haiti, which has nearly one million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the storms. Cholera threatens the population.

While Cuba and the Florida coast of the US have also been hard hit, it is Haiti’s plight that cries out for the greatest commitment of solidarity. Given the track record of developed countries best situated to provide relief, there is little cause for optimism. There needs to be a rapid change to current practices. Fortunes in “aid” pledged by wealthy donor countries never reached the people of Haiti in the years following the 2010 earthquake when some 200,000 people are estimated to have died.

As some progressive commentators have noted, Haiti’s suffering is not as noteworthy for the corporate media as that of France, the UK or the US. There isn’t a rush to add a Haitian flag to millions of Facebook profile pics. The hashtag #prayforflorida is “trending”. There is no such wave of support for prayers for Haiti.

Haiti has been the object of meddling by successive US administrations that have supported blood-curdling dictators and then deposed a progressive, popularly-elected president. There appears to be little support for the nation that liberated itself from oppression in a slave uprising that lasted from 1791 to 1804, when the country was a French colonial possession called Saint Dominique.

Unlike their North American counterparts, Cuba and Venezuela respect the history of Haiti and have expressed their solidarity with its people in impressive practical ways. They have already sent medical teams to assist with the treatment of the sick and injured. This is a major sacrifice of resources, especially for the Cubans. Hurricane Matthew pounded several municipalities in Cuba, including Baracoa, leaving a heartbreaking trail of destruction.

This isn’t the first time Cuba has provided such assistance to Haiti or other struggling communities in the region and beyond. It even offered assistance to the US after it showed itself to be poorly prepared for the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The generous offer of medical aid was contemptuously declined. Nevertheless, the world started to notice the impressive contribution of Cuban medical teams around the world.

Hurricane Matthew has been a curse on the people of the Caribbean but it has revealed another strength of Cuban society and its socialist system. It appears that, in contrast to the tragic situation in neighbouring Haiti, there were no casualties in Cuba arising from the storms. The preparations in place for this and other natural disasters are impressive. So is the Cuban government’s assistance to the people of the affected areas to help them rebuild.

Cuba’s ability to provide social infrastructure and aid to a much higher standard than its developing country status would seemingly determine is noteworthy. It would be even more impressive if the US’s crippling blockade were lifted, other sorts of sabotage against the island nation were stopped and its territory around Guantanamo Bay was returned. The Communist Party of Australia will continue to work in solidarity to these ends. It also demands of the Australian government the most generous assistance possible to the people of Haiti and a break from the niggardly, self-interested “boomerang aid” practices of the past.

 



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