Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gina Reinhart shows wealth no obstacle to ignorance

Gina Reinhart has taken to poetry to express her embrace of multiculturalism and migrant workers.

It is genuine humanitarianism at its finest, and has nothing to do with Australia’s richest person’s desire to exploit cheap labour at rates below those paid to Australian workers.

This is part of what Gina wrote:

The Globe is sadly groaning with debt, poverty and strife
And billions now are pleading to enjoy a better life ...
Embrace multiculturalism and welcome short term foreign workers to our shores
To benefit from the export of our minerals and ores.

(From the ABC News website: ).

It is such a fine expression of empathy for the poor in high literary form that it has attracted its own lit crit ( ).

Of course, the reason why the “Globe is sadly groaning with debt, poverty and strife” has nothing to do with the accumulation of capital by the 1%.

A workmate of mine has uncharitably responded with a poem of her own:

Gina R, Gina R, who the hell do you think you are
With your mate Twiggy and his driverless trucks
You obviously don’t give two flying fucks
Who’s driving a dozer or wielding an axe,
So long as you don’t have to pay any tax.

She claimed to have been an “award winning” poet, having won a competition at Hamilton Secondary College!

I did point out that I’d beaten her to the gun with this effort that I posted on June 13, 2010:

Twiggy Forrest in his workman's clothes
(With his workman's bank account - as everybody knows!)
Will be forced to live on the bones of his arse
If he's taxed at the level of the working class.

Gina Reinhardt, looking very sad,
"It's all my money - I got it from my Dad";
But that bastard pinched it from the labouring crew -
The work of the many for the wealth of a few.
A resource profit super tax
Such a mild move for all their wild attacks
When we socialise the mines at a later hour
Then we'll see them weep 'cos we'll hold state power.

And we'll dress Mr Twiggy like a working man,
And he can irrigate the desert with a watering can
Which we'll fill forever down the years
With Gina Reinhardt's well-deserved tears!

If anyone else is inspired by Gina “Mother Theresa” Reinhart’s new-found compassion for the wretched of the earth, please hit the comments box below and send it in!

Monday, March 26, 2012

US out of the Cocos Islands!

The US imperialists are placing a further squeeze on their compliant puppets in Canberra.

Not satisfied with the “offer” for US marines outside Darwin, and the promise of access to the Stirling Naval Base outside of Perth, they are nosing around the Indian Ocean territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The islands were annexed by the British in 1857 and transferred to Australian control on 23 November 1955 under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 (an Australian Act) pursuant to the Cocos Islands Act, 1955 (a UK Act).

The islands are strategically placed and were the subject of inter-imperialist rivalry in both World Wars.

Today, they are tourist destinations, with pristine shallow waters around two atolls, with some 24 islets. There are no rivers or lakes, and fresh water is drawn from natural underground storage of rainwater.

U.S. and Australian officials said the atoll could be an ideal site not only for manned U.S. surveillance aircraft but for Global Hawks, an unarmed, high-altitude surveillance drone. The U.S. Navy is developing a newer version of the Global Hawk, known as the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance drone, or BAMS, that is scheduled to become operational in 2015. Aircraft based in the Cocos would be well-positioned to launch spy flights over the South China Sea.

That this is an imperialist attempt to circle and contain China is quite obvious.

Like the naval base proposed for Korea’s Jeju Island (conveniently omitted from the map below), it is tantamount to setting up camp on your neighbour’s doorstep and then accusing him of threatening you.

There will be no consultation with the people of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. But they have an interesting demographic which may not welcome being taken over for aggressive US military purposes.

In 2010, the population of the islands is estimated at just over 600. The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island (estimated population 100) and the ethnic Malays on Home Island (estimated population 500). A Cocos dialect of Malay and English are the main languages spoken, and 80% of Cocos Islanders are Sunni Muslim.

The US imperialists are hell-bent on controlling the South China Sea and are making the Chinese out to be the baddies.

For domestic consumption, the Washington Post frames the latest development in these terms: “Although U.S. officials say the regional pivot is not aimed at any single country, analysts said it is a clear response to a rising China, whose growing military strength and assertive territorial claims have pushed other Asian nations to reach out to Washington”.

Look at the map again to see a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

It is the US imperialists who are making assertive claims on Australian (and other) territory to advance the interests of the Empire.

Keep the Cocos clean!

US imperialists out!

Neo Liberalism under attack in China - Introducing a People's Proposal for China by Zhun Lu

(Above: Only socialism can save China - one of a series of posters issued after June 4, 1989)

The March 2012 edition of The Deal, the glossy business magazine of Murdoch’s Australian newspaper revealed that as early as 1980, the year after Deng Xiaoping formally cemented his hold over the Chinese Communist Party, an appeal was made to the World Bank "for help to develop its economy".

The President of the World Bank and major strategist for US imperialism, Robert McNamara, appointed his right-hand man, the Brazilian-born German Caio Koch-Weser "to bring China into the Bank’s development programs as the first step in an engagement that has since transformed the global economy". It has also transformed China, forcing it from the socialist road to the capitalist road and replacing the socialist ideological outlook with the ideology of neo-liberalism which is the most reactionary and aggressive expression of the interests of finance capitalism.

The text that follows is a re-post from the Democracy and Class Struggle blog (see link at the end or in the links column at left).


In 1997, the World Bank published a long report "China 2020" calling for privatization of public owned enterprises and further liberalization of market. There was very little dissent from the Chinese people; in fact, very few of them knew what was going on in the policy making circles. The later history suggests that the Chinese government followed the advice from the World Bank very closely. Not only had the bureaucrats privatized almost all the public owned enterprises, they also provided "market solution" to education, health service and residential housing issues.

Recently, the World Bank and the research institution under the Chinese State Council published a new report "China 2030". This report gives basically the same prescription as 15 years ago. But the reception is different this time. In the World Bank news conference, Du Jianguo, an independent scholar stood up and protested against the structural reform doctrine advocated by the World Bank. He condemned the report as "poison" and demanded the World Bank to leave China. This protest was reported by several independent media and received enormous support from the online communities.

Interestingly enough, just a short while ago, the authoritative People’s Daily published an editorial calling for further reform while acknowledging the potential oppositions as "trivial critics". In the Chinese context, "further reform" in the mainstream media means neoliberal reforms like privatization and marketisation. This article attracted lots of critique from Marxists and the left wing in general, the scale of which is very unusual in the last 20 years.

All these widespread oppositions to the market reform give us a clear signal: the Chinese people are now explicitly hostile towards neoliberalism (even though not all of them have even heard of this term). There are several major reasons worth mentioning. First of all, we "have been there". The last wave of neoliberal reform has laid off millions of workers and destroyed millions of families. The marketisation of education, health service and residential housing made the life of the working class miserable. Second, the leftist movement has grown much stronger since 1990s. Several large leftist websites are more and more visible in public discussions and all of them explicitly oppose the reform plans from the World Bank and the central government. Many grass-root worker/peasant organizations have come into being and they are in nature anti-neoliberalism.

Last but not least, neoliberalism is in crisis all over the world. The recent economic crisis refreshes the memory of those Chinese people whose mentality remained at the "end of history" more than 20 years ago.

These oppositions and discussions gave birth to a People’s Proposal on China’s future development. The first draft was written by a writer on one of the largest online forums in China. Red China website quickly edited them into a concise version. After that, people have been enthusiastically discussing the proposal all over the Internet and have been adding other things. The China Study Club in UMass Amherst (which I belong to) collectively translated the Red China version into English to give people a sense of what the proposal looks like. This achievement is definitely a milestone in the working class movement in China in that for the first time in the recent three decades so many people are consciously questioning the whole program of the ruling class and have begun discussing what they want. The proposal does not use any Marxist terms, nor does it mention socialism, but everyone can see where it is heading towards.


1. That the personal and family wealth of all officials be publicised and their source clarified, and all "naked bureaucrats" be expelled from the Party and the government. ("Naked bureaucrats" refers to those officials whose families live in developed countries and whose assets have been transferred abroad, leaving nothing but him/herself in China.)

2. That the National Congress concretely exercises its legislative and monetory function, comprehensively review the economic policies implemented by the state council, and defend our national economic security.

3. That the existing pension plans be consolidated and retirees be treated equally regardless of sector and rank.

4. That elementary and secondary education be provided free of charge throughout the country; compensation for rural teachers be substantially raised and educational resources be allocated on equal terms across urban and rural areas; and the state assume the responsibility of raising and educating vagrant youth.

5. That the charges of higher education be lowered, and public higher education gradually become fully public-funded and free of charge.

6. That the proportion of state expenditure on education be increased to and beyond international average level.

7. That the price and charge of basic and critical medicines and medical services be managed by the state in an open and planned manner; the price of all medical services and medicines should be determined and enforced by the state in view of social demand and actual cost of production.

8. That heavy progressive real estate taxes be levied on owners of two or more residential housings, so as to alleviate severe financial inequality and improve housing availability.

9. That a nation-wide anti-corruption online platform be established, where all PRC citizens may file reports or grievances on corruption or instances of abuse; the state should investigate in an openly accountable manner and promptly publicise the result.

10. That the state of national resources and environmental security be comprehensively assessed, exports of rare, strategic minerals be immediately cut down and soon stopped, and reserve of various strategic materials be established.

11. That we pursue a self-reliant approach to economic development; any policy that serves foreign capitalists at the cost of the interests of the Chinese working class should be abolished.

12. That labour laws be concretely implemented, sweatshops be thoroughly investigated; enterprises with arrears of wages, illegal use of labour, or detrimental working condition should be closed down if they fail to meet legal requirements even after lawfully limited term for self-correction.

13. That the coal industry be nationalised across the board, all coal mine workers receive the same level of compensation as state-owned enterprise mine workers do, and enjoy paid vacation and state-funded medical service.

14. That the personal and family wealth of managerial personnel in state-owned enterprises be publicized; the compensation of such personnel should be determined by the corresponding level of people’s congress.

15. That all governmental overhead expenses be restricted; purchase of automobile with state fund be restricted; all unnecessary travelling in the name of "research abroad" be suspended.

16. That the losses of public assets during the "reforms" be thoroughly traced, responsible personnel be investigated, and those guilty of stealing public properties be apprehended and openly tried.

ORIGINALLY PROPOSED BY Hanjiangchunmeng on

Thursday, March 08, 2012

US out of Jeju Island!

(Above: Tourism industry promotion of Jeju Island)

South Korean authorities have moved against the people of Jeju Island to begin blasting the precious Gureombi coastline to make way for a naval base to serve the US imperialists. The first round of detonations began on the morning of March 7 2012 in Gangjung (also known as Kangjung), a village on the southern coast of Jeju

The blasting was to have begun on November 18 last year, but permission was refused by the island’s Governor Woo after local residents gained international support for a campaign to stop the blasting and the base.

On this occasion, Governor Woo has also denied permission for the blasting, but this has been ignored by the authorities.

(Above: location of proposed blast sites along the Gureombi coastline)


Jeju Island lies just off the southern-most tip of the Korean peninsula. It lies in pristine waters containing beautiful coral reefs and is an iconic and beautiful setting for peaceful traditional industries and tourism. It was recently voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and has a World Heritage Listing.

For several years, its people have been waging a mass struggle against the building of a naval base, to be used by both the South Korean and US navies.

The interests of the US imperialists lie in the strategic positioning of the island which oversees the shipping lane used by China for 80% of the oil it imports by ocean tankers.

Heroic struggles repressed by South Korean regime

More than 95% of the residents of Jeju Island oppose the construction of the naval base.
They have a long history of resistance to occupation by, amongst others, China’s Yuan Dynasty, the Japanese militarists and US imperialism. In 1948 more than 80,000 islanders were massacred by the Syngman Rhee fascist clique following their usurpation of power and decision to divide Korea.

In deciding to oppose the naval base, the Jeju island residents point to the apology they were given five years ago by South Korea for the 1948 massacre. At the time, the government declared Jeju an “Island of Peace”, hardly compatible with the forced imposition of a naval base to serve the interests of US imperialism.

For the past four years, the Jeju people have maintained a protest site at Jangjeong Village adjacent to the proposed naval base.

On May 19 2011 the police and the military attacked the protest site and arrested eight of its leaders. However, the residents protected their site and its banners.

Then, at the crack of dawn on Friday 15 July undercover police arrested three more leaders of the resistance and declared that 76 others were banned from public waters or land near the Joongduk coastline where the base will be constructed.

Gangjeong Village Chief Kang Dong-Kyun, one of those arrested in the dawn raid, was fined $5,000 for each violation of an order requiring the removal of all facilities from the protest site.

US imperialism’s aggressive posturing against China

US imperialism is a declining economic power but is still the world’s No. 1 superpower. That is a dangerous mix.

US imperialism wants to threaten and intimidate China.

This is how a Stratfor analysis presented the matter a couple of days ago:

China also faces a primarily military problem. China depends on the high seas to survive. The configuration of the South China Sea and the East China Sea render China relatively easy to blockade. The East China Sea is enclosed on a line from Korea to Japan to Taiwan, with a string of islands between Japan and Taiwan. The South China Sea is even more enclosed on a line from Taiwan to the Philippines, and from Indonesia to Singapore. Beijing's single greatest strategic concern is that the United States would impose a blockade on China, not by positioning its 7th Fleet inside the two island barriers but outside them. From there, the United States could compel China to send its naval forces far away from the mainland to force an opening -- and encounter U.S. warships -- and still be able to close off China's exits.

(George Friedman, Assessing China’s Strategy, March 6, 2012)

(Above, elderly resident vociferously opposes the blasts and the base. Below, a group of Jeju Island grandmothers join the protest)

Build respect and understanding, not US bases

The blasting of Gureombi is an act of great environmental vandalism and fails to respect the wishes of the people of Jeju Island. At the present time, US imperialism is working through loyal allies in the region, including, regrettably, the government of my country Australia, to build up its military presence in the Pacific region. This is unwelcome and destabilises our region.

We want to see friendly relations based on mutual respect and understanding in our region, not increased military tensions based on vainly trying to maintain the privileges and power of the declining United States. The US risked nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. They would not like it if the Chinese Navy built a base in Cuba either. So why do they think the Korean and Chinese peoples want them to build a base for US Navy Aegis missile destroyers and aircraft carriers on Jeju Island?

We want to see respect for our global environment and particularly for the treasured coastline of Gureombi.

(Above: nuns blockade the road to be used by contractors employed to carry out the blasting)

(Above and below, heroic residents defend th coastline against the police)

“Free trade” backed by gunboat diplomacy

The Korean people are also incensed that their economic interests are being taken away in the name of “free trade”. As the online Korea Times (a pro-government and pro-US publication) wrote on March 8:

“It is regrettable to see the nation sharply divided over the plan (for the naval base on Jeju Island). The controversy is among hot-button campaign issues such as the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA). The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) has already threatened to revise or nullify the trade deal if it takes power.”

(Above and below: police deployed against the people)

We support the Jeju residents, environmental activists, and opposition lawmakers say the naval base will make residents vulnerable to potential military skirmishes and destroy the island’s natural beauty.

US imperialism out of Korea!
For friendship and understanding among the peoples of our region!

(Above: police violence will not break the heroic spirit of the Korean people!)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Fair Work Act threatens Great Barrier Reef

Climate change, ocean acidification, shipping, and now the proposed mining of coal seam gas are factors leading to the decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef, but it is the government’s industrial legislation, the so-called Fair Work Act, which threatens it with continued destruction.

A recent article, published in the scientific journal Coral Reefs last year, found coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef had declined by up to 50 per cent since the 1960s.

Not sure how a law governing industrial relations can harm coral growth?

This pernicious legislation only allows “protected” industrial action by unions – that is, action during a limited bargaining period in support of a new agreement or award. The action has to be approved and can only relate to “matters pertaining” to the employer-employee relationship.

The Australian government exercises custodianship over the Great Barrier Reef for all of humanity, a fact recognised in the GBR’s listing under all four natural World Heritage criteria for its outstanding universal value.

But the government also exercises state power on behalf of the infamous 1% - the core of which is foreign monopoly capital. In that capacity, the government has declared that coal seam gas developments would have minimal impact on the Great Barrier Reef, an assessment labelled as untrue by the visiting coordinator of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s marine program, Fanny Douvere.

It has also given approval to Gladstone Port Authority to dredge 46 million cubic metres inside the reef's world heritage area over the next 20 years, on the site to facilitate export of coal.

The Australian government invited a delegation from the Centre to inspect the reef after it failed to alert UNESCO's World Heritage Committee of its plans to approve a liquefied natural gas port development on Curtis Island last year.

How can a government, tied in a thousand and one ways to corporate interests and corporate agendas, be forced to take a contrary stand and act in the interests of the people and their environment?

In the past, this has occurred when working people have told them to do it by refusing to lend their labour power to the destruction of their environment.

Take these two examples from Humphrey McQueen’s recently published We Built This Country: Builders’ Labourers And Their Unions (Ginninderra Press, 2011).

Coral battleground 1970

After tenders to drill for oil on the Great Barrier Reef went out during 1969, the Queensland branch levied its members to bring a US expert to testify about the threat to the Reef. In speaking for the proposal, secretary Delaney pointed out that the Queensland Trades and Labour Council (T&LC) and the ALP were the ‘only working-class organisations to interest themselves in the [Royal] Commission’ into the Reef. In July, the T&LC placed a total ban on drilling. Until then, poet and activist Judith Wright had feared that the conservationists had lost. She declared the union action ‘spectacular and unprecedented’. That ban remains spectacular. It also set a precedent. Henceforth, environmentalists hoped that unions would win their battles for them (p. 290-1).

Fraser Island - 1975

In 1975, the Bjelke-Petersen regime allowed mining on the world’s largest sand island. The damage was inflicted by the US construction giant, Dillinghams, the foe of BLs around the world. When Federal Council debated how to save this natural wonder, Queensland secretary Dobinson feared the loss of its perched lakes. Victorian assistant secretary Norm Wallace recalled enjoying the ‘crystal clear lakes above sea level which had outlets but no inlets. There is pure water, clean white sand, good rain forests and beautiful timber. Fraser Island must be preserved’. From Tasmania, Morgan pictured Fraser as the southern anchor of the Reef. All delegates opposed Dillingham’s vandalism. Gallagher urged them to gather support from other unions. The Federation joined the BWIU in banning all Dillingham projects until an official assessment had reported. After visiting the island late in May, Gallagher observed: ‘Experience has taught us that when the pressure is off, companies usually go for maximum profit’ (p. 293).

Both Fraser Island and the Great Barrier Reef were saved by union action which is now illegal under Fair Work Australia.

There is no more urgent task than for people interested in saving their environment to also work for the restoration of the right to withdraw one’s labour as one sees fit!