Australia and South Pacific

Anti-Trump demonstrations across Australia

By our reporters, 23 January 2017

While the organisers promoted Hillary Clinton and gender politics, many of the attendees voiced concerns about the rise of militarism, the erosion of democratic rights and the growth of the far-right.

Australian state premier’s sudden resignation highlights political instability

By Mike Head, 21 January 2017

While Mike Baird claimed to be resigning for family reasons, he sent a barbed political message to Prime Minister Turnbull.

Australian government reshuffled again under mounting corporate pressure

By Mike Head, 20 January 2017

Prime Minister Turnbull’s fourth cabinet reshuffle in 16 months underscores the Liberal-National government’s instability.

Carers cut off services under Australian disability scheme

By Max Newman, 20 January 2017

Carers of people with a disability are being denied support programs under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Australian report highlights collapse of union membership

By Oscar Grenfell, 19 January 2017

The Roy Morgan data shows that membership is lowest among young people and the most impoverished sections of the working class.

Australia: Melbourne homeless speak out against police harassment

By our reporters, 18 January 2017

Large contingents of police have used “move on” powers to shift groups of homeless people from busy areas of the city popular with tourists, including Flinders Street station.

Japan and Australia strengthen ties ahead of Trump’s inauguration

By Peter Symonds, 17 January 2017

In pursuing aggressive “America First” trade measures, Trump threatens the economic interests not only of China but also of close allies such as Australia and Japan.

Union seeks to impose wage cuts on Australian Paper workers

By Chris Sadlier, 17 January 2017

The union and management are invoking the threat of an imminent plant closure to bludgeon workers into accepting the deal.

Teenager killed on Australian building site

By Virginia Browne, 17 January 2017

The tragedy is one of a growing number of fatalities in the construction industry as builders, with union complicity, maximise profits by cutting basic health and safety.

Former Australian prime minister denounces Trump over China

By James Cogan, 16 January 2017

Paul Keating stated that a Trump administration threatened to “involve Australia in war with China.”

Australia: Latrobe Valley power workers, residents denounce wage and job cuts

By our reporters, 16 January 2017

The latest measures are part of a decades-long assault on energy workers in the Latrobe Valley and nationally with the collaboration of the unions.

Report reveals, for the first time, extent of wealth inequality in Australia

By Mike Head, 16 January 2017

Contrary to the myth of Australia as an egalitarian society, it is among the most unequal industrialised countries in the world.

Millions of disabled Australians to be denied national insurance support

By Max Newman, 14 January 2017

The National Disability Insurance Scheme will deny adequate assistance to many in need, even those with severe mental illnesses.

“Left” Greens faction formed in Australia amid growing discontent

By James Cogan, 14 January 2017

The motivation for the faction’s formation is concern over the fall of support for the Greens.

Industrial court endorses massive pay cuts at Australian power station

By Oscar Grenfell, 13 January 2017

The industrial tribunal’s ruling clears the way for pay cuts of 30–65 percent, a precedent that will be used against other workers.

Pensions cut for 330,000 Australian retirees

By Will Morrow, 13 January 2017

The cuts are the thin edge of the wedge of a far-reaching assault on the democratic right to a secure retirement.

Trump and China fears overshadow fragile Australian economy

By Mike Head, 11 January 2017

Conflict between the US, led by the protectionist Trump, and China, Australian capitalism’s largest export market, could have catastrophic consequences for an already contracting economy.

“Kindy boot camp” enrolments proliferating in Australia

By Perla Astudillo, 10 January 2017

Increasing numbers of parents are feeling pressured to organise tutoring for their young children in “kindy boot camps” where they undergo structured learning and constant testing.

Australian government intensifies welfare “debt” crackdown

By Oscar Grenfell, 9 January 2017

The government is dispatching thousands of “debt notices” demanding that current and former welfare recipients repay hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars.

Shots fired in clash between Papua New Guinea police and military

By John Braddock, 9 January 2017

Ongoing conflicts between police and soldiers highlight the explosive social antagonisms in PNG, which are being fuelled by a deepening economic crisis.

New Zealand prisoners subjected to abusive treatment

By Sam Price, 7 January 2017

As New Zealand’s prison population increases, the Ombudsman’s office has revealed widespread abusive and humiliating treatment of inmates.

Indonesian military suspends “cooperation” with Australia

By James Cogan, 6 January 2017

The incident sheds light on the deep concerns in the Indonesian military over the prospect of the country becoming embroiled in a confrontation between China and the US.

Job losses continue in Australia amid stalling economic growth

By Terry Cook, 6 January 2017

Mounting levels of unemployment and underemployment underscore the fraud of the government’s claim that its policies would deliver “jobs and growth.”

Disability services privatised and targeted for more cuts in Australia’s public schools

By Susan Allan, 5 January 2017

An already under-funded scheme for providing disability services to public school children in the state of Victoria is to be targeted for further cuts.

Australian state Labor government announces unprecedented police buildup

By Kurt Brown and Patrick Kelly, 4 January 2017

An additional 3,100 police officers will be recruited, expanding the size of the force by 20 percent.

US think tank urges Trump to confront China in South China Sea

By Peter Symonds, 3 January 2017

Well aware of the dangers of full-scale war, the report nevertheless insists that the US and its allies must challenge China sooner rather than later.

Australia’s “border protection” regime claims another victim

By Max Newman, 3 January 2017

Faysal Ishak Ahmed, a 27-year-old asylum seeker from Sudan, died after suffering a seizure and collapsing in an Australian-controlled detention centre.

Soaring prison populations highlight social crisis in Australia

By Robert Campion, 31 December 2016

There has been virtually no media coverage of the spiralling trend, because it raises serious questions about the rising level of social inequality.

Australia: Political instability deepens as Liberal Party faces potential split

By Linda Tenenbaum, 29 December 2016

Returning from a three-month stint in the US, where he fraternised with Trump supporters, right-wing Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi is testing the waters for a new far-right party.

Australia: Video reveals agonising death of Aboriginal woman in custody

By Zac Hambides, 29 December 2016

Although racism undoubtedly plays a role in the cruel treatment of indigenous people by the police, Dhu’s death points to the high rate of deaths for all prisoners.

Australian government exploits “Christmas terror plot”

By Will Morrow, 24 December 2016

Although the circumstances of the police raids remain unclear, the political establishment and media are using the events to foment an atmosphere of crisis.

Australia: Sacked brewery workers return after union “productivity” deal

By Chris Sadlier, 24 December 2016

The unions have repeatedly boasted of their role in boosting productivity and profitability at the CUB plant.

Pauline Hanson launches bids to join Australia’s political establishment

By Mike Head, 23 December 2016

Hanson’s political program is directed at supporting big business, while blaming immigrants, foreigners, welfare recipients and “the Chinese” for social devastation.

Trump’s election fuels foreign policy debate in Australia

By Peter Symonds, 22 December 2016

The disputes centre on the basic dilemma facing the ruling class: how to balance between China, Australia’s largest export market, and the US, its longstanding strategic partner.

Professor Marmot’s lectures in Australia chart extent of health inequality

By Cheryl Crisp, 21 December 2016

The lectures establish the connection between social inequality, the living and working conditions of the poor, and the deterioration in their health outcomes.

Global agencies demand deeper budget cuts in Australia

By Mike Head, 20 December 2016

An air of unreality hung over the government’s budget update because of the worldwide uncertainty in the wake of the election of Donald Trump as US president.

Papua New Guinea troops to protect huge Exxon-Mobil gas project

By John Braddock, 19 December 2016

The multi-million dollar gas project is run by ExxonMobil, whose ex-CEO Rex Tillerson has been nominated as the next US secretary of state.

Australia: Testimony details abuse in youth detention centres

By Oscar Grenfell, 17 December 2016

Royal commission evidence, including testimony by Dylan Voller, who was repeatedly assaulted, shows that youth detention abuses were the result of government policy.

US companies win greater access to lucrative Pacific fisheries

By John Braddock, 17 December 2016

Following threats by Washington to withdraw from the Tuna Treaty, the deal gives US companies significantly improved access to vast fishing grounds.

Corporate tax-dodging in Australia costs billions

By Mike Head, 16 December 2016

More than a third of the largest companies operating in Australia paid no tax in 2014-15 and multinational tax evasion cost an estimated $4.8 billion.

Amnesty International reports Fiji’s police and military using torture

By John Braddock, 16 December 2016

Ongoing and widespread brutality by Fiji’s security forces is conducted in a climate of “near impunity.”

US admiral pledges to confront China in South China Sea

By Peter Symonds, 15 December 2016

The aggressive remarks by Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, were encouraged by Trump’s belligerent stance toward China during and since the election.

An exposure of high-stakes testing in Australia’s public schools

Beautiful Failures by Lucy Clark

By Karen Holland, 15 December 2016

Probing more deeply the causes of her daughter’s crippling anxiety during the last two years of school, Clark found a general consensus that “education is broken.”

New prime minister installed in New Zealand

By Tom Peters, 13 December 2016

John Key’s replacement by his deputy Bill English has exposed tensions within the government, accompanied by demands from big business for harsher austerity measures.

Australian government threatens to jail “overpaid” welfare recipients

By Margaret Rees, 13 December 2016

Under the banner of “welfare fraud,” the government is seeking another pretext for gutting the entire welfare system.

Australia: Intense discussions about Trump victory at SEP meetings

By our reporters, 13 December 2016

The strong response to the SEP meetings demonstrates a significant politicisation among new layers of workers and youth.

Workers and youth in Australia speak about US election and SEP program

By our reporters, 13 December 2016

Those attending the SEP meetings voiced their concerns about Trump’s extreme-right political agenda and the social and political issues confronting workers in the US and internationally.

Economic contraction intensifies pressure on Australian government

By Mike Head, 9 December 2016

The worst downturn since 2008 is part of a longer-term decline in Australia’s commodity export-dependent economy.

Australia: NSW Teachers Federation pushes through new agreement in anti-democratic meetings

By our reporters, 9 December 2016

Socialist Equality Party supporters challenged the union’s refusal to circulate the deal before forcing teachers to vote on it.

Inquest evidence shows Australian government was responsible for asylum seeker’s death

By Max Newman, 8 December 2016

The medical evidence makes clear that Hamid Kehazaei died as a direct consequence of the refugee detention regime imposed by successive Australian governments.

Australia: Thunderstorm-related deaths expose impact of health cuts

By Kurt Brown, 7 December 2016

Melbourne, a city of more than three million people, ran out of ambulances as thousands of people suffered potentially fatal thunderstorm-related asthma.

Shock resignation by New Zealand Prime Minister

By Tom Peters and John Braddock, 6 December 2016

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced his resignation from politics after eight years in the role and a decade as leader of the National Party.

Australia: Fair Work Commission backs mass sackings at Essential Energy

By Terry Cook, 6 December 2016

The Electrical Trades Union handed the dispute over to the industrial tribunal and is wholly responsible for the outcome.

Australia: State Labor government moves to ban Esso strike

By Oscar Grenfell, 5 December 2016

The unions are working with the government and the industrial tribunal to prevent a stoppage by their members.

Australia: NSW Teachers Federation calls meetings to ram through government deal

Demand the new agreement be circulated immediately! Delay the meetings to December 15!

By the Socialist Equality Party, 5 December 2016

The union has called stop-work meetings on December 8, for 50,000 public school teachers to vote on an agreement that they have neither read nor discussed.

Millions of Australians living in recession

By Mike Head, 3 December 2016

An estimated 6.6 million people—28 percent of the population—are living in areas of outright economic decline.

Fifty years since the Aboriginal stockmen’s strike

By Richard Phillips, 3 December 2016

While Australia’s political elite hails the 1966 Wave Hill walkout strike, tens of thousands of Aboriginal people continue to live in dire poverty.

Australia’s ABCC Bill: A far-reaching assault on workers’ rights

By Mike Head, 2 December 2016

The central purpose of the bill is to outlaw and suppress all strikes, stoppages and work bans by workers throughout the construction, transport and offshore oil and gas industries.

Australia’s Socialist Alternative agitates for escalation of US intervention in Syria

By Will Morrow, 2 December 2016

Socialist Alternative’s commentary on Syria closely aligns with the most hawkish sections of the US military and intelligence apparatus.

Australia: CIMIC Group’s takeover of UGL foreshadows more job cuts

By Oscar Grenfell, 1 December 2016

The acquisition will intensify years of job destruction and restructuring by the mining and engineering contractor.

Former Murdoch executive axes more jobs at Australian Broadcasting Corporation

By our reporter, 30 November 2016

The job losses did not begin with the current Liberal-National government but with chronic underfunding that started with the Hawke-Keating Labor administrations three decades ago.

Chinese fears about Trump and the South China Sea

By Peter Symonds, 28 November 2016

A Chinese think tank director warned that “strategic rivalry between China and the US is likely to continue over the South China Sea.”

Anxiety in Australian elite over Trump’s policies

By Mike Head, 25 November 2016

“America first” protectionism could lead to trade wars that would crash the global economy, with disastrous consequences for Australian capitalism.

Australia: Mounting evidence of black lung cover-up

By Oscar Grenfell, 25 November 2016

Thousands of miners could be afflicted by the deadly disease as a result of the erosion of safety standards by the major companies, with government and union complicity.

Australian state government imprisons teenagers in adult jail

By Eric Ludlow, 24 November 2016

The repressive response to a so-called riot in the Melbourne juvenile prison is the latest example of the brutality being inflicted on teenage prisoners in Australia.

Australia: IYSSE establishes student club at the University of Melbourne

By our reporters, 24 November 2016

In 2017, the centenary year of the Russian Revolution, the IYSSE will wage a fight for Trotskyism in opposition to the pseudo-left politics that have dominated on campus.

New Zealand: “Week of Peace” promotes the Greens and Labour

By Tom Peters, 22 November 2016

The protests organised by Auckland Peace Action and the Peace Foundation sought to channel workers and youth who oppose war behind pro-imperialist parties.

French crackdown on “youth delinquency” in New Caledonia

By John Braddock, 22 November 2016

Armed clashes between Kanak youth and police in the small French Pacific territory point to explosive social tensions.

Australia: Desperate refugee sets fire to himself in a bank

By Peter Byrne, 22 November 2016

Nur Islam, a young Rohingya man who fled Burma, was on a temporary bridging visa, which blocked basic social and political rights, including to work.

Australia: Pacific National axes more rail jobs

By Terry Cook, 21 November 2016

The rail union is complicit in the widespread job-shedding and casualisation within the haulage sector.

Australian prime minister pushes Trump-style tax cuts

By Mike Head, 19 November 2016

Turnbull demanded “hard” economic and budgetary decisions that would “create winners and losers.”

Rising indicators of social distress in Australia

By John Harris, 18 November 2016

A recent report points to a stark increase in rates of imprisonment and suicides.

Australia: National Party decimated in New South Wales by-election

By Richard Phillips, 18 November 2016

Last weekend’s ballot again revealed that masses of people are deeply alienated from, and hostile to, Australia’s two-party system.

Australia: NSW government re-introduces public school inspectors to enforce unpopular measures

By Frank Gaglioti, 17 November 2016

Inspectors will police standardised testing on behalf of the New South Wales government, with powers to close schools and dismiss “underperforming” teachers.

Anglo American sacks workers amid strike at Australian mine

By Terry Cook, 17 November 2016

The unions are isolating a three-month strike by 140 workers at the German Creek mine in Queensland, even as the company announces sackings.

Australia: New South Wales government “bumps up” standardised testing in schools

By Erika Zimmer, 16 November 2016

The new measures underscore the relationship between standardised testing schemes and the government’s cost-cutting agenda for public education.

Workers and young people in Australia and New Zealand concerned by US election result

By our reporters, 15 November 2016

Many noted that Trump’s victory was a product of the deepening social crisis and a breakdown of American democracy.

Public meetings in New Zealand and Australia

The political causes and international implications of Trump’s election: A Marxist assessment

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 15 November 2016

These meetings will clarify the immense political questions raised by Trump’s victory. Who is responsible? What conclusions must be drawn?

Australian government unveils brutal refugee deal with the US

By Max Newman, 14 November 2016

On both sides of the Pacific, the world’s most vulnerable people will be denied the basic right to seek protection, while many will face permanent separation from their families.

Australian government mounts attack on Human Rights Commission

By Peter Symonds, 14 November 2016

The campaign is a cynical attempt to divert attention from the crisis within the government by launching a “freedom of speech” crusade against the Racial Discrimination Act.

Australian establishment concerns over future of US alliance under Trump

By James Cogan, 12 November 2016

A panicked Australian political establishment has rushed to accommodate to the election of Trump, while seeking to work out its implications.

Australia: Residents denounce closure of Hazelwood power station

By our reporters, 11 November 2016

The state Labor government and the unions are collaborating with management to axe the plant and destroy 1,000 jobs.

Australian foreign policy strategists discuss US-China nuclear war

By Patrick Kelly, 10 November 2016

At a forum on “China’s rise,” former defence official Hugh White repeatedly warned of the danger of nuclear war.

Doctors demonstrate against Australian government’s refugee policies

By Zac Hambides, 10 November 2016

Protest organisers made futile appeals to the Turnbull government and Labor, the very agencies responsible for the escalating persecution of the asylum seekers.

Australia: Unions back cuts in working conditions at state broadcaster

By our reporters, 9 November 2016

Union support for the new Australian Broadcasting Corporation enterprise agreement opens the way for even deeper attacks on jobs and conditions.

Papua New Guinea budget further undermines living standards

By John Braddock, 9 November 2016

Following a swathe of cutbacks in 2016, next year’s budget further slashes spending on public health, education, infrastructure and transport.

Australia: Rally against Shellharbour hospital privatisation

By our reporters, 8 November 2016

The trade unions that organised the protest promoted the fraud that Labor would defend the hospital and public health care.

US election stokes deep concerns in Australian ruling circles

By Peter Symonds, 7 November 2016

Not only the “pivot to Asia,” but the whole framework of post-war alliances in Asia is being called into question.

Australian workers and young people discuss US election crisis

By our reporters, 7 November 2016

Many spoke out against Trump and Clinton, who they correctly see as representatives of the banks and big business.

Dreamworld tragedy underscores unions’ role in undermining safety

By Terry Cook, 5 November 2016

The unsafe working conditions now prevalent in every industry are the result of the collaboration of the trade unions with the decades-long drive by corporations to slash costs.

Australian government hit by legal challenges to two senators

By Mike Head, 4 November 2016

The turmoil produced by the bids to disqualify the senators has intensified the Turnbull government’s precariousness.

Australia: Hazelwood power station closure threatens thousands of jobs

By Oscar Grenfell, 4 November 2016

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union is seeking to impose an “orderly closure” of the plant.

New Zealand moves to restore relations with Fijian regime

By John Braddock, 4 November 2016

New Zealand’s welcoming of Fiji’s Prime Minister Bainimarama was aimed at advancing the geo-strategic interests of the US and its local allies against China.

Australian government moves to bar entry to refugees for life

By Mike Head, 3 November 2016

Some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many fleeing the ravages of US-led wars, are bearing the brunt of a brazen repudiation of basic legal and democratic rights.

Indonesia and Australia discuss joint naval patrols in the South China Sea

By Peter Symonds, 2 November 2016

The naval operations would be anything but routine, given that the Indonesian navy has already clashed with Chinese fishing trawlers in the South China Sea.

Australia: Police break up Sydney College of the Arts occupation

By Oscar Grenfell, 2 November 2016

The growing use of police against campus protests is bound up with the transformation of universities into for-profit entities reliant on corporate funds and with close ties to the state.

Australian poultry firm Baiada to close Victorian plant

By Will Morrow, 1 November 2016

The National Union of Workers is working with the company to try to enforce an “orderly closure” of the Laverton facility.

Australia: Widespread exploitation of backpackers and overseas labourers

By John Harris, 31 October 2016

The report documented the slave-like conditions for overseas workers which flow directly from the 417 visa arrangements enforced by Labor and Liberal-National governments.

Australia: Murdoch columnist blames young people for inability to purchase homes

By Oscar Grenfell, 29 October 2016

The article, though written in a satirical tone, is part of a campaign against the supposed lifestyle indulgences of the younger generation.

Samoan car component plant to shut, eliminating 740 jobs

By John Braddock, 29 October 2016

Yazaki, with the assistance of the government and unions, has made millions from its 25-year exploitation of Samoan workers.