Australia and South Pacific

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Trump uses Australian PM’s visit to threaten North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 24 February 2018

Trump warned that if sanctions on North Korea did not work he would move to “phase two,” which could be “a very rough thing.”

Australian deputy prime minister ousted via untested sexual harassment allegation

By Mike Head, 24 February 2018

The removal of Barnaby Joyce throws into further doubt the future of the already fragile Turnbull Coalition government.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

24 February 2018

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Australia: Widespread discontent overshadows Tasmanian state election

By Mike Head, 23 February 2018

Under Liberal and Labor-Greens governments, the situation confronting the working class has continued to worsen.

Australian government to deport Tamil refugee despite torture warnings

By Max Newman, 22 February 2018

Thangalingam is a victim of anti-refugee and geo-strategic policies pursued by successive Australian governments.

Australia’s “Barnaby Joyce crisis”: What is not being discussed

By Mike Head, 21 February 2018

The turmoil surrounding the deputy prime minister is a symptom of more fundamental frictions engulfing the government and the parliamentary establishment.

Tonga faces deepening crisis after Cyclone Gita

By Tom Peters, 21 February 2018

Thousands of people remain homeless and the small Pacific island nation could take years to recover.

Australia: Union enforces another massive pay cut at Griffin Coal

By Terry Cook, 20 February 2018

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union isolated a protracted strike of maintenance workers before striking a sell-out enterprise agreement.

Australia: The 2014 union sell-out of NSW rail workers

By Oscar Grenfell, 20 February 2018

The last enterprise agreement imposed by the rail union created the conditions for mass sackings and continuous pro-business restructuring.

Australian transport workers forum discusses the necessity for a new political perspective

SEP holds online meeting on the New South Wales rail dispute

By our reporter, 19 February 2018

The meeting created the conditions for public transport and other workers in Australia and New Zealand to grapple with the political issues raised by the fight to defend jobs, wages and conditions.

General strike in French Polynesia against undermining of pensions

By Tom Peters, 17 February 2018

Thousands of people took part in the strike and rallied in Tahiti against the government’s attack on pensions.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

17 February 2018

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Public brawl erupts between Australian prime minister and his deputy

By Mike Head, 16 February 2018

An affair involving Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has become a vehicle for seeking to oust him and possibly the government itself.

Ex-general delivers first speech in parliament: Australia must “consider the next war”

By James Cogan, 16 February 2018

Molan and the wing of the political and military establishment for which he speaks want military spending dramatically ramped up.

Australia: NSW government privatises Sydney’s inner-west bus services

By Oscar Grenfell, 16 February 2018

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union directly facilitated the sell-off by suppressing widespread opposition among bus drivers over the past 12 months.

Scientists warn of health costs of Australian heatwaves

By Frank Gaglioti, 15 February 2018

The extreme heat conditions have intensified and become more frequent due to the effects of global warming, resulting in a rising death toll.

Trump nominates anti-China hawk as US ambassador to Australia

By James Cogan, 14 February 2018

The nomination of Admiral Harry Harris, head of Pacific Command, is a gauge of how vital the US views its alliance with Australia at this historical juncture.

Cyclone Gita leaves thousands homeless in Tonga

By Tom Peters, 14 February 2018

Australia and New Zealand have announced grossly inadequate aid after the storm destroyed crops and damaged about 40 percent of houses on Tonga’s main island.

Australian Labor Party president warns of collapsing membership

By Mike Head, 13 February 2018

Mark Butler’s remarks point to a growing fear of the deepening hostility in the working class toward the Labor Party and the trade unions.

Australian pseudo-left promotes Labor Party, Greens at “African gangs” rally

By our reporters, 13 February 2018

The speakers pushed an amalgam of identity politics and Australian nationalism, and encouraged illusions in the parliamentary establishment and police.

Australian government used ASIO to stop refugees obtaining visas

By Max Newman, 12 February 2018

A recently-published secret cabinet submission proves that the Coalition government formally asked the spy agency to stall security clearances for officially-recognised refugees.

Australia: Union confirms sell-out agreement in NSW rail dispute includes job cuts

By Oscar Grenfell, 12 February 2018

The real purpose of the marginal pay rise is to provide the union and the government with a pretext for imposing cuts to jobs and conditions.

Anti-China dossier highlights target of Australian “foreign interference” bills

By Mike Head, 10 February 2018

A parliamentary submission depicts Chinese Australians as participants in a subversive Chinese Communist Party network.

Australia: Union pushes sell-out deal in NSW rail dispute

By Oscar Grenfell, 8 February 2018

The New South Wales government has made clear that its offer of marginal wage increases is tied to sweeping cuts to working conditions.

Australia: Why the RTBU is muzzling railworkers

By Oscar Grenfell, 7 February 2018

Having used the ruling of the Fair Work Commission to suppress a strike, for which rail workers voted, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union is trying to silence them and censor any expressions of opposition.

Australian electricity unions suspend industrial action

By Terry Cook, 6 February 2018

Without any mass meetings, the trade unions called off industrial action by thousands of Ausgrid workers.

Australian government defies criticism of sweeping “foreign interference” bills

By Mike Head, 3 February 2018

The attorney-general suggested that the critics are playing into the hands of enemies seeking to damage Australia’s “national interests.”

Australian mining union isolates locked out Oaky North workers

By Terry Cook, 3 February 2018

The six-month lockout of coal miners is the longest in Australian history.

Australian cabinet files affair used to ramp-up “security” and US intelligence ties

By Mike Head, 2 February 2018

The ABC’s supposedly “alarming” discovery of the documents is being exploited to support sweeping new “foreign interference” bills.

Australian government unveils sweeping anti-democratic “foreign interference” bills

Part 3: Far-reaching measures against political dissent

By Mike Head, 2 February 2018

Old “treasonous” offences are being “modernised” for a new period of war and political convulsions.

Australia: Government-union “negotiations” stall in NSW rail dispute

By Oscar Grenfell, 2 February 2018

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union said it will enforce a court ban on any industrial action, while seeking a sell-out deal with the state government.

CIA director brands China “as big a threat to the US” as Russia

By Peter Symonds, 1 February 2018

Pompeo’s warning signals the ramping up of a campaign on alleged Chinese interference in the US as Washington increases its trade war measures and military build-up against Beijing.

Australian government unveils sweeping anti-democratic “foreign interference” bills

Part 2: Criminalising overseas links and donations

By Mike Head, 1 February 2018

These measures have serious implications for freedom of political expression and organisation.

Australian Labor leader sounds alarm about popular hostility to political establishment

By Mike Head, 1 February 2018

Shorten told the National Press Club that the first “mission” of the political elite was “restoring faith in parliament.”

Australian government unveils draconian “foreign interference” bills

Part 1: Preparing for war against China

By Mike Head, 31 January 2018

The legislation, targeting alleged “improper influence” by China and other “foreign states,” will have far-reaching consequences for free speech and political dissent.

Over 100 feared dead in Kiribati ferry disaster

By John Braddock, 31 January 2018

The high death toll and unseaworthiness of the ferry are prompting growing anger in the small, impoverished Pacific nation.

Renewed push for Australia to build nuclear weapons

By Peter Symonds, 30 January 2018

The active discussion is another sign of sharpening geo-political tensions and the accelerating arms race by major powers around the world.

Another rapid rise in Australia’s prison population

By John Harris, 30 January 2018

The 40 percent increase over the past five years points to the escalating impact of “law and order” campaigns, anti-democratic bail laws and punitive sentencing requirements.

Accelerating concentration of wealth in Australia

By Mike Head, 29 January 2018

Of the 19 new billionaires created in Australia over the past 10 years, eight were added in the past year alone.

Australia: Lack of safety system contributed to injuries in rail crash

By Eric Ludlow, 29 January 2018

The Automatic Train Protection system would have reduced the seriousness of last week’s crash of a suburban train in Sydney, says expert.

New evidence of mistreatment in Western Australian juvenile prison

By Eric Ludlow, 27 January 2018

Amnesty International documents ongoing abuses amounting to torture in a youth detention centre.

Southeast Australian heatwaves signal a horror fire season

By Frank Gaglioti, 27 January 2018

Concerns are being raised that extreme heatwaves are becoming the new norm as a result of global warming and climate change.

Australia’s Manus Island refugees blockaded after sewage leaks

By Max Newman, 26 January 2018

Local residents were concerned because sewage was flowing from the unfinished detention camps into their houses.

SEP forum rallies opposition against racist “African gangs” campaign in Australia

By our reporters, 26 January 2018

The lively meeting in Melbourne was attended by workers and young people of African origin.

Australia: Workers reject union-government attempts to cancel NSW rail strike

By Oscar Grenfell, 24 January 2018

Rail workers responded with hostility to the union’s attempt to call off Monday’s stoppage, on the basis of an “offer” providing no details of the government’s demands for cuts to jobs and conditions.

Australian rail accident causes 16 injuries

By Eric Ludlow, 23 January 2018

The train crash in Sydney highlights the deterioration of the city’s rail network, which is creating the conditions for new disasters.

Craig McLachlan accused as Australian media steps up #MeToo witch-hunt

By Richard Phillips, 22 January 2018

McLachlan has decided to sue for defamation over allegations that he sexually harassed three women during the production of The Rocky Horror Show in 2014.

Australian rail workers, bus drivers and commuters support NSW train strike

By our reporters, 22 January 2018

Train staff, passengers and other sections of workers speak out in favour of a planned stoppage to fight the attacks on jobs, wages and conditions.

Australia: Union officials desperately trying to prevent NSW rail strike

By Oscar Grenfell, 20 January 2018

The union has held backroom discussions with the government to suppress the stoppage, fearing it could become the focal point of a broader movement of the working class.

Australian power workers vote for industrial action

By Terry Cook, 20 January 2018

The overwhelming vote to strike reflects widespread anger over years of cost cutting, including a de facto wage freeze, enforced by the trade unions.

Students and staff to bear brunt of latest Australian university funding cut

By Mike Head, 20 January 2018

A two-year freeze on funding for undergraduate enrolments will be followed by pro-business “performance targets” imposed on university funding.

Striking cleaners occupy Korean university; Australian Paper plant workers strike indefinitely

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

20 January 2018

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

With Indo-Pacific tensions rising, Japan and Australia strengthen military ties

By Mike Head, 19 January 2018

Turnbull’s visit to Tokyo constitutes another warning that all the major powers in the region are preparing for war.

Australia: NSW state government axes longstanding reading program from public schools

By Erika Zimmer, 19 January 2018

“Reading Recovery” has been taught for more than 30 years, achieving significant results in improving literacy among disadvantaged students across New South Wales.

Australia: New South Wales rail workers to strike for 24 hours

By Oscar Grenfell, 18 January 2018

The rail union is seeking to prevent the stoppage, which reflects explosive anger among workers over the gutting of wages and conditions.

Australian media promotes fascists amid growing racist hysteria over “African gangs”

By Patrick Kelly, 16 January 2018

Channel 7 news aired an “exclusive” report on a meeting of fascistic organisations, promoting their vigilantism as “a kind of neighbourhood watch.”

Australia: Continuing chaos on Sydney’s trains

By Oscar Grenfell, 16 January 2018

Amid ongoing delays and service cancellations, it emerged that Sydney Trains cut the number of station staff by more than a quarter between 2013-14 and last financial year.

Australian workers, youth speak out against witch-hunt over “African gangs”

By our reporters, 13 January 2018

World Socialist Web Site reporters conducted interviews about the xenophobic “anti-gang” campaign being fuelled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government, in tandem with the Murdoch media.

Australian government spent $4 billion last year repelling or detaining refugees

By Max Newman, 12 January 2018

Budget estimates reveal the massive cost of Australia’s anti-asylum measures.

Australia: Sydney’s train system in a shambles

By Oscar Grenfell, 12 January 2018

Thousands of commuters were left stranded this week, with delays and cancellations revealing an infrastructure and public transport crisis.

Australian minister lashes out at China over Pacific aid

By Peter Symonds, 11 January 2018

Fierravanti-Wells declared that China was “duchessing” politicians in the Pacific, lending funds on unfavourable terms and financing worthless construction projects.

Prolonged fall in average Australian living standards

By Mike Head, 11 January 2018

The ever-greater gap between the fortunes of the wealthy and the deteriorating circumstances of working class families is escalating class tensions.

Australia: Port Kembla Coal Terminal locks out workers

By Oscar Grenfell, 10 January 2018

The move is part of a stepped-up offensive against mining, haulage and ports workers.

Australian aged care workers confront worsening conditions

By Michelle Stevens, 9 January 2018

Decades of government funding cuts, combined with the rise of corporate profit-making operators, have led to severe under-staffing.

Australian rail union collaborating with Pacific National to impose sell-out agreement

By Terry Cook, 8 January 2018

The RTBU deal further erodes working conditions, real wages and opens the way for increased casualisation.

South Australian Labor government slashes public sector jobs

By Oscar Grenfell, 8 January 2018

The sackings indicate that the state election this March will be dominated by further austerity commitments from the main parties.

Australia: Ex-general agitates for stepped-up war preparations

By James Cogan, 6 January 2018

Creating a militarily “self-reliant” Australia is becoming the pretext for expanding the armed forces, and making a greater contribution to the operations of its American ally.

New Zealand government seeks to contain outrage over Pike River mine disaster

By Tom Peters, 6 January 2018

The Labour Party-led government has no intention of holding any corporate leaders responsible for the 2010 explosion that killed 29 people.

Australia continues punitive treatment of refugees on Manus Island

By Max Newman, 5 January 2018

Despite protests and UN condemnations of Australia, the detainees confront worsening conditions.

Australian Council of Trade Unions launches cynical campaign against casual employment

By Oscar Grenfell, 4 January 2018

The unions, working with successive Labor and conservative governments, have played the central role in the destruction of full-time jobs.

Australian police handed more military weaponry

By John Roberts, 30 December 2017

The provision of assault rifles to the New South Wales riot squad is part of an international process of police militarisation to deal with growing social tensions.

New Zealand government offers false promises to reduce poverty

By Tom Peters, 30 December 2017

The Labour-led government’s meagre welfare increases and social spending are subordinate to keeping corporate taxes low and upgrading the military.

Australian dramatic arts workers defend Geoffrey Rush, denounce #MeToo witch-hunt

By our reporters, 29 December 2017

“There’s nothing progressive about the #MeToo campaign. Its methods attack long established legal rights.”

Australian car attack highlights mental healthcare crisis

By Will Morrow, 29 December 2017

The political and media establishment has sought to channel the natural humanitarian response toward the victims in a reactionary direction.

Amazon begins operations in Australia

By Patrick Kelly, 28 December 2017

Amazon is notorious internationally for its appalling treatment of warehouse workers.

Toxic contamination zone expanded around Australia’s Williamtown air force base

By Patrick Davies, 27 December 2017

The suddenly re-drawn “red zone” encompasses another 250 households who were previously told that their properties were not affected and no health precautions were necessary.

Australian retail union reportedly signs another wage-cutting deal with Woolworths

By Oscar Grenfell, 27 December 2017

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is acting as an arm of Woolworths management in its drive to slash wages in response to Amazon’s Australian opening.

First “foreign fighter” arrest in Australia

By Mike Head, 23 December 2017

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton seized upon Betka’s arrest to justify the creation of the government’s “security” super-ministry.

Mentally ill man drives vehicle into crowd in Melbourne, Australia

By James Cogan, 22 December 2017

Police initially said they had no evidence of any connection to terrorism but the authorities may still be seeking to link the incident to Islamic-inspired terrorism.

Australian university overturns student union election result

By Will Morrow, 22 December 2017

The University of Wollongong administration’s intervention is part of a broader crackdown on students’ democratic rights across the country.

Australian cabinet reshuffle highlights underlying political turmoil

By Mike Head, 21 December 2017

Three new super-ministries point to an agenda of war preparations, social spending cuts and attacks on working conditions.

Australian government ends year with more austerity cuts

By James Cogan, 20 December 2017

The “improvement” to the budget is coming from the ongoing assault on the living standards of the working class.

Australian and New Zealand Trotskyists hold powerful Russian Revolution centenary meetings

By our reporter, 20 December 2017

Those in attendance responded with enthusiastic applause to the speakers’ contributions and to the answers to the questions from audience members.

SEP meeting attendees speak about the Russian Revolution

By our reporters, 20 December 2017

A diverse cross-section of workers, students and young people attended Socialist Equality Party meetings [link] in Sydney and in Wellington, New Zealand, last week, entitled “100 years on: The significance of the 1917 Russian Revolution for today.” A number spoke to reporters from the WSWS.

Australian government returns refugees to Sri Lanka

By Oscar Grenfell, 19 December 2017

Successive Labor and Liberal-National governments have forcibly deported asylum-seekers to Colombo, where they face imprisonment and torture.

Australian by-election underscores ongoing political instability

By our reporter, 19 December 2017

The campaign in the Sydney seat of Bennelong was dominated by mutual political mudslinging and the promotion of anti-Chinese xenophobia.

Australia high court ruling imposes greater restrictions on industrial action

By Terry Cook, 16 December 2017

The court decision is another means for banning industrial action and imposing heavy fines and penalties on workers seeking to defend their wages and conditions.

Construction worker killed in horrific incident at Australian gas project

By John Harris, 15 December 2017

The tragic death at the INPEX gas project was not an aberration but the result of increasing company productivity demands ratified by the unions.

Beijing warns against Australia’s anti-China campaign

By Oscar Grenfell, 15 December 2017

The Chinese regime is fearful that the Australian government’s draconian “foreign interference” legislation could be used as a precedent by the US and its allies.

Australian Labor senator resigns amid anti-China witch-hunt

By Oscar Grenfell, 13 December 2017

Dastyari was denounced as a “double agent” for his dealings with Chinese businessmen in a McCarthyite campaign spearheaded by the establishment media and intelligence agencies.

Australian union imposes cost-cutting deal on Hunter Valley miners

By Terry Cook, 13 December 2017

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union agreements with Glencore in New South Wales will allow the international mining giant to further boost its profits.

Anti-China witch-hunt in Australia escalates

By Peter Symonds, 11 December 2017

The campaign is being driven by the Australian intelligence agencies—backed to the hilt by Washington—amid the growing danger of a US war against North Korea and China.

Australian workers, actors, filmmakers oppose the “trial by media” of Geoffrey Rush

By our reporters, 11 December 2017

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this kind of thing only happens to celebrities.”

Australian maritime union maintains picket at Victorian port

By Will Morrow, 9 December 2017

The MUA’s real concern is to advance itself as an industrial police force for the company against the workers.

Australian actor Geoffrey Rush fights back, suing Daily Telegraph for defamation

By Richard Phillips and Linda Tenenbaum, 9 December 2017

Many in the industry are deeply opposed to this new McCarthyism and they are starting to speak out.

Stephen Sewell denounces media witch-hunt against Geoffrey Rush

By Richard Phillips, 9 December 2017

The Australian screen writer, playwright and novelist draws out the dangerous political implications of the trial by media persecution of Geoffrey Rush.

Australia: Lowest consumer spending since global financial crisis

By Nick Beams, 8 December 2017

Consumption spending is being dragged down by historically low wage growth, rising energy costs and high debt levels.

China condemns Australian “anti-China hysteria and paranoia”

By Peter Symonds, 7 December 2017

The Chinese embassy statement followed the announcement of new legislation expanding treason and espionage laws and outlawing “foreign interference” in Australian politics.

Underpayment of international students and backpackers commonplace in Australia

By George Morley, 7 December 2017

Thousands of young people temporarily working in Australia are paid less than the official minimum wage and a small but significant minority work under slave-like conditions.

Australia: Socialist Equality Party holds successful meetings on Russian Revolution

By our correspondents, 7 December 2017

SEP National Secretary James Cogan told the Melbourne meeting that the Russian Revolution was the most progressive social and political event of the 20th century