The June 2010 Labor Party coup in Australia

On the night of June 24-25, 2010, Australia Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was ousted in a backroom coup organised within his own party. An extensive US network of “protected assets” within the Australian Labor Party, together with right-wing faction leaders, maneouvered behind the backs of the general population to remove Rudd and install Julia Gillard, the favorite of the Obama administration, without even a caucus vote.

The anti-democratic leadership coup was portrayed by the media as a result of opposition by Australia’s biggest mining companies against Rudd’s proposed tax on mining “super profits.” Sections of the mining sector, enormously profitable as a result of exports to China, had threatened to move offshore and sack thousands of workers if the modest tax went ahead.

However, as the WSWS explained, while the domestic destabilisation was an element, the decisive trigger for the coup was Washington’s intervention. President Barack Obama was increasingly dissatisfied with Rudd’s wavering commitment to the war in Afghanistan. Even more critically, Washington opposed Rudd’s advocacy of a so-called “Asia-Pacific Community,” a diplomatic mechanism that would seek to mediate tensions between the US and China. Just weeks earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who espoused similar policies to Rudd, resigned following a concerted campaign against him by Washington.

US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks in December confirmed that the coup was “made in the USA.” They revealed Washington’s scathing assessment of Rudd and his attempt to implement a degree of power-sharing with Beijing, recognizing this would cut across US hegemony in the region.

From her very first day in office, Gillard made it abundantly clear that her government would stand unambiguously with Washington’s provocative efforts to undermine China’s influence throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Once installed, she scrapped the mining tax and signaled a deepening of Labor's right-wing policies. She also announced new measures against refugees and pledged indefinite participation in the war in Afghanistan and unquestioning commitment to the US alliance.

Shortly afterwards, the US Naval War College published a study that detailed Australia’s “numerous advantages” as a base from which the US military could control the vital sea lanes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the event of conflict with China. Australian ports and airbases were to be upgraded for use by the American military and the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean made available as an airbase for US surveillance drones and, potentially, warplanes.

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