Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

29 January 2011

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

Serious floods threaten thousands in Australia’s third largest city

By Mike Head, 12 January 2011

Continuing heavy rain from a La Niña weather pattern has led to warnings that the inundation will exceed the destructive floods that submerged Brisbane during a similar weather pattern in 1974.

Australia: Commodity prices soar as Queensland becomes “inland sea”

By Alex Messenger, 12 January 2011

The economic cost of the Queensland flood disaster is impacting on coal, wheat, sugar, and cotton prices internationally.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

8 January 2011

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

Julian Moti prepares High Court challenge to Australian government’s politically motivated charges

By Patrick O’Connor, 8 January 2011

Former Solomon Islands’ Attorney General Julian Moti is preparing a High Court challenge to the Australian government’s politically motivated attempt to prosecute him on statutory rape charges.

Australia: Queensland crisis points to lack of flood mitigation and basic infrastructure

By Richard Phillips, 7 January 2011

Vast areas of southern and central Queensland remain inundated as three of the state’s major river systems—the Fitzroy, Condamine and Burnett rivers—continue to reach record heights.

Australia: Labor governments vow to retain “bikie laws” despite High Court ruling

By Robert Morgan, 5 January 2011

Australian Labor governments have declared they will maintain legislation giving them sweeping powers to outlaw any “criminal organisation,” despite the High Court overturning an aspect of South Australia’s laws.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

31 December 2010

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Australian government completes cave-in on mining tax

By Mike Head, 29 December 2010

The mining tax debacle has further exposed the Labor government, which is completely beholden to both the giant corporations, particularly the miners, and Washington.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

24 December 2010

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

The political significance of the WikiLeaks revelations

By Nick Beams, 23 December 2010

The following report was delivered by Nick Beams, SEP (Australia) national secretary to SEP public meetings in Melbourne and Sydney on December 20 and 21.

Australia: SEP public meetings defend WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

By our correspondents, 22 December 2010

The speakers explained the significance of key WikiLeaks cables, the intensifying provocations against the site’s founder Julian Assange, and the necessity for the international working class to put an end to the system responsible for the crimes and conspiracies exposed by the leaked documents.

WikiLeaks cables reveal commercial motivations behind New Zealand troop deployment to Iraq

By Tom Peters, 22 December 2010

Cables released by WikiLeaks show that New Zealand sent soldiers to Iraq in order to safeguard a lucrative contract for dairy giant Fonterra.

Imperialist diplomacy exposed: Behind the witch-hunt of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

By James Cogan, 22 December 2010

The following report was delivered by James Cogan, Socialist Equality Party (Australia) national organiser, to SEP public meetings in Melbourne and Sydney on December 20 and 21.

Australia: Further questions raised over Labor government’s role in refugee boat disaster

By Patrick O’Connor, 17 December 2010

The Labor government has declared that no government, military, or intelligence agency had been tracking the refugee vessel that sank off Christmas Island on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people. Its statement has raised more serious questions about the unexplained failure of authorities to intercept the boat.

Australia: More than 70 striking Visy workers charged, but unions prepare sell-out

By our reporters, 17 December 2010

In the most serious police attack on Australian workers for two decades, 71 Visy workers have now been charged with “besetting a premises” and obstruction for picketing during a strike over an enterprise bargaining agreement.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

11 December 2010

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Leaks point to US concerns over Australian role in Afghanistan

By James Cogan, 11 December 2010

Australian policy was in direct opposition to the stance of the Obama administration.

Australian protests to defend Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

By our reporters, 11 December 2010

The protestors, many of them students and young workers, carried placards supporting Assange and calling for his release. Others angrily denounced Prime Minister Julia Gillard who has declared that WikiLeaks’ actions were “illegal”.

Obama administration steps up vendetta against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

By Patrick O’Connor, 10 December 2010

The British Independent newspaper reported Wednesday that US and Swedish officials were engaged in closed door discussions aimed at delivering WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange into American custody.

Support builds for Julian Assange in Australia

By James Cogan, 10 December 2010

Figures from across a broad spectrum of the political, legal and media establishment are speaking out in defence of Assange and WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks cables cast fresh light on coup against former Australian PM Rudd

By Patrick O’Connor, 8 December 2010

The latest round of US diplomatic cables distributed by WikiLeaks have cast fresh light on the circumstances surrounding the anti-democratic Labor Party coup on June 23-24 that ousted Kevin Rudd as Australian prime minister.

South Australian Labor conference gives green light for austerity measures

By Alan Leigh, 8 December 2010

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has bluntly reiterated his government’s intention to proceed with deep cutbacks to public sector jobs, services and conditions to satisfy the demands of the financial markets.

SEP Australia public meetings: Free Julian Assange! Hands off WikiLeaks!

Imperialist diplomacy exposed: Behind the witch-hunt of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

8 December 2010

The SEP has called public meetings to demand that the democratic rights of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange be defended, and to discuss the significance of the WikiLeaks’ exposures for the Australian and international working class.

Australia: The Labor government’s broadband scheme and the profit system

By Patrick O’Connor, 6 December 2010

The major parties’ broadband proposals underscore the irrational and wasteful character of infrastructure development under the profit system.

Greens remain silent on witch-hunt against Australian citizen Julian Assange

By James Cogan, 4 December 2010

The Greens have not felt the need to issue so much as a press statement in defence of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Staff members stood down at two Australian universities

By our reporters, 4 December 2010

Academics and other staff members have been stood down without pay this week for withholding exam results at two Sydney universities—the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University. Both managements are aggressively pursuing the Gillard government’s market-driven “education revolution”.

Remembrance service held for New Zealand miners

By Tom Peters, 4 December 2010

A remembrance service has been held in Greymouth for the 29 men killed in an explosion at the Pike River Coal mine on November 19. The government ensured that no family members spoke, and that no questions were raised about the unsafe practices that led to the disaster.

Australia: Labor seeks to overcome High Court ruling on refugee processing regime

By Alex Messenger, 2 December 2010

The Gillard government is preparing plans to overcome a unanimous ruling by Australia’s highest court, which declared that detained asylum seekers have the right to legally challenge refusals to grant them protection visas.

The Victorian election and the crisis of the Australian Labor Party

By Patrick O’Connor, 30 November 2010

The Victorian Labor government’s defeat in last Saturday’s state election has underscored the crisis wracking the Labor Party throughout Australia.

Victorian workers discuss key issues in state election

“The economy is in chaos and we’re being made to pay”

By our reporters, 30 November 2010

Voters spoke with World Socialist Web Site reporters in Broadmeadows, where Socialist Equality Party candidate Peter Byrne contested the state seat. The area has been devastated by job cuts during the past five years

Labour’s majority slashed in New Zealand by-election

By John Braddock, 29 November 2010

Despite the National government’s imposition of brutal austerity measures in the wake of the 2008 recession, working people are deserting Labour and refusing to return.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

27 November 2010

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

Cholera outbreak kills dozens in Papua New Guinea

By Zac Hambides, 27 November 2010

The main concern of the Australian government has been to close its borders with PNG, while providing minimal aid to the people of its former colonial possession.

Cholera outbreak kills dozens in Papua New Guinea

By Zac Hambides, 27 November 2010

The main concern of the Australian government has been to close its borders with PNG, while providing minimal aid to the people of its former colonial possession.

Growing anger over New Zealand mine deaths

By Tom Peters, 26 November 2010

One week after the initial explosion at the Pike River Coal Mine, mining experts, relatives and friends of the 29 dead miners have condemned the company’s unsafe practices and its failure to carry out a rescue operation.

Australia: Labor moves to tighten coercive industrial powers after construction worker acquitted by magistrate

By Terry Cook, 25 November 2010

The Gillard government and its construction industry watchdog, the ABCC, have pledged to overcome a legal technicality that was yesterday used by an Adelaide magistrate to acquit South Australian construction worker Ark Tribe on charges over his refusal to be interrogated by the ABCC.

Australia: Ex-lefts develop new political “regroupment” in Victorian election campaign

By Patrick O’Connor, 25 November 2010

The state election campaign in Victoria is being utilised by the various middle class protest organisations to deepen their ties with sections of the trade union bureaucracy and the Greens and prepare a new “regroupment”, modelled on the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) in France and Left Party in Germany.

New Zealand miners declared dead after another massive explosion

By Tom Peters, 24 November 2010

Twenty-nine coal miners, ranging in age from 17 to 62, have been declared dead following a second massive methane explosion this afternoon deep inside the Pike River Coal mine on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

20 November 2010

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

Australia: Desalination plant workers strike over corporate spying revelations

By Patrick O’Connor, 20 November 2010

Construction workers in Wonthaggi, Victoria have gone on strike after revelations that the company in charge of the project had mounted a covert and allegedly illegal spying operation targeting militants and aimed at preventing industrial action.

Australia: Bipartisan support for repressive “law and order” measures in Victorian election

Peter Byrne and SEP candidate for Broadmeadows, 20 November 2010

The plan by both major parties to ramp up police numbers forms part of a wider agenda of bolstering the repressive powers of the state in anticipation of major social unrest.

Australia backs US in currency conflict with China

By John Chan, 19 November 2010

The Gillard government’s support for the Obama administration’s policy of devaluing the dollar and pressuring China to revalue the yuan is a gamble that could destabilise Australian capitalism.

Australia: Privatisations send electricity prices surging

By Alex Messenger, 16 November 2010

With privatisation driving an expected rise in electricity prices by 100 percent in the next five to seven years, growing numbers of working people are having difficulties paying their bills.

Australia: Victorian opposition directs preferences to government, almost ensuring a Labor victory

By Patrick O'Connor, 16 November 2010

The extraordinary decision ensures that as many as six inner Melbourne seats that Labor risked losing to the Greens will almost certainly be retained by the government, meaning it will likely win another term in office.

Australia: Sydney Foxconn workers expose sweatshop conditions

By our reporters, 13 November 2010

Workers at a fully casualised sweatshop factory in Sydney’s western suburbs this week revealed the Depression-style conditions imposed by their employer, a subsidiary of the global computer assembling firm Foxconn.

Video: SEP candidate speaks with residents in toxic dump area

12 November 2010

This video features Peter Byrne, SEP candidate for Broadmeadows, and interviews with local residents in Melbourne’s northern suburbs affected by the Tullamarine Hazardous Waste Landfill.

Australian media denounces Labor government for postponing major spending cuts

By Patrick O’Connor, 10 November 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been roundly denounced for failing to announce major new public spending cuts in its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2010-11 yesterday.

US ends 25-year defence rift with New Zealand

By John Braddock, 10 November 2010

The two countries have signed the “Wellington Declaration”—a document that commits them to a new “strategic partnership”.

SEP Victorian election meeting

10 November 2010

The Socialist Equality Party candidate for the seat of Broadmeadows, Peter Byrne, will address a public meeting this Sunday at 2.30 p.m.

Business concerns over Greens and threat of hung parliament dominate Victorian election debate

Peter Byrne and SEP candidate for Broadmeadows, 6 November 2010

Last night’s televised debate between Victorian Premier John Brumby and opposition Liberal leader Ted Baillieu was dominated by discussion on the implications of the rise of the Greens and the threat of a hung parliament after the November 27 vote.

Clinton to pressure Australia to be firmer on China

By John Chan, 6 November 2010

At talks on Monday, US officials are likely to deliver a blunt message to their Australian counterparts over Canberra’s management of affairs in the South West Pacific.

Australia: Union rams through sellout deal for warehouse workers

By Patrick O’Connor, 5 November 2010

As a result of the union’s sellout deal, many of the casual workers will lose several hours of overtime payments and receive substantially lower wages.

Australia: Labor joins Murdoch media smear campaign in Victorian election

By Mike Head, 5 November 2010

Amid deep hostility toward both major parties, the campaign for the November 27 Victorian state election has begun with an operation by the Murdoch media and the Labor government to vilify a Greens candidate.

Australia: Victorian government buries toxic dump as election issue

Peter Byrne and SEP candidate for Broadmeadows, 30 October 2010

The state Labor government is trying to use another official inquiry to head off anger among residents over an apparent cancer cluster around the Tullamarine Hazardous Waste Landfill.

Australia’s central bank chief highlights rise of China

By Mike Head, 29 October 2010

The Reserve Bank governor pointedly referred to the loss of US global economic domination, the “shift in the world economy’s centre of gravity towards Asia” and the rise of China, which is now Australia’s top export destination.

Australian Labor government pushes pro-business austerity agenda

By Patrick O’Connor, 28 October 2010

Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard made clear that her Labor government is a determined representative of big business, by warning the opposition parties not to undermine the bipartisan consensus on pro-market reform.

Falling overseas enrolments compound funding crisis for Australian universities

By Zac Hambides, 28 October 2010

Less than three years after the Labor government came to office promising a market-based “education revolution,” universities have begun axing jobs and demanding higher student fees.

Australian government expands refugee detention

By Mike Head, 23 October 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week signalled the development of an extended detention regime, including hundreds of children housed in so-called community detention.

Australian Greens: No principled opposition to Afghan war

By James Cogan, 22 October 2010

Bandt’s speech advanced the purely tactical and nationalist argument that participation in the war in Afghanistan was no longer in the strategic interests of Australian capitalism.

Australian prime minister denounces opposition to workplace safety cuts

By Terry Cook, 22 October 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has threatened to withhold funding from the New South Wales state government over its refusal to back national legislation that would weaken the regulation of workplace health and safety.

SEP (Australia) Public Meetings

Gillard commits to indefinite war: End the occupation of Afghanistan!

22 October 2010

The Socialist Equality Party is holding meetings in Melbourne and Sydney to discuss the perspective necessary to fight against the war in Afghanistan.

US moves to normalise relations with Fiji’s junta

By Frank Gaglioti, 21 October 2010

The Obama administration has moved to reestablish ties with the military regime in Fiji, cutting across the Australian government’s imposition of sanctions.

Australian prime minister commits to Afghanistan war for next ten years

By Patrick O’Connor, 20 October 2010

Opening a parliamentary debate yesterday, Julia Gillard declared that Australian forces, working with their US and NATO allies, would maintain operations in Afghanistan for at least the next decade.

Western Australia: Children’s deaths expose health crisis

By Joe Lopez, 20 October 2010

The tragic deaths of three children following unsuccessful attempts by their parents to access medical treatment in regional Western Australia have highlighted the crisis of the public health system in country areas.

Protests continue against South Australian job cuts

By Alan Leigh, 16 October 2010

In the face of widely-felt outrage over the Labor government’s attack, the limited protest campaign being conducted by the unions is to exert pressure on the government to negotiate with the union bureaucrats.

Australia: Austerity agenda hidden as Victorian state election campaign begins

By Susan Allan, 15 October 2010

In the Victorian election campaign, as with the federal election, there will be no mention of the worsening global economic breakdown, or of cutbacks to social spending to rein in government debt.

Report documents health impact of social inequality in Australia

By Chris Johnson and Mike Head, 12 October 2010

A report has provided conclusive evidence that systemic social inequality is producing wide gaps in the health, well-being and life expectancy of people of working age.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

9 October 2010

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

Australia: Labor-Green committee to promote pro-business climate policies

By Patrick O'Connor, 30 September 2010

The Greens have functioned as enablers of Labor’s new cross-party climate committee, which has been tasked with proposing a mechanism for a so-called carbon price, a key demand of big business and finance capital.

New Zealand teachers, health workers strike

By John Braddock, 30 September 2010

Health workers and teachers have taken strike action against the austerity measures being imposed by the National Party-led government.

New push to send more Australian troops to Afghanistan

By James Cogan, 29 September 2010

A soldier’s exposure of the circumstances of a colleague’s death is being exploited to push for the deployment of more Australian troops to the Afghan war.

Australia: Treasury sets austerity agenda for Gillard government

By Peter Symonds, 28 September 2010

As parliament convenes today, Treasury, big business leaders and the corporate media have already issued their instructions to the Labor government to get on with the job of implementing the next round of savage pro-market restructuring.

Former Australian police chief testifies in Bali Nine appeal

By Alex Messenger, 27 September 2010

Former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Keelty appeared in an Indonesian court this month to give testimony for a man who he helped put on death row.

Australia: Queensland government launches rail sell-off

By Terry Cook, 24 September 2010

Despite overwhelming public opposition, the Labor government in the state of Queensland is pressing ahead with the privatisation of QR National, the state-owned rail freight business.

Australia: Labor government defends mandatory detention in face of asylum-seeker protests

By Carolyn Kennett, 23 September 2010

Desperate protests by asylum seekers in the wake of the suicide of Josefa Rauluni, a Fijian detainee at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre last Monday, have been met with complete indifference by the Gillard Labor government.

Australia: Local residents offer support to asylum seekers

By our reporters, 23 September 2010

WSWS reporters spoke to local people who had gathered outside the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on Tuesday to support protesting asylum seekers.

Australia: New Labor government changes tune on carbon tax after BHP chief intervenes

By Patrick O’Connor, 22 September 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed the demand for a carbon tax raised last week by Marius Kloppers, CEO of BHP-Billiton, Australia’s largest corporation and the world’s largest mining firm.

Australia: US-China rivalry provokes heated debate

By Peter Symonds, 22 September 2010

For Australian capitalism, rising regional tensions present a fundamental dilemma: China is now its largest trading partner while the United States has been the cornerstone of strategic and defence policy since World War II.

Australia: Gillard government responsible for suicide at immigration detention centre

By Carolyn Kennett, 21 September 2010

On the day he was due to be deported, Josefa Rauluni, a 36-year-old Fijian man, died after throwing himself off the roof of the Villawood detention centre in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Australia: Pseudo-lefts line up behind Greens-backed Labor government

By Patrick O’Connor, 20 September 2010

The Socialist Alliance serves as the “left” defender of the new minority government, seeking to channel widespread hostility to the entire two-party system back behind the Labor-Green alliance as it moves to impose savage public spending cuts.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

18 September 2010

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

University of Western Sydney lecture

The global economic breakdown—a Marxist analysis

By Nick Beams, 17 September 2010

SEP National Secretary Nick Beams delivered a lecture on the global capitalist crisis on September 14 to an audience of about 100 students and academics at the University of Western Sydney.

South Australian Labor government announces deep spending cuts

By Mike Head, 17 September 2010

Nearly 4,000 public servants will lose their jobs, cutbacks will be imposed on schools, hospitals, transport, environmental regulation and other basic services as part of austerity measures to reduce government spending by more than $2 billion over four years.

Australia: Former Guantánamo prisoner denied passport again

By Richard Phillips, 16 September 2010

The Labor government has refused to grant a passport to former Guantánamo Bay prisoner Mamdouh Habib, claiming he might prejudice Australian security.

The reality of Australia’s “two-speed” economy

By Alex Messenger, 14 September 2010

Despite the Labor government’s claims of a wondrous boom, workers see no evidence of “world-beating economic prosperity”.

Australian PM Gillard announces new Labor cabinet

By Patrick O’Connor, 13 September 2010

Gillard emphasised her unambiguous commitment to the Australian alliance with US imperialism and the war in Afghanistan at the same time as she appointed her predecessor Kevin Rudd as foreign minister.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

11 September 2010

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

New Zealand earthquake costs continue to rise

By John Braddock, 10 September 2010

Over the past week, an estimated 300 aftershocks up to magnitude 5.4 have shaken Christchurch, causing ongoing anxiety and further dislocation.

Australian Greens seek collaboration with Liberals, pledge fealty to the banks

By Patrick O’Connor, 10 September 2010

Greens’ leader Bob Brown has issued a series of statements in the past two days aimed at shoring up the minority Labor government, cultivating close relations with the opposition Liberal Party, and convincing big business and the financial sector that the Labor-Greens alliance will advance their interests.

New Zealand government bails out collapsed finance company

By John Braddock, 10 September 2010

New Zealand’s second biggest nonbank finance company, South Canterbury Finance, went into receivership last month, prompting the country’s costliest publicly-funded bailout.

The Australian election outcome

By Nick Beams, 9 September 2010

With no mass support for any of the major parties, the political system will move further to the right, assuming an even more anti-democratic and manipulated character.

Australia: Unions enforce Labor’s “Fair Work” ban on sugar strike

By Terry Cook, 9 September 2010

Unions have policed a four-week ban imposed by the Fair Work Australia tribunal on industrial action by 1,500 sugar workers fighting to defend wages and conditions on Queensland’s North Coast.

Australia: Gillard hails “resilient democracy”

By Patrick O’Connor, 8 September 2010

The prime minister delivered an extraordinary speech yesterday evening which comprised a series of lies on the meaning of the election crisis and its outcome, and overtures towards the Liberal-National opposition.

Australia: Labor forms minority government with rural independents’ support

By Patrick O’Connor, 7 September 2010

The resolution of the first hung parliament in Australia since 1940, 17 days after the August 21 election, marks the culmination of a series of behind closed doors discussions involving the most powerful representatives of the corporate and financial elite.

Australia: Detained refugees challenge Labor government’s denial of fundamental legal rights

By Robert Morgan, 7 September 2010

In a legal argument with far-reaching implication for basic democratic rights, Australia’s caretaker Labor government last month strenuously defended in the High Court the denial of legal and constitutional rights to detained refugees.

New Zealand: Hundreds left homeless after Christchurch earthquake

By Tom Peters, 6 September 2010

Hundreds of people have been left homeless by Saturday’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, but the National government has not committed to assisting those without insurance.

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

4 September 2010

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

Australian election crisis

Labor edges closer to forming minority government

By Patrick O’Connor, 3 September 2010

Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, yesterday signed an agreement with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, giving his support to the establishment of a minority Labor government.

New economic slowdown hits New Zealand workers

By John Braddock, 3 September 2010

Statistics released over the past month have revealed a slowing economy, with working people bearing the brunt both of job losses and the government’s austerity measures.