Australia

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Fake it Till you Make it.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 20/02/2022 - 9:36am in

 
It’s becoming de rigueur among COALition pollies to pretend they are workers.

That’s Scotty from Marketing cosplaying as a welder:

(source)

While making a stop at Alice Springs Scotty decided that posing like a welder would make for a good photo opportunity.

The tradie who was with him may have had his doubts, if one believes reports of the event. Scotty, however, assured him he knew what he was doing: “I’ve done this before, in the Hunter”.

The problem is that it defeats the whole purpose of a photo opportunity to have your face covered by a safety mask. So Scotty decided to lift the mask. Genius!

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Scotty may be a particularly unfortunate adopter of the fake worker fashion, but he ain’t the first.

(source)
That bloke there is Matt Taliban. Matt got himself an orange shirt and his face haphazardly smeared with Thin Lizzy dark skin to pretend he’s not really a pollie paid over $200K a year (not counting super and allowances) doing whatever it is pollies do, but actually a miner just emerging from a twelve-hour shift underground.

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Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame copped a lot of flak lately for images like this:

(source)
That day Tame attended an event hosted by Scotty and it was clear she wasn’t happy.

But, really, can you actually blame her?

Scotty From Marketing Declares A Public Holiday for POETS Day Starting This Friday

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/02/2022 - 7:38am in

Australia’s Prime Minister Scotty from Marketing has announced to the nation that this Friday is officially POETS Day and to celebrate, it has been declared a public holiday with no one allowed to work – especially journalists.

”I’m a very big believer in POETS Day, and have been practicing it for years,” said Prime Minister Scotty. ”I mean who doesn’t love to Piss-Off-Early-as-Tomorrow’s Saturday?”

”Speaking of which, I might get an early start to POETS Day and beat the line up to Engadine Maccas.”

When asked why he was so averse to working on Fridays and dealing with the issues of the day, Prime Minister Scotty said: ”I reject the premise of your question.”

”I am one of this country’s hardest working politicians! I mean, last week I almost worked 32 hours!”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to head off and beat the 10am traffic out of town.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

https://bit.ly/2y8DH68

Lawsuit Settling Prince Andrew Tells Australia He’s Ready To Be Knighted

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/02/2022 - 8:13am in

The Queen’s favourite Son fresh off settling a sexual assault lawsuit out of court has told the people of Australia that he is ready to be knighted for his services to children.

”The Prince is most relieved to make this whole Epstein matter disappear,” said a Spokesperson for the Palace. ”For awhile there things didn’t look good.”

”But, it’s amazing what a stack of paper with your Mum’s face on it can do in these situations.”

When asked if the Prince seriously believed that he could or should be Knighted by Australia, the Palace Spokesperson said: ”Well Sir Prince Philip his dear Father was knighted , so why not Andrew?”

”Besides, I hear your PM is after as many distractions as he can get. I’m sure he could knight the Prince and somehow place the blame at this Albo fellow’s feet.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, the Prince is keen to celebrate and I need to get some people for him to party with. You don’t know where the nearest High school is per chance?”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

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Meet ‘Lock the Gate’ Alliance: Australia's grassroots environmental campaigners

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/02/2022 - 4:43pm in

No campaign is too small or adversary too powerful

Originally published on Global Voices

Lock the Gate - New South Wales 2020

New South Wales 2020 – Photo courtesy Lock the Gate Flickr account (CC BY 2.0)

It is rare to encounter a nationwide environmental group as active and successful as Australia’s Lock the Gate Alliance (LTG).  The grassroots organisation brings together “farmers, traditional custodians, conservationists and urban residents”, working to defend the environment.

The movement campaigns against “risky coal mining and coal seam gas and fracking” and has taken on some of Australia's biggest polluters and environmental aggressors.

The name, “Lock the Gate”, comes from its launch in 2010:

…when farmers from south-east Queensland gathered in Brisbane around a farm gate, vowing to take a stand to protect their farms and communities from inappropriate mining.

LTG is one of the largest grassroots groups in Australia, with over 120,000 supporters and 450 local branches. Its annual budget is AUD 2 million (USD 1.4 million) and it has approximately 20 staff and contractors.

No campaign seems too small, or adversary too large and powerful. The group has tackled issues of global significance such as a campaign to stop Adani’s huge coal mine in central Queensland and one to prevent fracking in Australia's Northern Territories.

At the same time LTG energetically supports local efforts to stop mining such as the Baralaba South coal project:

Their allies include the Knitting Nannas Against Gas who use their own unique tactics:

we get together at politicians’ offices, work sites, rallys and anywhere else we please to show a mild mannered yet stubborn front, where we get out our camp chairs, table (with lace tablecloth if possible), our knitting (of course!) and have a little tea party.

This was a recent example:

Global Voices interviewed LTG spokesperson Georgina Woods about their work and learned about one of Australia's most successful local environmental efforts.

Global Voices: Lock the Gate has been campaigning since 2010. What was the initial catalyst for its formation?

Georgina Woods: Lock the Gate was formed in two places at once, southern Queensland to tackle coal seam gas, and the Hunter Valley to tackle coal mining. In both places, these resources industries were undergoing significant expansion and putting agricultural livelihoods and communities at risk. Farmers, landholders, and environmentalists teamed up to make common cause to protect land and water from degradation by those industries.

GV: What factors have contributed to the spread of the organisation?

GW: Lock the Gate is unique because it draws people together from very different walks of life, united by their common love of the land and the bush, their reliance on water and their commitment to community. As a grassroots network, Lock the Gate remains committed to supporting local communities and undertakes its work with creativity and heart.

GV: What are the main priorities for action? 

GW: The gas industry is looming as a huge threat over three large, beautiful and remote parts of the country — the Channel Country in Queensland's Lake Eyre Basin, the Beetaloo Basin and Roper Gulf in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in the far north of Western Australia. Opening these basins to sprawling industrial gasfields would severely deplete and compromise water resources, harm local communities and unleash huge volumes of greenhouse gas emissions. In New South Wales, the north west of the state still faces the threat of coal seam gas and large and expanding coal mining, as does central and southern Queensland.

GV: What are some of your proudest moments and successful campaigns, and your most frustrating setbacks?

GW: Lock the Gate's successes really belong to the local communities that we support. Rural communities across large swathes of New South Wales saw off the threat of unconventional gas from the Northern Rivers, Illawarra, Hunter Valley and Gloucester and the area available for coal seam gas in the north west of the state has been severely restricted. Together we have stopped several damaging coal mining developments from going ahead in Queensland and New South Wales and achieved significant new laws dealing with the social impacts of mining and mine rehabilitation.

Our most frustrating setbacks follow a pattern around the country: politicians prioritising the interests of big mining companies over the needs and desires of local communities. This has led to terrible harm being done to local communities, bushland and waterways in places like Maules Creek, Wollar and Bulga.

GV: What criteria do you use in deciding if LTG will support a particular issue or campaign?

GW: Lock the Gate works with local communities, fighting for the things that matter to them, so our work is always guided by the people that have the most to lose from mining developments.

GV: What tactics do you employ given your peaceful principles?

GW: We support local and regional communities to form groups and alliances to front up to the power and vested interests of the mining industry. We also use research, regulatory processes, films and photography, music and other creative avenues to amplify these local campaigns. We support local groups to survey their own community, road by road and block by block, to give the community a direct voice, to record every view and then to make a formal declaration about their stance on projects threatening their region.

GV: A final message of your readers?

GW: It's always worth fighting for what you love.

A couple of current campaigns highlight LTG’s approach. As mentioned in the interview, they are involved nationally in the fight to protect the Channel Country, Northern Territory and the Kimberley from gas development.

At a more local level, they are supporting the Hunter Jobs Alliance, which is bringing environmentalists and unions together to advocate for a positive future for the country's largest thermal coal-producing region.

The Hunter Valley of New South Wales is one of Australia’s major coal exporting regions, employing 14,000 people. It is the centre of intense political debate about the future of the industry.

No doubt Lock the Gate will continue to be at the centre of such debates.

Australia’s Weird Summer.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 07/02/2022 - 3:55am in

[A]

Australia is a big, big place. A plane flying from coast to coast in a straight line (Perth to Sydney, say) covers a distance of some 3,288 km (2,043 miles). By comparison, the distance between London and Moscow is about 2,499 km (1,553 miles).

So far, Summer 2021-22 over this vast land has been varied: mild and rainy in the east – Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and eastern Tasmania; hot and fiery in south-west Western Australia; decidedly humid from the Northern Territory down to northern South Australia, by a combination of a unusually strong monsoon and La Niña.


(source)
Earlier last year western Sydney suburbs were affected by floods. So, the NSW State Government wants to the increase the capacity of the Warragamba Dam, thereby drowning the heritage area surrounding the lake that damn dam created. You know, to prevent future floods caused by anthropogenic extreme weather events.  The best solution to the problems environmental vandalism creates is … further environmental vandalism.

What’s that witticism attributed to Einstein? Ah,yes, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

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The new year in WA began hot:

(source)
The thing is that even along the coast temperature soared above 50ºC:

(source)
(source)And the heat moved south:

(source)
The all-too-predictable consequence of that: bushfires around the south-western, more populated region of WA. Quite likely, the scale of the fires is smaller than what we saw in the Black Summer of 2019-20, but the images themselves seem quite similar:

(source)

(source)
The similarity seems to extend to the behaviour of the fires and their assessment by experienced firefighters. Prompted by a journalist during a presser today (“Are we seeing early extreme weather? Is that weather’s duration a result of climate change and is that your assessment and the experts' assessment?”), Darren Klemm (20 years experience), WA Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner answered (edited for comprehension):

“I refer to it as a changing climate, that’s the way I feel as a service practitioner. I feel the challenges we are having with these fires and floods, for example, what’s been experienced up north over the last week, they tend to become more intense and an example of that is that on Friday night the fire at Denmark doubled in size overnight; so for one of the most southern parts of our state, to have a fire double in size overnight is not something we have seen before”.

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I’ve always thought them West Aussies’ secession ideas kind of crazy. But I have to admit, it sort of makes more sense now. Similarities aside, currently things over there are different.

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Meanwhile, around the Red Centre of the continent:

(source)
Rising waters made both the Stuart Highway (not shown) and the Adelaide-Darwin Rail Corridor (running roughly in parallel to the famous The Ghan passenger railway) impassable. 

[B]

Therefore the freight transport from the south of SA to the towns further north was cut.

(source)

Image Credits:

[A] Author: SCHolar44. Source: WikiMedia. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. My usage of the file does not suggest any kind of author's endorsement.

[B] Author: NordNordWest. Source: WikiMedia. File available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication].

Covid Sightings: Omicron Reinfections, Brain Effects, Shabby US Performance, Western Australia Border Controls

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/02/2022 - 10:00pm in

There's enough new Covid news as to merit some focus on the bigger developments...so have at it!

COVID Australia sharply divided by class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/02/2022 - 10:46am in

COVID has hit lower-paid workers hardest, according to new research. Solidarity spoke to lead researcher Dr Tom Barnes from the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Australian Catholic University.

I think what the research found really confirms a lot of personal experiences from the pandemic that the pandemic had a greater impact on people’s lives in certain areas more so than others.

We looked at data from state health authorities and also data from agencies like the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

What we found is that the experiences of the pandemic were highly unequal. And in particular, we found that what underpins the experience of the pandemic has been high levels and widening levels of class inequality.

There are other kinds of inequality like gender inequality, which the report also talks about, but class inequality lay at the core of it.

What our model demonstrates is a direct cause and effect between the proportion of workers in blue-collar occupations in a local government area and case numbers.

So, for example, in Sydney during the Delta wave last year and the three to four-month lockdown, a 1 per cent increase in the proportion of blue-collar workers in a local government area (LGA) led to an additional 848 cases.

In Melbourne in the same period, an additional 1 per cent of blue-collar workers in an LGA led to an increase of 895 coronavirus case numbers.

And if you look at that spatially across each city, that impact was clearly felt in less advantaged areas more than others. So, in Sydney, there were 12 so-called LGAs of concern where the restrictions are much more severe, with 11 of those in the western suburbs.

Physical presence

One of those, Fairfield, has seven times more blue-collar workers than in a relatively affluent LGA like Woollahra in the eastern suburbs.

In Melbourne, Brimbank in the western suburbs has four times as many blue-collar workers as a relatively affluent LGA like Stonnington in the inner south-eastern suburbs.

So it’s in those areas, the western suburbs of Sydney, and the outer suburban, working-class suburbs of Melbourne, where case numbers were high.

The experience of the pandemic has been much worse, depending on where you live, what you do for work and this model demonstrates that formally.

Blue-collar workers are much more exposed to the coronavirus because of the nature of their work. They cannot work from home. They cannot work remotely. They have to maintain a physical presence to keep their jobs.

I’ve been interviewing a lot of workers about their experiences during the Delta wave in western Sydney, including women working in health care, child care and aged care. And again, the exposure to the coronavirus, plus the social and economic impacts of lockdowns, are much more severe for these types of workers.

Born overseas

Our report also looked at the situation for people born overseas, who primarily speak a language other than English in the in their households. That’s a very large proportion of the labour force. In Victoria, we’d be talking about probably a third of the workforce.

Again, we found a relationship between LGAs with a high proportion of non-English speaking migrants and coronavirus case numbers, as well as relatively low vaccination rates.

In Sydney, every 1 per cent increase in non-English speaking migrants in an LGA led to an increase of 609 coronavirus case numbers during the Delta wave. The increase in Melbourne was 642.

If you look at LGAs like Canterbury-Bankstown or Fairfield in Sydney, or Hume, Brimbank or Whittlesea in Melbourne, these areas tend to be dominated in terms of population by working class people who are either first or second-generation migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds. So there’s an overlap, a very strong overlap, between ethnicity and class.

Impact on women

In all this, the impact on women has been much sharper. So, if you look at some of the economic data, there has been a lot of talk in the media for quite a while about miraculously low levels of unemployment.

But what that masks is a dramatic decline in total employment and in the size of the labour force. So, in Sydney, during the Delta wave the total labour force declined by 8 per cent, similar to the fall experienced after the first wave in March 2020. For women, the decline in the labour force was 9 per cent.

That’s before we mention the unequal impacts of lockdowns in terms of school closures and the pressures of home schooling.

So the experience for many women during the pandemic was worse—but it was far worse for those women working in highly exposed sectors such as home care, aged care, and early childhood education and care. And worse for those women working in LGAs of concern where the restrictions were much more severe.

Domestic violence

It’s not part of this report but I’ve spoken to a few organisations involved in directly assisting women and kids who are victims of domestic violence.

It appears that the pandemic has had a significant impact on both the rates of domestic violence and the experience of domestic violence. A new report suggests that one in 12 women who have a live-in partner experience some form of physical violence. That’s an extraordinary statistic. And that was reported during the beginning of the pandemic.

There is a lot of qualitative evidence that suggests domestic violence has become worse as a consequence of the social and economic pressures of the pandemic and lockdowns.

So, for example, women who live in a domestic situation in which they previously experienced psychological or emotional abuse were reporting that the perpetrator would be more likely to have shifted into more overtly physical forms of violence.

In some cases, perpetrators of domestic violence would use lockdown rules as an added way to control their partner physically or emotionally by saying: “You’re not allowed to leave the house. You can’t escape.”

In the coming period, unions and other social movements will have a strong focus on getting rid of the Liberal government, and that’s right.

But I also think there are a range of more immediate issues that we need to fight around. We need free RATs. There are important demands around fixing up the vaccination stuff-up.

And we need to demand that JobSeeker is a liveable income. We know the choice to keep JobSeeker low is a political and deliberate one.

So I think demands around increasing the JobSeeker rate will also continue to be important alongside demands around vaccines, RATs as well as the overarching question of a change of government.

Listen to the interview in full, below.

The post COVID Australia sharply divided by class appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Scott Morrison as Manager of the Economy.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/02/2022 - 4:24pm in

(source)

The election campaign is on. Scotty from Marketing went to the National Press Club to spruik his credentials as economic manager.

In a long, long speech – so long, in fact, that Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce seemed to struggle to stay awake – Scotty uttered more than 5 thousand words, not counting his answers to the journos present for the Q&A session following the speech.

In well over the half an hour allocated to the speech, he spoke about a lot of things, among them “jobs, jobs, and more jobs”.


Amidst that logorrhea (not to confuse with diarrhea), the word “wage” – the main, if not the only, reason why people take on jobs – was used a grand total of … drum rolls please … 8 times. Do you think our wages are an afterthought for Scotty? What makes you think of that?

(Incidentally, seven out of those 8 times, the word “wage” preceded “subsidy”, so he wasn’t really interested in the money workers get, but in the money he saved employers from paying.)

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Now, God knows I don’t think much of Scotty’s cognitive abilities. But I believe his disinterest in wages, manifest in that speech, is not a product of negligence; I think it’s deliberate.

Look at the chart opening. Note that since 2013, when the COALition took power, wages have grown below the already miserly 3% mark. During the recent COVID recession it even dipped below 2% and only now, with the “recovery” it again surfaced above 2%.

No wonder he is not keen on saying the W word.

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Wage stagnation isn’t accidental either. Neither casual jobs, wage theft,or JobKeeper rorts are accidents. All that is the result of deliberate policy choices: “It’s a deliberate design feature of our economic architecture.”

 

And the thing is, those wages the chart above considers are nominal (that is, before inflation). Now, this is what inflation looks like:

 

(source

You may not like that. I know I hate it. But we have to give Scotty and his gang this: they achieve their real, if seldom openly acknowledged, goals. Scotty from Marketing may not have known it, but he undersold himself: he does achieve perfection. It’s only that his perfection is not what we want.

As your paycheck fails to keep pace with inflation, you will need “jobs, jobs, and more jobs” just to remain where you are.

Join your union.

Morrison’s failures bring COVID chaos—kick him out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 24/01/2022 - 9:40am in

Tags 

Australia

Yet again, Scott Morrison’s failure to prepare the health system has created a complete disaster over Omicron.

Morrison’s failures have seen hospitals and the testing system completely overwhelmed and unable to cope in the face of the surge in cases. His move to kick Novak Djokovic out of the country was a desperate attempt to play to the politics of “strong borders” and distract attention from the growing discontent with the Liberals.

He has tried to duck responsibility by claiming “Omicron changed everything”. But an increase in COVID cases was always predicted as lockdowns and other restrictions were lifted once we reached high rates of vaccination.

Morrison did nothing to prepare for any rise in cases—no funding for nurses and public hospitals, no free RAT tests, no speed up to booster shots for aged care.

The failure in aged care is particularly criminal when 80 per cent of those dying in this wave are over 70. The aged care booster rollout slowed in December as the cases rose.

Health crisis

Testing has all but collapsed, and people queue for hours for PCR tests. Some have waited almost a week for results. Others never received them, with one pathology company in Melbourne messaging people after seven days, saying their samples had become too old to process.

Morrison was warned months ago by the peak doctors’ body, the AMA, and others that a spike in cases could see PCR testing overwhelmed. Yet nothing was done to place bulk orders for rapid tests until the system was on the verge of collapse.

Instead Morrison was more concerned with chemist and supermarket profits, dismissing calls for free rapid tests, saying, “We can’t just go round and make everything free.”

Yet Britain alone has already provided hundreds of millions of free test kits, as have Singapore, Portugal, Germany and some states in Canada and the US. Rapid tests have been widely used overseas for months.

Unions have been calling for wider use of them here since last July.

Hospital staff in NSW and Victoria are fatigued and overwhelmed after repeated COVID surges over the past two years. They were understaffed even before Omicron hit. Figures presented to National Cabinet in October showed there were actually 200 less ICU beds across the country than at before the pandemic. Now, with thousands of health workers isolating, hospitals face crippling staff shortages.

Fifty intensive care nurses at Sydney’s Westmead hospital staged a protest with placards saying “stop playing with people’s lives” calling for governments to act urgently to increase staffing levels.

In Queensland in early December, while the state still had zero COVID cases, the AMA’s Kim Hansen said that hospitals were already “stretched to breaking point”, with “not enough beds and not enough staff”.

Nurses’ unions in every state should call stopwork protests for the extra staff and funding needed—to deal with this crisis and future COVID waves. Other unions should join them.

Abandoned

When the pandemic began, the government introduced JobKeeper for those affected by workplace closures, funded free PCR testing and praised “essential workers”, saying we were “all in it together”. That was always a lie—businesses rorted JobKeeper to boost profits, while casual and migrant workers were not even included in the scheme.

But now, instead of fixing the health system, Morrison is throwing the vast majority of the population to the wolves, saying it’s a “personal responsibility” to avoid infection and manage if we get sick.

Morrison’s changed definitions mean that close contacts are now being forced to work in many industries.

In mid-January the ACTU finally called a meeting of unions to respond to Morrison and the COVID crisis, calling for free RAT tests and measures to allow workers to safely isolate. But it backed away from its initial promising calls for stopwork action to demand safe workplaces.

McManus was reported saying, “the vast majority of business were doing the right thing”, and “We’re not wanting strikes.” But we can’t afford “business as usual”.

Our union leaders need to start a campaign for guaranteed testing and sick pay, free rapid tests and improved ventilation in workplaces, including schools.

Such a fight would be enormously popular. Strike action could force Morrison to fund the hospitals and provide RAT tests, and give workers the confidence to fight on the job for the safety measures they need.

Nurses, teachers, warehouse workers, truck drivers—the front line workers who were hailed as the heroes of the pandemic—are now paying for the COVID crisis with their wages, jobs and safety at work.

NSW nurses have made a start. Teachers in NSW are planning more strikes for the start of the year in their fight to break the wage cap.

Morrison is on the slide. We need to fan the flames of resistance and escalate the struggle to fight to end the Morrison government and the sick capitalist system.

Health funding key, not focus on more restrictions

Many have blamed the easing of restrictions in mid-December, especially in NSW, for the surge in Omicron cases. This likely did speed up transmission.

After a week, Perrottet was forced to reverse his scrapping of the requirements to wear masks indoors, impose density limits in hospitality and QR check-in codes at low risk venues. Singing and dancing at nightclubs and other venues is now also banned.

But the spread of the new variant at breathtaking speed worldwide and in every state shows that, short of a severe lockdown, further restrictions will not dramatically slow cases.

Lockdowns and border restrictions could not keep the virus out forever. Australia’s rate of vaccination now means the risk of serious illness is far less, and a well funded health system could have managed the surge.

But Perrottet, Morrison and the other state premiers have steadfastly refused to increase resources in the hospitals or the testing system where it could make a serious difference.

Calls for a return to more severe restrictions and border rules aimed at keeping unvaccinated people out are distractions from the fight to win more funding for the public health system.

The post Morrison’s failures bring COVID chaos—kick him out appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Australia’s ‘grotesque’ arms exports fuel barbarity and bloodshed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 24/01/2022 - 9:16am in

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Australian manufacturers are profiting from selling military technology and deadly weapons to brutal regimes around the world, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and up to 18 African countries.

Buyers include Sudan, where the military has been using its firepower to try to quell a revolutionary upheaval; Burkina Faso, where the military is accused of executing hundreds of prisoners; Zimbabwe, where the government is suspected of abducting and torturing political opponents; and Eritrea, a country run for decades by a dictatorship. It also includes countries accused of using child soldiers.

SBS Dateline used a Freedom of Information request covering 2015-2020 to reveal the scale of the trade, reporting that: “Worldwide, defence officials approved the sale of an estimated $5 billion worth of military equipment in 2019-20—more than the typical yearly export value of Australian wine, wool or wheat.”

Melissa Parke, a former lawyer for the United Nations and ex-Labor MP, told Dateline: “Australia has increased arms exports, including to countries accused of war crimes, while decreasing transparency about those exports.”

Dateline reports that Australia markets itself to international customers using the Australian Defence Sales Catalogue, “which reads like a giant K-Mart pamphlet of military capability”.

Featured in the 2021 catalogue are armoured vehicles, mortar systems, automatic assault rifles and drones equipped to carry “lethal” payloads.

The Australian government’s Defence Export Strategy outlines how military sales will be scaled up. It lists the Middle East as a “priority market”, Dateline reports.

The weapons sales are part of Australia’s push to become a major weapons exporter. In January 2018, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Australia was gearing up to become one of the world’s largest arms dealers, with plans to expand defence industry exports from $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion a year over the following decade, a target that’s already been exceeded.

Defence Minister at the time Christopher Pyne proclaimed that Australia aspired to be among the top-ten weapons exporters, a vision which Parke called “grotesque”.

Most Australian military exports consist, according to the government’s own definition, of “Category 1” equipment designed specifically for military use or equipment that is “inherently lethal”. That includes ammunition, missiles, guns and tanks.

Australia is also one of a group of countries that’s home to overseas weapon companies.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that: “The United Kingdom, Australia, the USA, Canada and Germany host the largest numbers of these foreign entities. Outside the arms industry hubs of North America and Western Europe, the largest numbers of entities of foreign companies are hosted by Australia (38), Saudi Arabia (24), India (13), Singapore (11), the UAE (11) and Brazil (10).”

Arming Australia

Australia is also among the top ten arms importers worldwide. In recent weeks the government announced it would spend a further $3.5 billion on tanks, on top of the $100 billion or more to be spent on nuclear-powered submarines.

All of this is meant to bolster Australia’s arsenal in the context of rising imperialist tensions with China.

Australia’s wealth and geo-political power depends on maintaining its place within the world system of imperialism. While Morrison talks about “values”, economic and geopolitical imperatives shape Australia’s foreign policy and the arms trade plays a role in this.

Australia has had a history of making money from supporting despotic regimes.

For example, Australia provided military training and hardware to Indonesia between 1975 and 1999 when the country was engaged in a brutal occupation of Timor Leste which killed hundreds of thousands.

When in 2017 Defence Minister Pyne was accused of being an arms dealer for selling military technology to well-known human rights abuser Saudi Arabia, his office insisted (without providing evidence) that the exported equipment was not being used in the Yemen conflict.

But SBS Dateline reports that the Australian government has since 2015 approved 31 Category 1 permits to sell weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and 92 Category 2 permits (technology that meets civilian needs but can be adapted for military uses) to the UAE.

Saudi Arabia and its coalition of Gulf States have engaged in a brutal war on Yemen resulting in what the UN has called the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. There is little doubt that Australian weapons have fuelled the gross murder and starvation in Yemen. Arms-dealing inevitably trades in blood and death.

While Australian bosses profit from the death and misery, socialists stand in solidarity with working class and liberation movements in such countries. The best way to do that is by opposing our own country’s imperialist and economic interests.

This means opposing its arms imports and growing arms exports and building a working class internationalist movement that challenges the war-torn system.

By Tom Fiebig

The post Australia’s ‘grotesque’ arms exports fuel barbarity and bloodshed appeared first on Solidarity Online.

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