Australia and South Pacific

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.

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

Workers and youth discuss the Russian Revolution at SEP meetings

By our reporters, 7 December 2017

“People can’t afford to live in today’s world, and this is something that needs to be changed… fighting for socialism is not a lifestyle, it’s a fight for survival.”

Acclaimed Australian actor Geoffrey Rush becomes the latest witch-hunt victim

By James Cogan, 2 December 2017

The Murdoch media is circulating unsubstantiated allegations, made by an unidentified individual, in an attempt to destroy Rush’s career.

Intelligence agency involved in latest Australian “terror” scare

By Richard Phillips, 2 December 2017

ASIO’s involvement raises questions about the long record of the police and intelligence agencies seeking to recruit and manipulate vulnerable young men.

Australian banking inquiry backflip intensifies political crisis

By Mike Head, 1 December 2017

The royal commission is an attempt to divert back into official channels widespread public hostility toward the rapacious operations of the banks and finance houses.

Behind the anti-China witch-hunt against Australian senator

By Peter Symonds, 30 November 2017

The denunciations of Sam Dastyari are aimed at intimidating all anti-war opposition as the US intensifies its war drive against North Korea and China.

Queensland election: Another blow to Australia’s two-party system

By Mike Head, 27 November 2017

More than 30 years of attacks on working class jobs, living conditions and basic services, have led to deep political disaffection.

Queensland voters voice disgust and discuss socialism

By our correspondents, 27 November 2017

At voting stations in working class Inala, people spoke about the conditions they face and their distrust in the political system.

Downward pressure on Australian wages becoming the “new normal”

By Nick Beams, 25 November 2017

Continued slow growth in wages has been a “distinguishing feature” of the Australian economy in the past few years, according to the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Australia: Union negotiates cost-cutting deal at Streets ice-cream

By Richard Phillips, 25 November 2017

Streets workers must reject the latest union-company deal which opens the way for increased productivity and even higher profits for the giant Unilever-owned corporation.

Australian government oversees police attacks on Manus Island refugees

By Oscar Grenfell, 24 November 2017

One of the asylum-seekers reported that yesterday’s violent incursion by Papua New Guinea state forces was directed by a representative of the Australian Federal Police.

Queensland election highlights political crisis across Australia

By Mike Head, 24 November 2017

The seething hostility to the two “major” parties is the product of decades of mounting attacks on the jobs, living standards and basic services of the working class.

Australian Greens use dual citizenship witch-hunt to cement right-wing credentials

By Oscar Grenfell, 23 November 2017

The Greens have been the chief proponents of a nationalist campaign in recent months demanding that parliamentarians hold “undivided allegiance” to the Australian state.

Besieged Australian government postpones parliament

By Mike Head, 22 November 2017

The present turmoil is another milestone in the breakdown of the two-party system that has prevailed since World War II.

Australian wage growth continues downward trend

By Nick Beams, 20 November 2017

Real wages in Australia are now only 0.1 percent above where they were more than four years ago and there is no end in sight to the worsening situation.

Australian mining union imposes 25 percent pay cut at Griffin Coal

By Terry Cook, 20 November 2017

The CFMEU struck a sell-out deal which includes sweeping wage reductions and the gutting of conditions, despite significant opposition from workers.

Australia: Liberals strike Queensland election deal with One Nation

By Mike Head, 18 November 2017

Popular hostility toward the traditional ruling parties, the Coalition and Labor, has reached such heights that both are increasingly unable to form majority governments.

The global processes behind the parliamentary crisis in Australia

By James Cogan, 17 November 2017

The witch-hunt against “dual citizens” in parliament is part of a calculated attempt to create a war-time political atmosphere.

Australian unions push another sell-out agreement at Western Sydney University

By our correspondents, 17 November 2017

The NTEU is attempting to impose another retrograde enterprise deal that will assist management to deepen cuts to jobs and conditions.

Trump’s Asia tour leaves region on brink of trade war and military conflict

By James Cogan, 15 November 2017

President Trump’s bellicose rhetoric, on both North Korea and trade, cannot obscure the fact that his trip marks a new nadir in the strategic position of US imperialism.

Doctor describes “shameful” medical neglect at Australian refugee prison camp

By Max Newman, 15 November 2017

Asylum seekers detained in Nauru are “wilfully coming to medical harm” at the Australian government’s orders.

The Gonski “needs-based” school funding fraud in Australia

Part 1: Accelerating the corporatisation of schools

By David Cohen and Linda Tenenbaum, 15 November 2017

David Gonski is among the most trusted lieutenants of the corporate, financial and political elites.

Australian government gives green light for violence against refugees at Manus Island

By Oscar Grenfell, 11 November 2017

The entire Australian political establishment is responsible for the desperate plight of the 600 men in the detention camp.

MP disqualification crisis engulfs Australian government

By Mike Head, 10 November 2017

A full-scale McCarthyite witch-hunt is underway, with every MP being required to prove their citizenship “purity.”

New Zealand Labour-led government prepares attacks on working class

By John Braddock, 10 November 2017

Labour Prime Minister Ardern, with trade union approval, has threatened to further proscribe the right to strike.

New Zealand PM visits Australia, confirms Labour government’s support for war

By Tom Peters, 9 November 2017

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has endorsed the war in Iraq, threats against North Korea and Australia’s brutal treatment of asylum seekers.

Australian contract company continues assault on maintenance workers

By Terry Cook, 9 November 2017

The unions are isolating 200 workers confronting UGL’s attempts to tear up existing wages and conditions.

Australia: Queensland Labor backflips on support for Adani mine

By Mike Head, 8 November 2017

Labor’s long record of support for corporate giants like Adani has opened the door for the reactionary One Nation party to prey upon social devastation and discontent.

Complaints soar against Australian government’s welfare agency

By Mike Head, 7 November 2017

Millions of welfare recipients were unable to contact Centrelink, the agency that administers their payments, causing enormous frustration and anger.

Australia: Thousands protest persecution of refugees on Manus Island

By Oscar Grenfell, 6 November 2017

Rally organisers sought to divert widespread anger over the dire plight of 600 refugees behind impotent appeals to the Coalition government, and support for Labor’s re-election.

Families worse off under Australia’s privatised disability scheme

By Max Newman, 6 November 2017

Participants in the scheme must “buy” services from private operators, with their funds set by care plans imposed by a cost-cutting government agency.

Trump begins 12-day visit to Asia to build war coalition against North Korea

By James Cogan, 4 November 2017

The visit symbolically began with a visit by the president to the Pearl Habor naval base, where war between the US and Japan for dominance over Asia began in December 1941.

Australian government starves refugees on Manus Island

By Oscar Grenfell, 4 November 2017

Contractors hired by the Liberal-National government emptied water tanks before leaving the facility Tuesday, while the Papua New Guinea navy is blocking emergency food deliveries.

New Zealand pseudo-lefts embrace new right-wing government

By John Braddock, 4 November 2017

The line-up of pro-Labour commentators, trade unions and pseudo-left groups is fraudulently portraying the Labour-led coalition government as “progressive” and “left wing.”

Rising death toll from health sector cuts in New Zealand

By Sam Price, 3 November 2017

Underfunding of health care by successive National and Labour governments has contributed to shortened lives and baby deaths.

Australian rail union suspends industrial action in Pacific National dispute

By Terry Cook, 2 November 2017

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union called off all industrial action as it moved to broker another sell-out agreement.

Refugees on Manus Island face catastrophe at hands of Australian detention regime

By Oscar Grenfell, 1 November 2017

Asylum seekers have been left without food, water and electricity, and face the prospect of an armed assault by Papua New Guinea police and military personnel.

Early Queensland election points to political instability in Australia

By Mike Head, 31 October 2017

The snap poll could signal a new stage in the decay of the two-party system that has prevailed in Australia since World War II.

Australia: Possible Woolworths strikes spark warnings of a broader wages movement

By Oscar Grenfell, 31 October 2017

As many as 2,000 workers at four major warehouses are set to take industrial action over wages and conditions in the next two months.

US masses ships and aircraft outside North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 30 October 2017

The Trump administration is threatening a war not just with conventional weapons, but with nuclear bombs—directed against North Korea and any other power that joins the conflict.

Meeting in Sydney on December 17

100 years on: The significance of the 1917 Russian Revolution for today

28 October 2017

The Russian Revolution stands as irrefutable proof that the working class—providing it is guided by a genuine Marxist perspective and leadership—can overthrow the outmoded social relations of capitalism.

Australian troops sent to the Philippines despite end of Marawi siege

By Mike Head, 27 October 2017

Another far-reaching military commitment has been made without any parliamentary debate, let alone any approval by the Australian population.

Australian statistics show collapse in manufacturing, mounting jobs crisis

By Oscar Grenfell, 27 October 2017

Part-time and precarious employment accounts for an ever-greater proportion of the workforce.

Free, high quality public education is a social right! Join the Committee For Public Education!

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 27 October 2017

Australia has one of the most unequal and privatised school systems in the world.

Australian government orders police raids on union offices

By Mike Head, 26 October 2017

Australia increasingly resembles a police state, with well-publicized raids carried out in pursuit of unstated political aims.

Australia: Social devastation looms over Latrobe Valley

By Michelle Stevens, 26 October 2017

Today’s widespread poverty, unemployment and social problems are the result of decades of job destruction imposed by successive governments, assisted by the trade unions.

Latrobe Valley residents: “The government is failing very badly”

By Michelle Stevens, 26 October 2017

”People are often embarrassed that they need help.”

Documents show US participation in 1965-66 massacres in Indonesia

By Mike Head, 25 October 2017

Up to one million workers, peasants and supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party were murdered, in one of the greatest imperialist crimes of the 20th century.

Labour Party details coalition agreement with New Zealand First

By Tom Peters, 25 October 2017

Despite winning just nine seats, the right-wing and anti-China NZ First has been given the key roles of deputy prime minister, foreign minister and defence minister.

Australian flu epidemic inundates public health services

By John Mackay, 25 October 2017

Emergency room visits reached record levels at the peak of the winter season in many major hospitals.