Communist Party of Australia report to the 20th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
On behalf of the Communist Party of Australia, I would like to thank the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) for hosting this 20th gathering called the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties. We would like to acknowledge the crucial role of the KKE in reviving the international meetings.
The working class in today’s Australia
The working class internationally has changed and developed over recent decades in line with the imposition of capitalist globalisation. In developed countries like Australia, there has been a major change in the composition of the working class. Manufacturing, which used to flourish behind a wall of tariffs, quotas and other instruments of protection, has shrunk dramatically.
Most significantly for the Australian working class, it was the beginning of the era of a class collaborationist approach by most Australian trade unions and their peak council, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
The combination of the decline in manufacturing and the ideological betrayal by trade union leaderships have left the working class in Australia vulnerable.Union membership is in a steep decline.
The role of the working class in Australia
These changes in the composition of the working class and the decline in the ideological level of the organised labour movement have led some to conclude that the working class is no longer the main force for revolutionary change in countries like Australia.
The working class is not the only section of the population to suffer increased exploitation and disregard at the hands of monopolies. Poorer family farmers are squeezed at both ends by monopoly capital.
Notions that exploitation somehow does not exist in countries like Australia or has somehow become benign denies the deteriorating reality of large sections of the working class and poor family farmers. The working class, due to its indispensable role in the process of production, remains the only class with the potential to end the system of exploitation it suffers under.
The situation of the working class in Australia
Almost four decades of retreat in the organised labour movement in Australia has delivered bitter results for Australian workers. Precarious work dominates in the sluggish jobs growth that does take place.
Workers are punished under a restrictive industrial relations legislative framework. Unions are prevented from taking industrial action during the term of their enterprise bargaining contract.Unions taking industrial action have incurred huge fines, in some instances amounting to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, designed to break them.
Aboriginal people continue to suffer the worst oppression of any section of the Australian people. Report after report has identified a wide gap between life expectancy, health, education, incarceration rates and other vital indicators of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations.
Tasks of the Communists, the alliance of the working class
The primary task of the Communists in Australia is to forge the strongest possible alliance of workers and other exploited people to resist and to defeat the capitalist agenda. It means rebuilding the trade unions on a militant, class-conscious basis. In Australia it means raising the ideological level of workers to a socialist one to give them the confidence in their own capacity.
Communists must unite other struggles of the people, against the sneaking privatisation and other aggression by the monopolies and show the connection between people’s declining living standards and the existence of capitalism. They must unite with Aboriginal workers in their joint struggle for liberation. They must fight racism that divides the working class and defend the rights of refugees detained offshore.
Communists must also rebuild an anti-war movement with an anti-imperialist orientation. Signs are promising with the establishment of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network.
Building the revolutionary Party
The Party’s 13th National Congress held last December declared in its Political Resolution that the Party must refocus on the trade union movement and that every member should be an activistin their workplace.
The Party must increase its efforts in education. Members must be united around our Marxist-Leninist Program. We must meet our longstanding commitment to solidarity with our brothers and sisters struggling for liberation internationally. We must play our part in the reinvigoration of the International Communist movement.
The Party must recruit more members,particularly young workers. The youth of the Party have been tasked with this work in their growing networks across the country. Signs are very encouraging with some outstanding community work being done.
The time has arrived to devote unprecedented effort to all these requirements, to thwart the monopolies’ agenda to impose more open slavery on workers and to profit from imperialist war. Our success in this task of building the Party through action is essential for the future wellbeing and even survival of our people.