Workers Vanguard No. 895

6 July 2007


Labor Party Leader Backs Howard's Racist War on Aborigines

Australian Cops/Military: Hands Off Aboriginal Communities!

For a Class-Struggle Fight for Aboriginal Rights!

We reprint below a June 27 leaflet issued by the Spartacist League of Australia, section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist).

Declaring a “national emergency,” the [Liberal Party] Howard government is moving contingents of cops, backed by troops, to occupy some 60 Northern Territory (NT) Aboriginal communities. To facilitate this naked land grab, federal parliament is to be recalled to override the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act and likely the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act. In the name of “law and order” against “child abuse,” the government is imposing an immediate puritanical ban on alcohol and pornography. In a chilling, racist, state-sponsored campaign of abuse and humiliation, they want to subject Aboriginal children and youth under 16 years of age to outrageous genital “medical examinations.” They are also threatening to starve impoverished Aboriginal families by withholding already meagre welfare payments for such reasons as their kids don’t or won’t go to school, which are invariably under-resourced and in some cases racist or non-existent!

Howard’s attacks have been met with fear and anger from Aboriginal communities. Women and children have already begun fleeing Mutitjulu, the first community to face the police/military takeover. This vividly recalls how terrified Aboriginal parents had to hide their children from the all-powerful “Protector” or mission manager, events powerfully portrayed in the film Rabbit-Proof Fence. Indeed Howard intends to turn the clock back to the days of the protector where the systematic physical, emotional and sexual abuse, which accompanied the mass institutionalisation of Aboriginal children stolen from their parents and used as forced labour, was rife. This was accompanied by capitalist theft of land on a grand scale by cattle barons and mining companies.

Howard’s assault on welfare within Aboriginal communities is a template for gutting welfare across the entire population. Furthermore, increased police repression, backed up by troops, comes on top of draconian laws already restricting the rights of all, from “anti-terror” laws to anti-union laws. Targeting the most vulnerable today, the government is greasing the skids for broader attacks on the morrow. The working class has a direct interest in taking up the fight to defend Aboriginal people and all the oppressed. For working-class protests against racist state repression! Down with Howard’s martial law! No to cop/military occupations of Northern Territory Aboriginal communities!

With polls projecting a defeat for Howard in the upcoming federal elections, the military occupation of Aboriginal communities is widely recognised as another of his pre-election ploys to garner white racist support while sowing racist divisions amongst the working class and oppressed. Disgustingly the government’s plan was immediately backed by the federal ALP [Australian Labor Party] leader Kevin Rudd, who scrambled to outdo the government by promising a “war cabinet” and a 20 percent increase in federal police numbers if elected. Victorian and New South Wales state Labor premiers quickly pledged contingents of cops to join Howard’s occupation force. Northern Territory ALP chief minister, Clare Martin, simply complained that the intervention should be sustained for decades! In states with a significant Aboriginal population, Labor premiers baulked at participating, complaining they had not been consulted by Howard beforehand. Australian Capital Territory chief minister, Jon Stanhope, is the only prominent ALP leader to state the obvious truth that these moves against NT Aborigines are racist.

Using the reactionary views pushed within the Aboriginal community by flunkeys like Noel Pearson, the government’s current offensive has been prepared by an ongoing campaign to blame Aboriginal people for their own oppression. Many have already spoken out against the government’s ghoulish plan to subject NT Aborigines under the age of 16 to “medical examinations” for sexual abuse. This proposal ratchets up the bourgeoisie’s reactionary and hysterical anti-sex witchhunt, which is designed particularly to regiment youth by demeaning, abusing and punishing all those who engage in consensual sexual activity outside the bounds of the reactionary “age of consent” laws. The government uses the watchword “child sexual abuse” as a pretext for greater state intervention in Aboriginal lives.

The very real social pathologies of domestic violence, abuse of children, and drug addiction—problems which exist throughout capitalist society—are exacerbated by the brutal subjugation and enforced marginalisation of Aboriginal people. But it is the capitalist state itself which is the greatest instigator of violence against Aboriginal people, who, for example, know all too well that for a black man detention can often be a death sentence. This state, which consists at its core of the courts, prisons, police and military, exists for the purpose of enforcing capitalist rule over the exploited and oppressed masses.

It is grotesque hypocrisy for Howard and his minister for Aboriginal oppression, ex-army commander Mal Brough, to portray themselves as upholding the rights of Aboriginal children! With its prison guards, police and “Aboriginal Protection Boards,” the bourgeois state has systematically killed and raped Aboriginal men, women and children for over 200 years. The Howard government has whipped up racist fear and hatred with the lie that refugees had thrown their “children overboard”; it has incarcerated refugees, including children, in hell-hole detention camps; and it is an enthusiastic junior partner in the bloody imperialist military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have left hundreds of thousands of men, women and children dead.

A recent health report noted that Aboriginal people are four times more likely to die before the age of 25 and 13 times more likely to be in jail, stating that “Indigenous Australian youth are disadvantaged on almost every welfare criterion” ([Melbourne] Age, 31 May). As the head of paediatrics at Royal Darwin Hospital recently pointed out, the topmost causes of suffering among Aboriginal children are overwhelmingly eminently treatable poverty-related conditions such as lung infections, rheumatic heart disease, anaemia and malnutrition. Down with attacks on welfare! Aboriginal people need jobs for all at equal wages and massive education, health and housing programs, including the provision of clean water and electricity. For complete equality including equal access to decent public amenities! No to forced medical examinations! For free quality healthcare and education for all! However, elementary justice for Aboriginal people and all the oppressed and exploited demands not some limited and ultimately reversible concessions by the bosses but the expropriation of industry, mining and agriculture from the capitalist class through victorious workers revolution. We need a class-struggle fight for Aboriginal rights!

Howard aims to massively roll back land rights. As Pat Turner, a former head of the recently abolished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, remarked: “We believe that this government is using child sexual abuse as the Trojan horse to resume total control of our lands.” Some 90 Aboriginal and welfare organisations have released a statement attacking the government’s plan as a smokescreen for a massive grab of those lands that had been reclaimed from the capitalist rulers. This land grab paves the way for large petrochemical, mining and agribusiness to loot the incredibly lucrative resources found there. Aborigines are now facing a colonial-style military occupation similar to that which the Howard government has imposed on the oppressed people of the Solomon Islands and East Timor while plundering their resources. Racist Australian troops/cops hands off Aboriginal lands! Get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Solomons and East Timor!

Howard’s declaration was also a pre-emptive strike against any outpouring of justified anger over the whitewash “trial” of the Queensland cop, Chris Hurley, for the brutal killing of Aborigine Mulrunji Doomadgee in the Palm Island lockup in 2004. Hurley’s acquittal by an all-white jury gives a green light to an escalation of cop killings of Aborigines in the lockups and on the streets and will further embolden fascist scum like the KKK who terrorise besieged Aboriginal communities across the country. The current cop/military occupation will mean more Aborigines in prison and more deaths in custody. Only five days after the whitewash Hurley verdict, a 44-year-old Aboriginal man died in police custody. Meanwhile Palm Island Aboriginal leader Lex Wotton is still facing serious charges for the “crime” of protesting the cop killing of Mulrunji! Drop the charges now!For union/black/minority action against racist terror!

There can be no justice from the capitalist courts or governments! The brutal White Australia capitalist order was built on the plunder, theft, slaughter and degradation of the indigenous inhabitants and the systematic exclusion of Asian and dark-skinned people. The multiracial trade-union movement, which has been on the receiving end of federal coalition and state Labor governments’ relentless attacks, must take action with Aboriginal people against their common enemy—the bosses’ state.

Only the organised working class has the objective interest and social power to take on the racist capitalist rulers and win. But as long as the working class buys into the bosses’ racist divide-and-rule schemes, it will never forge the consciousness and unity necessary to liberate itself from the chains of capitalist exploitation. We communists of the Spartacist League of Australia fight to break the working class from the Laborite nationalism and loyalty to the capitalist state pushed by the pro-capitalist union leaders.

Against the Labor politicians, trade-union misleaders and their left tails who serve to subordinate the working class to capitalist rule, it is urgently necessary to build an internationalist Leninist vanguard party. Such a party, fighting to lead all the exploited and oppressed against every manifestation of capitalist oppression, will be built by splitting the working-class base of the ALP from its pro-capitalist and nationalist leadership.

It is the class struggle of the multiracial proletariat, led by a Leninist-Trotskyist party, that can open the road to overthrowing this deeply racist, decrepit, capitalist system through workers revolution. Only under the rule of the working class and based on a planned collectivised economy will it be possible to address the special needs of Aboriginal people created by more than two centuries of capitalist injustice and oppression. The multiracial working class must come to the defence of their Aboriginal brothers and sisters now! Cops/military out of Aboriginal communities! For proletarian-centred defence of Aborigines against racist terror! For a workers republic of Australia, part of a socialist Asia!