Reform and Reaction in Australia: The Story of the Whitlam Labor Government

dc7a3d156a6915b0de5757f7f582cfc4

Whitlam addresses protesting supporters in Canberra following the dismissal

By Cory Anderson

 

The Australian government of 1972-75 stands out as one of the most successful reforming governments in history, comparable perhaps to the first Labour government here in Aotearoa or Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ in the United States. Led by Gough Whitlam, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) introduced significant reforms, including free tertiary education, increased pensions and healthcare funding, brought troops home from Vietnam and ended the racist ‘White Australia’ policy. Part-way through its second term however, it was thrown out by the Governor-General and the Liberal Party in what can only be called a legal coup.

 

Immediately after entering office, the Whitlam government set about business. They ended the draft after just 30 minutes in government, intervened to support equal pay for women, dropped sales tax on contraceptives, banned sports teams from apartheid South Africa and took steps to support Aboriginal land rights and culture.

 

But in spite of heading perhaps the most progressive Labor government in Australia’s history, Gough Whitlam came not from the left but the right-wing of the ALP. He cut his teeth campaigning for “modernisation” of the party and a reduction in the influence of unions. He wanted a more respectable, middle-class party with a media friendly image: more suits and less socialism. Under his leadership the party tacked to the right on Vietnam and he intervened to remove the left-wing leadership of the ALP’s Victorian branch.

[Read more…]

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Nagasaki August 9, 1945Shomi Yoon gave this talk to the Wellington branch of the International Socialists on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.

 

Seventy years ago this month the US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The bomb, a “destroyer of worlds” burnt hotter than the sun. The largely civilian victims were instantly vaporised, and the fires that burnt afterwards incinerated thousands more. The death toll for the two cities rests conservatively at 250,000 people.

The after effects of radiation killed even more people through a long and torturous process. [Read more…]

Migrant workers’ victory in Korea

Opening ImageBy Sam MacDonald in Seoul

Over the past 50 years, few countries have experienced such a dramatic economic rise as South Korea. A country once known for sweatshops and cheap manufactured goods; now produces some of the world’s most advanced ships, cars and electronics. An important part of this process was the state-led export of Korean labour. From 1975-85 over one million young Koreans moved to the Middle-East in search of construction jobs and money to remit home. However, as Korean capitalism has grown and workers have fought for higher wages, this process has reversed as small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have sought to fill labour shortages with over 500,000 foreign migrant workers. Concentrated in so-called 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous and demeaning), these new migrants have become one of the most marginalised groups in this society, facing constant discrimination, abuse and mistreatment.

[Read more…]

Dairy Millionaires and the “Monster that hit Vanuatu”

 

Dairy has been the fastest growing sector of the NZ economy in the last 20 years, making millions for a handful of farmers but also methane – a climate change gas. Vanuatu has just been smashed by Cyclone Pam. These things are connected.

Vanuatu president Baldwin Lonsdale has described Cyclone Pam as “the monster that has hit Vanuatu”, and has said the worsening cyclone seasons that hit the island nation are directly related to climate change. “We see the level of sea rise … The cyclone seasons, the warm, the rain, all this is affected ,” he said. “This year we have more than in any year … Yes, climate change is contributing to this.”

[Read more…]

After the Elections: Political Perspectives in Japan

No Nukes

In-depth post-election perspectives from Japanese socialist Tsutomu Teramoto. Teramoto is a member of the Japan Revolutionary Communist League. 

As expected, the general election of December 14, 2014 gave an absolute majority of the seats again to the ruling coalition of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komei Party. LDP got 291 seats and Komei Party got 35 seats out of the total of 475 seats. The biggest opposition, Democratic Party (DP) got only 73 seats. [Read more…]