Editorial: Unite against Turnbull’s racism and his attack on penalty rates

Turnbull has taken another lurch to the right, whipping up racism in a desperate effort to claw back support, as the Liberals keep trailing in the opinion polls.

First he announced he was scrapping 457 visas in order to put “Australians first, Australian jobs first, Australian values first”. They were words that could have come out of the mouth of Donald Trump. Pauline Hanson immediately claimed his decision as a win for One Nation. Then he announced new measures to force migrants to prove they accept “Australian values” to gain citizenship, including a new citizenship test, proof of their ability to integrate and higher English requirements.

This is a blatant attempt to scapegoat migrant workers for unemployment by accusing them of threatening “Aussie jobs”, and to inflame Islamophobia with loaded citizenship questions that suggest migrants (read Muslims) have backward ideas about women and domestic violence.

Instead of standing up to racism, Labor and the unions have tried to outdo the Liberals with their nationalist campaign against 457 visa workers.

ACTU President Ged Kearney and the CFMEU’s Dave Sutton even demanded further efforts to restrict immigration, saying the package, “ignores abuses of other temporary visa classes, including working holiday and student categories”.

The unions’ anti-457, “Aussie jobs” campaign is a mistake. Immigrants and refugees are not a threat to jobs. The real threat comes from bosses and the Liberals as they attack conditions for construction workers and cut penalty rates.

We need a fight both against Turnbull’s anti-worker laws and his racist scapegoating. The government wants to use racism to distract attention from its anti-union, pro-business agenda.

Almost every week jobs are being cut and another company is exposed ripping off their workers through removing penalty rates or stealing wages.

Stationary chain Kikki.k became the first company to apply the cuts to penalty rates for retail workers to their employees. But it then emerged that they had never paid penalty rates previously, with workers on a dodgy agreement set up under WorkChoices.

A serious union campaign to defend penalty rates could stop this attack and finish Turnbull off. But so far the unions are simply planning a low-level “community campaign” and waiting for the next election, two years away. The Aussie jobs campaign is a diversion from the real fight that is needed.

The Your Rights at Work campaign against John Howard was started with combined unions delegates’ meetings and mass rallies. Unions NSW has agreed to hold a delegates meeting, but this needs to happen soon and in every state.

Everyone who wants to see a fight against penalty rate cuts should move a motion in their local union branch calling for action.

The CFMEU construction union’s nationwide stopwork rallies against the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the new Building Code were a positive start. But this needs to be followed up with a campaign of industrial action to defy the ABCC. And the unions need to stand against Turnbull’s racism.

It’s time to start the fightback.

Australia backs Trump’s warmongering

Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria and threats against North Korea mean the world is suddenly a more dangerous place.

His cruise missile attack in Syria has ratcheted up tensions with Russia, which continues to back the Assad regime. While the US said it was not planning a wider war against Assad, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made it clear Trump would still, “hold open the possibility of future action”.

Although Trump described the strikes as a response to Assad’s chemical attack, they were also designed to show his willingness to launch future military strikes.
A week later he dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat, known as the “mother of all bombs”, in Afghanistan.

This message is targeted at China and North Korea in particular. Trump’s strikes against Syria were launched during his summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.

The US is pressuring China to bring North Korea into line. But Trump has also threatened North Korea directly.

Trump’s aggressive imperialist stance using bombing and the threat of war to extend US influence is a dangerous game.

Australia plays a key role supporting the US military. Both Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten rushed to declare their support for the US strikes in Syria, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has joined Trump’s scaremongering about North Korea.

Australia is already supporting the US bombing in Syria and Iraq, and US bases here play a crucial role in US military actions globally. Over 1200 US marines arrived in Darwin in April, with extra aircraft, declaring they were ready “to fight to win the night”. We need to end Australia’s intervention in the Middle East, end the US-Australia alliance, and kick out the US bases.


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