CPC(M-L) HOME TML Daily Archive Le Marxiste-Léniniste quotidien

November 21, 2014 - No. 97

G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia

People’s Opposition Amidst
Tight Security

People's march at Brisbane G-20 summit, November 15, 2014.

G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia
People’s Opposition Amidst Tight Security
Expensive Defence of Monopoly Right and Anti-People Agenda

G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia

People’s Opposition Amidst Tight Security

The conflict between the conditions of Australians and all the world's peoples who are deprived of political power and the illegitimate authority of the G20, a body that claims to represent them, was in evidence in the many protests organized around the Brisbane G20 Summit, November 15-16.

Security Measures

Security was high in Brisbane at the 2014 G20 Summit. "Protesters complained of 'massive overkill' from police as Brisbane went into lockdown on Friday [November 14] for the G20 summit," the Brisbane Times reported. Total security costs were reported to be $100 million. While very high, Canadians will note this is far less than the nearly $1 billion in security costs for the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto.

The Brisbane Times reported, leading up to the Summit, that security involved more than "5,000 police officers, 3,500 from Queensland and 1,500 interstate and New Zealand officers, as well as Australian Federal Police. Queensland police say it will be the state's largest ever peacetime security operation and potentially the largest peacetime security operation in Australia's history.

"The Australian Defence Force has allocated $8 million to provide security for the G20 Summit. More than 900 soldiers will be based in Brisbane for the event, with a further 1,000 on call.

"Security expenses are also part of the $370 million in federal funding for general expenses, such as venue hire, accommodation, IT and staffing. For instance, the government is hiring a fleet of 16 bomb-proof limousines for $1.8 million to protect heads of state and other dignitaries. (Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin reportedly brought their own vehicles).

Exceptional security legislation, similar to that passed in Ontario prior to the G20 in 2010, was put in place in the Australian state of Queensland. "Last year, the Queensland Government passed the G20 (Safety and Security) Act 2013, which provides Queensland police with additional powers to arrest, assign 'restricted areas', and ban people from carrying 'prohibited items' in Brisbane."

First Nations Resist Colonialism

Some of the most prominent protests were in support of Australia's First Nations. Australia, like Canada, has a long, brutally unjust and ongoing colonial relationship with its First Nations. Mass rallies and marches were held on November 14 and 15. On November 15, about 2,000 protesters took to the streets of downtown Brisbane for the people's march, with First Nations prominent at the head of the march. Their banner condemned the empty apologies of the Australian state for its genocide of Aboriginal peoples.

Aboriginal activists held a series of events in the week leading up to the G20 Summit highlighting the demand for decolonization, including the establishment of the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in the downtown.

On November 16, the group Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) burned six Australian flags. In a press release, WAR explained the necessity for this act of resistance:

"On November 16, members of WAR burned six Australian flags in an act of defiance against the colonial state, a message to the Australian government and the Australian public that we will continue our resistance against the onslaught of colonization, the invasion of our lands and lives. The Australian flag represents the pillars of colonial ideology — greed and racism. This ideology was alive in Tony Abbott's recent comment [at a breakfast with UK Prime Minister David Cameron on November 14 -- TML Ed. Note] that this continent was 'nothing but bush' prior to invasion in 1788.

"In the month running up to the G20 summit in Brisbane, four Aboriginal people died in police custody, many more Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families and mining companies continued to devastate sacred Aboriginal lands. Aboriginal people are incarcerated at five times the rate of Blacks under apartheid in South Africa, Australia leads the world in linguicide, our life expectancy is still more than 10 years below that of Australians, and John Howard's racially discriminatory intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities has been extended for another decade. We remain a fourth world people residing within the borders of a first world nation. Our people live in third world conditions and have had our self-determination suppressed by the colonial state. Consecutive Australian governments have failed us, and consecutive Australian governments blame us for our predicament. The Australian flag does not represent freedom. But burning the Australian flag is an act of defiance, a symbol of our fight for freedom. The burning of the Australian flag is our message to Australia and the world to say that we are still here, that the denial of our basic human rights continues, and that radical change must occur.

"Like its predecessor the Union Jack, the Australian flag is a bastion of colonial arrogance. Burning the Australian flag is an act of anti-colonial resistance. We do not wish to coexist with the colonial state. Our ultimate goal is to bring an end to colonial control of our lands and lives, the restoration of tribal sovereignty. We resist colonization just as the Natives of North America, the Maori of Aotearoa and the Indigenous peoples of South America. Like Scottish nationalists and the West Papuans, we fight for freedom and independence. We will fight to rid our people and our communities of the interfering and oppressive hands of the colonial Australian state. We are shifting to an agenda of asserting our fundamental rights and responsibilities as Indigenous peoples. We will no longer ask for justice from the colonizer, we will simply take it."

Climate Change

Climate change and Australia's lack of action on this question was a high priority for protestors at the People's March on November 15. One of the groups, Climate Guardians, which was formed a year ago to highlight the need for climate change action, travelled from Melbourne to participate.

Spokeswoman Liz Conor said:

"We formed the Climate Angels out of desperation because we felt the government was not taking sufficient action for the climate crisis and our children were being led into a volatile future," she said.

On Sydney's Bondi Beach on November13, more than 400 protesters buried their heads in the sand, using the occasion of the G20 to protest Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's refusal to take action on climate change.

Solidarity with Missing Mexican Students

Protesters used Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's visit to the G20 Summit to demand justice in the case of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. People gathered in seven cities across Australia -- Hobart, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane -- and called for Peña Nieto to get out of Australia. The Mexican President has been severely criticized in Mexico for leaving the country to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in China and the G20 Summit, despite the deep-going problems facing the country.

In Brisbane a group of protesters displaying Australian and Mexican flags with the number 43 written on them, gathered at the Rome plaza. Their banners read: "You are not welcome in Australia," and demanded Nieto's resignation.

(With files from WAR, Brisbane Times, Telesur, Voxmedia. Photos: P. Cunningham, BASE, D. Power, WAR, 350 Australia, Xuyuanze)

Return to top

Expensive Defence of Monopoly Right and
Anti-People Agenda

The Group of 20 (G20) held its 2014 summit November 15 to 16 in Brisbane, Australia. In addition to many world leaders, some 4,000 delegates attended. The G20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States -- and the European Union.

People's March at Brisbane G-20 Summit, November 15, 2014

The U.S.-led imperialist system of states created the G20 in 1999 to retain U.S. and UK control of the international financial system, in particular the influence of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The creation of the G20 was meant to draw the stronger developing nations into direct contact with the big powers and forestall states such as China, India, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil from forming a bloc of their own.

The G20 is yet another of the international organizations the Anglo-U.S. imperialist bloc has formed to shape the international economy in its favour. The United Nations in principle upholds the equality of nations large or small and attempts to give a voice to all. The U.S.-led imperialist system of states has fashioned organizations outside the confines and principles of the UN. The G7 and other international organizations under the control of the big powers and their allies create a hierarchy of countries according to their economic and military might, and their political allegiance to the Anglo-U.S. imperialist bloc.

The G20 summits include government representatives, mostly heads of state and central bank governors, ostensibly to discuss general matters pertaining to the world economic situation and how to mitigate the consequences of recurring crises. Usually, the specific political concerns of the big powers intrude on the agenda and the Brisbane Summit was no exception.

Brisbane Summit "Growth and Resilience"

The G20 advertized a priority of "Growth and Resilience." The agenda began at the 2013 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, "[to] develop comprehensive growth strategies for each of their countries by the Brisbane summit in 2014. The challenge for the G20 in 2014 has been to turn that commitment into practical results."

The agenda says, "G20 country growth strategies will contain a mix of macroeconomic and structural reforms at the domestic level that suit each country's circumstances in areas with the greatest potential to lift global growth," by increasing investment in infrastructure, trade liberalization, the promotion of competition and reduction of red tape, and increasing employment. Other areas of attention included anti-corruption measures, energy, financial regulations, growth strategies, and reforming global institutions, tax and trade.

Specific areas said to be a priority for the Brisbane G20 Summit were the Ebola epidemic and climate change. Prior to the summit, the U.S., UK and EU said Russia and the Ukraine would also be high on the agenda.

Action Plan for the Global Economy

In his closing remarks to the Summit, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed the Brisbane Action Plan issued by the summit, would "achieve a 2.1 per cent increase in global growth over the next five years on top of business as usual. The Brisbane Action Plan contains over 800 separate reform measures and if we do all that we have committed to doing, the IMF and the OECD tell us that our Gross Domestic Product will be ... 2.1 per cent higher...."

Using typical neo-liberal verbiage attacking public authority, Abbott added, "[The G20 is] focused on policies to increase competition" and to "unshackle the private sector from unnecessary regulation."

Abbott also said the G20 is launching a global infrastructure initiative "to address the $70 trillion gap in infrastructure needed within 15 years by 2030 and a key mechanism to drive this initiative is the Global Infrastructure Hub that will be located in Sydney. That will be funded by contributions from governments and also from the private sector."

This dovetails with existing and proposed free trade agreements that hand over infrastructure development to the most powerful global monopolies in construction and financing, and remove any local initiatives and barriers from public authorities defending regional economies and the social and natural environments.

Gender Equality for Workers

The G20 picked up on the language of gender equality. To quote Abbott, "We've had a 25 by 25 pledge by all G20 countries to reduce the gap between female and male workforce participation by a quarter ... over the next 10 years, and this has the potential to bring 100 million women into the global workforce -- an extraordinary achievement if we can deliver on this, but it is a clear aspiration and it is an achievable, accountable goal."

Abbott presents this as a victory for women but his words are hollow indeed, as the wages and working conditions of women workers in the big imperialist countries are still consistently worse than those of male workers.

The imperialists are literally drooling at the prospect of an additional 100 million workers to exploit globally, especially a section historically super-exploited. Women are to be increasingly drawn into the competition of the capitalist labour market putting downward pressure on the wages and working conditions of all. They will also become additional targets for the global worker traffickers, all under the rubric of gender equality.

The working class is faced with the challenge of defending the rights of all. An aspect of this is to eliminate the capitalist labour market as a step forward to the elimination of unemployment and gender and other forms of discrimination in the workplace. The "free for all" for owners of capital, which is now the capitalist labour market, must be abolished and replaced with guarantees in law of workers' rights to a livelihood and wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions that uphold the dignity of the working class, as the producers and reproducers of all value. Such guarantees allow all workers the security of mind and body that their well-being is assured politically and economically, and consequently, in good conscience they can contribute fully to the well-being of all and the betterment of their society.

Taxation and Austerity

The G20, to quote Abbott, claims it wants, "companies to pay their fair share of tax and we want them to pay their tax in the jurisdictions where their profits are earned. This is particularly important for emerging and developing economies and we're taking concrete and practical steps to achieve this. It's about the countries of the world, the people of the world, receiving the tax benefits that are their due and it's needed so that governments can fund the infrastructure and the services that people expect and deserve."

Neo-liberal governments throughout the imperialist system of states are imposing brutal austerity on the people. Most tax money now comes from individuals, in particular working class income tax, payroll deductions, sales taxes and user fees, and not corporations. The lack of taxation on corporations is in part due to the collapse of public authority and the concentration of power in the hands of private interests and the global financial and industrial monopolies they control.

Besides the lack of taxation of corporations, the other issue is of how public funds are used. Private interests dictate where public funds are spent through their control of governments. The concept of governments serving the public interest and good has been overwhelmed and corrupted through the concentrated power of global monopolies seizing control of public institutions. An important aspect of this corruption is free trade agreements negating the power of public authority and regulations.

Canadians from their experience of dealing with one neo-liberal government after another, which impose austerity on the people while paying the rich -- through subsidies, grants and tax breaks -- can see that Abbott's words do not reflect their reality, no matter what the Harper government may have agreed to in Brisbane.

Abbott's concern is that enough tax monies are available to finance the infrastructure and other projects the global monopolies have in mind to make big scores for their private interests. Abbott's pet project is the "Global Infrastructure Hub that will be located in Sydney. That will be funded by contributions from governments and also from the private sector." The austerity agenda includes pay-the-rich schemes but excludes increased investments in social programs and public services to serve the public interest and good.

President Obama Expresses the Concerns of U.S. Imperialism

President Barack Obama spoke at a closing press conference with the arrogance typical of his imperialist outlook. According to Obama, the world revolves around U.S. interests that have primacy above all others. U.S. leadership means making others submit to U.S. interests through force of arms or economic might.

Obama claims, "[The U.S.] is in the longest stretch of uninterrupted private sector job growth in its history. Over the last few years, we've put more people back to work than all the other advanced economies combined. And this growing economic strength at home set the stage for the progress that we have made on this trip. It's been a good week for American leadership and for American workers."

He is speaking of the recovery in the wealth of the rich, as the U.S. stock markets have reached new heights. Unsaid is the flooding of the world with fracked oil, which in coordination with Saudi Arabia has forced down the price of oil despite the chaos, violence and anarchy the U.S. has unleashed on Libya, Iraq, and Syria and the disruption of oil from those regions. The low oil price targets Russia, Iran and Venezuela and their efforts to find a way out from under the dictate of a world dominated by U.S. imperialism.

Obama said the following without any hint that the various agreements being made with China at the G20 Summit are in contradiction with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which deliberately excludes and attempts to isolate China. He also said this while his military pivot to Asia is underway and the U.S. is building a huge new military base on Jeju Island, south Korea directly facing China's coast: "We made important progress in our efforts to open markets to U.S. goods and to boost the exports that support American jobs. We continue to make progress toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Our agreement with China to extend visas for business people, tourists and students is going to boost tourism, grow our two economies and create jobs for Americans and Chinese alike. We also agreed with China to pursue a bilateral investment treaty, as well as agreeing on an approach to the Information Technology Agreement that is estimated would support some 60,000 American jobs. And here at the G20, China committed to greater transparency on its economic data, including its foreign exchange reserves. And this is a step toward the market-driven exchange rate that we've been pushing for because it would promote a level playing field for American businesses and American workers."


Obama claims the U.S. is leading in the fight against Ebola, which is not the case. Most commentators have recognized that Cuba, in spite of its small size, has done far more than the U.S. for those suffering the epidemic. Obama gave a patronizing assessment, "I'm pleased that more nations are stepping up and joining the United States in the effort to end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Coming on the heels of our Global Health Security Agenda in the United States, the G20 countries committed to helping nations like those in West Africa to build their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to future outbreaks before they become epidemics."

On the issue of Ebola, British Prime Minister Cameron said, "Britain has played a leading role in terms of the partnership we have with Sierra Leone, where we have deployed troops; we have deployed British warships, British helicopters -- where we're training 800 people every week in Sierra Leone."

The arrival of U.S. armed forces with all manner of military hardware and weapons of mass destruction, along with that of a former colonial power must be a source of great unease for those in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in West Africa, on top of the misery they are suffering from the epidemic.

Noticeably absent from media reports on the Ebola crisis and the official statement issued by the G20 is any attempt to investigate and isolate the root cause of this epidemic. Some commentators have highlighted a disturbing lack of modern medical facilities and any public healthcare system available to all in the affected countries. Many attribute this lack to the centuries of pillage of human and natural resources at the violent hands of European and U.S. colonialists and slave traders that West Africa has suffered. At the very least those countries responsible for the present plight of West Africans, if they had any humanity at all, should offer reparations for the damage they have caused the people that has led directly to their current difficulties.

Climate Change

President Obama took a similar tack on the question of climate change as he did in dealing with Ebola, claiming the recent agreement between the U.S. and China cements the U.S. as leader on that issue as well. Besides the U.S.' long history of disrupting global action to mitigate climate change, it must of course be remembered that the massive greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. military are considered classified and do not figure in total emissions or in how much really needs to be cut.

British Prime Minister David Cameron

The British Prime Minister remarked as obtusely as possible, while insisting the opposite, "My focus is very clear. That is delivering the long-term economic plan that is helping to turn Britain around, that's helping to get our people back to work. That's about securing prosperity for every family in Britain. That is my focus, and that has been my focus here for the last 48 hours. I think we have made some important steps forward that really help with that long-term economic plan, and help with the growth, and the jobs that people want in Britain."

People continue to be amazed at how many words can come out of the mouths of imperialist politicians without them saying anything.

"First of all," Cameron continued, "we focused on trade -- it is good the trade facilitation agreement, so long stuck in the process, is now going to go ahead. That was a breakthrough at the G20. Also we're very focused on the trade deals that can add to British growth, to British jobs, and in particular, we've just had a successful meeting between the countries of the European Union on the one hand, and the United States on the other, to put rocket boosters under the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership -- the TTIP -- which we think can add some £10 billion to our side of the equation, and can result in real jobs. And I think it is important we start taking on the opponents of this deal, and exposing some of the arguments against. This is good for Britain, good for jobs, good for growth, good for British families."

Cameron forgot to say, "Good for the global monopolies." While he and others like him at the G20 espouse the need for neo-liberal free trade so that the monopolies are unfettered by the sovereignty of nations, regulations, taxes and tariffs, in the very next breath, Cameron claims that the UK will also be cracking down on companies that do not pay their taxes: "[A]n issue that I put up front and centre at the G8 that I hosted in Northern Ireland a couple of years ago ... is making sure that big companies pay the taxes that they owe. This cooperation between different tax authorities to have greater transparency over tax, and make sure there is greater fairness over tax, we made some real progress. There are now over 92 different countries and tax authorities properly sharing information. As the OECD set out at this G20 meeting, the action we have already taken has resulted in $37 billion in extra tax being paid by big companies."

The contradiction between free trade and "cracking down on companies" shows the crisis in which the G20 is mired and the incoherence promoted as solutions to the recurring economic and other crises.

Stephen "Get Out of Ukraine" Harper

For his part, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, aside from being the ultimate hooligan and behaving in a very un-statesmanlike way towards Russia, issued a press release following the summit. It provides the following quotes from Harper:

"This year's G-20 meeting was a success, with members committing to actions that will help the global economy return to strong growth. I congratulate Australia for hosting the Summit and keeping the agenda tightly focused on promoting stronger economic growth and employment outcomes, and making the global economy more resilient. I was pleased to convey to other members how our Government's short-term stimulus, cost reductions and ambitious free trade agenda are contributing to the strength of Canada's economy."

Interesting comment about Australia "keeping the agenda tightly focused." Makes one think that Abbott, not happy with Harper's anti-Russia antics, told him bluntly to "keep focused."

Failed Attempt to Isolate Russia

Media from the Anglo-U.S. Empire at first focused on the attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit. They speculated as to whether his presence would lead to a confrontation on the question of Ukraine. The coup in Ukraine and the subsequent armed attacks against the people of East Ukraine orchestrated by the coup government in Kiev are being manipulated by countries in the U.S. imperialists' orbit, including Canada, in an attempt to isolate Russia. Their efforts in Brisbane did not succeed.

Canadian media in particular played up Prime Minister Stephen Harper's "confrontation" with Putin, recounting in effect the words of Harper as those of a schoolboy hooligan rather than a statesman at an international meeting. For Canadians involved in defending the country from annexation by U.S. imperialism, it is quite galling to watch the spectacle of Harper defending a reactionary neo-fascist regime in Ukraine, which gained power through a coup d'état no less. Harper refuses to defend the sovereignty of his own country, recognize the sovereignty of the First Nations and Quebec or the rights of Canadians, which they have by virtue of being human.

Prior to the summit, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott boasted publicly that he would "shirtfront" Putin -- a term from Australian football where a player is knocked down to gain control of the ball -- on the Ukraine issue. When the meeting began in earnest, instead of a "shirtfront," the media showed a smiling Abbott side by side with Putin cuddling koalas.

President Obama, in his closing G20 press conference, responded to a question regarding his discussions with President Putin, taking up the mantle of defender of Ukraine's sovereignty from alleged Russian interference. This comes from the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. armed forces, which are engaged in active wars and the political subversion of sovereign states in West Asia, North Africa, the Americas, Caribbean and elsewhere.

He told the media with apparent satisfaction that U.S. sanctions against Russia have damaged its economy: "[M]y communications to [Putin] was no different than what I've said publicly as well as what I've said to him privately over the course of this crisis in Ukraine, and that is Russia has the opportunity to take a different path, to resolve the issue of Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine's sovereignty and is consistent with international law. That is our preference, and if it does so then I will be the first to suggest that we roll back the sanctions that are, frankly, having a devastating effect on the Russian economy."

For his part, President Putin said the sanctions were contrary to international law and the rules and regulations of the World Trade Organization. In spite of differences over the coup in Ukraine and the coup regime's continuing violent repression of people in East Ukraine, Putin said the Russian delegation was greeted warmly and that the summit was very useful. Answering a question about the reported "shirtfront" comment made by Prime Minister Abbott prior to the Summit, Putin said, "The Australian partners have created a very friendly atmosphere for our work, very cordial, I would say, and it encouraged us to search for solutions to problems that the global economy is facing."

Putin said he attributed the negative statements in the press to politicking, "Nothing like that happened in life and in work [at the Summit]. We discussed very constructively not only the topics that we came to discuss, but also very complicated issues regarding the crash of the Malaysian Boeing -- thoroughly and constructively. I assure you that everything was not only in a very civilized manner but also very benevolent."

G20 Documents

The G20 issued a communiqué to sum up the Summit, plus various documents, including the Brisbane Action Plan and a Statement on Ebola. They are available at the G20 website: https://www.g20.org/

(With files from G20 official website, PMO, Sputnik International. Photos: P. Cunningham, BASE)

Return to top


Read The Marxist-Leninist Daily
Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca