November 21, 2014 - No. 97
G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia
People’s Opposition Amidst
People's march at Brisbane
G-20 summit, November 15, 2014.
• People’s Opposition Amidst Tight Security
• Expensive Defence of Monopoly Right and
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 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
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
"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
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
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]
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 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
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
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.
Expensive Defence of Monopoly Right and
The Group of 20 (G20) held its 2014 summit November 15
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
President Obama Expresses the Concerns of U.S.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
the massive greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. military are
considered classified and do not figure in total emissions or in how
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
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
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,
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."
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,
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