Report on the work of the Central Committee
Looking forward with confidence CPA General Secretary Peter Symon presented a 90-minute report of the work of the Party's Central Committee and the Party's activities since the last Congress in 1996. Party organisations and members have been involved in a range of struggles against privatisation, the GST, the Workplace Relations Act, racism, the bombing of Iraq and Yugoslavia, US-Australian war games, the National Missile Defence and around many other issues. Here are some points made in the report. Mr Symon recalled that soon after the 1996 Congress the CC adopted four priority issues around which to campaign. They were: 1. to oppose privatisation; 2. to campaign against the Workplace Relations Act; 3. to say NO to racism; 4. to stop the Tandem Thrust war-games. At that time the GST had not been put forward as part of a fundamental change in the taxation system nor had the question of the Republic reached the agenda. "Our main campaign opposing privatisation centred on the Federal Government's attempt to privatise Telstra. There has also been activity against the privatisation of public hospitals, the electricity grids in several states, the railways and various government departments. We oppose the attacks on the ABC", said Mr Symon. "The maintenance and extension of public ownership remains central to our whole concept of society — who is to own the property created by labour and who is to benefit from the wealth created by labour and only by labour? Will it be private owners or will ownership be taken by those who do the work? Trade union struggles "We campaigned strongly against the Workplace Relations Act of the Howard Government. Reith took two bites and we opposed both the first and the second pieces of legislation. In each case we produced a "Guardian" supplement and achieved quite a wide distribution, particularly directed to trade unions... "The campaign against the repressive Workplace Relations Act will only be complete when this legislation is repealed and replaced by legislation which guarantees the right of workers to strike, for unions to represent workers, to build union workplace organisations and so on. The Party took up other issues affecting workers and trade unions, in particular, it campaigned against individual work contracts and in support of trade unionism. "Wherever possible our comrades supported legitimate industrial struggles waged by workers for jobs, wages, safety and other issues. We invariably gave support in The Guardian and that policy will continue." Successive Party Congresses have called for the building of party organisations in workplaces, as a priority task. "We base our position on the truth that the working class is the main force for social change and for socialism and that the Party's influence in the working class cannot be substantial if our organisations are limited to suburban structures. "Our party building achievements in workplaces are extremely meagre. We will reaffirm this task again. How can we change the situation? What is the way?" Congress adopted a special resolution on this task. "Our opposition to racism included strong opposition to the One Nation party which adopted a stand against any recognition of the prior rights of the Aboriginal people to land and social equality." Although some progress has been made on land rights and a strong, virile Aboriginal culture has grown up during their struggle for survival, there is still a long road to travel before the Aboriginal people have the social, political and economic rights and recognition that are required. "We prefer use of the word `recognition' rather than `reconciliation'. "Nor is it sufficient to say `sorry' for the wrongs of the past. We must continue the campaign for land rights, for appropriate autonomous rights and for the conclusion of a Treaty or some other form of agreement between an Australian government and the representatives of Australia's two national minorities — the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders... "Such a Treaty must be acceptable to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and not some imposed document that fails to meet in full the legitimate demands and aspirations of Australia's indigenous people." Strengthen the peace movement In addition to taking part in the campaign against the illegal war on Yugoslavia, comrades working in the peace movement participated in the Abolition 2000 campaign, opposed the continued bombing of Iraq and supported the organisations collecting aid for the children of Iraq. The CPA continued to support the independence struggles of the people of East Timor, Bougainville and West Papua. "We are now faced with the election of a President of the US who is committed to put in place a National Missile Defence system and add more billions to military budgets. Australian Governments, and I deliberately use the plural, are among the closest and most servile allies of the United States", stressed Mr Symon. "The task today is to strengthen the peace movement nationally and internationally and to campaign against the foreign policies and the militarisation of society that the government is pursuing. "These policies are extremely dangerous to our future and will play a big part in further depressing the living standards and rights of the working people." One of the major campaigns taken up by the CPA was against the GST. "Repeal of the GST and its replacement by a tax system in favour of the working people is the only acceptable course. We have put forward detailed proposals", said Mr Symon. During the period under review comrades have been involved in many other struggles to protect the environment, for Australia to become a republic, in ethnic community organisations, and many other areas. The Party has continued to develop and strengthen its ties with other communist and workers' parties, and has participated in international conferences and attended congresses of fraternal parties. Electoral work The disillusionment with government policies is in the main directed against the party in office rather than at the causes of the bad conditions that many are experiencing. "We have to make our policies clear and explain that it is the policies that must be changed, a new direction must be implemented as we describe in the Congress Political Resolution. "Our participation in electoral work has been small with limited results. "We did achieve registration in NSW only to have it cancelled recently as a consequence of the alteration of the electoral laws by the Carr Government which requires, among other things, a $2,500 payment and the signatures of 750 Party members. "Our aim for a left and progressive political alternative remains valid and has again been set out in the Political Resolution. "There is a well of resentment building up under the surface that will sooner or later explode. However, it could turn in a negative, extreme right-wing direction unless the labour movement is able to effectively lead it towards the left-progressive alternative. "A much more favourable period is opening up for our Party although only a few yet see the solution in socialist policies. There are many steps and processes to be taken before any number of Australian citizens reach the conclusion that a fundamental change in the social system is both necessary and possible. "The Party has always stood for and campaigned for the equality of women in society — politically, socially and economically. But capitalist society, despite words about equality and non-discrimination, continues to exploit women in all fields, most severely in sweatshops. "Although there are anti-discrimination laws, both subtle and overt attitudes of discrimination, continue in society and, unfortunately, in the Party and the working class. "Discriminatory and sexist attitudes have to be confronted and overcome by each person and a positive attitude brought forward which extends real equality, trust, confidence...", said Mr Symon. The report outlined the various pamphlets and other publications produced by the Party on such themes as trade unionism, the MUA dispute, the environment, the Republic, Women, the Democratic Socialist Party and Trotskyism, and the Party. Mr Symon discussed the achievements of the Party in education, finance, sales of The Guardian and reported that the Party's webpage had received a monthly average of 36,000 strikes in the last six months. Socialist future A most important characteristic of a Communist Party is the validity and truth of Marxism-Leninism that underlies its analysis and guides its work. It is the combination of theory and practice that makes a party strong. "Our conclusion about the historic role to be played by the working class arises from our understanding of the economic role that the working class plays in the productive process, its organisation and its interest in overthrowing the system of exploitation. "Our proposal for a people's front coalition leading to the formation of a new type government arises from the recognition that other social groups and classes, in addition to the working class, are exploited and ripped-off and are the natural allies of the working class in the struggle against the transnational corporations. "Our confidence that the future is socialism arises from an understanding of the inherent contradiction between the working class and other exploited people and the capitalist class and that this contradiction cannot be resolved within the body of capitalism", said Mr Symon. In our own Party there is a new and younger membership in some branches who will increasingly come forward to accept responsibilities. Being a Party based on the working class we look towards those who have deep roots in the working class and are active in its ranks. The absolute necessity for us, if we are to assume the responsibilities that the situation calls for is a Party with a much bigger membership with a capable cadre force able to work out policies and tactics so as to provide good leadership in the struggles that will inevitably arise. The Party must become an integral part of the working class and the wider society. The report concluded by recalling that the last paragraph of the Political Resolution says: "We declare that the 21st Century will be the century of socialism". Whether this is achieved "cannot be taken for granted. It will depend on the successful outcome of the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. This, in turn, depends on the organisation, political and ideological maturity of the Communist Parties that must lead it."