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Joint Party Statements

Capitalism and the Coronavirus Down Under

Communist Party of Australia and New Communist Party of Aotearoa statement

April 9, 2020

The workers of Aotearoa and Australia, like those of other capitalist countries around the world, are facing serious health, social, and economic crises being likened to the beginning of the Great Depression. Certainly, COVID-19 is like little else in living memory.

The Australian Government greatly bungled in its actions to contain the spread of the virus, putting workers, especially port workers and healthcare workers at great risk. Despite early indications of the global spread of the disease, proper protective equipment and health checks were not made a priority for our frontline workers. Testing is restricted and inadequate and is not being extended to all people presenting with symptoms.

The New Zealand Government took more decisive action at an earlier stage of the spread of COVID-19 and has, at least at time of writing, prevented a large-scale outbreak and community transmission from occurring. Yet issues still remain around supply of proper protective equipment to essential workers, both in hospitals and other essential businesses such as supermarkets.

Civil and democratic rights have been eroded in both countries, particularly around freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. These have a public health benefit, but we must ensure COVID-19 response is not used opportunistically to restrict the democratic rights of the working class after the outbreak subsides. This lockdown on freedoms also gives the constabulary significant powers of enforcement, and we have already seen indigenous communities get further militarised in the name of public health.

The suspension of Parliament in both countries is a significant reduction of the checks on Government power and the ability for workers to influence Government policy through select committee submissions etc. The NZ Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee meeting via Zoom, seemingly unquestioned in bourgeois media, is an unparalleled privatisation of civic function which further subordinates government to private companies.

The inefficiency of the market system and of privatised institutions has been unmasked. Businesses are being wound down and thousands of workers are losing their jobs as businesses close or wind down. Millions of people employed as casual, body hire, gig or contract labour have no leave entitlements if they are sacked. Unbelievably, governments seemed slow to anticipate the effect on workers, particularly workers in precarious jobs. Our two Communist Parties demand that all workers including visa workers receive 100 per cent of their wages.

Private businesses, from airlines to hospitals, are standing in line before governments for bailouts. Many have been granted, and all at a great cost to the countries’ economies. Meanwhile, the protection of working people, the real creators of wealth in society, has come too little, too late, especially in Australia.

Governments Still Relying on Market Forces

The consensus across the board, including capitalist economists, is now that of state intervention to protect the system from the looming disaster. However, it is clear that our governments are beholden to the interests of the monopoly corporations and finance capital and are loath to in any way restrict or move beyond the absolute dominance of the market. The economic response rather tries to supplement the clearly unfit-for-purpose market dominance to ensure it does not break down.

While the revolving door between our capitalist governments and private corporations means bailouts are so easily granted, the working class in the form of unions and community organisations has had to rally and work hard in order to get some relief, albeit insufficient. Unions have been classified as an essential service in New Zealand and it is clear to see why. Already over 2,000 cases of employment law breaches during the COVID-19 pandemic have been logged with the NZ Council of Trade Unions.

Despite what it may seem, these are not new problems but old ones that have existed since the rise of capitalism. The working-class, who have always had precarious employment and financial instability, are the foundation of our economy. They have always been neglected, living day-to-day, with inadequate allowances that keep them in perpetual poverty. Now a tsunami threatens this unstable foundation, washing away with it the house that stands on it.

The governments are still trying to prop up private enterprises in the hope that money will trickle down to everyone. Bailouts are nothing but the transfer of working people’s wealth to the coffers of the rich put in place in order to prevent our proverbial house from being washed away. The government is attempting to act quickly, hoping to avoid an impending economic collapse.

Essential Services and Profit Making

The work ethics of private hospitals are dictated by the profit motive. In the current pandemic, when the need is for more hospital capacity, what an indictment it is on privatised healthcare that they have threatened to close business and lay-off hundreds of healthcare workers.

The mortgage freezes are a welcome move, as it also includes those in debt to the banks for their own dwellings and not just property investors, but the measures to protect tenants fall short and the danger of evictions and financial hardship is still very real for too many. A mortgage freeze without corresponding rent freezes is a blatant wealth transfer measure from tenants to landlords.

In short, the crisis has laid bare the inefficiency and troubling nature of essential services as a profit-extracting business under capitalism.

Nationalise Essential Services, Subsidise Workers

We call for the nationalisation of all essential services including healthcare, aged-care, child-care, airlines, banks and supermarkets. The bailouts of companies should not be wealth transfers from the public purse to monopoly companies, but rather give the state equity. Any attempts to further privatise public services should also immediately stop.

We call for a direct 100 per cent wage equivalent ensuring that no worker, whether casual, part-time, or a migrant worker, is left behind. Neither workers’ hard-earned superannuation nor other savings should be used to ride over these times.

Benefit levels, including those for students, should be raised to be the equivalent of the living wage. It is important that we do not discriminate between workers who were unemployed before COVID-19 and those who need assistance because of it.

Rent and mortgage freezes should be re-drafted to better cover for the safety of the people in very uncertain times. Not a single member of society should face homelessness and wealth transfer to landlords should immediately cease.

We also call for the provision of a nationalised digital infrastructure, so that our reliance on private companies for communication services is reduced, especially for public education, the democratic process and other key areas of society.

This system is unsustainable. A socialist system prioritises the working-class, not profits. The working-class foundation and purpose of socialist society is shown by the significantly better response to COVID-19 in Cuba, China and Viet Nam.

It will not be the bosses that see our two countries through this pandemic, but the millions of workers supporting our class through the troubled waters.

The working class must overcome!

International Department, Communist Party of Australia
www.cpa.org.au

Central Committee, New Communist Party of Aotearoa
www.newcommunist.party


A JOINT OPEN LETTER FROM WORLD POLITICAL PARTIES CONCERNING CLOSER INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGAINST COVID-19

Open Letter

April 2, 2020

The following is a joint open letter from the Communist Party of China, signed by the Communist Party of Australia, along with 180 parties across the globe.

Today, as COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the globe, it constitutes the most urgent and serious challenge to both the health of the humanity and world peace and development.

Faced with this unprecedented situation, we, major political parties of various countries tasked with the weighty responsibility of improving people’s wellbeing, promoting national development and safeguarding world peace and stability, hereby issue our joint appeal as follows:

We pay our loftiest tribute to all the people, health workers in particular, who devote themselves to saving lives and protecting people’s health. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and solicitude to those who are suffering from pain and whose lives are under the threat of COVID-19 as well as the bereaved families of those deceased. We also express our deep mourning for the unfortunate loss of lives in the outbreak.

We recognise that if the COVID-19 outbreak is not effectively and promptly contained, it will inflict even greater harm to the lives, safety and health of many more people, and exert a severe impact on the economic and social development of most countries as well as on international exchanges and cooperation. We call on all countries to put the lives, safety and health of the people above everything else and take resolute and forceful measures to put an end to the spread of COVID-19.

We support countries to put in place contingency plans and strategies for combating COVID-19 in light of their specific national conditions and to strengthen cooperation, with equal emphasis on containing the further spread and on patient treatment. Meanwhile, modern science and technology must be applied to the full to ensure the quickest and best possible results.

We call on the general public of all countries to comply with prevention and mitigation measures with a due sense of social responsibility. We encourage countries to fully leverage the strength of civil society organisations and volunteers with a view to unleashing the power of all social sectors to combat COVID-19.

We encourage all countries, while devoting efforts to epidemic control, to adopt an integrated approach to ensure economic and social development, take targeted measures to protect vulnerable groups and the SMEs, and honour their commitment to people’s living standards and social progress. We call on all countries to step up the international coordination of macroeconomic policies to maintain stability of global financial market as well as that of industrial and supply chains, and to reduce or exempt tariffs for trade facilitation so as to prevent world economic recession. Countries are also encouraged to maintain an appropriate level of international exchanges, in particular to facilitate the cross-border transportation of urgently needed medical equipment and protective materials for the fight against COVID-19.

We are aware that the virus respects no borders, and no country can respond to the challenges alone in the face of the outbreak. Countries must enhance their consciousness of a community with a shared future for mankind, proactively rendering mutual help and support to one another as the situation becomes more difficult. Closer international cooperation, coordinated policies, concerted actions, and mobilisation of resources and forces globally will enable us to defeat this virus, a common enemy to all of humanity.

We take note of the significant progress in the fight against COVID-19 in China and some other countries, which has bought time and offered experience to the rest of the international community. We highly commend countries including China for adopting an open, transparent and responsible attitude to disclosing related information in a timely fashion, sharing experience on response and patient treatment, and in particular providing medical and other supplies to the best of their ability to other affected countries. These represent a major contribution to the global fight against COVID-19, boosting the hope and confidence of countries that they can win this battle.

We welcome the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit Statement on COVID-19 and support countries to strengthen the sharing of experience and medical cooperation in containing the outbreak, including joint research and development of specific medicines, vaccines and tests. We call on the provision of material, technical and other support to developing countries and countries with vulnerable public health systems. Let the sunlight of cooperation disperse the darkness of the pandemic.

We call for science-based professional discussions on issues like prevention measures and the origin of the virus. We strongly oppose the politicisation of public health issues and the stigmatisation of other countries under the excuse of COVID-19. We stand firmly against all discriminatory comments and practices against any country, region or ethnic group, and call on governments of all countries to take proactive measures to protect the health, safety and legitimate interests of foreign nationals and students they host.

We are of the view that the COVID-19 outbreak has laid bare the need for all countries to further foster the global governance outlook of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration and to support the leading role of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation in global public health governance. We call for all parties to enhance coordination and cooperation within the framework of the G20 and other international mechanisms for effective international prevention and control as we strive to build a global community with a shared future for public health.

As major political parties from countries of the world, we undertake to maintain close communication under the unusual circumstances, and ensure better performance of the due role of political guidance for the purpose of injecting political energy into the global fight against COVID-19. We firmly believe that our current difficulties are only temporary, just as the sunlight shall eventually shine after each storm. If the international community makes concerted efforts with confidence and resolve and takes a science-based and targeted approach, it will definitely win the final victory in the global blocking action against COVID-19. It is our belief that, after the pandemic, the community with a shared future for mankind will emerge stronger and humanity will embrace a brighter tomorrow.


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