Job Keeper by the numbers, military spending, sanctions on Syria.

Sunday, 26 April 2020 - 9:15am to 9:30am

LOOSE TRANSCRIPT

Good morning and welcome to another episode of Alternative News on 3CR, 855AM, 3CR Digital and streaming at 3CR.org.au

This show is produced by the Campaign for International Development and Disarmament on the stolden lands of the Wurundjeri people. 

Today we're going to look at Job Keeper by the numbers, some ideas for redirecting military spending to social spending and a quick look at sanctions on Syria.

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Coronavirus at home
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States are beginning to roll out the legislature to enforce the eviction moratorium which was proposed by the nation cabinet earlier this month.
Victoria has put aside 500 million dollars to assist landlords during the pandemic. Renters in dire straits can apply to have $2000 given straight to their landlord as long as the renter has less than $5000 in savings and rent makes up at least 30% of their income.
This is another example of the poor and marginalised not being allowed to have savings. This is something which disability activists have been bringing to our attention for a long time. It is now that "ordinary Australians" - apologies for the loaded and exclusionary term - are seeing the truth of the situation.

Anecdotal reports of an increase in experienced racism from ethnically Asian people - check in on your mates, let them know you're paying attention.

Trades Hall has launched wearerenters.org.au and the IWW-organised Rent Strike struggles along. wearerenters.org.au is collecting stories about renting during the time of COVID-19. These stories will be used to inform the approaches to the government from the union sector. So far the Victorian Trades Hall Council has sent a letter to Marlene Kairouz, the Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs calling for immediate action to protect residential renters in Victoria.
"We simply cannot expect all tenants to be able to negotiate a fair solution" in reducing their rent burden, VTHC Secretary Luke Hilakari writes, "Instead, agents should be brokering the waiving or reduction of rent where workers have lost income as a result of the current pandemic, advising tenants and landlords of the no eviction policy and assisting landlords to access mortgage relief."
and members of our community.Îigrant workers, temporary visa holders and casuals who do not meet the current requirements for the Job Keeper payment are at the highest amount of risk in this time. "Having a home is a key to staying safe. It's time to make renters safe in their homes."
Education Minister Dan Tehan told international students, “you are our friends, our classmates, our colleagues and members of our community.” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said "We have a responsibility as a ciountry to look after our fellow Australian regardlerss of their age, regardless of their income, regardless of their background." This he says while a million casual workers are left out of Job Keeper and migrant workers are left out of Job Keeper AND Job Seeker. The "Australian" part of the quote is the important part. Frydenberg doesn't think that Australians have any obligation to people who work and pay tax here but don't enjoy the status of Australian citizen.

Let's take Job Keeper: $1,500 / fornight BEFORE tax. $3k per month, roughly. The projected costs are $133bn. This works out to $18k per eligible recipient over the 6 month term. this is about 7.4 million workers. Currently there are 2.2mil workers missing out on JK. To provide JK for them, assuming none of them can access Job Seeker, which is not correct, but for the sake of the exercise we will calculate a higher figure than in reality, would cost a futher $40bil. For a estimated projected cost of $173bil we could provide JK to just under 10 million workers. Yes, this would mean the economy takes more of 'a hit' or whatever - but this money is social spending: the great majority of this money goes back into the economy in the form of subsistence spending - food, clothing, shelter etc. The people, as a whole, bear the brunt of this spending into the future and this increased cost is managed by whatever government is in power. The alternative is we have increased poverty, deprivation and division between the Australian "haves" and the migrant "have nots" in society.

This division is imposed in economics by an uncaring ruling class. If we want some extra money let's scrap the expansion to the $1.1bil expansion to the Tindal Royal Australian Airforce base in the Northern Territory. This expansion only exists to appease the United States of America. We're paying for the US to house their strategic bombers in our country. Let's nix the $80bil submarine project. It is already subject to delays and the first submarines aren't projected to be delivered until 2035. Fifteen years of waiting for some war toys for the boys? War toys which are largely constructed and maintained in France by the French Naval Group? No, I think not. Let's have less poverty, less homelessness, less precarity in our communities RIGHT NOW. If we want a better Australia then the people inside Australia's borders must be accounted and provided for.

When the depression hits, when our lives are shit for ten years because the ruling class couldn't push the desires of the market below the capacity for the state to accomodate its populace we won't be able to eat submarines or use them to bolster our economy. A $40b provision to provide JK to 2.2mil workers is a drop in the bucket of the response to coronavirus. This drop in the bucket feeds, waters and homes 2.2 million people, rather than , in the case of the submarines, representing 50% of the cost of the design and construction of 12 submarines by the French. The penny pinching must stop. Military expenditure must be shifted to social expenditure.

I don't believe the cost of our national debt is greater than the cost of the impoverishment of our nation's working class. 10% of military spending should redirected to social spending. This is a demand which applies outside of crisis. During the current crisis we need more social spending, not more bombing platforms.

If there is a "war" on coronavirus - if the essential workers are "heroes" then we need to stop imagining that we're also at a war with certain countries in West Asia - notably Iran. Obviously, we wouldn't be messing around sending our ships and aircraft to Gulfs in the middle east if we weren't obsessed with playing deputy sherrif for the United States of America. If Australia is a sovereign nation then we should be able to tell the US 'no'. A brief look at our history shows the ruling class of our country to be incapable of this.

The idea of national security extends beyond the military interests of the state. National security should start with the interests of the people of a nation. The interests of the people of Australia are not the interests of the ruling class of Australia. Our interests do not lie in the purchase of F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets or murdering civilians in Afghanistan. Our interests lie in knowing that we have a stable roof over our heads during the pandemic. There cannot be a secure state if there are not secure people who reside under the state. If the people are insecure then why would they support the goals of the state?

Please reflect on this in your own time.

Refugee Action Collective Car Convoy fines and charges:
CICD calls for the 26 $1652 fines for breaking stage 3 restrictions to be waived and the charges levelled against protest organiser Chris Breen to be dropped. The stage 3 restrictions imposed by the state are being enforced arbitrarily to shut down political activity by the people.

Sinophobia and coronavirus:
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Comments sections of social media - the people are enamoured with USA media,
claims of "Wuhan" "CCP" and "China" virus.
CICD members, as dedicated anti-imperialists, should push back against these claims.
Anti-Chinese sentiment has no place in our analysis of our govts response to the virus.
The speculation around the idea that the virus was manufactured and intentionally or unintentionally released are distractions.

To conclude this segment I am proud to announce CICD's 'Clown of the week'
The Committee for the Present Danger: China
This cold-war era body has been resurrected by alt-right darling Steve Bannon
and neo-con Frank Gaffney. This is one of the sources of the anti-China
talking points we're hearing from our governments.

"There is no hope of coexistence with China as long as the Communist Party governs the country. We seek China’s peaceful evolution into a nation that respects the rule of law and individual human rights, instead of threatening its own people, as well as others." (guiding principles) [clown noises throughout]
China is a signatory to the covenant of economic human rights, whereas the USA, UK and Australia and the rest of the West are signatories to the covenant of civil and political human rights. The civil and political human rights covenant is good in that anyone can come on 3CR and insult the government over its lack of provision of afforable housing which has produced a homelessness crisis in the "lucky country". The economic covenant is good in that it provides homes.
From the above quote we can see that this "independent and non-partisan" think tank which purports to take "no idological point of view" in fact will only rest when the CPC has been removed from power in the PRC. In short, this organisation is a regime-change proponent.
War
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In this time of global crisis the need for the end to war continues. On the 23rd of March the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire.

Continuing war will hinder the health response to the coronavirus and the economic recovery to the same. On the topic of war we turn to

Sanctions in the time of COVID-19
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It is the CICD's position that sanctions are designed to promote the full extent of US foreign policy and on that basis all sanctions should be lifted, forever. During the time of COVID-19 this demand increases in necessity. The death-toll in Iran was 5,391 at the time of writing while the US blocks medical devices and equipment from getting to Iran. US Sanctions have exacerbated the impact of coronavirus on Iran.

Sanctions of Venezuela are smashing the state's capacity to respond to coronavirus as oil prices plunge thanks to the US's fracking industry refusing to reduce production - another example of toxic US execptionalism.

For the past 9 years the US, EU and a raft of other countries including Australia have imposed and increased the serveity of sanctions on Syria, ostensibly to force Bashar Al-Assad's hand and somehow have him dissolve the government of Syria. The sanctions are aimed at forcing regime change - as they are wherever they are applied. What sanctions actually do is impede aid and harm the populace of Syria. This immiserates the people and causes great social harm. Some of the generated unrest is levelled against the incumbent government, sure, we can see this in the membership of the Free Syrian Army as well as Al Nusra Front and ISIS. We must remember: the enemy of my enemy is not my friend and this applies to everyone. So, Al-Assad's enemies in Syria are not our friends here in Australia or the friends of the United States- they are, in many cases, terrorists who despise the West as well as the Syrian government.

For clarity I want to add that Assad is no enemy to the people of Australia. The line that alleged rights violations can be addressed with sanctions is a political lie designed to deceive the naive. Embarrassingly the lie seems to be effective. CICD condemns the sanctions levelled against Syria.

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[Presenter signs off]

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