Sunday, March 18, 2018

South African revolutionaries call Dutton’s bluff

Nick G.

The Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania has called on Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to “come to our country and collect all his fellow racists who feel that they cannot live together with normal people and go live where they are accepted in that unbecoming society”.

This follows Dutton’s call to fast-track visa applications by white South African farmers who he said were facing “horrific circumstances” of being murdered and having their land taken away.

He said they deserved to be resettled in a “civilised country”, a clear slur on South Africa.

He said they would be “hard-working and not become dependent on welfare”, a clear slur on non-white refugees accepted into Australia.

He said "They're the sorts of migrants that we want to bring into our country," a clear slur on the unfortunates stranded in Nauru and in Papua New Guinea.

He said all of this after only recently stating that Australia should further reduce the number of migrants coming to Australia.

Dutton’s racially-based sympathy for white South African landowners stands in stark contrast to his indifference to the horrific circumstances of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslin minority, 700,000 of whom have fled to Bangladesh to escape rape and murder

It stands in stark contrast to the horrific circumstances of the continuing murder of unarmed blacks in the USA. 

Data collected by the Washington Post on the use of lethal force by police officers in 2015, 2016, and 2017 indicate that, relative to the portion of the population, Blacks are over-represented among all those killed by police under all circumstances. Blacks made up 13% of the population. However, in 2015 they accounted for 26% of those that were killed by police, in 2016, 24%, and in 2017, 22% of all those killed by police. In other words, Blacks were the victims of the lethal use of force by police at nearly twice their rate in the general population. Whites make up the plurality of victims of police use of lethal force (45% in 2017), BUT they also make the majority of the population (62% in 2015).

The incidents that drive the protests and organization of Black Lives Matter are largely focused on the police use of lethal force on unarmed blacks.

Dutton has ignored non-white victims of horrific circumstances.

Even in South Africa, owing to apartheid’s legacy of poverty amongst the black population, violence and murder is highest amongst blacks.

Last week Gareth Newham at South Africa’s Institute for Social Studies reported “young black males living in poor urban areas” faced a higher risk of being murdered, citing a murder rate in those areas of between 200 and 300 per 100,00 people.

He said the highest estimates of farm murders, regardless of race, stood at 133 per 100,000 people.

Dutton’s racist support for white South African farmers who are resisting an entirely justified and long-overdue redistribution of land has been driven by far-right ideologists and organisations, as revealed in the Guardian.

The Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania, created in 1959, was the most militant opponent of apartheid.

Kenneth Mokgatlhe, PAC spokesperson said in a statement that the socialist party was not taken aback to hear the remarks made by Dutton that "some or all white people will be rescued from our country to Sydney".

"We are not worried at all," Mokgatlhe said. "We must all remind ourselves that Australia was stolen by Europeans the same way in which our country was dispossessed from us, native owners. We sympathise with the dispossessed people of Australia, the aboriginal owners of that country who are today landless like a majority of African people in this country," he said.

"The PAC invite the Australian Minister to come to our country and collect all his fellow racists who feel that they cannot live together with normal people and go live where they are accepted in that unbecoming society," said Mokgatlhe.

"We uncompromisingly support the Indigenous dispossessed Australians to get their land back without compensation from criminals who went around the world capturing land".

Mokgatlhe however reiterated that "PAC welcomed the call by Australian government to collect the land criminals who are not willing to give land back to its rightful owners to go to Australia which has been declared a haven of racists".

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bougainville: a legacy of unfinished business


In mid-2019 the Bougainville Independence Referendum (BIR) will take place. The people of Bougainville are very likely to vote for full independence from Papua New Guinea.

The looming BIR has already thrown Australian military planners into disarray; PNG is a strategic part of Australian defence and security provision and wider US-led regional planning designed to contain and encircle the influence of a rising China with classic Cold War diplomatic positions.

The Australian response toward PNG has been two-fold, marked by: use of soft diplomacy together with an increased aid budget; military planning and exercises for real-war scenarios.


The contemporary history of Bougainville has been both tumultuous and bloody. The landmass was only finally incorporated into PNG with independence in 1975. Many of the Bougainvillian independence leaders who advocated the islands be incorporated into the neighbouring Solomon Islands were either in prison or detention to prevent a credible opposition to policies formulated by the Australian colonial administration. The people of Bougainville have long-standing social and cultural ties and connections with Solomon Islanders and do not regard themselves as Papua New Guineans.


It is not difficult to establish why those in control of independence within the Australian Colonial Administration sought to facilitate neo-colonial relations with PNG: Bougainville has some of the largest copper deposits in the world, the landmasses form part of the Defence of Australia (DOA) doctrine protecting northern shores from possible invasion. The legacy of the diplomatic chicanery, however, has come back to haunt those in Canberra on more than one occasion.


The development of the Panguna mine in Bougainville, owned by a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Zinc, following independence eventually led to the creation of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) in 1988. A decade-long civil war resulted in the deaths of thousands of people together with the forced closure of the mine. Throughout the period the BRA was organised from a headquarters based in Honiara, capital of the Solomons.


Developments on Bougainville also brought chaos and political instability to the PNG mainland in 1997-8 following a disastrous attempt by mine-owners and politicians to hire a mercenary army for counter-insurgency capabilities to deal with the BRA and reopen Panguna. The so-called Sandline affair involving Executive Outcomes and South African and other mercenaries eventually resulted in PNG Prime Minister Julius Chan being forced to resign and the fragile coalition of MPs supporting him disintegrating.


While moves to establish a working cease-fire and peace agreement eventually took place in 2001 it is significant to note the BRA were not party to the settlement and still technically controlled about half the island. During the 1988-98 period the organisation were also able to lobby extensive solidarity within many international left-wing political groups, providing an anti-imperialist political stance in the South Pacific. Their radio station, Radio Free Bougainville staffed by political activists from European backgrounds, also broadcast across the whole Pacific region with a signals range capable of reaching California. While the BRA ceased to function openly following the death of leader Francis Ona in 2005, they are a still a force to be reckoned with due to their extensive organisation, support and revolutionary legacy.


The forthcoming BIR is already causing decision-makers in Canberra serious concern.


When PNG established full diplomatic relations with China in 1976, it caused Canberra little concern. During the past decade or more, increasingly closer links between PNG and China have caused Canberra to deal with the problem on the basis of diplomatic silence. Apart from a few brief media releases, Australian diplomacy has attempted to play the problem down for fear of causing alarm bells to ring. When China undertook the refurbishing of the Murray Barracks outside Port Moresby a decade ago together with offering to train PNG Defence Force personnel in Beijing with scholarships of up to three years duration, it was significant to note media coverage came from New Zealand, not Australia. (1)


It was noted, however, that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was 'expected to discuss the US military posture in the Pacific' when he met the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford in the Pentagon in February. (2) It was further noted that in the US position following the release of the National Security Strategy, China was regarded 'as a strategic competitor that wanted to shape the world antithetical to US values and interests'. (3)


When a recent media release about Australian defence and security drew attention to problems arising in 'Southeast Asia and South Pacific' and a future strategy to defend Australia by 'a radical return to a forward-defence posture', reference to PNG was omitted although very much the centre of attention. (4) Fears have arisen that Chinese influence with our nearest neighbours has increased to levels now sufficient to be regarded as a threat to traditional defence and security planning by operating within countries part of the DOA doctrine. It is clear US-led initiatives include a more aggressive foreign policy toward the region in general and the South Pacific, specifically. 


Present soft diplomacy from Australia toward PNG is based upon an aid budget for 'development assistance' estimated to be $546.3 million for this year. (5) The Australian aid budget specifically for Bougainville has also risen to $50 million for the 2017-8 year, with the claim of 'supporting effective governance is a priority for Australia's aid to Bougainville'. (6)


The Australian aid budget, however, has looked paltry in comparison to development assistance provided by China in recent years. In 2016, trade between China and PNG rose $3.3 billion. (7) It is now estimated even larger with the Chinese government reported to be investing billions into infrastructure projects, some of which have allocations for Bougainville. China has also directed development assistance specifically to Bougainville which has included an urban centre and a number of Special Economic Zones for Chinese investment. (8)


A recent defence paper, Australia's Management of Strategic Risk in the New Era, has suggested recent regional developments have created a situation where 'Beijing is slowly eroding Australia's strategic space and a crisis could develop rapidly'. (9) It was further noted 'countries are drifting into China's orbit'. (10)


It has, therefore, been interesting to note harder diplomacy in the form of US-led regional military
planning to deal with the perceived problem.


The 2017 annual Talisman Sabre military exercises were the largest 'amphibious assault for Australian troops since WW2' with 33,000 Australian and US military personnel, revealing the wave of militarism sweeping the Asia-Pacific region. (11) It is significant to note part of the exercises included forward defence postures including 'a force assault from the ocean to take on an enemy based on land' with planning for 'potential insurgents hidden among a civilian population'. (12) Harder diplomacy from US-led positions has also included a return to classic counter-insurgency techniques of the last Cold War.


All eyes are now set for the forthcoming APEC leaders’ summit hosted by PNG in November. China will be sending a high-level diplomatic delegation and their official position has already noted 'it was fundamentally wrong to believe China was a strategic competitor with the US, wanting to replace Washington as a dominant world power'. (13) China is known to regard moves against it as acts of aggression. (14)


When the people of Bougainville vote next year the outcome of the poll may have far-reaching implications for regional diplomacy, where the present Cold War may escalate into a limited war as US-led regional initiatives seek to strengthen the DOA and dislodge Chinese influence. As a chilling drama unfolds, a recent Australian defence media release has acknowledged their forward defence posture included 'the expansion of the ADF and its capacity to engage in high-intensity conflict' with reference to the DOA and 'operations further afield'. (15)

1.     Concern in PNG, Radio New Zealand, 19 May 2008.

2.     Intelligence agencies step up warnings on Beijing influence, Australian, 21 February 2018.

3.     PM celebrates 100 years of mateship, The Weekend Australian, 24-25 February 2018.

4.     PM starts upgrade of old alliance, Australian, 2 March 2018.

5.     China gift triggers more aid for PNG, Australian, 8 March 2018.

6.     Website: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Development Assistance to Papua New Guinea.

7.     Australia uneasy over Chinese influence in PNG, ABC News, 12 February 2017.

8.     New Chinese-built urban centre for Bougainville, Radio Australia, 15 February 2012.

9.     Overhaul nation's defence strategy to handle China's rise, experts warn, Australian, 15 November 2017.

10.   Ibid.

11.   Forces gear up to combat regional terror threats, Australian, 14 July 2017.

12.   Ibid.

13.   China urges US to open talks with NK, Australian, 9 March 2018.

14.   Australia caught in the middle of South China Seas conflict, The New Daily, 26 February 2018.

15.   Australia's management of strategic risk, Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith, ASPI, 15 October 2017.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Biodiversity: Birds of a feather…flock together!

Nick G.

The preservation of biological diversity is a matter of extreme significance for the future of planet Earth.  As such, it must have the absolute commitment of socialists and other progressive people.

Biodiversity is the condition for the existence of life on Earth.  The connectedness of all things creates a chain reaction of loss when any one element is removed from the living environment.

In the past, this point was not sufficiently understood by Communists.  Mistakes were made in the development of socialism in those countries where the people had assumed state power.

A mechanical and one-sided view whereby Nature was to be “conquered” by the unleashing of the forces of production under socialism led to irreparable damage in some countries. The dialectics of the relationship between people and the environment was poorly understood.

It may surprise some to know that Stalin is getting belated recognition in bourgeois circles for his leadership in reafforestation, water conservancy and attempts to control climate warming (see Stephen Brain’s Song of the Forest: Russian Forestry and Stalinist Environmentalism, 1905-1953).

Marxist-Leninists have the ability to learn from their own mistakes and appreciate what Marx and Engels wrote about the dialectical unity between humanity and nature. Engels warned us not to “flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory, nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first."

Marx expressed the view that only in a classless communist society will the “humanization of nature” and the “naturalization of humans” come to their relative completion.

Birds -  and why we love them

For a great many people – especially those living in urban concentrations of population – the bird is the one point of daily contact with natural wildlife. A New Holland Honeyeater in a backyard bird bath, a Magpie glimpsed from the window of a train on the way to work -  birds connect us to Nature.

The use of canaries in underground coal mines to detect poisonous gases is known to most.  Today, birds play the same role for the planet as a whole.  The extinction or threatened extinction of a bird species is cause for immediate environmental concern.  The loss of a species could result in unchecked spread of weeds whose seeds are no longer eaten, and explosions in insect numbers once the prey of the birds.  Birds have a role to play in the pollination of a great many plants. The plants themselves support other life forms.  It is all related.

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film notwithstanding, birds are regarded with affection and fascination.  Perhaps it is the freedom of most species to fly: something humans are still reliant on mechanical or other supports to achieve. Migratory birds are held in special awe: each year millions of them fly from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern and back again.  One tiny bird was tracked in 2008 flying 11,680 kilometres from Alaska to New Zealand in just nine days.  And some of us drive, rather than walk, to the local shop! (The energy requirement for this flight is equivalent to that of a human running at 70 kilometres an hour, continuously, for more than seven days.  Along the way, these birds burn up huge stores of fat—more than 50 percent of their body weight—that they gain before they set off, and they even shrink their digestive organs.)

It is no wonder then that so many Australians are protective of our birdlife. Nor is it any wonder that more often than not, birds and their human defenders face off against the forces of private profit and their allies in state and federal governments.

Bayswater Wetlands saved by community action

Take the case of the Bayswater wetlands in Western Australia. The local council spent over $3 million to rejuvenate the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary in 2015-16.  They put in nutrient stripping areas, planted 170,000 native plants, and were attracting wildlife back into the area.  The sanctuary would prevent almost 40 tonnes of sediment and rubbish, 1.3 tonnes of nitrogen and 200 kilograms of phosphorus from entering the Swan River each year. 

However, land abutting the sanctuary, which was privately owned, was approved for subdivisions involving 27 houses and 33 apartments by the WA Planning Commission in 2016.  On July 12, without warning, the developers moved in their bulldozers and started knocking down 100-year old stands of Melaleuca trees.

The residents gathered in protest, organised email petitions to the WA government and organised a rally outside the offices of the WA Planning Minister. On July 29, the Minister announced a temporary halt to the bulldozing.  A nine-month campaign against the developers followed, during which documents released under Freedom of Information showed planning approvals were issued and clearing begun based on half-complete environmental reports. 

Victory came in October 2017 when Bayswater Council purchased the disputed area of land, saying in a press release that they had removed “the threat posed by private development.”

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo is not seen outside south-western Western Australia, although it has cousins interstate such as the Glossy Black Cockatoo and the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Their numbers around Perth have more than halved in recent years and are declining at a rate of about ten percent per annum.

Large-scale clearing for agriculture in the Western Australian Wheatbelt has removed or fragmented much of the bird's original breeding habitat, and ongoing clearing for urban development on the Swan Coastal Plain is greatly reducing the extent of its feeding habitat. The birds also suffer when old nesting hollows are removed, often for firewood. These hollows can take decades to form and, due to clearing, there is now considerable competition for the limited hollows that remain.

To adjust to the destruction of their traditional habitat, the Carnaby’s took to feeding in the Gnangara-Yanchep-Pinjar pine plantation, a commercial plantation of non-native species. In 2002, the WA government entered into a logging deal with Wesbeam, a manufacturer of Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) used in flooring, joists, timber beams and other products.  The decision was made not to replace the logged plantation timber, partly to reduce the demand on water from the Gnangara Mound — which is located under the plantations — which provides approximately 30 per cent of Perth's drinking water each year.

A massive campaign developed to save the Black Cockatoos.  Petitions with 20,000 signatures were delivered to politicians; the World Wildlife Fund called for pine harvesting to be stopped until there is agreement on how to properly address habitat loss for Carnaby's cockatoos.  Appeals to federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenburg to intervene fell on deaf ears. At the time of writing, the campaign to save the Carnaby’s is ongoing.

Tassie’s Swift Parrots

The critically endangered Swift Parrot has two enemies: logging companies destroying their habitat, and introduced sugar gliders that get into their nests and eat their young. The latter are being controlled by the construction of 100 solar-panelled gated nest boxes to protect the parrots from hungry sugar gliders. Money for the boxes - $40,000 - was raised within hours of the release of a crowd-funding appeal.

Controlling logging is a more difficult matter as anyone familiar with Tasmanian politics can attest.

As part of the 2013 forestry peace deal a moratorium was placed on the logging of 356,000 hectares of native forest, including more than 12,000 hectares of Critically Endangered Swift Parrot habitat. The beneficiaries were to be the rebranded government-owned forestry company, Sustainable Timber Tasmania and a private company Reliance Forest Fibre. Sustainable Timber Tasmania commenced on 1 July 2017. A few months later it was announced that 29,000 hectares of hardwood forest plantations were to be sold for $60.7 million to Reliance Forest Fibre with a 99-year lease on the land.

Reliance Forest Fibre is a new enterprise owned by investment funds advised by Global Forest Partners (GFP) LP. Global Forest Partners is an international forest investment advisory firm with approximately 700,000 ha of timberland across the globe under management, valued at around $3.7 billion. It was only registered in July 2017, with ASIC documents showing its holding company Global Forest Partners LP has links offshore. The Greens revealed further that the parent company “is based in a tax haven in the Cayman Islands” – just the sort of people to be concerned about the survival of an obscure little parrot!

In March 2017, the Tasmanian government introduced legislation to reverse the moratorium agreed in the 2013 peace deal.  A huge outcry arose.  The voice of protest was loud and clear: Tasmanians did not want the Swift Parrot to become extinct on their watch. Eventually, on June 21, the Upper House rejected the legislation.  It was a victory, but it was immediately followed by the Sustainable Timber deal with Global Forest Partners, leading a Birdlife Australia spokesperson to declare that “While we’re pleased to see this bill defeated, the fight is far from over. To safeguard the future of Swifties, we must protect all remaining critical habitat, especially breeding habitat.”

Bristlebirds win a reprieve

The Eastern Bristlebird is Endangered in New South Wales, where it occurs in two disjunct populations: one inhabits the northern ranges and coast, with the other further south in the Illawarra and South Coast. An important part of its habitat is at Jervis Bay, a Commonwealth-administered Territory south of Sydney.

Bird-lovers were dismayed to discover early in 2017 that an 11-hectare patch of prime shrubby heathland adjacent to the Jervis Bay National Park was to be auctioned off in May. Forming part of the Jervis Bay Key Biodiversity Area, it had been estimated that the immediate area supports 10 per cent of the region’s population of Bristlebirds.

BirdLife Shoalhaven and community activists lobbied the NSW State Government for the land to be withdrawn from sale, recommending that it be incorporated into the adjacent national park—and they were successful. The government purchased the parcel of land to expand the national park, thus preserving an important piece of the jigsaw that is necessary to protect the declining population of Bristlebirds.

Toondah Harbour: Labor’s gift to the Walker Corporation

Toondah Harbour in Queensland’s Moreton Bay, just north of Brisbane, is an area protected under the internationally recognised Ramsar Convention to protect wetlands. It is the feeding ground for a number of wading birds including the critically endangered Far Eastern Curlew and the Great Knot. The Ramsar Agreement, signed by Australia, prohibits the reclamation of any part of a Ramsar site unless for “urgent national interests” (clause 2.5 Ramsar Agreement).

The proposal to dredge and "reclaim" protected wetlands for a high-rise development and private marina by Australia’s largest private, diversified property development company, the Walker Corporation, began under the Newman Government. Labor was expected to dump the proposal, but instead expanded the number of proposed units from 800 to 3,600. 

The Walker Corporation has been a major donor to both Liberal and Labor over many years.  That’s how business gets done when you are big and powerful.  Last year, Walker gave $200,000 to the federal Liberal Party and $23,000 in three separate instalments to the Queensland Labor Party. Walker Group/Corp paid ZERO income tax over the last three corporate tax years on total earnings over $1 billion, including $477 million last year. It also has a poor environmental history, with a number of offences committed.

The Labor backflip has astounded traditional Labor supporters. Callen Sorensen – Karklis, a Quandamooka Noonucle salt water person, a loyal union member and Labor Party activist, wrote to Premier Anna Palaszczuk on 21 October 2017, saying “Sadly I resigned from the party this October because I believe until the QLD branch of the party works out its moral compass on issues like Adani and Toondah I cannot remain active as a member.”  This is not an isolated view amongst Labor rank-and-file.

Defending the area’s birdlife, community activists are united in the belief that publicly-owned foreshore land and protected Moreton Bay wetlands should not be handed over to a property developer to generate private profit.

Adani – enemy of our birds

The Queensland Labor and federal Coalition governments are also lining up behind the proposed Adani coalmine. As if there were not reason enough to oppose this project, the mine will destroy habitat crucial to the survival of the Endangered Southern Black-throated Finch.

In a damning report submitted to Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg on July 14, 2017, the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team—charged with safeguarding this Endangered species—describes a fundamentally flawed offset plan that will have grave consequences for the future of this bird.

“Adani’s Carmichael mine will destroy a large part of the best remaining habitat for the Black-throated Finch, in an area that is home to a significant proportion of the largest known population,” said Dr Tony Grice, Chair of the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team.

“Losing this rich habitat would be a major blow to the chances of this bird surviving.”

There continues to be an ongoing campaign to save this finch.

Helena and Aurora Ranges battle

Another area where bird enthusiasts and mining interests have been in conflict is the Helena and Aurora Ranges to the west of Perth.  Volunteer-led bird surveys of the area have revealed that 111 species of birds occur there, making it the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Great Western Woodlands, an unbroken stretch of woodland much larger than England. The ranges are remnants of a landscape dating back more than 2.6 billion years, making them one of the most ancient landforms on earth.

In September 2017, the Australian Geographic magazine noted that “In recent years the Helena Aurora Range has also been the target of mining companies hoping to extract iron ore from the region. So far, the EPA has blocked all proposed mining projects.”

Jenita Enevoldsen, WA State Director of The Wilderness Society said that “This is the second time the EPA has recommended against these two proposed mines, within two years. With around 40 years of scientific recommendations for permanent protection and 1,500 community submissions rejecting the proposed mines, the future protection of the range needs to be secured.”

A victorious outcome was reached last December when the State government announced that it would uphold the EPA’s recommendations.  BirdLife Australia said it was “delighted by the announcement that the ancient landscape, home to unique biodiversity, will be protected from mining and that investigations are underway to recognise the magnificent natural values by declaring the area a Class A Nature Reserve…. This outcome is the result of the sustained work over many years by many people, including Traditional Owners, scientists and naturalists, current and former members of Parliament, local residents, artists, and conservation and recreation groups.”

Abbott’s Booby under threat

Meanwhile mining interests are threatening two birds on Christmas Island.  Abbott’s Booby is thought to be one of the most ancient seabirds. Its ancestors lived among dinosaurs over 60 million years ago! Abbott's Boobies can travel up to 400 kilometres to surrounding feeding grounds, but always return home to Christmas Island to breed in the rainforest canopy. The Christmas Island Frigatebird is well-known for its extraordinary wingspan and ornamental red throat which males inflate and drum to entice females to breed. Like the Abbott’s Booby, Christmas Island Frigatebirds depend on the rainforest canopy to nest and raise their young.

Clearing of forests for phosphate mining threatens both birds. The ecosystem cannot recover from phosphate mining.  After the rainforest is cleared, the soil is dug up and exported, leaving vast barren scars in the landscape. Over 25% of the island has already been cleared for mining activities. To make matters worse, mining facilitates the spread of invasive species into the remaining pristine rainforest.

At the time of writing this remains an ongoing campaign issue.

International cooperation essential for migratory birds’ survival.

The millions of migratory birds that make Australia and New Zealand home for part of each year cannot survive unless the nations through which they migrate cooperate to preserve habitat areas.  Various coastal regions in Australia are now under protection.  A number of wetlands are Ramsar-protected.  The Coorong in South Australia is one such area.  However, the Coorong is dependent on water flows from the Murray-Darling river system and no amount of Ramsar-accreditation will save it if corporate water theft continues in the upper reaches of the rivers.

A good example of community cooperation is the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park encompassing the coastal lands of the Adelaide Plains.  Over 3 years more than 30,000 people have been consulted about, and have contributed to, a management plan for the sanctuary.  Leadership has come from the traditional owners, the Kaurna, who have given the sanctuary the name Winaityinaityi Pangkara (pronounced Wee-nay-chi-nay-chi pan-ker-a) that in Kaurna means 'country belonging to all birds'.
Many of the birds coming to the sanctuary are from Siberia, Korea and China.  Aggressive development in Eastern Asia – reclamation of coastal tidal flats in particular – has dramatically reduced bird numbers.  Around 70% of the intertidal mudflats in this region have disappeared and much of the remaining 30% is under threat. If the current trajectory continues, the Yellow Sea will become a global epicentre for extinction.
In January 2018, the Chinese government, responding to international and domestic concerns for the future of migratory birds, announced the following four measures:
First, the government plans to “nationalise reclaimed land with no structures built on it and will halt reclamation projects that have yet to be opened and are against national policies.”
Second, all structures built on illegally reclaimed land and that have “seriously damaged the marine environment” will be demolished.
Third, “the central government will stop approving property development plans based on land reclamation and will prohibit all reclamation activities unless they pertain to national key infrastructure, public welfare or national defence”.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly in terms of the future of China’s east coast, “local authorities will no longer have the power to approve reclamation projects”.
The Australian Government is aware of its obligations, but puts the interests of investors and corporations above all else.  It had had planned to redirect 70 gigalitres of water — water that had been earmarked for environmental flows to maintain the health of the river system — and make it available to irrigators in New South Wales and Queensland instead. This would have dramatically reduced the habitat quality of the Macquarie Marshes for waterbirds, including the Endangered Australasian Bittern.  Intense lobbying of Senators saw a disallowance motion passed that blocked the Government’s threat to birdlife in and around the Marshes.
Twitchers R Us
Once the butt of jokes in English comedy, the avid birdwatcher or “twitcher” is no longer the eccentric oddball, but a conscious defender of the natural environment. Certainly, leading birdwatching organisations such as BirdLife Australia command enormous support and have vast volunteer armies ready to organise against property developers and mining giants.  However, they are not firmly embedded in the working class and tend to favour parliamentary forms of redress for their grievances.
Communists should not be indifferent to bird and other wildlife protection.  We must show that we are serious about protecting biological diversity against the exploitation and destruction of profit-motivated harmful practices. We should try to raise the consciousness of those fighting for biological diversity to a consciously anti-capitalist and pro-socialist level.
We highly recommend Stefan Engel’s excellent book Catastrophe Alert! What is to be done against the willful destruction of the unity of humanity and nature? (reviewed here ) for its refreshingly new Marxist-Leninist approach to environmental policy and practice.