Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chris Latham for Perth

Chris Latham

Chris Latham is a post-graduate student and tutor at Murdoch University, and an activist in the National Tertiary Education Union. As a member of the Murdoch branch committee of the NTEU, he is involved in organising casually employed staff at Murdoch to win better conditions in the face of the restrictions imposed on workers' and unions' rights by the Howard government's Higher Eduacation Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRR). Chris stands for the repeal of the raft of legislation introduced by the Howard government that attacks higher education and student and staff rights, including HEWRR, Work Choices, fee increases and voluntary student unionism.

Chris is the WA state convener of the Socialist Alliance.

As well as campaigning for the rights of students and university staff, Chris has also been a longtime activist in campaigns to build international solidarity with struggles against war and poverty around the world, and with the Asia-Pacific region in particular. In the late 1990's, Chris was the student campaigns officer of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET), raising awareness and support among young people and students in Australia for the East
Timorese struggle for independence.

He is currently supporting the struggle in Burma/Myanmar against the country's military dictatorship, and will be calling on the Liberal and Labor parties to cut ties with the regime through his election campaign. According to Chris, "the Australian government sheds crocodile tears over the vicious repression of the pro-democracy movement in Burma/Myanmar, but at the same time the Australian Federal Police are involved in training the dictatorship's police. The Socialist Alliance fully supports the democracy movement led by National League of Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi against the illegitimate junta in Burma/Myanmar, and we are actively supporting the solidarity demonstrations here in Australia."

Chris was a founding member of the Perth No War Alliance, the group that organised the large demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq in 2002-03, and has been a leading anti-war activist in Perth since before the US-led, Australian-backed invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He was involved in organising the rallies against Israel's invasion of Lebanon last year, and was recently involved in organising the Stop Bush demonstration in Fremantle that drew hundreds of people out to protest the visit to Australia for the APEC summit of what he calls "the world's number one war criminal and climate vandal", US President George W. Bush.

Chris said, "The Socialist Alliance is internationalist: we are struggling for a society based on equality and justice, and we recognise that this is a global struggle. A rich, industrialised nation like Australia has the capacity to play a positive role internationally in overcoming poverty and the legacy of colonialism, but instead we see bipartisan support for Australia to play a bullying, dominant and exploitative role in the Asia-Pacific region. We have also unfortunately only heard mealy-mouthed opposition from the ALP to the Howard government's participation in the disastrous occupation of Iraq – and no opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan."

"The occupation has turned Iraq into hell on Earth, with the latest estimates suggesting that one million Iraqis have died unnecessarily as a result of the 2003 invasion. A further three and a half million Iraqis have been turned into refugees. The fact that Australia has been a willing participant in this mass slaughter is is abhorrent to the majority of Australian people, who want the troops home now."

He continued, "The Socialist Alliance stands for the rights of the Iraqi and Afghan people to determine their own future free from the oil-hungry war-mongerers in Washington, London and Canberra. We will continue to lead the anti-war movement in its demands that all Australian troops be immediately withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan, for an end to Australia's military alliance with the US, and for the Australian government to pay war reparations to its victims."