Monday, February 22, 2010

Socialist Alliance: Put real change on the agenda

Green Left Weekly spoke to Socialist Alliance national convener Peter Boyle about the political dynamics of the coming federal election and asked him what sort of campaign the Alliance was intending to run.

Liberal-National opposition leader Tony Abbott is gaining in the polls against PM Kevin Rudd. Are we seeing a swing to the right in public opinion in Australia?

Politics today in Australia, as in the US, is being shaped by growing disillusionment with the politicians who were elected on the slogan of "change" but have delivered no real change.

The shine is beginning to come off both Rudd and Obama and right-wing politicians are capitalising on this. In the US, we've seen the so-called “Tea Party” movement and the right-wing demonstrations against Obama's promises to deliver more public health care.

And in Australia, we've got a new right-wing propaganda offensive about climate change and a resurgence of racist propaganda against refugees, Aborigines and Indian overseas students.

Abbott's tactic of polarising the debate around climate change takes advantage of the fact that Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is a fraud and is losing public support — down from 67% in July 2008 to 56% in February, according to ACNeilsen polling. It also takes advantage of recent propaganda by climate change denialists.

It is clear there is a lot of public confusion about climate change and a significant amount of climate change scepticism in the working class and even among militant trade unionists. But it would be an exaggeration to see this as evidence of some massive public swing to the right in Australia.

So far Australia has got off relatively lightly from the global recession because of the continuing boom in mineral exports to Asia. But there is a lot of hidden pain in the working class.

Many workers have been forced to accept a cut in hours worked or in pay and conditions to keep their jobs during the global recession. At the same time, many working class families are burdened with massive debts for homes, cars and other things.

So far Abbott is only making marginal gains. The latest Newspoll, published in the February 16 Australian, showed a further 3% slide in Rudd's approval rating to 55%. Labor's primary vote has dropped below 40% for the first time since 2006. The Coalition's primary vote is said to be holding at 40%.

Rudd has warned supporters that Labor could lose the next election “if two or three people in 100 changed their vote at the next election”.

But most likely, the Coalition is using Abbott's attack offensive to whittle down the ALP's lead, in preparation for a more serious bid for government in the federal election after next.

Many GLW readers are appalled at the blatant appeals to unreason by the likes of Abbott and notorious climate change denier Lord Christopher Monckton who recently toured Australia.

These new right-wing propaganda offensives are trying to mobilise public grievances around a highly contradictory political platform.

They are trying to tap public anger about being forced to bear the burden of bailing out capitalism once again but also trying to deflect that anger away from the capitalists.

In the US, Noam Chomsky has warned against the left simply deriding the ordinary people who are sucked into things like the Tea Party movement. These are people whose grievances are justified, Chomsky said.

The real question is why the left has so far failed to organise and mobilise people around real solutions to the problems capitalism is causing.

That is the broad challenge for the left in the coming federal elections. We've got to take up these real grievances and talk about real solutions.

And, if we want to do this, we have to tell the truth about the Rudds and Obamas. We have to show that while they’ve been claiming to be the politicians of change, in fact they've been bailing out the big capitalists and waging bloody wars around the world to protect the interests of those big capitalists.

What sort of federal election campaign is the Socialist Alliance planning to run?

Our branches are carrying out candidate preselections and working out just how many positions we can contest. We are a small party with limited resources, but we are going to make the biggest impact we can.

We should have Senate tickets in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia at a minimum and a number of House of Representative campaigns in every state.

We'll seize on the climate change denialists' propaganda offensive as an opportunity to engage in the public debate around this critical issue.

We plan to issue an updated climate change charter, which will outline in detail the serious public investment that needs to be made in renewable energy and public transport if there is to be a serious response to climate change.

We are organising another big international Climate Change/Social Change conference in Melbourne over November 5-7 that will provide a focus for discussion on ecosocialist alternatives to the climate crisis. Monthly Review editor and respected author John Bellamy Foster has agreed to be the keynote speaker.

We'll also focus our election campaign on racism and war. The Labor government has adopted what some of its political advisors justify as “anti-wedging” tactics. These include its attacks on Aboriginal people with the NT intervention, persecution of refugees, the attacks on Indian students, the overseas education scandals, and others.

In fact, Labor stole the Coalition's racist politics on these issues, and in the process reinforced racism in Australia.

Our anti-racist message will be combined with an anti-war message because racism is reinforced by the imperialist powers in their so-called “war on terrorism” — actually a war on the Third World.

The success of the new right-wing offensives on climate change and racism in influencing the working class flows from the refusal of Labor governments, state and federal, to defend even the most basic interests of the working class.

Under Rudd, Labor has betrayed its promise to rip up Work Choices and continues with the hated Australian Building and Construction Commission secret police.

The Socialist Alliance campaign will fight for the total repeal of all anti-union and anti-worker laws and call for independence of the trade unions from the ALP.

The fourth central federal election message will be the need to build a real political alternative to the major parties.

The absence of any real political alternative feeds public confusion on climate change, racism and the importance of trade unions, and hence provides the opening for right-wing political offensives like the one that we now confront.

The Greens will still be seen as the most viable electoral alternative. The latest Newspoll shows the Greens have a primary vote of 12% — up from 7.8% in the 2007 federal election.

Our message about building a real political alternative has to include a call for unity with the Greens around progressive issues. We direct our preferences to the Greens and in some cities there may be opportunities for further electoral co-operation.

But there is also an opening forour argument for building a “real political alternative” that comes from the fact that we are still in the wake of the biggest public bailout of the capitalist system in history.

Worldwide, trillions of dollars of public money has been shelled out worldwide to bail out the banks. The list of bankrupt governments is growing.

By telling the truth about this massive public bailout, we can spell out what a “real alternative” is in more clear, anti-capitalist terms.

The real political choices now before society go well beyond this or that single issue. There's an urgent debate about core values.

The future of our planet hangs on society breaking from the unsustainable values of greed, pillage of the Earth and the exploitation of people that has been imposed on this continent for the past 222 years.

Under this system, as Hugo Chavez quipped in Copenhagen last December, if the planet was a bank they would have saved it already.

It is time to take the advice of Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, the first and return to the indigenous values of respect for the land, community first and living cooperatively.

Monday, February 15, 2010

VIDEO: Equal love campaign - not invisible on Valentine's Day

Above is a video of the "not invisible on Valentine's Day" march for equal marriage rights. See photos below of the same action. If you can't see photos or video, try clicking here.

Oppose Barnett’s stop and search powers

By Elliot Herrington, Perth
14 February 2010

Western Australia Liberal premier Colin Barnett wants to introduce draconian legislation which will give police more power. A wide spectrum of critics agree the proposed new powers are unprecedented in most of the Western world, would be grossly intrusive and would disproportionately penalise the most marginalised groups.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rally: Keep WA GM free - from farm to plate

Rally: Keep WA GM free - from farm to plate

Tues 23 Feb
12:30pm, Parliament House (Harvest Terrace, West Perth)

Farmers and consumbers unite! Call for government to reverse decision on allowing genetically modified (GM) canola in WA.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photos from Justice NOT racism rally

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ampilatwatja Walkoff - film and discussion - Tues 2 March

The Aboriginal struggle continues

Public meeting with:
Tim Gooden (Geelong Trades Hall secretary and participant in the building of the "protest house") (via video link)

Adele Carles (Greens member for Fremantle - talking about the impact of Stop and Search laws on Aboriginal people)

Marianne Mackay (Deaths in Custody Watch Committee)

Natasha Moore (Aboriginal Rights Coalition)

The Alyawarr people staged a walk-off in the Northern Territory in July last year, returning to their homeland to protest the NT intervention.

The Rudd Labor government has done diddly squat to 'close the gap'; instead continues the racist policies of the Coalition, but veiled by reconciliation rhetoric. That Ampilatwatja community have begun a campaign of resistance in response.

Blacks and whites alike need to continue the struggle. Come along to discuss.

Tues 2 March
6.30pm. La Tropicana Cafe, 177 High St, Fremantle

Sponsored by Fremantle Socialist Alliance. Ph Mark 0458 649 230, Sanna 0417 852 628.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How Corporate Greed wrecked Copenhagen

UPDATE: See video of Emma Clancy's talk here.

How Corporate Greed Wrecked Copenhagen
...and the fight for a safe climate

Emma Clancy (Copenhagen eyewitness)
Ben Peterson (Resistance organiser)

2pm Sat 20 Feb
Perth Activist Centre (15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth - next to McIver station)
Ph 9218 9608, 0400 878 322.

Presented by Resistance & Socialist Alliance.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sam Wainwright speaks out against Barnett's attacks on public sector

The Barnett government has embarked on a major assault on the public sector in WA and all workers and members of the community have an interest in seeing these attacks defeated.
Socialist Alliance is encouraging everyone concerned about these attacks to join the rally being planned by the Civil Service Association on Thursday March 11.
Rally to defend the public sector:Thurs 11 March 2010
12.30pm, Parliament House
For more info check out this Green Left article or click on the image to the left to visit the CSA website.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Age of Stupid screening 26 Feb 2010

The Age of Stupid

6.30pm, Fri 26 Feb

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

$8/$4. Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Don't be invisible on Valentines Day - Equal Marriage action

Don't be Invisible on Valentines Day
Follow the link for an inspirational video about equal love on Valentines Day 

WHEN: 12 Noon, 14/02/2010
WHERE: Supreme Court Gardens, Cnr St Georges Tce / Barrack St, Perth WA
WHAT: Support Rally & Community Festival for Same-Sex Marriage

What is it all about?
For many, Valentines Day is a time when we celebrate the love we have in our lives, whether it's for a partner, a lover, family or friends. Unfortunately, for many of the same-sex attracted and gender diverse members of our community, it is a sore reminder of the fact their their relationships are not recognised equally under Australian law.

On February 14th 2010, supportive families and community members will be gathering together in the Supreme Court Gardens, Perth - to show their support for the loving families and relationships that aren't recognised in our community. 

Dress in Red, White or Pink this Valentines Day, and join me at Stirling Gardens to show your support for the loving families in your community. If we can get 1,000 Western Australians to show their support for their fellow community members, we will break all records for same-sex marriage rallies in WA, and put visible community pressure on our Government to take up this issue.

Help spread the word
With only 2 weeks to go until Valentines Day, we need to get this message out as far and wide as possible. We would appreciate it if you can help out in the following ways:

1) Forward this email to friends, family and coworkers, and invite them to come down with you on Valentines Day to show support

2) Join the Facebook Event at and invite your friends

3) Visit the Campaign Video at and spread it via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Digg and other social networking sites

4) Post the video to groups and forums that you are a member of, or Activist / Community Event calendars in your organisation

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Socialism and morality - 4 Feb 2010

Perth Socialist Alliance meeting
Socialism & Morality

6:30pm, Thurs 4 February
Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)
Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

This talk and discussion will focus on some of the big and interesting questions of morality and social change. Come along and have your say.