Monday, December 30, 2013

Socialists reject medicare co-payment

Socialist Alliance senate candidate Alex Bainbridge has added his voice to those rejecting a proposed $5 or $6 Medicare co-payment.

"We should be moving in the direction of reducing out of pocket costs for medical care not increasing them," said Bainbridge.

"The proposal to introduce a co-payment is a major attack on Medicare which has already been significantly undermined since it was first introduced," Bainbridge said.

"Already almost one fifth of health costs are borne by consumers through out-of-pocket expenses according to a Consumers Health Forum report. Further, the numbers of people delaying a visit to the doctor for financial reasons has significantly increased in recent years."

Advocates of the co-payment claim that Medicare is financially unsustainable however the reality is that there could be plenty of money to fund free health care for all.

There could be a massive cash injection into Medicare and the public hospital system simply by redirecting government subsidies for private health insurance to funding health services directly. "These subsidies boost the profits of private health insurance corporations at the expense of providing adequate funds to the public health system," Bainbridge said.

"Further funds could be gained by increasing corporate taxation and reforming the taxation system to increase taxes on the very rich while reducing taxes on the poor."

Bainbridge said that the Abbott government should reject any suggestion of introducing a Medicare co-payment.

"As well as being morally objectionable, a co-payment would paradoxically increase overall health costs as delayed treatment would result in an increase in more expensive procedures being needed," he said.

The proposal to introduce a co-payment has been rejected by the Doctors Reform Society and the Australian Medical Association.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Radicals not 'setting back' marriage equality movement

Farida Iqbal at November 23 Equal Marriage Rally
In his opinion piece “Will Radicals Set Back the Marriage Equality Movement?”, OutInPerth editor Graeme Watson writes that Equal Love is threatened by a “socialist takeover”.

The Socialist Alliance has played a role in organising marriage equality rallies since 2004. Rather than attempting a “socialist takeover”, we were one of the organisations that got the ball rolling in the first place. We were instrumental in reviving Community Action Against Homophobia in 2004, the group that started the first rallies.

We also helped to initiate the first national day of action, the campaign for civil unions in the ACT, and the massive 10,000 strong convergence on the ALP national conference in 2011 – the biggest queer protest in Australian history.

We would hope that Watson isn’t now attempting his own kind of “takeover”, to exclude socialists and other so-called “radicals” from the movement.

The recent controversy has centred around the sloganeering of another socialist group, Socialist Alternative. Their “Fuck Tony Abbott” t-shirts, and their banner depicting him being hung with a rainbow noose have attracted widespread criticism. The t-shirts are nation-wide. But the banner was only in Brisbane, and it is not relevant to the Perth situation. It is also important to note that the shirts were not made, sold or endorsed by Equal Love WA.

Jayne McFadyn speaking at the August 31 rally about why transgender people need equal marriage rights - part of a supposed trans takeover
The t-shirts are quite popular among people who are furious at the Abbott government, but this kind of sloganeering has also proven divisive. The anger is more than justified, but the trick is to do more than express rage and find the way to mobilise the broadest possible cross-section of people -- and that way, get closer to winning marriage equality.

And whether you like the T-shirts or not, police attempts to disrobe people wearing them at the last Equal Love rally were an abuse of civil liberties.

Watson also took aim at Equal Love WA for taking up the concerns of queer refugees and transgender people. Equal Love WA was right to do this. The equal marriage rights campaign is not just a movement of the privileged people in the queer community.

We have a responsibility to stand up for the queer refugees being sent to Papua New Guinea; a country where homosexuality is criminalised. Further, Watson owes the trans community an apology for using his position as OutInPerth editor to argue for the sidelining of their concerns.

Watson also criticises Equal Love WA for not seeking permission to hold rallies. He should direct this criticism at the City of Perth, who place extreme restrictions on the right to protest. It is very difficult to get a permit.

November 24, 2012 rally by Equal Love WA
In fact, Equal Love WA does not have to seek permission to protest. Protest is a human right and this is implicitly recognised in the Australian constitution.

The high court recently ruled against same sex marriage legislation in the ACT. Yet the Greens are undeterred, and will fight for similar legislation in WA. Right now we need to stand strong together. We need the biggest possible rallies and the broadest possible organising committees to defend the legislation.

There has never been a more important time to get involved in Equal Love WA. Everybody is welcome. And the more people come and have their say, the better our decisions will be. Join the facebook page to find out when meetings are on, or call Farida Iqbal on 0412 109 160.

The Socialist Alliance has been at the forefront of the marriage equality movement for nine years. But we don’t just support marriage equality. We won’t rest until queer oppression is wiped off the face of the Earth. We have a big-picture vision for human emancipation, and if you want to be part of our project send us an e-mail at or call us on 08 9218 9608.

[This opinion piece by Farida Iqbal was originally written for Green Left Weekly and published on 23 December 2013. She is an activist in Equal Love WA and a member of Socialist Alliance.]

Sunday, December 22, 2013

All I want for Christmas is a ban on fracking...

No Fracking WAy Christmas action on 20 December 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Socialist Alliance to contest WA senate election

Alex Bainbridge
Socialist Alliance has preselected Perth activist Alex Bainbridge and Notre Dame Uni student Chris Jenkins as candidates for the WA senate election that is expected to take place next year.

With Abbott performing poorly in the polls, this election will have a significant impact on the make-up of the new senate.

It has now been revealed that Labor is teaming up with the Palmer United Party to try to deny voters the chance to have a new election. (The Liberals claim to support a new election but potentially stand to lose from it.)

"We'll be continuing our campaign for public ownership of mines and banks," said Bainbridge, "because these measures are necessary to genuinely implement a serious transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy."

"They will also provide the funds necessary for restoring free education for all students and expanding public housing to solve the housing affordability crisis," said Bainbridge.

"We'll also be campaigning against the early attacks of the Abbott government," added Jenkins.

"The fact that the polls have shifted so early against Abbott is another reason that the people should be given the chance to decide on the new senate make-up."

Bainbridge is a veteran of many campaigns since he joined the socialist movement in 1990. He was a media spokesperson for the 2011 Chogm Protest and a member of the Refugee Rights Action Network. Jenkins is also a refugee rights activist and played an instrumental role in the campaign for free speech at Notre Dame University in 2013.

The Electoral Commission has called for an election on April 26 to allow the election to be held before the new senate sits in July. However a high court judge has indicated that the case may not be finalised before the new senate sits.

Chris Jenkins
"Obviously if the election is not held until after the new senate sits, that will give Abbott a window of opportunity to implement important parts of his reactionary agenda," said Bainbridge.

"Either way, it will take a concerted union and community campaign to truly stop Abbott in his tracks," he added. "We'll be using our election push to advocate for just such a campaign."

Bainbridge and Jenkins have both promised to reject the high parliamentary salaries and instead to live on an average workers' wage. Any excess would be utilised to build grassroots resistance to the neo-Liberal agenda promoted by both Labor and Liberal governments in recent decades.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Buswell launches attack on socialist councillor in parliament

State treasurer Troy Buswell launched an attack on Socialist Alliance member and Fremantle City Councillor Sam Wainwright in state parliament on December 5.

True, the try-hard treasurer was probably too busy keeping track of which election promise he was planning to break next to get Sam's name right. (He confused Wainwright with prominent actor Sam Worthington - admittedly an easy mistake to make.)

He also described Wainwright as being a member of the "socialist loony party" which isn't a strictly accurate rendition of the party's name.

The issue at hand was the motion moved by Wainwright (and adopted by the Fremantle Council) to oppose state government plans to widen High Street by knocking down houses and gutting the Fremantle Environmental Resource Network in order to allow more trucks on the road to increase asthma rates by increasing diesel particulate pollution. (Increased lung cancer rates and knocking down the largest stand of remnant Tuarts in the area were simply added bonuses of the state government plan.)

The fact that Freo Road to Rail campaign has demonstrated that there is huge community opposition to the government's plan indicates that the "loony" label could more appropriately be directed to some of Buswell's front bench colleagues than honest community campaigners like Sam.

Buswell's answer? Compulsory acquisition of the land against the Fremantle Council and against community opposition. Just one more reason to fight back against the Barnett/Buswell agenda.

Troy Buswell's comments from Hansard:
I spoke to our project coordinator this morning. Interestingly, Main Roads lodged — either last night or today — a formal request with the City of Fremantle to excise land from the A-class reserve, which I think is to the south of High Street, the Fremantle Public Golf Course and the Fremantle Environmental Resource Network. My hope is that the City of Fremantle concurs and does not try to frustrate this process by going off on another round of consultation and its own round of engineering, which I suspect it will. I do not know what happened at the City of Fremantle meeting on Wednesday, 27 November — I do not follow it that closely — but a motion about this matter was moved by, I think, a fellow from the socialist loony party called Worthington. I do not know what the result was — it was not on the City of Fremantle’s website this morning — but we will not be agreeing to parts of that motion. The ball is now in the city’s court. I have told the department to move forward with compulsory acquisition and to get legal advice about what we can do if we form the view that the city is trying to frustrate the process. I want to get on and build this upgrade and get a much safer outcome for everybody.

Friday, December 6, 2013

What would Santa Claus say to Colin Barnett

This is the union rally at which Santa Claus made an appearance with a special message for Colin Barnett...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

WINGS Human Rights Day Celebration

You are invited to:

WINGS Organisation for Cross-Cultural Development Celebration:

International Human Rights Day

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Roderic Pitty

Guest Poets:
Maria Bakas-Booker
Dr. David Moody
Afeif Ismail
Peter Jeffrey

Guest Singer:
Nazik Osman

And open mic

When: Saturday 7th of December 2013, 7 – 9:30 pm.

Where: Good Shepherd Centre, 30 Balga Ave, Balga

For more information call: Afeif Ismail on: 0423 675 479


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Joyeux Noel (Christmas in the trenches) film screening: Fri 20 Dec

The next Friday Film Fanatics film will be a screening of Joyeux Noël.

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas in English) is a 2005 French film about the World War I Christmas truce of December 1914, depicted through the eyes of French, Scottish and German soldiers.

The Christmas truce was a series of widespread, unofficial ceasefires that took place along the Western Front around Christmas 1914, during World War I. Through the week leading up to Christmas, parties of German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches; on occasion, the tension was reduced to the point that individuals would walk across to talk to their opposite numbers bearing gifts. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many soldiers from both sides ventured into "no man's land", where they mingled, exchanging food and souvenirs. As well as joint burial ceremonies, several meetings ended in carol-singing. Troops from both sides were also friendly enough to play games of football with one another.

6:30pm Fri 20 December

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

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Successful GLW Solidarity Celebration (now with videos)

Green Left Weekly hosted a successful end-of-year performance night as a fundraiser for the paper. Performers included Della Rae Morrison with Ros O'Brien, HelChild (as "Baloney Abbott" - see video below), 1000Eyes and WAMDA.

Photos: Della Rae Morrison (left) and clockwise from top left: 1000Eyes, audience, Don Blundell-Wignall & WAMDA (By Alex Bainbridge)

Baloney Abbott wishes 'Merry Christmas' to all good citizens - and gay people

Baloney Abbott on the carbon tax

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Video available from Perth March Against Monsanto (October)

Hundreds of people took part in the March Against Monsanto in Perth on October 12, 2013. This video records the major fraction of most of the speeches to be an historical record of the event.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement: What it is and what to do about it? Wed 27 Nov

Public forum - all welcome

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is a free trade deal being planned for Australia, the USA and a number of other countries is a serious threat to environmental, human rights and labour standards.

It is being negotiated in secret - the text has not even been shown to government legislatures, yet 600 corporate lobbyists are privy to the negotiations.

This forum will discuss the dangers this process represents and what can be done about it.

Scott Ludlam (Greens senator - via Skype)
Janet Grogan (Anti-GM campaign)
Elizabeth Hulm (Communist Party)
Alex Bainbridge (Socialist Alliance)

6pm Wed 27 Nov

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth - next to McIver station.

Hosted by Perth Socialist Alliance. Ph 0413 976 638, 9218 9608.

Attend on FaceBook:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oppose Tony Abbott's bigotry: Equal Marriage Now - Sat 23 Nov

Join Equal Love WA in our first rally for marriage equality under the new Liberal Government led by Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott has said that he is "threatened" by queer people and that equal marriage rights is only a "fashion of the moment".

Stand up for marriage equality and for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex and queer people and against the bigotry of Tony Abbott. Stand up to the WA state government - we need anti-discrimination legislation that covers transphobia.

1pm Sat 23 Nov

Stirling Gardens
(cnr Barrack St & St George's Tce, Perth City)

Attend on FaceBook:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Green Left Solidarity Celebration: Sat 23 November

A chance to come together with good company and delicious food to celebrate the ongoing successes of Australia's best progressive, activist newspaper.

Featuring performances from:
Della Rae Morrison, Charley & Ros (awesome singers)
HelChild (comedian/comic poet)
WAMDA (Sudanese musical group)
1000Eyes (progressive rap)
Waveney Yasso (singer/songwriter)
Don Blundell-Wignall (left wing poet and singer)

Greetings from:
Marianne Mackay (Nyoongar Tent Embassy)
Sam Wainwright (newly re-elected Fremantle Councillor)

7pm Sat 23 Nov

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth

$20/$10 concession/$50 solidarity (includes delicious food)

Attend on FaceBook:

Organised by Socialist Alliance. Proceeds aid Green Left Weekly fighting fund.

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638

End victim-blaming! SlutWalk Perth

150 people walked through the Perth heat on November 16 to call for an end to blaming victims of sexual assault, in the city's third annual SlutWalk.

Initiated in response to comments made by a Toronto, Canada, police officer that women should avoid looking like sluts if they don't want to be raped, SlutWalk continues to attract global support.

Speakers decried the low conviction rate for offenders, and the high rates of sexual assault, with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men experiencing some kind of sexual assault; and higher rates in trans, bisexual and Aboriginal communities and among people with disability. Rebecca Davies and Bec Leighton from People for Sex Workers' Rights called for measures to facilitate sex workers' safety, particularly decriminalisation of sex work and rejection of the "Swedish model" [to criminalise sex workers' clients], again being threatened for Western Australia.

[This article was written by Kamala Emanuel for Green Left Weekly.]

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Politics in the Pub: Investor rights to sue

[This information is from the Communisty Party of Australia.]

This is short notice but please find attached information we are forwarding to you about a special Politics in the Pub that has been organised to host guest speaker Vidalina Morales.

Vidalina is a small scale farmer, mother of five from El Salvador and a leading voice in the environmental defence movement in El Salvador . She will talk about her experience as part of a community fighting against environmental vandalism by transnational mining company Pacific Rim.

After the Government of El Salvador suspended their mining license for environmental and public health reasons, Pacific Rim sued the Government using the investor-state dispute settlement clause in a trade agreement

An Australian company, OceanaGold, has a major shareholding in the company. The Abbott Liberal Government has said they are willing to consider the same investor rights to sue in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that is currently under negotiation.

Politics in the Pub * Monday 18th November 2013* 6-8pm

43 Below, 43 Barrack St, Perth

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

National climate rallies: Sun 17 Nov

GetUp has organised a national series of climate rallies. Information below from GetUp:

Let's kick off this summer with some climate action!

On 17th November join thousands of Australians in every capital city and hundreds of regional towns to make it clear that the majority of Australians want climate action.

Summer has come early and bushfires are already burning. But in a few weeks we will come together to turn up the heat and launch a summer of climate action.

PERTH - Russell Square, 11am, Sun 17 Nov

Rallies in other capitals
MELBOURNE - Treasury Place, 11am
SYDNEY - Prince Alfred Park, 11am
CANBERRA - Garema Place, 11am
BRISBANE - Queens Park, 10am
ADELAIDE - Elder Park, 11am
HOBART - Parliament Gardens 12pm
DARWIN - Rapid Creek Footbridge, 8:30am
Plus hundreds of regional events

WHAT TO BRING: Wear hot summer colours (orange, red). Bring friends!

Attend on Facebook:

Upcoming anti-nuclear events

[Information supplied by Conservation Council Anti-Nuclear campaign.]

November is the annual general meeting season for some of our worst nuclear companies, including BHP Billiton, Paladin and Toro Energy. All these meetings are in Perth this year and so we have a series of actions to show our opposition to this industry, to remind shareholders of the industry’s poor economic, social and environmental performance.

Please come along to any or all of these actions. Dress – neat casual for handing out fliers to shareholders. Find out more about thes upcoming actions on Facebook:

Cycle against the Nuclear Cycle and Toxic Toro

*Also this Sunday is a national day of action on climate change – we will be there with banners along the lines of “Don’t nuke the climate” we will be meeting at the Dome cafe on the corner of James St and Lake St in Northbridge and then heading to Russell Square for the main event. Please feel free to join us and fly the anti nuclear flag with us.

Hope to see you all soon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stop Abbott's human rights abuses: Justice for refugees - Sun 8 Dec

Human Rights Day Action

Stop Abbott's attacks on Human Rights
Justice for Refugees

Since Tony Abbott has taken office, his government have done everything in their power to further trash Australia's human rights obligations towards refugees, whilst attempting to erect an Orwellian wall of silence to hide these abuses from the public.

On Sunday, December 8, the Refugee Rights Action Network will mark Human Rights Day (a celebration of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on 10 December 1948), with a speak out in the Murray St Mall. We aim to build awareness of this shameful treatment of refugees and demonstrate publicly our opposition to it.

Our demands?

* Permanent protection, not temporary protection visas (TPVs).
* No offshore processing.
* End Mandatory Detention.

3pm Sun 8 December

Murray Street Mall (near Perth Underground Station)

Attend on FaceBook:



DOWNLOAD: 4 x A6 flyers

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Vigil for Vietnamese refugees

A large gathering of people from the Vietnamese and Catholic communities - alongside supporters of refugee rights - gathered at the St Mary's Cathedral in Perth on November 8 to highlight the situation of Vietnamese refugees in the Yongah Hill Detention Centre. Around 700 Vietnamese refugees have arrived in Australia in recent years complaining about religious persecution in Vietnam. Further, the Immigration Department has allowed Vietnamese officials into Australian detention centres to interrogate refugees there. This has resulted in further persecution of their relatives and communities back in Vietnam according to the refugees. The vigil was organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network, the Vietnamese community in Perth and the Catholic diocese.

Greens win WA senate recount as new election appears likely

WA Greens senator Scott Ludlam was officially re-elected to the senate on November 4 after an historic recount of WA senate votes from the September federal election. He and the Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich were winners in favour of the ALP's Louise Pratt and the candidate of the Palmer United Party.

Prior to the recount, a 14 vote difference between Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers Party led to a preference flow that supported Pratt. After the recount, a 12 vote margin favoured Ludlam. The call for the recount was vindicated by the fact that hundreds of votes changed hands in the process.

The recount has been marred, however, by the loss by the Australian Electoral Commission of almost 1400 votes which may have changed the result. Most commentators believe that a new election will be the only way to resolve the matter.

A new election would be significant because it would test the levels of support for the Labor Party (which won only one seat) and the Liberal Party (which won three senate positions) after the early attacks of the Abbott government become known. It will also impact on whether the Greens or Palmer United Party have more influence in the senate balance of power after July.

Another feature of a new election would be a likely increased involvement by so-called ``micro parties'' who have been emboldened by the wins by Dropulich and other newcomers. Already it has been reported [ ] the ``preference whisperer'' Glenn Druery is planning another micro party preference swap explicitly designed to elect small right wing parties instead of Greens.

The Socialist Alliance – which has welcomed Ludlam's re-election – has called a WA state conference for December 7 with the intention of fielding candidates in any new poll. Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright has made clear that the party will maintain its principled preference policy of supporting the Greens and other progressive candidates before Labor and then Liberals.

``Being a small party is not in itself a virtue,'' Wainwright told Green Left. ``If we are unsuccessful, we'd prefer that our preferences help to re-elect a Green senator than to support a right wing party.''

[This article by Alex Bainbridge was written for Green Left Weekly #988. Photo: Scott Ludlam speaking at refugee rights rally 20 July 2013.]

March with Freo Road to Rail in Fremantle Parade

March with Fremantle Road to Rail campaign in the Fremantle Parade, Sunday November 10.

The campaign to force a shift in WA state freight transport policy is coming to a head. A decision will soon be made about building a truck freeway through Fremantle to the Port.

That would be the kiss of death to the option of getting freight onto rail and would create a massive carbon polluting truck sewer through the suburb. It would also link to the proposed Roe 8 extension through the Beeliar Wetland.

So, join the Fremantle Road to Rail contingent in the Fremantle Parade. It will be preceded by the Save Beeliar Wetlands contingent and will be supported by the MUA and the Fremantle Environmental Resource Network (FERN).

Gather at the Round House end of High Street, Fremantle at 3:00 pm (the march begins at 4:00 pm). Be sure to wear a hat, carry water and orange is the colour to signify support for Road to Rail.

For more information call 9433 6946.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Community candlelight vigil for recently arrived Vietnamese refugees

Recent Catholic Asylum Seekers from Vietnam

[Information supplied by the Refugee Rights Action Network]

Please join the solidarity vigil:

6:15pm, Fri 8 Nov

St Mary's Cathedral,
17 Victoria Square, Perth

There are currently around 300 Catholic asylum seekers detained in the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre just outside Northam, and hundreds more detained in detention centres throughout Australia. These people are fleeing religious persecution from the Vietnamese government predominantly in the town of Vinh.

These attacks include large groups of police, army, militiamen, and thugs who assault priests and the faithful.

Recently governmetn forces seized the chapel Con Cuong, desecrated the Eucharit Host, and smashed a statue of the Virgin Mary. Fleeing this ongoing persecution, hundreds of people have resorted to taking the perilous boat journey from Vietnam to Australia to seek asylum.

Of particular concern to refugee advocates is taht the Australian Department of Immigration are allowing a branch of the Vietnamese pollice to enter the detention centres and interrogate these asylum seekers. Following these interrogations, some have been so frightened that they have taken desperate measures such as selfharm, attempted suicide and escape. Additionally, families of the people interviewed, still in Vietnam, have faced increased persecution including harassment and arrest.

Another significant area of concern is that the Australian Department of Immigration is using the so-called "screening out" process to refuse large numbers of Vietnamese asylum seekers to enter teh refugee determination process. This means their claim for asylum will not be hear and that they will be deported to danger in Vietnam.

One of the basic tenets of the UN Refugee Convention is the protection of those who are persecuted for their religious beliefs. We hope to join with the Australian Catholic community to call upon our government to live up to its responsibilities. They must refuse to allow the persecutors of Vietnamese asylum seekers to interrogate them in Australian facilities. They must hear their claims for asylum and judge them on their merits.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rocking the Foundations: 15 November 2013

Friday Film Fanatics - Rocking the Foundations

An outstanding historical account of the Green Bans first introduced by the New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s in response to community demand to preserve inner- city parkland and historic buildings. One of the first women to be accepted as a builders labourer, filmmaker Pat Fiske traces the development of a quite singular union whose social and political activities challenged the notion of what a union should be.

The BLF imposed a series of work bans, the green bans, on developers who wanted to demolish heritage buildings and sites of environmental significance in NSW. The workers saved trees and buildings which, to this day, remain a powerful symbol of how successful environmental campaigns can be run. Crucial to the green bans' success was active support from community activists and social movements. Together they formed an unbeatable partnership.

6:30pm Fri 15 Nov

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

Entry by donation. Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to shape a social justice council

The result of the October 19 Fremantle Council election was a real glimmer of hope for us in Western Australia, particularly after the bleak state and federal results this year.

Under the first-past-the post system used in WA council elections, I was re-elected in Hilton Ward with 58% of the vote, compared with 33% in 2009. In the other wards, the incumbent councillors defeated more conservative opponents. Mayor and Greens member Brad Pettitt won more than 70% of the vote, defeating former state and federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen.

The result was especially significant due to the state government’s plan to slash the number of councils in greater Perth from 30 to 15. This would, in practice, abolish the City of Fremantle — attacking democratic representation and the ability of the community to shape its destiny.

Big business and development moguls welcome the plan, but an extensive community survey of Fremantle residents showed that 70% were opposed to the amalgamation and 75% wanted to have a say on changed boundaries. The state government plans to ignore residents on both counts, despite promising otherwise during the state election campaign.

Like many local governments, Fremantle council earns income from commercial investments. The Low Carbon City Plan adopted in 2011 proposes that the council shift some of this capital into its own renewable energy infrastructure.

There's no better candidate than the community-owned wind farm proposed for North Quay at the gateway to Fremantle, given planning approval by council and actively supported by the Maritime Union.

It represents the antithesis of the fossil fuel mafia that runs WA. Perhaps that's the very reason the Port Authority, and through it the state government, refuses to grant approval. Meanwhile, they wasted $200 million trying to restore a coal-fired power station.

Support for the wind farm is growing. Broadening and strengthening the political campaign to get approval is one of the most important challenges for anyone in WA fighting for a clean energy future.

As a Socialist Alliance candidate in the recent state and federal elections, I hammered the point that there is no possibility of stopping runaway climate change or creating a more just and democratic society without bringing sectors of the economy like energy into democratic public ownership.

It is one thing to preach this in the abstract, but the chance to make it happen on the ground and prove it can work, even if on a modest scale, underscores how important this is.

I'm proud to have overseen a tenfold increase in the council's spending on cycling infrastructure. However, even this puts us on a collision course with the state and federal governments.

Perth doesn't have a proper bus service to the airport, let alone a train. Yet there are freeway works around the airport totalling $1 billion.

The state government is also trying to shut down 700 kilometres of grain freight rail lines and push an extra 40,000 truck movements a year onto roads. The overdue maintenance bill to keep these lines open is only $93 million.

Expanding road capacity and building new freeways doesn't solve congestion, it induces even more traffic. Vehicle movements in cities are rising at a higher rate than the population. Even modest attempts by local councils to encourage cycling and walking run up against the fact that freeway construction is flooding cities with more traffic.

State and federal transport policy is founded on subsidising the motor and road construction industries at a truly catastrophic cost to the community in terms of road accident trauma, diesel particulate pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the degradation of urban spaces.

In every Australian city, communities will find themselves fighting “freeway madness”. In Fremantle, the battle is shaped by the huge growth in freight volume to the port, causing huge growth in truck traffic and freeway projects at the northern and southern entrances to the city.

The Fremantle Road to Rail campaign has actively sought to avoid the “not-in-our-backyard” response of trying to push the traffic into someone else's lap.

The campaign has led to new allies, such as farmers and National Party voters in the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance.

There have also been strides towards social justice. We now have a Workplace Values policy that recognises council workers' right to organise and several measures favouring affordable and social housing. The council directly employs staff with disabilities and is improving access and inclusion as well.

But there is more work to do before it can be called a social justice council. A decade ago, Fremantle led the way in programs and activities that actively supported and involved youth, the aged, and Aboriginal people.

The modest but important recent achievements of Fremantle Council are down to two things. First, the Labor and Liberal parties don't caucus at council level in WA, making it possible to build agreement and alliances that might otherwise be excluded. There isn't a policy achievement I've been associated with that hasn't been actively supported by one of my council colleagues; whether Green, Labor or independent.

Second, and most importantly, we have an engaged and activist local community pushing council and shaping public debate. Encouraging and organising community activism is more important than ever, and the preservation and extension of these gains will depend on it.

[This comment piece was written by Fremantle councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright for Green Left Weekly #986. Photo by Rez Nez of Sam Wainwright speaking at a Refugee Rights rally 24 August 2013.]

Video and photos from Reclaim the Night Fremantle

150 women and their supporters marched through the streets of Fremantle on October 25, 2013 to mark the annual Reclaim the Night. Speakers included: ALP senator Sue Lines, Kamala Emanuel from the Socialist Alliance, Kate Peterssen, Christie Woodleigh and Kaila de Cinque from Reclaim the Night, Bec Davies from People for Sex Worker Rights and Karen Swin from the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Check out photos and videos below.

Sarah Ross speaking about refugee rights and violence against women

Rebecca Davies speaking about sex worker rights

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New video supports campaign to Boycott CHOGM in Sri Lanka

This new video supports the campaign to Boycott CHOGM this year in Sri Lanka and to promote the powerful film No Fire Zone.

Sign the Australian petition:

Get on board the Global campaign:

Action for Human Rights in Tamil Eelam & Sri Lanka

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Fremantle Road to Rail Campaign is running a crowd funding appeal

Please give support and get this link out to all your networks:

The aim is to raise $2,500 to create a wonderful contingent in this year’s Fremantle Parade getting the message out:
• Get freight onto rail to get the trucks off the road
• Give us back our clean and safe community
• Support state shipping to relieve pressure on roads
• Save Beeliar Wetlands

Support the Road to Rail campaign. We require a campaign kit to spread our critical message.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reclaim the Night rallies in Fremantle and Perth

Reclaim the Night marches will take place in Fremantle and Perth on Friday (25 October).

The Fremantle march begins at 6:30pm at Kings Square in Fremantle.

The Perth march begins at 6pm at the Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge.

The statement by the Fremantle Reclaim the Night collective is below:

Stop violence Against Women
Every woman has the right to freedom from violence. As women, we demand the right to be safe everywhere. In our homes, in the streets, out with friends and by ourselves, physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse is not okay. We have the right to be able to live without having to constantly think of our safety. There should be nowhere that is deemed unsafe. We are rallying to reclaim the night, the day, the streets, the home, our places of work, study, worship and recreation and to demand the changes needed to make this a reality.

Consent Education
All women need to be respected sexually. We need comprehensive education programs for high-school students about healthy, safe and consensual sex, as well as sex and gender diversity. Everyone needs to understand the importance of active consent in sexual interactions (as opposed to silence, or resignation in the face of unwanted sexual activity).

Economic Security
Underpinning violence against women are sexist assumptions that are fostered by the inequality women experience. While education and adequate funding for support services for women experiencing assault are essential, tackling violence against women also requires changing the conditions that support sexist ideas, along with ensuring women have the economic security necessary to avoid or leave financial dependence on abusive partners. We demand reversing the cuts to single parents payments that has placed sole parents (mostly women) and their families below the poverty line; increasing funding for public housing, refuges and sexual assault support services; and equal pay for equal work.

Decriminalising Sex Work
Criminalisation of sex work is an obstacle to sex workers achieving safety from violence. Police with the role of regulating the sex industry are more likely to perpetrate assault, and sex workers may be reluctant to report assault because of concerns about not being taken seriously or being charged with prostitution offences. We support the campaign to decriminalise sex work. We call for an end to violence against sex workers.

Transgender Struggles
We demand full recognition of transgender women as women. There are a diverse range of gender identities and expressions. Trans* women and their specific concerns are an essential component of the movement to end violence against all women. We demand the acceptance of transgender women into women’s refuges. In addition to the violence women face generally, trans women also face transphobic violence and discrimination. They should not be turfed out onto the street on top of that.

The policy of mandatory detention and offshore processing harms refugee women emotionally, mentally and physically; many of these women experience gender based emotional and mental violence.

The Involvement of Men
RtN is an event organised for women and by women, however, we encourage men who support our demands for ending violence against women to attend.

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Green Left TV video from last year's Reclaim the Night march in Fremantle

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Socialist councillor re-elected in Fremantle

Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was re-elected to the Fremantle council on October 19. In the other wards progressive councillors defeated more conservative opponents, and Mayor Brad Pettitt was also returned.

Wainwright won 58 per cent of the vote in his ward compared to 33 per cent at the 2009 poll. Local government elections are "first past the post'' in WA, so 33 per cent was enough to win the election in 2009. Wainwright's absolute vote also increased from 438 votes to 602 this year.

Over the last four years Wainwright has made a priority of organising and promoting community campaigns and supporting council initiatives such as a dramatic increase in the cycling budget. He has been a strong supporter of the Fremantle Road to Rail campaign and helped promote a community owned wind farm at North Quay.

He introduced the Workplace Values policy which recognises the right of council employees to union representation and job security; and set an indigenous employment target.

Wainwright has vigorously defended the Warrawee Women's Refuge which battles to maintain funding levels, and introduced policy to include and respect people with disabilities.

In 2012 he co-founded Action for Human Rights in Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka, a group which campaigns against Australian government support for the genocidal Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka. In this capacity, he has actively supported the campaign for refugee rights.

The candidates opposing the incumbent councillors and Mayor ran on a conservative platform that counter-posed the provision of services like rubbish collection and road repair to environmental and social initiatives. In particular they opposed the skateboarding facilities proposed for the Youth Plaza to be built on Fremantle's Esplanade Park.

Wainwright attributes his success to his record of support for grassroots action, principled progressive politics and engagement with council processes to achieve improvements in community services.

Pettitt – a member of the Greens – won a resounding victory against former state and federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen, securing just over 70% of the vote.

Communist Party member Vinnie Molina ran a strong independent campaign for a spot on the Vincent Council but was defeated in the context of a wide field of candidates including some supported by the Labor Party.

Declaration of the result in Hilton ward

[This article by Alex Bainbridge was written for Green Left Weekly #985.]

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nyoongar Tent Embassy opposes native title deal

Representatives from the Nyoongar Tent Embassy gave a presentation forum on Nyoongar native title at Murdoch University on October 15, hosted by the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre.

The focus of the forum was the ongoing negotiations between the Western Australian state government and the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) to extinguish native title in the Nyoongar territories of WA (roughly the region south of Geraldton and east to Esperance) in exchange for a $1.3 billion cash and land package.

SWALSC used the forum to continue to advocate for the proposed deal. Part of the case SWALSC made was to suggest that native title is no longer legally recognised for the Nyoongar people anyway, and that the deal meant getting something rather than nothing.

Activists from the Tent Embassy have consistently rejected the proposed deal, claiming no amount of money compares with cultural and tribal ways, and recognition as a sovereign people.

They have called the $1.3 billion proposed offer by WA premier Colin Barnett insulting.

When divided equally between all 35,000 Nyoongar people alive today, it is a tiny amount and would leave nothing to future generations to come.

SWALSC has also sought to minimise the significance of what extinguishment of native title would mean for sacred sites. The tent embassy's Marianne Mackay claims that sacred sites are already being threatened by the state government, using the example of police harassment last year at Matagarup, a traditional birthing place for Nyoongar women and meeting place for Nyoongar men.

During the forum, Herbert Bropho, a prominent Aboriginal activist gave a strong intervention in support of Aboriginal sovereignty. He outlined the ongoing issues faced by Aboriginal people living without sovereignty and within a white-dominated culture.

He spoke of the suicides within the family, his father's death, the issue of homelessness and other social expressions of the hardships experienced by Aboriginal people.

A vote of whether to accept Barnett’s deal will be held in May next year. With SWALSC actively promoting the deal, Tent Embassy representatives claim there has not been an open and frank discussion that would allow for informed decision making.

[This article by Seamus Doherty was written for Green Left Weekly. Photos by Alex Bainbridge from July 12 protest by Nyoongar Tent Embassy.]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Resisting Abbott's War on the Environment: Wed 23 Oct

Public forum - all welcome

Resisting Abbott's War on the Environment

* Climate * Fracking * Forests

This forum will take up Abbott's early attacks on the environment, what can be expected in the future and what the election means for climate policy in Australia.

Farida Iqbal (Socialist Alliance)

6pm Wed 23 October

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

Hosted by Socialist Alliance

Friday Film Fanatics: Oct - Dec

A series of three films at the Perth Activist Centre

6:30pm Friday 18 Oct
The Future of Food

A film about genetic engineering, Monsanto and food security

*   *   *

6:30pm Friday 15 Nov
Rocking the Foundations

A film about the famous "Green Bans" by the NSW Builders Labourer's Federation in the 1970s. A landmark struggle that deserves to be remembered today.

*   *   *

6:30pm Friday 20 Dec
Joyeux Noël

A film about the remarkable Christmas truce's during World War One.

*   *   *

All films at the Perth Activist Centre, 15/5 Aberdeen St (next to McIver station)

Entry by donation

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638

Monday, October 14, 2013

Julie Bishop: BLOOD on your hands - Fri 18 Oct

[Information supplied by Refugee Rights Action Network.]

The Abbott [and Rudd and Gillard] Government policies have led to more drownings at sea, more loss of human life.

The Australian Government introduced regressive and dangerous agenda under the moniker of 'Operation Sovereign Borders', claiming to 'stop the boats' and end the deaths of asylum seekers arriving to Australia from Indonesia. Over the past few weeks, we have seen anything but.

On this occasion, we will also commemorate the 12th anniversary of the SIEV X tragedy: on October 19th, 2001, 353 people, mostly women and children, died when their boat sank in the waters between Indonesia and Australia.

Then and now, the Australian Government has mislead the community over important questions of prior knowledge of impending tragedies, our responsibility in preventing the drownings, and lack of our duty of care to the survivors.

Join the Refugee Rights Action Network WA in a protest against those policies at the offices of MHR Julie Bishop, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.

4pm Friday 18 October

Julie Bishop's office, 414 Rokeby Road, Subiaco

Attend on FaceBook:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Anti-Monsanto t-shirts available now

These t-shirts say "Stop the Monsanto Monster: Environmental justice not corporate greed".

Order yours by sending an email to: wacontact [at] socialist-alliance [dot] org

The cost is $20 ($26 includes express post dispatch). Preferred payment method is by transfer to:  Perth Activist Centre, BSB 066003 Account 10253459. Payment can also be made by credit card over the phone.

Re-elect councillor Sam Wainwright

[Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright is currently contesting an election to retain his spot as Hilton Ward councillor on the Fremantle City Council. This is a link to and some of the text of his election leaflet.]

DOWNLOAD: Sam Wainwright's election leaflet

I have renominated for Hilton Ward for the council elections. I believe I've been hard working and effective, both collaborative and prepared to speak out.
I've supported the regeneration of the Fremantle CBD as well as taken a keen interest in the issues affecting our suburbs. I'm committed to social justice sustainability and community.

This leaflet explains some of my activities, the things I've helped achieve and the projects I will work on in the next term. I'm an activist councillor with more energy to give, and there's plenty more to be done. I hope you'll consider supporting me again.

Slow South St, create a Hilton Town Centre

With the support of council I convinced Main Roads to reduce the the speed limit between Hines and Stock Roads to 60 km/h. Will seek a reduction to 50 km/h through the Hilton Town Centre.

Supported successful community campaign for a pedestrian crossing of South St at Collick St.

Have begun negotiations with MainRoads for street-scaping of the Hilton Town Centre including trees, street furniture, paving, banner poles and red bitumen; subject to full community consultation.

Pushed for the final completion of the traffic lights at McCombe Ave Samson.

Freo people support social justice

Initiated the Workplace Values policy that respects council workers right to secure employment and union organisation; and set an indigenous employment target.

Put a greater emphasis on participation in the White Ribbon Day events, will work to get council to do even more in the campaign against family and domestic violence.

Secured council sponsorship and support for the annual Refugee Welcome Walk and Fiesta.

Sustainability, we can lead the way

Chaired the Climate Change Working Group whose Low Carbon City Plan was adopted by the City and will see it reduce its carbon emissions by 40%.
Vigorously defended the SMRC composting facility when threatened with closure by the State Government which would have destroyed a $100 million facility that belongs to us.

Actively supported the Fremantle Community Wind Farm proposal and will begin work on a solar farm for the old South Fremantle tip site.

Dignity and inclusion for people with disabilities

Supported the $53,000 'Count Me In' inclusion grant secured by Hilton Harvest.
Proposed the disability parking bay on Sellenger Ave at Samson Park.

Ensured that full access ramps for both the 25 and 50 metre pools were included as part of the Leisure Centre upgrade.

Proposed the City begin to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Parks & Gardens.

20% of dwellings in the Burt St development to be adaptable for people with mobility disabilities.

Road to rail, there's no freeway solution to road congestion

Actively supported the campaign for light rail to connect suburbs to the east and south of Fremantle to the CBD.

Successfully proposed that Fremantle become the first metro council to join the Wheatbelt Rail Retention Alliance.

Oppose Roe 8 and turning High St into six lanes.

A bike friendly Freo, it's happening

Increased rates of cycling benefit the whole community by reducing congestion freeing up parking spaces and better health. The City of Sydney estimates that for one dollar invested in cycling they save the community four dollars.

Expenditure on cycling infrastructure has increased from a tiny $39,000 per year to nearly $500,000 and cycling rates have increased.

With some of the key infrastructure in the CBD done, we can now fix problems in the suburbs. This year we will create a proper bike connection across Carrington St connecting Lefroy Rd to Rennie Cres.

When the connection between Beaconsfied and Hilton is done, we will be in a stronger position to again ask Main Roads to build an overpass across Stock Rd connecting Hilton and Samson at a mid-point between South St and Winterfold Rd.

Affordable housing, it's a right

Supported the small dwelling amendment that allows anyone to rent a granny flat.
Successfully proposed a 15% affordable housing target for CBD developments in the Amendment 49 area.

Secured a 15% low-income/social housing component for the Bannister St site.
Supported the Burt St redevelopment with an overall target of 45% affordable housing with a 10-15% social housing component.

Defend and extend our services

Assisted successful community campaign to stop the state government from slashing its contribution to: our local library by 70%; cutting Buster the Fun Bus; and removing staff from the PCYC.

Support the continued provision by council of the Warrawee Women's Refuge and Fremantle Community Legal Centre. Campaigned to to get the state government to properly co-fund these vital services.

I support the transition to water-wise gardens and greater subsidies for mulch and native plants. However cutting the mowing service leaves residents who are unable to maintain their verge in the lurch.

Other local projects and infrastructure I've supported

Renewal of the play equipment in Moornie Boorne Park on Rennie Crescent.
Renovation of Fremantle Junior Dockers club room plus light towers at Dick Lawrence Oval.

No forced amalgamations: Freo Forever, keep Samson

The State Government proposes to merge Fremantle, East Fremantle and Melville in July 2015. This mega-Melville Council makes would create a massive and unwieldy entity lacking focus.

It would dramatically reduce democratic representation. Fremantle has thirteen elected members 26,000 residents. The merged enitity would have around 140,000.

According to our community survey only 31% of Fremantle people support the proposal, and only 28% supported the state government unilaterally imposing mergers.

55% of residents wanted the right to have a vote on any proposed reform or merger.