Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fightback and retreats as Barnett pushes austerity

Liberal premier Colin Barnett admitted on August 21 that his government has faced a tough start to its second term. This follows fee increases and controversial attacks on the public sector in the August 8 state budget which has provoked a backlash including an August 30 decision by school teachers to plan an industrial campaign.

Public backlash and protest action have forced some partial backdowns by the government but the overall thrust of government policy remains fee increases and public sector staff cuts.

On budget day, senior ministers were spinning a line that the state has a debt problem. "Make no mistake, we have a problem with debt," said treasurer Troy Buswell. Barnett said the government had "no choice" but to increase fees.

These fee increases include increased costs for electricity, water and other utilities of approximately $235 per year. Other costs include increased car registration fees and a 12.5% increase to land tax alongside a reduction of $4000 for the first home owners grant for people buying established homes. (By contrast, first home buyers who purchase a newly built home will receive a $3000 increase in the grant. This is an indirect subsidy to the construction bosses.)

In a sign that the belt tightening isn't meant to be evenly spread through the community, corporations were rewarded with a $121 reduction in payroll tax.

One of the most pernicious stings in the budget is a new fee of $4000 per year per student for primary or secondary education for the children of workers on 457 visas. A family with five children would therefore be expected to pay $20,000 per year for public education.

This policy represents: an attack on a relatively weak section of the workforce; an attempt to increase the divisions between workers with and without residency rights; and possibly a "thin edge of the wedge" against the whole population. If a fee of $4000 can be normalised for workers on 457 visas it would be easier to extend that fee to the rest of the population later on.

The policy that attracted the most immediate opposition was a plan to halve the feed-in-tariff for households with rooftop solar systems. A voter backlash and lobbying campaign (in the context of federal Liberals in marginal seats also feeling the pressure during an election period) meant that the government backed down within four days.

Then on August 14, Barnett announced that he was prepared to back down over his plan to split the City of Vincent in two as part of the government's forced amalgamation policy. This comment came only four days after a 1200-strong protest rally opposing the plan.

While amending the boundaries is not a reversal of the developer-friendly plan to halve the number of local councils in metropolitan Perth, this is another demonstration that the government is susceptible to popular pressure.

This point was demonstrated again on August 27 when it was reported that the government is considering adjusting the $4000 education fee for children of 457 visa holders. Options being canvassed include means testing or exempting 457 visa holders who are already in the country. The government is still working on details of an amended scheme but once again there is a tension between the overall "economic rationalist" agenda of the government and the risk to government stability of provoking a more widespread protest movement.

The biggest potential threat to the government's agenda comes from the trade union movement. The budget also planned to cut 1200 workers from the public service and a further 500 jobs from public education. The government has also announced plans to close schools at a time when WA's population (and student numbers) are increasing.

The Civil Service Association representing public sector workers held a rally outside parliament on August 6. While militant delegate Janet Parker received a positive response to her call at the rally for a campaign of industrial action to oppose the cuts, the speech by CSA secretary Toni Walkington made clear that the union leadership has no plans for any campaign. There is discontent within the CSA over this lack of a serious response.

By contrast, an August 30 meeting of the State School Teachers Union executive has endorsed a plan for industrial action and a public rally on September 3.

"These cuts [to teacher and education support worker numbers] mean that staff numbers will be decreasing while student numbers will be increasing," said union President Anne Gisborne in a campaign website announcement.

"You don’t need to be a maths teacher to work out that this will result in bigger class sizes, which will lead to less personal attention for students and poorer leaning outcomes," she said.

United Voice, which represents school staff has also been campaigning against the staff cuts.

Fremantle councillor and Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle, Sam Wainwright, told Green Left that the partial backdowns by Barnett in the last month demonstrate that the government is susceptible to pressure.

"This government can be beaten but we need to ratchet up the momentum if we are to substantially reverse Barnett's cuts. Only a concerted and united industrial campaign by unions combined with protest by the community would have the power to totally stop them in their tracks."

[This article by Alex Bainbridge was written for Green Left Weekly #980.]

Public servants rally on August 6.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

David Rovics performing in Perth

Here are some videos from David Rovics' August 28 performance at the Fremantle Workers' Club.

Syria, 2013 ("Bomb an Arab country one more time")

If I had a hammer (a song for Graeme Dunstan of Peace Bus)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sam Wainwright speaking at candidates debate

Sam Wainwright was one of nine (out of eleven) candidates who participated in the Fremantle candidates debate on August 26.

Most of the candidates contesting the Fremantle election are far right parties however the progressive candidates - Sam from Socialist Alliance, Jordon Steele-John from the Greens and even Melissa Parke from the ALP - clearly received the warmest responses from the audience.

The video above comes from Sam's closing comments where he briefly makes the pitch for a number one vote for Socialist Alliance.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Largest rally against gas fracking yet in WA

Around 300 people marched through Fremantle on August 17 against gas fracking in WA. Ten per cent of the state is already covered in fracking leases for shale and tight gas (not coal seam gas as in common in the eastern states).

The technology is newly being introduced into WA with only a small number of "fracks" having happened so far. However, the industry and government are set for a major expansion.

There are a lot of safety concerns given the industry has a poor record in other parts of the world. In WA, already there have been well casing failures from the fracks that have occurred.

This was the largest rally against fracking that has so far taken place in WA. It was followed immediately by a forum discussing the issue in more depth.

The rally was organised by No Fracking WAy which is the main grassroots activist group on the issue in Perth.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wainwright: five reasons to nationalise the mines

The Socialist Alliance is using the federal election to popularise the idea that we need bring mines, banks and power companies into democratic public ownership. Here are five reasons why this is a good idea.

1. Wealth distribution

The richest 20% in Australia own more than the rest combined. Mining company profits rose 540% between 2000 and 2009, while the share they paid as tax or royalties dropped from 40% to 14%.
Yet mining billionaire Gina Rinehart wants Australian workers to compete with workers in other countries who are on $2 a day. This wealth needs to be taken away from this greedy minority and used for the benefit of society as a whole.

2. Essential to reduce carbon emissions

As a society, we need to take serious action to reduce carbon emissions. This is simply not possible while mining and energy industries are privately owned and run for the purpose of maximising profits.

For decades, these companies have fiercely resisted the large-scale development of renewable energy. Their friends in government have now designed for them an emissions trading scheme that is spectacularly ineffective in reducing emissions but does make it appear that they are doing something.

The Liberals’ do-nothing plan is even worse than Labor's.

Public ownership would make possible a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy as Beyond Zero Emissions has shown is possible. This cannot happen while climate policy is trapped in the dead-end of market-based solutions.

3. Workers' rights

Mining companies claim that mining jobs are highly paid, but they disguise the fact that relatively high total earnings are possible only because of excessive overtime, remote area allowances and shift work.

Continuous 12-hour shifts and the stresses of a “fly-in fly-out” lifestyle put a huge strain on workers and their families. To drive down costs one company on the Gorgon project in north-west WA is pressuring workers to share bunks, with night shift and day shift workers taking turns to sleep in the same beds.

Just as in any other industry, the bosses care only about profits and not workers' rights. Public ownership under workers' control would enable improvements in workers' conditions benefiting not only mine workers but the broader community as well.

4. Genuine democracy

People need a meaningful say in the big decisions that affect their lives. This can happen only with a profound democratisation of society that focuses on citizen involvement and grassroots popular power.

An essential element of such a process is democratisation of the economy. After all, you can't control what you don't own and the big monopolised sectors of the economy should belong to the people.

As private capital is brought under social control, this would have the added advantage of progressively removing the corruption of big money from political life.

5. It points to a better world

Nationalisation of the mines, even while capitalist economic relations exist elsewhere in the economy, would make possible immediate improvements in environmental sustainability, social justice and democratic reform.

More significantly, it would point the way to a better society in which human need and social justice instead of profit maximisation would become the goal.

Many people think mining billionaires are too strong and cannot be defeated, but this is not the case. Bolivia and Venezuela show that left-wing governments backed by popular movements can take mining projects into public ownership.

Building a popular movement that achieves public ownership of the mines would create the popular confidence and organisation necessary to achieve more far-reaching goals — an ecosocialist transformation, a society that puts the potential of all human beings and the need for us to live in peace with the planet ahead of corporate greed.

[Sam Wainwright is a Fremantle City councillor and the Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle. This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly #978.]

Socialist candidate: We need to act locally and globally

Sam Wainwright is a Fremantle city councillor and the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Fremantle. Being passionate about sustainable transport he is active in the local Bicycle Users Group and the Fremantle Road 2 Rail campaign.

Wainwright worked on the waterfront for 12 years during which time he edited the MUA WA journal Rank & File Voice. He now works as a disability support worker and is a member of the Australian Services Union.

Wainwright told Green Left Weekly why he decided to run as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance.

“While they are very different workplaces, the experience of human solidarity and the pride in a job well done has confirmed in me the central socialist idea that working people and the wider community have the capacity to run society better than the corporate elite and governments that serve them,” he said.

“The capitalist ideologues claim that, like them, people are only motivated by the carrot and the stick.

“But it's the lack of control over our working lives, the lack of means to do the job properly and the fact that capitalism requires so many workers to engage in profitable but useless and destructive activity that breeds cynicism. I think people really yearn to work for society and not a boss.”

Wainwright joined the socialist movement in 1990 in Hobart, but only after quitting the ALP, which he had joined as high school student four years earlier.

“I absorbed from Mum, Dad and their friends an outrage at the Whitlam dismissal; even wearing a 'Shame Fraser Shame' badge to primary school”, he said. “To think that Fraser is now to the left of the ALP on refugee rights; that tells a pitiful tale doesn't it!

“As my political awareness grew, I shifted to the left while Labor in government was moving to the right. I was especially outraged by their total support for Indonesia's genocidal occupation of East Timor.

“It's funny, but only a few years earlier a generation of people quit Labor when it junked its anti-uranium policy. It shows how hopes and illusions in Labor are reborn and have to be dashed with successive generations, and how successfully it breeds the idea that the lesser evil is the best you can hope for.

“Last election, an ALP booth captain confided in me that he had voted Socialist Alliance. That's an important lesson for us socialists. It's not enough for us to be right. People need to believe that real change is not just necessary, but that it's possible. That's the challenge.”

Socialists spend a lot of time discussing the big world events, so what spurred Wainwright to get involved in local politics?

“I don't think I lived in one place for more than 18 months in my 20s, the local council was not on the radar”, he said. “But when you settle down in a place you do start to think more about what you want see changed in your local neighbourhood.

“A big movement for change will be born out of the myriad of smaller struggles for a better world intersecting with the massive social, economic and ecological disasters produced by capitalism.

“We have big ideas about how to solve these problems, but people will only listen to them if we can prove our worth in struggles today.

“If you can't organise a campaign to get a new pedestrian crossing or bike lane in your suburb, why should people believe you've got the ideas to save the world?

“I'm not arguing for narrow parochialism, and some councils are so conservative that it would be very hard to achieve anything. But we have to think and act both locally and globally.

“Where you have the opportunity to make a positive difference, connect with activists in your community and lift the level of political discussion then you should do it.”

[This article by Justine Kamprad was written for Green Left Weekly #978.]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Refugee rights campaign continues against unjust "PNG solution"

Rally for Refugees

There is nothing illegal about crossing a border to seek asylum. Refugees are not "illegal" and should have their human rights respected. This rally is calling for an end to the "PNG solution", an end to offshore processing, an end to mandatory detention and for freedom for refugees.

1pm, Sat 24 August

Murray Street Mall, Perth City

"let them land, let them stay"

Organised by Refugee Rights Action Network

Attend on FaceBook:

Vigil outside Melissa Parke's office
To to demonstrate community opposition to the PNG "solution" and Ms Parkes' support for abandonment of the refugee convention.

4pm, Thursday 15 Aug
Melissa Parke's office, 62 Wray Ave, Fremantle

We will be delivering copies of petitions we have been gathering signatures on opposing the off shore processing of asylum seekers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Frack Free WA - rally against gas fracking: Sat 17 Aug

Frack Free WA Rally

August 17

@1pm, Kings Square Fremantle

August 17th is the start of the national week of action against unconventional gas (fracking). We have plenty of reason to protest in WA. 15 wells have already been fracked in this state, and the industry is gearing up for full scale commercial production. Gas companies are planning to frack the Kimberley, the Midwest, and the Pilbara. They intend to try underbalanced drilling (a related technology) in the Southwest. They have exploration leases covering Gingin, Rockingham and Mandurah. So look out for your tap water!

There is still time to stop them before fracking takes off on a large scale in WA. So come to this protest and bring everyone you know!

Organised by No Fracking WAy. Attend on FaceBook here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

How you can help our election campaign

There are a number of ways you can make a big difference in supporting our campaign.

Some of the most important are:

1. Make a donation
Big or small, it will help to make a difference. DETAILS HERE

2. Help us on polling day
Click here or fill in the form below.

3. Attend our election launch
Thurs 22 August, Hilton Community Centre. MORE DETAILS

4. Help us with letterboxing
Phone Rob on 0422 709 763 or Alex 0413 976 638

5. Attend our Pot Luck Dinner election fundraiser
Sat 17 August, 21a Jarvis St, O'Connor. MORE DETAILS

You can also help by:
"Liking" Sam's FaceBook page
Put up an election sign in your yard (Ph Seamus 0407 906 803)
Check out our CALENDAR of events

This form is for real. Please fill it in if you can help on polling day...

Election campaign calendar

[Here are some activities we're planning or supporting as part of the campaign to elect Sam Wainwright to the seat of Fremantle. Your attendance and support will make a difference.]

Rally against education cuts
1pm, Tues 20 August. Forrest Place, Perth City (on campus actions earlier in the day) Web link

Socialist Alliance Election Launch
6:30pm, Thurs 22 August. Hilton Community Centre, 1/34 Paget Street, Hilton. Web link

Rally for Refugees: national day of action
1pm, Sat 24 August. Murray Street Mall, Perth city. FaceBook link

Fremantle Candidates Debate
5:45pm, Mon 26 August. Tannock Hall, Notre Dame Uni, cnr Cliff & Croke Sts, Fremantle Web link

David Rovics: Live in Fremantle
7pm, Wed 28 August. Fremantle Workers' Club, 5-9 Henry St, Fremantle. Web link

Equal Marriage rights rally
1pm, Sat 31 August. Stirling Gardens, cnr Barrack St & St Georges Terrace, Perth. FaceBook link

Polling Day - we need your help!!
8am-6pm, Sat 7 Sept. All through Freo electorate. Phone Alex 0413 976 638 to volunteer.

Election Night Party
6pm, Sat 7 Sept. Venue to be confirmed.

Past events:
Rally again, rally louder: for refugee rights
2pm, Sat 10 August. Murray Street Mall, Perth City. Facebook link

Frack-free WA - rally against gas fracking
1pm, Sat 17 August. Kings Square, Fremantle. Facebook link

Road to Rail: Transport and health forum
4pm, Sat 17 August. Victoria Hall, 179 High St, Fremantle. Web link

Pot Luck Dinner - election campaign fundraiser
6:30pm, Sat 17 August. 21a Jarvis St, O'Connor. Web link

Nuclear not worth digging or dealing in

At this week’s Diggers and Dealers conference [in Kalgoorlie], low commodity price and high production costs have been a focus of attention for the entire minerals sector. While, overall, Australia’s mining sector shows signs of resilience, there is one mineral whose outlook may be terminal.

There are five significant recent events that have occurred recently that send a clear message about the future of the uranium sector and the wider nuclear industry. The uranium price dropped to US$34.50lb. Energy Resources of Australia, the operator of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu, announced a $54 million loss. Perth –based uranium miner Paladin Energy failed to sell a stake in its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia. French nuclear giant EDF announced its exit from nuclear power in the US and Duke Energy cancelled two proposed reactors in Florida.

These incidents are neither isolated nor unrelated - they are significant indicators about the health of nuclear industry. The uranium price was around the US$20 mark through much of the 1980's and 1990's. It increased dramatically around 2005 with the promise of a ‘nuclear renaissance’ but began a steady drop in 2007 through to the end of 2010. Since the Fukushima disaster – a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium - the price has been in free fall.

Industry advocates remain adamant or delusional that there will be a commodity price recovery but a look at the sectors vital signs we find little pulse and less plus. ERA, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, has returned a loss at the aging Ranger mine for the third year in a row, after a series of shut downs and setbacks.

Paladin has been plagued with issues at its two operating mines in Africa. It is dogged by industrial disputes, corruption allegations and an inability to run a profitable mining operation despite securing uranium sales deals above the current spot price. Every year their shareholders get more irate as Paladin's board promise a bounce back of the uranium price. Their latest problem is the failure to sell a stake in their operating mine in Namibia. This has been viewed as a clear vote of no confidence which indicates people outside of the uranium industry do not share the optimism about a uranium price recovery. Paladin’s share price is currently the lowest it has been in eight years. Even John Borshoff the bullish Managing Director of Paladin seems to be losing faith, telling a uranium conference in Fremantle last month that the “uranium industry is definitely in crisis and is showing all the signs of a mid-term paralysis if this situation doesn't demonstrably change."

The move by EDF to exit from nuclear power in the US is perhaps the most significant of these recent events as it was prompted by the high cost of nuclear power. International Energy Agency commentator Dennis Volke put the issue plainly, stating "It is simply not easy to invest in nuclear and recover your money there." Instead EDF – the world’s biggest operator of nuclear reactors is increasingly turning its attention to renewable energy, particularly solar and wind.

This shift from nuclear to renewables is also evidenced in the current BP statistical review of energy which shows that nuclear energy declined by 6.7%, while solar grew by 58% and wind by 18%.

Duke Energy’s decision to abandon two nuclear reactors Vogtle 3 & 4 in Florida has also been driven by economic considerations. After a prolonged series of cost and schedule blow outs Duke decided the best option was to walk away. Unfortunately Florida tax payers will foot a $1billion bill for the project that will never deliver a single megawatt of electricity - much like West Australian's are footing the $102 million bill for failed plans at the ancient Muja coal-fired power plant near Collie.

In response to Dukes decision former Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner Peter Bradford said the nuclear renaissance "was just this artificial gold rush... And yes, it does show the renaissance is dead." With cheaper and more popular renewable energy technology coming online and contributing to global energy supply nuclear has simply become too expensive.

These five events are simply a reminder that the ‘nuclear renaissance’ was more about spinning media lines than spinning turbines. And on top of rising costs and falling social license the sector continues to be plagued by weapons proliferation and security concerns and the unresolved issue of radioactive waste.

For new comers like WA uranium hopeful Toro Energy this does not bode well. When a small inexperienced company like Toro are competing with existing operating mines for scant finance and market access– the $260 million needed to start the proposed Wiluna mine and the further $150-$260 million in upfront bonds looks more and more like ‘the dream that failed’ a term coined by The Economist.

[This article is by Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner with the Conservation Council of WA. It first appeared in the Kalgoorlie Miner. It is reprinted here with permission by the author.]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Word on the street about Sam Wainwright

Check over some of the comments people have made for Socialist Alliance candidate Sam Wainwright:

Sam Wainwright has always been a champion for workers' rights. I've known him as a workplace delegate and a workers' rights activist and he's always been willing to support people in their workplace. He would make a great member for Fremantle.

-- Alex Falconer, unionist

Socialist Alliance Sam Wainwright‘s passion is always great to watch and he made good points that made a lot of sense, which cannot be said for some of the other wannabees on the panel.
-- Roel Loopers, Freo View blog

Sam Wainwright is the candidate in Western Australia with the best plan to stop the human race from destroying itself and all other life in the process. He is down-to-earth, a long-time unionist, a human-rights activist, and an absolute champ. He recognises the urgent need to stop Australia's contribution to international climate change with immediate action to phase out coal. Nationalising or renationalising the big mines, banks and power companies would stop the unruly bankers from pulling the wool down over our eyes. It would mean their super profits could be used for the good of all society. Sam Wainwright understands that this land we live on belongs rightfully to the first people in this country and that Aboriginal sovereignty over this sacred land must be respected. The profits from these nationalised corporations need to be used for accessible public housing, free education, free healthcare and improved public transport. A vote for Sam is a vote for you, a vote for all the underdogs, a vote for liberty & a vote to stop our future being stolen.
-- Chris "1000Eyes" Bonds, hip hop artist

Sam is a personal friend of mine. We work together in a local advocacy group. He is a down to earth, genuine guy who is incredibly motivated. He truly believes in what he does and is extremely passionate about the causes he supports.
-- Cali, Tamil refugee

Sam's a good bloke, he's a good wadjula. He stands up for the downtrodden. He sees us Nyoongar people as the most downtrodden in Australia. He can see there is a lot of hopelessness and fear. He will always stand with us in our Aboriginal protests and rallies. So vote for him down Fremantle way because he will be good for the downtrodden people.
-- Uncle Ben Taylor, Nyoongar Wadjuk elder

In an era of panic-stricken political opportunism and escalating austerity fascism, Sam's strong and steady commitment to social justice for the oppressed is rare and inspirational. He is a fearless activist and intellectual who knows how to 'learn from below' and create dynamic and hopeful dialogues about real social change. It is a relief to see Socialist Alliance drawing urgent attention to the human need for public ownership of mining and banks. Sam can also be counted on to fight for single mothers and their children who are more often than not the canaries in the mineshafts of neoliberalism.
-- Dr Abigail Bray, author, inaugural inductee WA Womens hall of fame

We think that Sam Wainwright and the Socialist Alliance would make life better for people if their policy were implemented. Sam has the knowledge and the courage to be an effective fighter for real change. Sam is different to the normal politicians from the establishment parties. Why do those politicians lie? Because at election time, they don't say that they are going to support the big corporations and rich individuals who are a minority. If they told the truth they would lose the election so obviously they have to lie. Sam is different because what he is saying today about nationalising the mines and the banks is what he would push for if elected. These policies are in the interests of working people and you should support them too.
-- Khalid Hassan, Sudanese community member in WA

Fremantle city councillor Sam Wainwright is a socialist – a truly international socialist. His commitment to social justice and fair play, for all, is reflected in his pursuit of justice for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Sam has studied the plight of the Tamils and has taken their cause to heart. He works so hard to highlight their sufferings and canvases their right to self-determination. I have always admired the energy and enthusiasm with which Sam pursues his politics.
-- Tamil refugee, name withheld to protect family members from the threat of persecution in Sri Lanka

Sam Wainwright is my local councillor and now a candidate in the federal election in my electorate of Fremantle. I will be voting for Sam because over the years I have seen him stand up for local services in Hilton (e.g. Buster the Fun Bus) as well as for human rights (e.g. refugees). He has convictions and stands by them. He sees injustice and tries to change it. He is eloquent and intelligent and a great debater. I believe that Australia would be a better place with Sam Wainwright in parliament.
-- Shelley James, Single Parents Action Group

I am a Hilton resident, former Secretary of Hilton Precinct and Suburb Manager of Neighbourhood Watch. I first met Sam Wainwright when he was a newly elected Councillor on Fremantle Council. In the ensuing years I have observed Sam to be a hard worker and a man of his word. He embraces strong principles and is passionate about the welfare of the low-income and marginalised community. He believes in an ethical government. If Sam were elected to Parliament he would stand out as a principled, honest man who cares. In this election there is very little difference between the major parties. They have shown how little we can believe in their promises. Vote for Sam for truth and justice!
-- Mary Barton, Hilton resident

I've worked with Sam mainly because of his involvement in Hilton Harvest Community Garden. As our local Fremantle councillor Sam has thrown his full support behind the garden in our representations to council where he succeeds in getting real results like funding for paths and administrative support. He has also been our MC at the Twilgiht Fair, returning officer for our AGMs and seems to find himself on the end of a tea towel after most of our events! He's not bad at swinging a shovel too! Sam is a doer, a person of great integrity and honesty. He will say what he thinks and work hard at what he believes in.
-- Amy Warne, President, Hilton Harvest Community Garden

I just wanted to lend my support to Sam Wainwright who is one of the candidates for this year's federal election in the region of Fremantle. [We should] get behind him with this campaign because he is a real grassroots person who I believe can actually listen to the people and get our issues into parliament... As a councillor in Fremantle, he got a lot done for the people and if you really want a candidate who's going to go all the way and actually do something from a real grassroots level and a real human perspective, vote number 1 for Sam because he's just a deadly wadjula bloke and if we can get behind him, I think we'll have someone real in the political arena. So get behind Sam. I give him my full support. Get a real grassroots person into the federal election and lets see how we can go with getting normal people into parliament instead of just politicians all the time.
-- Marianne Mackay, Nyoongar Tent Embassy activist

Sam Wainwright has been a tireless campaigner for human rights and social justice. He brings both passion and an intellectual rigor to his assessment of the way forward for this country. Sam has demonstrated his commitment to a range of critical issues, such as refugee rights, anti-racism, and anti-war campaigning via his direct involvement and support for organising against human rights abuses. Whether it is standing together outside the gates of Yongah Hill immigration detention Center for refugees, or the offices of Julie Bishop for the beleaguered Tamil victims of genocidal violence, Sam has been there speaking up and speaking out. Sam has demonstrated his appreciation for the link between the wars and atrocities overseas, the propaganda of denial, and our government's cynical burial of refugees’ actual experiences and rights. He sees the politics behind the policies of division. His is a voice of sense, of decency, of unity and of struggle.
-- Victoria Martin-Iverson, refugee rights activist

This year the government made more money cutting single parent payments than what they took from the mining giants via the mining tax. Sam Wainwright has my support because he stands for wealth distribution, so ordinary people can benefit from the state’s mining wealth. Abbott and Rudd are racing to the right on asylum seeker policy, scapegoating refugees and distracting us from their policy failures. Refugees pose no threat to society and we could fund higher education with the $8 billion the government spends annually locking up asylum seekers. We need political representatives – like Sam – who understand this, who stand for what is fair and just, who stand up for what matters.
-- Anita Creasey, State President, National Union of Students & Single Parent

Sam has been and remains one of Earthworker Cooperative's most ardent supporters. 
With now two key unions, the Australian Services Union and the National Tertiary Education Union in Victoria, having negotiated the insertion of an Earthworker Clause into their EBA's with three major employers, Earthworker Cooperative is now at the production end of the process. 
Workers Cooperatives manufacturing green technologies, distributing the goods through the Agreements which unions negotiate with employers; creating a worker's and community market for the worker and community-owned green goods; at this stage in our history, does it get any better than that for the future of Australian democracy?
We have always said we are working towards the same factories in each State and Territory of Australia, and Sam is the activist politician we speak to when we want to look at the factory in Fremantle. His work as a Councillor in Fremantle has seen him play a key role in identifying the new green jobs for Freo, in very practical ways. Practical steps at the moment are absolutely critical, especially as conservative politicians still spread denial politics around climate emergency. 

With our key union supporters being the Maritime Union of Australia's West Australia branch, WA Branch of the CFMEU and the West Australian AMWU, Earthworker Cooperative is well placed to establish the first cooperative factory in the West.
In speaking on Earthworker Cooperative's behalf in the past, Sam has always insisted that ours should become an Australian democracy which at last includes the economy when seeking to determine the will of the people.

-- Dave Kerin, EarthWorker cooperative

I fully endorse Sam Wainwright for political office in the seat of Fremantle because Sam has the interests of the people at heart and has always worked for the poor, the underprivileged and marginalised. As a human rights activist, Sam understands the contradictions in government policy and has the ability and integrity to articulate the views of the people of Fremantle. Yes it is time. Yes it is time we take back our wealth off the corrupt mining billionaires who are frightened of someone like Sam Wainwright who will expose their greed. Sam argues the need for public ownership of our public assets, banks, power companies, hospitals and so on. These are some of the reasons I will be voting for Sam Wainwright in Fremantle and I urge you all to do the same.
-- Seamus Doherty, President, Plumbers Union WA

I am a huge supporter of Fremantle councillor Sam Wainwright who is running as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance. One thing that Sam is passionate about is creating a democratic and equal society for all people regardless of their background. Sam's passion and his values and beliefs are about putting people before profits. I wish him all the best in his campaign here in Fremantle and I hope that he, and others like him, can achieve the equal and just society that we all want to see with human rights for all.
-- Natasha Moore, Deaths in Custody Watch Committee board member

What I like most about the Socialist Alliance is the way their meetings don't just make tokenistic gestures towards matters such as inclusivity and diversity and marriage equality. It is good to see a party that actively makes sure that their grassroots members are able to influence policy platforms. In this age of plastic promises, flexible morality and rampant capitalism and consumerism being sold by the major political parties it is good to see Sam Wainwright unambiguously standing up for social justice and providing a real vision for our society. If our country and indeed our species is to survive to the next millennium then now is the time for a NEW "real" paradigm. I think Sam Wainwright and the Socialist Alliance are deserving of your vote in the seat of Fremantle because I believe Sam will indeed stand up and fight the cronyism and big business interests that are morally corrupting our Communities.
-- James Rendell, FagMedia

Sam Wainwright has a strong appreciation for the importance of public services and direct personal experience. He always shows his commitment to equality of access. I know that he works as a carer of people with disabilities, so he knows the cost to those people of the austerity policies of both Liberal and Labor governments, at state and federal level. Not only that, but when public servants have gone to Parliament House to protest against austerity and cut backs, Sam has been there as a Fremantle Councillor giving his support. I remember when he organised a community contingent from Fremantle to come to a CSA rally. It is precisely that kind of dedication that we need from people who are in positions to articulate the case for equality. I’m so used to seeing cynicism from our politicians it’s refreshing to see a person who isn’t an opportunist. Sam is a bloke who gives a damn and makes a difference. I would love to see him in parliament, and I’d love to see more like him in there.
-- Barry Healy, State Councillor, CPSU/CSA

I am the primary carer of 2 small children and a student at Murdoch University. I have been living in the Fremantle City Council area for 5 years. In that time Sam Wainwright has been my representative on Council. He has been an important part of many campaigns for woman's rights and to improve services for parents. It is a testament to Sam's community motivation that he has listened and acted on the needs of women and parents so well. This included providing vital support for the campaign to save 'Buster the Fun Bus', slowing traffic on local roads, creating safe places to cross South Street for parents with prams and those will mobility issues, supporting the street rally 'Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012' and pushing council to provide baby changing / feeding facilities in the refurbishment of Fremantle. Sam would be a fantastic voice for Fremantle locals in federal parliament and I have no hesitation supporting him for this position.
-- Justine Kamprad, O'Connor resident, Reclaim the Night 2012 organiser and Socialist Alliance member

Socialist Alliance Fremantle election launch

Support the campaign to elect Sam Wainwright to the seat of Fremantle

Socialist Alliance election launch - all welcome

6:30pm Thurs 22 August

Hilton Community Centre
1 / 34 Paget Street, Hilton

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638

Hosted by Sam Wainwright, Socialist Alliance candidate

Attend on FaceBook:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

CSA rallies to save the public sector

Hundreds of public sector workers and their supporters rallied outside the state parliament on Tuesday 6 August 2013 to protest the plans by Barnett government to sack over 1000 public sector workers. This policy includes funding cuts, privatisation and quality reduction in the public sector.

6000 signatures on a petition were presented to parliament on that day.

The rally was called by the Civil Service Association (CSA) which is part of the Community and Public Sector Union.

Video by Green Left TV

Sunday, August 4, 2013

National Student Protest - stop cutting our education: Tues 20 Aug

Join the National Union of Students and the National Tertiary Education Union to protest $2.8 billion in cuts to higher education and demand better for the tertiary sector. This event has been endorsed by the Student Guilds at Curtin, UWA, Murdoch & ECU.

To funding, staff or courses

Fund our universities and fund our future

We need to raise student welfare, reinstate start up scholarships and provide far greater support for Indigenous students. Capping places limits access to education and does nothing to address the lack of base funding.

Buses will leave from
ECU, Joondalup
(more details to follow)

Rally at Bentley campus 12pm at the roundabout near Robertson library.
Buses to the cross-campus rally will leave at 12:30PM


Australia ranks among the lowest of OECD countries with regards to higher education funding, at just 0.7% of GDP; if the Federal Government is serious about a smarter Australia then it must commit further funding to tertiary education, not remove it. And a recent study from Universities Australia shows students are wallowing in debt, some unable to meet even basic living expenses.

On August 20 staff and students all around the country are standing up for our rights to fair work and a quality education.



For more information contact:

Sam Wainwright for Fremantle: take a stand for socialist change

Media commentary will undoubtedly focus on the "contest" between Kevin Abbott and Tony Rudd in the coming elections. But the truth is they both agree about so much.

They both support policies to bash up refugees. They both deny the seriousness of the climate crisis by promoting dodgy schemes that are designed to make no impact on the problem. They both support cutting funding to tertiary education and forcing single parents onto Newstart.

Most importantly, they both support a policy framework that is good for corporations and bad for ordinary workers, students and poor people.

If you want to see a truly better world, you need to support a genuinely anti-corporate candidate. In WA, that means supporting Sam Wainwright - Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle.

Sam is running on a platform of bringing the mining, banking and power companies under public ownership so they can be run democratically in the public interest. Sam has actively stood up for the rights of refugees. He supports equal marriage rights and women's rights, workers' rights and genuine grassroots democracy.

As a Fremantle City Councillor he has a proven track record of defending the interests of ordinary people.

There are a number of ways you can support the Socialist Alliance campaign for the seat of Fremantle. In particular, the following steps would be particularly helpful:

1. Make a donation
Big or small, it will help to make a difference. DETAILS HERE

2. Help us on polling day
Click here to say when you're available (please really do this it will help).

3. Attend our election launch
Thurs 22 August, Hilton Community Centre. MORE DETAILS

4. Help us with letterboxing
Phone Rob on 0422 709 763 or Alex 0413 976 638

5. Attend our Pot Luck Dinner election fundraiser
Sat 17 August, 21a Jarvis St, O'Connor. MORE DETAILS

    Don't forget, you can also "Like" us on FaceBook, check out our campaign material and help us on polling day.

    Sam Wainwright on the Socialist Alliance plan to redistribute wealth

    More on the Socialist Alliance campaign

    Barnett seeks to bulldoze local democracy

    Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson unveiled the state's worst kept secret on July 30, when they announced their plan to slash the number of councils in Perth from 30 to 14.

    Buoyed by the two-thirds parliamentary majority the conservative parties gained in the March 9 state election, they junked the very explicit pre-election promise they made that there would be no forced council amalgamations, rescinding the provision that allows a council to refuse a merger if it's been rejected by a majority of residents in a referendum.

    Barnett's sales pitch is that bigger councils will have economies of scale that deliver better services and lower rates. However, the experience of forced council amalgamations in Victoria by the Jeff Kennett government in the 1990s contradicts this claim.

    Ironically, the Barnett government tried last year to force the closure of the Southern Metropolitan Councils Resource Recovery Centre, a multi-council combined composting and recycling enterprise.

    This would have pushed an extra 60,000 tonnes of waste into landfill and 70,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, and enabled the state to charge the councils involved $1.5 million in landfill levies and destroy a $100 million community asset in the process.

    Predictably, big business and developer organisations have welcomed the government announcement and the promise that it will deliver “greater consistency” in planning.

    Typical was the Committee for Perth — a big business lobby group backed by big oil and gas companies, Alcoa and The West Australian — which praised the Barnett government for faithfully following its prescriptions.

    The change would bring a drastic reduction in democratic representation. Among the amalgamations his government is proposing is the merger of Fremantle, East Fremantle and Melville councils. Melville has 100,000 residents but only nine elected councilors. This is the government's preferred number, whereas Fremantle’s 30,000 people have thirteen councillors (including the mayor).

    Fremantle councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright said: “If we are forcibly merged with Melville it will create a council with around 140,000 residents and perhaps only nine elected councillors. What we now think of as Fremantle and East Fremantle would only qualify for one-and-a-half councillors on the new body.

    “It would create council wards that are bigger than state electorates. One thing's for sure, as the new councils would have to pay their councillors serious money this in turn would mean it would be very hard to get elected without serious financial or major party backing.”

    Democratic community control over planning has already been substantially reduced in WA. In 2011, the Barnett government introduced Development Assessment Panels (DAPs), to which all developments over $7 million have to be referred.

    Most DAPs consist of unelected appointees, sometimes with little planning expertise, who outnumber the two elected representatives from the relevant council. For developments between $3 million and $7 million, developers have the option of going to council or the DAP for approval. Most prefer the DAP route.

    Wainwright said: “The DAPs are bad enough already. Basically the state government is happy for elected councillors to take on the work and grief, mostly unpaid, that goes with adjudicating the myriad of smaller planning applications. But as soon as it comes to anything really significant, democracy goes in the bin.”

    In anticipation of the state government's proposal, the City of Fremantle conducted an extensive survey of its residents. This indicated that 75% of residents were opposed to being swallowed up by Melville and 70% were opposed to change being imposed without a vote, the very two things now being proposed.

    “The survey showed residents were open to the idea of creating a greater Fremantle council, absorbing some of its natural hinterland,” Wainwright said. “But the lines the government have drawn on the map don't correspond to social and economic communities of interest, they cut across them.”

    Fremantle opposes the proposed Roe 8 freeway through the Beeliar wetlands, was the first metropolitan council to join the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance in opposition to the closure of country railway lines, supports the campaign for a community owned wind farm and hosted the 20,000 strong Concert for the Kimberly. Is it on the state government's hit list?

    “Some of the proposed boundaries were clearly prepared on the back of an envelope in about five minutes,” Wainwright said. “It's hard to know if it's just a rush job or if there's a bit of Machiavellian bastardy thrown in there too.

    “I expect [Fremantle council] will make a formal submission that again makes the case for a greater Fremantle based on real communities of interest. But if the state refuses to budge then we'll need an outpouring of people power. The bottom line is there should be no forced amalgamations. That's what the government promised, and 70% of our residents have said they want to vote on any change.”

    [This article by Alex Bainbridge was written for Green Left Weekly #976.]

    Sam Wainwright: How Australia can and should welcome refugees

    Sam Wainwright at rally for refugees 27 July 2013
    After promising not to “lurch to the right” on refugees if he returned as prime minister, Kevin Rudd dramatically did just that with his plan to send refugees to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement. He claims that no refugee who arrives by boat will ever be settled in Australia.

    This is a draconian plan beyond the dreams of hard-line racists like Pauline Hanson and John Howard. Yet despite this, leaders of the ALP left, such as Doug Cameron and Melissa Parke, have defended the policy.

    Both piously claim to be concerned about saving lives at sea. Rudd’s policy won't do that. But it will reinforce the racist poison that is a disaster for refugees and for the ordinary Australians whose lives will be worse because of it.

    So how should Australia manage refugees? Australia should first close all detention centres offshore and at home. People should be able to live in the community while their asylum claim is assessed — as was the norm before Labor introduced mandatory detention in 1992.

    Second, Australia should allow refugees in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia to apply for asylum and arrange flights so that they can arrive safely without having to make a dangerous trip by sea. It should also lift visa restrictions on people from certain countries, so that if they have the means they can fly here and apply for asylum when they land.

    Third, if refugees feel the need to travel to Australia by boat, any distress calls should be answered promptly with immediate rescue instead of waiting 48 hours or more, as commonly happens today.

    Some people think that policies like these could never be accepted by Australian people, that Labor has to put forward a draconian policy if Abbott is to be defeated. “If you don't pander to scared racists you won't get elected in Australia,” read one mock poster in the style of the immigration department's racist ad that has done the rounds on social media.

    This is not true for several reasons. Most importantly, it ignores that the Howard/Ruddock/Abbott style of refugee bashing is only credible today because the ALP has never seriously challenged it — and in government they've freely accommodated to it.

    Further, the hard-core rabid racist support for refugee bashing is actually a tiny minority whose influence is wildly exaggerated in the media. The reality is that most Australians can be won to an anti-racist and pro-refugee position in the right circumstances.

    One important element of winning that debate is actually taking steps to solve the economic and social problems that refugee bashing is designed to distract us from. In this sense, standing up for refugee rights is standing up for justice for all workers and poor people.

    How many refugees should Australia accept? We need to reaffirm that any person — without exception — who comes to Australia, appeals for asylum and is found to be a refugee should be given assistance and welcomed in the community. This is a wealthy country and we can afford to do this.

    The definition of a refugee should be expanded to include people who are forced to leave their home due to economic hardship or environmental destruction.

    Foreign minister Bob Carr insists “economic migrants” do not have a legitimate right to come to Australia, but people should not be forced to live in poverty and there is no surprise they would want to seek a better life for themselves. There is nothing natural about poverty. Poor countries are kept that way by global trade rules that advantage rich countries like Australia, whose corporations benefit from cheap labour and natural resources of poor countries.

    When policies of the Australian government directly contribute to creating poverty, for example by implementing harsh economic sanctions on Iran, or Australian companies who destroy the environment that people depend on for their livelihoods, then Australia should not turn away people seeking to escape that.

    And of course, refugees and migrants will contribute to our society and economy as has happened numerous times in the past.

    What if 10 million people came to this country seeking asylum? This question is as unreal and implausible as if one were to ask: what if 3 million people presented at Royal Prince Alfred hospital's emergency department on a single day? Or what if 500,000 people rang the fire brigade because their houses were on fire?

    In the immediate post-war years, Australia accepted more than 170,000 people with a population less than two fifths of the population today. There is more than enough capacity to assist as many refugees as conceivably would come here in the foreseeable future.

    In any case, most refugees don't want to come to Australia, because they don’t want to have to leave their home in the first place. They want the problems to be addressed in their own country.

    Australia could assist in achieving this goal by changing our foreign policy to end support for war and occupation in the Middle East, to end support for the Rajapaksa regime's war crimes in Sri Lanka, to end support for Israel's apartheid policies towards Palestine.

    The arguments of the government, opposition or Labor left apologists do not stand up to any serious scrutiny. Better policy alternatives than forcing refugees to an uncertain future in PNG exist.

    [This article was written for Socialist Alliance's Our Common Cause column in Green Left Weekly #976 by Sam Wainwright. Wainwright is a Fremantle City Councillor and the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Fremantle.]

    Put your money where your mouth is

    UPDATE 24-8-13: Over $500 was raised at our Pot Luck Dinner and almost another $1000 has come in in donations in the last two weeks. Please help us get over our target by making a donation today.

    If you don't like the status quo, invest in the alternative!

    We need your money to help change the world.

    Please donate to support the Socialist Alliance campaign for the seat of Fremantle. Any donation big or small will help the most consistent challenge to corporate tyranny in this election.

    As of August 24, we've raised $6333.

    We need at least another $2-4000 to meet our campaign expenses.

    Donations to the WA campaign team can be paid by:
    * Deposit or Transfer to: Socialist Alliance State Committee [CBA, BSB: 066 003  Account: 1014 0921]
    * Post cheque or money order made out to "Socialist Alliance" to PO Box 204, Northbridge 6865
    * Come into the Activist Centre (15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth - next to McIver station) (we're there most of the time but may be best to phone first to check 9218 9608 or 0413 976 638.)
    * Make a credit card payment over the phone (ph 9218 9608 or 0413 976 638)

    You can also support our campaign by attending the Pot Luck dinner on Sat 17 August at 21a Jarvis St, O'Connor. (If you missed this dinner, consider making a donation today!)