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.