Sunday, April 24, 2016

PHOTO ESSAY: Far right/ultraleft fail to derail Safe Schools rally

Save Safe Schools WA organised a protest in Perth on April 23. The Safe Schools program is an important anti-bullying program that began in 2010 in Victoria and has since been extended throughout the country. Many young people claim the program is responsible for saving their life.

The rally organising group is a new activist campaign that formed after the highly successful demonstration the month before.

The Turnbull government is attempting to inflict devastating attacks on Safe Schools by restricting its activities and threatening to cut its funding.

The rally (like the previous one) was a wonderful opportunity for young LGBTI people to explain why the Safe Schools program means so much to them.

Kai Schweitzer is the creator of the "Why I need Safe Schools" Facebook page. He told young people in crowd "there is nothing wrong with you".

"To all the parents who have queer kids, there is nothing wrong with your children. We should all be free to go to school and get an education without constant fear of harassment and that goes for the teachers too who work in schools and should be able to teach in freedom."

This rally was complicated, however, by a counter protest by far right Reclaim Australia. They disingenuously claimed to "support the LGBT community" but that they "draw a line when it comes to children and pushing these views at such a young age" despite the fact that this is a blatant misrepresentation of the very popular Safe Schools program.

Socialist Alternative reacted to the counter demonstration by leading a split in the rally but most people stayed focused on defending Safe Schools.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam won a mighty cheer when he called on people to make a noise to drown out the "six, angry, pointless men" in the far right counter demonstration.

"I'm a little bit pissed off that we even have to turn up to explain the concept of Safe Schools," he told the rally. "I would have thought that was a really simple concept for people to understand."

He finished with a big message of thanks and congratulations to the organising team for getting a "big, colourful, bright demonstration" together.

State opposition education spokesperson Sue Ellery confirmed that "if the federal government does withdraw funds from Safe School, [a future Labor state government] will fund Safe Schools so that those schools who choose to participate can".

Responding to the counter protest, she said "people who use our nation's name motivated by hate do not speak for the majority of Australians".

"I support the Safe Schools program because it works," she said. "School leaders, principals, teachers and students have told me that this program saves lives."

Midway through the speeches, a march took place through the city.

More photos from the rally:

[Photos and article by Alex Bainbridge. This first appeared in Green Left online on April 24.]

Socialist Alternative splits rally with misguided tactics for "fighting Fascism"

Left wing group Socialist Alternative led a split in the Perth rally to defend the Safe Schools Coalition on April 23. Their split was a reaction to the provocation by the far right groups Reclaim Australia and United Patriots Front. The latter organised a small counter demonstration against the Safe Schools rally.

Socialist Alternative's split disrupted the Safe Schools rally more dramatically than the far right would have done by themselves. It was also poor tactics in the fight against fascism in Australia.

The Socialist Alternative split was actively prepared before the Safe Schools rally even began. They used their leadership positions in the campaign group Equal Love WA to: change the Facebook event time and details; remove the Save Safe Schools WA group as an event host; and remove the one Equal Love WA admin who is not a member of Socialist Alternative (without the authority of an Equal Love meeting to do so). Further, they refused to answer phone calls from Save Safe Schools WA activists to discuss their actions.

These things would have been bad enough on their own, but the fact that they played virtually no role in organising the rally beyond attending one meeting and setting up the initial Facebook event makes these actions reprehensible.

Even though it was carried out in the name of Equal Love WA, on the day the split rally began right next to the Socialist Alternative stall (there was no Equal Love stall) with exclusively Socialist Alternative members speaking. Plenty of people had begun milling around, but virtually nobody joined their rally (pictured).

In a context where the main rally was not yet due to begin, people began to drift over to listen to the Socialist Alternative speakers. This would have peaked at around 50 people, but even at this "high point" it was clear that most people there were not in favour of joining in the split tactics.

The Reclaim/UPF counter demonstrators didn't even show up until just before the main Safe Schools rally was due to begin.

As the far right moved in, police immediately moved to form a line between the two groups. Socialist Alternative members led a move to confront the far right group. The main rally organisers called for people to maintain their focus on the Safe Schools issue and began to start the rally.

At 1pm when the rally was due to begin, there were approximately 20 far right counter demonstrators, about 35 at the Socialist Alternative-led split and 135 at the main rally. (The latter grew to around 225-250 before the end including when the two rallies had reunited.)

The chants and signs in the split indicate what the political character of the rally would have been if organisers had followed Socialist Alternative's lead. The main signs they carried read "Fascists off our streets", "Neo Nazi" with a cross through it and "Re-Gay Australia". They were chanting "Nazi scum: off our streets".

One Socialist Alternative member is reported to have said that fighting fascism is more important than defending Safe Schools. They certainly acted on the day as if they could not care less about the fate of the Safe Schools campaign.

It must be acknowledged that the Reclaim/UPF threat needs to be taken seriously. The fact of their counter demonstration is further proof (yet again) that they are not "merely" an Islamophobic outfit hell-bent on denying Muslims their democratic rights. This movement is an attack on the entire progressive movement, including the trade unions and even queer youth at risk of bullying.

This is proven in a United Patriots Front (UPF) video that threatens right wing counter demonstrations "every time they rally". ("They" in this case referring to any progressive campaign.)

However, Socialist Alternative's split was not an example of an effective response to this threat. In fact, the counter demonstration by the far right was a trap for the left and Socialist Alternative fell for it hook, line and sinker.

It would have been far better to follow the tactical lead of the rally organisers in maintaining the main focus of the rally on defending Safe Schools and mounting a political critique of the antics of Reclaim/UPF.

This is not an argument that we should "ignore them and they'll go away" but that we should choose our tactics in the fight against the far right to match the circumstances.

And certainly it is the case that unilateral, bureaucratic manoeuvres (which is a perfect characterisation of Socialist Alternative's method of advancing their preferred tactics in this case) will not help us build the united movement we need against the far right.

[This article by Socialist Alliance member Alex Bainbridge first appeared in Green Left online on April 24.]

Friday, April 22, 2016

Resistance member: Why I'm running in the elections

I live and work as a nurse in Fremantle and I'm the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Fremantle in this year's federal election.

The Socialist Alliance recognises that not only has corrupt, business-as-usual politics caused a deepening social and climate crisis, but that those entrenched and greedy interests are unwilling and incapable of providing real solutions. Major system change is needed.

There is a growing despondency amongst large sections of the community; real anger and frustration in the way things are going. And rightly so.

We see rising wealth and income inequality, to the point where 64 people own the same amount as the world's poorest 50%. Six hundred of Australia's biggest corporations pay no company tax, yet poor people are chased down and jailed for the non-payment of fines. Some like Ms Dhu have died in custody as a result.

Homelessness and desperation are on the rise despite there being sufficient resources to provide a decent life for all.

Our climate is on the brink, yet governments are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and approve new coal, oil and gas projects. This reality cannot go on if we want to live a dignified life on a sustainable planet.

The problem then is not this or that politician, or this or that CEO. What is urgently needed is far-reaching social change driven by human needs and environmental balance, not profit.

The power of big money makes a farce of our democracy, where election campaigns are funded by corporations that also shape public opinion through their monopoly of much of the country's media. Why would profit-driven enterprises give money away during and between elections if they didn't expect plenty back in return?

As profits rise, the rest of us are told there's no money for healthcare or renewable energy. The government and media use the politics of fear and racist scapegoating to divide and distract the community.

The alternative the Socialist Alliance stands for is one in which people and the planet, not profit, are the driving motivation behind all our social interactions.

To meet the needs of our community, we need high quality social services like free education and health. We need an integrated renewable energy system while rapidly phasing out fossil fuels. We need comprehensive public transport infrastructure to break the dependence on private vehicles.

We need to embark on genuine reconciliation with the First Nations peoples of this land by acknowledging sovereignty through a comprehensive treaty.

We need to end the horrendous violence inflicted on women by ensuring economic independence through equal pay, properly funded women's health services and refuges and through making housing for all a right.

We need to celebrate diversity by immediately passing an equal marriage law and fund programs like Safe Schools, aimed at overcoming bullying and bigotry everywhere from the playground to parliament.

We need to fight for the rights of working people to have a high quality standard of living, by chucking out all anti-worker laws and supporting the rights of unions to organise.

Is all this a pipedream that is never going to happen? Some ask where the money will come from? The real question is: “Where is all the money going now?” Into the hands of big banks, the big corporations and the same greedy few. That wealth was created by working people and should come back into the community.

Setting and enforcing higher taxes on corporations is a good start. But ultimately key strategic industries such as the banks and mines need to come under democratic public ownership to ensure that the wealth created is invested in the community so that we can take control of our collective future.

Young people have a major part to play in making this change. I encourage everyone to think big and bold and not see politics as a contest between who do you hate least, but rather to ask what do we want our future society to look like?

People elected to public office are often on salaries and pensions well above that of the average member of the community.

The disgraced Bronwyn Bishop is now taking home more than $9000 a fortnight in a pension paid for by us. Many parliamentarians use their position as a stepping stone into the corporate world, and not from a deep motivation to serve the community.

In the Socialist Alliance, we want to rise with communities, not above them. All our candidates pledge that, if elected, they will only take home the average wage, and I am proud to do the same.

[This article by Chris Jenkins first appeared in Green Left online on April 22, 2016. Jenkins is running for the Socialist Alliance for the seat of Fremantle in the federal election.]

March with Socialist Alliance at May Day

Join the Socialist Alliance contingent this May Day!

Sunday 1 May

Gather from 10am, March at 12 noon
Fremantle Esplanade

Each year, May Day celebrates the hard won gains won by workers' collective struggle across the world, and brings together all who are fighting for a dignified, sustainable future for everybody.

The need for collective struggle has never been more apparent. Pro-business governments, both Labor and Liberal, are on the offensive against workers, unions and their communities in order the maximise profits for the bosses. In the process they are also destroying the very climate we all depend on, and using toxic racism, xenophobia and sexism to divide us.

The Socialist Alliance stands for solidarity towards all who are oppressed by capitalism. A different world is possible, one based on mutual solidarity and cooperation and one in which people and planet matter, not profit. This alternative isn't going to be handed to us, we need to fight for it!

For more information contact 0415 922 740

Attend on Facebook:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Support Socialist Alliance in the double dissolution election

For the billions, not the billionaires

The senate has done the right thing and rejected the government's proposed anti-worker legislation. This means a double dissolution election is now likely on July 2.

All around the world, more and more people are realising that we need to challenge the billionaire class if we are to have a decent future.

The Socialist Alliance is running in these elections to wage a real campaign to back people power not corporate power.

We want to tax the rich for real and use the money to fund renewable energy and social services.

Only a people's uprising can break the power of the billionaire class and their bought-and-paid-for politicians and that's what our campaign stands for.

You can support our campaign:

1 Make a donation (big or small)
Millions of Americans have donated an average of $27 to support the Bernie Sanders' socialist campaign in the US elections. Can you match that? If you can afford more, we'd appreciate it. Every cent you donate will be used wisely to support a movement for genuine change. (Details here)

2 March with Socialist Alliance on May Day
Gather from 10am, march at 12 noon, Fremantle Esplanade, Sun 1 May.

3 Attend our election launch
6pm Sat 7 May, Navy Club Fremantle. Details here. (Facebook event)

4 Volunteer now to help on polling day
Phone Sam 0412 751 508 or use the online form below

5 Help support our regular campaigns and activities
This Saturday, we are rallying to save the Safe Schools Program (1pm Sat 23 April, Murray St Mall). The week after, we're hosting Canadian ecosocialist Ian Angus at an important forum (2pm, Sat 30 April, Perth Activist Centre) (Facebook event)

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)

Socialist Alliance election launch and fundraiser

Join us for the launch of the Socialist Alliance WA federal election campaign!

6pm Sat 7 May

Navy Club
64 High Street, Fremantle

In the upcoming federal election, Socialist Alliance WA will be contesting the seat of Fremantle, with Chris Jenkins being our candidate.

In the senate, we have a three-person team comprising Kamala Emanuel, Seamus Doherty and Farida Iqbal.

Follow the link below for our national election proclamation 'For a peoples movement against cuts, racism and attacks on workers rights'

Unlike the major parties, who receive large donations from the billionaire class, Socialist Alliance relies on the contributions, including financial, of our members and supporters in order to get our message of a political alternative out into the public domain. Fundraisers such as this are essential to that effort.

Please RSVP by messaging Christie on 0420 944 651

Attend on Facebook:

Use your money to fund the billions not the billionaires

The Socialist Alliance is running in these elections to wage a real campaign to back people power not corporate power.

We want to tax the rich for real and use the money to fund renewable energy and social services.

Only a people's uprising can break the power of the billionaire class and their bought-and-paid-for politicians.

Your donation will help us work towards this goal, in short: it will help change the world.

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

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)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Protect our kids from "The Australian"

Socialist Alliance senate candidate Farida Iqbal responds to the Australian newspaper's latest attack on the Safe Schools program

Join the rally to save Safe Schools (Perth 1pm Sat 23 April, Murray St Mall, Perth City):

Support the Socialist Alliance election campaign:

Socialist Alliance WA senate candidates

Kamala Emanuel is a women's health doctor and a mother of one. She is a passionate feminist who campaigns for abortion rights and against violence against women. She has a strong interest in climate justice and helped draft the Socialist Alliance's Climate Action Plan. She has been an active socialist for almost 25 years and in 2001 was a founding member of Socialist Alliance. She is a campaigner for refugee rights and against Islamophobia.

“I am running in this election because I think we need to tax the rich for real. We need funds for 100% renewable energy, public housing and other social services.

“The Bernie Sanders campaign in the US is a reminder that all around the world, in different ways, challenges are breaking out against the corporate 1% and we need to build our own people's uprising against the billionaire class in this country.”

Séamus Doherty was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and emigrated to Australia as a plumber in 1974. He has had a number of roles in the union movement and was black-listed by the bosses for his fierce defence of safety standards and workers' rights. He is immediate past-president of the Plumbers' Union and remains a passionate unionist. He has actively supported Nyoongar sovereignty including the Nyoongar Tent Embassy and the Matagarup Refugee Camp. He played an instrumental role in the establishment of Solidarity Park as part of the Workers' Embassy that helped defeat the Court Government's attacks on workers' rights. He is a human rights activist and was an organiser of the CHOGM protest in 2011. He is a supporter of Celtic Football club and played Gaelic football for ten years at Finbars.

“I am running to help the poor, the marginalised and the underprivileged.”

Farida Iqbal is currently actively in the campaign to save the Safe Schools program. She is an active campaigner for equal marriage rights and has been involved in the Queer movement since 2003. In 2014 she was an organiser of the March Australia movement against the Abbott government's anti-people budget, calling at the time for the budget to be blocked. She is also part of the movement to defend protest rights and has actively opposed gas fracking in WA.

“I'm running to stand up for the Safe Schools Coalition, and for queer youth. If our government was genuinely democratic there is no way they would have thrown a whole generation of young people under the bus just to hold on to power. We need a government for the people, by the people, that looks out for minority groups.”

Sunday, April 17, 2016

SA candidates support a free West Papua

Socialist Alliance candidates Farida Iqbal, Chris Jenkins and Kamala Emanuel supporting a social media campaign for a Free West Papua supported by Indigenous Australia United for a Free West Papua.

#SocialistAlliance #WesternAustralia candidates supporting the #LetWestPapuaVote social media campaign. #freewestpapua #solidarity #endthegenocide

Safe Schools saves lives

[This article by Farida Iqbal first appeared in the Perth Voice 15 April 2016.]

FARIDA IQBAL is a founding member of Save Safe Schools WA and a Socialist Alliance candidate for the Senate. Her political views do not necessarily represent Safe Schools WA, a broad coalition encompassing people of all stripes.

ON March 18 this year the federal government announced devastating attacks on the Safe Schools Coalition.

Safe Schools is not a “paedophile grooming” program, as it has been so horrifically described. It is the opposite. It is a program that protects young people and saves lives.

Schools can join the Safe Schools Coalition to access resources, such as training and educational materials. These resources help schools combat bullying effectively, by challenging the culture that underpins it.

We must recognise that school bullying isn’t just kids being mean to each other. Bullying is an expression of homophobia, transphobia and sexism. Bullying comes from a culture of macho boys and mean girls who pick on anybody they decide doesn’t fit into their gender norms.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex students face the most severe consequences of this culture. This is clear in the harrowing suicide rates.

Yet it is important to recognise that homophobia and transphobia impact on the entire student body. How many straight boys are beaten up because they are accused of being “fags”?

As well as the bullies in school, we have to take on the bullies in parliament. The Safe Schools Coalition began without controversy under the Abbott government. How is it possible that transgender children will now be denied this life-saving program, because it can’t be taught in primary schools?

How is it possible that parental consent is now required for the program to be implemented, denying it to LGBTI kids with prejudiced parents?

How is it possible the entire program will be defunded after 2017?

This would not have been possible under a truly democratic political system. A government of the people would not pander to the Australian Christian Lobby. It would act in the interests of the community.

What would such a government even look like? We have been living for so long under lying, cheating, manipulative politicians that it can be hard for Australians to imagine things could be any different. But it is getting easier.

Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the US presidential race, has given us a powerful message. We can’t leave it up to the politicians. The community needs to take things into its own hands. This is socialism, not in the Stalinist sense of the word, but in the original sense of the word.

Taking things a step beyond Bernie, we can say the community needs to take political power. That’s ordinary working class people like you and me. We need to put politicians on an average working wage, and we need to be able to recall them once elected.

It is precisely the community that is now starting to come forward. In the past few weeks I have been inundated by parents, teachers, high school students, primary school students, LGBTI people, and countless others wanting to stand up for safe schools. We have formed a new campaign group: Save Safe Schools WA. We will hold a rally at 1pm on April 23 in the Murray Street Mall.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

25 years after Royal Commission rally demands: Stop Black deaths in custody

150 people rallied at the Stirling Gardens and then marched through the streets of Perth in protest against ongoing Black deaths in custody in Australia.

The rally commemorated 25 years since the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody made 339 recommendations which have been largely ignored in the quarter century since.

Over 355 Aboriginal people have died in custody since the Royal Commission presented its findings.

Jennifer Clayton attended the rally who lost her son Warren who died "as a result of a death in custody" in the Albany lockup.

"The two police officers involved actually pleaded guilty to their negligence," Clayton told Green Left, however, they received only minor consequences.

Rally chairperson Paul Kaplan highlighted the high rate of Aboriginal incarceration. He said this was due to "racism, discrimination, inter-generational trauma, poverty and homelessness".

Socialist Alliance senate candidate Seamus Doherty attended the rally and told Green Left that some of the Aboriginal deaths in Custody occurred in "dubious circumstances" that amount to "murder" by police.

However, he said that deaths in custody could be virtually eliminated by implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda asked the rally: "Did Ms Dhu deserve to die because of unpaid fines? Did Mr Ward deserve to die because of drink driving? Did Mr Doomadgee on Palm Island deserve to die because of being drunk on the streets?

"Our people are doing more time than anyone else in this country." He also called for the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations.

Two die-ins were held on the march which was organised by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee.

[This article by Alex Bainbridge first appeared in Green Left online April 15, 2016. Photos and video by Alex Bainbridge.]

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Public forum: Capitalism versus humanity in the fight to save the planet - Sat 30 April

Canadian ecosocialist speaking in Perth

Climate war and the billionaire class:
Capitalism versus humanity in the fight to save the planet

World renowned ecosocialist Ian Angus is coming to Australia as a feature speaker at the Socialist for the 21st Century Conference in Sydney (May 13-15).

This forum in Perth will address the "climate war" that has begun and the ecosocialist solutions needed to address it.

More than ever, the line between rich and poor is a line between survival and death, as inequality and climate change combine to create new extremes of oppression. A handful of people live in obscene luxury, while billions are condemned to permanent poverty and hunger – and rich governments build fences, walls and concentration camps to keep the poor away.

Speaker Ian Angus is a long-time activist in socialist and environmental movements in Canada and internationally. He is editor of the online journal Climate & Capitalism and co-author of the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration. His most recent book is Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System.

Forum details:
2pm Sat 30 April
Perth Activist Centre
(15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth - next to McIver station)
Recommended donation: $5

Attend on Facebook:

Ian Angus is also a featured speaker at the Socialism for the 21st Century Conference:

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Morning Star flag presented to Socialist Alliance at West Papua film screening

Free West Papua
Acknowledgement of Country at Free West Papua film night
Posted by Socialist Alliance WA on Friday, April 8, 2016

Papuan activist Wiwince Pigome presented a Morning Star Flag to the Perth Activist Centre at a film night promoting a Free West Papua on April 8.