Select policies of the Victorian Socialists

With three weeks to go until the 26 November state election, the Victorian Socialists have released their policies as they campaign across Melbourne’s Northern and Western Metropolitan districts. Here we publish a selection from the party’s 2022 election manifesto. To view the full policy platform, visit victoriansocialists.org.au/policies.

Victorian Socialists manifesto

The billionaires have had it too good for too long. CEO salaries are up more than 40 percent in a year while living standards for everyone else are getting smashed. Decade after decade, under both major parties, the rich have grown richer while everyone else struggles. And the politicians run Victoria like it’s their own private cash machine.

We have to change things. We’ve got to put politicians on a worker’s wage so that they live like the rest of us. And we’ve got to get socialists into parliament who will fight to make workers richer and billionaires poorer, not the other way around.

Under the business-as-usual politics of Liberal and Labor, Melbourne has become a segregated city: working-class areas are starved of resources while the wealthy suburbs get the best of everything.

The property market has become a casino for speculators interested only in profits, while homes are priced out of reach of an entire generation.

Our gas and electricity infrastructure and services have been sold in the name of “efficiency”. Now we’re paying for it as the energy companies squeeze us for every cent.

Our natural resources—the minerals beneath the ground, the arable land, the forests, the water in our rivers—have been handed to the highest bidder.

The climate emergency gets worse every year as mass extinction events and irreversible biodiversity losses put our future in jeopardy.

Our public schools are the most underfunded in the country and our public health system is in permanent crisis.

Under business-as-usual politics, it’s divide and conquer. Whether it’s the relentless attacks on trans people, the racist panics about “boat people” or “African gangs” or the attacks on Aboriginal sovereignty—all of it is there to divide us and to distract us from the great robbery going on right in front of our eyes.

We need a state that works for everyone. That means taking the power back and building a society that looks after working people and those who have been left behind.

We need to put essential services and infrastructure in public hands again—where they can be used to benefit everyone, rather than just make profits for the few.

We need a socialist society of equality, social justice and environmental sustainability, in which we can organise together to save our planet and reclaim our future.

So let’s put a socialist in parliament—to fight for all of us.

Put politicians on worker’s wage

Politicians are massively overpaid. The starting salary of a Victorian MP is more than $190,000—putting them in the top 4 percent of Australia’s income “earners”. Ministers get more than $350,000, putting them in the top 1 percent! The result is that parliament attracts people more interested in making life better for themselves and their own families than making life better for working people and our families.

Policy:

  • Make the “basic salary” of all members of parliament no more than a 6th year nurse ($87,000) with all increases pegged to the nurses Award. 
  • Abolish all “additional salaries” on top of the “basic salary”, such as the extra $214,368 received by the premier.

Housing for all!

Victorian Socialists stand for renters, for households struggling to pay off mortgages and for people suffering homelessness and housing insecurity. Secure, quality housing should be a right, not a money-making opportunity for landlords, speculators and developers.

Policy:

  • Impose a five-year freeze on rent increases and cap subsequent increases to CPI.
  • Construct at least 15,000 new public housing units per year for at least the next 10 years.
  • Restrict home ownership to individuals, not-for-profit community housing providers and governments.
  • Cap at two the number of homes that any individual can own.
  • Bring into public ownership properties that have been vacant for more than two years without extenuating circumstances.

Make power affordable and sustainable

The Australian energy market has failed. Victoria must lead the way in the creation of a national, publicly owned power grid that provides cheap, reliable power and leads the transition to an affordable renewable economy.

Policy:

  • Introduce an immediate annual price cap on electricity and gas bills for two years based on average 2018 prices.
  • Initiate a public takeover of the energy industry.
  • Create a not-for-profit public energy operator to secure the long-term energy security of the state, to oversee the transition away from fossil fuels in energy production, and to progressively reduce household energy bills as the power generation and transmission capacity of the grid expands.

Fix the health crisis

The public health system is in crisis. Emergency room overcrowding is the worst it has been in at least 40 years and hundreds of people a day can’t get help. There aren’t enough ambulances to get to those needing critical care. And the real wages of hospital workers are going backwards. We need to provide the required funding to urgently overhaul the system.

Policy:

  • Increase nurses’ and paramedics’ wages by at least 2.5 percent above inflation.
  • Improve nurse-to-patient ratios across all areas and properly enforce them.
  • Expand the ambulance fleet to reduce wait times.
  • Build new public hospitals in growth corridors, and other areas where needed.
  • Put private hospitals in public hands.

Climate change

Victoria is one of the world’s largest per-capita emitters of greenhouse gases, but we also have the resources and skills to develop a renewable energy economy, which would revitalise the state’s dying manufacturing industry, and provide quality, skilled jobs for tens of thousands of people. 

Policy:

  • Reduce emissions by 75 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, achieve a zero-carbon economy by 2035 and a permanent net-negative emissions economy by 2040.
  • Stop the establishment of a nuclear power industry in the state.
  • Establish a renewables manufacturing industry (solar photovoltaic, lithium-ion battery and electric vehicles), with guaranteed secure jobs and retraining for workers from the fossil fuel industry.
  • End logging of remaining forest habitats and establish programs of reforestation and restoration of native grasslands and wetlands.
  • Repeal the Labor government’s anti-protest laws, which are being used to target opponents of environmental vandalism.

Schools and early childhood education

Victoria’s state Labor government still spends less per student in government schools than any other state or territory. Parents are paying thousands per year for what is supposed to be a free education for their kids, and teachers have a crushing administrative burden, which adds little or nothing to educational outcomes and student welfare. We need a radical shift to address the crisis.

Policy:

  • Hire 10,000 additional teachers and support staff for the state’s 1,600 public schools.
  • End “voluntary contributions” from parents in state schools.
  • Stop taxpayer funding of exclusive, wealthy private schools.
  • Give early childhood education workers, teachers and support staff a pay rise of inflation plus 2.5 percent.
  • Pay teachers for overtime performed.
  • Ensure universal access to free, quality early childhood education or childcare services.

First Nations

Our country is a crime scene. Land theft, murder, torture, enslavement, denial of liberty, wage theft, sexual assault, social destruction, cultural desecration and the kidnapping of children are at the heart of Australia’s founding. There has never been adequate acknowledgment, let alone redress, for these crimes—many of which are ongoing—perpetrated against First Nations people. Justice demands that the grievances of the original inhabitants be addressed, not simply with words, but with deeds. 

Policy:

  • End the privileging of business interests over Indigenous land rights by pursuing Treaties with First Nations peoples that include the right to veto mining and other environmentally and culturally destructive activities.
  • Establish a reparations tax on commercial properties as a contribution to funding land theft reparations for First Nations people.
  • Implement all recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
  • Recognise January 26 as Invasion Day.

Transport

The sell-off of Victoria’s public transport has been a total failure. Victorian Socialists believe that public transport should be publicly built, owned and managed. We could create thousands of green jobs and save Victorians thousands of dollars every year if we put the system back in public hands.

Policy:

  • Put Victoria’s train, bus and rail system back into public hands, without compensation.
  • Make public transport free.
  • Construct new and extended public transport routes to improve public transport access and frequency in suburban and growth corridors.
  • Invest $126 million per year into cycling infrastructure.
  • Reverse the privatisation of VicRoads.
  • Return toll roads to public hands.

A bank that puts people before profit

Commercial banks have put half the country in debt bondage. We need a bank that is run in the public interest; one that provides security for workers’ savings, funds socially useful infrastructure, provides working people credit for housing at a reasonable, below-market rate and whose profits are put back into the community, rather than into the pockets of billionaires.

Policy:

Establish a State Bank of Victoria, whose charter will mandate that it protect savings and lend according to criteria encompassing the interests of society as a whole. This means a bank that:

  • Offers owner-occupier home loans at below market rates.
  • Does not offer loans to residential property investors.
  • Offers priority lending for public housing construction, projects for electricity generation from renewable sources, water management projects devoted to maintaining the health of the Murray-Darling and other river systems, public infrastructure, and high value manufacturing proposals providing high-waged work under union negotiated agreements.

Oppose racism—we’re stronger together

It’s classic divide and rule: politicians and the media get us fighting among ourselves while the billionaires laugh all the way to the bank. Racist scapegoating persists because it distracts us when politicians won’t address urgent problems: wages that don’t keep up, power bills that keep rising, the lack of affordable housing and so on. We have to counter racism with working-class unity and solidarity.

Policy:

  • Declare Victoria a sanctuary state and prohibit Victoria Police from assisting Australian Border Force in any operations related to the deportation of refugees or non-citizen permanent residents.
  • Address the lack of access to social services in areas with high numbers of migrants.
  • Hold an inquiry into the extent of the exploitation of migrant workers in the Victorian economy and prosecute all instances of abuse, safety breaches and systematic underpayment.
  • Support efforts to unionise migrant workers.

Police and prisons

Victoria has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, yet the state’s prison population increased by 70 percent in the last decade while the crime rate remained stable. There’s a relentless push to keep us in a state fear to generate support for a more authoritarian society with fewer civil liberties and democratic rights. Victorian Socialists will never capitulate to tabloid scare campaigns about crime. We will instead fight for better social services in communities and stand with those who disproportionately bear the brunt of “law and order” policies.

Policy:

  • End the “tough on crime” approach to justice and sentencing.
  • De-fund and disarm the police.
  • End police use of so-called non-lethal weapons, including capsicum spray.
  • “Homes Not Prisons”: Reallocate to public housing the budget for prison expansion.
  • Reverse the privatisation of Victoria’s prisons.

Women’s oppression

Women continue to endure many forms of oppression. Victorian women earn on average 14 percent less than men, and older women are the fastest growing group among the homeless. Instances of domestic and family violence has surged in recent years while funding for survivor support services has stagnated. Abortion services are usually privately owned and operated, and are not freely and easily available. The list goes on. Women’s oppression must be tackled at all levels. 

Policy:

  • Establish universal access to free, quality early childhood education and childcare services.
  • Provide free menstrual products and contraception.
  • Reduce the gender pay gap through pay rises in majority-women industries.
  • Make abortions available in all public hospitals.
  • Make surgical abortion procedures free and widely available.
  • Increase funding to women’s, community legal and crisis support services.

You can sign up to help Victorian Socialists on polling day, get a sign installed in your front yard, find out about upcoming events or donate to the campaign at victoriansocialists.org.au. Alternatively, you can get involved by turning up at the socialist campaign offices in Brunswick or Footscray: shop 6/16 Tripovich St, Brunswick and 553b Barkly St, West Footscray.

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