Victorian Socialists: a socialist voice in federal politics
Victorian Socialists: a socialist voice in federal politics
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The Victorian Socialists are a new political party. We stand for the interests of working people against the corporate interests that dominate mainstream politics. 

In last year’s Victorian state election, we gained nearly 19,000 first preference votes, a remarkable achievement for a party funded entirely by supporters and powered by volunteers. Our message – that society should be run for people, not the powerful – struck a chord in the northern metropolitan area of Melbourne, where people are fed up with years of privatisation, under-funded services and the pro-corporate priorities of both major parties.  

In the federal election, Victorian Socialists will again provide a voice for working people, contesting three lower house seats in Melbourne’s north: Calwell, Cooper and Wills. The emphasis of our campaign will be on fighting inequality, standing up for working class people, defending migrants and refugees from scapegoating and campaigning for a radical response to climate change that doesn’t rely on failed market “solutions”.

Australia is a wealthy country, but all the benefits are enjoyed by those at the top. A 2018 report on inequality by the Australian Council of Social Services and University of NSW found that the income of the top 20 percent of households is five times that of the poorest 20 percent of households, and the top 1 percent earn as much in a fortnight as the bottom 5 percent do in an entire year. 

Wealth inequality is even worse. The average wealth of households in the richest 20 percent is $2.9 million, almost one hundred times that of the poorest 20 percent ($30,000). The wealthiest 20 percent own two-thirds of all wealth, including 80 percent of investment properties and shares and more than 60 percent of superannuation assets. 

Victorian Socialists are committed to heavily taxing the billionaires by instituting a 50 percent corporate tax rate, ending rampant tax avoidance by large corporations, legislating an immediate increase to the minimum wage and award wages, and reversing anti-union regulations so that workers can fight to increase their share. We are committed to raising all welfare payments to above the poverty line, because no one should be forced to survive on a pitiful $40 per day. 

But equality is not just about wealth distribution. It’s also about ensuring access to properly funded health, education and welfare services so that everyone can enjoy a decent life. Privatisation has created a two-tiered system in which those who can’t afford the fees, insurance and out-of-pocket expenses receive a lower level of care. It has wrecked our public services and massively increased our cost of living. Victorian Socialists would reverse the privatisation of electricity, public transport and our health care system. We stand for free, universal health care and an end to subsidies for private health insurance. We will fight for funding for community-based health care networks and for free and fully funded public pre-school and aged-care systems. 

For too long, politicians have vilified immigrants, refugees, Aboriginal people and Muslims to distract attention from their own failings and whip up electoral support. The mainstream politicians have paved the way for rampant Islamophobia and the growth of the far right. Victorian Socialists are different. We stand in solidarity with all those victimised by racist policies. 

Immigrants are not to blame for congestion, inadequate and expensive housing or the lack of public transport. It is the politicians who have overseen years of privatisation and neglect of services who should be punished for the deplorable state of our cities. 

Finally, humanity faces a climate emergency. Yet the corporate executives who profit from mining, and the politicians who back them, refuse even to countenance reducing coal exports. Instead, they want to open a massive new coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. 

Market-based solutions have failed to reduce emissions while enriching polluters who game the system. Victorian Socialists call for an end to new coal and gas projects and for a publicly funded program to ensure the transition to 100 percent renewable energy with guaranteed jobs for affected workers before it’s too late. Instead of tinkering around the edges, we are committed to a far-reaching transformation of the economy, and we are prepared to confront the powerful interests currently invested in the fossil fuel industry to achieve that.

Only Victorian Socialists stand unapologetically on the side of working people against these big business interests. Neither Labor nor the Greens offer a satisfactory alternative to the Liberals’ pro-big business agenda. 

We need all the help we can get to get our message out there and maximise the socialist vote this federal election. Please join us and get involved!

CANDIDATE QUICK QUESTIONS 

Jerome Small is the candidate for the outer-northern electorate of Calwell. He has been a construction worker for two decades and a trade unionist activist for his whole working life. He is a long time anti-war and anti-racism campaigner.

What inspired you to run as a candidate for Victorian Socialists?

There are plenty of shit, pro-capitalist forces in Australian political life. It’s been great to be part of creating a small but serious socialist electoral alternative with Victorian Socialists. I’m keen to see if we can push it further.

What is your proudest political moment?

It’s always a precious moment when ordinary people suddenly discover, and demonstrate in practice, that we are the power. The S11 rally at Melbourne’s World Economic Forum in 2001 is one moment: some of the most powerful people on the planet made temporarily powerless by a crowd of tens of thousands of ordinary people. Being a part of the campaign with the Mirrar people that stopped the Jabiluka uranium mine. Playing a role over many years in squeezing the political and physical space that the far right have attempted to occupy in this town.

Who is your hero and why?

I meet new heroes just about every day! Working class people who keep their heads up amidst the insults and indignities thrown at us. People who manage to maintain humanity, in the often inhuman conditions that we’re forced to live in. 

As long as I live, I’ll never get tired of hanging out with heroes like the Chemist Warehouse workers: ordinary folk from the four corners of the Earth, standing around on a picket line, stopping the operation of a multibillion dollar corporation, like it’s the most normal, suburban, everyday thing to do.

Why should people in your electorate vote for Victorian Socialists?

Because we do our best to turn up, pay attention and have a go. Because we are uncompromising in defence of working class interests. Because people in Melbourne’s north deserve better than being poisoned by toxic fires and taken for granted. And because we want to use our campaigns to help develop people’s organising strength and political clarity – we need a lot of both of these things if we’re going to reclaim our future.

What is an important local issue in your electorate that people might not know about?

It’s been front page news that a toxic time bomb exploded in the north of Melbourne this week. Two workers in hospital and yet another toxic blast for everyone else. This is front page news. But behind the headlines are the chronic asthma attacks, the ill health from the long term toxic load, the fear and – the one that really hits me in the gut – the resignation of so many people, left for dead by the main parties, who after so many industrial fires and so much bullshit from the authorities have almost given up on the idea that we can do better than this. If our campaign can play even a small role in helping turn this around, it’ll be worth every bit of effort.

*****

Sue Bolton is the candidate for Wills. She’s been a socialist councillor on the Moreland City Council since 2012. She has a strong record of standing up against greedy developers and demanding action on the toxic waste dumps that scar the northern suburbs.

What inspired you to run as a candidate for Victorian Socialists?

Increasing inequality of wealth – the richest 1 percent in Australia own as much wealth as the 70 percent of Australians with the least wealth.

What is your proudest political moment?

The general strike in Brisbane in 1982 when the Bjelke-Peterson National Party government sacked 3,000 railway workers and workers throughout the state spontaneously walked off the job and went on strike. So many workers were on strike, that it was declared a general strike. I was part of a group of bus drivers who walked off the job.

Who is your hero and why?

Clarrie O’Shea. Clarrie was the Victorian secretary of the tramways union, my old union. His stance refusing to pay fines for industrial action was the culmination of the campaign to abolish the penal powers that were used to stop workers taking industrial action. Clarrie O’Shea was jailed for refusing to pay fines, which led to massive nationwide industrial action that brought much industry to a standstill. The bosses and federal government were not able to use the penal powers after that. It took them a couple of decades to work out new ways of kneecapping unions.

Why should people in your electorate vote for Victorian Socialists?

People should vote for Victorian Socialists because we recognise that the market does not resolve important social and environmental issues like access to affordable housing and serious action to tackle climate change.

What has been the highlight of your seven years as a Moreland councillor?

The campaign to stop development of a toxic site in Fawkner where the chemicals that make Agent Orange were produced. While we didn’t win the campaign once it got to the VCAT stage, the local community mobilised incredibly strongly to force the council to switch from supporting the development to unanimously opposing the development. This shows why you need community mobilising.

*****

Kath Larkin is the candidate for Cooper. She is a rank and file leader with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union. In 2015 she helped organise the first strike in rail in 18 years and in 2014-2017 she was the RTBU women’s officer to give women a stronger voice in the industry.

What inspired you to run as a candidate for Victorian Socialists?

Vile far right politicians like Hanson and Anning, and the mainstream parties that create the conditions for them to win influence. 

What is your proudest political moment?

It would have to be the marriage equality campaign. The day of the yes vote announcement, I was at the massive state library rally, surrounded by unionists, community supporters, veterans of the LGBTI movement, people who’d dedicated themselves to marriage equality since the ban was brought in, people who’d joined in along the way and people who were participating in their first ever activist campaign. It was amazing. This was OUR victory. 

Who is your hero and why?

Lizzie Ahern, a working class militant, a rebel woman and a revolutionary socialist. 

Why should people in your electorate vote for Victorian Socialists?

Because Victorian Socialists are the only people willing to do anything serious about growing inequality, the barbaric treatment of refugees and the destruction of the planet. And we’re not interested in the perks of parliament. We want to help rebuild participatory democracy: strikes, protests, mass public forums. We want to give workers and others who are ignored a voice and stand up for their interests. 

What has been your greatest achievement as a union delegate at Metro Trains?

As a socialist in the workplace, I live by the old Communist Party slogan “make every member an activist”. The best example of this in action was the 2015 strike, the first rail and tram strike in 18 years, and one largely led and organised by rank and file workers.

The day of the strike was the proudest and most joyous of my life. As it was about to start, we watched the clock and counted down out loud like school kids on the last day of school. We marched out the gates of Flinders Street station, cheering and posing for photos with our helpless managers watching on. 

We marched to Trades Hall, where we were met by hundreds of rail and tram workers from across the network before marching back to Flinders Street. The feeling of collective strength and power was incredible. 

Then the improved offers from the company started to roll in – we got our trauma leave, a pay rise, rostering rights and other wins. But the experience of solidarity was the most important win.

GET INVOLVED!

Doorknocking

Doorknocking is the most effective and rewarding way to build support for the Victorian Socialists. Help us speak to thousands of working class residents in the electorates we are contesting: 

*Mass Calwell doorknock, 12:00pm Saturday, 13 April, Broadmeadows Town Park, Pearcedale Parade.

*Mass Cooper & Wills doorknock, 12:00pm Saturday, 27 April, Batman Park, cnr St Georges & Arthurton Rd, Northcote. 

*Mass Cooper & Wills doorknock, 12:00pm  Saturday, 4 May, Bowden Reserve, cnr Nicholson & Bell St, Coburg.

Help staff a polling booth

Sign up online for a shift, go to www.victoriansocialists.org.au

To find out more, contact@victoriansocialists.org.au or phone Liz Walsh 0405 736 265 

Donate to the campaign

The Victorian Socialists don’t have the big money backing of the established political parties. The campaign is dependent on the financial support of ordinary people. Every little bit helps. Donations can be made to:

Victorian Socialists
BSB: 063 262
Account no: 1098 0094

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Liz Walsh is assistant secretary and member of Victorian Socialists governing council

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