By Mike Bell
BRISBANE — Brisbane's Campaigning for Democratic Socialism conference, over the Easter weekend, is shaping up to be the largest such gathering ever held here. The conference is organised by the Democratic Socialist Party and the socialist youth organisation Resistance.
The conference will feature more than 60 speakers. The agenda includes three keynote addresses, two feature panels, one debate and 20 workshops. Associated with the conference will be a film night, a Green Left Weekly dinner-cabaret, a Cuban photographic exhibition and a display of prints.
The conference will be opened by Green Left editor Allen Myers speaking on the relevance of Marxism. International guests include Teresita Carpio from the United Workers of the Philippines and Boris Kagarlitsky from the Russian Party of Labour.
Carpio will speak on the challenges facing the Filipino left, particularly interesting after the recent outrage over the execution of Flor Contemplacion. Carpio will also lead a workshop on women in struggle in the Philippines.
Kagarlitsky, a contributing editor to Links magazine, will deliver the Links Lecture on Sunday at 10am, on "Yeltsin's Russia: Towards Democracy or Dictatorship?". He will also speak on his vision of socialism at the final plenary, along with Allen Myers and Zanny Begg, Resistance organiser in Brisbane.
The conference will open discussion on the role of the Labor Party with a debate between Jim McIlroy, Brisbane secretary of the DSP, and Ian McLean, former state president of the ALP.
The elections in Canberra and NSW have renewed discussion about electoral alliances, independent campaigns and the way forward for green and left movement. "What project for the 90s?" will be the topic of a panel on the Saturday afternoon. Speakers will include Susan Price from the DSP, Drew Hutton from the Queensland Greens, Bob Leach from Left Connections, Norman Johnson from the Australian Indigenous People's Party and Jason Neville from the Australian Democrats.
Green politics will be discussed at workshops on the environmental crisis and the campaign against woodchipping.
The conference will include workshops on women and the law, strategies for women's liberation, the origins of women's oppression and debates in the women's movement.
Sam Watson from the Brisbane Aboriginal Legal Service will discuss the Daniel Yock and Pinkenba cases and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
There will be panel discussions on struggles in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and Cuba. Sean Whelan, editor of Irish People, will lead a workshop on the Irish peace process. Other sessions will take up the trade union movement and the struggle for lesbian and gay rights.
To mark the approaching 75th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Australia, the conference will feature an oral history of the CPA, followed by a Communist Film Night featuring Point of Departure, a film about Jean Devanny. Film maker Pete Johnson will introduce his From Under the Bed — the first public screening of the film.
The first Green Left dinner-cabaret for 1995 will be held on the Saturday. Allen Myers and Teresita Carpio will speak. Jumping Fences, Philip Monsour and Sue Ferrers have put together a new performance of songs of struggle.
Conference organiser Maurice Sibelle regards the conference as very topical. "Socialism is now more relevant than ever. The gap between rich and poor is increasing, there are more wars, the environment is in crisis, and capitalism does not have the answers."