Alternative to the 'red-back and funnel-web'
By Greg Adamson
CANBERRA — Democratic Socialist Party candidate Lara Pullin made an impact in her first week of campaigning for the ACT Legislative Assembly elections on February 15.
The Canberra Times gave a fleeting reference to her participation at a meeting of around 150 people organised by the Council on the Ageing on February 3. "One Independent candidate, Lara Pullin, drew a vigorous response with her assessment of the contribution of the major parties. Voting for either would be a choice between 'a red-back and a funnel-web spider,' she said."
In fact, Pullin met an enthusiastic response from the elderly audience when she presented a socialist perspective on solving unemployment and other social issues, rather than speaking of hospices and dying as most other candidates had done.
Pullin also received a good response at a meeting organised by the Energy Alliance the previous week. A major problem for the candidate, however, has been the position she has had at meetings, often late in the evening after the 11 official parties, when many people have left.
Democratic Socialists have yet to register as a party for the ACT elections. Restrictive legislation forces parties to show that they have either 100 voting members in the ACT or one parliamentarian anywhere in Australia.
Socialist policies received a mixed reception at the February 6 Women's Electoral Lobby breakfast, with some enthusiastic and some quite horrified by a proposal to cut parliamentarians' and public service executives' pay levels.
In a move designed to overcome media indifference to the campaign, socialists have now set a series of "platform launches" to meet people who matter. The first of these was the launch of the Democratic Socialist education policy at Lyneham High School. While the media ignored the event, students got a chance to talk to or read about the socialist candidate, and more than a dozen put their names down on a mailing list for Resistance, the socialist youth group helping in the campaign.