For the first time in 11 years we are under a new government, a Labor government. PM Kevin Rudd's government was elected off the back of mounting dissatisfaction with the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, inaction on climate change, the Northern Territory intervention and Work Choices, but the battle for change has not been won.
The Rudd government has already shown that it will only water-down Work Choices — not get rid of it — it argued against real action on climate change at the UN Bali talks and supported the NT intervention from the beginning. Rudd claims that combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq — only to be redeployed in Afghanistan. Clearly a Rudd government is not going to carry out the progressive changes the majority of people want to see.
System change, not climate change
One of the biggest threats facing us today is the possibility of runaway climate change. The science shows that to avert this looming crisis, radical change is necessary. This does not simply mean turning off your lights or becoming a vegetarian; it means a sharp drop in greenhouse gas emissions, and a rapid shift to renewable energy. Change needs to be social and institutional, not just individual.
The survival of humanity hinges on young people. We need to take the power out of the hands of politicians and the greedy corporations they represent, and address the way we treat our planet.
Resistance will be continuing to campaign for radical climate action in 2008. Along with the Australian Student Environment Network, we have called a National Day of Action for April 1. It will be an important way to give a voice to youth in this struggle.
Green Left Weekly is hosting the Climate Change — Social Change Conference in April in Sydney to discuss socialist solutions to climate change. The conference will be a forum for planning what activists can be doing to raise awareness, bring more people into the struggle and ultimately save the planet.
In Tasmania young people have been playing a leading role in the campaign against the pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. Last year student walkouts were held in Launceston and Hobart. This campaign could be one of the first major showdowns with the Rudd government, which supports the mill even though the vast majority of people in Tasmania oppose it. This year, Resistance will continue to play a role in this important campaign.
No Racism, No War
In 2006, the death toll in Iraq since the beginning of the occupation had exceeded 600,000. Now, it is arguably more than one million. In July 2007, then Defence Minister Brendan Nelson (now the opposition leader) openly admitted to the true intentions of our presence in Iraq. He claimed that energy interests (ie. Iraq's oil) were a central consideration for the ongoing troop presence.
The magnitude of death and destruction in Iraq only amplifies the need to demand an end to the occupation, and young people have an important role to play. Youth led the anti-war movement that ended the Vietnam War, now we must do the same for Iraq.
Afghanistan has also suffered under occupation, and this won't get any better under the new government, with Rudd promising to send more troops in.
March 16 will mark the 5th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Resistance believes that rallies to mark this occasion must also demand an immediate troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
We must also find ways to link the anti-war movement with the environment movement, as destructive military practices have severe impacts on the planet. Palm Sunday peace rallies will be important occasions for this, and Resistance can use demands such as "No War, No Warming" in our campaigning.
Defend our civil liberties
The Howard government's racist intervention into Indigenous NT communities was condemned by thousands of people across the country. In the communities most effected by the intervention, there was a massive swing to Labor in the federal election. However, the ALP supported the legislation while in opposition, and the Rudd government is not going to restore the damage done. Resistance will stand in solidarity with Aboriginal communities in the fight to end this injustice and all racist policies.
Rudd's version of Work Choices — Work Choices "lite" — continues to attack workers' rights. The laws also deny us the ability to defend them through limiting strike actions and denying union entry onto workplaces. The laws work in favour of bosses' thirst for greater profits and against the interests of workers. Resistance will continue to take part in actions to further the struggle for workers' rights.
Join the Resistance
The importance of youth in the struggle for social change can be seen throughout history. Young people have been at the forefront of struggles to end wars, fight racism, sexism and homophobia, and other social movements. The enthusiasm and energy of young people engaging in political protest can inspire and give confidence to the wider population.
That is why Resistance is a socialist youth organisation. We know that it will take working people of all ages to change society, but by being part of a youth organisation, we have the space to develop confidence as political activists and help lead others in struggle. Together our voices are stronger.
[To find out more, or join Resistance, visit <http://www.resistance.org.au>.]