Day of action on youth rights


By Sean Malloy

"The Labor Party and the Liberals promote policies that are working against the interests of young people", says Zanny Begg, Democratic Socialist national spokesperson on youth affairs.

Begg is also a leading member of the youth activist group Resistance, which has organised a day of action around youth issues in each capital city for March 8.

"Wages below the poverty line, restrictions on our rights, the plunder of the environment and the erosion of public facilities are the result of Labor and Liberal policies.

"The Democratic Socialist electoral ticket and the work of Resistance are part of creating an alternative to the Liberal-Labor bind."

As a lead-up to March 8, Resistance will be launching its youth manifesto As Radical as Reality on February 26 in Canberra.

"The youth manifesto published by Resistance is an important part of developing an alternative to Liberal and Labor", said Begg. "It puts the attacks on young people into a political perspective, taking up the facts on jobs and wages, the environment and our democratic rights."

As Radical as Reality sets out demands which include:

  • A system of automatic adjustment of wages and government income payments in line with the real increase in the cost of living.

  • Free, accessible, public education at all levels.

  • Freely available safe contraception.

  • Repeal of all anti-abortion laws.

  • Sex education in schools which stresses the variety of non-coercive sexual relations that exist in reality, without moral judgment.

  • Immediate government action to resolve the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion. An end to all cuts to public transport services and staff.

The manifesto also discusses the right of young people to be treated as equal citizens, the right to freedom of sexuality, Aboriginal rights, the right to live without fear of poverty and the right to work.

"We plan to hand out a summary of these demands to passers-by on March 8", said Begg.

"Our approach is very different to that of Liberal and Labor. While they are discussing the needs of business, we are discussing the needs of young people, women, Aborigines, migrants and the aged.

"Hewson in his television advertisement says, 'If the Australian economy is going to recover, then business must recover'. The fact is that big business is still making profits; Consolidated Press, for example, made a net profit of over $400 million in the last year.

"The real problems lie in the shift of wealth from working people's wages to profits, which has been around $A40 billion over the last 10 years. We aim to take back this wealth, and we aim to take back our rights."

Resistance in Adelaide has organised handouts of Democratic Socialist policy statements for every second day of the week until March 8. On the day itself a demonstration at DSS is planned, with a poverty line limbo and giant postcards to Keating and Hewson for passers-by to write messages on.

Brisbane Resistance will be holding a mock auction of students, unemployed and young workers. Keating and Hewson caricatures will be selling off young people to the lowest bidder.

Canberra Resistance is picketing the Fraser electorate Liberal and Labor offices on Northbourne Avenue. The picket aims to point out that the closeness of the parties' offices is matched by the closeness of their policies. A copy of the youth manifesto will be presented to the offices.

In Sydney, Resistance has planned street theatre at Town Hall and will be publicising a meeting on the subject for later in the week.

Resistance in Melbourne will be holding a "limbo under the poverty line" on March 10 (Victoria has a public holiday on March 8), with Hewson and Keating holding the limbo stick.