By Anne Pavey
FREMANTLE — Some 60 people attended the launch of the Democratic Socialist Party's new branch here on June 28. Crowding into the new office, activists from a variety of campaigns and organisations gathered to hear toasts and plans for activities.
Members of the Chilean Communist Party, WA South Africa Solidarity, the Greens, the socialist youth organisation Resistance, student activists and local residents were present. Representatives from the Maritime Workers Union, the meatworkers' union, the State School Teachers Federation, the Community and Public Sector Union and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union also attended.
Graham Haynes, organiser of the meatworkers' union, congratulated a "party young enough, intelligent enough and with the guts to take the fight right up to the workers in Fremantle". He recalled the history of Fremantle as a site of strong working-class resistance to attacks on wages and living conditions. The secretary of the Maritime Workers Union, Wally Pritchard, also toasted the DSP for its success.
Mario Sanchez from Committees in Solidarity with Latin America and the Caribbean thanked the DSP for its commitment to international solidarity with countries such as Cuba. He argued that, now more than ever, internationalism must be kept alive because Cuba remains under threat by the United States.
According to Rebekah Dornan, high school student and Resistance member, "The DSP is to be congratulated for its remarkable success in keeping alive the left tradition and socialist politics that are so essential to fighting the neo-liberal attacks we face today". She described the shift to the right that has taken place in Australia and the importance of the socialist alternative offered by the DSP.
Fremantle DSP branch secretary Francesca Davidson commented that although socialism is considered by some to be "a dead option", the DSP is still growing.
"As the Liberal Party rains down attacks on education and the public sector", said Davidson, "more and more people are propelled into action to defend their wages or access to education. People are looking for leadership and some sort of alternative.
"Neither the ALP nor the Greens have put forward a clear alternative, and socialist politics look very appealing and rational to many. A new branch in Fremantle should help us consolidate this support and use it to build a left alliance against Howard's neo-liberal attacks."
The DSP is holding a forum, "The Socialist History of Fremantle" on Sunday, August 4, 1pm at 32 Suffolk St, Fremantle. Phone 336 4406 for more information.