More than 350 Victorian Socialists members and supporters packed out Preston Town Hall on April 6 to launch the party’s federal election campaign.
In a display of the broad support the campaign is garnering, the night featured greetings from trade unionists involved in the recent Chemist Warehouse workers’ victory, community activists campaigning against the impact of toxic fires and representatives from the Brunswick Residents Network and the Tamil Refugee Council.
Footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who was recently freed by Thai authorities following a strong public campaign after he was detained on his honeymoon, also attended.
Hussein Al-Qatari, one of the lead delegates from the Chemist Warehouse strike, opened the night by thanking Victorian Socialists for the commitment it demonstrated in support of the strike.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union delegate and long-time campaigner for refugee rights Kathleen Larkin, who is running as the Victorian Socialists candidate seat of Cooper, emphasised how the victory of the Chemist Warehouse strike demonstrated the centrality of the working class to the fight for political change.
She said Victorian Socialists is committed to standing with workers every step of the way.
Moreland City councillor Sue Bolton, who is running in Wills, spoke about the failure of the market to address the issues of affordable housing, renewable energy, the water crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin and developer greed.
Bolton emphasised the need for a socialist alternative in today’s political climate and reflected on the role socialists in elected positions can play in supporting the struggles of the working class and oppressed.
Anti-war and anti-racism campaigner Jerome Small, who is running in Calwell, spoke about the shocking response from the political establishment to the recycling plant fire in Campbellfield. Small said the overall neglect of the working class in those areas represents how little capitalism cares for human life.
In contrast, Small said socialism represents a politics of hope but that, “if we want the politics of hope, we need to work hard for it”.
Many signed up to volunteer for the election campaign, which will kick off with a mass doorknock in Calwell on April 13.
[For more information on the campaign visit victoriansocialists.org.au.]