Former NSW Fire Brigades Employees Union (FBEU) state secretary Jim Casey is standing as the Greens candidate for the seat of Grayndler in inner west Sydney. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans about his campaign.
You are involved in the Stop Adani campaign. How do you see the movement stopping this catastrophic project?
The first step is to get rid of [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison. The second step is to build a movement, which requires thousands of people having thousands of conversations in the suburbs, in the cities, in the country.
Adani is the coalface of the broader struggle of stopping climate change.
Do you think we need to move beyond capitalism to solve the climate emergency?
Yes. This system is geared upon unlimited growth and profit. It is structured around private profiteering.
We need a system centred on human need and the planet.
How do you see the federal elections going for the Greens and the socialists?
I think we are going to hold our vote. We have to be realistic: when Labor is in opposition it is more difficult to increase our votes.
Out of this election we want to win the maximum votes to get the greatest number of progressive voices into parliament who will work to strengthen the broader social movements.
We are working hard to do that.
Do you think the Greens should support a Labor-minority government?
Yes, I think the Greens should support a Labor-led government. It would not be a blank cheque however, we would extract as many concessions as we could, such as action to limit coal and for a green transition, fair industrial relations laws, action on negative gearing and for housing.
We would use our leverage to extract as many concessions as possible.
The Change the Rules campaign is supporting Labor candidates in marginal seats. Should unions support Labor? Will Labor change the rules for workers?
What unions should do is a question for the union movement. But in my opinion unions shouldn’t tail-end Labor because I think that Labor isn’t going to introduce the right to strike. [Labor leader Bill] Shorten is better but not good enough.
Union organising and community organising will hopefully make Labor better, so continuing to organise around the Change the Rules campaign is important.
And yes, Change the Rules is a great slogan but to change the rules we must set about breaking the rules.
What problems do you see with unions calling on members to vote 1 Labor and in what key ways is Greens policy on workers' rights more progressive?
The obvious problem is that we see here a repeat of the Your Rights At Work campaign, which turned into a Vote Labor campaign. But Labor MPs then govern for big business, not for workers.
On every single question of industrial relations laws, the Greens are better than Labor. We stand for the freedom to organise, to improve wages and conditions, to really restore penalty rates.
Where do the Greens get their financial support from?
Our money comes from many hundreds of small donations from many ordinary people like you or I.
Is it possible to make our electoral system more democratic?
There are lots of things that we could do, but it would be difficult to get them up and passed because the system is stacked to work for the two major parties.
But while they have the money, we have the people.
How can we deal with the various assaults working people face on their living conditions?
The fundamental way we can change things is when our side of politics is strong. When unions, community organisations and social movements are mobilising it can change the way the entire society operates.