By Pip Hinman
MELBOURNE — About 40 people attended a meeting on July 28, called by the Communist Intervention group, to discuss the formation of a new left political alliance to field candidates in the Victorian elections due in October. The proposal came from two left-wing officials of the State Public Service Federation (SPSF), Kay McVey and Bill Deller.
Independent MP Phil Cleary's victory in Wills has prompted a resurgence of discussion about the need for a political alternative to the Labor Party. Kay McVey, state secretary of the SPSF, told the meeting there are indications of an optimistic political mood among working people. These signs include the Cleary win, the election of some progressive union officials in the BWIU, TWU and the VPSF and the turnout at the Victorian public service rally early in July.
"After 10 years of Labor Party government in Victoria, people are fed up with its bankruptcy and its inability to address the real issues. Right now the government is attacking working people by reducing, selling off or proposing to sell off public services such as the state bank, the water board and the state government insurance office." We need look no further than NSW, Tasmania and New Zealand to see the draconian measures an incoming Liberal government will introduce, she added.
The Labor Party has adopted a bizarre position, SPSF vice president Bill Deller told the meeting. "They say that people have to support this Labor government because the next one will be worse. But it's not worth maintaining in office a government so bankrupt", he said, adding that he also was confident that a radical solution to the political and economic crisis was on the agenda.
A new political alliance, Deller explained, had to bring together people "who may or may not be ideologically pure who are prepared to pool resources and put aside the tag of sectarianism". He suggested that many independents and perhaps even some militant farmers may be interested in joining such an alliance. Bankwatch, a militant farmers group created to fight bank foreclosures over Victorian farms, recently organised speaking engagements for Deller, and the SPSF is hosting a public meeting in Melbourne for Bankwatch representative Bill Carey on August 12.
Deller said he was committed to building a left political alternative even if it meant conflict with powerful sections of the trade union movement still tied to the Labor party.
Democratic Socialist Party state secretary Dave Holmes welcomed the initiative. "Political conditions have demanded the formation of a left political alternative which was prepared to stand up to the Labor and Liberal parties." He cited the New Zealand NewLabour Party as a
After questions and discussion, the meeting voted to support the establishment of a committee to work on building a left political alliance which would run in the state elections around a minimum program of defending and extending the public sector, defending democratic and trade union rights and fighting unemployment. The committee will contact other forces interested in such an alliance.