BY NICK FREDMAN
LISMORE — In the contest for the northern NSW seat of Page, a dozen candidates are arguing issues from diverse standpoints ranging from nutty right-wing conspiracy theories to revolutionary socialism. On the issue of the war, three clear dividing lines have formed.
Obviously, the sitting National Party MP Ian Causley is campaigning for the Australian government's support for the US-British war drive.
A number of independents and ALP candidate Terry Flanagan have quietly expressed disquiet about the war, but do not want to discuss the issue publicly.
Those candidates who are clearly opposed to the war addressed a "Vote with your feet for peace" rally on November 3. More than 70 people attended.
Greens candidate John Corkill discussed how the war benefits the US corporate elite, denounced US policy in the Middle East and Israel's repression in Palestine. Corkill outlined the Greens national decision to support the campaign against the war and demand that Australia increase foreign aid, ratify all international human rights treaties and support cancellation of Third World debt.
Hemp Party candidate Judy Canales condemned the irrationality of a system that wastes resources on war while hemp, a product with numerous industrial and medicinal uses, is criminalised.
Socialist Alliance candidate Edda Lampis described the growing world-wide opposition to the war and urged those attending to get involved.
Shelagh Rose from the Byron Bay Refugee Action Collective also addressed the rally, urging protesters to join the campaign against the detention and deportation of asylum seekers. Mental health worker Molly Galea, also from RAC, discussed her experiences in treating stress and depression among detained asylum seekers.
The rally also heard from Graeme Dunston from the Peace Bus, Carol Perry from People Uniting for Peace, and Kate Mitchell and Ben Cooper from Resistance, who announced a high school walkout against war and racism in Lismore and Grafton on November 9.
The war was also discussed at a candidates forum organised by the North Coast Environment Council on October 30. Virtually all of the 40 people present applauded anti-war comments.
A forum on higher education organised by the Southern Cross University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union attracted 90 people on October 25. Causley was openly contemptuous of the audience after most seemed to agree with the anti-Coalition message delivered by visiting speakers Sharan Burrow, president of the ACTU, and Carolyn Allport, president of the National Tertiary Education Union.
Good responses were received after the Greens' John Corkill argued that higher taxation on the rich could pay for increased education funding and the abolition of fees. The Socialist Alliance's Edda Lampis' call for alliances of education workers, students and local communities to fight for public education also was strongly supported.
From Green Left Weekly, November 7, 2001.
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