Perth socialist conference discusses fighting for change in Gillard's Australia

Alyawarr spokesperson Richard Downs addressing the conference. Photo: Alex Bainbridge.

Eighty people gathered at the State School Teachers Union offices in Perth for the Socialist Ideas Conference over the weekend of June 26-27. Speakers included Jeyakumar Devaraj, Socialist Party of Malaysia MP, and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr People's Walk-off in the Northern Territory.

Julia Gillard becoming Australia's first female prime minister days before the conference set the tone for much of the discussion. A session on “Feminism Today” had a new context, although it concluded that demands such as equal pay, abortion rights and the right to give birth at home births will need to be fought for regardless of the PM’s gender.

A plenary session called “Fighting for Change in Gillard's Australia” was addressed by Alison Xamon from the Greens, who discussed building a parliamentary alternative to the two-party system. Other speakers were Phil Chilton from the Refugee Rights Action Network and Alex Bainbridge, the Socialist Alliance’s federal election candidate for Perth.

Other plenary sessions included speakers such as: Marianne Mackay from the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, Gemma Weedall begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting, who attended the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Kiraz Janicke from the Green Left Weekly Venezuela bureau.

Workshops covered a range of topics such as radical history, civil liberties, socialism and human nature, and socialist perspectives on Palestine.

It was a highly successful and exciting event. All those who attended left better informed and enthused for the next steps in the struggle.