Prospects for an alliance?


By Jim McIlroy BRISBANE — "The New Zealand Alliance experiment has some exciting lessons for Australia", Matt McCarten, secretary/organiser of the NZ Alliance, told a public meeting to launch a new book on the prospects for an Australian alliance here on November 14. Around 100 people attended the book launch at the Paddington Workers' Club, chaired by the book's editor Bob Leach. The Alliance Alternative in Australia: Beyond Labor and Liberal, published by the New Left Book Club, contains contributions from a variety of politicians and academics investigating the crisis in the two-party political system and the possibility of a third force. "The Alliance in NZ has always been a left project", McCarten told the meeting. "We want to replace Labour as the main force on the left." The Alliance, with 23,000 members, is a growing force in the NZ politics, McCarten said. Labour has approximately 5000 members. "We expect to have 30-40 members of parliament after the elections next year." Tony Walters from the Australian Democrats stressed that an Australian alliance "would need to look closely at the pragmatics of getting elected". Drew Hutton, spokesperson for the Queensland Greens, said that "we need to challenge the idea that we must remain under the ALP umbrella". Howard Guille from the National Tertiary Education Union stressed that it would be difficult to draw unions away from the ALP while they "support Labor because the Coalition is worse". In the discussion, a variety of ideas were raised about the possibilities for alliances, but many believed that obstacles remain to any successful project. On November 16, 30 people attended the launch of the Alliance Alternative in Melbourne. Phil Cleary told that meeting that the task of any alliance would be to break the hegemony of the two party system in Australia. Sixty people attended the launch in Sydney on November 15.

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