"Under the jackboot of Howard's Northern Territory intervention, the great majority of Aboriginal people supported Rudd in the last election. Now they feel betrayed by the Rudd Labor government", commented Sam Watson, the Socialist Alliance's national Indigenous affairs spokesperson, at its Queensland state conference on May 31.
Some 50 activists discussed international, national and state-regional perspectives under the overall conference theme, "Solutions for humanity and a planet in crisis".
Watson, who led off the opening panel, "Global crisis — global resistance", called for real funding for health, education and jobs for Aboriginal people. He said Indigenous communities are being destroyed by the Northern Territory intervention. Watson also condemned the recent compensation payment to Queensland police officer Chris Hurley, who admitted causing the death of Palm Island man Mulrunji in 2004 but was acquitted of manslaughter charges.
Gary MacLennan, long-time academic and Marxist activist, who spoke on the future of socialism, said, "The labour movement has been in long retreat, but this will end ... You cannot be for capitalism and also for the environment. Only socialism can save the world today".
Resistance activist Dom Hale presented a comprehensive account of the global environmental crisis and the potential for change. "We need the broadest possible alliance for social justice and climate sustainability. In the end, only a socialist society can build an ecologically sustainable world and is capable of implementing the change we need", he said.
Coral Wynter, who co-led the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network May Day brigade to Venezuela, argued that the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela is continuing to advance in the face of serious problems and challenges.
Socialist Alliance national convenor Dick Nichols, addressed the topic "Australian politics after Howard", commenting on the impact of the economic downturn and the rising social and ecological crises on the Aboriginal rights, environmental and union movements. He noted the political opportunities for the Socialist Alliance.
Other speakers emphasised that young people had inherited the social and environmental crises of capitalism and discussed the challenge of fighting for workers' rights under the Rudd government. They noted the rise of some union campaigns, such as the maternity leave campaign, and emphasised the need to continue the campaign to abolish all of Howard's anti-union Work Choices legislation.
Dave Riley gave an entertaining presentation on the potential of multimedia campaigning. The conference also heard reports on the Socialist Alliance's work in Cairns and on the Gold Coast, including the recent campaign against the Gold Coast City Council ban on public rallies. Ideas were presented to step up the alliance's involvement in health, transport, environmental and Indigenous campaigns.
QLD Socialist Alliance convenor Paul Benedek summarised the campaign work of the alliance, complete with video footage, and outlined proposals for a state-wide recruitment campaign. He also outlined ideas to improve organisation of the alliance's work in the environment, union and Indigenous movements. The conference elected a new, expanded, state committee.