Qld socialists prepare to fight Newman

The Socialist Alliance Queensland state conference was held at the Brisbane Activist Centre on May 19, attended by more than 40 members and supporters. Themed "Towards a Socialist Australia", the conference discussed rebuilding the socialist movement in Australia and in Queensland, in the framework of a rise in international struggles for radical change.

Peter Boyle, SA national co-convenor, set the scene by challenging the movement to re-imagine socialism in the new period of international crisis, beginning with the polarisation in a Greece faced with economic disaster.

He said: “In Greece, the appeal is to build a united front government of the left to say no to big business' robbery.

“The crisis is much more severe than it may look from Australia at the moment. As the global crisis spreads, Australia can’t escape the effects.

“We all need to support the campaign to launch our new SA document, Towards a Socialist Australia. We need a wide range of voices to be heard in this discussion. We need to imagine a whole new way of organising society, under socialism.”

Friar Terry Fitzpatrick, from St Mary's Community in Exile in South Brisbane, told the audience: “Capitalism operates to separate us. We need to create a new society based on oneness, on cooperation.

“Institutionalised religions were formed to ‘multiply and subdue the Earth’. We need to return to a system based on harmony with Mother Earth.” He finished by playing the classic John Lennon song, “Imagine”.

Dr Brian Senewiratne spoke about on the “terrible situation” in Sri Lanka, in which the oppression of the Tamil minority by the regime continues unchecked. Murri leader Sam Watson reported on latest developments in the struggle to defend the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Musgrave Park.

Another conference session was titled “Taking on the new Liberal National Party government: Queensland politics today”. Jim McIlroy gave an overview of the offensive launched by the Campbell Newman regime in its first weeks in office. He said beginnings of a fightback were being mounted by popular movements and spoke of the urgent need for a united front of the left and green forces to organise a longer-term radical alternative.

Hannah Reardon-Smith summarised the key campaigns that are challenging the attacks from the Newman government. She spoke about the fight to stop the coal seam gas industry, together with other environmental campaigns. She also noted the opposition being organised against the premier's cuts to funding for the arts and social services.

Margaret Gleeson addressed the challenges facing the Queensland union movement under the new government. She stressed the need for building labour movement solidarity and called for preparations for a union fightback against inevitable attacks from the government, especially in view of the likelihood of an Abbott coaltion government in the next year.

In the final session, "Building the Socialist Movement in Queensland", Ewan Saunders reported on the challenges facing the left and the key tasks before the Socialist Alliance in building and strengthening the organisation. Dom Hale then spoke on the developing integration between Resistance, campaigns among young people and the Socialist Alliance in Brisbane.

During the afternoon, Phil Golby in Gladstone and Jonathan Strauss in Cairns joined the conference by Skype and discussed the main political issues and prospects in those cities.

The conference ended with the election of a three-person convenors team for Queensland Socialist Alliance of Ewan Saunders, Margaret Gleeson and Liam Flenady, and an eight-person Brisbane branch coordinating committee.

Throughout the meeting, lively discussion followed each report. Overall, the conference set a positive tone for the work of SA over the next 12 months.

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