Rallies oppose racism and economic rationalism

July 8, 1998


Rallies oppose racism and economic rationalism

By William Thomas

HOBART — More than 50 people, including many secondary students, rallied in Franklin Square on June 26, to oppose the racist, homophobic agenda of Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the anti-worker economic "rationalist" agenda of the Coalition and Labor parties.

Speakers at the rally, organised by the Democratic Socialists and Resistance, stressed that only a genuine, left-wing alternative to the attacks on living standards would stop people flirting with the bogus solutions of One Nation and the far right.

The rally was addressed by Natasha Sinnett from Resistance, Labor state MP John White, Pauline Shelly from the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council, Tony Iltis from Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, Tasmanian Greens Senate candidate Louise Crossley and Democratic Socialist candidate for the federal seat of Denison, Kamala Emanuel.

Sinnett rejected Hanson's claim to offer an alternative for youth, pointing out that — like the major parties — One Nation's only solutions were punitive, law-and-order policies, such as bringing back the noose!

Iltis said that solidarity with workers' and anti-dictatorship struggles in Asia was crucial for Australians struggling against economic rationalism because the Australian capitalist class used low wages overseas, enforced by brutal dictatorships, to put a downward pressure on Australian wages and conditions. He added that nationalist prejudices fostered by the bosses, and encouraged by Labor and the Coalition, often blinded Australian workers from seeing the interests they share with workers overseas. These economic nationalist ideas feed the xenophobic and racist ideologies of One Nation.

Crossley rejected nationalist solutions to the environmental crisis saying that a global crisis needs a global solution. She called on people to vote for the Greens and Democrats in the Senate to maintain a "civilised" balance of power, pointing out that Howard was on record as saying he would prefer a Senate with One Nation holding the balance of power.

Emanuel pointed out that by justifying their anti-worker policies with appeals to a spurious "national interest", successive Labor and Liberal governments laid the ideological basis for One Nation's rise. Only by fighting for such things as full employment, free education and free public health care could One Nation's racism be countered. A real opposition in "the parliament of the streets" must counter the forces of racism and capitalism, she said.

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