Five hundred people rallied in Melbourne on November 15 to protest against the Coalition government's proposed East West toll road. The rally had three main demands: scrap the East West Link, rip up the contracts and invest in public transport.
Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Pascoe Vale in the Victorian election, Sean Brocklehurst, gave this speech to the rally.
* * *
My name is Sean Brocklehurst. I am a candidate for the seat of Pascoe Vale. I am also an activist with Moreland Community Against the Tunnel.
We are against this tunnel.
This protest is not just about the attacks on our community. It is not just because of the undemocratic process that the Denis Napthine government went through. It is not just because the money could be better spent elsewhere on public transport.
This issue is larger than all of that. It cuts to the core of what kind of society we want to see; how we treat the environment; what kind of Victoria we are building for ordinary people.
We cannot continue down the same old path where big business dictates what we need. We need to put forward our own ideas for what we as a community need.
We need to move away from fossil fuels. We need to move away from building more roads. Instead we need a society based on social justice, democracy and environmental sustainability.
Instead of these new road projects, let's build a massive new public transport system — a better public transport system. One that goes 24 hours a day. One that is free with no MYKI cards.
Let's upgrade our bike infrastructure so that people who want to cycle can do so easily and safely.
Instead of letting the car companies take billions in public money and then shoot off, leaving thousands of workers in the lurch, let's bring those factories into public ownership, retool them and retrain the workers so they can make trains, trams and buses.
This campaign is evidence that ordinary people can make a difference. It is evidence that when we elect socialist councillors such as Sue Bolton in Moreland and Steve Jolly in Yarra they make a real difference in supporting local campaigns such as this. We want to see more councils supporting grassroots campaigns and taking principled stands.
Even if the ALP wins the election, we need to keep building this campaign. We need to keep campaigning because there are a lot of people being bamboozled by the Coalition's propaganda who don't realise this is an either-or issue.
Either we build this monstrosity road project or we build real solutions such as Doncaster Rail.
The ALP will be under massive pressure from the construction conglomerates and trucking companies to build this. We need a public campaign on the ground to make sure they do not build it. And if the Coalition gets in, we need to use whatever means necessary to stop it.