The Socialist Alliance has selected a Victorian Senate team of Lalitha Chelliah and Tim Gooden, and candidates Zane Alcorn for the seat of Wills and Sue Bull for the seat of Corio.
Born in Malaysia, Chelliah trained as a nurse and midwife in England; worked as a nurse since the age of 17 and continues to work as a maternal child health nurse. She has faced the impact of colonialism in Malaysia and racism in Australia in the course of her work and everyday life. Lali was an organiser in the historic 1986 Victorian nurses strike. She is active in feminist work, health campaigns, and in defending the rights of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.
Gooden is a carpenter by trade and secretary of Geelong Trades Hall. “For too long workers and their unions have been under constant attack,” he said. “We pay most of the taxes and create all the wealth. But in return we get job cuts, service cuts and more expenses for our health and education.
“As workers we are victimised if we are unemployed, poor, seeking asylum, female or First Nations. We keep working beyond 67 to keep paying taxes so the rich can be subsidised. It is time to force corporations and rich bludgers to bring back the wealth from secret offshore bank accounts and pay their taxes just like the rest of us.”
Alcorn, a construction worker and climate campaigner, said the need for urgent action on climate change will feature heavily in the campaign. He told Green Left Weekly: “We need an Arab Spring of climate action out in the streets making some clear demands about what is needed — no new coal or gas mining, ban fracking and a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy.
Another focus of the campaign will be the lack of affordable housing; Melbourne is one of the most expensive cities in the world for housing. Alcorn said that the only way to address housing affordability is to massively increase the public housing stock. A people powered government could build lots of passive solar, environmentally friendly public housing and apartments that are both affordable and a pleasure to live in.”
Alcorn also intends to campaign for a Treaty with First Nations people. “We need a culture of listening to Aboriginal voices. Land rights and a treaty process are long-standing demands of Aboriginal activists, which would enshrine in law the fact that this always has been and always will be Aboriginal land.”
Victoria is Australia's manufacturing heartland. But huge numbers of jobs are being lost due to online distribution, jobs being sent offshore and workers being replaced by self-serve. Bull has seen the loss of many blue and white collar jobs in Geelong in the past 10 years. Most of these jobs are not being replaced.
“Geelong will be especially hard hit by the closure of Ford in 2017. The car factories around Australia have been subsidised by the federal government with many millions of dollars of taxpayers' money. That means that we partly own the factory. The government should be prepared to take over the factory and use it to make trains, trams and buses, or other necessary goods. We shouldn't allow these jobs to be destroyed. Jobs can be created by building public infrastructure.”