BY JOHN GAUCI
SYDNEY — Members of the NSW branches of the Socialist Alliance will meet on November 8 for the alliance's NSW conference. Its theme is "Regime change begins at home: unite for socialism!". Socialist Alliance NSW committee member Paul Benedek spoke to Green Left Weekly about the purpose of the event.
"There are now 10 Socialist Alliance branches in NSW, plus many members in regional areas. The conference is a chance for alliance members and supporters to discuss the politics of the day, and the path forward for socialism — a further step toward building a united socialist party, as was decided at last May's national Socialist Alliance conference in Melbourne."
Benedek believes the conference will not only be of interest to alliance members. "The conference will be launched with a session on 'The case for socialism', featuring radical historian and author Humphrey McQueen, and Dick Nichols, who has just returned from Venezuela and meeting with left parties in Europe, including the Scottish Socialist Party. This will be a great session for the newest Socialist Alliance member, or people thinking about socialism but who have not yet decided to join the alliance."
The conference will also deal with the practical tasks and the development of campaigns, particularly in the anti-war movement and in the trade unions. "We face an aggressively neoliberal federal government and, in NSW, a Thatcherite Labor government is attacking working people and their services", said Benedek.
"Racism is used by the federal government against refugees, and the NSW government disgustingly vilifies ethnic communities in Sydney's west. But there is resistance — the protests against US President George Bush during his October 22-23 visit have the potential to reignite the movement, which mobilised 1 million people in Australia in February. There are class-struggle currents emerging in a number of unions. In all this, Socialist Alliance members are playing key role."
The conference will include workshops ranging from developing staff-student unity in defending public education to the practicalities of starting a new Socialist Alliance branch.
"A crucial task for us is developing the alliance as a more united, campaigning organisation, and building and launching new branches. We'll also look at how we can run socialist electoral campaigns in the coming local council and federal parliamentary elections, campaigns that can win more people to socialism as the real alternative to the capitalist private-profit system."
A final session will elect a state campaign committee, and also make a start in electing Socialist Alliance's NSW Senate team for the 2004 federal election.
The conference will be held from 10am-6pm on November 8, at the University of Technology Sydney. To register for the conference phone Paul on 0410 629 088, or email <alliance.org>.
From Green Left Weekly, October 22, 2003.
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