On the socialist campaign trail

October 26, 2007

A call for socialist ideas

Speaking at the launch of Socialist Alliance candidate Jim McIlroy's campaign for the federal seat of Griffith, held by ALP leader Kevin Rudd, veteran socialist and university lecturer Gary MacLennan called for the continuation of the struggle for socialist ideas.

The BBQ launch, held in Orleigh Park, West End, on October 21, attracted more than 40 people, and preceded an afternoon of letterboxing the local area for the Socialist Alliance campaign.

Today in the Labor Party, there is "not one socialist idea", MacLennan told the audience. "The ALP is just an echo of the Liberal Party", he added. With the Socialist Alliance campaign, we want to "prove to everyone that there is an alternative.

"We must remind everyone that there is another way."

The problem in Australia right now is that "We don't desire enough. We should desire a better world." We urgently need to build a socialist alternative to the Liberal-Labor conservative consensus, MacLennan said.

MacLennan strongly endorsed the candidacy of Jim McIlroy as a longstanding friend and socialist activist. "In the struggle, Jim will always be with you", MacLennan said.

McIlroy addressed the audience, urging people to actively participate in the Socialist Alliance campaign in Griffith, as well as in the neighbouring seat of Brisbane, where Socialist Alliance is running Resistance leader Ewan Saunders. He also called for support for the Socialist Alliance Senate team of Sam Watson and Amelia Taylor.

Referring to an article on his campaign in the October 20 Brisbane Courier-Mail, McIlroy said this was already a significant win to gain some prominent coverage for the socialist alternative in the mainstream media. "We need to defeat the Howard government", McIlroy said, "but we also need to use the Socialist Alliance campaign to raise the banner of the socialist alternative, and put pressure on Kevin Rudd and Labor over their me-too policies."

Know your candidate: Jeremy Smith (Senate, Victoria)

Dr Jeremy Smith is a 40-year-old lecturer from the University of Ballarat and has lived in Geelong for seven years. He is the branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union at the university.

Smith has a track record of involvement in anti-nuclear, environmental and social justice campaigns stretching back 23 years.

In 2005 he found himself on the front line of the struggle against the Howard government's plans for Australia's universities, in particular its scheme to force university administrations to impose non-union agreements in return for receiving federal funding.

Smith led a widely publicised and successful industrial campaign against two attempts by the University of Ballarat administration to impose a non-union enterprise agreement.

Such was the strength of the campaign that a complacent university administration was left ruing the day that it ever submitted its proposals to a vote by the staff — they twice showed by large majority that they wanted their wages and conditions set through the union.

Smith has also been active in building the campaign against Work Choices in Ballarat, organising contingents of NTEU members to join the mass protests against Howard's unjust laws.

As a teacher he is deeply concerned about the impact of the Coalition government's interference in the direction of universities, as well as its steady contraction of core public funding for higher education. (Smith's useful Powerpoint presentation on the issue can be downloaded from the Socialist Alliance Federal Election 2007 campaign forums website at )

Socialists agree on mutual support

The Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Party have agreed to call for a vote for each other's candidates in the coming election.

The Socialist Party is standing Kylie McGregor in the seat of Melbourne, while the Socialist Alliance is running Ben Courtice in Maribyrnong, Zane Alcorn in Wills and Chris Johnson in Corio, as well as a Senate ticket of Margarita Windisch and Jeremy Smith.

The agreement arose partly in reaction to the decision of a number of socialist organisations (International Socialist Organisation, Socialist Alternative) to call for a vote for the Greens, ignoring the presence of socialist candidates.

Margarita Windisch, the Alliance's Victorian state convener, initially proposed that the two organisations make a joint call for a vote for socialist candidates.

The Socialist Party declined this idea of a joint statement but, in the words of organiser Anthony Main, stated: "We are, however, calling for people to vote 1 for socialist candidates where they can. This obviously includes voting for Socialist Alliance candidates where they are standing.

"We will also be happy to print on our how to-vote-card in the seat of Melbourne that we encourage people to vote for the Socialist Alliance in the Senate. We wish you all the best with your electoral campaigning."

Supporters say thanks

As the Socialist Alliance cranks up its election campaign fund drive, expressions of support are flowing in with the donations. A couple of examples:

"I have been a member of the Plumbers and Gasfitters Union (Victorian branch) since 1948. In that time people could vote for the ALP until the Hawke government sold the workers down the drain."

"Thanks for giving workers and pensioners like myself the opportunity to vote for an organisation that will struggle to restore workers' wages and conditions we have fought to obtain."

"Dear friends, I am in fact a long-time member of the Australian Greens but respect the work of the Socialist Alliance and am very pleased to give (a little) support to that work."

Compiled by Dick Nichols, Socialist Alliance national coordinator

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