On the socialist campaign trail

November 16, 2007

Migrant communities back the Socialist Alliance (1)

One notable feature of this election campaign has been the growth in support for the Socialist Alliance from migrant communities and their organisations and activists. The past three years of racist Coalition dog-whistling, most recently in regard to Sudanese and other African migrants, has created angst and a sense of persecution among people many already driven from their countries by civil war and persecution.

In the New South Wales seat of Cunningham, centred on Wollongong, prominent Lebanese community leader and anti-war activist Saeb Ali has come out in support of candidate Jess Moore and the alliance. "I support Jess because I believe she and other members of the Socialist Alliance stand for justice and equality", Ali said. "This is something we in the Lebanese community have had direct experience with, especially during the invasion of our country last year", he said.

Ali was referring to the close collaboration between the Socialist Alliance and the Lebanese and Arabic-speaking community in organising a 600-strong Wollongong demonstration against Israel's brutal invasion of Lebanon in mid-2006.

Ali added: "More recently Jess and Tim Dobson [Socialist Alliance candidate for the NSW Senate] provided much political support for our community after we were targeted during the case involving [innocent 'terror' suspect] Dr Mohamed Haneef."

When asked why he wasn't supporting the campaign of either Labor or Liberal, the Lebanese activist responded: "Neither of the major parties understand the issues facing our community; I don't see the opposition as a better alternative regarding the issue of equality and justice. This is important because we are being targeted; we're on the back foot."

Despite the small size of Socialist Alliance, Ali considers support for their campaign as more important than whether or not they will be elected.

"A vote for Jess Moore and the Socialist Alliance is an important protest vote, a vote of appreciation for the work they've done. I tell my friends, 'Why should these people sacrifice their Sundays for us? Why should they suffer harassment? They are not Muslim or Lebanese, it's a very noble thing to do.'"

Migrant communities back the alliance (2)

Recently the Sudanese Human Rights Association also decided to endorse the Socialist Alliance. Rachel Evans, the alliance candidate for the Sydney seat of Parramatta, has featured in a half-page advertisement in the Sudanese community pages of the Arabic-language newspaper Egypt News. The SHRA will also be distributing 200-300 photocopies of this advertisement to their compatriots who live in the Parramatta electorate.

In the Gold Coast-based seat of Moncrieff, alliance candidate Dr Tim Kirchler has received the endorsement of the Gold Coast Muslims Association because of the prominent role of the alliance in leading the protest movement against the wrongful arrest and charging of Gold Coast-based Haneef.

Another well-known Socialist Alliance figure with strong support among the migrant communities of Sydney's south-western suburbs is its candidate for Blaxland, Raul Bassi. As well as drawing support from the Sudanese community, Bassi is also getting backing from progressive members of the Lebanese community. Bassi was a founding member of the Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group, which was key to organising the 30,000-strong Sydney demonstration against the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He is also well-known for his unstinting support for Guantanamo Bay inmate Mamdouh Habib, a victim of CIA "rendition" to torture chambers in Egypt with Australian complicity. Habib has personally endorsed Bassi's campaign.

Bassi's candidacy has also featured prominently in the Australian Spanish-language press, with Extra-Informativo dedicating a page, El Espanol Semanario a special column, and El Espanol a major article to the "Latin American candidate for Blaxland".

Another community that has also expressed support for the Socialist Alliance campaign are Australia's Tamils. The charging of three Tamil community activists for "terrorism-related" activity, and the pressure to regard the Tamil struggle for self-determination in Sri Lanka as "terrorist" has seen most Australian political currents abandon any solidarity with this community. But Siva Sivakumar, leader of the Victorian Tamil Association, addressed the launch of the Socialist Alliance's Victorian campaign and was at pains to stress the appreciation of the community for the solidarity received over the years from the alliance.

Other migrant organisations who have expressed support for the Socialist Alliance include the Salvadoran Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the Turkish Anatolian Centre in Melbourne.

Alliance and What Women Want equal first for Vote Climate

The Vote Climate website () has placed the Socialist Alliance in equal first place with What Women Want in its voting recommendations for the federal poll. Socialist Alliance national coordinator Dick Nichols commented: "The alliance is very pleased to be in a competition with any party over serious climate change policy! We look forward to collaborating with What Women Want in consolidating an approach to the climate change crisis that is up to the immensity of the challenge."

In a nice piece of symmetry, Vote Climate also couldn't separate the parties with the worst climate policy — the Liberals and Nationals came in equal last.

Welcome support from Victorian MUA

The Victorian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia has followed the Western Australian branch in donating $1000 to the Socialist Alliance election campaign fund drive. Our thanks to the wharfies and seafarers of Victoria and to state MUA secretary Kevin Bracken.

New on our websites

The alliance's water policy can now be accessed from its website (). The policy outlines the path to water sustainability in both the cities and the countryside. It comes out clearly against water trading, counterposing the need for a comprehensive plan of water saving, and conversion of industry and agriculture away from water-intensive practices.

Also available are the alliance's detailed preference flows for the Senate (see our Federal Election 2007 Campaign Forums site at ).

[Compiled by Dick Nichols, Socialist Alliance national coordinator.]

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