The Walyalup-Fremantle branch of the Socialist Alliance announced on April 6 that Chris Jenkins will be its candidate for Fremantle in the federal election.
Twenty-six-year-old Jenkins is a nurse at Fremantle Hospital and resident of South Fremantle. He completed his degree at the University of Notre Dame, where he also campaigned for students' right to free speech in the face of stiff opposition from the university administration to students speaking out in favour of LGBTI rights.
Outlining some of the key themes of the Socialist Alliance campaign, Jenkins told Green Left Weekly: "Both here and around the world we need a society that looks after the billions, not the billionaires.
"Some 600 of Australia's biggest corporations have been paying absolutely no tax, and many more don't pay the full corporate rate, even though successive Labor and Liberal governments have cut it from 48% to only 30% today. If they all paid the full rate the federal budget would reap an extra $8.4 billion per year. It's time to make them pay for things we need like renewable energy, free healthcare, education and decent public transport.
"It's not enough to just properly tax the corporate rich, which Labor and the Greens propose to varying degrees. There are key sectors of the economy that need to be progressively brought under democratic public ownership if we are to have any hope of stopping runaway global warming, achieving significant wealth redistribution and extending democracy. It's not just a question of stopping privatisation, but reversing it.
"A few years ago such talk would have seemed like a fantasy to many. How times change! Today Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of British Labour and proposing the re-nationalisation of British Rail. In the US where 'socialism' was the most searched word on the Merriam Webster Dictionary website last year, Bernie Sanders could win the Democratic Party nomination.
"But let's face it, Bill Shorten is no Corbyn or Sanders. Only the Socialist campaign puts these questions on the table. The bigger our vote the more we open up debate about these issues."
As a mental health nurse Jenkins is acutely aware of the systematic failure of successive governments to peg social security payments to the cost of living or to properly invest in areas like preventative health and social housing.
"This week we had the Treasurer Scott Morrison telling Australians that they have to 'live within their means'. Most people on the pension, low paid workers and single parents know very well how to manage a tight budget.
“The federal government is seeking every way it can to shift even more of the tax burden on to working people and small business so it can fund tax cuts for big business instead of funding essential services. Now they have Medicare on the chopping block too. We have to resist these crooks with everything we've got."
Jenkins, who is a member of the Australian Nursing Federation, also called on the union movement and Chris Brown, the Labor candidate, to reject Bill Shorten's embrace of the attack on refugees.
"It's not just that the indefinite detention and abuse of people who have sought our protection is an atrocious crime. Refugee bashing and the anti-Muslim hysteria was cooked up to distract people from the corporate rorts. It is designed to spread racism, to confuse working people and get them fighting among themselves. If the union movement doesn't stand up to this bullshit then it will pave the way for the emergence of violent anti-worker far-right outfits like we've seen in Europe."
Jenkins will be joined by a Senate team of grass-roots activists including: long-time women's health doctor and pro-choice advocate Kamala Emanuel; Hilton resident, CHOGM protest organiser and former secretary of the Plumbers Union Seamus Doherty; and LGBTI campaigner Farida Iqbal.
[sam Wainright is a Socialist Alliance councillor in Fremantle City Council. See page 2 for details of how to get in touch with Fremantle Socialist Alliance.]