Socialist candidate: Let’s kick goals for refugees

Socialist Alliance NSW Senate candidate Rachel Evans.

A group of sixty refugee rights activists visited the Villawood Detention Centre on July 25 to take part in a planned soccer match and BBQ with refugees. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and Greens members and supported by the Construction Forestry, Energy and Mining Union (CFMEU) and Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA).

We wanted to show solidarity with refugees and highlight both the ALP and the Liberal’s inhumane refugee policies. However, when we arrived we were turned away, deemed a “security threat.”

This was despite the fact that many of us are regular visitors to the centre and had spent weeks discussing the soccer match and BBQ with Serco, the private managers of the centre, and the Department of Immigration. The discussions included issues such as numbers, BBQ access and an agreement that there would be no tackling in the soccer match.

This heavy-handed clampdown on our friendly soccer match shows that the real threat is not a “security” threat, but a “solidarity” threat.

Solidarity with refugees is a threat because Labor PM Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are trying their utmost to convince working people in Australia to blame ‘boat people’ (asylum seekers who arrive via boat) for the social crisis they’ve both presided over.

As Bob Brown tweeted during the election debate he was refused access to, "The word `boats' is getting much more prominence than schools, hospitals, pensions, farms or trains".

In reality only 3000 asylum seekers a year risk life and limb on a boat and make it to Australia. Australia only accepts 13,750 refugees a year and we accept around 300,000 immigrants a year on a variety of visas. Asylum seekers who come by boat make up only 1% of our overseas intake!

Gillard and Abbott are trying to whip up a scare campaign about “boat people” taking our stretched services to divert attention from the fact that working people in Australia are overworked and underpaid and hurting.

According to the 2006 census, 35% of households are in rental stress — paying more than 30% of their gross household income in rent. That figure is estimated to be 37% today.

Australian workers work two billion hours of unpaid overtime a year and services like public transport in outer suburban regions, are irregular, expensive and poorly managed.

Taxing the rich could alleviate this social crisis. According to the Australian Tax Office, between 2005 and 2008, more than 40% of big businesses paid no income tax at all!

But because the ALP and Liberal Party rule on behalf of the capitalists, they don’t want to tax the rich. It’s up to us to mobilise and force the rich to pay their due — and then ultimately — to replace their minority rule with majority rule, a real democracy run by and for working people!

That’s why I’m standing for Socialist Alliance in the New South Wales Senate. Maximise your vote at the elections, vote Socialist Alliance, then Greens, put Abbott last! Then join us in building the movements on the streets.