Socialist candidate: 'System change urgently needed'

Rachel Evans at a climate rally last November. Photo: Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle asked Rachel Evans, who is part of the NSW Senate ticket for Socialist Alliance, about some of the critical issues in the coming federal election.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the political campaigns you have been involved in.

I became involved in the anti-Apartheid movement when I was 12 or 13. My father was very involved in the Uniting Church and so we started to hand out leaflets against Shell as part of the “shun Shell” campaign.

My family was also active in Palm Sunday rallies and the peace movement. When the refugee campaign hit they became very involved in that too. I became incensed by the Iraq war in 1991 and I came across Direct Action and then Green Left.

When I was a young woman of 16 or 17, I was excited by feminist politics and really related to The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf, and the work of Susan Faludi.

I was also very interested in the revolutions in Cuba and Nicaragua. I went to Cuba later on, inspired by the prospect of revolution in Latin America and across the world.

After joining Socialist Alliance, I became active in the marriage equality campaign.  Queer rights have been a big part of my life for the past 15-20 years. After coming out, I realised that being a second-class citizen was not something I could swallow. I have organised lots of actions, rallies and occupations over 14 years of that campaign.

Now I’m campaigning for trans rights: we have to fight for kids and teachers to be accepted in schools.

The overarching slogan of the Socialist Alliance election campaign is “system change not climate change”. What you mean by this?

Capitalism is destroying the planet. It is really clear from the floods, fires and species extinction. We have to name the beast and organise against it.

Anti-capitalists and socialists are supporting the high school strike actions and unions coming out for 100% renewables in 10 years. We have to win that and then sink carbon and methane by rejuvenating soils and rivers and making sure the oceans remain at a temperature that plankton can live in.

We can get all these measures up and running if we have an economy for the people and the planet.

At the moment the economy is for the 1%: the system needs to be changed and we need people power to do it.

What key issues you are taking up?

The Senate team of Paula Sanchez, Niko Leka and myself are campaigning around climate change, the devastating floods, stopping coal seam gas in the Pilliga and against the militarization and threat of war, including the threat posed by AUKUS and nuclear submarines in Australian ports.

The Religious Discrimination Bill in NSW was recently shelved, after a big fight, but the federal bill has not been and Labor supports such a discriminatory law.

We are also pushing for funding for public transport and public education. Police brutality towards First Nations communities and the high rate of custodial sentences and deaths in custody are other important issues. Stopping violence against women is also critical for us as; funding for domestic violence services is essential as is paid domestic violence leave.

The other big issue I’m campaigning for is housing and housing affordability. We defend public housing and we are campaigning for councils to take a more proactive part in helping solve the crisis by allowing housing co-ops and injecting public funds into public housing.

Helping involve residents and the community and unions in the battle brewing in Waterloo South to defend public housing and to build 100% public housing is one of my concerns right now.