Below is the text of a speech by Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Marrickville in the NSW state elections, to the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre candidates meeting on February 23.
I’d like to first acknowledge that we’re meeting on the land of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation, and I pay my respects to their elders past and present.
The two most important issues in this state election is to call a halt to the privatisations of our public assets and to immediately start a shift away from using polluting coal or gas for our energy needs.
There are of course a host of other very important social issues at stake as well: the defence of public education, public land, public infrastructure, public housing and public sector workers.
The Socialist Alliance disagrees with the major parties’ shared agenda of selling off our public assets.
Selling our electricity trading rights is only good for big business — which is why the ALP has been keen to sell it to its mates.
Putting billions of dollars into private hands means billions lost for critical front-line services.
The NSW government should be spending our money on services that we all need: public schools, affordable housing; public transportation (very fast rail, light rail); better ratios of workers to public in hospitals (1:4 nurse patient ratio); childcare centres, TAFEs, schools and on protecting our environment.
The privatisation of the energy retailers will lead to higher energy prices, more service cuts and job losses — just as it has in Victoria.
Both major parties know this — which is why they’re both offering the same rebates in this campaign — as bribes to try to snare a few voters with amnesia.
Another important reason not to sell off electricity is that it makes it even harder to move away from fossil fuel-based energy.
The great majority of the world's scientists say that we have 10 years — maybe even less — to avert catastrophic climate change.
We need a collective response to this challenge.
The 5-25% cut to greenhouse gas emissions promised by the federal Labor government, and supported by the NSW ALP, was never good enough.
But federal climate minister Greg Combet has now admitted that it was an empty promise: Australia will pump out 24% more CO2 by 2020!
We can address the climate emergency by investing in renewables. A plan has been developed by the Beyond Zero Emissions group to transition Australia to 100% stationary energy supply in 10 years. They are devising one for NSW.
Nationwide it would cost about 3% of GDP for the next 10 years — about $30 billion a year. NSW’s share would be about a third.
This plan — based on available technologies — involves a combination of solar-thermal and wind technology.
The federal government should make this a public investment because the market has failed on climate change.
We’re not opposed to price signals and taxes on carbon polluters but this is not enough: it’s inefficient and it’s too slow.
1. No new coal or gas-fired power stations — instead invest in the BZE plan for 100% renewable energy in 10 years.
2. Boost investment in public transport, very fast train, rail freight, regional and inter-regional services;
3. No coal seam gas mining.
We've had 15 years of NSW Labor’s corporate profits-first agenda and, after March 26, it looks like we’ll have the Liberal-National Coalition’s version.
Labor claims it will be a good opposition, but we know that they’ll do just what Barry O’ Farrell’s Coalition has done in the lead up to this election: say nothing and wait until people’s fury spills over and all they can think about is to “punish” the government by voting for the other big party.
Unfortunately, that’s the reality of this entrenched system of two-party politics.
Putting better community representatives into parliament is only one step.
We need a radical expansion of direct democracy, including the right to recall our representatives and community-initiated referenda on important social and environmental questions. A community that campaigns for its interests can hold politicians to account.
This is what will be needed to stop the big business-backed parties from holding our common future to ransom.