Surprises in Newcastle poll

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Surprises in Newcastle poll

By Steve O'Brien

NEWCASTLE — One Nation is casting a shadow over the November 21 Newcastle federal by-election. The Liberal candidate, Clive Jensen, bowed out of the contest and announced that he voted for Labor in a pre-poll vote so as to help defeat One Nation.

Other parties standing are the Democratic Socialists, Greens, Progressive Labour Party (PLP), Australian Democrats, Christian Democrats, Citizens' Electoral Council and three independents.

The ALP's Allan Morris has held Newcastle since 1983. He holds the seat with an 11% margin.

As well as the Liberal ex-candidate's support, Morris has won the second preferences of the PLP. The PLP has put the ALP above the Democratic Socialists and the Greens on its how to vote card.

The Democratic Socialists' candidate, Geoff Payne, a BHP steelworker, will preference the Greens, then the PLP before Labor.

Payne told Green Left Weekly that One Nation will try to win working-class support by blaming migrants and workers overseas for the closure of steelworks instead of the BHP bosses.

"Instead of One Nation's reactionary economic nationalism, Newcastle needs socialist solutions — demands such as the 35-hour week with no loss of pay and the nationalisation of BHP", Payne said.

"The belief that voting Labor is the best way to defeat One Nation is a proven failure", added Payne. "Hanson may have lost her seat, but One Nation now has 10 state MPs, one senator, more than a million votes nationally and $3 million of taxpayers' money from the Australian Electoral Commission."

Payne appealed for support to help counter One Nation's millions. "I urge everyone to support the working-class alternative in Newcastle. While there is no clear socialist alternative to the ideological drivel peddled by One Nation and other apologists for capitalism, there is danger that support for the racists will grow."

To offer help or for more information about the Democratic Socialist campaign, phone (02) 4926 5328.

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