'The time is right to make a move'

July 4, 2001

Socialist Alliance has now been launched in all capital cities, and a round of regional launches began on June 15 when 40 people attended the launch of the Newcastle Socialist Alliance.

The audience was a cross-section of the sort of people who are being drawn to Socialist Alliance around the country. There were trade unionists fed up with Labor, progressive Christians, migrants from different socialist traditions, members of the affiliated parties and "people off the street".

The atmosphere was typical too — marked most of by general enthusiasm that the left "had finally got its act together".

As this broadsheet goes to press Socialist Alliance launches have taken place in the following centres:

Sydney, April 10: Before a crowd of 250 at Trades Hall Michael Thomson, assistant state secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union and a member of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) said that the Socialist Alliance "will help build networks to resist economic rationalism, whoever wins the election". The meeting was also addressed by indigenous activist Ray Jackson (Freedom Socialist Party), Dae Keum Kim, coordinator of the Sydney Korean Resource Centre and Lisa Macdonald, for the Democratic Socialist Party.

Melbourne, April 10: Ellen Kleimaker, the Victorian Trades Hall Council's women's and equity officer, told the 270 people who packed the Brunswick Town Hall that, given the rightward shift of the ALP, "there was no need for a Liberal Party anymore". Other speakers were David Glanz (ISO), Jackie Lynch of the DSP and Melbourne University queer officer Darren Kane. Chair Alison Thorne, of the Freedom Socialist Party, read greetings and endorsements from AMWU state secretary Craig Johnston, textile union organiser Annie Delaney, comedian Rod Quantock and author Verity Burgmann.

Perth, May 9: Roberto Jorquera (DSP) and Wade McDonald (ISO) told the meeting of the important openings unity opened for the left. The 50 people present resolved to support a protest against the swearing in of three One Nation MPs on May 22.

Brisbane, May 15: Mark Gillespie reports. Socialist Alliance got off to a great start in Brisbane with close to 150 people attending the launch in early May. Prominent aboriginal activist, Sam Watson told the meeting that "I'll be a proud member of this party and will work hard for it because I believe the time is right for the left to make this move".

Letters of solidarity were read out to the meeting from prominent union leaders and traditional owners, the Turrbal. One enthusiastic audience member, a refugee from El Salvador, told the meeting that he "can't believe this is Australia".

Lismore, May 17: More than 40 crammed into a local caf‚ to hear Edda Lampis (ISO), Nick Fredman (DSP) and Boyd Kellner (NSW Public Service Association) set the Socialist Alliance on the road. According to Kellner, union militants would be drawn to "an alternative to the class-collaborationist politics of the Labor bureaucrats".

Adelaide, May 21: Veteran socialist Norm Taylor told the launch that "thanks to the youth, [the alliance] is likely to grow." Latin American feminist and activist Monica Chiappe stressed the importance of making the Alliance a home for migrants, while long-term Adelaide activist Jeff Richards stressed that "the old baggage doesn't matter to the new generation".

Canberra, May 24: It was one of Canberra's best political events in years — a launch marked by a great enthusiasm for left unity, ALP members tearing up their membership cards and former Labor MHR for the seat of Fraser, Ken Fry, endorsing the Alliance and calling on it to defend East Timor's rights to its resources and to campaign for the closure of Pine Gap.

Check for the Socialist Alliance launch in your area on <www.socialistalliance.org>.

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