Some of the Illawarra’s foremost fighters for social justice have backed Socialist Alliance candidate Jess Moore in the seat of Cunningham on the New South Wales south coast.
Highly regarded, veteran trade unionists Monica Chalmers, Neville Arrowsmith, Jim Keogh and Ken McBride, who have all spent decades in union and solidarity campaigns, have endorsed Moore and are helping her campaign.
Moore is a well-known community activist who is national coordinator of the socialist youth organisation Resistance.
Lebanese community leader and anti-war activist Saeb Ali has also endorsed Moore.
Chalmers was the first woman to head the South Coast May Day committee. Keogh is the secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia Veterans southern branch, of which McBride is assistant secretary. Arrowsmith is a founding member of the Illawarra Labour History Society.
Moore said she was “incredibly humbled” by this support, as the veteran activists “have tirelessly been at the forefront of struggles for workers’ rights, women’s rights, Aboriginal rights and other social justice issues.
“Changes that put people before profit — universal healthcare and education, the 40-hour work week and the right to vote for Aboriginal people — were not gifted to us, but won by the trade unions and social movements”, Moore said.
“I’m proud to stand with veterans of such campaigns to carry on the tradition. They never gave up and they inspire future generations to carry on the struggle to put human need and the planet before corporate greed.”
The socialist campaign in Cunningham is starting to gather steam. Nearly 60 volunteers are helping with letterboxing and other activities.
Despite being a safe Labor seat, there is a growing openness to political alternatives because of disillusionment with state and federal Labor governments.
Greens candidate George Takacs is also running a strong campaign. The seat was won by the Greens in the 2002 by-election, but lost back to Labor in 2004.
Moore has spoken at a range of “meet the candidates” events, including those organised by the Australian Services Union, the Illawarra Teachers' Association and the Wollongong Undergraduate Students' Association.
Takacs and Labor’s Sharon Bird, the sitting member, have also attended these. The Liberal candidate has attended none of these meetings.
Moore has been able to voice people’s frustrations and feeling that it’s just not good enough for Labor to be “less bad” than the Liberals, but that a “people before profit” alternative is needed.
Much discussion at these meetings has focused on Labor’s support for bad laws, such as the Australian Building Construction Commission, which targets construction workers and unions; the Northern Territory intervention, which severely discriminates against the NT’s Aboriginal population; and the ban on same-sex marriage.
Moore is active in campaigns against these laws. Speaking out against them is central to her campaign.
The commercial media has concentrated largely on the major party candidates. But Moore has received regular coverage due to SA’s ongoing campaigning work.
More young people are involved in Moore’s campaign than with any other candidate. The Wollongong Resistance branch is strongly involved and helping profile SA policies, such as lowering the voting age to 16 — particularly in high schools.
Moore said the key point of her campaign was to raise the need for an anti-corporate alternative and build the movements for social justice. For more information or to get involved, visit www.jessmoorecunningham.blogspot.com.