Sean Brocklehurst is running as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the November 29 Victorian election. This is a speech he gave at the election launch on September 20.
We are here because we want to see change in Victoria. We want to see community need put before corporate greed. Victoria is going in the wrong direction. It is being run by and for the corporate elite and not in the interests of ordinary people.
In order to change this we need to understand that it is not just a problem of Victoria or Australia, it is a global issue. It is the ideology and policies of neoliberal capitalism. To understand how we got to this point we need to go back into history.
In the 1970s we had strong unions, some strong social movements and a relatively strong left. The capitalists were making profits but they wanted more. They wanted to cut wages and conditions so that they could squeeze out greater and greater profits at the expense of ordinary peoples living conditions.
The champions of the capitalists — Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan — spearheaded this doctrine of neoliberalism, and it was swiftly followed by Coalition and Labor governments in Australia.
This doctrine was simple; smash the unions, privatise public services, outsource social services, tear apart the welfare state and dismantle manufacturing in the developed world and shift it to the developing world. These changes that began in the 1970s and 80s precipitated a massive shift of wealth from workers to capitalists.
The Coalition government of Victoria and their allies in federal parliament have continued these policies and we can see the outcome very clearly.
Under this state Coalition government we have had $300 million cut from TAFE, $500 million cut from our public school system, anti-wind farm laws introduced, the selling off of our public housing and the East West Link crammed down our throats.
Alongside this has been an increased law and order campaign which has included more prisons, more protective service officers, new anti-protest laws and attacks on the union movement.
These policies have been devastating for our environment and for our community. This is the agenda of the corporate elite and their allies in parliament.
So what does the Socialist Alliance stand for? We are running in this state election on a platform of five major political points.
We say no to the East West Link road project. We have been active at a local level fighting against this project and will continue that fight. Instead of this unwanted and unnecessary project we want to see money spent on a major expansion of our public transport network.
Just some, but not all, of the things we need are a rail line to Doncaster, a rail line to the airport, duplicating the Upfield line, expanding tram and bus networks and getting more trams and trains on the tracks. Public transport should run all the time and be completely free. Building and expanding this network would create many local jobs in construction and manufacturing.
We need to stop the privatisation of our public housing and the transition to “social housing”, which is privatisation by stealth. Instead of this sell off we need to build tens of thousands of new public housing blocks. Public housing is something that should be available to all citizens who want it, not just those in desperate situations. Public housing rents should be capped at a reasonable amount of the tenants income. In the private rental market rent caps should be put in place to stop the explosion of rental prices.
We stand for a full reversal of the cuts to TAFE and the reopening of all closed TAFE campuses. TAFE plays a vital role in the community providing skills for young people and older people who need retraining. We need an expansion of our TAFE system to be able to re skill workers whose jobs have been lost at the car plants and other parts of the manufacturing sector.
We need real climate action now. We need to scrap premier Denis Napthine’s anti-wind farm laws. The Hazelwood coal fired power station should be shut down and replaced by solar thermal and wind power. We must scrap the plans to turn Victoria into a major exporter of coal and put a moratorium on all unconventional gas exploration and drilling.
We need to reverse the cuts to health and education. Instead we need a major expansion of our public health and education sectors. We need more nurses, doctors ambulance drivers and teachers. The health and education of our local community should be a major priority.
This is our vision for Victoria, but how will we achieve this vision and what can you do to make it a reality? Of course we want you to vote and to help our election campaign, but that is only the beginning. Another way for you to get involved is to join the Socialist Alliance, an organisation that tries to provide a voice for the voiceless and give power to the powerless. We are campaigners and we will not stop when the election is over.
You can also get involved in local campaign groups, such as the Moreland Community Against the Tunnel group that we have been proud to be a part of.
By getting active you can begin to make a difference. When we as ordinary people struggle and unite in solidarity with each other those in power tremble. For it is us, the great majority, who do the work and make this society run.
We are many, they are few. So get active today and lets put community need before corporate greed.