About 50 people attended politics in the pub at the Queensberry hotel on October 12, to discuss the upcoming November 27 Victorian elections.
Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters, spoke about the Victorian ALP government’s record. He said the contract for the proposed desalination plant is secret, but the cost is likely to be about $18 billion.
The plant will use huge amounts of electricity and add to greenhouse pollution.
Walters said the government was building too many freeways and neglecting public transport. He said the Greens were looking at changes in the law to improve conditions for workers.
Socialist Party candidate for the seat of Richmond, Stephen Jolly, advocated a move to zero emissions by 2020, and for jobs in solar and wind power to replace those lost in coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley. He said unions and community groups should form a third force to challenge the ALP and the Liberals.
Socialist Alliance candidate for Footscray, Margarita Windisch, said building a movement outside parliament was key to pushing progressive ideas inside parliament.
She said that socialists are working with Greens in some campaigns but wished they had greater emphasis on grassroots activism. She also called for all anti-worker and anti-union laws should be repealed so workers could fight for their rights.
People debated what to do about the desalination plant. Better alternatives exist for meeting Melbourne's water needs, including household water tanks and storm water harvesting. But Walters said if a future government decided not to use the plant, it would still have to pay out the contract.
A member of the audience said the secret contract, which imposes a huge cost on Victorians without their knowledge or consent, should be regarded as invalid, and the government should refuse to pay.
Walters said if this happened, no company would ever sign a contract with the Victorian government again.