Following its successful November state election campaign, the Victorian Socialists held its inaugural conference on February 16, attended by more than 230 members.
Victorian Socialists — an alliance involving the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative and other activists and organisations — was formed earlier last year. Its first major campaign was aimed at gaining a spot in the Northern Metropolitan legislative council region with Yarra socialist councillor Steve Jolly. And while it came fourth, preference deals meant that Jolly was ultimately not elected.
The party also ran candidates in a number of other legislative council seats in Melbourne and regional Victoria and every legislative assembly electorate in the state.
The conference resolved to build on Victorian Socialists’ first electoral outing by fielding candidates in the upcoming federal election, which looks likely to be held in May.
Under the slogan “People before Profit”, the party’s campaign will focus on three themes: fighting inequality and for wealth redistribution; standing up against racism and bigotry; and radically restructuring the economy to save the climate and secure better living standards.
Jerome Small, a construction worker, trade union activist and anti-racist campaigner, was preselected for the federal seat of Calwell. Small, who is a member of Socialist Alternative, won 7.7% of the vote running for the Victorian Socialists in the state seat of Broadmeadows.
Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance councillor in Moreland City and campaigner for residents’ rights was preselected for the seat of Wills.
Kathleen Larkin, a Rail, Tram and Bus Union delegate, refugee rights campaigner and Socialist Alternative member was pre-selected to contest the seat of Cooper.
The conference voted to ratify, with some minor amendments, the party’s constitution and code of conduct. It instituted an annual membership fee and elected office-bearers and representatives to a 20-member Governing Council.