More than 70 people packed Geelong Trades Hall (GTH) on September 13 to launch the Victorian Socialists campaign for the Western Victoria Region Legislative Council electorate.
Former GTH secretary Tim Gooden heads the Victorian Socialists’ ticket for the November state election, with life-long feminist and unionist Nada Iskra second.
Sarah Hathway, a community activist and union organiser, is also running for the Victorian Socialists in the Legislative Assembly seat of Geelong.
Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association Secretary Craig McGregor described the Victorian Socialists project as “significant”. The left regroupment is “the most important aspect”, he said, adding that it had “absolutely invigorated me, like nothing else has in a number of years.”
“This project has socialism right at the heart of it,” McGregor said. “There is no shame in saying that we are a socialist organisation and that we want a socialist society.”
Gooden hit out at the Daniel Andrews state Labor government for “doing very little” for working people. “Most of [the parliament’s] work is dealing with the big end of town, the developers and big business, [to allow them] to keep operating and exploiting us year after year. That is its essential purpose.
“I want to use the resources [of parliament] to go out into the community and help people learn to fight: to fight back against city councils that do stupid things, to fight back against bosses who sack people or cut wages.
“More often than not, communities that fight, win. We want to help people organise and have a voice.”
Sue Bolton, who is second on the Victorian Socialists Northern Metropolitan Region ticket behind Yarra socialist councillor Stephen Jolly, said that like the campaigns by Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders in the United States and British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, the campaign is finding a lot of people who support socialism.
Bolton, a Socialist Alliance councillor in the City of Moreland, said: “I think the [socialist] sentiment does exist in Australia. There was a study done a few months ago which found that 58% of people under 35 are sympathetic or leaning towards socialism.
“A large number are finding the [capitalist] system is not working, and are looking for alternatives.
“I think that the left coming together like this is giving Victorian Socialists the legs it has.”
Hathway said: “If we want to change the system, we do it by building activist campaigns and convincing people to stop shouting at the TV and to get onto the streets.”