"Kevin Rudd made a point of letting everyone know which side the Labor Party is on when he went and had a friendly meeting with war criminal Dick Cheney while slandering the peaceful protesters outside as 'violent ferals'", student anti-war activist Simon Cunich told Green Left Weekly.
"Well now the 'violent ferals' are on the counter attack — we're challenging the Labor party on its home turf in the NSW parliament", said Cunich, who is one of 16 Socialist Alliance candidates nominated for the NSW upper house.
The Socialist Alliance ticket is headed by Aboriginal rap performer Jakalene X (aka Jakalene Extreme), unionist Susan Price, Justice for Hicks and Habib campaign founder Raul Bassi and same-sex rights campaigner Rachel Evans. The ticket also includes 12 candidates not previously announced.
One new candidate is Marie McKern, a veteran peace activist who was trampled by police, then hospitalised, at the February 23 protest against Cheney when police made an unnecessary arrest designed to provoke the peaceful protesters. "I was outraged", said McKern, who despite the attack turned up the next night to the Socialist Alliance election launch and two days later attended a protest to free David Hicks.
"If Kevin Rudd thinks that protesters are all 'violent ferals', he would probably think that Marie McKern was the most 'violent' and most 'feral' of the lot", said Cunich.
Regional NSW is also represented on the upper house ticket by Wollongong public health advocate Margaret Perrott, Newcastle "save our rail" campaigner Geoff Payne and prominent Lismore unionist Nick Fredman.
Cunich emphasised that the Socialist Alliance's election campaign is in conjunction with ongoing practical work to build the March 17 anti-war protest. "Our members are part of the Stop the War Coalition and every one of our election leaflets advertises the anti-war rally.
"Of course we'll raise our opposition to the so-called war on terror in the state election arena — we reject the notion that we can't talk about supposedly 'federal' issues in a state election campaign. The anti-democratic 'terror' laws supported by the ALP federally and by the state governments are an integral part of the 'war on terror' and we're taking these up in our election campaign."
The Socialist Alliance is also supporting a union rally scheduled for March 15 calling for defence of public sector services and jobs.
The campaign slogan "stand up for your rights" reflects the alliance's view that it is direct action by ordinary people that is the most important vehicle for serious social change.
Free public transport!
The Socialist Alliance will be mobilising activists to campaign for free public transport at scores of train stations in Sydney and around NSW on March 20. Can you help? Phone 9690 1977 or 9690 2808. Check out <alliance.org/sydney> for ways you can get involved in the Socialist Alliance election campaign.