David Lowe, a Townsville-based administration officer and union activist, was preselected by the Socialist Alliance Queensland state conference on April 17 to join Brisbane Aboriginal community leader Sam Watson on the Senate team for the upcoming federal election. Lowe is helping to establish a Socialist Alliance branch in Townsville.
Below, Lowe explains what prompted him to run with the Socialist Alliance.
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I come from a working-class family and was raised in Melbourne. When I moved to Townsville in the late 1980s and went on to study at James Cook University, I became the first member of my family to go to university.
Union member rights and gender and racial equality have long been my major concerns. One of the first things I did when I entered the workforce in 1969 was to join a technical union. I've worked in the manufacturing, services and tertiary education sectors and wherever I've worked I've been an active union member.
I served as branch president in the Australian Services Union North Queensland Clerical and Administrative Branch from 1999 to 2009 and have been a national conference delegate and a Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) provincial council delegate for several years.
I've been involved in the QCU stolen wages campaign and the anti-privatisation campaign.
Many trade unionists are appalled at the Queensland Labor government's privatisation drive. Many have left the ALP because of it.
I think there has been a large fall in the ALP's membership in Queensland over privatisation. A number of ALP branches have folded in Townsville and I know many people who have left the party.
The ALP administrative committee dares not call a state conference to discuss privatisation, because it knows how unpopular it is and it is afraid that the delegate numbers will reveal the large reduction in ALP membership.
I am also appalled at the federal Labor government's racist scapegoating of refugees. I was a founding member of Labor for Refugees in Townsville and all the activists I worked with in that campaign are shocked at the ALP's betrayal on refugees.
Both Labor and Liberal parties are increasingly discredited with the Australian people.
In the coming federal elections, the Socialist Alliance plans to put a real political alternative before the public, one that puts the interests of ordinary people before the private profits of the big corporations.
The crisis of climate change requires urgent action to phase out coal and replace it with renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal power; areas which can generate equivalent employment levels.
The recent coal ship near-disaster on the Great Barrier Reef shows the dangers posed to our environment by rampant expansion of the coal-mining industry, in Queensland and elsewhere, by those who cut regulatory and other corners.
Until recently I worked in research areas relating to bushfires and other natural disasters. I researched the perceptions, values and expectations of communities and emergency services.
My experience in natural disasters has strengthened my view of the need to campaign for genuine solutions to looming climate change and sea-level rises, which
threaten to devastate the natural and human environment in Australia and the region.
The climate change denialism of the Liberal National Party, and Labor’s retreat from any serious action, are both dead ends for the struggle for a safe climate future.
The only real solution is for society to reduce our dependence on carbon. We can do this and create jobs at the same time.
Australia cannot afford to put off serious action on climate change. Already there are islands in the Torres Strait under immediate threat from sea-level rise. In February, six Torres Strait Island communities were flooded during king tides. Torres Strait Islander leaders and other concerned people have taken their desperate appeals for action to the United Nations.
[For more information about the Socialist Alliance’s election campaign in Queensland, or to arrange interviews, call David on 0408 765 286 or Jim on 0432 741 734.]