Use your voice to put people and planet first in Griffith

Friday, February 7, 2014
Real change comes from ordinary people organising in their communities.

The Brisbane branch of Socialist Alliance released this statement on February 5.

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The Griffith by-election comes after a series of statements by the federal government that demonstrate just how anti-people and anti-environment the Liberal-National Coalition government really is.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flatly lied to the public, claiming that SPC Ardmona is suffering because of “over generous” wages and conditions for the workers. This is part of his broader attacks on workers’ rights and the unions, and the return of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Abbott’s Commission of Audit is being delayed until after this by-election, and will be used to justify a raft of new budget cuts and privatisations.

Joe Hockey says: “The age of entitlement is over".

If this is the case, then why not end the $10 billion per year government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry? Why has the mining industry’s taxation rate plummeted over the last decade to less than 14%?

In the midst of an unprecedented mining boom, and with banks posting record profits each year, why do we need to deny all ordinary Australians a decent standard of living?

Add to this an increasingly brutal assault on refugee rights, including implementing a "code of conduct" for asylum seekers, which includes not spitting or swearing, criminalising everyday behaviour and creating a climate of fear.

In an outrageous attack on Aboriginal rights, Abbott has recently announced $13.4 million in cuts to Aboriginal legal services over the next four years. Aboriginal adults are 14 times more likely to be jailed than other Australians.

On the environmental front, the federal government has also given the green light on the dumping of 3 million cubic metres on the Great Barrier Reef in order to expand a coal port that will see more than 70 million tonnes of extra coal. Abbott has also announced that the World Heritage listing of Tasmanian old growth forests will be revoked.

At the state level, the Liberal National Party have introduced a host of undemocratic laws including the infamous VLAD, criminalising ordinary citizens, and using them to ramp up attacks on the Electrical Trades Union and other unions. This comes after a series of cuts to the public service that have devastated the lives of thousands of ordinary Queenslanders.

Unfortunately, the federal and state Labor governments offer no alternative. They have paved the way for the LNP’s attacks through their own campaign of privatisation, deregulation, handouts to polluters, attacks on refugees, and continuation of the NT intervention (under the name of "Stronger Futures").

In Queensland, the ALP opposition voted in favour of the anti-democratic VLAD laws, and spoke in support of a new proposal to clamp down on student concessions for Translink.

Both major parties want to maintain the status quo, and are beholden to the interests of big business, in particular the mining, banking and energy sectors. What Australia needs to move forward to a just and sustainable society is the nationalisation of these industries, under democratic community and worker control. Once in public hands this wealth could be used to pay for social services and to transition rapidly to 100% renewable energy.

We need a party that is organically connected to the movements for social change. A party that helps build the grassroots movements and is built by the grassroots movements. A party that is properly democratic and listens to the interests of ordinary Australians, not the economic elite.

While the Socialist Alliance will not be running in this current by-election, there are progressive candidates standing for Griffith.

Geoff Ebbs for the Greens is running on a platform of ending cuts to social welfare and public services, including Medicare, replacing coal and gas with renewable energies, and improving public transport. In his campaign material, Ebbs says: “The global financial crisis, recent wars and extreme climate events show us that we cannot continue with the status quo.”

Melanie Thomas for the recently established Pirate Party is putting forward policies of defending civil liberties, humane treatment of asylum seekers, enforcing government transparency — especially with regard to the potentially devastating Trans-Pacific Partnership.

On her campaign page, Thomas says: “Australian politics is in an appalling state at present. It has become mired in issues that shouldn’t be politicised: asylum seekers, climate change and same-sex marriage are just three major issues that have been taken by the current Government and distorted for political gain.”

When voting this February 8, be sure to put one of these two candidates first and preference the ALP before the LNP.

But at the end of the day, real change does not come through elections. It comes from ordinary people organising in their communities, in their workplaces, at their schools and universities. In order to be most effective in our struggles, we need to build coalitions between all left-wing, progressive and environmental groups who are willing to fight against the neoliberal agenda of the major parties.

Join the Socialist Alliance, along with many other environmental and progressive groups, for a demonstration in West End against the decision to dump on the Reef.

[Meet at 1pm on February 8 at the Lizard sculpture, on the corner of Russell and Boundary Streets, West End.]

From GLW issue 996