Sam Wainwright

The Fremantle local council elections on October 21 pitted largely conservative challengers against progressive incumbents, including Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright and Greens Mayor Brad Pettitt, both of whom had come under fire for the council’s decision to not celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

Both were returned with 55% of the vote, with progressive candidates defeating conservative opponents in all wards. Green Left Weekly spoke to Wainwright about the outcome

The campaign against Roe 8 and the whole Perth Freight Link freeway project has produced an unprecedented outpouring of creativity, community spirit and determination. The past month and a half has produced another phase — the Wetlands Defenders, characterised by their remarkable resilience and courage.

One of our young Socialist Alliance members, just out of high school, is currently locked on up a tree. We know she is well supported by good caring people, the people who have organised this phase of the campaign.

It was standing room only on October 8 for the launch of the Walyalup (Fremantle) activist centre.

The centre, which serves as the local Socialist Alliance branch office and bookshop, will also be available as a meeting and outreach space for local grassroots community groups.

Already the Fremantle Refugee Rights Action Network meets there fortnightly. Soon the office will feature a Nyoongar advocacy service run by local custodian Corina Abraham.

A decision by the Fremantle City Council at its March 26 meeting to reject a Main Roads WA request to voluntarily hand over land began a dramatic new phase in the campaign against the state government's freeway building agenda.

The state government wants to replace a section of High Street on the eastern approach to Fremantle with a freeway at a cost of more than $100 million. This is intended to be the first link in their plan to build a six lane "freeway standard" route connecting the Kwinana Freeway to the Fremantle container port.

Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright has vowed to run a fierce campaign for the seat of Fremantle aimed at winning public support for confiscating the wealth of the mining billionaires and the big banks.

“The mining boom reveals starkly the manifest inequality of capitalism in Australia today,” Wainwright told Green Left Weekly.

“On the one hand, we have Gina Rinehart — who has become the richest person in Australia — and on the other hand we have homeless people on the streets of Fremantle.

Fremantle Council is grappling with the rights and conditions of the workers who it expects to implement the city’s projects. I’ve proposed a policy called “Employment Values for the City of Fremantle”. For supporters of workers’ rights, the policy is straightforward and modest.

It seeks to entrench the following principles:

1. Respecting the right of workers to union organisation and representation.
2. Limiting the use of fixed-term contracts and creating a guaranteed path to permanency.
3. Remunerating employees on the basis of equal pay and conditions for work of equal value.

On August 12, candidates from the Greens, Socialist Alliance (SA) and newly formed First Nations Political Party (FNPP) spoke to a group of 50 people at La Tropicana cafe in Fremantle.

The forum was organised by SA to highlight environmental and social policies ignored by the major parties in the federal election campaign.

The event was chaired by Fremantle councillor and Western Australian SA co-convenor Sam Wainwright
Kate Davis, Greens candidate for Fremantle, said: “The Greens have a renewable energy target of 100% by 2030.

Work on every wharf in every port across Australia stopped for 24 hours from noon on July 23 to allow wharfies to attend services to mark the tragic death of Steve Piper.

Piper was crushed to death by a steel beam on Melbourne's Appleton Dock on July 14. The 24-hour stopwork also called for special national waterfront safety regulations.

Piper is the third wharfie killed on the job this year. Fourteen Australian maritime workers have been killed at work in the past two decades. Alarmingly, half of those have occurred in the past five years.

Socialist Alliance is planning an ambitious socialist ideas conference in Perth for the last weekend in June. Featured guest speakers include Socialist Party of Malaysia member of parliament Jeyakumar Devaraj. He will speak about the role of socialists in parliament and the link between parliamentary work and community organising.

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