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Issue #1470      1 September 2010

Communist Alliance Election Campaign

The Senate Campaign – Brenda Kellaway

Just prior to the election being called our CPA Branch in Newcastle organised a seminar on unemployment attended by people from the Party, the Progressive Labour Party (PLP), the Maritime Unions Socialist Activities Association (MUSAA), the Newcastle Trades Hall and other interested individuals. All the participants felt that the outcome of this seminar was positive and that we should continue actions regarding this issue. We resolved that unemployment and underemployment are important because they affect everybody. Unemployment affects those that are employed via the threat of losing their jobs, encouraging workers to accept poor working conditions that they would otherwise reject.

When the election was called our Branch felt that it was important to keep the impetus going regarding our campaign for full employment as well as introducing other party policies. We feel that having an issues-based campaign was a real strength in the elections.

We also recognised that a campaign for the Senate needed to be conducted state-wide and therefore we needed a way of reaching as many people across the state as possible. It was for this reason we decided to organise the first ever Communist television advertisement. Co-produced by myself and Bernadette Smith, we created this ad on a shoestring budget. We managed to have the ad aired across NSW, particularly in the regional areas where it aired on SBS Television 30 times and on NBN television, on the Central Coast, Mid north coast and Newcastle, 10 times. We also placed this advertisement on Youtube where thousands of people have viewed it and it is still being viewed, in spite of the elections being over.

We were invited to do a 10-minute interview on ABC Radio National on the Friday directly before the voting day. In this way I was able to publicise the full range of party policies.

The Trades Hall Council in Newcastle sends out a weekly newsletter that reaches thousands of people across the state and through the union movement. The Communist Alliance successfully submitted articles and information regarding our policies over the three weeks prior to the elections.

We were aware of the need to consolidate our prior activities in the Newcastle area. To this end our Branch leafleted regularly at local shopping centres, at the University of Newcastle, put up hundreds of posters around the inner Newcastle area and also reached voters by placing two ads in the Newcastle Herald which reached thousands of people right up to the border of NSW. In the newspaper advertisement we were able to highlight other major party policies such as on education, healthcare and housing.

In addition, I was interviewed on the local radio with 2K0 FM and 2HD FM for approximately three minutes each. Our branch also placed the audio of our TV ad on radio, which was aired many times in the greater Newcastle region.

We also held a very successful fundraiser at the Socrates Club in Newcastle where both myself and Steve Mavrantonis from the Beloyiannis Branch of the CPA spoke.

We feel that the key to the success of our campaign was the integration of all the areas, the website, the Youtube ad, the TV advertisement, the radio interviews and ads, along with talking to people whilst handing out material on the streets.

You can still see our Youtube video on unemployment/full employment.

We have had many, many positive reports and responses from the public regarding our election campaign and the votes are still climbing up from 5,500.  

 

The Senate Campaign – Geoff Lawler

Our campaign throughout the Riverina, South and Central Western Plains was low-key but very successful. It awakened a lot of people who had clearly been looking for the kind of answer to the problems confronting them that Marxism-Leninism can provide.

People who spoke with other members of the Riverina Branch of the CPA while we were campaigning for the Communist Alliance raised such issues as the Australian Wheat Board debacle and the sell-off of Australian agricultural interests to the trans-nationals.

The first immediate thing that one noticed as a result of the election campaign was the heightened level of recognition of the Communists and more importantly of interest. It quickly became evident that targeted, effective press releases were a must.

The interview I did in the Wagga Daily Advertiser resulted from the media release about the Senate candidates and was a real help. Even the guys I drink with were suddenly interested in talking to me about socialism.

One thing that struck me forcibly was how much the political climate has changed in the last decade or so. My brother was once knocked out during an argument in a pub with people who objected to trade unionists, let alone Communists.

But today, after capitalism has fallen on its face so spectacularly and in so many areas, there is a new respect for Communists as, at least, opponents of some substance. In fact, I found that my standing on the Communist Alliance ticket seemed to carry no negative connotations at all.

I was taken by surprise by this changed attitude, and did not take advantage of it to the extent that I could have. I will not be so hesitant next time!

As it was, with the help of the Riverina Branch of the CPA and my own union contacts, I was able to mobilise support among people in far flung places across the south and west of the state to distribute leaflets and man polling booths. On polling day, I worked on the Ashmont booth in Wagga, while other comrades manned booths in Cootamundra, Temora and elsewhere.

Small farmers in Australia have suffered severely under Liberal and Labor governments. Free Trade Agreements have given transnational agribusiness a 70 percent stake in our agricultural production.

The remaining Australian producers are seeing their farm gate prices driven down to rock bottom by Woollies and Coles (Wesfarmers).

The Riverina Branch of the CPA will be working to capitalise on the interest aroused during the election campaign by creating workshops for small farmers and farm workers, to show country people where the true causes of these problems originate.  

   

The Seat of Sydney Campaign – Denis Doherty

The Communist Alliance had a great election team for the seat of Sydney. The Port Jackson, Auburn and Maritime CPA Branches combined with more than 20 supporters to work on the campaign. We letterboxed about 40,000 leaflets, held over 15 stalls over three weekends and visited the major transport hubs in the electorate during the morning rush hour.

The Sydney electorate includes working class as well as wealthy middle class areas. We identified key areas in the electorate and key issues to focus on. We selected polling booths that had high ALP votes in past elections and were, in most cases, linked to public housing estates and focused our work around them.

As well as the basic Communist Alliance leaflet, we distributed hundreds each of special leaflets on the Barangaroo development and on public housing in the Cowper Street, Glebe estate and at Millers Point. We also held a sausage sizzle for public housing tenants in Surry Hills.

We targeted Royal Prince Alfred Hospital with stalls and a special leaflet on the hospital’s problems and the Communist Alliance policy calling for nationalisation of the health system. We distributed leaflets supporting public education at a NSW Teachers Federation Council meeting.

We were pleased at the reception we received during the campaign and on polling day. There were fewer anti-communist jibes than in earlier years and very little hostility.

Instead, many people expressed appreciation that we were offering an alternative to what we came to call the “Laborils”.

One woman in Glebe said, “At last I can vote formal as there is someone to vote for!” A young man emailed that he had voted for the Communist Alliance because we were cool!

Another email ran: “On hearing about this morning’s Australian soldier fatalities in Afghanistan, and worse the drone ones yesterday in unheard of places like Waziristan (20 killed), good on you and the CPA for standing for the election and doing your bit about peace.”

We were particularly pleased that one of the Cowper Street public housing campaigners distributed a leaflet saying our policy in defence of public housing tenants was better than all the other parties, and then came to a booth and handed out Communist Alliance How to Votes for over four hours.

We planned our election work understanding that it was essential to work in a way that would allow us to build the Party once the election was over. Work in defence of public housing tenants will continue with the first step a special open meeting on the topic.

We thank everyone who helped in any way with Communist Alliance Sydney election campaign.  

Next article – Count Bernadotte: ME ambassador for peace

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