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Issue #1768      March 8, 2017

WA election

Vote for progress

As the campaign for the WA state election is heading into its final days, the issues and policies have been filling the pages of the media. It is however, mostly the Liberals, Labor, Nationals and One Nation that are having their stories told. These are the political parties that are fundamentally set up to ensure the status quo will continue – though with some minor tinkering at the edges.

Alison Xamon is The Greens (WA) Upper House Candidate for the North Metropolitan region.

There are three parties, however, that would set about challenging the status quo on fundamental issues. The corporate mass media does not give them the same opportunities to have their vision and policies articulated to the broader community. These three parties are the Greens, Socialist Alliance and Communist Party of Australia (CPA). They must rely on other means to put their message across.

These parties had speakers at a recent Politics in the Pub held at 43 Blow in Perth. Over 50 people attended the meeting organised by the CPA (WA Branch) and chaired by Elizabeth Hulm from the CPA.

The Greens speaker was Alison Xamon who is standing for the Legislative Council seat of North Metropolitan. She is a former human rights lawyer, advocate for suicide prevention, union official (State School Teachers Union, Australian Nursing Federation and also an official of the Student Guild at Murdoch University) and was a member of Parliament from 2009-2013 for the Upper House seat of East Metropolitan.

The candidate who spoke from the Socialist Alliance is Chris Jenkins, a mental health nurse and dedicated activist in campaigning for Aboriginal and refugee rights. He was one of the co-founders of the Beeliar Wetlands Protectors Camp.

The speaker from the Communist Party of Australia was Dr Christopher Crouch. Crouch is an artist and former academic at Curtin University in the area of Contemporary Arts.

Xamon said the Greens’ voice needed to be amplified in our local legislature to enable the community to be heard on vital issues ranging from multiculturalism, climate change, renewable energy, a reasoned law and order debate, affordable housing, and workers’ rights.

A more diversified economy was needed so that the state was not so dependent on the waxing and waning of the mineral resources sector, which in any case does not employ as many people as other sectors.

Affordable housing was also a priority, Xamon said, as not enough money was being spent on public and community housing whilst negative gearing was opposed in principle as it did not provide any new housing and made housing more expensive.

The Greens WA would continue to promote workers’ rights, including the introduction of industrial manslaughter legislation which exists in other parts of the world and would act as a deterrent to employers who put workers’ lives at risk in the course of their work.

Xamon opposed a tough-on-crime approach to law and order which is the staple of the traditional parties. Our prisons are full of people who shouldn’t be there, including many Aboriginal men and women and people convicted of non-violent offences involving the use of illicit drugs.

Chris Jenkins, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Legislative Assembly seat of the port city of Fremantle, said the Socialist Alliance was unapologetically socialist which contrasts with the ALP which is nominally left of centre but in reality says whatever it can to be elected and frequently acts against the interests of the working class.

Housing affordability, public ownership of natural resources, improved rights for Aboriginal people and refugees and greater access to public transport were also high on the Socialist Alliance agenda – hence Jenkins’ activism in the Stop Roe 8 Freeway Extension campaign and on the Save Beeliar Wetlands.

Jenkins quoted an Oxfam report from January which said just eight men owned about half of the wealth in the world – which was neither equitable nor sustainable. Jenkins said that the message of his party was resonating with more people since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

Dr Christopher Crouch of the Communist Party said the CPA was part of the international community which had a large body of material as a resource from which to draw upon. Capitalism today, said Crouch, was intent on dissolving social relations into economic relations to achieve its ends of maximising profits through maximising exploitation.

Today many workers are employed in insecure and precarious employment. As a consequence, this hasn’t made people angrier – it had made them more fearful and insecure – and as we have seen in the US with the ascension of Republican President Donald Trump and the ressurgence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party. It has seen sectors of the working class look for hope in the wrong places.

In this type of climate, said Crouch, what we need is for the masses to think long term and to increase the ability of workers to think freely and critically. We have the resources to provide a better present and future – to achieve this we need to redistribute the wealth of this country.

On March 11, the Communist Party of Australia calls for a vote for progressive candidates to bring about a better future for working Australians. The Greens WA are preferencing the Socialist Alliance in Fremantle and vice versa. The CPA also calls on its members and fellow activists to put conservative and reactionary candidates last.

Next article – Book Review – Master of Photography

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