Australian politics resolutions of the Socialist Alliance 11th national conference

Gemma Weedall presents Australian politics report. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

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Australian politics and campaigns perspectives resolutions adopted by the 11th national conference of Socialist Alliance

The following resolutions were adopted by the 11th National Conference of the Socialist Alliance, held in Sydney, June 5-8, 2015. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Breaks in the two-party system

1. The March Australia rallies (in March 2015) were much smaller in size compared to 2014 where we saw big mobilisations in March, May and August. Another round of rallies is planned for July against attacks on welfare but signs are not promising for big numbers, with the organisation of these rallies generally remaining closed and undemocratic. The momentum for these rallies has potentially been displaced by campaigns around individual issues (such as the rallies against forced Aboriginal community closures), many of which are growing in size. The government's latest budget narrowed the focus of its attacks as a result of the resistance to its 2014 budget agenda, which shows what can be achieved when communities organise. While it remains to be seen whether the same level of community anger will spill out onto the streets in response to this budget, we want to do everything we can to help build this resistance.

2. At the local level, community and anti-racist organising is on the rise. The mobilisations against the attacks on remote Aboriginal communities and for the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers are growing. On the environmental front there have been the wins for the community campaign against the East West Link in Victoria, and for the strong farmer-community alliances against unconventional gas exploration in regional Australia. There are ongoing environmental campaigns to Save Our Rail in Fremantle and Newcastle, the campaign to Stop WestConnex in Sydney, to Save the Reef, to build solar thermal in Port Augusta, the Earthworker co-operative project and the anti-coal campaigns in NSW and Queensland. Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with these campaigns and we will continue to help build them and to promote them through the pages of Green Left Weekly.

3. The coming federal election presents an opportunity for Socialist Alliance to present an alternative social, economic and ecological platform to the major parties and to the Greens which links demands to tax the rich with a plan for a radical redistribution of wealth through a massive expansion of social programs. To prepare for the election, the National Conference empowers the incoming National Executive to begin work on a draft platform.

Land, water, climate under increased threat

1. Socialist Alliance is committed to continuing to work with communities to build resistance to new coal, unconventional gas, uranium exploration and mining and unnecessary extractive industries around the country. Socialist Alliance supports campaigns that oppose the creation of nuclear energy and waste dumps within Australia. Our broader objective is to foster a real mass movement for a rapid and just transition to 100% renewables. We seek to do this through collaborating with others to develop organisational and leadership capacity. We also seek to use Green Left Weekly as a tool to help build and promote these campaigns.

Racism, dispossession and resistance

1. Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with Aboriginal communities being threatened with forced closure. We will seek to build this movement nationally and provide support and solidarity wherever possible.

Bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and asylum-seekers continues

1. There is a strong sentiment amongst the general population that Australia’s refugee policy is unjust, inhumane and an international embarrassment, and the rights of refugees and asylum seeker remains an issue that people are willing to mobilise around. The Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers and will continue to prioritise and build the campaign to end the bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and will continue regular coverage of the issue in Green Left Weekly.

2. There are plans for a national refugee convergence, including a protest and national meeting on July 25/26 in Melbourne, around the Australian Labor Party (ALP) National Conference. This will be the first national gathering of refugee activists for some time. Socialist Alliance supports this initiative and will build the convergence, encouraging our members from nearby branches to travel to Melbourne to participate in it.

3. Socialist Alliance supports the initiatives for nationally coordinated action during the second half of 2015.

Fighting racism and Islamophobia

1. In order to fight back against the attempt to build this new far-right movement in Australia, we need to resist the official racism of the Liberal and Labor governments; to defend and show solidarity with communities under attack; and we need broad counter-mobilisations every time these groups organise a public presence.

2. Reclaim Australia rallies have been called for July and planning is already underway for counter rallies against racism in some states. The Socialist Alliance supports these counter rallies and will seek to be involved in organising and building them nationally.

3. We oppose the new attacks on civil liberties and rights to citizenship under the guise of new “anti-terrorist”, “security” laws.

Attacks on welfare and education

1. Sections of the March Australia movement are projecting rallies against welfare attacks in July this year. Socialist Alliance will work to build these events in cities where they are held.

Women’s rights

1. Socialist Alliance will seek out opportunities to promote our socialist and feminist politics to the layers of young women who are being drawn to feminist politics and campaigns.

2. The Socialist Alliance will work to strengthen campaigns for women's rights and particularly rights to liveable income, where they arise.

3. In particular, Socialist Alliance seeks opportunities to build campaigns for increased funding for domestic violence services so that they can meet demand, as well as prevention campaigns.

Sex worker rights

1. We note the push toward the Nordic Model taking place within the Liberal Party in WA and SA. We oppose the scapegoating of sex workers in state politics. Where possible, branches are encouraged to investigate possibilities of working with the Scarlet Alliance and other organisations to oppose any push toward the Nordic Model in Australia.

Attacks on workers’ rights and civil liberties

1. Socialist Alliance reinforces the need for a strong, independent union movement. We want to encourage our members to seek out work where they can be active union members on the job as rank and file members and delegates.

2. An example of what socialists can do when elected to union positions is in Socialist Alliance member Tim Gooden and his role as Geelong Trades Hall Secretary. As well as his industrial role, Tim has played a key role in uniting the refugee rights campaign in Geelong and used his position to put forward a progressive social, economic and political platform via a regular column in the Geelong Advertiser.

3. Socialist Alliance recognises that the campaign to develop more democratic, accountable union structures and to for unions to take up broader social issues is connected to the fight to strengthen our unions as fighting bodies.

4. Socialist Alliance members also seek to work with other progressive unionists and militant union leaders across unions and industries to strengthen the militant wing of the labour movement and to maximise its impact and influence.

The campaign for marriage equality

1. That branches investigate to see if there is a keenness within Equal Love groups, and LGBTI rights groups to re-mobilise around the equal marriage campaign. If not, or if there is no group within respective cities, that Resistance and Socialist Alliance branches consider initiating broadly supported and endorsed actions under the banner of "Marriage Rights NOW: Put the Bill, Pass the Bill".

2. That we advocate to mobilise members and marriage activists from other cities for Equal Love Melbourne's rally outside the ALP national conference on Saturday, July 25, 12 noon. That branches consider local solidarity events in their own cities on Saturday, July 25, if unable to reach the Melbourne event.

3. That we advocate for rallies on the weekend of August 8/9, as a national day of action for marriage equality. August 13 is the day the marriage ban legislation passed in 2004.

4. We maintain a flexible approach with the August date, and call other snap actions if a bill looks like it will be put earlier.

5. If the marriage bill gets passed, we use the momentum of the victory to continue the fight for sex and gender rights and queer refugee rights.

Our approach to building campaigns

1. To beat back the attacks by Abbott and to mount successful campaigns against racism, for refugees, to protect the environment, we need to build powerful united fronts. Our approach in the Socialist Alliance has always been to seek out allies, opportunities to build broad coalitions and to maximise unity that will help build the movements for change. To that end, Socialist Alliance members argue for democracy and inclusiveness in the movements, for their political independence (e.g. from ALP, Greens) and for clear political demands (e.g. "End Mandatory Detention", "Rip Up the East West Link Contracts") that allow for maximum pressure and that take the movement forward.

2. We should use whatever foot holds and platforms we have to build the movements, including our elected local councillors, elected trade union officers and student representatives on campus, as well as all available media platforms – in particular Green Left Weekly.

3. Like Sam Wainwright in Fremantle, Sue Bolton, our Socialist Alliance Councillor in Moreland has been working to mobilise communities and residents. Sue and Sam have also effectively used their public profile to build community campaigns, comment on the issues of the day and raise motions in Council, such as the one condemning forced closures of remote Aboriginal communities. We should defend and extend these important platforms for building a base for the left and progressive forces, for building the movements and getting a hearing for socialist ideas.

4. One of our key assets in our campaign work is Green Left Weekly. GLW is a combined party-building and unity-building project as well as a campaign-building platform and it has continued to have an influence over its nearly 25-year history – on left Greens, left ALP members, on activists far and wide, and internationally.

5. The other essential element in helping to build the movements is strengthening our socialist organising.

Resolutions on youth and campus work adopted by the 11th national conference of Socialist Alliance

June 2015

1. That branches prioritise getting their youth membership to the Radical Ideas 2015 event in December, including fundraising if required to subsidise comrades’ travel.

2. We reaffirm our party's strategic commitment to recruiting and training young activists, including building youth leadership in branches.

3. Resistance Young Socialist Alliance (RYSA) members, nationally and in branches, are empowered to meet and organise to advance Resistance's goals of: organising a national youth education conference; organising young people to build Socialist Alliance; and helping to recruit and integrate youth into Socialist Alliance. As with other areas of Alliance work, Resistance bodies are accountable to the relevant branch or national bodies of Socialist Alliance.

4. Socialist Alliance and its youth wing should continue to prioritise building and/or rebuilding bases on campus. This should be a top priority in all branches in terms of allocation of branch resources. Whilst it is the priority of the youth to build and rebuild bases on campus, it should be the prerogative of branches and clubs to determine campaign focuses on campuses they’re intervening in rather than setting a national campaign priority.

5. The National Conference empowers the National Executive in collaboration with the Resistance leadership to explore options in regards to membership and subscription deals for campus joiners.

6. That we commit to a mid-year second semester re-launch of RYSA/SA on campuses for mid-year o’week events. This would include a new series of information material about Resistance.

7. That our organisation develops an educational as a way of explaining the difference between the political practice of Socialist Alliance as compared to identity politics and other ideas current in the student arena. That we empower the new RYSA executive to work with the SA education working group in developing this new educational.

8. That youth work take a particular focus on campus intervention by starting to firmly plant a regular presence on university campuses through the establishment of clubs and/or weekly stalls or selling Green Left Weekly.

9. That work done on campus be structured so as to do the best intervention possible by consolidating our intervention and prioritising where the most promising work can be done.

10. That branches work on ways to become more engaged with and visible to youth and students through methods of postering, holding events on campus and having themed stalls around current campaigns or introduction to socialism classes.

11. That the education and integration of youth and student recruits continue to be prioritized, ensuring that introductory level political ideas are covered as soon as possible, for example, through casual Introduction to Socialism and Introduction to Marxism sessions run by pairs of experienced and non-experienced comrades.

12. That campus and youth work is organised under the direction of the branch, and campus organisers prioritise the integration of new campus joiners into the branch. This will assist the training of youth comrades by being involved in movement work outside of student work and benefit from the open discussion of campus work in branch meetings.

13. That our campus intervention include RYSA initiating campaigns and protests alongside the building of collaborative relationships between other progressive groups and networks.