2015 NSW elections: Put a socialist in the Legislative Council

Who we are

The Socialist Alliance, a nationwide, anti-capitalist political party, aims to bring together those wanting to build broad campaigns against neo-liberal austerity, war, injustice and oppression.

We stand for socialism — a democratic society run by and for working people.

The socialism we support is based on:

  • Solidarity and collaboration — not dog-eat-dog competition and rivalry.
  • Environmental sustainability — living in harmony with the planet.
  • Participatory democracy — not just voting for ‘representatives’ every few years.
  • Social economy — putting people's need before corporate profit.
  • True equality — between peoples, nations, religions and the sexes.

We believe that by working and acting together we have the power to create a just and environmentally sustainable alternative to profit-driven capitalism.

Our members are active in union and community-led movements such as those campaigning for rights and services, against sell-offs and privatisations, women’s and LGBTIA rights, environmental sustainability, against war and racism, for refugee rights, equal marriage rights and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We are active trade unionists, committed to defending workers’ rights, conditions and jobs.

We are standing for the NSW Legislative Council to give voice to the millions, not the billionaires. We believe that building grassroots campaigns and contesting elections can and should complement each other.

Our candidates are not career politicians: they campaign all year around and, if elected, pledge to only take an average workers’ wage and donate the rest to the movements for social change.

NSW urgently needs a radical shift in priorities, in the interests of environmental sustainability and social justice.

Don’t just vote for us, find out more and get involved in the creating a better world.

You can download a copy of our election broadsheet here or read on below for its content.

For more information contact the Socialist Alliance. Email nsw@socialist-alliance.org Phone 02 8070 9330

 

Socialist Alliance ticket for the Legislative Council (upper house)

1. Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

I’m an Aboriginal woman, a descendant of the Wirajuri and Dhurag peoples of NSW, and an active member of the Newcastle branch of Socialist Alliance.

Neither a Labor nor a Liberal-National government can meet the needs of the community.

I have a Bachelor of Business (Hons) from the University of Newcastle, a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Melbourne and am currently undertaking a PhD in management at the University of Newcastle. She is also a full-time staff member at The Wollokua Institute at the University of Newcastle.

I am a staunch unionist, having been in various unions since I joined the workforce more than 35 years ago.

I am currently the Aboriginal committee member of the Newcastle branch of the National Tertiary Education Union. I was the NSW representative on the NTEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee (2013-2014) and am now deputy chair of the NTEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee.

I’ve been a student advocate and representative at University of Newcastle for the past 10 years, serving on the executive of the Newcastle University Postgraduate Student Association and the Newcastle University Student Association as welfare officer, postgraduate representative, equity officer, Indigenous officer, vice president and president.

I’m also active in various campus campaigns, and am the postgraduate representative on the Academic Senate and the Research committee of the University of Newcastle.

I am the National Indigenous Postgraduate Association Aboriginal Corporation Liaison Office to the Council of Australian Postgraduates Association.

I’ve also recently joined Blacademy, a national collective of Indigenous students which has been very outspoken about the recent National Union of Students’ conference which decided to withdraw funding from Indigenous office bearer positions (among others).

I am passionate about Aboriginal issues and education and used the Newcastle March in August 2014 event to speak out against the terrible impacts of Abbott’s budget cuts. I also spoke out against the cuts in my address to the Senate enquiry into the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014.

2. John Rainford

I’m a Wollongong-based Green Left Weekly journalist, writer and filmmaker (Radical Wollongong being the latest movie-length feature documentary). I am also a co-convenor of the Illawarra branch of the Socialist Alliance.

Our contribution to corruption-free politics begins with the pledge that if we’re elected to parliament we’ll only take an average wage and donate the rest to progressive causes.

As the procession of MPs from the ALP and Liberal-National Coalition parties paraded before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) clearly demonstrates, NSW politics is both corrupt and corrupting.

There is an urgent need to bolster ICAC by establishing a special unit of the Department of Public Prosecutions alongside ICAC to bring those found guilty of corruption before the courts sooner rather than later.

We also need to act quickly to protect our water supply and agricultural land by introducing a moratorium on all coal seam gas exploration until a Royal Commission determines if CSG mining and exploration is safe.

3. Mia Sanders

I’m a second-year arts student, majoring in Social and Cultural Analysis. Last year I was elected to the UWS Bankstown Student Campus Council and the editorial board of CrUWSible.

I am a member of the national executive of Resistance Young Socialist Alliance and the student work convenor of the Sydney Central branch of the Socialist Alliance.

Education is a right, not a privilege and I’m passionate about building a stronger student movement to defend our quality education system from state and federal government cuts and user-pays schemes.

My commitment to ensuring low socioeconomic status youth and mature-aged students are not shut out from higher education has also led to me being elected a UWS Student Representative to and a Co-Convener of the NSW Education Action Network.

The user-pays push is an attempt to price poor students out of the university system altogether. It’s not about introducing competition. A degree shouldn’t cost a mortgage, and students shouldn’t have to skip meals to make ends meet.

Rather than dismantling TAFE, and the public school system, we need a massive reallocation to fund quality, free public education at all levels.

4. Howard Byrnes

I am a 54-year-old father of four and a crane operator. I have worked in the building industry for almost three decades, first becoming a union activist in the Federated Engines Drivers and Fireman’s Association in the 1980s.

I’m now a workplace delegate for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and regularly stand on picket lines outside crane yards, restaurants and building sites.

I am a State Councillor and member of the Committee of Management of the NSW branch of the CFMEU — Construction division where I’m a vocal advocate for socialist politics, as well as talking up refugee rights, environmental awareness and Indigenous rights.

We desperately need an alternative to Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition.

When Labor is in opposition, it poses as the party of the working class. When it’s in power, it sells us out. The disaster of the Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC, formerly the ABCC), introduced under the Howard regime and not dismantled by Rudd or Gillard, is a case in point.

Building industry activists can be arrested for withholding information: everyone else has the right to remain silent. These draconian laws undermine our right to organise workplace safety on the job.

In NSW, Labor in government has been as keen to privatise state assets as the Coalition is now. It did not stand up for the public sector, nor conditions on the job. It started the process of dismantling workplace health and safety laws, which the Coalition is continuing.

Socialist Alliance consistently supports campaigns for and by working people. A vote for Labor or the Coalition is a vote for corporation-run government. A vote for us puts people and the environment first.

5. Pip Hinman

I’ve been a socialist and feminist all my adult life since being inspired in the 1980s by the powerful social change movement in Nicaragua. I’m the co-convenor of the Sydney Branch of Socialist Alliance.

I’ve been passionate about environmental issues for a long time, first becoming active in the fight for the NSW south east forests and now in the struggle to protect our water and land from the corporate coal seam gas (CSG) industry. I’m president of Stop CSG Sydney, having helped form the group in 2011 when we successfully stopped a CSG test drill site in St Peters in Sydney’s inner west. The movement to stop CSG has shown just how powerful it can be by uniting communities across NSW.

As a parent of an 18-year-old daughter, I know how tough life can be for most young people trying to make their way in an increasingly unequal world.

Socialist Alliance stands for fundamental social and economic change: we’re committed to strengthening grassroots democracy because bringing people into the movements for change is an intrinsic part of achieving that end goal

6. Greg McFarlane

I have been involved with progressive movements for decades, and more recently with animal rights and vegan advocacy.

I’m currently a director of Vegan Australia and was the president of the Vegan Society NSW for four years. I’ve been a member of Socialist Alliance for more than a decade.

I believe we have a duty not to use sentient beings (those who are subjectively aware) as a resource. Not only does the production of animal products involve suffering, humans have no need for such products and are able to live healthily on a vegan diet.

For these reasons we must work towards the abolition of the property status of animals and end animal exploitation.

The recent Beyond Zero Emissions’ land use report states that animal agriculture causes 49% of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. I am keen that progressive and environmental groups factor this into their work around limiting global warming. Animal agriculture is also a major contributor to other environmental problems.

I think speciesism is the systemic oppression of individuals based on their species rather than on their sentience and am interested in the connection between speciesism and other oppressions (race, gender, class, ability and sexual identity).

Socialist and animal rights movements spring from the same source, I believe, and should be integrated for the benefit of all. Animal rights has been the orphan of the left for too long and now time for animal rights to be recognised as an important social justice movement. Put people, planet and animals before profits!

7. Rachel Evans

I am a postgraduate student researching Aboriginal Resistance in Australia and Bolivia at Sydney University. I am active in the campaign against fee hikes and the deregulation of the university sector. I am also a co-convenor of Socialist Alliance Sydney Branch.

I’m passionate about achieving justice for refugees and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Racism is intrinsic to capitalism, and therefore building anti-racist movements which can weaken capital’s power is critical to building participatory democracy and, ultimately, a society where people’s needs come first.

I’ve been centrally involved in promoting equal marriage rights in NSW. While we want a new national marriage law, a state-based regulation giving LGBTIQ couples marriage rights would be a positive step along the way. I also helped a number of queer refugees win their freedom from the Villawood Detention Centre.

8. John Coleman

I’ve worked most of my life on the railways and been active in the rank and file network within the Rail, Bus and Tramways Union.

I’ve been a lifelong union activist because working people need their own organisations if they are going to be able to defend their rights against the bosses.

The neoliberal drive to sell off our services should be illegal: all essential services and utilities, including the electricity network, hospitals, port services and other public services, must be returned to public ownership.

These services were paid for by the people of NSW and we did not agree to their sale. We need more, not less, spending on public transport, public housing and public services such as renewable energy. This is the only way to fight climate change.

I’m also been a lifelong socialist. The major parties are unfit to govern. Working people will need to step up the challenge to create the alternative before it’s too late.

9. Coral Wynter

I’m a retired biochemist, working on the genetics of colon cancer research for 15 years. I have two daughters and two beautiful grandchildren. I have been a socialist for 40 years and am acutely aware of the link between capitalism and climate change.

I am concerned about the chemical contamination of the biosphere and have written on the health effects of Agent Orange and similar genetically-disruptive chemicals.

For 35 years, I have been and remain involved in promoting solidarity with the radical struggles across Latin America: in the 1970s and 1980s I supported the campaign in solidarity with the Nicaraguan revolution and against US intervention in El Salvador.

Recently, I have been very active in promoting the revolutionary process in Venezuela, leading several multinational brigades to that country. I have also been a life-long feminist, fighting for equality in education, wages and abortion law reform.

10. Ben Kohler

I’m a third year student studying history at the University of Wollongong and have been an activist since I was 16.

Some of the most important issues today are taking real action on climate change, fighting all the cuts the Abbott government is trying to introduce and fighting for refugee rights.

We increasingly live in a world ravaged by all kinds of crises and destruction and neither the Liberals or the ALP can provide any long-lasting systemic solutions. We need a radical alternative to the status quo, which is why we need parties like the Socialist Alliance.

11. Jemma Nott

I’m a postgraduate student at the University of Sydney, studying international relations. I’m also a freelance journalist and copywriter.

I am passionate about ending the ever increasing gap between the rich and poor, and ending impoverishment.

I’m active in the campaign against the Abbott government's malicious attacks on poor students and will continue the fight for accessible education for all.

The federal government's cruel asylum seeker policies, which are increasingly restrictive, are a serious breach on human rights and I’m active in the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney. I’m also concerned about the state and federal government’s racist Islamophobic laws and support those movements which break down the barriers that racism and xenophobia create. I’m also active in Resistance Young Socialist Alliance.

12. Paul Benedek

I work both in Aboriginal health education and in video production for community organisations and unions.

I've campaigned against the inhumane treatment of refugees,and am involved in Stop CSG Sydney and in the campaign to stop the multi​-billion-dollar West Connex disaster.

CSG and toll roads are typical of ​capitalism: short term profiteering for the few, while social and environmental ​priorities are trashed.

I'm a proud socialist and have been inspired by my travels to Venezuela and Cuba where communities ​have taken back wealth and power from the 1% and are using​ it to meet their needs. This includes public funding of universal health and free education.

​Here, governments ​are cutting and privatising​ our services and ​allowing profiteers to make a buck at our expense.

I helped found Green Left TV, the online video wing of Green Left Weekly, and co-directed Green Left TV's first feature film, Radical Wollongong (recently voted best film at the Canadian Labour International Film Festival)​.

As a father of 2-year​-​old twins, ​I'm enraged by ​the ​cuts to child-care and other services, especially education. I'm angry that the environment is being trashed and that our kids will inherit even bigger problems.

Socialist Alliance ​aims to help build people'​s movement​s that can challenge the climate and community wreckers and start to to build the alternative.

13. Kathy Fairfax

I’m one of two Green Left Weekly editors and have been a socialist for 30 years.

The greatest extinction of plants and animals seen on this planet since the days of the dinosaurs is happening now and it’s because of human-induced climate change.

Not only are current governments not acting to reduce the impact of climate change, they are making it worse by encouraging the mining of fossil fuels, particularly coal seam gas, and by investing in polluting road infrastructure, such as WestConnex, rather than public transport.

The Socialist Alliance is the only activist party with the will to turn this around and begin to heal the planet and the plants and animals that live on it.

14. Duncan Roden

I’ve been writing for Green Left Weekly for several years, having worked in environmental management before that.

I’ve been active in movements for real action on climate change, for refugee rights and am currently involved in the student campaign against budget cuts and deregulation.

Climate change is a big issue that both Liberal and Labor governments prefer to ignore. We need to stop coal seam gas and the use of other fossil fuels and take serious steps to invest in alternatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

We also need to oppose the neoliberal assault on public assets and welfare. This can only be done by a party that puts people and planet before profits.

15. Margaret Allan

I’m a mental health worker, living in western Sydney. I’ve campaigned for social justice for more than 20 years including campaigns for women’s rights, for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, against racism and for refugee rights.

I am also involved in the campaign for peace and justice in Palestine, and I am a firm supporter of the non-violent Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the apartheid state of Israel.

I’m running to provide an alternative to the cruel and inhumane policies of the major parties which continue to attack the poor and the marginalised.

As a healthcare worker, I’m a strong supporter of free quality healthcare for all. I oppose the cuts to health funding and the introduction of further “user pays” measures to Medicare. I also oppose the moves to privatise public hospitals or allow private operators to make a buck out of treating the sick.

Socialist Alliance is the only party which prioritises the building of extra-parliamentary movements for change. This is because, ultimately, there is no shortcut to achieving long-lasting change. Only by involving ordinary people in creating changes will community needs be met rather than corporate greed.

16. Nicole McGregor

I have recently returned, with my partner, to the family farm just outside the small town of Stroud (near Gloucester) to help my elderly mother. Prior to that I spent more than 25 years working in administration for large corporations.

Like many other farmers, I am concerned about coal seam gas and coal mining in the Karuah Valley and Gloucester area. There is no reason for fracking as there are proven alternatives. Every structure and residence should be fitted with solar panels: we have the technology now to be producing enough solar electricity with baseload capacity. Moving to sustainable energy would stop the waste of billions of gigalitres of precious water used by CSG companies and it would create new jobs, including many in regional areas.

I wholeheartedly support eliminating the wage gap between men and women. I am also very concerned at the impact the wage gap has on the many single parents who are struggling to make ends meet.

My beliefs are centred around people before profits. We need to protect the vulnerable, something the capitalist system doesn't.

Our election platform

Electoral reform

There is a deep-seated and systemically corrupt culture of money politics in NSW that has to end. It is not confined to a few ‘bad apples’.

We need to reclaim democracy for the common good. We stand for real participatory democracy and decision-making.

  • Replace the present voting system with proportional representation at all levels of government.
  • Abolish restrictive and onerous electoral laws that privilege the major parties.
  • Abolish the current electoral funding model, which entrenches the status quo and benefits the major parties and the billionaires.
  • Introduce publicly-funded election campaigns, with a fixed amount decided before each election.
  • Oblige the NSW electoral commission to publicly distribute the platforms of all parties and candidates, and to hold community information stalls to explain the voting system.
  • Allow voters to recall elected representatives from all levels of government if 10% or more electors petition for a recall election.
  • To end careerism and rorting, all elected representatives be paid an average worker’s wage, and receive an average worker’s retirement pension.

Restrictions on political donations can be easily circumvented by the rich. We oppose all restrictions on trade union donations as long as they are democratically agreed to by the members of those unions. All electoral donations to be publicly declared.

Lower the voting age to 16 years old.

Electoral reform policy

Indigenous rights

We recognise Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Peoples, and that their lands have never been ceded. We support land rights and a treaty that restores land and decision-making power to communities — sovereignty.

We campaign alongside Aboriginal struggles against dispossession and genocide, including supporting Tent Embassies, land occupations, strikes and campaigns to:

  • End Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody.
  • End the stealing of children.
  • End the NT intervention / income management.
  • Stop the suicides.

Closing the gap requires Aboriginal control of the programs, services and resources going to communities. These can be funded by a progressive taxation system. This is the only way to ensure real advances in health, education, housing, jobs, child and aged care.

Indigenous rights policy

Renewable energy, not more fossil fuels

The science demands that we make the switch to renewable energy now. We can phase out fossil fuels while protecting jobs and livelihoods.

  • Start a transition to 100% renewable energy in 10 years immediately.
  • Prohibit coal seam gas (CSG) mining unless the science shows it is safe for our water, land and health.
  • Revoke all CSG licences covering the Sydney basin, the water catchments and regional communities — also because 30 of the 39 licences were granted by ALP MPs who have subsequently been found to be corrupt.
  • Halt all operations at Camden, Gloucester and the Pilliga immediately.
  • Ban fracking.
  • Support the call for a royal commission into the whole CSG industry, including the granting of licences.
  • No T4 — the massive new coal terminal in Newcastle, or new coal mines.

Coal and steel policyCoal seam gas policyWater policy

Public transport

Successive state governments have been captive to the road industry lobby. The result is poor planning, expensive road tolls and much more carbon pollution. A very fast train would reduce polluting air travel and provide much-needed sustainable jobs.

  • Scrap the West Connex motorway.
  • Direct infrastructure spending to the extension of light and heavy rail, and free, fast and frequent public transport.
  • No congestion tax.
  • Restore the rail line in Newcastle.
  • No second airport at Badgerys Creek.

Sustainable transport policy

End discrimination against women

  • Remove abortion from the 1900 NSW Crimes Act.
  • No to foetal personhood laws — a back-door way of restricting women’s reproductive rights.
  • Full funding for secular refuges and housing for women and children escaping family violence.

Women’s rights policyWelfare rights policy

Marriage rights

  • Introduce a state-based marriage equality law.

Marriage rights policy

 

Public housing

Housing is a right and needs to be liberated from greedy developers and speculators.

  • Expand public housing to accommodate the more than 60,000 people on the waiting list in NSW.
  • Provide rental assistance and low-cost quality and ecologically sustainable public housing to all who need it.
  • End the sell-off of public housing in Millers Point, Dawes Point, The Rocks and elsewhere across NSW.

Housing policy

Planning laws

The pro-developer outlook, supported by the NSW Labor and Coalition parties, has led to environmentally unsound developments, a lack of public infrastructure and unaffordable housing.

  • Put the planning decisions back into the hands of working people.
  • Nationalise, don’t privatise: community-owned assets are not for sale!
  • All essential services and utilities, including the electricity network, hospitals, port services and other public services, must be returned to public ownership. These services were paid for by the people of NSW to be used in the community interest, not for private corporate profit.
  • Stop the sale of our assets to the private sector. Retain disability support services in the public sector.
  • Protect jobs and conditions in the public sector.
  • Stop the threatened 15,000 public sector job cuts, reinstate those workers who have already been sacked, and lift the 2.5% cap on public sector wages.
  • No loss of conditions for wage rises.
  • Reverse the attacks on workplace health and safety.
  • Reintroduce insurance cover for travel to and from work. Remove the limits on medical expenses reimbursement for workplace injuries. Reinstate lump sum payments and common law rights to sue for pain and suffering.
  • Defend and extend the right to strike. The only power that workers have is the right to withdraw their labour.
  • Scrap the fines on workers taking industrial action.

Workers’ and trade union rights policy

Save public education

  • Stop the cuts to public education.
  • Build new schools where numbers have increased – inner Sydney, western and south-western Sydney and elsewhere.

We need free vocational training for youth and others.

  • Boost funding to TAFE to retain the broad range of course options and staff.

Education policy

Youth rights

Without a good education and work opportunities, young people face a difficult future.

  • Boost funding to special programs and centres to assist young people find work or further training and education after leaving school.
  • Boost state-based specialist mental health services for youth (and in some instances run by youth) including on TAFE and university campuses.
  • Lower the voting age to 16 years’ old.

Youth policy

Make NSW a refugee safe haven

  • Close Villawood Detention Centre and process asylum seekers’ and refugees’ applications while they live in the community.

Refugees policy

No racism, no Islamophobia

NSW, home for many new and older migrant communities, must champion tolerance and stand against racism and Islamophobia. There’s no need for new state-based ‘anti-terror’ laws that unnecessarily target people of Muslim or Arabic background. There are enough laws already in place to deal with criminal acts.

  • Support educational anti-racism programs in schools and other institutions.

Health care

We support universal access to quality health care as a fundamental human right.

In NSW, this means:

  • No privatisation of public health services: boost public health by increasing funding for public hospitals to increase the number of beds and staff, including implementing a nurse to patient ratio of 1 to 4.
  • No private-public hospital for northern Sydney. Build a public hospital now!
  • Increase funding for preventative health-care programs and disease prevention.
  • Resource and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to meet the urgent health-care needs of ATSI communities.
  • Increase funding for mental health services.
  • Access to free dental health care for all.

Health care policy

Our preference policy

Socialist Alliance rejects making unprincipled deals to win parliamentary seats.

We want to be elected because we know we can and will make a political difference with more resources to build the social movements and campaigns. However, we have always opposed the corrupt preference deals made by some small parties.

We encourage voters to use the preference system, even though the NSW system is optional preferential.<.p>

We urge you to allocate your preferences to parties or independents on the basis of their platforms.

We call for a vote first for the Socialist Alliance ticket, then for the next preference to be given to the Greens and any progressive independents. We call on you to preference the ALP before the Liberal-National coalition and other right-wing parties.

In this way your vote will not be wasted.

Candidates for the Legislative Assembly

1. Susan Price for Summer Hill

Susan is a unionist, refugee rights activist and long-time feminist. She has lived in Sydney’s inner west for 15 years. She is a national co-convenor for Socialist Alliance.

Susan has been an active unionist for over 20 years and joined her first union as a high school student.

Susan has held a number of union delegate roles and was elected as the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Branch President at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2006-08 and again in 2008-2010. Susan served on the union's National Executive from 2010-12.

She was an NTEU delegate to Unions NSW.S

Susan for Summer Hill election campaign websiteFacebook campaign page

2. Steve O'Brien for Newcastle

Steve is a former BHP steelworker who now works at TAFE.

A lifelong socialist and trade unionist, Steve has been involved in many local issues such as Save Our Rail and defending public sector jobs and services. He is a former secretary of the local residents’ group.

Steve worked for 10 years in overseas development in Latin America with an Australian development agency, in East Timor with the United Nations during the independence referendum, and in AIDS prevention in Africa with the UN.

Steve has a doctorate in health sociology, lives in Newcastle East with his partner and their two teenagers.

Steve's election campaign websiteFacebook campaign page

Socialist_alliance_article | by Dr. Radut