Federal Election 2010 – Vote Socialist

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Elections should be times when the entire population is engaged in debates about what our communities need. But this election is characterised by leaders determined not to say or do anything “controversial” for fear of upsetting big business, which backs and bankrolls them. Perhaps the most interesting event — the political execution of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd — happened before the poll was called.

There may be some who consider that the mere fact that this country has a female PM is some kind of great leap forward for feminism. It is nothing of the sort. Julia Gillard is a lifelong ALP factional hack, whose policies are determined not by principles, but by the need to keep hold of power. It’s the policies of the government, of which Gillard is now the caretaker head, that matter. And those policies — inaction on climate change, rebadged Howard-era workplace laws, racist persecution of refugees, opposition to marriage equality, tax cuts for business, the shameful Northern Territory intervention and so on — are why it has been impossible to advocate a vote for the ALP for a very long time indeed.

It goes without saying that if the reactionary Liberal-National Coalition were elected, then things would get worse for working people, refugees and Australia’s Indigenous nations. But the perception that the ALP would represent a very slightly lesser evil is not reason to vote for that party either. Whoever forms government after August 21 will need to be opposed in workplaces, on campuses, in remote Indigenous communities and on the streets of cities and towns across the country. History tells us that the only lasting gains have been won in struggle — not through the ballot box.

Our recommendation for this election is, in general, where there’s a socialist candidate on your ballot paper, vote for that candidate first. The Socialist Alliance (SA) is standing candidates in a number of lower house electorates and in the Senate in five states. SA deserves your vote — despite the sectarian policies of its leaders that led it to be an “alliance” in name only — because it is running on an explicitly multi-issue socialist platform. The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) is standing in the Victorian electorate of Lalor and the Queensland electorate of Griffith, although its candidates, Van Rudd and Hamish Chitts, will appear as an “independents” due to Australia’s undemocratic electoral laws. The RSP has a socialist platform, although from the material we have seen, the RSP is running a somewhat single-issue campaign focussing on racism and war. While these are key issues, we would like to see a broader campaign.

We cannot advocate a vote for the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), which is running in a number of lower house seats and in the Senate in Victoria. The SEP has a long history of sectarianism, which is now so extreme that its position on the union movement is: “The unions are not workers’ organisations…but represent an arm of management.” This is not a socialist position.

While we understand the strong support for The Greens, particularly after the ALP’s retreat from any real action over climate change, rejection of same-sex marriage equality, pandering to racist hysteria against refugees, and legislating WorkChoices lite, we are not advising a vote for Greens candidates. We consider that a sustainable earth and the capitalist economic system are completely incompatible. To heal the planet and build a sustainable future, free of oppression and injustice, it is necessary to replace capitalism and begin to build a sustainable, global socialist society. The Greens’ platform assumes the continuation of the profit system so, while we support many of its policies, without a clear anti-capitalist orientation the party is simply continuing the decades-long illusion that we can win what we need while leaving the current system intact. Clearly the era of reforms is over, as demonstrated by massive attacks on the working class in the broken economies of Europe and the United States.

A vote for a socialist candidate is a statement that the people of the world need fundamental social change. Whoever governs after 21 August, working people will need to organise!

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