Victorian election 2022: Vote socialist and build the grass roots resistance

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The countdown is on for the Victorian state election on 26 November. In a state scarred by the longest COVID lockdowns anywhere in the world, a healthcare system stretched to breaking point, public sector wages capped at 1.5% when inflation is over 7%, billions being spent on law-and-order, and public housing being privatised by stealth, the Andrews government is offering no solutions for the working class. Meanwhile, despite offering some populist policies on public transport fares and school lunches, there is no doubt that the Liberal opposition would govern for the top end of town.

The good news this election is that every voter in the state will have the opportunity to vote socialist. Both Victorian Socialists and Socialist Alliance are running candidates.

Socialist Alliance is running on the campaign theme, Community Need, Not Corporate Greed. It is running candidates in the Geelong region for the seats of Geelong and Lara as well as the seats of Broadmeadows and Pascoe Vale in Northern Metropolitan Melbourne.

Running on the slogan For Real Change, Victorian Socialists (VS) is standing candidates in every Upper House electorate in the state. The campaign is focusing on Western Metropolitan and Northern Metropolitan Melbourne, where VS is also running candidates in all 22 Lower House seats.

The Freedom Socialist Party advocates casting your vote for a socialist candidate this election. In the seats where there are two socialist candidates, take your pick and preference the other. Both campaigns are running on solid anti-capitalist demands that put the working class first.

The Legislative Council elects MPs based on proportional representation, with each geographic area choosing five Members of Parliament.

There is a plethora of new rightwing populist tickets that have entered this electoral race. Most new entrants are from the “freedom” movement, which open fascists have used to build a base. New micro parties to beware of include Angry Victorians, Sack Dan Andrews Restore Democracy and the Freedom Party of Victoria. Plus there are more established rightwing operations, including Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, United Australia Party and Family First Victoria. The Democratic Labor Party is running anti-abortion crusader Bernie Finn in Western Metropolitan Melbourne. With tight preference deals, any of these sinister outfits could elect a Member of Parliament based on miniscule first preference support. Given this, we strongly recommend exercising extreme care when casting your vote for the Upper House or that you strictly follow the Victorian Socialists’ how-to-vote card.

Writing about elections in the Freedom Socialist in 2012, Linda Averill, who had earlier run for Seattle City Council, said, “The Freedom Socialist Party is acutely aware that capitalist elections are hopelessly rigged, and has even successfully fought some of the obstacles. But the party has no illusions in being able to fix things, and entertains no delusions about the ballot box being the highway toward deep-rooted change.” Despite this, elections are a time when the majority stop and pause to think about how things should be. This makes it a great opportunity to educate about socialism and anti-capitalist solutions.

If socialist candidates, who are accountable to a political party, are elected to parliament, they can use this platform to strengthen grassroots mass campaigning, which is how we will build the mass resistance needed for the working class to take power and replace capitalism.

The Andrews government is being challenged by a number of important grassroots community campaigns.

There are multiple campaigns challenging the billions of dollars the Andrews government is channelling into law and order. With both major political parties trying to out-compete each other in terms of who can be toughest on crime, Victoria Police has become the largest police force in Australia. Victoria has the most onerous bail laws anywhere in the country. The result is that Victorians are now being imprisoned at a rate not seen since the 19th century. The prison population has doubled in a decade, and children as young as 10 years old are held criminally responsible and face incarceration. The latest Productivity Commission report on government services reports that it costs $1.1 million dollars a day to keep unsentenced people in prison. The government expects the annual cost of running prisons to double to more than $4 billion by 2030.

We back the Homes Not Prison’s campaign. This rally, march and street art happening took place on the steps of parliament on 21 October 2022 to raise the demand fund communities not police and prisons. Photo by Charandev Singh.

While billions are being spent on police and prisons, housing waiting lists mushroom. The term “public housing” has been quietly moth-balled, replaced by “social housing.” This umbrella term includes both public housing and community housing. The latter is privately owned, and legal protection for tenants lag well behind those guaranteed by public housing. The Andrews government has been neglecting public housing, while privatising both it and public land to build community housing run by private interests that control the selection of tenants and can charge up to 80% of market rent. The fight to maintain and expand public housing is another energetic community campaign.

Members of Parliament can’t miss the calls to increase funding for public housing. Weekly Public Housing – Everybody’s Business actions are part of a broad movement demanding real change. This action took place on 31 July 2022. Photo by Radical Women.

One promise the Andrew’s government has delivered is to get rid of unsafe level railway crossings. These infrastructure projects are criss-crossing the whole of Melbourne. But while it was able to accomplish this, the Victorian government has failed to make the tram network accessible for people with disability — even though it had promised to make Melbourne’s tram stops fully accessible by the end of this year. Before the pandemic, it was building 21 accessible stops per year, but this plummeted to just six in 2022. With more than 1,200 tram stops to go, the tram network, at the current rate, will not be fully accessible until 2066!

Those demanding accessibility, led by people with disability, will not cop more state government delay. This action, which featured civil disobedience, took place in Brunswick on 26 May shortly after the last state budget. Photo by Radical Women.

Another campaign gaining traction in Melbourne’s north is the demand to save the Preston Market. The campaign is calling for the state government to compulsorily acquire the market and put it in public hands. Victorian Socialists, running in the seat of Preston, is demanding that the Victorian planning minister use their power to intervene and take possession of the site for public control.

Victorian Socialists are backing the huge community campaign to save the popular Preston Market from developer greed. Photo by Victorian Socialists.

While electing socialist candidates into the Victorian State Parliament would not permanently solve any of these issues, having socialists in there — as part of these campaigns — would amplify the voices of collective, mass working class resistance.

United for Reproductive Justice (URJ) in action on 8 October 2022 countering the March for the Babies. FSP is part of URJ which organised this lively contingent. The anti-choice march is an annual action organised by those seeking to build a movement to roll back Victoria’s abortion laws. While we firmly advocate casting a vote for socialist candidates, including the Victorian Socialists (VS), on 26 November, we are not without our criticisms of the party. We endorse this open letter from URJ which you can read here. Photo by United for Reproductive Justice.

Vote socialist on 26 November and, whatever the outcome, be ready to maintain the fight!

We also ask you to support these campaigns:

No crime, no time! Fix Victoria’s bail laws now!
Sign the petition to Dan Andrews

Coburg Mall, 13 August 2022 – Campaigning to gather signatures on the Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne petition demanding urgent reform to Victoria’s bail laws to change the presumption to one where people facing a charge are granted bail. Photo by Alison Thorne.

10-year-olds do not belong in prison — Raise the age
Sign the petition

Don’t expand the Dame Phyllis Frost prison for women — build homes, not prisons.
Sign the open letter.

Support the transport-for-all campaign
Demand accessible tram stops be delivered

The state government must acquire the Preston Market and put it under community control.
Sign the petition

Issued by Freedom Socialist Party, Melbourne Branch —1 November 2022

Mail: PO Box 308, Brunswick, VIC 3056

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