Australia:: Joe Higgins TD speaks to thousands of workers

Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (member of Irish Parliament), is currently visiting Australia at the invitation of the Socialist Party (CWI in Australia).

His visit over the last week has been an outstanding success. In a few days, Joe has criss-crossed the country, speaking at Socialist Party public meetings, at union events and to the Irish community in Australia.

Joe spoke at public meetings in Newcastle, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. On 13 August, Joe spoke in Newcastle NSW, at the Gaelic Club, Sydney, on 14 August Joe addressed the Irish Club WA, Perth, and on Saturday 21 August, Joe spoke at the Socialist Party conference at the Trades Hall, Melbourne.

He also spoke to around 400 shop stewards from the National Union of Workers, the main blue collar union in Sydney.

In Melbourne, Joe spoke to 500 building site workers on the ‘Eureka’ project – an enormous building site. He also addressed 300 workers on another downtown site.

Joe met union leaders from the Metal Workers’ Union and the Communication Workers’ Union. One delegation presented him with a ring to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade – a heroic workers’ uprising in Australia.

Joe received an official welcome from Melbourne City Council, which was arranged by a Green Party councillor. Joe also spoke at functions organised by the Irish community.

Last weekend, Joe attended the national conference of the Australian section of the CWI, the Socialist Party (SP). The Australian comrades report:

“Almost 100 people attended the National Conference over the weekend. Irish MP Joe Higgins, one of the SP members recently jailed for defying the “Bin tax” levy on Dublin householders, made an excellent speech.”Joe spoke eloquently of a world in which the fate of billions of people lies in the hands of the smallest ever group of rulers, and an EU where every “Labour” Party has decamped to the bosses. ”Joe talked about the ‘Peace Process’ in Northern Ireland. He explained why the only long-term and lasting solution to the national question still lies in the hands of workers, Catholic and Protestant, and the need for an independent mass party to defend working class interests.”

The conference also discussed perspectives for Australia. Steve Jolly introduced the discussion. He outlined the legacy of the rule of the right wing government of John Howard that has led to a drop of 90,000 jobs in production, the desperate plight of refugees, and the 17% increase in childcare fees. Other speakers included, Tim Bowron from Socialist Alternative (CWI), New Zealand, who spoke of the big struggle by Maoris against land exploitation, the formation of a new ‘Maori’ party (with 40% non-Maori membership!), and the growing awareness that Maori and worker struggle are one and the same. The average age at the most successful SP conference yet was young – with most delegates in their early 20’s.

Further reports of Joe’s visit will be posted soon.

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