cwi international conference: Australia – Socialist Party influence grows in 2005

Building socialist forces worldwide

As part of our coverage of last year’s meeting of the International Executive Committee (IEC) of the Committee for a Workers’ International (held in Belgium, 6 – 11 December), will post reports of party building work from various CWI sections.

Sixty five people attended the successful IEC meeting, representing CWI sections in Asia, Latin America, Africa, the US and Europe. Organisational reports to the meeting showed a significant advance in the strength and influence of many CWI affiliated parties and organisations.

Our first party building report comes from the Socialist Party (cwi) in Australia.

Australia – Socialist Party influence grows in 2005

2005 saw a heightened class polarisation in Australia over the Industrial Relations (IR) legislation (counter-reforms) of the conservative John Howard government. In the second half of 2005, two massive nation-wide mobilisations were organised by the union movement in response to these attacks. The anti-worker legislation was passed late in 2005. Howard has a majority in parliament and soon will have the new laws he wants. But it is an entirely different thing to win the class battles against workers necessary to implement these laws. These battles have not yet been won or even entered in to.

Despite the polarisation that exists, and the two massive demonstrations, strikes and industrial disputes are still at a low level. This is certain to change in the next period, as bosses attempt to use the new laws to wind back workers’ wages and conditions.


In 2005, our UNITE campaign (for casual workers’ rights) was successful amongst high school students. We organised a high school strike of 500 students, in June, as well as a festival against Howard’s government, which was a mix of punk music and political speeches.

Late 2004 saw the first Socialist Party (SP) councilor, Steve Jolly, elected in Yarra (Melbourne). With this elected position, we have fully involved ourselves in many community campaigns and issues. These have ranged from working on the public housing estates to fighting against inappropriate developments in Yarra.

As mentioned above, Australia saw two nation-wide mobilisations of workers in 2005, in which the SP participated successfully. We have also played important roles on picket lines and strikes.

The SP has also took part in the anti-Iraq war protests, although much smaller anti-war demonstrations have taken place in Australia, in 2005.

The SP has, however, attempted to build the anti-war movement amongst youth. In early November 2005, we organised a rally/punk gig outside the American Embassy in Melbourne.

The party has built up a much larger supporters’ base, especially through our council work. In Melbourne, we introduced an educational series in the branch meetings. Every fortnight, we discussed the history of revolution and counter-revolution, starting with the French revolution and going right through to the collapse of Stalinism. We found this series worked extremely well.

Melbourne comrades made a successful visit to Sydney, in August, to help comrades there during an anti-capitalist protest against the Forbes conference. Our Sydney comrades work closely with the Socialist Party branch in Newcastle, also in New South Wales.

Melbourne members aim to visit comrades in Perth in the near future to help build the Socialist Party in that city, as well.

Councillor Steve Jolly went to Malaysia, in September, to attend the ‘Socialism 2005’ event hosted by the PSM (Malaysia Socialist Party). Socialist Party National Organiser, Anthony Main, also visited Malaysia, in late November, 2005, to meet with the PSM and trade unionists.

Two Melbourne SP members attended the anti-WTO protests in Hong Kong, in mid-December, 2005, as part of an international CWI delegation.

We also keep in touch with CWI comrades and sympathisers in New Zealand. At the moment, they concentrate on union work.

Our paper is currently produced every month. We plan to expand the pages over the next period of time.

Our SP web site is very popular and gets updated almost daily. We also have several email lists for members and supporters. These are a useful addition for the party to keep members and supporters informed of party developments.

2006 – more class struggle

The economic boom that Australia has enjoyed in the past period cannot last forever. This, coupled with Howard attempting to use his anti-worker laws in 2006, will see an increase in the levels of struggle. SP members are prepared for major industrial battles.

The UNITE campaign in 2006 plans to organise young workers against the Industrial Relations laws. This work will be very much linked to our call for the establishment of a new workers’ party. The SP helped hold a public meeting around the issue of a new workers’ party after a mass workers’ demonstration, in Melbourne, in November, 2005, and over 150 people turned up.

Some people at the meeting were not yet ready to participate in the building of a new workers’ party, but the meeting was very useful in raising the level of discussion within the union and socialist movement.

In 2006 we will continue our work in Yarra Council (Melbourne). We are discussing running a SP candidate in the 2006 Victorian state elections, in this area.

As the class moves deepens in 2006, we are confident we will be able to build the Socialist Party.

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January 2006