Australia: Victorian State Election – We need a fighter on Spring Street

The Socialist Party (CWI Australia) has preselected Stephen Jolly to stand for the seat of Richmond in the Victorian State elections on November 27.

Stephen is a Socialist Party Councillor at Yarra Council, a municipality that makes up about 90% of the seat.

The area, like all of Victoria and Australia, faces an uncertain future. The federal government’s stimulus measures are winding down but a second financial crisis is looming. The cost of living is rising while many people still need more work than they can get.

What people need is more jobs, housing and services but both the major parties will be looking to make cuts in order to offload the problems onto ordinary people. Like all capitalist parties, they defend the system that puts profits before all else and cave into the pressures of big business.

Only the Socialist Party has a political and economic alternative to cuts, privatisation and deregulation. Not only that, we back up our program with campaigns aimed at defending and extending our standard of living. Both the Socialist Party and Stephen Jolly have a proven track record as the best fighters in this area.

The sitting member is Richard Wynne. He has been a Member of Parliament for 11 years and also holds the ministries of Local Government, Aboriginal Affairs, and Housing. As a senior member of the government Wynne has to take full responsibility for the problems in this state. The underfunded health and education sectors are just the tip of the iceberg.

Planning is a big issue in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. Big developers have been heavily backed by the State Government while residents concerns have been ignored. In this seat and elsewhere, developers have had free reign to build expensive high rise residential apartments.

Poor people are getting squeezed out of the inner city and the developments are not being matched by services such as schools, child care centres, health clinics or extra public transport. A socialist planning policy would not only guarantee low cost housing, built to the highest environmental standards, but would create new services to meet the needs of new residents.

Another major issue is transport. The rising population in Melbourne is leading to extra pressures on the road system. Hoddle Street is the busiest road in the electorate and during rush hour it is a traffic sewer spewing out emissions. The State Labor Government’s ‘solution’ is to expand Hoddle Street which may ease congestion for a few months, but in the long run would only encourage more cars into the area.

The Socialist Party’s solution to traffic gridlock is to expand public transport. If the trains, trams and buses were publicly owned, and under democratic control, we could begin to implement a plan to expand the system making it more integrated and free. For example, a rail link from Victoria Park along the Eastern Freeway to a park and ride/bus station at Bulleen would provide a real alternative for drivers and lower the number of cars in the area.

The Labor Party and the Liberals are incapable of solving these issues because they are wedded to big business. Both major parties accept regular donations from big developers as well as the oil and road lobby. In exchange they support measures that protect and increase profits. Similarly because the Greens do not have an alternative economic program, whenever they win positions of power they to are forced to toe the line. We can see this in Tasmania and at Yarra Council where the Greens have consistently supported budgets that cut services and increase rates above inflation.

One of the biggest problems facing ordinary people is that they are left without a party that unashamedly puts their interests first. Most MPs see their role as the State government’s representative in the area rather than the people’s representative on Spring Street.

In this election Richmond will be unique in the sense that a real alternative is on offer. Stephen not only has a history as fighter for ordinary people but he will not be bought off by big business or the perks of office. If elected, Stephen would continue to live on the wage of a skilled worker. The remainder of his salary would be donated back to the labour movement and to community campaigns.

A Socialist Party MP would use the position to help mobilise the community to fight cuts and win reforms. At the same time they would help promote the idea that ordinary people need a party that both stands in elections and campaigns on the ground. This is the type of representation Richmond residents need as we move into the uncertain period ahead.

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September 2010