New South Wales — Not For Sale! Community Need Not Corporate Greed!

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Socialist Alliance's fighting platform for the March 26, 2011 NSW election

New South Wales urgently needs a radical shift in priorities, in the interest of environmental sustainability and social justice.

The NSW Labor government will get thrashed in these elections for its criminal embrace of a corporate profits-first agenda.

Labor has gone on a privatisation spree, selling off our retail electricity assets for next to nothing, and trying to flog everything that's not nailed down. They have run down public transport and wasted billions of dollars in disastrous “public-private partnerships” (PPPs) building private tollways. Coal and gas mining interests and developer billionaires have effectively bought both the NSW ALP and the Liberal-National Coalition.

The result is destructive mining and unsustainable overdevelopment, a bonanza for Labor and the Coalition’s rich mates. Meanwhile most people — and our environment — suffer.

To get away with helping a rich minority and stuffing the rest of us, politicians have tried to sow the seeds of division, mistrust and insecurity. They scapegoat refugees, Muslims, youth and Aboriginal people to distract from their corrupt behaviour.

While NSW Labor deserves to get the boot, the Coalition is no alternative. It would slash jobs and services, privatise public assets, and attack the environment even more ferociously than Labor has.

NSW is at a critical turning point. We need a radically different plan to the business-as-usual approach of the major parties. We need a plan for NSW that:

  • reverses the privatisations and embraces public* rescues our environment with a transition to 100% renewable energy and green jobs, and protects natural biodiversity;
  • invests in improving and rapidly expanding public housing, health, education and transport;
  • is inclusive of and supports women, Aboriginal people, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) people, people with disabilities, refugees, the Muslim community and all those who are scapegoated or ignored; and
  • empowers genuine grassroots, democratic control.

This is Socialist Alliance’s contribution to that plan.

We are running Legislative Assembly candidates in Keira, Newcastle, Marrickville and Parramatta, plus a Legislative Council ticket with 21 candidates, to raise these ideas.

These urgently needed changes cannot be achieved just through legislation in parliament. They’ll need the support of mobilised communities, unions and social justice activists if they are to bring real change.

Socialist Alliance is committed to helping build these movements for change. In every community and workplace there are people already struggling to transform the unjust and unsustainable society we are forced to live in. We want to help unite, to mobilise the people's power required to wrest society away from the corporate rich and make it more democratic.

The Socialist Alliance will be directing our preferences to the Greens and other progressive candidates before Labor, and to Labor before the Coalition.

The Greens have progressive policies that are far better than the major parties. Our main point of difference is that Socialist Alliance believes the changes that are needed can’t be delivered within a capitalist system that favours corporate rule over people and the planet.

We run in elections to raise socialist ideas, build campaigns and we will use any elected position to build and expand grassroots movements for change.

Reverse the sell-off, defend public assets

The recent firesale of NSW’s retail electricity is a disgrace. Even worse, the government has pledged to spend $1.5 billion on a new state-owned coalmine. This, alongside $1 billion for subsidising dirty coal supplies to power stations, guarantees future corporate profits.

This sell-off comes on the back of the privatisation of the TAB, the State Bank, the Government Insurance Office (GIO), prisons and State Lotteries and attempts to privatise Sydney Ferries and more. The result is billions of dollars that would have been generated for public use is now in private hands, and prices are set to skyrocket. In the case of electricity, it puts into private hands the very ownership and community control of assets needed under public control in order to transition to a renewable future.

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Reversing the sell-off: the annulment and reversal of the sale of public assets.
  • An immediate price freeze on household electricity.
  • Defence of public assets: keep public assets in public hands for human needs not corporate profits.

No to developer dictatorships

One of the most undemocratic aspects of the current NSW Government was the introduction and use since 2005 of Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EPAA). Part 3A grants the planning minister complete control over all aspects of the approval process for developments. It can and has been used to disregard environmental and heritage laws, and community will. Since it was introduced in 2005, less than 10 out of 469 development applications made under Part 3A have been rejected.

Yet, under the Coalition, the situation will worsen. While stating it will repeal Part 3A, the Coalition says it will rewrite the EPAA. Given its approach of putting corporate interests first — demonstrated when it handed its land use policy over to the mining industry — the Coalition will come up with an even worse EPAA. The people of NSW need to take the power back from the corporations. Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Scrapping Part 3A: scrap the undemocratic Part 3A of the EPAA.
  • Planning for social justice: a planning system that defends the right of working people and the poor to access affordable housing, socially useful work and environmentally sustainable transport options.
  • Recall referendums: recall referendums so that communities can recall their elected representatives mid term if they don’t fulfil the electorate’s wishes.
  • Electoral funding reform: the introduction of publicly funded election campaigns for all candidates on an equal basis, to move away from a system based on commercial advertising.
  • Elected councils: immediate elections for Wollongong, Shellharbour, Port Macquarie and all other councils and Aboriginal Land Councils under administration.
  • Stopping unsustainable development: stop the Huntlee New Town, Catherine Hill Bay, Calderwood, Sandon Point, Barangaroo, Petersham Towers and other unsustainable development and mining approvals granted under Part 3A.

A sustainable NSW with green jobs

Scientists are clear that we need to act urgently to avert climate disaster. Current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are already sufficiently high to carry the climate system past significant tipping points. They pose an unacceptable risk of dangerous and irreversible changes to the world's climate, and therefore to human civilisation. The burning of fossil fuels is Australia's biggest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, yet the NSW government continues to roll out the red carpet to the industry. Coal and Coal Seam Gas mining (CSG) companies are given unrestricted access, under farming land, waterways and even cities.

However, clear, realistic, alternatives do exist. The scientists and engineers of Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) have shown how Australia could move to 100% renewable energy within 10 years — the recommended timeline for such a transition.

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Renewables now: public investment for pilot baseload solar-thermal power stations to be built in the next term of government; investigating retro-fitting existing coal-fired power stations to solar-thermal.
  • Community Solar: encourage “community solar farms”, like those being set up in the Northern Rivers.
  • No new coal or gas projects in NSW
  • A moratorium on CSG: a public inquiry into the health, safety and environmental impacts of CSG mining; a ban on all CSG mining under cities, water catchment areas, farmland & other environmentally sensitive areas; and a ban on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).
  • Phasing out emissions: classify CO2 and other greenhouse gases as “pollutants” under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act and creating a strict licensing framework to phase out industrial emissions.
  • Green jobs with decent working conditions: paid retraining and guaranteed “green jobs” for all workers transitioning from the fossil fuel to the renewable energy industry. Investing in socially and environmentally useful jobs and training, including public transport, housing, education and renewable energy.

Free, frequent and expanded public transport

Successive state governments have underfunded and neglected the NSW public transport system. Labor has run down the rail system, delayed much needed heavy rail extensions and light rail developments, and embarked on disastrous PPPs squandering billions of dollars of public money on corporate-run toll roads.

Under the Coalition this mess would be even worse with its plans for partial privatisation along the hated Victorian model, by leasing the infrastructure to private companies.

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • A better rail system: boost investment in suburban and high speed intercity rail * Supporting regional rail: restore and expand Countrylink and regional services, including Sydney to Dubbo and Broken Hill, and restore the Casino-Murwillumbah line; save the Newcastle rail corridor; expand rail services in and between regional centres
  • No private tollways: reverse the privatisation of our roads; divert investment from new freeways to public transport infrastructure and services.
  • Free public transport: frequent and free public transport across NSW to encourage people to make the shift from private cars.

Massive expansion in public housing

Affordable housing is a basic human right. While the NSW government has been a friend of greedy, profiteering developers, it has been an enemy of the state’s 27,000 homeless and those needing public or low-cost housing.

In NSW there is a waiting list for public housing of over 50,000 and millions more live under housing stress.

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Public housing: a massive community-controlled, high-quality public housing program.
  • Affordable housing: rent and mortgage payments to be capped at 20% of income (similar to those schemes in place in Los Angeles and New York)
  • Community control of public housing: democratically-elected housing boards comprised of tenants and housing workers.
  • Reversing the privatisation of public housing, management and stock.

For free, funded & accessible public education

The NSW Labor government has underfunded and undermined public education. Teachers are overworked and underpaid, schools are now pitted against each other in leagues tables, massive amounts of public money have been handed to elite private schools and TAFE and AMES face job cuts and casualisation.

The NSW Coalition would be even worse, with its plan to cut thousands of public sector positions and even more strongly favour private schools.

Socialist Alliance believes education is a fundamental right for all, regardless of wealth, religion, ethnic background, geographical location or level of ability.

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Free education: universal, free education from pre-school through to university.
  • Public schools: public funds for public schools only not to private schools or training colleges; no sale of public school facilities or lands.
  • Supporting teachers: maximum class sizes of 25 from Year 3 to Year 10; extra planning time for teachers; maintaining the NSW staffing agreement; improved teacher salaries.
  • No to NAPLAN tests and league tables
  • Supporting TAFE: the expansion of TAFE and Adult Migrant English Services; employment of an additional 200 English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers; an end to casualisation and privatisation of TAFE and AMES; the abolition of TAFE and AMES fees
  • Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander rights: expand ATSI education programs, increase recruitment of ATSI teachers, and promote the teaching of ATSI languages.
  • Separating church and state: ethics classes not religious teaching in public schools.

Expand public health

The NSW healthcare system is in crisis. Nurses, doctors, midwives and other health professionals are overworked — endangering themselves and patient care.

Nurse to patient ratios are currently as high as 1 to 8, and a recent study found there is a 30% increased chance of dying if a nurse is caring for eight patients instead of four. The problem is even worse in regional areas of NSW — in Central Western NSW there is one general practitioner to 3000 patients, compared to one GP to 600 patients in Sydney

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Support for nurses: the immediate introduction of a minimum 1:4 nurse to patient ratio, as exists in Victoria, to help overworked nurses and improve patient care.
  • Expand community-based health care networks
  • Free dental care
  • No public subsidies to private providers
  • Mental health: increase funding to mental health services, in particular community-based mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention services.

No discrimination, equal rights for all

Women, Aboriginal people, the LGBTI community, refugees, the Muslim community and others continue to face unacceptable discrimination in NSW. While the government panders to the corporate rich, it uses these groups as scapegoats for its strategy of divide and rule.

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Abortion rights now: remove abortion from the 19th century NSW criminal code
  • Support for the Pay Equity campaign
  • Equal marriage and adoption rights for all couples
  • Civil liberties not a police state: scrap the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act; uphold the right to protest without police harassment.
  • An end to Aboriginal deaths in custody: implement all recommendations from the Royal Commission; an immediate independent inquiry into the death of TJ Hickey and other Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
  • Community justice: replace excessive funding for prisons and police with community justice programs focused on prevention, restitution and rehabilitation.

We can afford change — it’s the status quo that’s unsustainable

The billions of dollars wasted on privatisation and PPPs, on toll roads and coal mining subsidies, could be invested in projects that would secure us all a better future — better hospitals, schools, public transport, public housing and a serious transition to renewable energy.

Funding social solutions rather than reacting to symptoms also saves money. For example, every dollar spent on tackling the causes of crime — poverty, child neglect, unemployment or poor education — saves up to $11 spending on prisons and police later.

Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • Ending the power and water subsidies for big business.
  • Fairer tax: shifting the burden of taxes to corporations and the wealthy, and away from workers and pensioners
  • Putting politicians on average wage: elected politicians to receive no more than the average skilled workers' wage
  • Fair pay: no pay increases for politicians without equal increases for workers, pensioners and the unemployed.

Socialism: people before profits

All our proposals reflect a simple approach: putting people and the planet before profit. That's socialism in a nutshell.

Socialism means workers and the community controlling society's wealth, and using it for social benefit. We need to struggle to replace the power of the ruling corporate elites. Until then while we can win gains through our campaigns, the bosses and their governments will always try to take them back.

Only everyday working people, organised into mass movements in the workplace and on the streets, are powerful enough to win real social justice and ecological sustainability. Voting is not enough. Socialist Alliance campaigns for a radical expansion of direct democracy. Our communities need the power to decide on all the important issues that affect them.

If elected to parliament, Socialist Alliance would use our positions to build and fund these grassroots social movements.

So don't just vote for Socialist Alliance, join us in the struggle for a better world.