The following amendments (underlined) to Towards a Socialist Australia are based on Graham Matthews' amendments.
In the paragraphs that say:
We need a radically different political system, a system of participatory democracy that empowers working people, students and the poor.
We have to be clear that participatory democracy is a tool to get people involved under this system. The real solution for the people’s participation to build a real democracy will be based on the development of a social conscience needed to really start building a new society.
The political system requires fundamental change. Representatives should receive a worker’s average wage. They should be subject to recall through a simple process if their electors are dissatisfied. The voting age should be lowered to 16 years old. Also we have to substitute democracy based on geographical representation for democracy based on social representation.
Accountability of Socialist Alliance elected Representatives
On the basis that we have had elected representatives it would be possible to think of others possible cases with a more substantial remunerations. So, as educational item, I suggest that the point be changed to the following (underlined):
Once elected, Alliance candidates to political office shall donate the full salary to the Socialist Alliance. Then, the Alliance will ensure that the member receive the equivalent to the average weekly wage (as published by the ABS), plus any other expenses needed for her or his activity, not cover for any other parliamentary entitlement.
I propose to add between points 25 and 26 the following paragraph (underlined):
To help strengthen the unions as fighting tools, SA members will commit to work with the rank and file to develop more democratic structures to ensure the broader participation needed to confront the state and federal attacks on workers’ rights. Fighting for democracy implies not only the participation in building new leaderships. It’s also very important to be part in the struggle against internal corruption. This struggle must be framed on 3 points:
Defence of the unions as workers’ organisations;
Fierce opposition to external intervention, being state, judicial or any other kind;
Defend members’ right to know the truth and take actions accordingly to eradicate corruption, remove corrupt officials and put the unions to the service of their workers by implementing transparent processes.
I propose to incorporate a section addressing human rights issues.
The document does not address the very important point of human rights, such as:
Policies and decisions made by the dominant classes and their governments to make workers pay for their crises have consequences in the human rights arena.
SA has to be ready to play a leading role in bringing awareness to the link between the erosion of socio-economic and working conditions and their nature as human rights.
Democratic rights are under attack when governments expand police powers.
Brutal police actions, new weapons and immunity have been part of the increase in deaths in custody, attacks on Aboriginal embassies, the use of the police to repel workers’ protest (Grocon), the repression of Muslim demonstrations, etc. Changes in legal aid assistance have been directed to stop challenging development mining projects, including coal seam gas or other forms of dissent.
The economic crisis has produced governments’ cuts in funds aiming to support and promote education, health, social security, housing, even transport, all basic Human Rights. Federal and state government agencies are claiming a decrease in GST revenue in order to justify and proceed with job cuts, the sell off of public assets and services, reducing or cutting altogether workers’ entitlements. Private sector business and even corporations, in their greed for larger profits, are also downsizing and/or lowering conditions such as turning permanent workers into casual or part timers.
The current climate presents the SA with a different landscape. We have talked many times about the dichotomy between bread and butter and moral issues. This dichotomy disappears under the current circumstances because all those cuts mean that human rights taken for granted before are now under question and threat.
Anti-discrimination laws, such as the Racial Discrimination Act, have been discarded in order to apply systemic policies to quarantine Aboriginal and migrant communities.
Welfare system, aiming to assist sections of the population living in poverty, with mental health issues, pensioners, unemployed, homeless, sole parents, etc, has been frozen and/or made more difficult to access and being entitled to receive any assistance partial or total.
Students are affected; the cuts to universities, the privatisation of TAFE and other technical studies make study a luxury item. In NSW, cuts to Work Cover are putting essential protections in jeopardy.
Basic human rights are all embedded in these issues and denied by a system that is becoming as greedy as it is desperate. It is our role and duty, to not only see the attack as a regression in our human condition but also to promote that awareness and to co-ordinate and organise every struggle incorporating that common element.