Socialist Alliance NSW conference helps boost left unity

Socialist Alliance NSW conference helps boost left unity

Around 60 people attended the Socialist Alliance NSW conference in Wollongong on August 23.

The day was an inspiring success for a number of reasons. Richard Davis (son of the late Aunty Mary Davis) gave a really warm welcome to country to kick off, congratulating Socialist Alliance comrades’ work in initiating and building the Aboriginal Rights Group in Wollongong and saying we don’t get the recognition we deserve.

The first panel titled, “The crisis facing Iemma and the NSW ALP” saw Rob Long (recently elected President of the TAFE teachers’ association) gave an interesting talk on organising public sector workers in the fight against the Iemma government and Susan Price detailed an analysis of the ongoing struggle around the sell-off of NSW power. Paul Matters from Wollongong Against Corruption (WAC) explained that corruption in NSW goes beyond simple bribes or favours, ending with a totally corrupt ALP machine that has captured state power on behalf of the worst elements of the capitalist elite! He argued that the struggle against corruption is nothing less than the struggle against capitalism.

However, the discussion went way beyond local corruption, becoming a serious discussion amongst socialist activists engaged in struggle who agree on: independence from the ALP, the centrality of finding ways for the left to unite in action, the importance of mobilising the community (in particular the poor or those “who have nothing”), articulating an alternative vision and the inherent connection between “everyday” struggles and the anti-capitalist struggle. It gave our work in Wollongong a real boost and a new confidence that we are doing something right!

Socialist Alliance National Indigenous Rights Spokesperson Sam Watson gave greetings (after addressing a 40-strong public meeting the night before); then Laura Ealing from Newcastle inspired everyone during lunch with a slideshow and talk on the experiences of the Newcastle election campaign. Seeing Socialist Alliance in action in other cities was really encouraging for our members in Wollongong.

The workshops went well, although it was hard to compete with Sam Watson, where almost 30 people discussed the current situation facing the Aboriginal struggle, black deaths in custody in particular. After the workshops we heard greetings from the CFMEU, Solidarity with Iranian Workers, Australia and the Sudanese Australian Human Rights Association.

The final feature session was a discussion amongst the radical section of the environmental movement. Simon Cunich (Newcastle) gave a sharp talk on socialist perspectives for the climate crisis. It was complimented by Graham Brown (ex-coal miner from Hunter valley) who elaborated on the role of workers in the struggle. Jill Merrin from the Illawarra Greens then presented some of her party’s perspectives.

The conference elected three state co-conveners: Alex Bainbridge (Sydney), Sibylle Kaczorek (Sydney) and Jess Moore (Illawarra).

Resolutions from conference

  1. Climate Emergency

This conference endorses the call for a national round of climate emergency actions in late September / early October’ Ánd seeks to build and inititiate if necessary these actions


  1. Energy privatisation

This conference condemns the NSW Premier Morris Iemma’s latest bid to rush through enabling legislation to sell off the state’s energy retailers and generators; we reject the Auditor-General’s report as an endorsement of the sell-off given its terms of reference. ‘Power must remain in the hands of the people. ‘The Power to the People protest set down for September 20 should be brought forward; ‘Socialist Alliance calls on people to write ‘No sell-off’ on their September 13 council election ballots’ That we notify all MPs of this resolution.


  1. Arms Fair in Adelaide
    1. That Socialist Alliance endorses the action against the Asia Pacific Security & Defence Exhibition (the arms fair) in Adelaide in November 2008.
    2. Among other reasons for opposing this fair, the arms trade represents the most irrational use of resources by international capital which should instead be redirected towards solving poverty and climate change.
    3. That Socialist Alliance NSW resolves to mobilise as many members and supporters as possible to attend this action.


  1. Corruption in NSW
    1. This conference endorses the demands of Wollongong Against Corruption which include: Elections for the residents of Wollongong & Shellharbour no later than March 2009; A Royal Commission into corruption in the state of NSW; Condemn the culture of sexual harassment in Wollongong City Council and demand justice for the victims.
    2. This conference endorses WAC’s call for a mass, community mobilisation on September 13 to ramp up pressure around WAC’s demands.


  1. Aboriginal Rights
    1. The Socialist Alliance NSW State Conference includes demands for recognition of Aboriginal land and history for significant and sacred areas, public lands and public schools through unions (eg teachers) and federal, state and local election campaigns of the Socialist Alliance.
    2. The Socialist Alliance NSW State Conference rejects the comments made by Warren Mundine and Noel Pearson about forcing Aboriginal people to take seasonal fruit picking work and cutting off welfare payments to Aboriginal people under the age of 21. These suggestions are racist as they apply only to Aboriginal Australians and reflect attacks on the welfare state. The Socialist Alliance renews its calls for a peak Aboriginal body elected by Aboriginal people. We call for real employment opportunities for Aboriginal people in the areas in which they live. Aboriginal control of Aboriginal Affairs! Self-determination for Aboriginal people.
    3. The Socialist Alliance NSW State Conference condemns the policy of forcing young Aboriginal people around Moree to work in cotton-chipping or lose their Centrelink benefits. This policy constitutes a modern form of slavery. The chemicals used in cotton farming cause death from cancer and other diseases as well as poisoning the ecosystem.
    4. The Socialist Alliance NSW State Conference supports the call for protest actions in the week beginning September 27 to coincide with the publication of the Review into the Northern Territory Intervention.


  1. Solidarity with Iranian workers

That Socialist Alliance supports all progressive social movements internationally, including in Iran, to achieve social justice, peace, freedom & democracy [Adopted]

  1. Youth Environmental Activism

That Socialist Alliance reaffirms its support for youth environmental activism by endorsing, supporting and initiating such actions through community and activist groups. [Adopted]

  1. NSW Teacher's strike

That SA NSW supports the teachers strike on September 2 and the closure of schools on that day.

State Co-convenors

The following candidates were nominated and then elected as NSW SA co-convenors: Alex Bainbridge (Sydney) Sibylle Kaczorek (Sydney) Jess Moore (Illawarra).

State Executive

Motion: That the state executive comprise: Elected co-conveners; and one representative from each branch And that the State Exec has the power to co-opt representatives from affiliates if necessary.


Deputy Registered Officer

Motion: That we appoint Susan Price to the position of Deputy Registered Officer.