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).
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
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.
That Socialist Alliance supports all progressive social movements internationally, including in Iran, to achieve social justice, peace, freedom & democracy [Adopted]
That Socialist Alliance reaffirms its support for youth environmental activism by endorsing, supporting and initiating such actions through community and activist groups. [Adopted]
That SA NSW supports the teachers strike on September 2 and the closure of schools on that day.
The following candidates were nominated and then elected as NSW SA co-convenors: Alex Bainbridge (Sydney) Sibylle Kaczorek (Sydney) Jess Moore (Illawarra).
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.
Motion: That we appoint Susan Price to the position of Deputy Registered Officer.