Number 2

Thirty five people packed into the Brisbane Activist Centre here on February 13th to hear Dr Bian Seneviratne (pictured) speak on the present situation in the Tamil regions of Sri Lanka. Seneviratne who was born into the majority Sinhala population of the island is a world renowned activist for Tamil rights. He told the overwhelmingly Tamil audience that the situation is dire in Sri Lanka and that it was urgent to build on the recent wave of international protests organised by Tamil exile communities around the world.

The organisation of our Seventh National Conference is well under way. After two National Executive discussions and quite a few Conference Organising Committee meetings, the draft agenda for the conference has been finalised, and is published in this Alliance Voices. Like all conference documents it is also available on our conference wiki site here.

While bush fires were raging in Victoria, Foster’s Carlton and United Brewery told their maintenance crew (Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Electrical Trades Union members) that their jobs would be outsourced to contractor ABB, who offered lower pay and worse conditions. This was done in the context of a company (Foster’s) having made a whopping profit of more than $700 million in 2008.

We've had a bit of coverage over the last couple weeks of climate action stuff in Wollongong. Check out the articles from the Wollongong Advertiser.

This media release netted two radio interviews for the Canberra comrades

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New anti-bill posting legislation is being debated in the ACT Legislative Assembly today [February 10]. The Crimes (Bill Posting) Amendment Act extends the operation of the strict liability offence of 'defacing property' to include bill posting. It also creates a new offence penalising event organisers. Corporations deemed "reckless" face a $50 000 penalty. The penalty is $10 000 for an individual.

Late last year elections were held in the Community and Public Sector Union, the main union covering federal public servants. Several Socialist Alliance members ran for positions. Chris Slee (pictured) was elected unopposed as a member of the Tax Section Council of the CPSU, representing members in the Moonee Ponds Tax Office. He also ran for a position as a Tax Office representative on the union's Governing Council. He was not elected, but got a strong 37% of the vote.

On March 14, twenty-five turned up for Perth Hills public forum featuring a report back from Venezuela and Cuba by Annolies Truman (pictured) and myself. Some people travelled a long way to attend, such as Communist Party of Australia state secretary Vic Williams who drove from near Fremantle. He and other participants were interested in the Permaculture and genetically modified organism research aspects touched on in the presentation. Others included members from the Hills and Perth branches, members of the Hills Climate Action Group and an anti-GMO activist.

I can't read the ALP result in terms of making a conclusion about how they managed to hold onto enough seats to keep government almost comfortably, albeit with a reduced margin.This was the flattest and most boring election imaginable and I doubt anyone got excited about any aspect of it.

Union activist, waterside worker, community campaigner and former Young Labor leader named as Socialist candidate for Fremantle by-election The Socialist Alliance is pleased to announce that its candidate in the May 16 Fremantle by-election will be Sam Wainwright. Wainwright, aged 38 is a wharfie, member of the Maritime Union of Australia and activist in the Fremantle Community Solidarity group.

The Socialist Alliance National Executive has voted to sponsor the World At A Crossroads: Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century conference, to be held this Easter 2009, April 10-12, at Sydney Girls High School. Come to our stall and help us join conference attendees to the Alliance!

The Melbourne West branch of Socialist Alliance has been organising people to support the Westgate Bridge community and workers protest. Construction company John Holland sacked 39 workers from the Westgate Reconstruction Project. The workers were sacked because they refused to accept a deal Holland organised with the industrially weak Australian Workers Union instead of honoring an agreement the workers (all members of the AMWU and CFMEU) had signed with subcontracting firm Civil Pacific Services at the end of last year.

The freebie Geelong Times is hand-delivered to every household in the Geelong region. The March 11 issue featured this piece on our Geelong Branch, accompanied by convener Sue Bull in her nostalgic Soviet-era t-shirt.

Is socialism the new capitalism?

By Ian Kenins

The current global recession has seen no shortage of advice on how best to tackle economic problems. Among the theories on offer is that “rampant” capitalism is to blame, and that governments need to tighten regulations covering trade and banking.

Disclaimer — signed articles represent the views of their authors, not necessarily the views of the Socialist Alliance unless otherwise stated. Responsibility for all electoral comment is taken by P. Benedek, 22 Mountain Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007. Alliance Voices submission protocols.