Number 8

A number of proposed amendments to the constitution have been proposed by a Constitution Working Group and considered by the National Executive. This is an explanation of my dissenting view in the Working Group and in the National Executive to some of the proposed changes to national leadership structure (Sections 6 and 7). I have prepared this explanation as it is my view that most members are not properly aware of the implications of the changes proposed.

These amendments propose to give the National Executive:

The following is based on a speech given to the protest organised by Sydney Stop the War Coalition on December 10, UN Human Rights Day and the day war president Barack Obama received the UN Peace Prize.

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The so-called anti-war President-elect Barack Obama said the following on Human Rights Day in 2008:

The following draft is updated from the policy adopted at the Sixth National Conference, December 6-7, 2008. The Socialist Alliance condemns the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the state of Israel. This oppression takes different forms including— the occupation of Palestinian land, hi-tech military assaults on the impoverished Palestinian population, the blockade and siege of Gaza, the breaking up of the West Bank into isolated ghettos and systematic violence and discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and those exiled as refugees. The Socialist Alliance supports:

The following draft of a perspectives document for the 7th national conference of Socialist Alliance is presented by the Socialist Alliance national executive in two parts. The preamble, which sets out in draft form, an explanation of the political situation after two years of the Rudd government, is for information only, and is not intended for a vote by the conference.

The Socialist Alliance Seventh National Conference acknowledges the important historical role socialists have played in major struggles for Aboriginal rights throughout the last century. Through our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights Charter, we commit ourselves to continuing in this tradition, supporting and championing Aboriginal self-determination and Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs, while linking Aboriginal struggles to other movements, especially the trade union movement.

Young people occupy a unique position in society. They face both formal and informal discrimination, as well as disproportionate social and political exclusion. They are often the first to be hit by, and are more affected by, homelessness and the housing crisis, violence, poverty, social exclusion, attacks on workers and students and other social problems.

But young people have the power to play a radicalising and explosive role in the struggle for a better world and it is from them that the socialist movement and the Socialist Alliance will be strengthened and renewed.

I want to thank Graham Matthews for his work in producing a full-length style public transport policy draft for Socialist Alliance. Nonetheless, I suggest we may need to continue the drafting process for this policy area beyond the conference.

I believe the draft has a number of problems. In suggesting this I’m drawing substantially on our experience of sustainable transport campaigning here in Cairns. I will try to relate some of that experience as responses to the policy draft. I apologise for the point format of this contribution.

For 20 years we have had employer-contributed compulsory superannuation (ECS), currently at the rate of 9% of gross income. This was “sold” as part of the social wage and as an expansion of the provision of enhanced retirement benefits for Australian workers beyond those then limited to public sector and management in the private sector. It is another example of the ALP-ACTU Accord betrayal of Australian workers.

The problem

Since the introduction of modern agriculture, the quality of Australia’s soils has dropped dramatically. Inappropriate agricultural practices and methods have led to ongoing soil loss, salinity and soil structure across the country, threatening the viability of many rural communities, and endanger Australia’s future food security.

In many areas, irrigation water is dangerously over-allocated, frequently wasteful and used on inappropriate crops, and is becoming more and more scarce, threatening the viability of agriculture in many parts of Australia.

Here are some possible resolutions for the upcoming January conference. The first could be additions to similar proposals others are working on.

In writing this report, I am reminded of why we are all probably feeling a bit tired as the year winds to an end. Having a Labor government in power at both federal and state levels has not made the work of Socialist Alliance any easier, except that maybe more people can see that our democracy is failing us on any of the big issues of our time and, as the Earth heats up and social injustice rages, many people are looking for an alternative.

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.