Public housing campaigners pre-selected to contest NSW Senate

Socialist Alliance candidates Andrew Chuter and Rachel Evans
Socialist Alliance candidates Andrew Chuter and Rachel Evans

Andrew Chuter and Rachel Evans will run for the Socialist Alliance (SA) in the next New South Wales Senate election, with further candidates to be announced. The two long-term community and union activists were pre-selected at SA’s state conference on October 2.

Both are experienced activists and are passionate about resisting the push by developers, in cahoots with the state government, to privatise what remains of public housing in Glebe and Redfern.

SA’s national campaign slogan, “People and planet before profit”, highlights the party’s priorities: campaigning for real action on climate change and for people-centred social, ecological and economic policies to be prioritised over profiteering.

Chuter told Green Left that protecting what remained of public housing was important. “The NSW Coalition government has been on a privatisation spree”, he said. “The change in leadership in the state government will, if anything, intensify the struggle to keep public assets in public hands.”

Chuter, a committed unionist, is a casual mathematics tutor employed by several universities. He has been central to Friends of Erskineville for several years, which has successfully forced the state government to fund station upgrades.

He was a co-convenor of No WestCONnex and helped establish Fix NSW, which brought together community activists and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union to fight the WestConnex tollway.

Chuter said that, while communities did not win that fight, they are continuing to campaign against the government’s plan for a new Western Harbour Tunnel.  

Evans, a disability support worker and an education student, helped set up the Water for Rivers group, which helped bring the fight for water rights for First Nations communities in regional NSW to the city.

Evans was one of the founders of the grassroots equal marriage campaign in Sydney, and has long fought for the rights of marginalised communities.

“Defending what little remains of public housing in Sydney is important”, Evans told Green Left. “Everyone has the right to safe shelter, especially in a rich country.

“The pandemic has shown up the class divide in NSW, with First Nations communities being left to fend for themselves, rather than being considered priority regions for the vaccine.”

SA members reported to the state conference on the three local government election campaigns in Newcastle, Parramatta and the Inner West. The delayed elections are to be held on December 4.

The meeting also discussed the government’s privatisation spree and how ending major party corruption means continuing to organise with communities for better representation.

[This article was first published in Green Left on October 10.]

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