Illawarra

[Explanatory note: This contribution was prepared by a working group tasked by the National Executive with reviewing our Constitution and Code of Conduct to clarify and strengthen the organisation’s ability to prevent and deal with abusive and violent behaviour in the organisation.

Not only are we talking about taking back our government — taking back a democracy and making it a democracy — but we're here because we're talking about taking back our humanity. Taking back our humanity, right now here. That's why we're here.
We have a crisis here. But in a crisis there are challenges and opportunities. We're here because we are taking up the challenge and the opportunity…

Let's transform it into what our dear, beloved brother Dr King called “the beloved community”. Let's transform it so people matter more than things.

The coal seam gas (CSG) industry is rapidly increasing its scope in the Australian energy market. CSG is talked up as by some as a clean energy source, or as a “transition fuel”, while we develop renewable energies. But it is natural gas — a fossil fuel. Production, processing, transportation and combustion creates greenhouse gas emissions.

2011 was an intense year. In the Illawarra, two campaigns emerged that would define most of our activity: the campaign to stop coal seam gas mining and the campaign for greater left unity, culminating in the Community Voice experiment that contested the local council elections. We encouraged our members, supporters and friends into these important campaigns and helped take real responsibility for their success (or failure).

The coal seam gas (CSG) industry is rapidly increasing its scope in the Australian energy market. CSG is talked up as by some as a clean energy source, or as a “transition fuel”, while we develop renewable energies. But it is a fossil fuel. Mining and burning it creates greenhouse gas emissions.

A carbon tax is on the government's agenda. Both Labor and the Greens have stated their commitment to one. Further, they have both pursued a carbon tax as the primary measure for tackling climate change - rather than regulation to phase out dirty industries or direct public investment in carbon abatement projects (such as renewable energy).

Moved: by Illawarra branch — Matt Garner to present at conference.

The NSW Climate Camp ‘09 – held in Helensburgh, an hour south of Sydney – was an inspiring success. Despite driving rain and gale force winds, up to 300 people camped out on the local footy field, creating a festival of sustainable living, political workshops, art, music and activist organising. The camp’s theme was, “When it comes to water, climate and jobs — actions speak louder than words”.

On Tuesday March 10, over 300 people turned out to the community rally in support of sacked Pacific Brands workers today in Wollongong. The rally was held outside the Bonds factory in Unanderra and was timed to meet the workers as they walked out of work. They marched out waving placards while everyone clapped and chanted. King Gee workers from the Bellambi factory were bused in to join the rally. Most people there were workers but maybe 50-80 people were from other unions and the community (including six Socialist Alliance comrades). There were heaps of different union flags flying.

Here are two articles that featured prominently in last week's Wollongong Advertiser. The first features the campaign victory to reinstate free school travel in New South Wales (originally marked for the axe by the Nathan Rees' government mini-budget). The second interviews Tim Dobson and myslef about banning Taser guns. These two campaigns (the Taser guns is purely a media campaign at this stage) have also featured on local TV news and radio. Socialist Alliance Illawarra weekly media releases continue to really pay off.

Seven Socialist Alliance members descended on Wollongong train station from 6.15am on the morning of November 10 to publicise Saturday's "No rail fare hike; no service or job cuts" rally. We wanted a large team because we expected trouble with CityRail guards and police. Last Saturday two comrades were "warned" for putting up posters and told they would be charged next time — obviously Wollongong Police are responding to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione's appeal to crackdown on bill posters (because they make people feel "unsafe"!).