Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ben Peterson speaking on Nepal

This video ( is from the talk by Australian Socialist Alliance member Ben Peterson in Wellington on 26 March 2010 during his seven day tour of New Zealand. Additional parts below.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unions rally to support Rio Tinto workers locked out in California

Unions led by the Maritime Union of Australia organised a rally on 23 March 2010 in support of 570 workers locked out by Rio Tinto in Boron, California. This video features union leaders who spoke at the rally.

[This video can be viewed on YouTube at: A video with the complete speeches by Chris Cain and Joe MacDonald can be seen at:

Speakers also pointed out that workers in WA's north west are in dispute with Rio Tinto and other mining companies. Solidarity between unions was a strong theme emphasised at the rally.

A February 3 post on the MUA website explains the issues in the dispute:
Global unions are calling for international action against Rio Tinto after the lockout of 560 US miners in Boron, California this week.

The Maritime Union of Australia and the CFMEU Mining and Energy division and unions internationally in the Mining and Maritime Initiative yesterday condemned the latest attempt by Rio Tinto to smash the rights of workers by locking out International Longshore and Warehouse Union members at the Boron operations and called for worldwide solidarity actions.

"Our solidarity goes to ILWU Boron miners and their families in particular who have suffered these attacks on the morning of January 31 for defending workers' rights and refusing to capitulate to the bullying tactics of Rio whose agenda is to break the union in order to slash wages and conditions," the statement read. "This company posted profits of $3.7 billion last year. Rio Tinto hired vanloads of security guards to storm the mine while helicopters flew overhead only last October. It is a company that has been taken to task for abuses of human rights, indigenous land rights, workers' rights and damage to the environment and local communities in Australia, Africa, Bougainville, Indonesia and Iceland. [MORE]

Photos from the March 23 rally in Perth:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Government promises interim payment while hundreds protest deaths in custody

Attorney general Christian Porter told media on March 17 that an interim payment of $200,000 to the family of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward should be "finalised" by the end of the month (leaving unclear whether this meant "paid" or "approved").

Mr Ward died a horrible death in the back of a prison van in January 2008 while being transported over four hours in a non-air conditioned van on a 42 degree Celcius day for a traffic violation. Last year, the state coroner found that the state government department, the private contractor GSL (now G4S) and the two prison van drivers were all responsible for his death.

Porter’s announcement came shortly before a March 17 protest by hundreds of people in front of parliament house and ten days after an impassioned public call for an interim payment by Mr Ward’s widow. She and her family have had to rely on charity and the support of friends since her husband’s death more than two years ago.

This promise by Porter to make an interim ex-gratia payment is important because it is the first, albeit minor, concession made by the government to the campaign for justice for Mr Ward.

The three key demands of the campaign led by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (DICWC) are for compensation, termination of the prisoner transport contract with G4S and for charges to be laid ``against those responsible’’ for Mr Ward’s death. Despite more than two years having passed, the government is yet to deliver on any of these.


Shadow attorney general John Quigley has publicly campaigned for an overall ex-gratia compensation payment in excess of $3.2 million dollars. This was the amount paid by the state government to Andrew Mallard after he was wrongly jailed for 12 years over a murder he didn’t commit.

DICWC chair Marc Newhouse told Green Left Weekly that the Committee has not been campaigning for a particular figure but that the amount should be significant. He said that $3.2 million is "not enough" to cover the loss experienced by Mr Ward’s family and his community. "Failure to do so constitutes systemic racism," he said.

Newhouse said that the government is likely planning a payment only to Mr Ward’s widow but that the extended family and his community have also suffered a terrible loss and that, in an Aboriginal cultural context, the family and community should be compensated as well.

Aboriginal Legal Service representative John Bedford outlined to the rally the series of correspondence from the ALS to the government calling since July 2009 for an ex-gratia payment and since January for an interim payment. He said the government had failed respond.

Porter has said the ALS is responsible for the delay in making an interim payment alleging that they did not put in a timely application. However, he beat a hasty retreat into the parliament building when Bedford was speaking instead of answering calls to respond to Bedford’s catalogue of state government refusal to answer correspondence.

The government has already received $150,000 penalty fee from G4S under the terms of the contract, for Mr Ward’s death. Newhouse told Green Left that this amount was "outrageous".

"How can you put a monetary figure [in a contract] on someone’s life," he said. "But $150,000 is inadequate, especially in these circumstances."

"A far more suitable way to deal with a death in custody would be to terminate a contract, particularly as in this case when the coroner has found that the guards and the company are responsible for the death."

Contract termination
The state government has previously told campaigners that the government cannot terminate the prisoner transport contract with G4S without suffering a significant financial penalty because there has not been a "material breach" of the contract. A material breach would occur if there were more than one incident in a year each involving one or more deaths in custody.

However, the rally heard that there is another avenue via which the contract could be terminated. The legislation governing this area has a provision that allows the minister to approve a recommendation from the commissioner of corrective services that a contract be terminated on the basis that it is ``in the public interest’’. Action under this clause would cost the government no money and would require three days notice.

Greens parliamentarian Giz Watson, who addressed the rally, will ask the minister in parliament on March 23 what his response would be if the commissioner puts such a recommendation.

Campaigners at the rally reiterated the call for charges to be laid against those responsible for Mr Ward’s death, including but not limited to the two prison van drivers. Newhouse told Green Left that "no legal stone should be left unturned" in the attempt to bring all those responsible (including the department and G4S) to justice.

The lack of action by the government also raises the question of the government’s response to the coroner’s findings last year. Newhouse told Green Left "you’ll see that while they basically say they agree with most of the recommendations, there are no time frames except in a few cases."

Further, "a lot of [the government’s commitments] are subject to putting up a business case" and most importantly "there has been no reporting back to the public on what has and hasn’t been done".

"In our view, that is completely unacceptable."

The rally was made more poignant by the participation of family members of another Aboriginal man who died in the East Perth Watch House on March 14. His brother Paul Haywood told the rally "that’s his son there: he hasn’t got a father. I haven’t got a brother, my mother hasn’t got a son; and my sister-in-law, she’s lost her man".

Haywood said authorities hadn’t allowed his family to view the body since his brother’s death. His brother was diabetic and was sent to hospital twice on the weekend he died. "He should have been in hospital" he said.

Speakers also noted that another Aboriginal man had collapsed in the back of a prison van in 41 degree heat on March 12.

[By Alex Bainbridge. A version of this article appeared in Green Left Weekly #831.]



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Freo public forum: Stop Barnett's Axe 30 March 2010

Fremantle public forum - all welcome

Stop Barnett's Axe: Defend jobs, services & library

Speakers include:
Hsien Harper (former Greens candidate & public sector unionist)
Sam Wainwright (Socialist Alliance councillor in Fremantle)

6:30pm, Tues 30 March
La Tropicana Cafe, 177 High St, Fremantle
Organised by Socialist Alliance. Ph 0458 649 230, 0412 751 508.

The state government wants to force through the most serious ever attacks on public servants' rights and conditions, bringing in legislation which is worse than WorkChoices.

Barnett & Buswell are stripping services around the state, cutting the pool of top-up funding provided to non-government organisations that provide human services & cutting their share of public library funding by 40% (along with other cost shifting exercises).

Join us to discuss how public servants & the community can fight back.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obama postpones visit, protest cancelled

A speakout that had been planned when Obama arrived in Australia, has been cancelled due to Obama postponing his visit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Workers tell Colin Barnett what they think

Liberal premier Colin Barnett spoke to a crowd of thousands of public sector workers rallying against his attacks on public services. This took place on March 11 and he didn't get a good response. Check out what the workers had to say to Colin Barnett:

This video is on YouTube at:

Film premiere: Inside the Revolution - 16 April 2010

Inside the Revolution
A journey into the heart of Venezuela

A film by Pablo Navarrete
Alborada Films

Perth screening:
6:30pm, Fri 16 April
Perth Activist Centre (15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth - next to McIver station)
Organised by Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network & Green Left Weekly.

$10/$7. Ph Barry 9299 6453, Alex 9218 9608, 0413 976 638. *

February 2009 marked 10 years since Hugo Chavez took office, following a landslide election victory, and launched his revolution to bring radical change to Venezuela. While wildly popular with many in the country, Chavez's policies and his strongly-worded criticisms of the U.S. government have also made him powerful enemies, both at home and abroad, especially in the media. Filmed in Caracas in November 2008, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of Chavez's controversial presidency, this feature-length documentary takes a journey into the heart of Venezuela's revolution to listen to the voices of the people driving the process forward.

"This is a rare film about Venezuela, a country in extraordinary transition. Watch this film because it is honest and fair and respectful of those who want to be told the truth about an epic attempt, flaws and all, to claim back the humanity of ordinary people." - John Pilger

All welcome. For more information, phone 9299 6453, 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

The Venezuelan people: masters of revolution

Review by Derek Wall
12 February 2010

Inside the Revolution: A Journey into the Heart of Venezuela Directed by Pablo Navarrete

If you think you know everything about Venezuela, well, think again. Pablo Navarrete’s documentary Inside the Revolution: A Journey into the Heart of Venezuela is a very thoughtful look at 10 years of change since Hugo Chavez’s election in 1998.

You won’t find “Chavez the hero” or “Chavez the villain” here — there’s less of Chavez than in most portraits of the country.

The film trades on ambiguity and contradiction. Venezuela has long been the “magical country”, with oil wealth shaping social development in unpredictable ways.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote novels such as Love in the Time of Cholera, based on astonishing events on the Caribbean coast that Venezuela shares with Colombia.

The biggest contradiction of all is that Venezuela, a country known for its love of Big Macs, baseball and all things American, has led global opposition to George Bush’s foreign policy, the Washington Consensus and the US-shaped New World Order.

For 50 years,Venezuela was run by an increasingly corrupt elite, rotating power between the two main political parties — Accion Democratica (social democrats) and COPEI (christian democrats).

In 1989 during the “Caracazo” hundreds of people were killed and thousands injured, as police fired on protesters mobilising against International Monetary Fund (IMF)-inspired spending cuts. It was Latin America’s Tiananmen Square, but unlike Tiananmen, it received virtually no attention outside the country at the time.

Chavez, then a young army officer, rebelled against the killings and mounted a coup to protect citizens from the military assault. He famously surrendered on national television and radio, but only “por ahora” (for now). After imprisonment and then a pardon, he won the presidency in 1998.

Chavez’s victory ended the old two-party era and, though he initially proclaimed a brand of “third way” politics, he later moved sharply to the left.

The traditional elite, strongly aided by the US, mounted a full-scale assault on his government, culminating in a 2002 coup where he was temporarily removed from power.

Inside the Revolution argues that despite the ambiguities, the world’s media looks at Venezuela from the perspective of the “folks on the hill”, the wealthy and well connected elite. The changes in Venezuela threaten them, and they are in constant revolt, while the perspective of the majority of Venezuelans is ignored.

Even the so-called liberal press finds it easier to go to the relatively well-heeled parts of the country rather than talk to the people of the barrios (poor neighbourhoods), peasant farmers or indigenous people.

This film talks to the people: farmers, community organisers and — most of all — the hip-hop revolution artist “Master”.

Such accounts displace Chavez from his pedestal and put the people at the centre. The Venezuelan people — especially those excluded from influence — revolted against the IMF cuts, swept away the corrupt governing parties, pushed the present government in more radical directions and put Chavez in power, even rescuing him during the coup.

While the film corrects the avalanche of elite commentary on Venezuela, it’s also unsparing in its criticisms of the corruption, crime and concentrations of power that remain in the country.

In one bit of electric footage, Master and his rappers play to Chavez, slipping in an unscheduled number to rap out to the president, standing just feet away, the failings of his government. You will have to watch for yourself to see his reaction.

Capitalism is increasingly in crisis: the financial catastrophe and recession are only part of its failings. People are looking for an alternative, and this film contains an interesting discussion of what 21st century socialism could mean.

This is socialism with direct democracy, Marx, the Latin American leader Simon Bolivar, radical Christianity, free software, anarchism and much else in the mix.

Master notes somewhere at the beginning of the film that “culture is the train ideologies travel by”. Have a good trip — we are entering new territory.

[Review republished from Green Left Weekly issue #826. Originally from Red Pepper.]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saving the WA public sector: what will it take?

Western Australia needs a broad and inclusive mass movement to stop the Barnett government’s push to privatise public services and smash public sector workers’ conditions.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Far right attempt to hijack internet censorship rally

One feature of the otherwise successful Perth rally against internet censorship on March 6 was the attempt by a far-right political group to hijack the event.

Up to 300 people participated in the rally and march hearing speakers including internet studies lecturer Mike Kent, Greens senator Scott Ludlam and an Iranian refugee who talked about the draconian nature of Iran's internet censorship. Other speakers included Socialist Alliance senate candidate Ben Peterson and Mike Walmsley from the Liberal Democratic Party.

There was another rally in Melbourne on the same day and smaller actions in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

The Perth crowd was predominantly young having mostly been organised through FaceBook and other web-based platforms. Many participants were protesting for the first time.

Shortly after Ludlam began speaking, a neo-fascist outfit called Nationalist Alternative hung an anti-immigration banner directly above the speakers' platform. Organisers insisted that the banner be removed because its message was hostile to the aims of the rally. After it was removed, a ``Stop the Filter'' banner was hung in its place.

During the incident a spontaneous chant of ``no room for racism'' won wide support among the crowd.

In post-rally commentary, the Nationalist Alternative claimed that their views were ``censored'' and that the organisers were therefore guilty of ``hypocrisy’’. They also argued that they loyally promoted the rally and that their banner was no different to a Resistance banner that was also displayed on the day.

In fact, their efforts at ``promotion’’ of the rally seem to consist entirely of a single post on their blogsite less than 24 hours before the rally began. None of their members attended organising meetings. This token effort at ``promotion’’ was more about lending credence to the notion that they were ``censored’’ than about genuinely building the rally.

Further, the Resistance banner in question simply identified Resistance as one of the organisations supporting the rally. Along with the name of the organisation it included a Resistance slogan: ``people before profits, planet before profits’’ in small type. The Resistance banner was held by rally participants as part of the crowd.

By contrast, the Nationalist Alternative banner consisted primarily of an anti-immigration slogan which can in no way be construed as relevant to the rally aims. Nonetheless, it was placed directly behind the speakers’ platform implying that it had endorsement from the rally organisers.

Peterson, who is from Perth Resistance and was among the key rally organisers, told Green Left that ``these kinds of racist groups cannot openly win popular support for their ideas’’.

``Therefore, they try to elicit public sympathy by claiming to be victims of censorship,’’ he said.

``Far from being supporters of the rally, from this standpoint, their whole action can be seen as a set-up – a hostile attempt to discredit the movement against the filter.’’

``However, it is not censorship for rally organisers to set the limits as to how the rally will be perceived by the public,’’ Peterson said.

``Stop the filter is not a group to push racism and it is not censorship to ensure that our rally is not associated with that,’’ Peterson said.

Echoing this view, Ludlam told the March 13 Perth Voice ``I certainly didn't read that as censorship’’.

``I'm certainly against hate speech,’’ he said. ``If they're running up anti-immigration banners at a rally for free speech, especially behind the speaker, it's completely out of line. It was a grab for attention, in extremely bad taste.’’

According to Peterson, ``suppressing far right ideas is not an effective way to combat fascist groups because it diverts attention away from their obnoxious ideas into a pointless debate about whether or not these groups deserve `free speech’.’’

``But that is not what we’re talking about in this case,’’ he said. ``Just as we would not tolerate someone storming the rally platform and taking over the microphone, we have a right to determine which banner is displayed behind the speakers’ platform.’’

[This article by Alex Bainbridge, Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth, has been submitted to Green Left Weekly.]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Photos from Stop the 'Stop and Search' laws forum

Forty people attended a public forum on March 11, 2010 about stopping the WA Government's proposed “Stop and Search laws”.

Speakers included Giz Watson from the WA Greens, Alex Cassie from Search For Your Rights and Elliot Herrington from Resistance.

The proposed laws would give police the power to stop and search the persons of anybody in a public place (such as a street or public park), or a place that can be accessed by the public (such as a bar or a sports stadium). Giving the police these powers removes the existing need for them to have reason to believe that a person has or will commit a crime. Removing the need for reasonable suspicion, can only lead to unreasonable searches.


Rally to defend the public sector

Around 2000 public servants rallied outside parliament on 11 March 2010 to protest attacks on the public sector. The rally was organised by the Civil Service Association. Premier Colin Barnett - who is orchestrating the cuts - addressed the rally and, refreshingly, he was roundly booed and heckled. Labor opposition leader Eric Ripper also spoke to the crowd and said some good things but notably didn't say that he would reverse any cuts the Liberals make between now and the next election!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Deaths in Custody calls urgent protest 17 March 2010

The Deaths In Custody Watch Committee (WA) Inc urgently needs your support at an urgent public protest action at Parliament House on Wednesday 17th March 2010, 12.30pm. 
Print the flyer attached.
 It has been two years since Mr. Ward's horrific and wholly avoidable death in the back of a prison van not fit to transport humans in.  Justice delayed, is justice denied!

The State Government's has failed to deliver three key demands from the Australian community in what can only be described as one of the worst human rights tragedies in Australian living memory.

Compensation to Mr. Ward's family, extended family and community - Mrs. Ward is distressed and is virtually destitute. This can only be described as a disgraceful situation!

Termination of the government contract with G4S – The Attorney General & Minister for Corrective Services, Mr. Porter claims that the contract with G4s cannot be terminated.  This is not true! It can and must be terminated!

Charges have not been laid against those responsible. This is outrageous!
Join the protest on the steps of Parliament House at 12.30pm, Wednesday 17th March 2010;
·         Organise your family, friends and work colleagues to join the protest;

·         Send the attached flyer out to all your networks, now;

·         Send this email and attached flyer to your unions, student, community, political and religious organisation asking them to distribute to all their members as a matter of urgency;

·         Email your local members of parliament and ask they distribute to their constituents;

·         Print the attached flyer and hand out in your workplace, on trains, buses, street corners and public events;

Bring Placards & Banners

Monday, March 8, 2010

Socialist candidate: ‘People power can save the planet’

“There are two messages we want to get across as part of our campaign in the federal elections”, Socialist Alliance candidate Alex Bainbridge told Green Left Weekly.

“The first is that workers deserve better than Labor”, he said. “Labor has refused to ‘rip up’ Work Choices as they promised, and in a whole host of areas — like refugee policy and performance pay for teachers — Labor is actually continuing Howard's agenda.

“However, the failure of capitalist governments at Copenhagen to even take steps forward on global warming — the most serious crisis confronting humanity — is one of the most compelling reasons to support a socialist campaign.

“Kevin Rudd was complicit in US President Barack Obama's scuttling of the Copenhagen summit and for that reason alone, ordinary people in Australia have every reason to withdraw their support from Labor.”

Bainbridge's comments are part of launching Western Australian Socialist Alliance's campaign for the federal election due later this year. The alliance will be contesting the seats of Perth and Fremantle, as well as running in the Senate.

Bainbridge has been preselected as candidate for Perth. An active socialist since 1990, he was also media spokesperson for the Stop Bush protest at the APEC summit in Sydney in 2007.

Bainbridge said the second message of the Socialist Alliance’s campaign is “people power can change the world”.

“There is cause for hope that a better world can be built”, said Bainbridge. “And that hope is that a massive people's movement can take power from the big corporations and the capitalist governments they support.”

The federal seat of Perth is currently held by Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith. As a cabinet member, Smith is complicit in Labor's grossly inadequate climate change policy and other broken election promises.

Smith is also tarnished by his role as an advocate for Australia's participation in the gruesome war on Afghanistan, his support for apartheid Israel and his refusal to campaign against the military coup in Honduras.

The Socialist Alliance Senate team will consist of Murdoch University student Ben Peterson and Red Cross lab technician Julie Gray. Peterson is a Perth Resistance organiser and was part of the organising team for last year's climate camp at Collie. He has also traveled in Nepal and writes regularly for GLW about the revolutionary struggle there.

Gray is a union delegate at her workplace and was a Socialist Alliance candidate in the state election in 2008.

Socialist Alliance in WA is launching an appeal for 100 donations of $100 or more to fund the campaign. Anybody who wants to donate funding (smaller donations also welcome) or help with the election campaign should call (08) 9218 9608 or email Fremantle Socialist Alliance will select a candidate in coming weeks.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fremantle: Stop Barnett's Axe - save jobs, services & library

Stop Barnett's Axe! Save our jobs, services & library!
The state government wants to force through the most serious ever attack on public servants' rights and conditions:  
  • Bringing in legislation which is worse than WorkChoices, see  
  • Privatising and contracting-out every service they can. Workers whose areas get outsourced will have to either follow their jobs or get the sack (with no option of redundancy or redeployment), effectively ending public service permanency. The outsourced jobs will typically only pay 70% -80%  of what the worker would get as a state employee 
 Barnett & Buswell are stripping services in Fremantle too: 
  • Cutting  the pool of top-up funding provided  to non-government organisations that provide human services. Both these and newly contracted-out but underfunded services will inevitably come to local government asking that we help make up the shortfall putting pressure on other services provided by council 
  • Closing the Hilton police station
  • Cutting their share of public library funding by 40% (along with other cost shifting exercises) 
  • Closing the Fremantle Museum   
Rally at Parliament House Thursday March 11,  12:30pm (organised by Civil Service Association). Freo contingent to gather in Pioneer Park at 11am then board the train for the rally 
Grab some leaflets and help paint the Freo banner this Sunday March 7 11am -3pm 1st floor Courtyard, Kings' Square area (behind Freo Town Hall)
For more info: 0405 307 161
Written by Sam Wainwright, Councillor-Hilton ward

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Story & photos from Fremantle forum for Aboriginal Rights

Challenging racism, building solidarity

Jacqui Clee, Fremantle
6 March 2010

On March 2, more than 40 people packed into La Tropicana cafe for a public forum on the theme “The Aboriginal struggle continues”. The meeting was organised by the Socialist Alliance.

Geelong and Regions Trades and Labour Council secretary and Socialist Alliance member Tim Gooden spoke, via video link, about the recent union work brigade to the Alyawarr people’s walk-off in the Northern Territory.

The brigade worked with the community to build a “protest house”, achieving more in two weeks than the government's housing program in two years.

Gooden said bonds of solidarity between the community and the trade union movement have been formed through a deeper understanding of the Alyawarr people’s struggle.

Fremantle Greens MLA Adele Carles, the only Greens member in Western Australia’s lower house, spoke about the need to challenge racism. Carles outlined how the proposed new “stop and search” laws will result in Aboriginal people being subjected to increased police harassment.

Marianne Mackay from the Deaths in Custody Watch committee spoke about the campaign demanding justice for Mr Ward.

Mr Ward died in the back of a prison transport van. She said we must change the prison system to ensure it never happens again. Mackay also spoke about the new Aboriginal People's Party, of which she is a founding member.

Natasha Moore from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition described the campaign against the NT intervention, and said measures targeting Aboriginal people in the NT — such as the Basics Card — are now being implemented in WA.

Photos from the Fremantle forum held 2-3-10.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stop the 'Stop and Search' laws 11 March 2010

Stop the 'Stop and Search' laws

Giz Watson (WA Greens)
Alex Cassie (Search for Your Rights)
Elliot Herrington (Perth Resistance)

The Barnett government is attempting to bring in laws that will allow police to search people "without any grounds at all". These laws have been condemned by lawyers, civil libertarians and activists. This forum will discuss the threat they represent and the building of a protest movement to stop them.

6.30pm Thurs 11 March
Perth Activist Centre (15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth - next to McIver station)
Phone 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.
Organised by Perth Socialist Alliance

Monday, March 1, 2010

Emma Clancy on Copenhagen 20-2-10

Copenhagen eyewitness Emma Clancy speaks to Perth Resistance 20-2-10 on the failure at Copenhagen and the birth of a new global climate justice forum.

Alex Bainbridge for Perth

Alex Bainbridge (38) is the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Perth. He is currently the WA co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance and coordinator of the Perth Activist Centre.

Alex joined the socialist movement in 1990 out of concern about the environment and a realisation that the existing capitalist system is incapable of solving the ecological problems we face. He was active in the campaign against Australia's involvement in the 1991 Gulf War and the more recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

In this capacity, he was a media spokesperson for the "Stop Bush" campaign at the time of the APEC summit in Sydney in 2007.

In 2005, he travelled to Venezuela as part of the first Australian brigade in solidarity with the unfolding "Bolivarian Revolution" in that country. The Venezuelan experience is one of building 'people's power' as an alternative to government in the interests of big corporations. Alex believes that that is the direction we need to go in Australia as well.

Today, he is an active member of the Safe Climate Coalition, the Refugee Rights Action Network and the Friends of Palestine among other organisations.

"When I look at the world today, I keep thinking of the words of Malcolm X who famously said: 'You're living at a time of revolution. People in power have misused it, and now a better world has got to be built!' This is doubly true today! People in power have misused it - badly - and now we do need to build a better world. This election campaign is part of the process of building that better world and on that basis I call for your support."

Alex Bainbridge grew up in Perth's northern suburbs and attended Mount Lawley Senior High School. Today he lives in Perth with his partner and daughter (5).

Ben Peterson for the Senate

Ben Peterson (21) is the lead Socialist Alliance candidate for the Senate in WA. He is studying for a Batchelor of the Arts at Murdoch University majoring in politics and international studies.

Ben got involved in activism as a year 11 student when he joined a high school strike against the then Howard government's WorkChoices legislation. He joined the socialist youth organisation Resistance - which organised the strike - and then the Socialist Alliance.

Since then, he has been involved in a range of campaigns including opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and around environmental issues. He was among the organisers of the Camp for Climate Action ("climate camp") in Collie at the end of 2009.

He has played played an active role in civil liberties campaigns including Stop the Filter (against the federal government's internet censorship plans) and Search for Your Rights (against the state governments plans for "stop and search" legislation.

In 2009, he spent six months abroad, largely in Nepal, where he reported for Green Left Weekly on the revolutionary movement for full civilian democracy against the vestiges of the feudal monarchy.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to run as a senate candidate for Socialist Alliance because I think it is the new generation that will be the one to bring change on the issues like global warming where real change is needed. The Labor and Liberal parties have both consistently let down the Australian people by their craven support for corporate Australia. The Socialist Alliance stands for 'people before profit' and that's the kind of change I'd like to see in Australian politics."