Friday, April 22, 2016
The Socialist Alliance recognises that not only has corrupt, business-as-usual politics caused a deepening social and climate crisis, but that those entrenched and greedy interests are unwilling and incapable of providing real solutions. Major system change is needed.
There is a growing despondency amongst large sections of the community; real anger and frustration in the way things are going. And rightly so.
We see rising wealth and income inequality, to the point where 64 people own the same amount as the world's poorest 50%. Six hundred of Australia's biggest corporations pay no company tax, yet poor people are chased down and jailed for the non-payment of fines. Some like Ms Dhu have died in custody as a result.
Homelessness and desperation are on the rise despite there being sufficient resources to provide a decent life for all.
Our climate is on the brink, yet governments are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and approve new coal, oil and gas projects. This reality cannot go on if we want to live a dignified life on a sustainable planet.
The problem then is not this or that politician, or this or that CEO. What is urgently needed is far-reaching social change driven by human needs and environmental balance, not profit.
The power of big money makes a farce of our democracy, where election campaigns are funded by corporations that also shape public opinion through their monopoly of much of the country's media. Why would profit-driven enterprises give money away during and between elections if they didn't expect plenty back in return?
As profits rise, the rest of us are told there's no money for healthcare or renewable energy. The government and media use the politics of fear and racist scapegoating to divide and distract the community.
The alternative the Socialist Alliance stands for is one in which people and the planet, not profit, are the driving motivation behind all our social interactions.
To meet the needs of our community, we need high quality social services like free education and health. We need an integrated renewable energy system while rapidly phasing out fossil fuels. We need comprehensive public transport infrastructure to break the dependence on private vehicles.
We need to embark on genuine reconciliation with the First Nations peoples of this land by acknowledging sovereignty through a comprehensive treaty.
We need to end the horrendous violence inflicted on women by ensuring economic independence through equal pay, properly funded women's health services and refuges and through making housing for all a right.
We need to celebrate diversity by immediately passing an equal marriage law and fund programs like Safe Schools, aimed at overcoming bullying and bigotry everywhere from the playground to parliament.
We need to fight for the rights of working people to have a high quality standard of living, by chucking out all anti-worker laws and supporting the rights of unions to organise.
Is all this a pipedream that is never going to happen? Some ask where the money will come from? The real question is: “Where is all the money going now?” Into the hands of big banks, the big corporations and the same greedy few. That wealth was created by working people and should come back into the community.
Setting and enforcing higher taxes on corporations is a good start. But ultimately key strategic industries such as the banks and mines need to come under democratic public ownership to ensure that the wealth created is invested in the community so that we can take control of our collective future.
Young people have a major part to play in making this change. I encourage everyone to think big and bold and not see politics as a contest between who do you hate least, but rather to ask what do we want our future society to look like?
People elected to public office are often on salaries and pensions well above that of the average member of the community.
The disgraced Bronwyn Bishop is now taking home more than $9000 a fortnight in a pension paid for by us. Many parliamentarians use their position as a stepping stone into the corporate world, and not from a deep motivation to serve the community.
In the Socialist Alliance, we want to rise with communities, not above them. All our candidates pledge that, if elected, they will only take home the average wage, and I am proud to do the same.
[This article by Chris Jenkins first appeared in Green Left online on April 22, 2016. Jenkins is running for the Socialist Alliance for the seat of Fremantle in the federal election.]