John Englart

John Englart

Citizen journalist at No Fibs
John Englart has always had a strong social and environmental focus and over the past 10 years climate change science, climate policy and climate protest have become an increasingly important and primary focus of his work as a citizen journalist.
John Englart
I am involved in various Moreland-based community groups including Sustainable Fawkner where I blog on local and sustainability issues, Climate Action Moreland and Moreland Bicycle Users Group. I am also a member of Friends of the Earth, off and on, since 1976, and wrote the contribution on the Rides Against Uranium in the 1970s for the Friends of the Earth Australia book to mark the 30-year anniversary of FoE – 30 Years of Creative Resistance.
Margarita Windisch - Socialist Alliance candidate for Wills

Margarita Windisch – Socialist Alliance candidate for Wills

By John Englart

11 August 2013

Socialist activists launched their election campaign on Saturday night in support of candidates in two ‘safe’ Labor seats in Victoria: Margarita Windisch in Wills, based on Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs, and Sue Bull in Corio centred on the regional city of Geelong.

The electorate of Wills (See Seat profile) still has a radical tinge, with many socialist, social justice and union activists making it their home. The event was held at the Anatolian Cultural centre on Sydney Road, Coburg. Leftwing Turkish migrants established this social centre 20 to 30 years ago.

If you judge by voting patterns, Socialists have had a small resurgence in Victoria in working class areas. Sue Bolton was elected to Moreland Council in a surprise result last September. The Fitroy ward of the City of Yarra council re-elected Socialist Party candidate Stephen Jolly. He received more first preference votes than any other candidate in his ward, a reflection on his active grassroots campaigning on local issues with local residents over many years. Down in Geelong Sue Bull stood as a Socialist Alliance candidate last September and received over 10,000 first preference votes (8 per cent) in the mayoral race.

Both Maragarita Windisch and Sue Bull have no illusions about their chances of being elected. They are running in this election to advocate their socialist policies directly to people. It provides an opportunity to meet with people to raise issues of inequality and social justice and the campaigns for workers rights, women’s rights, refugee rights, climate action and other pressing social issues.

And they deserve to be heard as much as the Labor, Liberal or Greens candidates. It is one of the primary reasons why I became a citizen journalist. That the mainstream media and journalists were, for the most part, ignoring the local, the grassroots. But these stories also need to be told and shared in any society that has true democratic aspirations.

The Socialist campaign event drew a reasonable crowd, perhaps 80 people, and was as much a fundraising and cultural activity as a political event. Activists from a variety of left organisations and various ethnic communities were present. Even competing Wills candidate Dean O’Callaghan from the Save the Planet Party turned up later and was made welcome. There was a real sense of community in the hall.

Public housing activist Kate Borland, who is standing as an Independant for the seat of Melbourne gave a speech in support of Ms Windisch.

I am not doing this to be a politician, as I’m sure Margarita is the same. We don’t want to be politicians like the politicians we are actually seeing. We just want everybody to be a part and to have a say in what kind of life we want to live and what sort of world we are going to create for our children. Unless we start speaking up: we need Independents in parliament.

Sue Bull is standing for Corio where Richard Marles is the Federal Labor MP for the area. In her speech she drew attention to many working class people being pissed off with everything, but easily manipulated by existing politicians and the mainstream media to scapegoat refugees for the social problems and lack of services. She had spent the morning doorknocking in Lara, an outer suburb of Geelong, among the McMansions where the citizens are often in hock up to the eyeballs. Where community services and facilities are very few on the ground. Real mortgage belt heartland territory for the Labor party, but also where socialists draw a measure of support.

We can put the case, but we know really it is not about Margie and me. It’s about people like yourselves. It is about whether we as a whole group of people can make a difference. Can we get out there and say that working class people, refugees, single parents, and all sorts of people: they deserve better. They deserve to have better schools, health, public transport, housing, all those things they deserve better. It is not just because of who we are, but we pay massive taxes and Gina Rhineheart doesn’t even pay as much tax as I do, and I’m a part-time worker!

Margarita’s speech was full of socialist idealism and highlighted many issues, including the threat of climate change to human survivability, and of course put forward the socialist plan of community ownership, workers control and community control of resources as a way to resolve these issues and progress humanity.

So we are very prepared to talk about the unspeakable, really, in neo-liberal times. And that is ownership, community ownership, community control of resources, workers in charge of industries. ..We know that unless we start tackling the fundamentals that are making life very difficult for us on this planet, we will not be able to be even talk about the future to the next generation. I think we owe it to ouselves and the next generation to say humanity doesn’t exist to finish with a very destructive system, capitalism. We can do better than that. Humanity, the idea of progress is always to look forward, to something that is better. And that is what we want to do with this election campaign.

I found it amusing when she said “So when it comes to climate change we don’t support a climate price, we don’t support the ETS.” Maybe the socialists have common ground with the Liberals? The Liberal candidate, Shilpa Hegde wants to stop the carbon tax too, but the Liberals have been very flaky on even the existence of climate change.

The Socialist Alliance is much more thorough in their climate change policy than implementation of a carbon pricing or ETS. They believe we are already in a climate emergency and put forward a 10 point climate action plan that includes 100{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3} renewable energy by 2020.

These plans would require substantial economic transition, similar in scope to the transformations that were implemented for changing production during World War Two. As I reported in an earlier article the newly emerging Save the Planet Party is also advocating a Climate emergency transition.

It was also announced at the end that the Electrical Trades Union had donated $10,000 to the campaign of Socialist Alliance in New South Wales and Victoria. The donation acknowledges the solidarity work by socialist activists who are often on the front lines supporting trade union campaigns, pickets and strikes.

I heard in conversation that a series of quarter page ads for Margarita Windisch will be run in the Moreland Leader, part of the Murdoch News Limited leader group of local newspapers. I find it ironic that the socialists are advertising in a Murdoch newspaper, but given it is a local newsprint monopoly there is little other choice. I am sure Mr Murdoch is happy to accept socialist money as part of business, while his Sydney Daily Telegraph uses its frontpage in a very biased and ethically questionable editorial attack on the Rudd Labor Government.

Disclosure: Entry to the event was by donation with food available also by donation. I paid $15 for entry and food. I was also persuaded to buy a $5 fundraising raffle ticket.

More Wills Reports