The Victorian Socialists are a new coalition of the biggest leftist organisations in the country, the Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Alternative, along with prominent figures of the Left. There are candidates of the new party in several electorates, but their main aim for this election is to gain at least one seat in the Upper House, particularly in the Northern Metropolitan Region. Their main candidate is City of Yarra Councillor Steven Jolly, a well known political activist.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos, he sets out the party’s policies.
Despite some of you having participated for a long time in the community struggles around Melbourne and Victoria, the Victorian Socialists are standing for the first time in the State Elections. Who actually are the Victorian Socialists?
It is a new coalition of the Left based around the elected socialist Councillors in Melbourne, who are probably the only politicians in the country whose vote has risen election after election. It includes progressive writers, trade unions, migrant organisations including Kurds, Tamils, Afghanis and Eritreans, plus socialist organisations and ordinary left wing people. It’s the biggest socialist party in recent Australian history. We believe the ALP has betrayed working class people and that the Greens are not radical enough. We aim to win a seat in the Northern Metropolitan Region (upper house) where five members are elected via proportional representation.
Can you very briefly give us the main focus of your program?
We are Australia’s No. 1 opponent of fascism and racism and have organised all the rallies against these evil ideas as well as rallies to support refugees. However, we understand that racist and fascist ideas grow in areas of disadvantage when people are desperate. Right wing populists use people’s despair to whip up racism against minorities. This is historic fact. Therefore, we link our opposition to fascism and racism to policies and campaigns that unite ordinary people in the fight for jobs and services for the poor.
We are 100 per cent opposed to sexism in words and deeds, one example being the fact that our unions lead the fight for equal pay for equal work.
We led the fight for same sex marriage in Melbourne. We have massive support in the LGQBTI community.
Climate change is real and a crisis our leaders underestimate. In the northern suburbs, we want a job-creating, publicly-owned recycle plant on the old Ford site in Broadmeadows as most recycling now goes to landfill. We want a massive expansion of public transport – one reason being it’ll get people out of cars and lower air pollution.
On social justice, that is literally in our name and DNA. There are no social justice issues in Melbourne where we are not either organising and/or in the front line. If you care about social justice, don’t just vote Victorian Socialists, join us.
One of the most crucial concerns of the Greek community is maintaining and extending Greek language and culture in all the levels of the educational system. What do you have to say about this?
The Greek language is spoken by about 15 per cent of people in some parts of the northern suburbs of Melbourne. It needs to be embedded into our school curriculum. State government needs to release the funds to protect Greek language and culture in schools and society.
Greeks also face the pressure of an ongoing demand for facilities and services for the ageing. What are the Victorian Socialists intending to do about this?
In Yarra, where I am a Councillor, many elderly people in minorities including Greeks, Chinese and more are worried sick about being in an aged care facility where their dietary and cultural needs are ignored. I’ve worked to expand aged care and culturally specific aged care in my area. There needs to be a State government matrix – a plan to expand aged care as the aged population expands, and to make it both all-in and specific to the needs of Greeks and other groups. We can’t leave this to the market.
Certain parts of the Greek community have suffered in some way due to the Labor government’s taxi industry policy. If elected what will you do to meet such community demands and needs?
We need to immediately compensate those who were paid out too little. Some are hundreds of thousands of dollars behind. The State government has never had a bigger surplus. It can afford to pay up and compensate taxi owners the full difference between what they originally paid for their licence and the pittance they were given by the government.