Meet the CPA candidates:
A people's government
The Communist Party is standing candidates in the forthcoming Federal election in NSW and SA. Over the next few weeks The Guardian will interview the candidates. This week's interview is with Warren Smith who is heading the CPA's NSW Senate ticket. Guardian: Warren, could you give Guardian readers a brief run down on your background? Warren: I am 35 years of age and live in Sydney. I originally came from Wollongong. I am a waterside worker and a member of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). My first involvement with politics was through an anti-racist organisation in Wollongong called CARE (Campaign Against Racial Exploitation). Following that I became involved in the unemployed movement before securing employment in early 1990 on the Sydney waterfront. I have been a member of the SPA/CPA since the mid-1980s. I have been continuously active in the Party, in my trade union and other community organisations. Following the CPA's last Congress I was elected as the Party's Assistant General Secretary. Guardian: In what way are you now active in the Maritime Union? Warren: I work at White Bay and Glebe Island and am currently Secretary of the Union Committee representing those two areas. I am also a representative on the Central NSW Branch Committee of the MUA and represent the union at the Global Justice Coalition. Guardian: What do you see as the main issues in this election? Warren: There are many important, both on the domestic level and in terms of the current international situation. Recent international events are to some extent overshadowing many domestic issues. The question that is of vital importance at present is to stand in opposition to war. The initiation of broad organisation internationally in opposition to war is very encouraging and should be strongly supported. The outbreak of war will inevitably see many thousands of innocent people killed and it is an unacceptable response to the tragic events in the US. The September 11 events are unfortunately being used by the imperialist powers, particularly the US, to extend their domination over the entire planet. The terrorist attacks are being used to severely restrict democratic rights and have led to an outbreak of racism and xenophobia. These trends must be vigorously opposed. The Australian Government and the opposition stand condemned by all peace loving people for their over-enthusiastic support of the US war. In the so- called war against terror, the Howard Government and the ALP conveniently ignore the numerous acts of terrorism carried out by the US over many years. The real solution to terrorism is to eliminate the causes which are found in oppression, poverty, unemployment, the humiliation of other nations, unfair trade, and debts which cannot be paid. Eliminate these and terrorism will no longer have a fertile field in which to grow. Working conditions and living standards On domestic issues, one of the most important is that of industrial relations. The use by employers and governments of reactionary anti-union laws has been central to the erosion of the working conditions and the standard of living of working people in Australia. We will be campaigning for the repeal of laws such as the Workplace Relations Act and for an extension of the rights of trade unions to effectively fight for an improvement in the position of workers, which have been in decline for many years. Of great importance for everyone is the expansion and improvement of public health and public education. Both these areas have been brutally pruned back and privatised by successive governments and are in dire need of greater Federal funding. We stand strongly committed to improvements in both these areas. Greater attention and funding must also be given to public housing and transport. Privatisation and Competition Policy need attention and are also major election issues. We are opposed to the privatisation of publicly owned utilities and assets. We call for the reversal of all previous privatisations and the elimination of Competition Policy which has been used to break up and sell off publicly owned enterprises. Instead we call for the extension of public ownership to all major sectors of the Australian economy. I think the issue of taxation is of great importance too. We stand for the "repeal" of the GST and its replacement by a progressive taxation system which places emphasis on taxing big business and the rich, who in many cases pay very little or no tax. Multiculturalism The maintenance of multiculturalism and a strong stand against racism that is used by conservative forces to divide people of different ethnic origins, are other important election issues. Racism has become especially prevalent of late with the disgraceful treatment of refugees. There is also the abysmal treatment of Australia's Indigenous people. We see the need to implement a flexible and humane immigration policy that does not treat refugees like criminals. We strongly support the signing of a treaty with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and support wholeheartedly calls for land rights. While the big corporations pollute and destroy the world in their pursuit of higher profits, support for and implementation of environmentally sustainable policies is of ever greater importance. These are not the only important questions but I believe that they will form the basis of our election campaign. Guardian: Why is the CPA standing in this election? Warren: Firstly, we stand in order to highlight, popularise and win support for progressive policies, some of which we have just discussed. Secondly, we are standing to highlight and win support for what we believe is a realisable means to transform society. There is widespread support for a whole range of progressive policies but the question is: how are they to be implemented? What sort of government is going to do the job? Thirdly, we are standing to introduce the Party to the electorate and to win support for our vision of a socialist future. Guardian: What do you think you can achieve in this election? Warren: Hopefully we can fulfil to some extent the aims I just outlined. While it is unlikely that our Senate Team will find itself in Canberra after November 10, if we can win increased support for our progressive policies and gain wider acceptance of our program for change and greater recognition of the position of the Communist Party then, in my view, our campaign will have been a successful one. Guardian: You mentioned previously what you described as a realisable means to transform society. Can you outline the basis of that? Warren: It is our view that there is a great need to build the people's movement as a key to achieving change and a new direction in the political life of Australia. We put forward the need for the establishment of a broad coalition of forces that we term an anti-imperialist, anti- monopoly democratic front. The break up of the two-party system which has dominated Australia's political life for 100 years is fundamental for the advancement of social change in Australia. We see this broad front as transcending any one political party and being made up of a wide range of left and progressive forces that are all opposed to what is being done to the working people and to other sections of society today. We call for a coalition of all left and progressive political parties, the trade unions, peace and environmental activists and organisations, student groups, migrant groups, community groups and many others. A coalition of such a nature would be extremely powerful. It would set as its goal the winning of political power and ultimately the establishment of a new type of government — a People's Government. We don't see that change arising from parliamentary means alone, however. Rather, we see a government of this type arising out of and reflecting the struggles of the people. Guardian: How do you see the future development of Australian politics? Warren: There is no doubt that at present there is a trend within Australian politics away from the two-party system. This has been noticeable over the last ten years and is becoming more pronounced at each and every election. The people are searching for an alternative to the two increasingly indistinguishable major parties. The capitalist system is in crisis. There is a deepening economic crisis and there is a growing movement of people's forces that is starting to recognise that the common thread running through the many and varied problems facing the people is the nature of the system itself. Capitalism is more and more seen as the major cause of the people's problems. Ten years ago the leaders of the capitalist world could go anywhere and meet anywhere they desired. Today they have to do so behind barbed wire fences and brick walls because of the massive discontent with the policies they put forward. These leaders are openly seen to be looking after the interests of the big corporations and big capital. People are more and more aware that profits are put before the needs of the people. The continued pursuit of economic rationalist policies by the major parties will see this situation continue to develop. This heightened class struggle against the policies of the big corporations will inevitably see the people's movement grow with a greater participation of the working class in what is loosely termed the anti-globalisation movement. I think that basically the future development of politics in Australia will be characterised by the intensification of this very broad community-wide struggle. Then, as now, the Communist Party will do everything it can to build that struggle.