A few hundred people rallied in inner northern Melbourne on Sunday against the closure of the Solar Systems factory. The rally heard speakers from local environment groups, the manufacturing workers union, internet lobby group Get Up and the Greens. A Solar Systems worker who was recently made redundant also addressed the crowd.
The company claims it can not continue to keep the factory open because of the lack of private investment. Basically, the capitalist market system has failed this enterprise. Despite runaway climate change the market system puts profits before all else- including the development of clean energy technology.
The economic crisis has shown the bankruptcy of this market ideology. While capitalism wreaks havoc on the environment and decimates millions of jobs, governments around the world have handed over trillions of dollars to bail out greedy bankers and inept employers. At the same time the profiteers who created the problems continue to receive huge payouts!
In light of this, it was disappointing that all of the speakers at the rally put forward pro-market ‘solutions’ to save the company. Bailing out the company with tax-payer funded hand outs is also not a genuine solution. This type of corporate welfare means ordinary people end up paying for an environmental and economic crisis that they did not create.
It also doesn’t guarantee a future for renewable energy. It simply puts key decision making power in the hands of those whose main motive is profit making, not accountability to workers and local communities.
A real response to climate change is needed immediately. The unfortunate reality is that neither lobbying Labor MPs nor voting for the Greens in at the next Federal election will keep this factory open or guarantee a legitimate response to the climate emergency.
The Socialist Party fully supports the campaign but argues that we will have to look outside of the market framework if we are to save Solar Systems – let alone stop global warming. See below for the text of the leaflet we handed out on the day.
Another rally has been called for 5.30pm Friday October 30 outside Parliament House on Spring Street in the Melbourne CBD. For more information visit: http://savesolarsystems.wordpress.com/
Save Solar Systems – Nationalise now!
The construction of Australia’s first large-scale solar power plant in Mildura has been put on hold. Solar Systems – a private company who were supposed to build the plant – went into voluntary administration in early September putting the future of the project in doubt.
The company claims that it can not continue to operate due to a lack of private investment. As a result the Abbotsford Solar Systems plant has been closed and more than 100 workers have been made redundant. This factory was set to manufacture solar panels for the Mildura project.
Against the backdrop of climate change, there is a desperate need to move away from burning fossil fuels and towards renewable technology like solar. The problem is that private investors want to make profits – not stop global warming.
If there are more profits to be made elsewhere investors will put their money into something else. This shows why the private sector can not be trusted to provide secure employment or address the problems of climate change.
What sort of system do we live under where jobs and clean energy technology can be thrown on the scrap heap even when there’s a social need for them?
One option that has been put forward is to prop up the failing company with tax-payer funded subsidies. This is not a viable solution as it is expensive and leaves important decisions about the future of our planet in the hands of profiteers. If we are serious about protecting both jobs and the environment we need to look at who owns and controls industry.
If Solar Systems can not continue to operate the government must be forced to step in and nationalise the company under democratic workers’ control. This would ensure that the Mildura solar project could go ahead and be a step towards developing a new, democratically planned and publicly-owned, green sector of the economy.
The only way we will force the government to accept this course of action will be on the back of a strong campaign that includes trade unions, environment groups, and local residents. The Socialist Party urges all of our supporters to get involved.
– that the Solar Systems factory be reopened and all workers reinstated
– the nationalisation of the plant under democratic workers’ control
– that the plant becomes a building block for a new publicly owned green sector to provide more jobs and improve the environment
By Socialist Party reporters