The Socialist Party is gearing up for a major campaign in an attempt to win the seat of Richmond in November’s Victorian state election. Socialist Party Councillor Stephen Jolly has been pre-selected as our candidate. The seat is largely made up of the municipality of Yarra where Stephen has been a Councillor for a decade now.
The party won 20% of the vote in the Yarra Council elections in 2012, including 35% for Stephen in his ward. Since then the Socialist Party has played a leadership role in the successful campaign against the sell-off of the open space surrounding the public housing towers in Fitzroy and Richmond. More recently the party has been integral to the community pickets of the East-West tunnel test drilling sites as well as the broader campaign.
Given the profile of Stephen and the party has increased in recent years we are hopeful that we can win a higher vote than the last state election where Stephen won an impressive 8%.
The Napthine government in Victoria is extremely weak and will likely face a backlash against its policies of cuts and its fixation on building toll roads rather than public transport infrastructure.
In the seat of Richmond, the Liberals will not get a look in and will probably be reduced to their base vote of about 20% or so. However, unlike most of the rest of Australia, there are alternatives to the Labor Party opposition in this area. The Labor Party are seen as the establishment party in Richmond and are in a historic decline in terms of membership and votes.
The ALP say they oppose the East-West toll road tunnel but have said they’ll build it if the contracts are signed before the election. In other words their opposition is fake. They have also been integral to the privatisation of public housing in the area, a process continued by the current Coalition government. No wonder the Liberals have said they will preference the ALP!
Many argue that the Greens support base has peaked in the area as they have shifted away from being a party of the social movements to a party purely focused on elections. Apart from the Greens federal member, Adam Bandt, they have failed to win any base on the public housing estates.
Even amongst middle class people they do not get the enthusiastic response of the past. On Yarra Council they have voted consistently for over inflation hikes to rates, fines and charges. In reality they have not acted much differently to the ALP when in positions of power.
That said if the combined vote of the Greens and Socialist Party is higher than the joint Liberal/ALP vote, the seat will likely be won by either the Greens or Socialist Party. Preferences will play a key role in deciding the outcome.
We will run on our record of activism in the area and use the campaign to put the issue of the disastrous East-West tunnel right up on the political agenda. On top of that we are highlighting three main issues: Free public transport; opposition to rent rises on the estates and for the expansion of low cost housing options in the area; and for major changes to planning, where residents’ needs come before developers’ greed.
We will be starting our campaign in earnest soon. If you can help us by letterboxing, doorknocking, donating, running stalls or helping to organise street meetings contact our campaign office on 96399111 to get involved.
By Socialist Party reporters