Wikinews interviews the Socialist Alliance about the upcoming Queensland State election

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Monday, March 2, 2009

With a Queensland state election coming up in Australia, many minor parties will be looking to hold balance of power and making the major parties listen to what they have to say. The Socialist Alliance (SA) is one of these parties.

SA is a left-wing political party. There stated describes itself as an anti-capitalist party which believes in "a democratic society that is run by and for working people, not the tiny, greedy, destructive elite that now rules."

It should be noted that SA is not registered for Queensland elections due to what they describe as "restrictive rules for registration." Their candidates will run as independents. They are, however, registered for federal elections and elections in other states.

Queensland's unicameral parliament is up for election on March 21. The election campaign will run for a total of 26 days following the issue of the writs by Governor Penelope Wensley.

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with the SA. Answering on behalf of the party was Queensland State Gonvenor Paul Benedek.


((Wikinews)) Why do you want to get into parliament?

Paul Benedek: For Socialist Alliance, parliament is only one aspect of social change. Our primary focus is building up community action and people's power, because we believe that such grassroots action is essential to social change, as history has shown from struggles for the vote for women to civil liberties to the campaign against the [sic] Vietnam War.

However, having a socialist in parliament would be a huge asset for such struggles. Having someone who speaks uncompromisingly for the oppressed and voiceless - working people, the unemployed, students, Indigenous people - in the "parliamentary pit" would help expose the lack of democracy in a parliamentary system that favours those with wealth and resources. It would boost the resources and media profile for socialist solutions.

((Wikinews)) What are the three main policies you will take into this election?

Paul Benedek: 1. Free public transport & mass investment in renewables to address the climate emergency. Unbelievably, the current government is looking to triple coal production in the biggest coal exporting state, in the biggest coal exporting country in the world! Meanwhile, the only solution we have to atrocious traffic and car dependence is....more roads, more tunnels, more bridges! Socialist Alliance says we need free public transport to get cars off the road, and provide quality alternatives to all people, regardless of wealth. In the Belgian city of Hasselt, free public transport saw an 800% increase in usage in one year! Socialist Alliance says move on renewable energy rather than more coal mines, and provide retraining for fossil fuel workers in green jobs.

2. Bailout people and communities, not corporations. With the worst economic crisis since the 1930s Great Depression, working people are being hit hard - and its going to get worse. The major parties are united in wanting to bail out business - but it's their 'profits before all else' focus that has caused this disaster. Socialist Alliance says we need to defend communities not profits, supporting workers, investing in public housing, health and education. With Sam Watson running in South Brisbane, we will also have an emphasis on justice for Aboriginal people.

3. Make government genuinely accountable to the people. We are seeing a LNP "opposition" with big business's hands all over it, and the Labor Government which charges thousands of dollars to sit down with Ministers for lunch. Socialist Alliance call for an end to this undemocratic farce. We need community referenda, not fake “consultation”. An end to cronyism and private factional deals and manipulation. Fixed of government to prevent manipulation for self-interested gain.

((Wikinews)) How will you address these policies?

Paul Benedek: These are policies that Socialist Alliance fights for on a daily basis, and helps to build movements for. We publish the progressive newspaper Green Left Weekly ( which provides an excellent alternative to the corporate media. On the environment front, we are involved in the climate justice movement in Brisbane and around the country.

((Wikinews)) Who will lead your party if you gain more than one or two seats in parliament?

Paul Benedek: Socialist Alliance is a truly democratic organisation, with a collective leadership. A key spokesperson for our party would be Aboriginal activist Sam Watson (our candidate for South Brisbane).

((Wikinews)) If you can't form government, who would you like to see do so?

Paul Benedek: We want to see the most progressive government possible. We would like to see as many Greens elected as possible. We see both Labor and the LNP as big business parties that are almost like choosing between Coke and Pepsi! However, we generally favour Labor over the LNP, as being a slightly lesser evil.

((Wikinews)) What should Queenslanders keep in mind, when heading to the polls?

Paul Benedek: That choosing between "tweedledee" and "tweedledum" once every few years is not real democracy, and with the planet in peril, facing an economic meltdown, and all manner of social problems, we can't afford to leave sociaety [sic] in the hands of the pro-corporate parties. No matter what the vote is, the struggle will continue in the communities, and while voting can be part of changing the world, its people's power that has always made the most important, progressive changes.

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.