The Socialist Party held its annual National Conference in Melbourne on March 30, 31 and April 1. The event played an important role in analysing the current political climate so that the party can prepare for the period ahead.
Vincent Kolo from Socialist Action in Hong Kong spoke at the first session titled, ‘China on the brink of social explosion’. Vincent outlined the political, economic and social crisis gripping that country and explained that Australia would not be immune from the convulsions in the years to come.
Even a mild slowdown in China would have a huge impact on Australia’s mining industry which is currently the most important part of Australia’s economy.
Socialist Party Councillor Stephen Jolly kicked off proceedings on the second day with a session titled, ‘A world in crisis: The beginning of a new era of revolt’. Stephen spoke on a wide range of issues including the situation in the US, the debt crisis centred on Europe and the aftermath of the Middle East and North African revolutions.
Stephen emphasised that 2011 was really a historic turning point. Events like Occupy have really highlighted issues around wealth inequality and forced the ruling class onto the back foot in many ways. People have now begun to change their outlook with many more open to alternative ideas.
Given the harsh austerity measures being implemented in many countries there is no prospect of any sustained economic recovery in the short term. Low growth levels are going to be accompanied by high levels of unemployment. This will mean that more and more people will be forced to struggle against attacks on their living standards.
The next session was led off by Mel Gregson from the Socialist Party’s National Secretariat. Mel spoke in detail on the situation in Australia, particularly outlining the contradictions inherent in the two speed economy.
The mining boom is wreaking havoc on other sections of the economy which has led to a significant increase in the cost of living. Despite Australia not entering a technical recession most people are finding it hard to make ends meet compared to just a few years ago.
While all seems stable in Australia, under the surface the situation is very fragile. The ALP government is very weak and there a number of factors that could lead to Australia’s fortunes changing very quickly.
The final session of the second day was a report from Kirk Leonard also from the Socialist Party’s National Secretariat. Kirk spoke on the work of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated to.
Kirk explained the work our sister organisations are doing in places like Kazakhstan, Ireland, Greece, Nigeria, the US and Chile. Vincent Kolo supplemented the report with information about our activities in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China.
The third day of the conference was by far the most important. Following on from our discussions about political perspectives the conference put plans in place for upcoming work. Socialist Party National Organiser Anthony Main spoke about how the party plans to build in the next months and years.
One of the key areas of work will be around a new campaign the organisation plans to launch called Fightback! The campaign will organise around cost of living issues – especially those that affect young people.
As well as electing a new and expanded National Committee, the party elected a team of members to stand in the Yarra Council election later in the year. A number of documents were discussed, amended and voted upon. The main political resolution will soon be available on sp.org.au.
All in all the Socialist Party National Conference was a great success. Attendees left the event with a new sense of clarity about the processes taking place in society and better prepared to campaign for social change going into 2012 and beyond. Plans are in place to hold another national event called Socialism 2012 later in the year.