PATRICK O’CONNOR, SOCIALIST EQUALITY PARTY
What are the top three issues facing Melbourne residents and how would you address them?
1. The drive by state and federal governments to drive down the living standards of working people through austerity spending cuts to welfare programs and basic public services and infrastructure, including health and education, in line with the economic restructuring measures being dictated by the financial markets in the US and Europe.
2. The related promotion by the ruling elite of militarism and war, and attacks on democratic rights.
3. The accelerating environmental crisis, especially climate change.
We seek to address each of these issues through the formation of a workers’ government and the socialist reorganisation of society.
What is your vision to help the homeless, mentally ill and dispossessed?
The Socialist Equality Party calls for vastly greater resources to be poured into publicly provided services to meet the complex needs of the mentally ill and socially vulnerable. We insist that access to a decent and affordable home and to high-quality and freely provided healthcare must be recognised as basic social rights for all, not privileges reserved for those who can afford to pay.
What will you do about Melbourne’s population growth and high-rise development?
The real issue is not “sustainable population” but the unsustainability of the profit system and its incapacity to deal with the complexities of a mass society. Urban planning is now entirely subordinated to dictates of the profit system and to the banks and property speculators. I advance a socialist program to resolve the housing and infrastructure crises, with the accumulated wealth created by the working class directed to meeting the pressing social needs of the population.
Is heritage being protected adequately in the Melbourne electorate? Will you fix what is broken in heritage protection?
I would seek the advice of residents, historians, architects and others involved in heritage work.
If elected, which party would you vote with in state parliament? Would you cross the floor if you believed your chosen party’s position was not in Melbourne’s interests? Conversely, would you vote against the interests of the Melbourne electorate for the greater benefit of Victoria?
If I were in parliament I would not support the efforts of any of the parties of the establishment – Labor, Liberal, and Greens – to form government, and would instead use the opportunity to advance the independent interests of the working class and the building of a new socialist and internationalist party. There is no viable national perspective that can resolve the problems confronting working people in any country, let alone a state- or city-based perspective.
What shape should the East-West road link project take? Should it be built at all?
I oppose privatised infrastructure projects, which utilise public resources to generate corporate profits, and so reject Premier Ted Baillieu’s proposed East-West road link. Public transport is an environmental and social necessity. Billions of dollars need to be poured into the public transport system, which must be brought under public ownership and then made freely accessible to all.
Will you support Moonee Valley Council’s plans for a bike lane on Mt Alexander Road, at the expense of a car lane, even if it results in increased traffic congestion?
Extended bicycle lanes are necessary as part of a reorganised, democratically planned, urban transport system that meets the needs of ordinary people instead of being geared towards various corporate interests. There is no reason why more bike lanes should increase traffic congestion – provided the resources are made available to significantly improve and expand public transport services, so that people are not compelled to drive cars so often. I would seek the advice of local residents and transport experts on the specific question of Mt Alexander Road.
How would you fix traffic congestion at Flemington Showgrounds and racecourse during major events?
Greater public transport services.
If elected would you lobby for the reunification of Carlton (returning Princes Hill/Carlton North to Melbourne City Council)?
I would seek the advice of residents.
What steps if any will you take to restore public confidence and ensure that Melbourne City Council is open and transparent?
The parliamentary system in Australia is in crisis at the federal, state and local level. Amid growing social polarisation, the existing political set-up serves the interests of a narrow wealthy elite at the expense of the working class majority. Democratic rights cannot be defended through the decayed facade of parliament or council bodies – only through the struggle for a workers’ government can genuine democracy be established in every aspect of economic, political and social life.