HERALD SUN - Victorian Socialists hope to pinch seat in Victoria’s Upper House election race

Stephen JollyVictorian Socialists hope to pinch seat in Victoria’s Upper House election race

AN alliance of Left-wing groups is forming a political party to run in this year’s Victorian election, hoping to capitalise on voter discontent to capture an Upper House seat.

Article in the Herald Sun

The Victorian Socialists, who will be registered as a party in the coming weeks, are eyeing one of the five Northern Metropolitan region seats.

Firebrand Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly, who will top the party’s ticket, plans to capitalise on his strong personal support and lure Left-wing voters.

“We’re hoping to attract disaffected voters who feel abandoned by Labor and can’t bring themselves to vote for the Greens,’’ Cr Jolly said.

The ticket includes Moreland Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton and Maurice Blackburn lawyer Colleen Bolger, a member of the Marxist-aligned Socialist Alternative.

It will be backed by socialist groups, community bodies, public housing associations and some unions.

The five Northern Metropolitan region seats are currently held by Labor, which has two; the Liberals and the Greens (one each); and Fiona Patten, of the Reason Party (formerly the Sex Party), who won a seat with just 2.85 per cent of the primary vote.

Victorian Socialists’ main policy concerns are transport and housing. They advocate:

CAPPING rents;

BUILDING 50,000 new public homes in five years;

TRAINS every 10 minutes on northern lines;

EXPANDING the no-fare zone; and

REVERSE transport privatisation.

Cr Jolly also said jobs were needed in the outer suburbs.

“We want to take service industries and government departments to the northern suburbs’ industrial wastelands,’’ he said.

The party aims to tap into an anti-establishment mood, evident from the popularity of UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and US Democratic senator Bernie Sanders.

The Left-wing assault also hopes to tap into voter discontent in a similar way that parties on the right, such as One Nation, Liberal Democrats and Australian Conservatives, have made inroads into mainstream politics.

Cr Jolly’s Upper House assault means he won’t tackle the Lower House seat of Richmond where he has run five times since 1999.

In 2014, he picked up 8.5 per cent of first-preference votes and because he preferenced the Greens, their hopes of pinching the seat from long-time Labor member Richard Wynne are weakened.

Cr Jolly conceded some would brand it the Loony Left, but he said it was focused on bread-and-butter issues.

He led the protests over Yarra council’s proposed “bin tax” last year.

He also said last weekend’s blackouts in Melbourne showed the failure of the energy private sector.

“We desperately need mega-batteries, home-generation tax credits, price caps on private providers and a transition to a public/home-based renewable 100 per cent supply,’’ he said.