Inflation rate fires up Socialists
The cost of living was on everyone’s lips down at The District Docklands on Saturday April 30 in the lead-up to the Federal election.
Victorian Socialists candidate Colleen Bolger was there handing out how-to-vote cards.
“Inflation is rising more quickly than it has done,” Ms Bolger said. “It’s nudged up to five per cent.”
The shock increase in inflation, the biggest for 20 years, will affect many students and workers living nearby in high-rise towers.
But the CBD lawyer, who is standing for the Melbourne electorate, says that it has been difficult to talk directly with voters in Docklands,
Ms Bolger is the first candidate retail workers have seen campaigning at the shopping centre.
Retail workers told Docklands News that the major parties don’t campaign here as many of the local residents don’t have Australian citizenship and aren’t eligible to vote.
Ms Bolger said that the Socialists have worked with residents’ groups in the CBD, but she wasn’t aware of any residents’ associations in Docklands.
Some candidates have run strong social media campaigns in Docklands in the past but the Socialists “put a premium on our connections with people,” she said.
“The Socialist Party has less recognition so it’s important for us to speak with people. We do a lot of door knocking in Carlton, Richmond, Fitzroy, North Fitzroy and Collingwood.”
We’re seeing more and more apartments up between elections. We have less ability to knock on people’s doors.
“[I spoke to] only one person who I approached out of 20 or 30 lived here. That means it’s very difficult to reach local people.”
“I think that if the major parties weren’t so disconnected from the cost of living issues, people would engage more.”
Ms Bolger said the party’s most popular policy was to reduce the salaries of parliamentarians to that of an average skilled worker such as a teacher.
The party is also campaigning for the minimum hourly rate for retail and hospitality workers to be raised to $30 an hour and for rent caps.
“A lot of people rent,” she said. “Rents should be capped with people’s income.”
“For those that own apartments they will be subject to higher interest rates that are coming so the issues that face people are essentially about housing affordability and wages not keeping up with inflation.”
Ms Bolger works as a lawyer for a firm in La Trobe St and as a workplace rep for the Australian Services Union Private.
During the lockdown she campaigned for pandemic leave for infected employees and extra time off for mothers when childcare shut.
Her day job involves litigation on behalf of those suffering from asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma.
Colleen is not related to Irene Bolger, the feisty campaigner for the Nurses’ Federation, but she approves of her methods.
“It’s been nearly one hundred years since there was a socialist member in parliament,” she said.
“I’m standing in Melbourne because it’s a go-ahead electorate. People are young and the two biggest issues are the cost of living and climate change.”
She has some choice words to say about past ALP governments and their role in whittling away at workers’ rights to strike and takes a swipe at the Greens for now being part of the establishment.
She says it’s a pity that the only controversial members of Parliament are those on the right such as Clive Palmer or Pauline Hanson.
“What about the left wing? We need to bring back the idea of people making a fuss. We don’t need to play by the rules.”
The Victorian Socialists are standing 11 candidates for the Federal election which will be held on May 21 •
Caption: Colleen Bolger down at The District Docklands.