The Guardian 21 September, 2005
Delegatesí high expectations
of the CPA 10th Congress
Over 60 delegates are due to converge on Sydney for the 10th Congress of the Communist Party of Australia from September 31 to October 3. For some it will be their first Congress and, for a few, their tenth. They come from diverse backgrounds and are all activists committed to making Australia a better place. The Guardian spoke to a few of them about their expectations of Congress.
From Guatemala to Perth WA
Vinnie Molina, originally from Guatemala, is a member of the outgoing Central Committee and a full-time organiser for the CFMEU in Western Australia."The experience I brought back from Guatemala is quite different from that of Australia. I think we, in Australia are so lucky, but still behind some 15 years in regard to the development of the social forces.
"As an official with the CFMEU construction division, I know all too well that the proposed changes in Industrial Relations are going to severely hurt construction workers and the people in general. The ultimate aim of such legislation is to destroy the most militant of the trade union movement in this country."
Vinnie sees the 10th Congress of the party is one that has historical implications for all Party members as well as the Party as a whole. "We have to build the Communist Party among the working class", he said. "I really believe that every member has a great responsibility in building the Party; the slogan for the Congress says it all: Every member an activist.
"I personally, believe in individual discipline and the collective responsibility of all party members in translating the Congress resolutions into action. Today more than ever we can say that socialism is possible to achieve. We can be confident in fighting for a new world because it is possible and necessary."
Student teacher and activist
"C" is 32 and studying for his teaching qualifications at the University of South Australia. He joined the CPA just over a year ago and is now very active in the work of the Port Adelaide Branch. In fact he has recently taken on responsibility as Secretary of his Branch.
"Iím really excited about the Congress. Itís an opportunity to meet with cadre from around the country. I expect us to come away with the feeling that we are not isolated within our own states, that there are other people in other Branches working consciously towards the same ends."
"This is a particularly important Congress because of the new political conditions weíve got in the country; with the renewed push from the right, with the control of the Senate by the Coalition and the inability of the Labor Party to function as any type of decent opposition. Even though the Labor Party has not been a very good opposition for a long time they are now really showing their colours lately."
"C" also believes that the Congress should focus on the building alliances and forming united fronts with other progressive organisations. "This could well be based around resistance to the industrial relations changes but will obviously take in other issues as well. Iím interested to hear peopleís ideas and about their experiences", he said.
Greece to Australia ó the struggle goes on
Xanthoula Sgouras-Mavrantonis was born in Greece. From a very young age she was imbued with left-wing ideology. Her father (John Sgouras) was a communist and a militant fighter for the rights of the working class till the end of his life. "I was brought up in a home where everything was progressive, the music, books, conversations, participating in rallies, etc.", Xanthoula told The Guardian.
"Life in Greece after the establishment of the military junta was impossible for left-wing people and especially communists. After a year of severe underground conditions my family was forced to migrate to Australia.
Xanthoula first joined the SPA (now renamed the CPA) in 1974. In 1984, different circumstances found her back in Greece. "The first thing that I did was to join straight away the ranks of the heroic Communist Party of Greece."
On returning to Australia, Xanthoula joined her old and new comrades in the Communist Party of Australia. She is currently treasurer of the Beloyiannis Branch and teaches in the Greek afternoon schools.
Xanthoula believes that a Congress is the most important event in every partyís life and even more so for our Party.
"I strongly feel that one of the problems that the Congress should examine seriously is that of the age and social composition of its membership and cadre force. It is obvious that our Party needs new blood for its present and future needs, i.e. recruitment from the working class, young men and women", she said
"I regard the forthcoming 10th CPA Congress as a vital one because it will be called upon to clarify some important ideological issues and to pave the way for the building of the party and the recruitment of new forces."
She is also interested in discussing some issues concerning migrant communities, multi≠culturalism and some organisational matters for the more efficient function of the party branches and the better ideological training of the membership.
Waterside worker expects vigorous debate
Paul McAleer is 27 and a member of the Partyís Maritime Branch. He has been a member of the CPA for four years and so has not been to a Party Congress. He, too, is concerned about the current political climate and the mounting assault on workers rights and suspects this Congress will be one of the most significant in the CPAís history.
"At this Congress we will be forging the Partyís policies and direction for the next four years and Iím excited at being part of that process", he told The Guardian.
"The outcome of this process should be that we have built a stronger Party. That we can put ourselves forward to show the people who have been disenfranchised in Australia that they have somewhere to turn, that we are fighting by their side for their rights."
Paul is looking forward to the Congress to see "real democracy in action".
"Everyone has an opportunity to speak, everyone has an opportunity to put forward proposals, and everyone gets a vote".
He is expecting vigorous debate of the sort he witnessed at the recent Sydney District Conference. "The Congress is also an opportunity to meet and socialise with Party members from other cities and states, to build bonds that will help us to work together in the future."
Building on solid foundations
Jirri is a 22-year-old student and has been a member of the CPA for six years. Jirri and his partner Nellie live in an isolated area of northern Tasmania and at present have their hands full with their 5-month-old baby boy. In between studies, being a father and building a home, Jirri finds time to promote The Guardian at the University of Tasmania.
Jirri thinks this Congress is an important one because it is considering an updated program and, more importantly, is being held at a time when the federal government is emboldened to intensify its attacks on working people, and drag us into the USAís endless war of world domination.
"I am sure that both the Political Resolution and the Program will turn out to be excellent documents because they will represent the collective wisdom of the whole party.
"I look forward to reading them and taking a few copies home to show to the many people I know who have some idea that capitalism is wrong but donít have any coherent idea of the nature of the various problems we are facing. While our party is relatively small, the Congress documents will show that the CPA can put together a practical guide to action, on solid theoretical foundations that other parties can only dream of. I think it is quite a privilege to be involved."
"I look forward to discussion of the theoretical questions that have been raised in relation to different methods of building socialism. While the basic principles of an Australian socialism would of course be the same as those of the USSR, the methods of implementation must reflect Australian conditions in the 21st century, not those of the Russia way back in 1917", he said.
Jirri believes it is important that Congress addresses the question of our environment, and particularly global warming.