An ongoing investigation by the Socialist Equality Party
The DSP and the Wollongong cancer crisis
For the past 10 months an organisation which parades as "environmentalist and anti-capitalist" has maintained a complete silence on the mounting leukaemia and cancer crisis in Wollongong.
The Democratic Socialist Party and its paper Green Left Weekly published not a single article on the deaths of the young leukaemia victims or on the growing evidence of an epidemic of other cancers in the suburbs ringing the BHP steelworks.
Nothing could more vividly demonstrate the class basis of so-called "green" politics. For all their environmental pretensions, the DSP and other "Green" groups remain utterly indifferent toward the impact of industrial pollution on ordinary workers and their families.
The DSP finally broke its silence in an article in the July 23 edition of Green Left Weekly, entitled "Cancer fear in the Illawarra" by Dave Holmes, a long-time DSP leader. Its purpose was two-fold: first, to provide an apology for the whitewash carried out by the Illawarra Public Health Unit; second, to warn the DSP's allies in the trade union apparatus of the growing popular support for the Workers Inquiry, initiated by the Socialist Equality Party.
The Health Unit's leukaemia report has been thoroughly exposed by the Workers Inquiry and condemned as a sham by most of the victims' families. But the DSP publicly defends it.
Holmes echoes the line being advanced by the Health Unit and the Carr government that a lack of "information" prevented the Unit from finding any cause for the leukaemias, lymphomas and other cancers.
His concern is that the Health Unit report "will hardly satisfy" residents and workers.
Holmes goes on to mention the Workers Inquiry. He writes: "The SEP's long record of ultraleft sectarianism provides real grounds for concern. But in the absence of any meaningful activity by the leadership of the trade union movement in the region, the group's [the SEP's] campaign has provided the only real forum for concerned residents and workers."
"Ultraleft sectarianism" is an epithet hurled at the SEP by all the radical protest groups to attack our political independence from what passes as the "left" or the "labour movement".
The SEP's 25-year history, unlike that of the DSP, has been characterised by an unrelenting struggle to defend the independent interests of the working class against the official framework of Labor and trade union politics.
And it is precisely because of this that the SEP has been able to mount the only truly independent inquiry into the Wollongong health crisis.
Holmes' reference to the "absence of meaningful activity by the leadership of the trade union movement" is a pointed warning to South Coast Labor Council secretary Paul Matters, with whom the DSP has enjoyed a long and intimate relationship, that Wollongong workers are beginning to draw the lessons of the decades of betrayals they have suffered at the hands of the unions, and are turning to the genuine socialist alternative advanced by the SEP.