‘It’s time people took back control’: new political party’s Illawarra focus

One of Australia’s newest political parties has the Illawarra’s blue-collar workforce in its sights as it embarks on a membership campaign, saying it’s “time the people took back control of the democratic process”.

The Australian Workers Party (AWP) has revealed it is targeting the Wollongong and the wider Illawarra areas as one of its key activist regions in 2018.

National secretary of the Australian Workers Party Mark Ptolemy says the Illawarra has been “severely let down” by major parties. Picture: Sylvia Liber

National secretary of the Australian Workers Party Mark Ptolemy says the Illawarra has been “severely let down” by major parties. Picture: Sylvia Liber

AWP national secretary, and co-founder of the party, Mark Ptolemy said the region had been “severely let down” by major political parties over the years.

“For far too long, solid working class areas like the Illawarra have been forgotten by Liberal and Labor on every tier of government,” Mr Ptolemy said.

“The major parties have only given lip service to needs of the people and it’s time the people took back control of the democratic process.”

More than 3000 people have become AWP members since it was registered as a party in late January last year.

Of that number, about 300 were from the area between Sydney’s southern outskirts and Nowra, Mr Ptolemy said.  

“We’re getting a lot of people on board who are what could be termed as traditionalist Labor Party supporters, the supporters of the party when the party was a political arm of the trade union movement,” he said.

“I’m hoping that blue-collar demographic are able to look at us an an alternative.”

Mr Ptolemy, a former trade union official, said the party was looking for “ordinary people who are seeking a better way” and those who “want their voice heard”.

The party plans to form Illawarra branches and run candidates at the next local, state and federal elections.

“We’ve got a couple of good people in Gilmore, we’ve got a couple of good people in Throsby [now known as Whitlam], we’ve got people that are willing to put their hands up for federal seats and also the state seats,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of really good people that are lining up to have a crack at Wollongong City Council and councils in between Kiama and Wollongong.

“We haven’t got a scarcity of people actually willing to step up and be candidates.” 

Mr Ptolemy said the challenge for the AWP, like any minor party, was resources.

“We’re depending upon people to donate to our fledgling party,” he said.

For more information about the AWP, visit: www.australianworkersparty.org

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