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'Socialism Isn't Scary': Greens Candidate Says Capitalism Has Failed

A Greens candidate is proud to call himself a socialist, slamming "red-baiting" fears and saying capitalism has "failed" Australian society.

Jim Casey, contesting the inner-west Sydney seat of Grayndler, has confirmed he backs the ideology of socialism, saying the system could be of benefit to Australia.

"Socialism isn't scary, it's common sense," he told 10 daily.

"If you believe that everyone should have access to health care and every child has a right to a quality education you're already half way there."

Casey, a firefighter by day, is taking his second crack at knocking off sitting Labor MP Anthony Albanese. He came up well short in 2016, with 'Albo' holding the electorate by a comfortable 64-36 two-party result.

Casey with Greens leader Richard Di Natale. Photo: AAP

So far in this campaign, Casey has been criticised after a video surfaced of him hitting a piñata with Scott Morrison's face on it -- and his commitment to socialism, which has become something of a dirty word in conservative Australian politics in recent years, is sure to ignite further controversy.

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"I characterise it as a radically democratic society, where the economy is geared around people's needs, not profit. Radical democracy can steer an economy into producing what it needs," Casey explained.

"It’s time to say economic rationalism and capitalism has failed. It’s not providing what we need."

The Greens have been accused of 'socialist' policies for a number of years, with some conservative politicians and commentators pointing toward links between the ideology and trouble in countries such as Venezuela.

Socialism has several different definitions, but the term broadly refers to an organisation of society where the means of production are owned by the community as a whole, or the government. Critics claim this can lead to corruption and skyrocketing costs of basic goods as the government jacks up prices in monopolised industries.

Casey said he disagrees.

Casey is taking on Anthony Albanese in Grayndler. Photo: AAP

"All it means is radical, genuine democracy, and shared wealth. It doesn't mean the government stealing your house," he said.

"It means your power grid being publicly owned, investment toward public transport not handouts to fossil fuel, a universal health care system properly funded so people can expect to be treated well."

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The relationship between the Greens and Labor, both on the left-flank of Australian politics and once tenuous allies, has grown more fractured in recent years. Senior Labor figures have vehemently ruled out any alliance in the event of a hung parliament, and Albanese himself was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as slamming the "groupthink" of Green voters in his electorate.

"There are people in my electorate in the inner west [who] get really angry that I keep getting elected – because the people they speak to, they don’t know anyone who doesn't vote Green," he was reported as saying.

Photo: AAP

Casey admitted some still feared the lingering "boogie men of socialism" -- but added "what I'm finding more and more is people aren't buying it."

He pointed toward polling commissioned by American right-wing think tank The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), which found that 58 percent of young people born between 1980 and 1996 were favourable to socialism. When asked to consider the statement “capitalism has failed and government should exercise more control of the economy”, 59 percent agreed.

"The most dramatic example is that [capitalism] is poisoning the place we live. That's whats changing this debate. It's not degrees of hardship or pain for humans, this is about the future of the planet we live on," Casey said.

"The pressing side is the question about climate change. Scientists say we've got 11 years to change. It’s not about tweaking carbon taxes, or solar panels and windmills. It requires a radical approach to how we live and work, and this capitalist system is clearly not capable of doing that. We’ve been facing this crisis for 20 years."

When asked how a socialist makeover could change Australia, he said he wasn't sure exactly how that would look.

"I have no idea what some kind of post-capitalist Australia would look like, because the people haven't done it yet... It's an open question," Casey said.

"But we wouldn't have a fossil fuel industry massively subsidised by government. There wouldn't be abuse human rights of people arriving by boat. The capacity of organising at work wouldn't be constrained by bosses."

As for the criticisms he may cop from opponents after his public backing of socialism, he said he was prepared.

"I don't think they'd be surprised. They say that about us anyway," Casey laughed.

"We're seeing a move toward these in two major English-speaking nations, with Jeremy Corbyn in England and Bernie Sanders in the U.S. The old red-baiting scare campaigns don't matter, they don't speak to why people are concerned. That's the question I’m trying to ask."

Listen to Hugh Riminton and Peter Van Onselen in The Professor and The Hack discuss all things #Auspol. 

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