In 2002 the Yarra City Council election saw the election of four Greens Councilors. In 2003 the Council elected the first Green Party mayor in Australia. The municipality covers the inner city northern suburbs of Melbourne, and has an $88 million budget and over 500 staff.
At the time, many local residents had expectations that the Green victory would see an end to the neo-liberal policies of the previous Labor and right-wing independent Council. In reality nothing fundamental has changed. Faced with funding cuts from State and Federal government, Council continued to offload the problem onto locals through big increases in rates, fines and fees for services. The fees for use of the creche at Council-owned leisure centers/swimming pools rose by 150% last month!
While $250,000 was found to build a fence around a golf course mainly used by rich people from the Eastern suburbs, the youth center at the Public Housing high rise flats in Collingwood has to close at weekday nights and all weekend as Council only funds one youth worker.
The Socialist Party team in the November 27th Council elections are benefiting from a backlash against the Council as well as support for their progressive policies. On top of our proposed readjustment of current resources to the benefit of the poor in this extremely diverse area, we also want to get Council to make a stand against the cuts of State and Federal Governments. We want to get Council to lead a serious fight for public transport over cars.
So far SP members and supporters have distributed 10,000 copies of our first leaflet (which can be viewed on our web site) and 4,000 business cards. We are door knocking 100 houses a day. Soon a second leaflet will be released as well as posters. Already, whether we get a decent vote or not, the campaign has got a socialist alternative for local government out to the 19,000 voters in the ward we are standing in ? Langridge (covering Collingwood, Fitzroy, Abbotsford, Clifton Hill and Alphington).
By Stephen Jolly