On October 27 all Victorian Councils go to the polls to elect Councillors for a fixed four year term. In Yarra, in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs, voters are in the unique situation of having a strong socialist alternative to vote for.
There are currently two Socialist Party Councillors in Yarra. Stephen Jolly and Anthony Main lead the opposition to the Green/ALP majority both in the Council chamber and in the community.
The Socialist Party vote has steadily increased since we first stood in Yarra over a decade ago. This is because of increasing disillusionment with the ALP. It has transformed from being a party that ordinary people saw as their own, into the biggest right-wing, pro-big developer party in the inner city.
People are also becoming increasingly disappointed with the Greens. They had promised to be a progressive alternative to the ALP, but at a local level they have supported many of Labor’s right-wing policies and even formal a governing alliance with them.
In the upcoming October election The Socialist Party is standing five candidates who are arguing for a new direction for Yarra Council.
Yarra is one of the most progressive areas in Australia. Most the areas best assets, the local schools, parks and community services are a product of the hard work and the struggles of local people. For example the successful year long occupation to save a school site in Richmond that our party played a key role in.
But much of Yarra is coming under siege from big developers. Backed up by the State Government they see the area as nothing but a place to exploit in order to enrich themselves. This is happening under the watch of a Green/ALP majority Council.
Rather than acting as protectors of the area the Greens and ALP have often helped facilitate this process. Without a political alternative to the profit driven system they have failed to stand up to the big developer and State Government juggernaut.
They have repeatedly increased rates and charges by over the rate of inflation and attempted to cut services and sell off community assets. The two Socialist Party Councillors, Stephen Jolly and Anthony Main, have worked with the community to oppose the worst of these attacks. However, being a minority on Council has made it tough to defend our community.
We think that residents deserve a Council that reflects their progressive views and is prepared to stand up to the narrow interests of the Liberal State Government, cashed up developers and an unhelpful Council bureaucracy. We need campaigning Councillors, not seat warmers, at Yarra.
By voting for the Yarra Socialists team residents will be much better placed to defend our community, especially as we move into more uncertain economic times. With a genuinely progressive Council we can begin to use the wealth that exists to not only protect what we have but also to invest in what people really need.
A Socialist Council at Yarra would be a step in the direction of developing a political alternative to the major parties and it would set an example to be followed far and wide.
By Socialist Party reporters