Last November’s Victorian State election has changed the political landscape in Yarra. The election of the Liberal/National Coalition means that the local ALP member Richard Wynne is no longer part of the government. At the same time the election of ALP Mayor Jane Garrett to the seat of Brunswick has resulted in a count back and the election of a second Socialist Party Councillor!
These results are very significant. Since he was first elected in 1999 Richard Wynne has been in a position of influence. In 2006, he was appointed Minister for Local Government, Aboriginal Affairs, and Housing. The Housing Ministry in particular allowed him to pull some strings on the big public housing estates which in turn helped stiffen up his electoral support.
Compared to 2006 Wynne’s vote dropped by 7%! This was despite the ALP pumping huge amounts of money into their inner-city campaigns to fight off a challenge from the Greens. In the end it was a preference deal with the Liberal Party that got him over the line. While retaining the seat, Wynne’s power as a Minister has disappeared overnight.
Residents still face uncertain economic times and it is likely that the Liberal/National Coalition will attempt to implement cuts in their first term. In reality they will put the interests of big business first just as the ALP did under Bracks and Brumby. Ordinary people really need a political voice that is independent from major parties. With this being the case we see the election of a second Socialist Party Councillor as a positive step in this direction.
When Jane Garrett won the seat of Brunswick she had to resign her position on Yarra Council. A count back of her preferences was conducted and Anthony Main from the Socialist Party was elected to represent residents in the Nicholls Ward which covers North Carlton, North Fitzroy and parts of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Clifton Hill.
Unlike the establishment parties, the Socialist Party uses elected positions to advocate for ordinary people and mobilise them to effect change. It has been this approach that has helped win a number of important reforms over the past 6 years. With two Councillors we will now be able to be more effective in the Council Chamber but much more importantly, we will be able to provide responsive, active and effective representation to many more Yarra residents.
Anthony has said “I want to use this position to advocate for ordinary people in Yarra and to assist building local campaigns. Real change doesn’t happen within the walls of Richmond Town Hall but when people take matters into their own hands by organising and mobilising to improve their communities.”
In 2011 the Socialist Party in Yarra will continue to fight against inappropriate development, for more childcare places, for the rights of young workers and against the massive rate increases being pushed by the ALP, Greens and right-wing Independents. By doing this we hope to prepare the ground for the creation of a new leftwing party that can challenge the major parties and outline an alternative to profit driven capitalist system.
By Stephen Jolly