Socialist Alliance candidates for local council elections in Geelong and Queenscliffe in late November are calling for "climate action councils" that will stand up against polluting industries and big developers.
In Greater Geelong, Bronwyn Jennings is contesting the ward of Cowie and Lisa Gleeson is contesting Brownbill. Chris Johnson is standing in the borough of Queenscliffe.
Jennings, a primary school teacher, told Green Left Weekly: "This will be the first time Socialist Alliance has run for either of these councils. In fact, except for some Greens candidates, it has been many years since residents of these areas have had the opportunity to vote for progressive candidates. Many supporters have told us they'd love to see socialists elected and give the pro-development types a run for their money."
Johnson, who has lived in Queenscliffe for more than 30 years, believes it's high time that people who put the community's needs before those of the big developers are given a go. She said, "I'm sick of seeing what the greed of some developers here has done to our environment.
"We live in these beautiful coastal towns - Queenscliffe is a heritage town - and instead of preserving this beauty, many local politicians see them as simply cash cows. Their attitude is, 'Let's just exploit everything for profit and ignore the long-term impacts'."
Gleeson, a student at Deakin University, agrees. "One of the key policies the Socialist Alliance is putting forward is for free and frequent public transport. In most regional cities, public transport is little more than a joke, and Geelong and the Bellarine [Queenscliffe is on the Bellarine Peninsula] are no exception.
"All the old tram and train lines have been either ripped up or turned into weekend tourist attractions. Our buses are infrequent and inefficient, and it's almost impossible to find a seat on the train to Melbourne now. Local councils must campaign actively for the rights of the community when it comes to transport."
All three candidates believe local councils have a role to play in saving the environment, and must take action to help communities shift to wind and solar power, and increase energy efficiency, to reduce reliance on coal-fired power. The Socialist Alliance is also campaigning for community food gardens, the protection of public space, and the return of all public services to public ownership and control.
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