Pressure on the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) not to close libraries and cut services is mounting, as 120 people rallied against outside the Geelong West Town Hall on June 24 to show their opposition. The protest was organised by The Australian Services Union (ASU) and Geelong Trades Hall (GTH).
Adele Welsh, representing the ASU and who is a delegate at GTH introduced the first round of speakers: Lisa Darmanin, ASU Secretary; Angela Carr from Save the Geelong West Library and Combined Regional Library Action Group; Sarah Hathway from Socialist Alliance and other community activists.
Hathway, the likely new councillor for Windermere Ward after Kylie Gryzbek’s resignation, spoke out against the budget cuts saying they would have a terrible impact on an already disadvantaged area.
She criticised the Victorian Electoral Commission’s decision not to undertake the count-back for the council position until after the budget had gone to council, saying the ward “would not be fully represented at this critical meeting”.
Hathway also warned against any move to sack CoGG, saying any repeat of 2016, when Labor undemocratically sacked it, would not be tolerated. She reminded the crowd that the administrators also moved to close libraries.
“State-appointed administrators will only disempower the community and will be far less accountable.”
The protest marched along Pakington Street to hear from GTH secretary Tony Anderson and community activists at West Park who warned that cuts to the Community Directorate Program would disproportionately affect women and children, as they included programs supporting people without homes, people surviving family violence and those requiring migrant support services. Nineteen jobs will go in the first round, but activists believe more will follow.
Reports that upper-managerial positions, with bloated salaries, have been quarantined from the cuts made the crowd angry.
Chris Fox from Extinction Rebellion said the council had been unable to adopt progressive environment targets.
Since the cuts were announced in May, Carr said “the strength and power of community activism” has had an impact on CoGG, forcing it to pull back on some decisions and, in some cases, do an about-turn.
[Council will be vote on the budget amendments on June 27, 6pm-9pm. Please show your opposition at Geelong Council Chambers.]