Geelong socialists stress climate action, participation


In their first venture into local government elections, Geelong Socialist Alliance candidates Chris Johnson, Bronwyn Jennings and Lisa Gleeson are letting a fresh breeze into the stuffy room of Victorian municipal politics.

These are among the very few candidates in the November 29 poll who did not nominate "footpaths" as a key issue in their bios in the Geelong News.

Nor could any of them boast, like independent candidate Eddy Kontelj, that "I have set two Guinness World records for marathon static cycling".

The alliance campaign is stressing the need for local councils to show the way in fighting climate change, and the Socialist Alliance has been using the election to promote Geelong's Walk Against Warming.

The alliance has proposed that the huge local Ford plant, where hundreds of workers are to be sacked, be retooled to manufacture sustainable energy systems. In response to those who call this "impractical", Socialist Alliance members point out that during the Second World War Ford Geelong was totally retooled for tank production.

All three candidates also emphasise the Socialist Alliance policy of boosting council democracy. The alliance would introduce two measures: a referendum on any issue if 10% of residents called for it; and a community consultation process that would allow residents to set council planning and budget priorities.

The Socialist Alliance candidates have been wooed for their preferences, decisive in council polls. The peculiarity of local government politics is reflected in alliance's final preference flow decisions.

In Cowie Ward, an ALP "left" who has preferenced the Liberal candidate has been ranked after an ALP right; in Queenscliffe two local independents with a strong record of civic activism have been placed before the Greens candidate.

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