Moreland councilors voted on October 26 to elect Sam Ratnam as the first Green mayor. Left Labor councilor Lita Gillies was voted in as her deputy. I voted for the Green mayor to break the stranglehold of the two big-business parties, Liberal and Labor. The Labor Party has controlled the Moreland council for many years.
However I was surprised that, immediately after electing the mayor, the Greens councillors voted for Liberal Party councillor Rob Thompson to be her deputy.
Fortunately, Thompson lost to Gillies as I and the ALP councillors voted against Thompson. I supported Gillies because she has provided critical support for progressive positions on council.
By voting for the Liberal councillor, the Greens gave the impression that they had done a deal to support a Liberal deputy mayor in return for the Liberal councillor voting for a Greens mayor. In 2014, Thompson voted for an ALP mayor.
By voting this way the Greens councillors put power before politics.
At council meetings, it is often just Gillies and myself, or Gillies, the Greens and myself who support progressive motions. Thompson usually votes conservatively.
Gillies seconded the motions that I moved for council to support the community campaign against the East-West Link. If she had not done this, they might have lapsed. Now, most councillors recognise the importance of that campaign to defeat that tollway.
My decision to vote for Ratnam for mayor, ahead of Gillies, was because of the conservative role that Labor Party plays in politics and the monopolisation of power of the major parties. Gillies, as mayor, would have been under huge pressure from the ALP machine to toe the line.
While Gillies has tended to support progressive motions, she did vote with other ALP councillors to cut the climate budget in 2014.
It is not good enough for the Greens to win power at any cost. If they are prepared to do this, what else are they up for? Their vote for the Liberal councillor shows the Greens are prepared to put their own narrow interest first — like Labor, Liberal and the Nationals always do.
[This article was amended to remove the reference in the original article to the Greens having done a deal with Liberal Party councillor Rob Thompson to support him for deputy mayor. This reference was removed because Mayor Samantha Ratnam categorically rejects that such a deal was done.]
[Sue Bolton is the Socialist Allliance Moreland councillor. Read her blog at suesmorelandreport.org.]