Merri-bek Council votes to do more for Palestine

March 21, 2024
Palestine supporters outside Merri-bek Council on March 13. Photo: Emma Hartley

Merri-bek Council was one of the first, last November, to call for an end to Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

On March 13, council voted unanimously to support two more Palestine motions, initiated by myself.

The motions included continuing to fly the Palestinian flag until there is a permanent ceasefire and to stop doing business with companies profiting from war and weapons.

I also won support for my motion to the National General Assembly of Local Governments calling on Labor to advance peace in Gaza by ending weapons support to Israel, calling for permanent ceasefire and for the siege on Gaza to be fully lifted.

I successfully moved for council to provide immediate financial support, of up to $10,000, to organisations helping recent arrivals from Palestine to Merri-bek.

I also pushed for councillors to sign a statement by current and former elected representatives for an immediate, permanent ceasefire and a just and lasting peace.

Three councillors are on leave and three others who opposed the motions absented themselves from the debate.

Labor councillors Lambros Tapinos and Annalivia Carli-Hannan and independent councillor Helen Davidson hoped to deny quorum to debate and vote on my motions.

However, their cynical tactic backfired.

Merri-bek council’s support for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza is the result of a large community push here and across other local government areas to do everything possible to stop Israel’s genocide — the worst since the Nazi Holocaust.

A pro-Palestine gathering was organised before council met that evening, with many drivers also tooting their horns in support.

A participant who timed the frequency of these found that over half an hour, the longest time between toots was 39 seconds; the average was 10; and often it was 3.

For every person standing in front of council, there were dozens and dozens of supporters on Bell Street.

[Sue Bolton is a Socialist Alliance councillor on Merri-bek Council.]

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