Seasoned union and community campaigners announce ticket for Moreland Council

From left to right: Jacob Andrewartha, Pauline Galvin, Sue Bolton, Monica Harte and Meghan Street. Photo: Chloe DS

Long-term Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton will contest the October council election with a team of community independents and Socialist Alliance members. The candidates were announced at a campaign volunteers’ launch on May 30.

“Community need, not developer greed” is the campaign theme. It’s about listening, supporting and empowering the voices of the community, Bolton told Green Left.

It also encapsulates the ticket’s progressive politics of the ticket, Bolton continued. “Its focus is on making services accessible to all, which means opposing the user pays and outsourcing approach. “The neoliberal path of privatisation and outsourcing is a dead-end.”

Pauline Galvin and Jacob Andrewartha will stand in the South ward, which covers Brunswick. Galvin is a community independent and helped Bolton found the Moreland Campaign against the East West Tunnel. She is also part of Climate Action Moreland and was one of the coordinators of the campaign to save Gandolfo Gardens.

Andrewartha, a childcare worker, is a founding member of Climate Justice Alliance and Extinction Rebellion Moreland. He also campaigned against the sell-off of public housing in 2018.

Veteran union and community independent Monica Harte will contest the North-West ward which includes Glenroy, Hadfield and Pascoe Vale. Harte is a crisis worker and a union delegate. She is a former president of the old Tramways Union (now part of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union) and was part of the successful campaign which stopped the Upfield Line from being closed.

Bolton is standing for re-election to the North East ward. She was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, with an increased majority. She has successfully opposed the outsourcing of the council’s waste services, and saved the open space along the Merri Creek in Fawkner from being sold off to developers.

Bolton has been involved in many local community campaigns, including opposing the sell-off of public housing and the development on a toxic site in Fawkner, an area that is still contaminated with dioxin from Agent Orange chemicals. More recently, she was involved with the campaign to stop more than 100 trees being destroyed in the Gandolfo Gardens.

Bolton’s running mate is Socialist Alliance member Meghan Street. Street is involved in the Upfield Transport Alliance which is pushing for the single track at the end of the Upfield Line to be duplicated. She is also a founding member of Climate Justice Alliance.

Street has first-hand experience of the problems renters face in gentrifying suburban areas such as Moreland. “I will continue to fight to save our precious green spaces and other publicly-owned resources,” she said at the campaign launch. “Suburbs such Fawkner and Glenroy, where public transport, child care and education and green spaces are overlooked or under-funded, really do need attention.”

Vision

A strong start was made at the launch meeting, where the candidates presented their vision to tackle inequality, the climate crisis and racism in Moreland, among other things. The campaign is already gathering good support on social media and is ready to steam roll into the next phase.

Moreland has a reputation as a progressive council, a result of generations of activism going back to the anti-conscription and anti-war campaigns during World War I, where many activists were jailed in Pentridge Prison for their efforts.

“Our campaign wants to build on the radical working class tradition of the area,” Bolton said.

“I see my role as a councillor as helping residents organise in defence of their rights. This is critically important. Councils and governments tend not to listen unless a community is self-organised. Community need comes above all else.”

Bolton added: “We especially need to ensure that the council doesn’t take a backward step on climate action.”

Pauline Galvin told the launch that councils need strong community voices: “A strong voice in council can ensure that community safety and the safety of the environment are central. The actions we take today have consequences for generations to come. We especially need elected officials to take that stand.

Galvin is concerned that despite climate change, there is still too much carbon being put into the atmosphere. “When we dig up fossil fuel, that carbon is put into the atmosphere. Limestone is burnt to make cement and more carbon from the calcium carbonate goes into the atmosphere. This has repercussions: it has disturbed the chemical balance of our globe and the ecosystems that support us”, she said.

Synthetic chemicals, made particularly over the last 50 years, are also a problem, Galvin continued. “Little thought has been put into what happens to them after their usually brief use. These chemicals have consequences, and I include asbestos, Agent Orange, PFAS [per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances] and volatile chemicals of the type that caught fire recently and covered the north of Moreland and the Inner West in toxic smoke.”

Andrewartha said improving services at local government level was critical. “Local council should provide essential services, such as respite care for parents with children with disabilities — a campaign that Sue Bolton proudly played a role in winning back. It should also provide quality, affordable childcare, and not go along with the outsourcing and privatisation agenda.”

Union, community connection

Harte said her focus is “always on the wider context of the connection of unionists to community”.

“For Moreland, there are important issues, like traffic and its local impact and there are local goals such as climate change. But, we need to join the dots with public transport infrastructure, especially the duplication and extension of the Upfield line. Post COVID-19, we will need to scrutinise how the economic recovery impacts on all layers of the community. This is where local government can play a role.”

Harte was public transport worker and union delegate for many years. She was a former president in the tramways union in late 1980s-90s when the state government launched a major attack by public transport workers and services. A strong community and union campaign saved the Upfield Line.

“Local government is the intersection of the smaller, but no less important, and bigger pictures. It is about people. It is about community.”

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