Long-term activist Monica Harte will become the second socialist councillor on Moreland City Council after a March 21 count-back by the Victorian Electoral Commission.
The resignation of property developer and Labor councillor Milad El-Halabi on February 10 left a vacancy in the North-West Ward. El-Halabi has been charged with conspiracy to cheat and defraud over alleged tampering with postal votes in the council election in 2020. Police investigated after people said they had not received the postal vote pack. Eighty-three ballot packs were not counted, according to the February 4 Age, and were handed to police unopened.
Harte told Green Left that she was pleased to have the opportunity to campaign to put residents’ needs front and centre in Moreland.
“Our team of community independents and members of the Socialist Alliance ran a strong campaign to ensure a strong voice for our community, building on Sue Bolton’s work as an effective community advocate. There are a number of critical community concerns, including over-development and planning, and housing affordability, on which I am keen to work with Sue and residents.”
Harte said residents across Moreland, including the North West which covers Pascoe Vale, Glenroy and Hadfield, are struggling with a lack of affordable housing. “This is pushing more individuals and families to outer areas, adding the challenges of transport, resources and isolation.”
Harte said her election “without preference horse-trading” creates “a strong position” for the two campaigners.
Conservative independents had attempted to oust Bolton with a tight preference swap, but she was re-elected for a third term in 2020. Labor recorded a small negative swing.
Bolton welcomed Harte’s election: “Monica has a lot to give, being a committed community campaigner. She helped save the Upfield Line from being closed in the early 1990s. She’s been involved in many union campaigns and is now a housing worker at a time the lack of affordable housing has reached crisis levels not experienced since the 1930s."
“Monica is the right sort of person to be on council,” Bolton told Green Left. “She knows that community action protects our rights and needs and will fight to stop council services from being privatised.”