BY EDWARD JOHNSTONE
MELBOURNE — The Socialist Alliance received 1608 votes in the six wards it contested in Moreland and Darebin council elections held in March.
In the city of Moreland, candidate for Merri ward Judy McVey received 374 votes, 5.5% of the total vote. In Hoffman ward, Jonathon Sherlock received 340 votes — 5.4% — at a vote held at polling stations on March 16.
The Socialist Alliance stood four candidates in the postal ballot in the city of Darebin. Patrick McLiesh in Rucker ward received 297 votes — 3.8% of the vote, Natalie Zirngast in James ward received 127 votes — 1.8%, Graham Matthews in Barunah received 195 votes — 2.5%, while Fouli Christmann in Cazaly ward received 275 votes for 3.3% of the votes cast.
In both cities, the Socialist Alliance ran a campaign strongly focused around rights for refugees. The alliance called on the councils to make the local communities havens for refugees, arguing that council should make unused buildings available to house refugees as an alternative to mandatory detention. Socialist Alliance candidates also opposed to the proposed extension of the F2 freeway, which would seriously degrade the Merri creek reserve.
The alliance also campaigned for the renationalisation of public transport and improved services. At a demonstration outside Premier Steve Bracks' parliamentary office earlier in March, the alliance demanded that his government spend its $1.2 billion surplus in improving basic government services.
The vote for Socialist Alliance candidates represents a consolidation of results achieved in the 2001 federal election. In that poll, the Socialist Alliance received under 2% of the vote in the seats of Wills and Batman, which cover the council areas of Moreland and Darebin respectively.
In other results in council elections held during March, the Australian Greens won four positions on the City of Yarra council. As the largest political grouping, they will be able to implement policy if they get the support of an independent councillor. In Moreland, the Greens won the ward of Lygon, and were placed second in the other four wards they contested. In Darebin the Greens received votes in excess of 8%.
From Green Left Weekly, March 27, 2002.
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