Sue Bolton: ‘We need a council that stands up for people’

May 3, 2024
Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton speaks at a Palestine rally. Photo: @emma.hartley8/Intagram

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton is standing for re-election to Merri-bek City Council, in the Bababi Djinanang ward which covers Fawkner and parts of Coburg North.

If elected in October, Bolton will be embarking on her fourth term as a passionate and dedicated socialist councillor.

Bolton was first elected in 2012 to the then-Moreland City Council.

She told Green Left the shift away from proportional representation to single-member wards this election will favour Labor and the Greens over socialists and progressive independents.

“We need people to vote for an activist council, a council that stands up for working-class people,” Bolton said.

“We don’t want a council that just rams things through, bureaucratically. We need councils which work with residents.

“I’ve never been afraid to take on either the council, government or corporations, when local communities have been wronged.”

For instance, when the council hinted in 2021 that it intended to close the outdoor pool in Fawkner in the redeveloped Fawkner Leisure Centre, Bolton alerted the community.

“I knew that people wanted their outdoor pool to remain and I had a duty to inform them. I wanted residents to have a chance to save their outdoor pool," she said.

“We built a campaign to save the pool and the huge community support meant that all councillors were convinced to keep the outdoor pool.”

Bolton said this same approach has led to “a number of community victories”.

Bolton is on record for her opposition to the privatisation and outsourcing of services.

In her previous term, she successfully staved off the privatisation of the council-run waste collection service. Merri-bek’s waste collection is council-operated north of Bell Street and privately-operated to the south.

When Bolton found out that council's in-home aged-care services were under threat — the result of a change in the federal funding model — she tabled motions to maintain them.

“It is really disappointing that many councils in Metropolitan Melbourne are outsourcing their in-home aged care service.

“While the federal government is changing to a fully privatised service, that doesn’t mean councils should outsource theirs.

“Councils know their local community. There have been some shocking reports of outsourced in-home aged-care services providing inappropriate services because they don’t know the community.

“These outfits also have highly casualised workforces, whereas councils have highly-trained permanent workers who know their clients’ needs.”

Bolton has also helped save parks and open spaces, campaigned for accessible and more frequent public transport and opposed the closure of the Commonwealth Bank in Fawkner and the post office in Glenroy.

She strongly believes that organised communities can win the changes they need for better lives and services.

Bolton has also challenged racism and championed international solidarity. In November, she inspired Merri-Bek Council to take a strong position opposing Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

“Councils must take a stand against genocide, whether it’s happening here or overseas. Peace is everyone’s business,” she said.

“Councils take up many human rights issues. Councils from all over Australia voted unanimously in 2022 at the Australian Local Government Association conference to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are in a unique position to give a voice to those who are ignored and to push other levels of government to take a stand.”

Bolton won support for two pro-Palestine motions, which demanded an end to Israel's genocide, support for Palestinian refugees and to keep the Palestinian flag raised until a permanent ceasefire is declared.

“Showing solidarity with Palestinians' right to self-determination is one aspect, but so too is the need to stand with Palestinian-Australians who are horrified that Labor is being led by the US in its support for Israel.” 

Bolton has been instrumental in helping residents organise and build pro-Palestine protests outside Labor MPs' offices.

She has addressed a city-wide pro-Palestine rally and many of the community-led protests in the northern and western suburbs.

Bolton is standing with a team of Socialist Alliance candidates.

Campaign organiser Chloe DS told GL that it’s “vital that Sue is re-elected for a fourth term”.

“We need Sue to keep fighting for the community. There is also a chance more than one socialist could be elected to Merri-bek Council.”

[Get in touch if you can help our campaign to re-elect Sue Bolton. Sign up to volunteer. Follow Socialist Alliance Victoria on Instagram.]

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