Geelong

Workers gathered at Geelong Trades Hall on November 24 to raise funds for Esso maintenance workers in Longford, Victoria, who have been locked out for 170 days. Barbecues sizzled, drinks flowed and Scabby the Rat was inflated, while workers were entertained by the classic rock band, Rock n Roll Exchange.

Esso’s maintenance contractor UGL, which operates maintenance on the gas rigs in Bass Strait, ended the previous employment agreement and offered workers a new agreement with 40% less pay, worse conditions and extended rosters on the platform with no guaranteed shore breaks.

The results of the 2017 City of Greater Geelong Council elections have been declared, with Greens candidate Sarah Mansfield being elected in Brownbill Ward.

Mansfield won more than 17% of the primary vote. Her election was aided by a strong preference flow from residents who voted for Socialist Alliance (SA) candidates Sue Bull and Sarah Hathway.

The Geelong Women Unionists Network, with the support of Geelong Trades Hall Council (GTHC), is holding a conference, Working Women Get Organised, on November 11 which is open to everyone.

Sarah Hathway is a member of Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance and a social work student at Deakin University. She is running for the Socialist Alliance in the City of Greater Geelong council election with union activist Sue Bull. Sarah is a marriage equality activist and vice president of Geelong Rainbow.

Green Left Weekly’s Mia Sanders asked Sarah about the campaign.

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Socialist Alliance candidates for Brownbill Ward in the Geelong Council election, Sue Bull and Sarah Hathway, who were among the first women candidates to nominate, have released their preferences, with the top seven positions going to progressive female candidates.

Geelong Council was sacked in April last year by the Victorian state government. It was accused of being dysfunctional, having no long-term strategic plan and failing to respond to a highly-publicised report on bullying in the council.

As serious as some of these allegations were – particularly those regarding bullying – neither of us as Geelong residents felt they warranted the undemocratic sacking of a duly-elected council. Surely the people of Geelong should be the ones that make any such decision?

Say Yes Geelong held a local Equality Walk on September 9 to promote the Yes campaign for marriage equality. The crowd of almost 1000 people, who gathered in the centre of Geelong, was very diverse and included a number of families with young children, teachers, religious ministers, unionists, students, local council candidates, local MPs and more.

Speakers included Beth McNiven, a member of Geelong Rainbow Inc, who spoke about feelings of isolation living in a smaller town and the support she has found since moving back to Geelong.

ABC’s Four Corners recent report “Trashed: The dirty truth about your rubbish” highlighted a crisis in Australia’s recycling and waste disposal. The report implicated local councils, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and federal governments in the dodgy but highly profitable illegal dumping industry.

Companies built around the core business of illegal dumping are making millions of dollars in profits while local councils are losing thousands of dollars in waste levies.

The Socialist Alliance is the first party to nominate women candidates for Geelong's upcoming local council elections.

Sue Bull, a health and safety teacher, committed trade unionist and previous candidate for Socialist Alliance has been pre-selected, along with Sarah Hathway, a Deakin University student and 2014 state election candidate.

As the federal government continues to shirk its responsibility to legislate for marriage equality, councils are increasingly being called on to take a lead.

On April 26, former mayor Councillor Rose Hodge moved a motion that the Surf Coast Shire Council fly the Pride flag continuously from May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia) until the federal government passed a law in support of marriage equality.

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