Moreland City Council

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton reported that on February 14 Moreland City Council in Victoria passed her motion calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance. This follows similar decisions by 10 South Australian local councils prompted by campaigners from the Anti-Poverty Network.

The motion called for Newstart to be increased to the Henderson poverty line. Newstart is currently $177 below the poverty line.

Local comedian Pauline Fartson (aka Helchild) summed up the sentiment of the Busk for Free Speech rally on August 6 when she held up a giant permit, which said “Permit to breathe in public places in Moreland”.

Busk for Free Speech was held to highlight some of the anti-democratic and discriminatory local laws being proposed by Moreland City Council as part of its review of local laws. Most of the proposed laws already exist under the current local laws but they are also being included in the draft general local law.

Many councils across Australia have local laws that restrict free speech. Most people are unaware of these laws, until there is an issue that engages them enough to want to exercise their right to free speech and set up a stall, hand out leaflets, get petitions signed and maybe organise a protest rally.

Only when a council officer tells them they have to pack up and leave, do they realise there are undemocratic laws on the books.

Sue Bolton, a long-term socialist activist running for re-election to the Moreland City Council, is being targeted by cowardly racists. But that has helped galvanise a huge amount of community support for her work and principled stands.

Community activists, residents and supporters came together to launch Sue Bolton's campaign for re-election to the City of Moreland Council in Melbourne's northern suburbs on September 10.

Bolton, a member of Socialist Alliance, received some heart-warming endorsements and pledges of support from a number of community members.

Moreland City Council voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuels on October 7. It is the first Australian council to do so.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, who has been working with 350.org and Climate Action Moreland on the campaign, said it was a “tribute to their hard work over almost three years”.

Greens councillors have also supported the campaign from the start.

“Last night, we crossed the final hurdle and decided to divest. Without the grassroots campaign, councillors would never have done this,” Bolton said.

The announcement on September 9 that Australia will accept only 12,000 refugees from Syria and that the government will seek to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity and religion is further proof that the government is lying about leading the world in welcoming refugees.

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