Moreland council

I don’t know if an opinion poll has ever been done, but a sizeable portion of Australians, perhaps a majority, recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had their land invaded by the British and experienced a systematic genocide.

The fact that this is widely recognised is reflected in the huge protests in response to threats to close remote Aboriginal communities and the response to Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance’s call-out for protests. Even back in 1988, there were 100,000 people protesting the so-called Bicentenary in Sydney.

Consistent work by residents of Melbourne's northern suburb of Fawkner has resulted in a unanimous decision by Moreland Council to reject a development application on a site heavily contaminated with dioxin.

Dioxin is a byproduct of Agent Orange and is one of the world’s deadliest chemicals.

Moreland Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, who has been supporting residents in their campaign, told Green Left Weekly that without the community campaign such a decision would not have been possible.

"The result was a real example of people power,” she said.

About a dozen neo-Nazis stormed the Moreland Council meeting on September 27 following the council's decision at their last meeting not to celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

Councillor Sue Bolton, a member of Socialist Alliance, told Green Left Weekly she "didn't feel threatened" by the protesters, who "looked like buffoons", but that their actions indicate how provocative and confident they have become.

Australian anti-racist athlete Peter Norman, who was born in Coburg and later became a trainer and player for West Brunswick Football Club, is to be recognised by the Moreland Council.

Norman remains Australia’s fastest sprinter — his Australian 200-metre record from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics still stands.

However, Norman was not just an extraordinary athlete. He also took a stand against racism and for human rights. He was the third man in the iconic photo of the medal ceremony for the 200-metre race.

Socialist councillor Sue Bolton convinced Moreland Council on July 13 to reinstate the after-hours Aged and Disability Home Support Services for existing clients as well as new ones.

Bolton said she was enormously grateful to the parents of children with disabilities who spoke up on behalf of all the parents who were unable to come to the meeting or who didn’t think it was possible to fight the cut.

“Those parents put a human face on the implications of a very bureaucratic cut: their stories had an impact on the other councillors”, Bolton told Green Left Weekly.

The “Say NO to Racism in Moreland” rally on May 28 was originally conceived early this year and organising for it started back in February.

We wanted to offer residents and communities an opportunity to take a public stand on the racist policies of the major parties: their Islamophobia, xenophobia and fear mongering. We also wanted to stand in solidarity with First Nations peoples, who are on the receiving end of institutionalised racism.

The organisers of a rally against racism are adamant that the community rally — months in the planning — will go ahead peacefully on May 28 outside the library in Moreland.

Councillor Sue Bolton told Green Left Weekly that the organisers are committed to a peaceful and safe rally.

“Our rally will be culturally diverse and children will be present so we want a safe space. We aim to do this by organising marshals who are committed to a peaceful rally.

The sale of the former Ballerrt Mooroop Indigenous College site in Glenroy, Victoria has been put on hold indefinitely following a traditional owner settlement claim.

Those campaigning to keep it in the public's hands are celebrating the decision, which makes the dream of turning it into a community hub a step closer.

A spokesperson for Victorian education minister James Merlino, confirmed the sale was off, given the land now formed part of a traditional owner settlement claim by the Wurundjeri people.

Moreland councilors voted on October 26 to elect Sam Ratnam as the first Green mayor. Left Labor councilor Lita Gillies was voted in as her deputy. I voted for the Green mayor to break the stranglehold of the two big-business parties, Liberal and Labor. The Labor Party has controlled the Moreland council for many years.

However I was surprised that, immediately after electing the mayor, the Greens councillors voted for Liberal Party councillor Rob Thompson to be her deputy.

Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Dave Holmes about her work as an elected socialist local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne.

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with Bolton. You can find the whole interview at links.org.au.

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