Australia: Campaigning, socialist representative shakes up Yarra Council, Melbourne

‘Councillor’s Diary’ website launched

On 27 November 2004, Yarra Council residents in Melbourne voted in the first independent socialist councillor in over 60 years – Socialist Party member Stephen Jolly.

Since his election, Steve has shaken up the council by campaigning for working people and youth. Steve is currently fighting against low pay and labour casualisation in Yarra, and against big business development in Collingwood, which is part of the Yarra Council constituency. Steve is also campaigning for childcare facilities. There are over 600 families on the waiting list for a child care place in Yarra. Steve is helping local people organise to get more Council resources for child care so the waiting lists are reduced.

This campaigning leads to Steve regularly getting press attention, in Melbourne papers and also nationally (see a recent article from the ‘Herald Sun’ newspaper, one of Australia’s largest dailies, below). This shows the big effect that just one principled socialist public representative, who is prepared to stand up for working people, can have in local government.

A new Socialist Party website – – was recently launched to give regular reports of Steve’s campaigning work in the council – ‘Councillor’s Diary’ – and to provide Yarra residents with information on the activities, ideas and programme of the Socialist Party in Melbourne.

Campaigning, socialist representative shakes up Yarra Council, Melbourne

‘Inner city revolt’, by Ellen Whinnett, Herald Sun, 25 May 05

A COUNCILLOR wants the State Government to intervene in a planning dispute in Collingwood.

Stephen Jolly says the community will protest at developer Banco’s plans to build a large flat and office complex in Smith St.

Cr Jolly said new plans Banco tendered to Yarra Council last week failed to ease community concerns.

"The first plans were totally outrageous; these plans are only outrageous," he said.

The dispute has been raging for two years.

Banco has appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal against the council’s decision to knock back the original planning permit application.

Banco has lodged amended plans, but Cr Jolly says the proposal for 157 flats, more office space and a supermarket was inappropriate.

"It will spew out extra cars and people into Collingwood without giving anything back to the community — no childcare centre, no library," Cr Jolly said.

He called on Planning Minister Rob Hulls to intervene, saying he could bring both parties to the negotiating table.

"There will be development on this site," Cr Jolly said. "We are not a bunch of crazed anti-development councillors."

"Banco can either go to VCAT and bully this development in over the community’s heads or they can negotiate it.

"If they don’t negotiate, there will be picket lines in Smith St, there will be resistance."

Banco director Mario Lo Giudice said the new plans reflected the company’s consultation with the community and the council last September.

He said it was inappropriate to discuss the issue because it was before the tribunal.

More than 1500 people objected to the original Banco application, saying it was out of step with the area.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hulls, Melissa Arch, said the minister had met councillors, including Cr Jolly, and it was agreed the council would develop an interim structure plan for the area.

She said the structure plan was the basis for any decisions on the site.

Herald and Weekly Times

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May 2005