Sue Bolton: ‘An active community is key’

Socialist Alliance member, Sue Bolton, is standing for re-election as a councillor in the City of Moreland. Polling day is October 22.

Bolton has received broad support across the North-East Ward, where she is standing, including from the Muslim community based in Fawkner. “We have more than 80 households with signs in their front yards. Doorknocking and letterboxing activities have been well supported by our campaign volunteers and we have letterboxed the ward twice already, with another round to go,” Bolton told Green Left Weekly. “Last week we had members of the Muslim community out doorknocking in Fawkner with our campaign volunteers.”

Bolton faces an uphill battle. Against her are some members of the local traders association, who want to punish Bolton for organising a rally against racism. Bolton is also up against the ALP and the Greens. Labor is running more candidates than the four positions being contested, with some relying on preferences from other “dummy candidates”. The Greens are running three candidates.

Some of Bolton’s election posters have been defaced — an act she sees as motivated by opposition to the anti racist rally she organised. “The defaced signs are located around the central Coburg shopping area where a handful of traders were very hostile to the rally. They have been saying there is no racism in Coburg so we do not need rallies like this. But racist incidents happen on a regular basis in Moreland.

“I’m glad we organised the rally even though we got a lot of pressure. Everyone had an agenda. The police used our rally to get more police powers. It’s important to say it’s not enough to just support multiculturalism. We need to take a stand against racism. It has to go well beyond liking each other’s cooking and watching cultural performances. It has to be a stand against racism.”

Bolton’s campaign has drawn strong support from the Muslim community in Fawkner as well as many local residents.

Pre-polling is well underway. Bolton has preferenced the Green’s lead candidate Natalie Aboud, then ASU organiser David Nunns, followed by the two remaining Greens candidates, Alex McGilvray and Adam Pulford, then left Labor candidates ahead of Labor Right, independents, Liberals and right-wing independents.

Bolton told Green Left Weekly that her preference order is based on a principled political assessment of the candidates running. "Changes to the Local Government Act are being brought in by the Victorian government, which include a cap on increases in council rates beyond the CPI [Consumer Price Index].

“While I have consistently opposed rate rises above the CPI, this change will be interpreted by conservative councillors and the council bureaucracy as meaning it is open season on outsourcing council services, like Home and Community Care. I want to be sure we have councillors elected in North-East Ward who will oppose any such measures.

“On council the Greens have not always been consistent in their opposition to outsourcing and privatisation. But this Left Labor candidate [David Nunns ] is strong on the issue,” Bolton explained.

Bolton was at the forefront of a campaign this year to reverse cuts to the council’s Home and Community Care services, which provide respite to families with children with disabilities and the elderly. At her election launch on September 10, Bolton explained how they won, and the fight that still lies ahead.

“This campaign was a really good example of an alliance between parents who have been affected, carers and myself. I was playing a support role. The critical thing is that I would not have been able to overturn the decision just by the power of my argument. It was only because there was a community campaign that we won.”

“When you look at the various progressive things that I have done since I have been on council it is only because there have been people in the community who have been active and organised.

“We’ve won a battle but not the war because there is an intention to fully outsource the Home and Community Care service under a deal cooked up by federal and state governments along with local councils in return for the introduction of the NDIS.

“In the electoral arena you need a genuine left force — someone who uses the position to build the struggles and then you need the people’s movement outside to really force the change.

“Even if an individual progressive or a few progressives are elected, you still need that people’s movement to break the power of the bureaucracy and the conservative pollies and to win support from others in the community who don’t know about those issues.

“Our slogan for this campaign is ‘Community Need Not Developers’ Greed’. We have tried to sum up as best we can, in a local way, what we stand for. We don’t stand for the developers’ greed, the corporate greed. We stand for community need.

“We don’t support the sort of politics that’s assisting developers to really destroy our suburbs. We think working class people deserve a voice. Community action is key. I can’t win by myself. And that doesn’t just mean electorally. If I am elected I can’t win campaigns by myself. We have to have a peoples’ movement to win.”

[To find out more or offer to help Sue’s campaign visit Sue Bolton for Moreland. Susan Price is the national co-convenor of Socialist Alliance.]