Saturday, October 25, 2008

Labor muscle ready to take on the Greens

BATTLE lines in the Melbourne City Council election are being drawn to shut out the Greens and replace Lord Mayor John So with a new, compliant leader, commentators say.

Labor candidates spread across several tickets have combined with councillors from Cr So's team and his chief of staff, in what some predict will become a bloc designed to keep crucial preferences locked among the incumbents.

Concern about the Greens is warranted: in 2004 they came second to Cr So, who is not running this time.

Cr So's five-member team is renowned for voting as a bloc at council and committee meetings, and has been accused by rivals of being too subservient to the State Government.

Nominations for all 79 Victorian councils close on Tuesday.

Cr So's departure blows the mayoral and council contests wide open.

Independent mayoral candidate Gary Morgan says there are three groups in the field, his team included. There is a strong chance he will give his preferences to the Greens in an effort to get around what he says is a Labor bloc. "I think Labor will spend a lot of money," he said. "I think they're desperate."

ALP insiders admit the Government does not want a Green lord mayor.

Political commentator Nick Economou said a Greens victory would add to the "sense of momentum the party has in the inner city".

"If a Green mayor were to be elected that would be quite an extraordinary achievement and it would probably cause some nervousness in the ALP, because it would be certain indication of decline in support," Dr Economou said.

Monash University's David Dunstan said the election held danger for the Government.

"An articulate and progressive lord mayoral opponent of Brumby's ALP right centrism, prepared to endorse New Age urban and inner-city quality of life ideas, such as Copenhagen bike paths and a voice at the table on the transport and infrastructure debates, could cause him discomfort," he said.

He said the Government had had "a dream run" with the effervescent Cr So and would be looking for another non-political, pro-business lord mayor.

Greens mayoral candidate Adam Bandt believes there is a strategy to keep him out.

"I think there's a concerted effort by the John So and John Brumby forces to field a range of candidates that appear to be independent but in fact are all cut from the same cloth," he said. "What better way to avoid scrutiny of your record than to have the old guard split up before the election, pretend they're all different candidates, hide their affiliations and then regroup afterwards?

No one in Cr So's team is running on the same ticket, but some have teamed up with ALP candidates....

Read the rest of the article, which includes comments about some of the other current candidates, at

I, for one, try to not have an overt political bias on this site (apart from opposing the digging up of the park, of course), but keep in mind that currently the City of Melbourne oppose the digging of a tunnel through our park, and that the Labor State Government have brought about that prospect in the first place. If a labor-aligned candidate became Lord Mayor... well... I don't like to think about that. See you tomorrow where we can show them all how passionate we are!

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