Report on June council meeting

[By Sue Bolton] Council voted unanimously on a draft resolution to divest from fossil fuel. Public submissions can be received until July 13 and public submissions will be heard at the August council meeting. If the policy gets voted up in August, Moreland will be the first council in Australia to vote for fossil fuel divestment. I have been working on this project with 350.org, Climate Action Moreland and the Greens councillors. This is another example of where community action has been key. There is no way the other councillors would have supported this if there hadn’t been such a strong community campaign from Climate Action Moreland and 350.org.

Sports ground sponsorship policy

Council voted to allow sports clubs to seek sports ground sponsorship from corporations whereby the sponsors pay a minimum of $10,000 per annum for the right to have their names used by the club to name the ground for fixtures. This is another example of the creeping corporatisation of public facilities. The councillors who voted against this were myself, John Kavanagh, Sam Ratnam and Helen Davidson. Councillors Lenka Thompson and Lita Gillies were away. Labor councillors Lambros Tapinos, Meghan Hopper, Michael Teti and Oscar Yildiz and Liberal councillor Rob Thompson voted in favour of corporate sponsorship.

Disability Action Plan

I managed to get the provision of hearing loops in council buildings included in the Disability Action Plan.

Other climate policies

Council voted on a carbon reduction plan and carbon offset policy. I moved an amendment that the council cease purchasing carbon offsets and reallocate money to other projects in the carbon reduction plan. The concept of carbon neutrality is flawed, being based on carbon offsets and gas co-generation. Large sections of the climate movement are opposed to governments and corporations buying carbon offsets from overseas as being a cheats way of saying they are reducing emissions. The other aspect of the council’s climate policies is its Zero Carbon Evolution Strategy which is meant to encourage businesses and residents to take action on climate change. It talks about the action that state, federal and local government need to take but no mention of phasing out fossil fuels or pushing for a big investment in public transport to reduce the need for cars.

Use of interpreters

I moved a motion to review the adequacy of council’s interpreter services after a meeting about a planning matter where half the residents did not know what was being said, despite having asked for an interpreter. It was shameful that the other councillors voted not to vote on the motion.

Commemoration of anti-conscription referendum

I moved a motion for council to mark the 100th anniversary of the conscription referendum on October 28, 1916. Brunswick and Coburg voted against conscription. Brunswick was the heart of anti-conscription campaign, trade unionist John Curtin and Labor MP Frank Anstey being leaders of the movement here. The majority of soldiers voted against conscription. There were many conscientious objectors jailed in Pentridge.Prison.

Annual procurement policy review

Council reviewed its annual procurement policy which covers environmental and ethical considerations as well as financial responsibility. I moved that an amendment that suppliers pay award wages or above.

Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre

Council voted to voted to establish the Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre Redevelopment Reserve. The Oak Park Pool is getting so old that if it isn’t redeveloped soon, it will have to be closed, leaving the north-western part of Moreland without a pool.