The November 26 Victorian election is taking place amid the biggest housing crisis since the 1930s, a worsening cost of living crisis and an overstretched healthcare system.
Moreland Socialist Alliance long-term councilor Sue Bolton, who is running for the Pascoe Vale seat, said left green that solutions exist, but that there is no political will to tackle them.
“There must be a huge injection of funds into public and affordable housing and action must be taken against land speculators and greedy developers,” Bolton said.
A Moreland councilor for more than nine years, Bolton has seen how property developers hoard land to drive up the cost of land and housing. “The whole ‘development’ process is in the hands of private developers. That’s the problem: developers can manipulate the market.
“For most people, their home or unit is where they live. For developers, it’s a commodity they want to profit from by driving up the price.
Bolton said the government could mandate developers to ensure there is at least 20% affordable housing in all new developments. Currently developers are negotiating with councils to build above the height limit in return for a tiny amount of affordable housing.
“Tens of thousands of people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads or losing their homes altogether. This has been declared an emergency and funding allocated to address it,” Bolton said.
Among the many community campaigns she plays an active role in, Bolton played a key role last year in saving Fawkner’s outdoor swimming pool and ensuring Moreland maintained her council-run home care.
Arie Huybregts, a warehouse worker and community radio presenter, is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Broadmeadows. They depend on public transport and know how important a strengthened public system is for commuters and the environment.
“The utterly unreliable Upfield train line service means deadlines – work, job interviews, medical appointments and exams – are impossible to meet,” Huybregts said. left green.
“This, combined with infrequent bus services that aren’t even scheduled on weekends or at night, means northerners are being penalized for not having a car.
Bolton and Huybregts support the Australian Education Union’s campaign for increased funding and resources for state schools in the Broadmeadows area, including Glenroy Secondary College and John Fawkner College.
“In the Broadmeadows area, every public school student is underfunded by $1,971 per person every year,” Huybregts said. “So Glenroy College misses $1 million in funding every year.”
Bolton said the number of students at Coburg Secondary School had grown too large for its facilities, but the government did not promise to meet its needs.
By contrast, Crown Casino got away with “not paying gambling tax for nine years,” Huybregts said, and only recently was forced to pay $61 million.
Regarding the cost of living crisis, Bolton said affordable housing would help. “But there is also an income crisis,” she said, “made worse by the unfair 1.5% cap on public sector wage increases.”
This means that the 180,000 public sector workers “who are breaking their necks” to deliver services – health workers, teachers, firefighters, paramedics, railway workers and many more – are being denied real pay rises, while that inflation increases.
“The wage cap encourages private sector bosses to suppress wages while prices rise and contribute to inflation,” Bolton said.
Angela Carr represents Socialist Alliance in Geelong and Sarah Hathway in Lara.
Carr is a community service worker, shop steward, manager of Geelong Housing Action and a mother of three. She said left green that governments have no excuse not to tackle the housing crisis.
“Australia is a rich country: we box prioritize a contingency plan to build housing for everyone on the social housing waiting list,” Carr said.
“It’s criminal that 10% of homes are left vacant by speculative landlords, while homelessness is at crisis levels.”
Hatway said left green that people were tough on Lara even before the pandemic hit. More than 20% of Norlane live in poverty, according to the Victorian Council of Social Services’ 2018 Poverty Atlas.
“Norlane has been overlooked by all levels of government,” Hathway said. “Facilities taken for granted in other suburbs don’t exist in parts of Lara.”
Hathway, health union organizer, mother and member of the Geelong Renewables Not Gas campaign, sees firsthand the additional pressure on the health sector generated by the pandemic. “From the Triple 000 call center, to the ambulance system, to emergency services, hospital services and paramedic services, all sectors are overstretched.”
Not only does health need urgent additional funding, Hathway said, but the privatization of testing labs and radiology must be reversed because it “has taken valuable resources away from the public sector.”[For more information and to help the Socialist Alliance campaign, call Jacob Andrewartha on 0458 958 385.]