About 15 years ago, an acquaintance of a friend ran for the Maribyrnong Council on a mostly sensible platform around cutting waste and rate payments. I say mostly, because he had a fixation about permanently reopening the public toilet on what was then platform 4 of Footscray Station.
The one time I met this prospective civic leader and he launched into his tirade about this, I did mention that this was not a council issue, it was possibly a state issue, or more likely a metro trains issue, as they manage the station (and you can’t have an open toilet on an unmanned platform, particularly at night, without spending on the salary for at least one station attendant). He ignored this, and continued a rant about how people need that platform 4 toilet reopened immediately.
Sadly, he did not win, and Maribyrnong City council rates remain proportionately much higher than most other council areas in greater Melbourne.
And that toilet remains shut. (I did wonder about his obsession with public toilets.)
It is approaching council election time across greater Melbourne, and the campaigning has started already. Compared to fifteen years ago when contests were rather tame, property developer related interests means that in some areas (like mine), council seats are more fiercely contested than seats in state or federal parliament.
But that distant acquaintance is not the only prospective councillor with an overreach as to where his area of municipal responsibility may lie. My mother has started receiving campaign leaflets in Maribyrnong, including from the endearing Marxists at Socialist Action, whose platform appears to consist solely of two planks – retain and increase JobKeeper, and increase childcare.
How demanding those will translate into civic leadership in the city of Maribyrnong will probably transform Footscray into the sort of annoying woke hub that Brunswick is (I got delayed by a big climate protest in Sydney Road 13 months ago one Saturday).
But I cannot help but like the policies of one candidate for my ward here in the City of Moonee Valley, whose leaflet was placed in my letterbox today.
His public transport policies include:
. extending the Route 57 tram over the bridge and up Military Road til Buckley Street (excellent idea, which has been talked about since I was in high school and ignored by local state politicians almost as long)
. digging a tunnel under Avondale Heights and having several underground rail stations en route to the airport (another excellent idea, which the Federal Government supported, but which was kiboshed by Chairman Dan a couple of years ago in favour of the Sunshine route).
These are excellent policies, although not exactly within the ambit (or budget) of local councils to implement. I have given up hope of course of having a rail tunnel under Avondale Heights, although it still seems like a fantastic idea to me, even though I would be long retired before it could come to fruition, but I do still think that the extension of the Route 57 tram would not be anywhere near as expensive and really should happen (I do love trams).
His nature and biodiversity policies are also welcome. He wants a 50% canopy cover over Avondale Heights by 2050. I love the idea – why else did I plant two gum trees (as well as my many citrus trees) when I moved in? His website talks about encouraging native fauna back into the suburb and limiting development so as to preserve green space and wildlife. The website also has a photo of that monstrous development on the west ridge of the Maribyrnong, overlooking Solomon’s Ford, which is currently being built (I see that eyesore every time I walk to the corner of Canning Street).
I wish that candidate luck. It is almost 15 years since I last saw a live kangaroo near the river, and although I have seen a kookaburra and and owl this year, I cannot take those for granted in the future.