A last minute guide to the big issues this election

You may have forgotten but this Saturday the Yarra City Council is due for a reshuffle.

It may not seem like a very interesting topic, but your local council election is important if you care about local issues – or just want to avoid a fine.

Here is all the information you need to make an informed decision on all the big issues affecting the Yarra community this election.

The inner-city community is on the rise, the population has jumped from 75,000 to approximately 90,000 in the last three years according to the City of Yarra.

Development pressure across the community is linked to the increasing population. The Yarra planning scheme review is “the most critical issue” for this election according to independent candidate for Nicholls ward and former Yarra City Mayor Jackie Fristacky.

“The scheme needs to deal with the voraciousness of developers seeking property in Yarra, offering excessive prices for properties… then seeking excessive height to cover the high price,” Fristacky said.

Following the recent demolition of  The Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton, the issue of development and heritage sites is on the minds of Yarra local’s.

Victorian Labor backed candidate for Nicholls, Luke Creasey, said the demolition was “outrageous and unlawful.”

“It feels like a bit of a tipping point for us. The City of Yarra has many historic sites, structures and landscapes, and once they’ve been lost they’re gone forever,” Creasey said.

A Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) has been on the cards for a long-time and this election is the time for councillors to make their stance clear on the controversial topic.

Fristacky views a SIF as the “least-worst alternative” to harmful drug use.

“I have moved and supported several motions on this issue, raised the matter of a SIF in Yarra and at least a trial SIF with responsible Ministers over several years, [I have also] written letters to the Premier and Ministers urging a trial of SIF in the City of Yarra,” Fristacky said.

An example of a SIF in Frankfurt, Germany. Credit: SMH
An example of a SIF in Frankfurt, Germany. Image Source

Creasey agrees with the facility as a rehabilitation approach built on “evidence-based decision making.”

“I support a supervised injecting facility and believe that rehabilitation must be central to a compassionate approach to addressing drug use in our community,” Creasey said.

First-time independent nominee for the Langridge ward Judy Ryan is campaigning strongly for a SIF as her only platform.

“I’m no professional politician, this is the first time I’ve done this because it’s got so bad that as a human being I need to do something about this and I need to make a statement, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Council backing and influence is crucial for the project to obtain the state support and funding needed to get it off the ground.

“There is a huge degree of capacity that the city council have in working with the state governments to achieve quite exciting things,” Greens candidate for Nicholls Misha Coleman said.

As one of three Greens councillors in the previous council, Coleman is “hoping to get enough Greens re-elected this time” to push forward the party’s plan.

Their focus this election is on trialling electric buses across the Nicholls ward.

“We have bus routes that are going through very densely populated residential areas, a lot of those routes have speed bumps on them.”

Coleman says while speed bumps slow down traffic, the added acceleration and deceleration increases carbon dioxide production and air pollution.

Public transport is not a local government responsibility although Coleman wants to show how councils can work with state governments.

There are six Greens candidates running across the three wards this election.

To see a complete list of nominated candidates, check out the Victorian Electoral Commission website.

Voting will take place Saturday 22nd October at local polling places across the city.

By Kathryn Lewis

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