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Greens celebrate 20 years on local councils

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 23 Sep 2011

Greens Senator and local government spokesperson Lee Rhiannon, in a speech to Federal Parliament celebrating 20 years of Greens representation on local councils, has highlighted Newcastle and Marrickville as home to the party's first elected Councillors in 1991.

Senator Rhiannon's speech to the Senate on Tuesday 20 September can be found here.

"The Australian Greens had their first electoral win in the 1991 NSW local government elections on Saturday 14 September 1991, with John Sutton elected to Newcastle City Council and Bruce Welch to Marrickville," Senator Rhiannon said.

"This proved to be the start of unbroken representation on both councils.

"John Sutton on Newcastle Council was a trailblazer. He was responsible for initiating Newcastle Council's Environmental Management Plan and first Waste Management Strategy.

"John also introduced innovative ethical and sustainability requirements into Newcastle Council's procurement policies.

"When Bruce Welch joined Marrickville Council he was the first person to be elected under the party name "The Greens" in NSW.  He spent $700 on his campaign.

"Processes that we take for granted today, such as recording the way councillors vote on business matters, the disclosure of pecuniary interests or holding public meetings about major developments, were argued for and won by progressive councillors like Bruce Welch.

"Today there are more than 100 local councillors across Australia. In NSW there are 74, with a better than 50-50 gender balance of 38 women and 36 men," Senator Rhiannon said.

Newcastle City Greens Councillor Michael Osborne noted that, "It is important to celebrate 20 years of Greens Councillors representing the community on Newcastle City Council.

"Whether it is Council's groundbreaking Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal people, internationally-recognised sustainability work or more recently the development of a comprehensive Cycling Strategy for the City, Greens Councillors have worked hard to bring council policies more in line with community views.

"Having Greens Councillors representing local residents ensures that the community has a strong voice on Council and reflects the progressive shift that has occurred in Newcastle over the last 20 years," Councillor Osborne said.

Greens Mayor of Marrickville Fiona Byrne said: "I am proud to be Marrickville's first woman Mayor and to work alongside my colleague Marika Kontellis, the first woman of Greek heritage to ever be elected to Marrickville Council.

"The history books show there is much to celebrate when it comes to wins by the Greens on Council, including reinstituting apprenticeships on council following their disappearance under Labor and building our new 50 metre pool at Enmore, a world-class renewable energy driven aquatic centre," Mayor Byrne said.

Contact: Lee Rhiannon 0487 350 880, Michael Osborne 0439 442 984, Fiona Byrne 0433 540 084

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