Sunday, November 12, 2006

Independent offers Labor values, local voice for Northcote

Welcome to my new blog! This entry was originally issued as a media release on Wednesday 8 November. When I catch up, material will be posted as soon as possible after it has been released.

Darren Lewin-Hill, a community campaigner against the Bracks Government's excessive development agenda, today announced he would stand as an independent candidate for the Lower House seat of Northcote in the 25 November State election.

Mr Lewin-Hill said he would offer 'a true community alternative for voters dissatisfied with Labor but rightly opposed to voting Liberal'.

'There's a big opportunity for a Northcote independent to drag a re-elected Labor Government back towards the values it claims to have but has failed to fulfil,' Mr Lewin-Hill said today.

He said Mary Delahunty had failed to stand up for the electorate because she would not speak out against the policies of her own Government, especially on planning. Together with a Labor-dominated Council in Darebin, the electorate had suffered from poor advocacy, with no community voice in Parliament to fight on local issues.

Mr Lewin-Hill said that, with such a Labor track record, advocacy was unlikely to come from a new Labor member who, like her predecessor, lived outside the electorate but had wrongly claimed 'local' status.

He signalled he would work with a re-elected Labor Government on issues of agreement, vowing total support for the fight against the Howard Government's industrial relations crusade. However, if elected, he would be controlled by no party, nor by the factions that had plagued Labor, acting instead to reflect the voice of the broad electorate, and the public interest of Victorian communities.

The Bracks Government had failed on these criteria, especially in shaping the future of local neighbourhoods against a tide of often well-founded local protest, Mr Lewin-Hill said. As a community planning campaigner, he had seen first-hand how Labor excluded the voice of local communities from crucial planning decisions.

'Working to go beyond mere "consultation" to community engagement and participation in planning could well offer a better, more inclusive model in other areas,' Mr Lewin-Hill said.

He signalled future opposition to such measures as the Bracks Government's failed bid to sell off the Snowy Hydro. A re-elected Labor Government could also expect fierce scrutiny of secret deals with private companies worth billions of public dollars.

Local issues firmly on the agenda included fighting to reduce the numbers of poker machines, strengthening public education and training, increasing childcare places, and creating a sense of urgency in the State's response to climate change. He added that poor traffic management in locations such as Victoria Road, High Street, Clarke Street and the St Georges Road roundabout was placing local lives at risk.

A resident of the Northcote electorate for nearly 12 years, Mr Lewin-Hill is married to Fiona, a social worker, and is father to two young daughters. He works for a national education project, and for two years was spokesperson for the community planning group, Save Westgarth Village.

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