Ali Hogg, is a name and face that many would recognise, having for years led the fight for marriage equality as co convener of Equal Love and tirelessly fighting for the rights of the LGBTQI communities. This year, Hogg will be standing as a candidate for the Victorian Socialist in Darebin’s South West Ward.

“People have encouraged me to run for a while, and I felt like I was in a position in my life where I can give it my all,” Hogg explained. “I feel particularly with my experience in the marriage equality campaign it was a good and logical next move, in me continuing to fight.

“I think in all areas of government, they are very much on the side of big business and so on. If we can use our power as councillors, we can make a bit of an impact and create a more just society, even if only on a small scale.”

Darebin residents pride themselves on a sense of community which is perhaps lacking in other areas of Melbourne, however as Hogg explains this has been placed under increasing pressure.

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 “There is a sense of community here, but it is a bit tricky, because there are people being squeezed out of Darebin, there are people whose families have lived in Darebin for decades, but the kids can no longer afford to buy or event rent in the area.

To keep Darebin the way it is, we need to make it more affordable for people. I’ve lived in the area for more than 20 years and in that time my rent has more than doubled.

“We want Darebin to continue to have that multicultural aspect, but also welcome the younger people and make it affordable for everybody. Part of what attracts people to Darebin is that it is progressive and that it is multicultural.”

When the Medevac bill was passed in March last year it allowed refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention to be transferred to Australia for urgent medical treatment. However, what came out of this was a situation that many in Darebin see as a blight on the local area, with a number of refugees held indefinitely at the Mantra Hotel on Bell St in Preston. Even after a security guard tested positive to COVID-19 in July, the government made no attempts at improving their situation.

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 “People are upset that refugees are being housed in the Mantra Hotel on Bell St without being allowed out,” Hogg said. “People want to see the council do more things, and take more of a stance on humanitarian issues, rather than only caring about how many apartments can be built… and so on.”

Hogg concluded the interview by reflecting on the experience of campaigning in the wake of COVID-19, and how the situation has bought about some good, despite the setbacks.

Normally even campaigning for other issues I’m used to doing on a mass scale, so it’s been really tricky, but it’s just meant a lot of online engagement and phone calling, a lot of one on one conversations over the telephone, because of COVID I think people have more time to have a chat.

“It’s been really intimate in a way, getting to the heart of what people are passionate about, and what people love and hate about Darebin. It has been touching.”

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