It may be black and blue ink which determines the outcome of Saturday’s election, but it was the colour pink that dominated the campaigning process for the various mayoral candidates this year.
Never before have we seen a pack of politicians clambering so hard to win the gay vote, as candidates laid out their gay and lesbian credentials early in the game, with the Independents, Labor, Greens and Liberals alike declaring their various links to the community -” 78er, advocate and member alike -” before offering up a suite of solutions to the problem of violence on Oxford St.
Desires to re-invigorate business along the strip were given mention, but it was the issue of safety which most captured the candidates’ hearts, as each announced their plans to solve the problem.
Clover Moore put her name behind the suggestion that we declare official homophobia-free zones, as did Chris Harris of the Greens before his second running mate Irene Doutney pointed out the possibility of ghettoisation. The idea was immediately discounted by Labor’s Meredith Burgmann who called for specific GLBT requirements to be outlined in DA approvals, and was vehemently objected to by the Liberal’s Shayne Mallard who took the ultimate far right approach.
The evils of alcohol were time and again espoused by all as everyone called for an end to the drinking barn culture through any measures available. The Greens put forward a motion to employ more compliance staff while Burgmann called for more police and Clover put her faith in the power of culture to civilise.
Irrespective of the logistical nightmares some of the suggestions might cause, it was at the very least gratifying to see the concerns of the community openly discussed and expounded upon in the lead up to the election though it is yet to be seen how long it continues past the 13 September deadline.
Labor -“ Meredith Burgmann As the only mayoral candidate not currently serving on council, Labor’s Meredith Burgmann is relying on her 16-year record as a State MP to win voter trust. Burgmann, who marched in the ’78 Mardi Gras, has denounced Clover Moore’s homophobia-free zoning idea as a useless act of symbolism, pushing instead for the implementation of strict anti-homophobia conditions in council development applications. Such conditions would be enforced by a mixture of city guardians and an increased police presence -” which Burgmann has pledged to provide increased council funding for.
Greens -“ Chris Harris Greens councillor Chris Harris has weighed in strongly on the debate to reduce homophobic violence. In the final sitting of council Harris called for an increase in the number of compliance staff and City Rangers to police bars and enforce service of alcohol regulations. Ideas like the anti-homophobia zones are good, but they’re not actually going to stop the violence, and CCTV doesn’t really do much once an act of violence has been committed, Harris said.
Liberal -“ Shayne Mallard Liberal Shayne Mallard is the only gay candidate seeking the mayoralty. He has encouraged a hardline, no-tolerance policy towards homophobia and advocates for the reinvigoration of the inner west. He has called for the implementation of a city guardian scheme, whereby 100 privately contracted security guards would be hired, at the cost of $10 million to roam the city, targeting homophobic violence. Mallard has also been one of the most vocal supporters of the Imperial Hotel in its bid to increase its numbers.
Independents -“ Clover Moore Moore is seeking a second term as mayor and is using her 20 years of support for gay and lesbian issues as an election platform. At the end of her four-year reign, Oxford St is struggling and violence has been escalating, yet Moore is confident her Oxford St Cultural Quarter strategy will reinvigorate the gay and lesbian ghettos. Other strategies include the backing of a new operational strategy for the Metropolitan Regional Command, which would include the introduction of an officer in charge of developing relationships with the GLBT community.