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Penna joins the race for council

06 Oct 2016

Penna joins the race for council Image

By Sean Car and Shane Scanlan

Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) president Tony Penna has joined Cr Ken Ong’s ticket for this month’s City of Melbourne council elections.

As he approaches his third year as president of SRA, Mr Penna’s passion for the community and local politics has seen our local residents’ association go from strength to strength.

Hence, his decision to join the race for council hasn’t come as a surprise to many. Although, his decision to join team Together Melbourne, led by the City of Melbourne’s chair of planning Cr Ong may surprise some.

Having been approached by a number of teams in the lead up to the October 22 elections, Mr Penna said he felt Cr Ong’s passion and experience best aligned with his own vision.

“I felt that his eight years of his experience as a councillor, coupled with his passion and energy for this city resonated with me and that the Together Melbourne team would offer the best opportunity for Southbank and a new resident voice to be represented on this next council,” he said.

Having tendered his resignation to the SRA committee last month in the wake of the news, the committee unanimously rejected it pending the final outcome of the elections.

Mr Penna said he felt that it was about time Southbank, but more importantly, residents across the municipality, were better represented in council.

“I have always found it disheartening to see that the very council which was elected to represent the people has been unable to do so owing to conflicting themselves by accepting donations from developers,” he said.

“With all the development in Southbank, we have certainly felt the impact of developers essentially buying the council’s silence.”

Before Cr Ong’s decision to contest the lord mayoralty, it looked like Cr Doyle would win easily.  But the strongest candidates have banded together to share preferences at the expense of Team Doyle.

After eight years in the job, the Lord Mayor has made the role his own. And, while there are plenty of people who’d love to see the back of him, he’s left them precious little to campaign on.

Cr Doyle has taken oxygen from potential fires by running very hard and consistently for a long time. He’s been progressive on social issues, supportive of business and aggressive and intolerant towards those who want to debate trivial matters.

Above all, he’s been clearly seen as a champion for Melbourne. And that’s probably all that most people expect from a lord mayor.

In a policy sense, his achievements are that he has performed so well that he has left his opponents bereft of a platform for attack.

There are sectional interests contesting the election such as those campaigning on perceived problems with the council’s plan to redevelop the Queen Victoria Market and others offering themselves as heritage advocates. In truth, the Greens may have the most comprehensive policy offering.

There are others who won’t stand because they complain that no one is interested.  But, again, if Robert Doyle had messed things up over his last two terms, there would be plenty of interest in this election.

Team Doyle is far deeper and more rounded than ever. Practical conservationist Arron Wood has been promoted to the deputy lord mayoral position (potentially to be groomed for bigger and better things?).  Campaign-donations-collector Kevin Louey is still heading the councillor ticket, one has to assume because of his Chinese connections and fund-raising capacity as he is the worst performer in the chamber.

The next position has been gifted to Labor Party prince Nicholas Reece who broadens the team considerably and brings the policy development potential to seriously challenge the unelected fat cats who wield the real power at the town hall.

Cr Doyle has brought a glittering but untested star into his third councillor spot.  Tessa Sullivan’s CV shows she is one of those “could be anything” young people. Why would she bother being a councillor?

Deeper on the ticket are councillors Susan Riley and Beverley Pinder-Mortimer.  Each with rusted-on personal followers, particularly in the business community, they could ensure Team Doyle wins the majority it is seeking.

Other councillors will be doing all they can to prevent Team Doyle getting more than the five it currently enjoys.  Although it is a long time ago, many can recall the John So days when the chamber was more a rubber stamp than a place for ideas and debate.

All sitting councillors have now declared the interest in the contest.

Cr Jackie Watts hopes to benefit from Gary Morgan’s lord mayoral aspirations.

The Greens are a fully organised outfit with both lord mayoral and councillor candidates.

Cr Richard Foster is running without a lord mayoral candidate.  Instead, he is running two teams of two, with Brooke Wandin heading up the other councillor ticket.

Cr Stephen Mayne is also running without a lord mayoral candidate and has teamed up with Docklands Chamber of Commerce president Johanna Maxwell.

When nominations closed on September 20, there were seven teams contesting the lord mayoralty:  The Greens (Olivia Ball and Roxane Ingleton), Team Doyle (Robert Doyle and Arron Wood), Phil Cleary and Junxi Su, Team Morgan (Gary Morgan and Michael O’Brien), Strengthening Melbourne (Ron Hunt and Doone Clifton), The Light on the Hill Team (Anthony Van Der Craats and Yunli Han) and Together Melbourne (Ken Ong and Sue Morphet).

Nominations for the nine council positions have been received from 44 candidates.

They are:  Michael Caiafa ; Wesa Chau; Fiona Creedy; Ben Curnow;  Luke Downing; Marcus Fielding; Farida Fleming; Adam Munro Ford; Richard Foster; Nicolas Frances Gilley; Luke James; Michael Kennedy; Rohan Leppert; Jing Li; Philip Le; Kevin Louey; Robin Matthews; Johanna Maxwell; Stephen Mayne; Cathy Oke; Tony Penna; Beverley Pinder-Mortimer; Jenny Pitts; Alice Poon; Bruce Poon; Neil Pringle; Nicholas Reece; Susan Riley; Apsara Sabaratnam; Sebastian Saggio; Joseph Sarraf; Sergey Sizenko; Roger Smith; Sue Stanley; Tessa Sullivan; Suzanne Vale; Bridie Walsh; Brooke Wandin; Jim Ward; Jackie Watts; Hope Wei; Sallyann Wilson; Barbara Yerondais and Miroslav Zverina.

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