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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Politics »

Carlo Carli on growing up and representing Brunswick, and its history

Carlo Carli and Mara Moustafine.



Date Added:

16 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

14.3 MB




.. the state member of parliament for the seat of Brunswick, which covers the Brunswick- Coburg area in the north of Melbourne. And I’ve been a parliamentarian in Victorian Parliament now for 13 years and I’ve been essentially a community and a political activist in the Brunswick-Coburg area since I was a teenager. I was born in Melbourne and I grew up in Coburg and I suppose cut my teeth politically in that Brunswick- Coburg area I born and bred in but it became the area that I actually represented in the parliament which is a great fortunate thing.
Brunswick and Coburg, while very similar have got some differences, you know, in as – in a certain sense I always think of it in terms of you know, they have their unique political differences, Brunswick was always the more revolutionary and had a stronger Communist Party which was very strong, the unemployment worker’s union was very strong in the 1920s. Coburg had its own political traditions that were a little bit different to that. They for example had a tradition of independents being elected there, Going back to the Blackburns, to Morrie Blackburn who was expelled twice from the Labor Party and maintained his seat and his widow and the Muttons after him in the state seat.
So there was a tradition of non-ALP Labor activity. A certain sense that quirky radicalism of that era is continued. Phil Cleary for example was elected in the ‘80s. Brunswick during the Kennett era it was a real centre of anti- Kennett activity. But the difference is that – if you go back far enough, the origins of its radicalism were the brick workers, the pottery workers, the very working class community with some level of skilled workers and that was its working class. It then became a link to the ethnic communities and they became very powerful and very strong in the area and they also were quite radical. I mean I don’t know what it is about that area but the radicals tend to seem to congregate there.
Then you had the first sort of, gentrification and they became an alliance between them and the ethnic communities and that FILEF was part of that, so you had school teachers and particularly as I said, church people got really involved. What’s happened now is that the industries are gone, there’s very, very little left of the industries, it’s become much more an area which first of all has a lot of people that either work in the central city or work in the service sector. A lot of professionals, so housing prices have gone up. But also a large proportion of people that are rental housing. In the past that rental housing was migrant, migrant you know, sort of early arrived migrants, because it’s private rental.
Now it’s increasingly young people – many of whom are reasonably poor in the sense that they – they’ve got –they study a bit and they work a bit, they tend to spend all their money and – and it’s so – still maintains that sort of you know, level of radicalism but it’s – it’s much more you know, student, young worker, professional, it’s meant that for example, the green vote’s really high. I mean last election the green vote’s just under 30% in the Brunswick or Brunswick-Coburg area I represent. and that makes it I think it’s the highest in Victoria. Which is not that – necessarily all that good if you’re the Labor member.
    So we  generally pride ourselves as being radical we’re the place that stood up against conscription, we’re the place that stood up – both in the First World War and the Vietnam War, we’re the area that stood up to protect people’s rights to speak out. There was the Noel Counihan in 1920s who was put up on a cage to speak to unemployed workers, when it was forbidden to have an assembly on Sydney Road. We celebrate that, we recently, you know a few years ago we opened – we had a sculpture to Noel Counihan, we’ve got a gallery named after Noel Counihan, we’ve got a major collection of social realist works of that era in that – in the gallery, so we always – we’re very proud of that tradition. But it’s a very – if you like on a class basis, they’re a very different population, it’s younger, it’s more professional, it’s well educated and it’s  people still out there pushing the envelope.
End transcript