Recently, the Geelong Council has handed down its draft budget, which contains an array of significant cuts to vital social services.
At least 19 workers in the Geelong community are at risk of losing their jobs, and in addition to this the Geelong Regional Library Corporation (GLRC) board have decided to close the Highton, West Geelong and Barwon Heads libraries due, according to them, to the cuts imposed on the GRLC’s budget allocation.
Both parties have attempted to pass the buck to one another regarding the closure of the libraries, but the GRLC board and the Geelong Council are two sides of the same coin. Each has chosen, without proper community input or notice, to target valuable and popular community services that every day benefit members of the Geelong Community who most need support.
In difficult times both the Geelong Council and the GRLC board have decided that, instead of looking at “efficiencies” at the top (both the Council and the board receive salaries many times greater than those that may lose their jobs), it is those who most need the services who will bear the weight of the $130 million shortfall in the Council budget.
The millions lost by the Council doesn’t come from Geelong’s libraries or council workers; it comes from the delivery of infrastructure, a central role of the state. So why then should community services be cut to fund community services?
It is a damning indictment on those in positions of power in this city that, as flashy new projects go up across the CBD and Geelong businesses boom, people are priced out of housing, the cost of living soars, workers are sacked and libraries closed.
The importance of libraries to a community can’t be understated. Libraries provide the community with free and open access to information and resources, while also being safe and warm spaces for those in need of one. Those who find travel difficult, or who need support to access information services, will be isolated by the closure of local libraries, and people on a low income will be unable to utilise services they are normally unable to access otherwise.
It is antithetical to the nature and spirit of libraries for the GRLC board to so quickly decide to deprive the community of these services, and it is shameful that the Council, in the face of such massive spending on infrastructure and holding $4 billion in assets, has decided to undermine the community in such a devastating manner.
Geelong Anarchist-Communists stand with sacked workers, and against the closure of the Highton, West Geelong and Barwon Heads libraries. Solidarity to all those affected, we’ll see you in the streets!