The Green mayor who kept his council car
Greg Barber is almost certain to be elected to the Victorian upper house at this year’s state election and could very well become the leader of the Greens team holding the balance of power. Barber was Victoria’s first mayor in the City of Yarra and was strongly defending his financial management records in story 23 […]
However, despite this detailed profile in The Age in 2003, there is one aspect of Barber's record which hasn't been mentioned and which will certainly count against him in the Northern Metropolitan region when voters go to the polls on November 25.
Yes, despite his Green agenda and Yarra's financial predicament at the time, Barber decided to keep the mayoral car for his entire term. It was his successor at Yarra, Labor's Kay Meadows, who ditched the council car and the policy has been maintained by current mayor Jackie Fristacky, an independent with Liberal connections given she once worked for Kennett Minister Roger Hallam and is married to former Philip Lynch adviser Brian Buckley.
Getting rid of the council car and riding the bike to work is surely an obvious policy for any Green Mayor. After all, the other Green mayor from Victoria, Janet Rice in the Maribyrnong, has only been in office for two months but one of the first things she did was ditch the council car and start riding to work, which turned out to be a PR coup that generated plenty of mainstream coverage.
By way of contrast, Labor's Mark Higginbotham in neighbouring Moreland announced last July that he was buying a more environmentally friendly Toyota Prius. C'mon Mark, get with the program!
Barber, who has an MBA, certainly appeared to do a good job turning Yarra's finance around and some Greens still criticise him for being too focused on balancing the books, which isn't such a bad thing for someone on the Left aiming for mainstream political power. However, he will come to regret keeping the car and has certainly been criticised for this inside the Victorian Greens.