Lankan born elected mayor in Australian city

30 October 2015 11:26 am - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Samantha Ratnam, whose family fled Sri Lankan riots for a better life in Australia has been elected Moreland’s first Greens mayor, Herald Sun‎ reported on Friday.

South Ward councillor Ratnam won the mayoral vote 6-5 over Labor candidate Cr Lita Gillies, bringing an end to the ALP’s stranglehold on the mayorship.

Cr Ratnam had been unsuccessful in the previous two mayoral votes, but secured the vote of independent councillor Helen Davidson, who had backed Labor candidates in previous mayoral votes.

“I was more confident this year than the past two years, when I was pretty sure I did not have the numbers, but until the hands went up I was not sure it was going to happen,” Cr Ratnam said. “The night was quite surreal and it’s just still sinking in.”

The ascension to mayor has capped an incredible personal journey for Cr Ratnam, who arrived in Australia with her family in 1989 having fled war-torn Sri Lanka and spent time in Europe and Canada.

Aged 6 at the time, Cr Ratnam said she remembered the 1983 riots in Colombo that gave rise to the country’s 30-year internal war, including her family being split as they took refuge when Sinhalese Sri Lankans burnt Tamil Sri Lankans’ homes.

“I remember seeing the streets burning and for the first time seeing adults crying,” she said.

“It was an experience that changes you in many ways, but going through it together with family helped the healing.”

Her family left Sri Lanka in 1987 and Cr Ratnam said it wasn’t until she moved to Brunswick seven years ago that she felt at home.

She said her experiences fuelled her interest in social work and motivated her to take the program manager position at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Looking forward, Cr Ratnam said planning issues would be high on her agenda.

She said she would advocate that Planning Minister Richard Wynne approve the Brunswick Structure Plan, Environmentally Efficient Design policy and Apartment Design Code with minimal or no changes.

“We need these rules set so people have certainty and clarity,” she said.

She said other major projects in the next 12 months would include the design of the Oak Park pool redevelopment, construction of Pascoe Vale Community Centre and transport infrastructure, including improvements to Upfield Shared Path.

The major challenge facing Moreland Council, and all local governments, would be rates capping, Cr Ratnam said.

Cr Ratnam said being head of what had at times been a divided council could be challenging but she was confident councillors would work together.

“It should be an interesting year and there has certainly been a change in dynamic of the council,” she said.

“But I have faith that everyone will put their best foot forward and make the last year of this council a successful one.”
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See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

 
  • Sapu Friday, 30 October 2015 05:06 PM

    This are the people that our Sinhalese extremists chased away and murdered. If they were still in SL we would have developed a lot

    Kamal Friday, 30 October 2015 05:09 PM

    "She said other major projects in the next 12 months would include the design of the Oak Park pool redevelopment, construction of Pascoe Vale Community Centre and transport infrastructure, including improvements to Upfield Shared Path." Curse the racists that chased her away

    sene Friday, 30 October 2015 05:10 PM

    These are the type of politicians we lost because of hate filled "patriots"

    karu Friday, 30 October 2015 05:19 PM

    Sri Lankas loss Australias gain. We are yet to learn what secularism is all about. via DM Android App

    Ajja Friday, 30 October 2015 06:12 PM

    Well done Samantha on your achievement,I too remember the black July and it is horrific and I always blame both sides as smoke will never rise without fire.


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