Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Mithra and Cath to resign at September elections

Wollongong Greens Councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey will be standing down at the September 2024 council election. The Illawarra Greens will announce their candidates for the election this coming Thursday 15 February, 10am at Market Square Wollongong.

Wollongong Councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey today announced that they will both be standing down at the September 2024 election. The Illawarra Greens will announce their candidates for the election on Thursday 15 February, 10am at Market Square, Wollongong.

Enjoying the matildas

“After nearly seven years on Council, it’s time for me to make way for a new crop of intelligent, inspired and community minded Greens Councillors," Cr Cox said. "I am so proud of what we have achieved in our time on Council: doubling our footpath budget and building hundreds of kilometres of new footpaths, building new cycleways, rolling out an urban greening program, introducing FOGO, declaring a climate emergency and then backing that up with actions to cut emissions, bringing on food trucks, supporting the diversity cultural and the creative life of our city.




Cr Mithra Cox

“What I have learnt in my almost seven years:

  • Being polite, respectful and constructive is ALWAYS more effective than being rude and aggressive.
    The ability to maintain a neutral face is invaluable.
  • Politics is hard, and decisions require majorities. This means compromise. No one ever gets everything they want, and in my experience, most people who go into politics are good people who want to serve their community, but to get ANYTHING done, you need to compromise, and work with people who have different opinions to your own. This is how democracy works.
  • It’s exhausting being labelled corrupt all the time when you aren’t.
  • Being a councillor is woefully underpaid (just over $30k a year) for the responsibility of being personally and legally liable to sign off on a $300m budget and for an organisation that delivers daily essential services to more than200,000 people, an unlimited number of evening and weekend events as well as endless emails and phone calls. You are faced with a choice: work for free on evenings, weekends, in family time and risk burning yourself out; or protect your sanity but disappoint people.
  • Despite this, I can hand on heart say, that in all my life of activism and trying to make the world better--and especially on climate action--being on council is the single most effective thing I have done in my life to create change. Our urban greening program, our new footpaths and cycleways, our climate mitigation strategy - I see the impacts of these every day in our city and I am immensely proud of them. They are meaningful, they make people’s lives better, they are real and tangible, and they are only there because a hell of a lot of effort went into getting them agreed on, getting them funded and getting them implemented.
  • NEVER underestimate the power of democracy and politics to create change. You need to vote, and vote carefully, and you need to engage respectfully with your elected representatives and maybe you even need to put your hand up to be a representative. But don’t be disillusioned with politics itself, because this is where big, structural, meaningful decisions are made, and if you don’t engage with it, you leave those decisions to someone else. We are so lucky to live in a democracy, but democracy is a living thing, and if all you do is whinge about it, you will never change anything," Cr Cox said.

Cr Cath Blakey said: “Not many people understand what Councillors do. The number of times I've had a resident ask if they can meet with me, or arrange a meeting with my secretary that makes me laugh.

Cr Cath Blakey

“There’s lots of be proud of in our seven years on Council:

"I've been delighted to see Council change waste services to make it systematically easier for residents to reduce waste. As a former staff member I'd been busy (and frustrated!) encouraging people to make personal changes, but implementing city-wide systemic ones is far more impactful. At times I've missed being the one to implement projects on the ground.

"Councils are taking action to reduce emissions, while our federal government continues to subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of $11 billion a year, and approve new coal mines.

"Verge garden guidelines was another win, as was the first affordable housing provisions within a voluntary planning agreement.

"Council's request to increase core funding from 0.5% to 1% of federal revenue is crucial to preparing our cities for the up-coming onslaught of more frequent and severe natural disasters

"There is some unfinished business, like inclusionary zoning provisions that require large developments to have social, public or affordable housing, and the good design guide for the city centre, as at the moment we're getting boxy, ugly apartment blocks with empty shops at the bottom, and a lack laneways for pedestrian permeability or set backs for solar access or our consideration of our unique landscape.

"Covid-19 has been brutal, the housing crisis has worsened, and while the NSW Planning Minister regurgitates the developer lobby talking points about increasing supply (and their profits) by up-zoning, it's clear the Greens bravery has been in advocacy for actual changes.

Cr Blakey with Jennie Leong, MP Member for Newtown

“I feel that I was an accidental politician. Someone that cares deeply about this community and wants to see positive change, but never wanted to be a career politician. There are numerous ways we as citizens can be involved in shaping our community for the better, be it protesting in the streets or being elected as a political representative,” Cr Blakey said.