The federal election has been wearing down our tolerance for politics but it is also highlighting some vital weaknesses. I have been out and about collecting the 100 signed endorsements required for my independent nomination and my personal views have been validated by what people have shared.
The three glaring issues in Australian politics are:
1. The two-party system provides for a frustrating lack of choice.
2. People abhor the chronic disrespect and juvenile behaviour currently accepted in the political arena.
3. We are all mystified by the total absence of genuine and free-flowing policy debate.
On this last point, I would propose that a free-flowing debate encourages genuine questions, expects honesty and allows for an “I don’t know” response. Glib answers do not raise the intellectual standard, although personally I am easily awed by people who can unfailingly combine brevity and wit on demand.
But while that approach is fabulously entertaining, what impact does the requirement for a snappy line have on policy development? Or even on explaining one’s political position on various issues?
It is obvious that during a political campaign, the recurrent questions are about platform, policies, positions and pitch – although I like alliteration as much as anyone, there comes a point when there is far too much pee in the conversation.
What is actually being asked? And does anyone ever answer it?
My explanation starts with my platform as an independent focusing on bringing back values and manners, digging deep with local issues and connecting the people in the Geelong region with what is happening to them. I believe we are all feeling disempowered and disconnected with decisions made on our behalf.
But it is tricky to match people’s expectations when they say, “Yeah, but what are your policies?”
For many people, this question is really “What are your politics?” It’s their way of asking which party I favour. As a genuine independent the answer is a little bit of all, but mostly none.
Other people are actually asking whether I support or oppose certain policy approaches. Now that’s interesting on a few levels. Firstly, the proposed policies on most big issues – from carbon tax to asylum seekers, from gay marriage to education – are clouded in vagaries and shifting weekly according to the polls.
Secondly, it’s when an issue comes to parliament for discussion that is the appropriate time to make informed comment. And the elected representative’s position should reflect the sentiment of the constituents and be about what works in the best interests of Geelong and the surrounding region. Making reactive statements during an emotion-based, morality-challenged election campaign is not productive.
I do not follow a party line, so for me to list a raft of policy statements, delivered as promises, is as unethical as it is silly. I see the role of an independent candidate as founded entirely on representing the people in the electorate; so it’s less about my personal opinions than the needs of the people I talk to in the shopping centres, community meetings and the streets.
And so it’s no surprise that my policy focus for Geelong and the surrounding regions to the north and east, will be jobs, jobs, jobs. This priority runs in parallel with managing the growth plans to protect our environment, support local businesses and play to the overwhelming strengths of this beautiful area.
My motivation is that by providing an opportunity for us to cast a vote that is not for a major party we will tighten the gap and create a more marginal seat.
And when we have a race that is close that means more attention and more opportunity for the Geelong region from a federal perspective.
It’s time we put Geelong in the picture.
Authorised by P Kelly 10 O’Farrell Place Geelong Vic 3220