Jennifer Kanis – ‘I’m a candidate because Victoria has bad government and what we need is a good government.’
Kanis is the Labor candidate, and her campaign so far seems to have focused attacking the Baillieu Government as a ‘bad government’, and promising to reverse its decisions on TAFE cuts and cuts to public housing. More recently, Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews and Federal Labor have attacked the Greens as policy purists and irresponsible economic managers, incapable of governing. None of Labor’s criticisms of the Greens relate to issues local to the Melbourne electorate. None of the criticisms have been levelled directly at Greens candidate Oke. Like Kanis, Oke is well respected in the community so it would look pretty dirty to attack her, so Labor probably calculated that it would be more effective to attack the Greens brand more generally.
If Jennifer Kanis won the Melbourne-by election, the numbers in the lower house of the Victorian parliament would be 43 Labor, 45 Liberals. If Oke won, the numbers would be 42 Labor, 45 Liberals, 1 Green. Either way, the status quo would continue. Things change if dodgy Liberal MP Geoff Shaw, member for Frankston, lost his seat (or if anything else happened to any of the sitting Liberal MPs). This would trigger a by-election in Frankston, which would be a contest between Liberal and Labor. During the by-election, Labor would probably have to say what it would do if it won; that is, whether it would force an election or let the Baillieu government serve out its term. If they say they want to bring down the government and force an election, they should be able to do that, including if Oke has won and she supports them. On the other hand, if they decide to let Baillieu serve out his term, then they (and Oke if she wins) would be able to block legislation that they didn’t like. The question is whether whoever won a second election would be able to serve out a full four year term. If not, it might not be worth having won, given that by the time Shaw loses his seat, if ever, it could be quite close to the next election, particularly as the government would probably pick the longest possible by-election term.
Also, if Oke had won the by-election and Shaw then lost his seat, the numbers would be 43 Labor, 44 Liberals, 1 Green. Presumably she could possibly exact promises from the Liberals on key Greens priorities, and then support a Liberal government? Given the strong divergence between Baillieu’s Liberal Government and Greens policies, I sense this is unlikely, however, Labor and the Greens seem to be pretty antagonistic as well, and Labor and the Greens didn’t seem to cooperate much during the Bracks/Brumby years.
Anyway, Kanis started her speech by inviting the audience to call her Jen, as her friends do. She then pulled out every trope in the book as she gave us a quick summary of her working class family background, in which success came through honest hard work. Kanis explained that she was the daughter of migrants, and lived in the back of her family’s shop. ‘It wasn’t an easy life, but an honest one.’ She was one of the first children in her family to go to university. She has a 10 month old son: ‘That’s why I’m smudged tonight, I’ve got a bit of baby food on me.’ You’re not talking to me, I thought. The fact that you’re a good mother has absolutely no bearing on my vote. Kanis’s campaign picture also features a picture of her with her baby son, and emphasises her role as a member of a family (Greens candidate Cathy Oke’s campaign picture also shows a picture of her holding a super-cute kid).
As part of the campaign, Labor has come out against the East-West tunnel, however, in expressing their opposition, they have carefully state that it’s Baillieu’s version of the tunnel (‘the tunnel as proposed by the Baillieu government’, and see also here) that they don’t support, with Kanis pointing out that ‘the proposal we have before us is Ted Baillieu’s east-west tunnel’. This suggests that they may still support a version of the East-West tunnel, possibly the original version that Labor proposed back in 2007. I haven’t had a chance to go deep into this, and would be interested in hearing any ideas people might have about Labor’s plans.
David Collyer – ‘Everyone says the Democrats don’t exist anymore. Well I’m living proof that they do.’
Collyer is standing for the Democrats (see here for info about their policies for Victoria), although not officially as the Democrats are not registered as a political party in Victoria. He looks like a left-wing school teacher. His three main policies are more money for education (as per the Gonski review), building a rail line to Tullamarine (‘the City is bigger cos we have to get to the airport! What a waste!), and more taxes on mining, land etc.
In his other life, Collyer is the Campaign Manager for Prosper Australia, which advocates the elimination of all taxes and their replacement with a land tax to cover all resources such as land, water, oil, coal and the ‘electromagnetic spectrum’ (?). Prosper Australia is running the Don’t Buy Now: Home Owner’s Strike campaign, which warns prospective home buyers that now is not the time to buy a house, because supply is outstripping demand and the market is failing. The campaign calls for the end to use of land as a speculative commodity, and the abolition of stamp duty and negative gearing with a higher and flatter Land Value tax. But the Democrats’ policies for housing in Victoria don’t seem to go into that level of detail.
Berhan Ahmed, Schorel Hlavka, David Nolte, John Perkins (and general ruminations on Meet the Candidates)
Still to come: Kate Borland, Adrian Whitehead, Fiona Patten, Maria Bengtsson