Patrick O’Connor, Socialist Equality Party: ‘We need an independent movement of the working class, to establish a working class government, committed to socialist policies.’
The Socialist Equality Party are not registered as a political party in Victoria, so O’Connor is running as an independent. He spoke about uprising in Tunisia, Egypt, and throughout North Africa and the Middle East as an example that the workers were starting to rise up against the ruling classes, and presumably he is looking for the same kind of thing in the Melbourne electorate. He attacked the Baillieu government’s cuts to the public service and education as ‘draconian’ austerity measures similar to those taken by governments in Greece and Spain. O’Connor said that many Australians were struggling to stay afloat, while people at the top enjoy unprecedented levels of wealth. He described the Greens as a pro-capitalist party, pointing out Tasmanian Greens senator Nick McKim planned to shut down 20 public schools as part of state budget cuts (he subsequently backed down). O’Connor’s policies include taking back the banks, mining companies and major corporations into public hands; and establishing a major public works program. You can get a feel for him here if you’re interested.
Dr Joseph Toscano (anarchist): ‘I’m not hear to ask for your vote, I’m hear to stimulate your imagination.’
Judging by his Wikipedia entry, Toscano’s story is pretty colourful. He broadcasts Anarchist World this week on 3CR, campaigned for the removal of two women’s skulls from a display at Melbourne goal (this section reads like it’s been heavily edited and re-edited, and intrigues me because I think there must be more to the story). In the 2004 Federal election, he ran as a candidate in the Senate on a Don’t Vote campaign, urging people to vote informally to show their lack of faith in the system. This time, however, he did issue a How-To-Vote handout although ironically, he has never voted himself though, possibly because as an anarchist, he’s opposed to any form of Government. I was just looking over Toscano’s recommended preferences, and noticed that it was pretty similar to how I actually voted, in pre-poll this week!
This is my favourite sentence in his black and white A4 campaign handout:
‘As we move from a period of relative abundance to scarcity as a consequence of the dominance of the world economy by corporate capitalism an economic system based on the creation of ever increasing profits irrespective of the human, social and environmental costs, the ever increasing consumption of finite resources, increasing population growth and increasing greenhouse gas emissions as a result of human activity, we require radical changes to the way we govern overselves, what we produce, how we produce it, and how we live.’
Toscano wears a T-shirt, has grey straggling hair and a familiar face. He begins by telling us that he’s not here to get our vote, but to stimulate our imagination.
This is his call to action: ‘Real power doesn’t lie in parliament, it lies in the hands of unaccountable corporations. There is not one independent in the Victorian upper house or lower house, let alone a radical independent. I’m asking you to set the cat amongst the pidgeons – elect a radical independent!’
His voice booms, and you get the impression of someone used to firing up the troops at mass rallies and public meetings. He promises us that if elected, he will use his parliamentary power to ‘encourage people to take direct action’ and ‘to bring attention to all those secret deals. Send a message, like the people of Greece, that change is needed. Make the break now!’ he urges.
Here is the accompanying image to Toscano’s slogan ‘Let the cat amongst the pigeons.’ The cat turns out to be a tiger. The slogan scares me a bit.
Stephen Mayne (Anti-gambling crusader): ‘I’m standing for Melbourne to send a message to the Labor party about pokies.’
‘Here comes Mr Smartypants,’ the guy next to me whispers as Mayne walks up to the podium. It turns Mayne has a presence; in fact I’d go so far as to say he’s a bit attractive, mainly because of his energy and bright eyes. Mayne introduced himself as a shareholder activist, and talked about how as councillor at Manningham, he’s improved transparency by requiring disclosure of executive pay and audio of council meetings. It seems Mayne’s certainly made a few enemies on the council, and I wonder whether it’s because he’s a prickly fellow that doesn’t play well with others, or whether he simply ruffles the feathers of those who don’t like being held to account. A bit of both, I suspect.
Mayne explained that he’s standing as a candidate to send a message to Labor their failure to curb pokie addiction, and is giving his preferences to the Greens because they’re the only party that supports $1 maximum bets. The other issue he spoke about was Doncaster Rail. He thinks it needs to be built ahead of the East-West tunnel, although he does believe the East-West tunnel will eventually need to be built.
After the speeches some of my friends went up to question Mayne about his support for the East-West tunnel, pointing out how freeways had continually failed to ease congestion etc etc. Mayne appeared super interested in what my friend was saying – he’s quite the politician. One of my bike-crazy friends asked Mayne what he had done for cycling on Manningham and Mayne admitted that they hadn’t done much. He said that Manningham was the hilliest municipality, and where they had built bike lanes, they weren’t being used. But I wondered if that was more because they didn’t connect up with any other safe routes. Then Mayne started talking about the sheer quantity of sewerage tanks in Manningham. I can’t remember what that was about!
In the middle of our conversation a woman came up with Mayne and handed him a crumpled A4 sheet of paper filled with typing and handwritten edits. ‘I wrote my question down so that you could read it. It’s quite complicated,’ she explained. She was happy to hand it over and walk off, but Mayne insisted on getting her email address.