This is the final instalment in a report on the Carlton Meet the Candidates forum for the Melbourne by-election.
Fiona Patten: ‘We wanted to call ourselves the liberal party but that was taken.’
Patten looked tough and fit, and seemed in fine spirits, starting by praising all the other candidates: ‘I kept thinking Transformer Man: take a little bit of them and form this amazing man.’ I agree; for me, many of the minor candidates had something good to offer, but unfortunately this potential was offset by too many other loopy or weak ideas.
The Sex Party, Patten explained, was formed to campaign against the web filter proposed by the federal Labor Government in 2008. ‘We wanted to call ourselves the Liberal party but that was taken’, she said. Bet it’s not the first time she’s wheeled out that quip. ‘Then we thought about calling ourselves the common sense party.’
Patten mentioned the need for drug reform and solutions to congestion: ‘More roads won’t solve congestion’, she said. It seems she’s against the East-West tunnel; there’s nothing on her website about it, but I tweeted a question to the Australian Sex Party account and it replied: ‘no I think there are better solutions than the east west I want to c more trains in tunnels rather than cars.’ So it seems Fiona is operating their Twitter account herself?
One thing to note about the Sex Party is that they had the best ad during the 2010 Victorian state election.
Cathy Oke, Australian Greens
There are no juicy bit in my notes on Oke probably because the sugar low was really taking me over by the time she took the floor at 9pm.
Notes as follows:
‘Emphasised role of local councillor: things that done as councillor.
1) Transport. Fixing congestion: Doncaster, 402, Cycling – not about a zero: ask the Premier to provide at minimum $5 million dedicated funding.
2) Public housing: security of tenure, rents don’t rise
3) Planning: giving power back
4) Education: too many teachers on short-term contracts.’
When she got to bikes, I slapped my head. Turned out she’d seen me do it, I found out from later. I felt pretty bad and apologised; it’s a rude and graceless way to show discontent.
I have been a bit disappointed with the state Greens on bikes – for example, why would they only come up with a bike policy for the City of Melbourne, when their other policies span the whole state? Or why not come up with some specific proposals that bike riders can actually get excited about? Maybe making cycling too big an issue would have had risks for the Greens. After all, there’s still a perception, possibly including in the seat of Melbourne, that cycling is a hobby or a Green thing, rather than a serious mode of transport, so maybe it wouldn’t have been great for their perceptions of being a ‘serious party’ to go to town on it? Not to mention that there are other important policy priorities. I guess a $5m commitment is modest, costed, and contained – which is what the Greens seem to be going for in this election.
One thing I noticed about Oke on council, mainly from bike advocacy stuff, is her ability to get on with people from different political backgrounds, not least Doyle, and to talk them around. I wonder how she will go in state politics, which in my experience, is a far more adversarial ‘throw rocks at the fortress’ type environment. I guess, as the Federal Greens/Labor alliance shows, things are a bit different if you get the balance of power.
The Greens have released 10 policies so far, and they’ve promised to release costings this week. I hope they do it towards the beginning of the week, so there’s time to examine them.
Maria Bengtsson, Australian Christian Party
There must be a lack of quality candidates in the Australian Christian Party because I have to say, Bengtsson didn’t seem overly sharp. The last of the candidates to speak, Bengtsson said she was standing because she supported Freedom. ‘This is Freedom of Speech (repeat the Religious and Racial Tolerance Act). Amend the Charter of Human Rights to protect the freedom of conscience for faith-based organisations [no detail given here; I'll find out for you later]. And abortion legislation: freedom to not be in abortion.’ Bengtsson said that she knows people want better infrastructure and safe bike tracks, but ‘we are more concerned about protection of human life: the unborn and the elderly.’
Apparently some churches are unhappy that the Australian Christian Party were able to register a political party name purporting to cover the entire banner of their religion.
The Family First candidate, Ashley Fenn, wasn’t at the forum, and neither was Michael Murphy of the Democratic Labor Party. But you can read about Michael here and Ashley here. Family First’s policies are here, and the DLP’s here. Let me know if you see anything interesting there.