Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for September 2012

Could a party of pirates be good for the Assembly?

I confess to disappointment that the pirate crew manning the party’s sloop in Canberra didn’t swagger into our meeting at Caph’s, Manuka singing yo- ho- ho and a bottle of rum. Even if they had, 10 o’clock in the morning these days is too early for me to splice the mainbrace, and so I settled for a coffee.

But even if they didn’t have a bottle of rum I hoped they brought with them some hidden political policy treasures they were prepared to put to the use of Canberra if they managed to drop anchor in the Assembly.
There are three pirates standing for the ACT Assembly: Mark Gibbons – Brindabella, Glen Takkenberg – Ginninderra and Stuart Biggs – Molonglo.

But these three pirates are more sophisticated than the pirates of old and also have a different philosophy They want to become crew members of the ACT ship of state the Legislative to help set it on a course that will deliver care not fear, a course built on bringing the community benefits they think absent at the moment.

They propose to do this through policies dedicated to improving the amenities and services they think Canberrans should have, not gesture based policies based on fear and designed by the major parties to scare voters into giving their candidates the keys to the Assembly. It may be that if parties such as the Pirate Party are given a chance it will show the major parties to be wrong.

To that end the Pirate Party has developed a range of progressive policies that it says can sustain Canberra as a city whose environment will please its citizens and also offer younger citizens an exciting range of opportunities.

Among these policies:

1. Rebuild a successful bus transit network.

•They have a wide range of improvements in mind eg; a 15 minute minimum peak frequency during peak hours.

• Synchronised interchange timetables to ensure a wait time of no more than five minutes for users boarding inter-town services.

• Hire additional interchange staff to supervise connections and improve cleanliness, maintenance and passenger safety.

• Simplify network structure to remove the need for park-and-ride services (which entrench car dependence), week-end networks and ad-hoc ‘special’ or ‘espresso’ services.

They will rebuild the far more successful network structure which operated in Canberra during the 1970s and 1980s and bring Canberra into the forefront of best practice among cities of equivalent size and density such as Ottawa that will also provide employment for Canberra residents.

2. Sharing and building art and culture

• Recognising the importance of live music and the needs of smaller bars and venues.
• Attracting musical and cultural events to Canberra
• Support public ownership of publically funded art and music.

3. Privacy for individuals, transparency for governments

• Freedom and privacy for individuals.
• Openness and transparency for governments.
• Correct structural failures in ACT Development process.

4. Empowering community groups

• Increase funding for community groups
• Reduce regulatory funding for community groups

5. Advocacy

Elected members of the Pirate Party will seek to raise the profile of issues including:

•Promotion of information sharing and ‘cultural commons’
• Protection for freedom of speech and association
•Protection of privacy rights
•Protection from internet censorship
• Reform of patent law, including pharmaceutical and gene patenting
• Decriminalisation of non-commercial copyright infringement & opposition to draconian copyright laws and treaties
• Reform of the “life + 70 years” copyright length

Let me confess also that I have spent many a worse three hours in conversation with politicians with ideas not as well thought out or as well articulated as the ideas of this group who answered every question put to them.

Clearly they were practicing their declared policy of openness and transparency. On that basis alone, many people in Canberra would be happy to vote for them.

If in doubt about the Pirate Party check out their policies at: http://actpirates.org.au

To all people with a disability!

Spread the message that ACTAADS Inc has $10x$1,000 cash grants available for people with a disability. Get an application form now from the Secretary at (02) 6239 7919 or download form at website http://www.actaads.org or see ad in The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday, 5 October.

An opportunity not to be missed.

Will Darren Churchill be the Democrats resurrection man?

In respect of the election on Saturday 20 October, it would be tempting to say that Darren Churchill a candidate in Gininderra, is the last standing member of the ACT Branch of Australian Democrats.

But it would be wrong to do so. Whether or not there is a family connection and even though, politically speaking the Democrats chips seem down, because Darren seems to have a touch of the same spirit as the illustrious British politician whose name he shares, he should not be written off.

Indeed it would be great if the ACT had more wannabe politicians with the same spirit.

Unlike candidates from other parties whose reason for standing often seems obscure, Darren is up front with his reasons: for him Democracy is not just a political shibboleth. For him Democracy means politics with a purpose for the community not just the shibboleth that some people keep shouting about to disguise their inadequacy. Unlike Darren they use the word Democracy to disguise their goal of acquiring status and recognition.

Thankfully for the community, most of these politicians fail and go away never to be heard of again while Darren, never taking no for an answer, gets back into the political boxing ring again and again.

As an example of his persistence, Darren was a candidate for Fraser at the 2007 Federal election, a candidate for Ginninderra at the 2008 ACT Election and a candidate for the Senate in 2010.

That apart, Darren has been a secondary school teacher and worked in both the music and fitness industries.

But more to the point in his election campaign Darren’s main interests are: better public transport; the introduction of meaningful drug law reform; the creation of a sustainable population policy; a clear policy on civil liberties; and policies that give ordinary Canberran a “fair go.” He also wants to help keep the Government accountable

Should the voters of Ginninderra choose to elect him, even if he only manages to persuade the Assembly about the importance of a better public transport system and that something needs to be done about it quickly, he will have achieved more than many MLAs who have been ensconced in the Assembly for a long time.

In political terms Darren sees the Democrats as the natural party of the crossbenches – the negotiators, a skill he says that will help make the needle/syringe program at the Alexander Maconochie centre possible.

He feels Canberra also needs a stable population policy that will keep it a sustainable and liveable city. And he will also work for electoral reform to enable a greater of variety of views to be represented in ACT elections.”

The only question I have is: will Darren prove be the Democrats resurrection man?

dca@netspeed.com.au

The Pocock view

For me the right to Freedom of Speech, which I hold dear, also comes with the responsibility that it must never be used to demean another person’s right to free speech. Sadly this often happens and none more so than in in the current debate about same sex marriage.

Recently the Independent candidate for Molonglo Philip Pocock, who has lived in Canberra for 43 years, got into hot water when he made some strong statements about “gay” marriage. While you might not agree with views on the subject provided he does not demean people when he argues his case he has the same right to make them as his opponents have to criticise them.

Describing himself as a conservative Independent he makes no bones about his views and credit where it’s due he has had the courage, perhaps some people might call it foolishness, to make his views known in Canberra, a city that for many people is a continuing experiment in social engineering.

On the other hand, in a conversation with him he declared a strong belief in a reduction of chemical and atmospheric pollution. Trained in biology and genetics he says, it has been shown quite clearly the resultant health gains in people that occur when carbon and sulphur pollution are reduced bring far greater economic health savings than the costs of preventing such pollution.

He believes also, that the Greens have lost their claim to be a party for the environment. In his view they have become a party of inanity and irrelevance with silly schemes, an anti-religious philosophy that ha fantasy notions of equality.

For him, he said, it was the latest agreement between the Greens and Labour to promote legislation for Civil Unions, ie de facto “Gay Marriage”, that prompted his candidacy “ in the hope that at least one more vote against, not just homosexuality, but the Hegelian philosophy – no God, no spirit – that influences much of the decision making approach of politics today – in the broadest sense – can be rolled back along with at least some of the myriad practical ways in which this philosophy has taken personal freedom away from voters”

While I doubt the Pocock view will take hold in Canberra, nonetheless as personally I believe in free speech, I think people deserve to know what he thinks.

To help you form your own opinion, I suggest you read what he has to say by logging on to his website: http://www.philippocock.info/

Will Maid Marion be a new force in Ginninderra and ACT politics?

Elections have the habit of bringing new parties and new candidates with issues which, far from being new issues are old issues that often remain unrecognised although they affect the lives of voters more than they realise. A party of that genre is the Marion Lé Social Justice Party which, for the first time, is entering 5 candidates in the ACT election under the leadership of Marion Lé.

Marion is well known to many Canberrans for her tireless work as a voluntary human rights advocate. So tireless was she in this role, and many others, that she was named Canberra Bicentennial Citizen of the Year (1988); awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) (1990) and received the AUSTCARE Award for Outstanding Services to Refugees (1994). In 1999 she was awarded the Medal of Australia (AM) and in 2012 Marion was admitted to the ACT Honour Walk for outstanding ACT Citizens.

With all of these honours one might wonder what more she can do. To understand Marion however is to know that she thinks there are still many problems in the area of social justice, human rights and many other areas of community life. With that in mind she has decided that to do anything to ameliorate or, better still, eradicate these problems she must enter politics.

Hence her Social Justice Party’s objective of being elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly where she can advocate of the ACT’s marginalised and vulnerable of whom she says there are many. Among the many she lists are: children; the elderly; people with disabilities; the sick; the mentally ill; carers (including foster carers and kinship carers), migrants and refugees and many, many women.

Among her other objectives: continuing reform in the ACT Legislative Assembly for better access to the ACT hospital, health, justice and educational systems. Her Social Justice party will also push for reformation of the public housing area and make it an issue that must be tackled quickly by any ACT Government.

A teacher in Canberra for 20 years, 19 of which she spent at St Francis Xavier high school (College) and with qualifications as a BA (Hons), B. Theol., L Theol, TTC (NZ, Qld, NSW), Graduate Diploma in Int. Law (ANU) she also has an intimate knowledge of education problems.

And if fighting on behalf of the marginalised and vulnerable was not enough Marion gave up her teaching role in 2000 and became a migration agent during which she has travelled to refugee camps in several countries and to China, SE Asian, the Pacific, and twice to Afghanistan where on her second visit she looked at the Health system in the Panjshir Valley, home of the Northern Alliance and travelled high into the Hindu Kush.

She has long been outspoken in her opposition to the long term detention of children and as a mother of three and a grandmother (who also provides full time care for two other children), unlike many politicians she practices what she preaches. Little wonder she is totally opposed to the detention of children.

Currently President of Canberra’s Grandparents & Kinship Carers Association, Marion has assisted people of every cultural and religious background and has an ongoing vision of an inclusive Canberra community where social justice is not just a catch phrase but a reality.

Marion is clearly one determined lady who, if elected to the Assembly, will make party MLAs know she intends to invade their comfort zone and hold them to their promise that they wanted to become an MLA to make a difference.

I can only say that now Marion has entered the fray voters in Ginninderra will have some thinking to do before October 20.
dca@netspeed.com.au

Matt Thompson: a new face on the ACT’s political block

Nothing improves the political blood line of an electorate than a new party and new ideas. And it makes no difference if it’s only a party of one. The fact is, every political party that has ever been started began as the idea of one man or woman. Indeed had more parties been started by women, politics parties today might be a lot better than they are.

But the party I want to introduce is the Liberal Democrats whose representative Matt Thompson will stand as a candidate in the electorate of Ginninderra.

So who is Matt Thompson and what do Canberra’s the Liberal Democrats stand for?

Matt is the leader of the ACT Liberals Democrats. He is also a veterinarian with international experience and most recently a senior public servant. He left the public service to fulfil a passion for serving the community as a Liberal Democrat because that party’s philosophy of individual responsibility and building the voice of the individual so that they could be heard fitted his personal philosophy.

Both Matt and his wife are both dedicated to ensuring their two young daughters will continue to have a wonderful future and so wanted them to have the best education, health care and employment options. They feel Canberra is the place where this can be achieved.

However, Matt sees the challenges that need overcoming are high tax burdens and overbearing red tape so that these goals can be achieved, Small businessman himself he says he is dedicated to improvement in these areas to help improve ACT governance and small business.

He says also that what many politicians seem to have forgotten is that “Government is there to serve us, not control us.” With this in mind, as an MLA, I will seek to abolish the ban on stores giving free small plastic bags because it sales have shifted to Queanbeyan.”

He added: “The current ACT Labor Government with its mindset of banning first and asking questions later has made the ACT a ‘Nanny Territory’. Sadly a Liberal Government will likely do the same while the philosophy of the Greens seems to be hang on to Labor’s coat tails but from time to time in an effort to show that they are different from time to time make costly and impractical promises.”

As an MLA he promises to seek the removal of the restriction on home owners to remove trees on their own land. “We shouldn’t be forced to go begging to a bureaucrat, then seek approval from a compliant tree specialist or wait months for approval. It’s time ACT Governments stopped making life more costly and started serving the public. Government is there to serve us. Not to control us.”

He also promises to seek the overturning of some of the ACT’s liquor laws which are Australia’s most draconian which also force licensees to take responsibility for behaviour beyond their premises and their control. By doing so Government is ignoring individual responsibility and avoiding its responsibilities for enforcing the law.”

He said that during his career as a veterinarian he has seen many animals that have been trained to obey the command of their master and/or mistress. He considers that many of the people we elect as politicians act in the same way.

In his view, the time has come for politicians to practice the freedom of expression they boast about and also time for them to let party bosses know when they disagree with certain policies and that they intend to let the public and the voters who elected them know they disagree. Should ever this be achieved it could reshape how we are governed in the future.

Matt also policies on a wide range of other issues such as disability, transport and climate change et al that I’ll opine on later in the campaign.
dca@netspeed.com.au

Will the minor parties and Independents spoil major party hopes?

Whether or not minor parties and Independents spoil the major parties’ hopes is yet to be seen but if they do it will be because many voters have become sick of the petty behaviour by some members of the major parties that, if indulged in by a child, would lead to the chid being chastised. Perhaps this will be an election in which voters will chastise some members of the major parties by voting for minor party candidates and Independents.

But much as the major parties might need chastising doing so in a fit of pique is not sensible. Voters need a reason. It may well be that reason enough can be found among the policies of the minor parties and Independents. Unfortunately, whether by design or accident, the media have turned the ACT election into a three horse race between the Greens, Labor and Liberals. (I mention the latter alphabetically not in order of preference.)

And so, because media reports about the minor parties and Independents have been as scarce as hens’ teeth their policy messages do not get publicised. Perhaps the media think the former a waste of time. If so not only Is this presumption on a grand scale it also means that people in the media know better than Canberra’s voters, not a view that fits comfortably with the view that Canberra has the most intelligent, best educated, most literate and most informed city in Australia.

That said my next posts will feature the major parties possible fun spoilers starting with the Australian Motorist Party and its three candidates: BurL Doble, Brindabella, David Cumber, Molonglo and Chic Henry, Ginninderra.

Burl Doble a Canberran for over fifty years, married, with a family, a skilled tradesman and now running his own successful family business. A former Kambah Lions Club, President, Vice President and Treasurer, Burl was an AMP candidate in 2008.

David Cumber has progressed from labourer to holding senior executive roles in a number of business organisations. A long time member of Scouts Australia he has been a leader in both NSW and the ACT and also in ACT community and sporting bodies.

Chic Henry is well known in Canberra for his successful Summernats event that for years brought thousands of tourists to Canberra. His favourite saying describes the man: “Never let fear hold you back.” He likes music, politics, motor racing, playing cards, friends, travel and work and dislikes drugs, political correctness and lack of law and order. What more could you ask for in a politician?

It is only too easy to dismiss the AMP as a party interested only in things to do with the cars but the fact is, David Cumbers and Chic Henry connection with cars is ownership of one. On the other hand they are connected with community activities and, like many other Canberrans, interested only in progressing Canberra as a good place to live and bring up families.

As I sat and talked to them for three hours it became clear that unlike some MLAs they are only interested in Canberra’s status, not their own. But what I did see weas three men interested in passing on the business and life experience they have gained for Canberra’s benefit today and in the future.

Find out more about their policies at http://amp.org.au) and be surprised. You’ll see they think about a whole range of issues, cycling, housing, health sport, recreation, arts, tourism et al, not just cars.

dca@netspeed.com.au



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