John Englart

John Englart

Citizen journalist at No Fibs
John Englart has always had a strong social and environmental focus and over the past 10 years climate change science, climate policy and climate protest have become an increasingly important and primary focus of his work as a citizen journalist.
John Englart
I am involved in various Moreland-based community groups including Sustainable Fawkner where I blog on local and sustainability issues, Climate Action Moreland and Moreland Bicycle Users Group. I am also a member of Friends of the Earth, off and on, since 1976, and wrote the contribution on the Rides Against Uranium in the 1970s for the Friends of the Earth Australia book to mark the 30-year anniversary of FoE – 30 Years of Creative Resistance.

The next government of Victoria is not likely to be decided in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs where I reside, but in marginal electorates in Melbourne’s east and bayside suburbs, and regional electorates around Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

But the innercity and inner north may see a sea-change in representation, if the results of the 2013 Federal election with the re-election of Federal Greens MP Adam Bandt and recent polling are anything to go by. The Greens may win the seats of Melbourne and Richmond, a Lonergan research poll reveals in a report in The Age, and are in with a fighting chance in Brunswick, and have longshot hopes in Northcote and Liberal held Prahran.

Although Labor leader Daniel Andrews has ruled out a deal on preferences with the Greens and any coalition with the Greens according to The Age, Ellen Sandell the Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne, has stated that Greens parliamentarians would seek an agreement with Labor to support a minority Labor Government if there is a hung parliament.

Battle of values in Brunswick between ALP and Greens

The electoral battle in Brunswick is between Jane Garrett MP (UniPollwatch Profile), a former Mayor of Yarra and a vice president of the Victorian ALP, and Tim Read (UniPollwatch profile), a quietly spoken but very articulate Greens candidate. The seat is held with a margin of 3.6{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3}. (ABC Brunswick electorate profile) There is also a Liberal party candidate and a list of minor party candidates, all of whose preferences may prove important to the final outcome. As pre-poll voting is growing, we may not even have a final result on election night.

Candidates at Brunswick Forum L to R: Ward Young (Animal Justice Party), Peter Allan (Community Independent for Northern Metro Region), Jane Garrett MP (ALP), Tim Read (the Greens), Dean O'Callaghan (Save the Planet), Giuseppe Vellotti (Liberal Party)

Candidates at Brunswick Forum L to R: Ward Young (Animal Justice Party), Peter Allan (Community Independent for Northern Metro Region), Jane Garrett MP (ALP), Tim Read (the Greens), Dean O’Callaghan (Save the Planet), Giuseppe Vellotti (Liberal Party)

Five candidates for the seat of Brunswick, plus one community independent candidate for the Northern Metro Region attended a candidates forum on Friday night organised by the Brunswick Uniting Church. Candidates at the forum included Jane Garrett MP (ALP), Tim Read (Greens), Ward Young (Animal Justice Party), Dean O’Callaghan (Save the Planet), Giuseppe Vellotti (Liberal Party), and Peter Allan (Community Independent standing for Northern Metro region).

The forum opened with candidates asked for their sustainable vision for Brunswick and the state of Victoria. Peter Allan, as the only one on the panel standing for the Upper House, commented, “This is a fantastic opportunity because these five are going to fight over your vote on the small ballot paper, and I’m going to convince 100 per cent of you to vote for me on the big ballot paper.”

A Second question put by the forum moderator asked the candidates “what are the main issues the people of Brunswick want action on and how will you respond if given the chance?”

Ward Young raised the treatment of animals and animal welfare as a sleeping issue which both major parties have refused to deal with sufficiently regarding duck hunting and jumps racing. He also raised that animal emissions form a large part of greenhouse gas emissions and by reducing or eliminating meat consumption individuals can make a real climate change action impact.

Other issues raised by candidates included energy debt in the community, tackling the level of domestic violence, increasing rollout of renewables and reduce brown coal mining and brown coal export, increase in education spending especially in TAFE, upgrades to public transport, local planning and development issues and the role of VCAT and the State planning panel, political donations especially from property developers and reform of funding of our electoral system, social inequality, climate change.

“The values of this community need to be reflected very strongly across this state”, said Jane Garrett at the very start. In reply, Tim Read said at the end of his contribution, “We would like to restore integrity to your parliament so you know that your MP is representing your values and not those of their donors.”

East West Link still major issue between Greens and ALP

One of the main issues affecting the inner city has been the prospect of the Napthine Government’s contract signing within days of calling the election to build the East West Link, which some academics are now saying might cost as much as $18 billion. In danger of losing 4 inner city seats to the Greens, Labor leader Daniel Andrews said that the the road would not be built due to the Supreme Court case that a number of the City Council’s had brought. But it wasn’t an equivocal no. The East West Link issue dominated the the discussion at the Moreland transport Forum in late September.

One of the questions asked of the panel and Jane Garrett in particular was from public transport campaigner Tony Morton who raised that Daniel Andrews has still not given an unequivocal answer to rip up the East West contracts. This was initially taken as a comment, but panelists later returned to this issue with Jane Garrett put under pressure, saying “Labor has repeatedly said we will not be building this project.”

“We need real clarity that this will not be built and we need it from the leader”, said Peter Allan, “People whose houses are going to be bulldozed I need to look them in the eye. Jane, you need to look them in the eye. Daniel Andrews, you need to look them in the eye and say that under no circumstances, regardless of the court outcome will this be built.”

“The Greens will cancel the contract regardless of the outcome of the court case.” said Tim Read.

Brunswick State MP Jane Garrett (ALP) speaking with the Greens Tim Read listening

Brunswick State MP Jane Garrett (ALP) speaking with the Greens Tim Read listening

We know that infrastructure has been a political football by succeeding governments. Peter Allan spoke of the necessity for removing some of the political shenanigans.

“We need an independent body called Infrastructure Victoria that makes the call on what the key infrastructure priorities need to be. Because we can’t trust governments of any sort to make rational transparent decisions on this stuff. We’ve seen desal plants, we’ve seen tollways. We see it fail so many times, and it is no good setting up Infrastructure Victoria then ignoring it. You have to give it the power to decide what those infrastructure priorities are going to be to make sure there is transparency in decision making.” said Allan, who will appear on the Upper House ballot paper for Northern Metropolitan Region in Group N.

Renewable Energy Target for Victoria?

Climate change was only briefly debated and discussed but the issue was present in many of the responses of candidates. A separate forum covering the three electorates covering City of Moreland – Broadmeadows, Pascoe Vale and Brunswick – is being organised by Climate Action Moreland. There was a specific question regarding if South Australia and the ACT can set renewable energy targets, why can’t Victoria have it’s own Victorian Renewable Energy Target?

Garrett, while supportive of renewables and action on climate change waffled on in her response including having a dig at the Greens in not supporting the CPRS scheme in 2009. However, she was accused of not answer the specific question regardomg setting a target.

Peter Allan again highlighted the lack of a direct answer from Garrett, “We don’t get an answer to a very specific question, which is what target should we be aiming for? There is no technical barrier for us to be moving very rapidly to renewable energy. There is no cost barrier. What there is is a political barrier. It is to do with vested interests that hold us back; the protection of the coal industry, the protection of large energy companies. That’s why we need a strong target.”

His statement brought strong applause from the audience.

Tim Read outlined very briefly the Greens policy of a Renewable Energy target for Victoria of a 40 pc reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, and close to 90 pc by 2030. Dean O’Callaghan advocated rapid reduction in emissions aiming for 100 pc reduction by 2020. The Liberal Candidate Giuseppe Vellotti said “I fully support renewable energy targets” with explaining what those targets might be.

State Government role in local development, zoning, and Moreland Council planning powers

There were a few question on local development, the powers of Moreland Council under the Local Government Act, the role of VCAT as a defacto developer oriented state planning authority. The question on what Changes to the local Government Act you would like to see was an initial puzzling question for candidates. (Watch it on youtube). The second question was in regard to maximum height of developments in the Upfield development corridor, between the Upfield train line and Sydney Road.

These questions come as Moreland Council had their development plan for Coburg business centre rejected by the State Planning panel. The amended plan went before Council on Wednesday night and was passed by a majority on council (opposed by Greens Councillor Ratnam and socialist Councillor Bolton). The amended scheme involves reducing building specifications from 6 star energy rating to 4 star energy rating, with compromises on building height, social housing and reduced appeal rights for surrounding residents.

“What the Greens would do in State Parliament is mandate for 20pc or a given percentage that compulsory social housing be included in developments over a certain size.” said the Greens Tim Read.

Jane Garrett also emphasised that social housing is important and has been developed by Labor Governments in the past.

When asked by Peter Allan to elaborate with a clear answer, “Do you agree to a mandate percentage of social housing in all major developments?”, she replied: “I support a level of social housing in developments.”

Allan wants political donations from developers stopped and the way we fund our political system reformed. Both Labor and Liberals have no plans to stop political donations from developers according to the Guardian report, or to reform and make more transparent political funding to eliminate corruption in planning decisions.

Container deposit and Recycling innovation needed

Brunswick was a leader in introducing kerbside recycling collection. Tim Read raised that we need to consider container deposit legislation for Victoria, we need to follow the example of South Australia.

I don’t vote in Brunswick, but as a progressive voter I think Peter Allan won my first preference vote for Northern Melbourne Metro region for Victoria’s Legislative Council (Upper House). I was particularly impressed with his answer on recycling and the small fact that 800,000 cars are dumped each year at auto wreckers with a similar low level of recycling as the 1950s. He advocates that we should use Ford’s Broadmeadows car factory to recycle the glass, plastics, metal and rubber components for re-use. This sounds eminently environmentally sensible and it would provide useful employment in the Broadmeadows area suffering 26 per cent unemployment. The loud applause from the audience indicates other people support such recycling innovation.

Other questions raised included:

  • On male gun violence and cruelty to native birds Watch on Youtube
  • What if there is a hung parliament? Conditions for supporting minority government Watch on Youtube
  • What is the benefit of a seat at the table of government for Brunswick? (Watch on Youtube)

Greening of Brunswick

Brunswick is now a marginal ALP/Green seat and we can see this with strong face to face campaigning by Tim Read and Jane Garrett. Recently the Greens surpassed 10,000 houses doorknocked in their grassroots campaign. The campaign has used the #greeningbrunswick hashtag on social media.

The ALP also have a strong door knocking and leafletting at train stations campaign in support of Jane Garrett.

A report by Emma Hastings in the Moreland LeaderGreens picked to falter – quotes Monash lecturer in politics Nick Economou that Daniel Andrews statements on East-West Link might have shored up enough votes to prevent Northcote and Brunswick falling to the Greens.

“I reckon if Labor was in step with the Liberals on this tunnel, they would probably lose (the seats of) Melbourne and Brunswick (and maybe) Northcote and Richmond.” Economou told the Leader.

Economou also said that he believes the Greens vote has “peaked”. Whether this is true and whether Economou has taken into account the strong grassroots and activist campaigning style of the Greens in increasing their vote, we will find out at the poll that really matters on November 29.

As can be seen by the participation of Liberal candidate Giuseppe Vellotti in the forum, the Liberals are likely to run a distant third. It will be preferences that will decide the seat of Brunswick.

The Liberals will place the Greens last on how to vote cards in Brunswick and all electorates, according to an announcement by Premier Napthine as reported by The Age, even puting the Greens last behind the extreme far right anti-Islam anti-multiculturalism party Rise Up Australia. It seems the hatred of the Greens, by both Labor and Liberal parties, is not driven by party values but to exclude them as a viable progressive voice in parliament, even if this means supporting parties more extreme and anti-thetical to broad values of multiculturalism and pluralism in society.

Labor and Liberal candidates ignore Pascoe Vale and Northcote forums

Further north in the safe seat of Pascoe Vale where Labor has a 17 pc margin to the Liberals, a similar forum organised by the Uniting church resulted in only the Greens candidate Liam Farrelly and Socialist Alliance candidate Sean Brocklehurst turning up. Both Labor’s Lizzie Blandthorn and the Liberal’s Jacqueline Khoo did not attend.

Pascoe Vale candidates Forum: Liam Farrelly (Greens) sopeaking with Sean Brocklehurst (Socialist Alliance) and empty chair for the absent Labor and Liberal candidates. Forum organiser Robert Humphreys on right.

Pascoe Vale candidates Forum: Liam Farrelly (Greens) sopeaking with Sean Brocklehurst (Socialist Alliance) and empty chair for the absent Labor and Liberal candidates. Forum organiser Robert Humphreys on right.

Robert Humphreys, the Coburg Uniting Church Reverend stated in a Moreland Leader article “I find this unwillingness to cooperate, in what is designed to be a service to the local community, by the endorsed representative of the two major political parties quite disturbing,”

Labor and Liberal candidates similarly dodged a candidates forum on climate change for the Northcote electorate according to Green Left Weekly. The sitting ALP MP Fiona Richardson is on about a 10 pc margin to the Greens candidate Trent McCarthy.

Both Labor and Liberal refused to attend the candidate climate forum in Northcote.

Both Labor and Liberal refused to attend the candidate climate forum in Northcote.

A Coburg forum on agriculture and food during Fair Food Week also resulted in the non-attendance of both Labor and Liberal candidates.

The sitting Labor MP for Broadmeadows Frank Maguire has over a 20 pc margin for the ALP – it is one of the state’s safest ALP seats. He attended a candidates forum held in Fawkner although was subjected to a bit of a grilling that showed that citizens do not want to be taken for granted in safe seats and want their MPs to listen to the local issues and citizen concerns and not give stock responses.