John Pratt
Ex RAN, RAAF & Army (yes all three) John served for 25 years in the Australian armed forces. He moved to Western Australia in 1976 with the RAAF. "I went to Don Chip's town hall meeting in Perth and became a founding member of the Australian Democrats. I was membership secretary for the WA branch." he said. John became interested in politics after reading the Club of Rome's book "Limits to Growth". He wrote several pieces for Margo Kingston's Webdiary in 2000 and covered the Kevin07 campaign in Leichhardt Far North Queensland.
John Pratt
I have done several climate change MOOC courses at Exeter, Macquarie and Queensland Universities. Exeter encouraged students to blog, and as a result I opened where I cover climate change.
Union members campigning at the candidates forum on Thurday in Mandurah. Photo: John Pratt.

Union members campigning at the candidates forum on Thurday in Mandurah. Photo: John Pratt.

Union members campaigned as people arrived at the Canning peoples forum at the Bendigo Bank Stadium in Mandurah on Thursday night.

candidates forum

Connor Whittle (Lib Dem), Greg Smith (ADVP), Andrew Hastie (Lib), Matt Keogh (ALP), Vanessa Rauland (Grn), Jamie Van Burgel (AU Chn), and Angela Smith (SPP) at the peoples forum in Mandurah. Photo: John Pratt

Andrew Hastie, the Liberal candidate for Canning was asked for his thoughts on the Syrian Crisis.

Hastie replied:

Look at the heart of the Syrian and Iraq problem is Islamic State and in my previous job (Captain in Australia’s elite special forces regiment the Special Air Service) over Christmas, I spent four months watching Islamic State propaganda videos. I’ve seen pretty much every beheading, execution, drownings, burnings you could possibly watch and I am in no doubt whatsoever that they represent a great threat, not just to Syria and Iraq but to the West in particular. So when we talk about refugees, if I was a father or if I was a mother in Syria or Iraq I would be fleeing as well. So I welcome the intake of 12,000 refugees. I think it is a great thing, Australia is a great country and I welcome persecuted minorities coming to our shores, that’s a good thing. But it’s a reactive policy and the real issue is Islamic State, and they need to be defeated, and they need to be defeated by military force. So in principle I support strikes into Syria and Iraq and I will leave that to the military practitioners because that is their job, they are very good professionals in the Australian Defence Force. That is my position on Syria, Thank you.

Another question from Andrew Probyn a political reporter from the West Australian newspaper followed,

“Andrew there is some suggestion that whilst the Prime Minister is very keen on military strikes, that some elements of the military planners and military leaders may not be?”

Hastie replied:

As you know I am a private citizen now, I have left the military and so I am not privy to private discussions in senior ranks or indeed at my former employer, I am living in Dudley Park as a private citizen and I am hoping to be their representative.

The next Question was from John Grimms from the Solar Council. “We are the national voice of solar.”

My question is to Andrew Hastie. The Abbott government has targeted solar and renewable energy since the day they were elected. They slashed the renewable energy target, they tried to abolish the solar funding research and development body and then stripped them of their funding. Do you think that was the right thing to do and given that fifty percent of homes in Canning don’t yet have solar do you think it was fair?

Hastie replied:

Well I’m a glass half full guy and fifty percent of homes in Canning do have solar power due to subsidised solar panels. The current government has put forward direct action OK? So therefore Geothermal, Biomass, Wind, Solar, Hydro they are all great renewable energy sources and we are for that, there is an emission reduction fund to the tune of $3B. So if you’ve got a great idea for some sort of renewable energy scheme by all means go to the government and they will back you if it’s good and it’s going to help Australians. So I disagree with your point, the Abbott government has done a lot to support renewable energy investment.

A question was then addressed “to all the aspiring politicians here tonight.”

For many years and on many occasions politicians have been caught abusing their allowances with absolutely no penalty other than to repay the tax payers funds, in private enterprise an immediate dismissal would almost certainly apply. My question is, do you all completely understand the generous allowances and financial benefits that federal politicians receive, if so would you state now that you would be prepared to immediately resign your position should the occasion arise where a government inquiry finds that you have abused accidentally or not, because it’s always accidental the benefit scheme?

All candidates were asked to reply.

Connor Whittle (Liberal Democrats):

I would.

Greg Smith (Australian Defence Veterans Party):

It’s a no brainer isn’t it? On our website we actually have a policy on politicians entitlements and how we feel about them and I think I speak for a lot of people across Australia that they’re not happy with it, I give a dead set guarantee.

Andrew Hastie (Liberal Party):

Thank you, I have spent the last 6 years in my previous employment travelling around the world. I have had to acquit every part of my travel, every dollar I’ve spent and I intend to do the same if I am the representative for Canning, and if I ever was to do something that questioned my integrity, sure, I would be up front about it.

Just to be clear Andrew “The question is, if you were forced to repay entitlements accidental or not would you resign?

Hastie replied:

I would resign.

OK we’ve got it on the record the camera has got it I hope.

Matt Keogh the same question to you.

Matt Keogh (ALP) at Canning peoples forum. Photo: John Pratt

Matt Keogh (Australian Labor Party)

I haven’t familiarised myself with all the terms and conditions because I have been focused on talking to the people of Canning. But of course if there was abuse of entitlements then it is appropriate to resign, but we also need to work to make sure we get the system working better.

To answer Mr Banks Question would you resign?

Matt Keogh:

Yes if I abused entitlements I would resign.

Vanessa Rauland (The Greens):

Well as a university researcher and lecturer I am very used to not really receiving any entitlements, I would resign.

Jamie Van Burgel (Australian Christian):

Great question by the way, yes of course and I think I would be dis-endorsed as a Christian and Christian candidate.

Angela Smith (Sustainable Population Party):

You have commitment from me, but while we are on that I would just like to say the excuse that has been given by a number of politicians as to why they were doing this and why they repaid it was because it was a mistake and they didn’t understand it. I would like to ask Andrew Hastie, which part of you have to have lived in the electorate for at lease a month before you can vote did he not understand?

Read for background to the quiestion: here.

Andrew can you answer that?

Hastie replied:

Sure and thank you for the question. I took possession of my home in Dudley Park several weeks ago the same day I went to the Australia Electoral Commission and I updated my address and attempted to update my enrollment. I gave my form to the Electoral Commission officer there who looked over it and was happy with it, I signed it, submitted it. I then received notice from the Australian Electoral Commission that I had made an administrative error. I then wrote a letter back to the commissioner explaining it, he wrote back to me. I have since been struck from the enrollment for Canning and I won’t be voting in this election, nor will my wife because we believe that is the right thing to do.

We have a commitment from all the candidates on stage that they would resign if they abused their entitlements we will hold you to that.

Vanessa Rauland of The Greens after the Candidates forum in Mandurah: Photo: John Pratt

Vanessa Rauland of The Greens after the peoples forum in Mandurah on Thursday: Photo: John Pratt