26 August 2013
I talk personal and party politics with the Palmer United Party candidate for Higgins Phillip Dall.
How did you get into politics?
Well I have seen the ad that Clive Palmer was running [early June] about the Palmer Party saying that you do not need to have political experience. You just need to be a concerned Australia. I’ve often said, and I’ve often heard people say that “I wish I could do something about it; I wish I could have an influence.” Well it turns out now, for the first time in my life, I think I can. So that’s why I’m going for this.
Why did you become involved in the Palmer United Party, specifically?
Because he [Palmer] was saying that you do not need to have political affiliations to become part of his party. That’s why I’ve never bothered to go with, say, the ALP [Australian Labor Party], because there’s too much of this all old-school infighting, cliches and the little groups, the little faction groups and stuff—I’m not interested in that. This was a straight-out business run party. It looks to be open and fair, so I’ll give it a go.
What issues are you passionate about?
I suppose it has to be working, jobs creation and standard of living. I always struggled to make ends meet, when I had the family, we struggled severely, even though I’m a plumber.
I’m aware of PUP’s policies, but I’d like to hear them in your own works as they apply to the seat of Higgins.
The carbon tax is the first thing. The carbon tax will affect everybody. We’ve got the mineral wealth [creation]. Ok, that is not going to affect the seat of Higgins too much… Even with, what he wants to do, he wants to bring down manufacturing from whatever little in the north, down to the southern states. Once again, that is not going to help the people of Higgins because there’s no room for new factories. We don’t want new factories in Higgins. Even the where he wants to make sure the wealth that’s created in an area, the majority stays in an area. That’s not going to help Higgins once again because we’re not a manufacturing; we’re an established area.
Also, the other key point was the… asylum seekers. People have to come into the country with paperwork—i.e. flying in. You can’t fly unless you’ve got some sort of paperwork. If people are coming in via aeroplane, because we’re an island nation, which makes it handy for that, they have to have a return ticket and if their paperwork isn’t up to scratch, they don’t get into the airports.
So you’re saying that everyone who flies into this country must come with a return ticket? Why?
So, as the immigration people know that they’re not coming here on a one-way ticket, not coming here to plan on staying. Can’t you have an open-ended ticket? Surely you can have an open-ended ticket. The airplanes need to provide that open-ended ticket. I’m sure the government can then legislate that airlines have to provide an open-ended ticket.
What has people coming in via planes got to do with boats?
All the money that’s being spent on catching boats and housing people, that will then decrease, if not rule them [sic] out.
But what does increased air travel restrictions have to do with boats? How are the two connected?
Because you are only letting in people that have got paperwork.
But you’re talking about arrivals via air travel. What about asylum seekers coming via boat?
That is the policy that we’re running with.
So PUP isn’t concerned about boat arrivals?
I would say they are, no you’d have to get a better clarification from the PUP on that. There’s [sic] some things that even candidates are not privy to.
But it is perceived by many to be a major issue.
I don’t want to sound dumb, but that’s what he’s [Palmer] proposed. And that’s what we have to run with.
What’s your view on boat arrivals?
Me personally? I don’t like how they jump the queue.
Moving on, if many of your party’s policies won’t impact the people of Higgins, why should they elect you?
The Liberal, the Labor or the Greens candidates… What’s going to happen is they’re not going to be on with the Palmer Party to make these things happen—that’s what it gets down to. People have got to realise that unless you’ve got the majority of people, of one part in Canberra, to make the decisions, you’re going to go round and round in circles, not getting anywhere.
But this assumes that Palmer will have the majority. So do you think you can get the majority of the lower house? Do you think this is likely?
Well I’ve got to say yes to that.
But what do you actually think?
I’ve got to say yes to that. I want to job.
Your candidacy profile talks about better transport solutions for Higgins. What specifically do you mean by that?
What he [Palmer] wants to do down here in Victoria, he wants to fund both projects they’ve [the government] got going—the road tunnel and the rail tunnel.
Moving on to another issue, why are you running for the seat of Higgins when you don’t live here?
I have been brought up in Hotham; I am living in [the seat of] Bruce. I came in too late to get those two. But I know Higgins; I drive through Higgins every day. I have spent my whole life apart from the air force time in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. As a plumber, [I’ve] worked everywhere. So I know Higgins. It is not an issue. And I’d move here… I came in to the whole political thing too late to get to the places where I was born and live now. I am very sorry about that. I just wasn’t aware. It’s like the meeting [candidates forum] they had … and I did not see that until the Monday.
How can you be promoting yourself as a candidate who can adequately represent the seat of Higgins if you can’t keep on top on candidacy forums?
Cause I am a single person, as in we’re not, we haven’t got a party structure behind us, right. We’re so brand new. I’ve got one other person helping me who lives in Higgins. And that’s it. So I’ve got to get on top of all the things we need to do as a candidate plus also get on top of the advertising, for myself. So I just have not had the time.
How can people trust you to represent them if you can’t attend a candidates forum?
Because I didn’t hear about it. I apologise. I totally apologise. What can I say? I didn’t know about it.
What do you know about the seat of Higgins?
I’ve driven up and down the streets all my life. As in, what do I know of the history of Higgins? I suppose you can look at the websites for that. Do I know about the style of the people in Higgins? Yea I do. I’ve worked for some of them; I’ve worked in their houses.
What kind of message do you think it sends to potential voters, if someone who wants to represent an electorate has never lived in it?
I’m very sorry I have not been able to drag myself up to the level where I can afford a home in Higgins.
On to another issue, candidates from Liberal, Labor and The Greens all support same-sex marriage. What’s your view?
The party has given us a ruling; it’s going to be a conscience vote.
But do you support same-sex marriage?
I’m not a religious person. I’m spiritual. But I’ve been married and I don’t see the need of being married… unless you’re going to have children naturally so the children can take on the male’s name.
Coming back to Higgins, there are 43 schools in the seat, almost all of which are private. Does this concern you?
No. No it doesn’t concern me at all.
Do you support an increase in the number of public schools of would you be happy to leave it as is?
They [the government] have come to an agreement on the new [Better schools] funding, and we are going to honour that agreement as well. Then we’re going to look at the funding issue after that.
I’m not asking about Better Schools. There are concerns about a lack of public schools—particularly high schools—in Higgins.
There is talk about getting another schools in the area, but is there the land for it? Because there’s no point building a school if there’s not the land for children to go out and get exercise… There’s [sic] 43 schools in the area. Ok, yes, they are majority of private schools [sic]. This area is affluent. We can’t, we don’t want to change that, all right. If there’s room for a government school, that’s good too. But let’s keep what we’ve got and make that better.
Onto another hot button political issue, anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change. What’s your view?
I believe we have affected the climate change. But have we affected it more so than what naturally would have happened? That’s the question.
What do you think?
I’m not knowledgeable enough to know. All I know is there’s difference. Our summers and our winters, our seasons, are different to what they were as a boy. So I am not going to try and enter into conversations about things that I have got, that I don’t know enough about… All I can say from my personal experience, there’s something different and you would be needing to study up on so many reports to make some sort of opinion.
A report from may this year that 97 percent of climate scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change. Do you agree with that 97 percent?
I would be guided by their evidence, because they’re the people who specialise in it. … [But] I have not read enough about it to give you an informed opinion.
If you think human activity is impacting the climate, why are you campaigning for a coal baron?
Do you drive a car? Do you catch public transport? Do you turn a light on? Do you eat? Unless you’re a fully sustainable greenie, we need to have industry. We have moved away from where we were many, many thousands of years ago. So, in us moving forward, for better or for worse, we have affected the area we live in… We haven’t got enough green energy happening in Australia yet to sustain us without using that other stuff.
Do you support an expansion of the renewable energy sector?
Let’s push for more solar and wind. I’m going solar because… we’ve got the most sunny [sic] countries in the world.
Don’t you feel this is at odds with PUP’s policies?
No, because won’t that create wealth and also jobs?