Julie Lambert

Julie Lambert

A veteran journalist and subeditor, most recently a medical reporter.
Julie Lambert


By Michelle Primmer

August 15, 2013

Buddy Rojek arrived in Corangamite with quite a splash. The novice politician, running for the Palmer United Party, made front-page news in the Geelong Advertiser on August 13 after he put out a flyer seeking volunteers to hand out how-to-vote cards and promising a “rocking” election-night party featuring hot models.

I had already contacted Buddy for an interview for @nofibs and had tried to tee up a time before the Australian Youth Climate Coalition Corangamite candidates’ forum in Torquay on the evening after the story appeared. As it turned out, he was quite reluctant to chat to me after having been pursued all day by the media wanting comment and he felt he’d been quoted out of context on radio.

Media included PUP candidate to host election party where you might get ‘lucky’, Palmer candidate promises ‘rocking party’, Political wannabe wants to party with young volunteers, PUP candidate promises ‘mingling models’ to recruit election volunteers and Palmer candidate promises party with models.

Eventually, he agreed to let me to tape our interview on the proviso I didn’t release the audio. I agreed.

I began with questions I had prepared prior to the “party” story breaking. He knew I would also ask about the flyer, so I wasn’t trying for a “gotcha” moment.


Q. Why do you want to be a politician?

A. Because I would actually like to help my fellow Australians. I’m an accountant and I am an autodidact. I have been reading since I was three years old. My grandmother taught me to read. I am extremely knowledgeable on all matters. I read constantly, and I’m ashamed of the current politicians. I am embarrassed as an Australian and my friends overseas have to see this. So I was reading the paper and I saw they were looking for people and I thought, ‘I’ll put my hand up,’ and they accepted.

Q. Clive Palmer has said that Palmer United Party candidates would have a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. What would be your position on that?

A. Well, I spoke to DNA magazine, [link to interview] which is a gay magazine, and I said I fully support gay marriage because I believe they’re human beings and it’s not my business to dictate to someone who they should love.

I have seen people who are gay be on the verge of suicide because of pressure from parents or the community so it’s against someone’s human rights to be put through that mental anguish.

Q. Another policy is to abolish fringe benefits tax on entertainment. Isn’t that just a tax break on boozy lunches for business people?

A. I wasn’t around in 1986 [when the FBT legislation was introduced]. I was in grade 6, so I can’t say what happened in those days, but Clive Palmer said at a meeting we had the other week that in the day people would have a lunch and do a lot of business deals so everything was done on the shake of a hand, there wasn’t endless committee meetings. There was just a gentleman’s agreement and business was done. He said there was a lot more innovation and a lot more employment because people were employed in restaurants. Based on his judgment and he said it’s a good idea, so I’ll support that.

Q. The wealth for regions policy seems like a policy to pit Australians against Australians. Don’t the resources of Australia belong to us all, not just those have the riches nearby? Are you championing places like Queensland and WA and forsaking places like Tasmania and Victoria?

A. Based on what he said, the idea being that you have a town like Broken Hill, it has a lot of mines there. If 25{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3} of the tax was allowed to be retained in Broken Hill, then Broken Hill as a community would grow because it would have more resources. The idea being that people who work in that town live in such isolated remote regions of Australia, they would have incentives to work there because they can see their community is going to grow. At the moment everything is getting ripped out of it and redistributed, and I do agree that the resources are all of Australia’s, but the idea being to build communities rather than them being a ghost town.

Buddy Rojek

Buddy Rojek

Q. One of your policies is to abolish the carbon tax, however you do not have an alternate policy to tackle climate change.

A. We are not just abolishing the carbon tax. We are refunding it. I’d like to see what all the other candidates say in two weeks’ time at our convention.

Q. Do you personally believe in climate change?

A. I’ve studied environmental science. I’ve got an A+. I used to pull the pegs out of the ground when developers were building housing developments. I was a young kid. I pulled the pegs out because they were killing my lizards and my frogs and butterflies. So I’m more hard-core greenie than any of these Green people. Based on my understanding of science. I have been reading science books since I was three years old. I love dinosaurs. I don’t think climate change is caused by carbon. I believe it is caused by other factors such as solar cycles, the continental shift, also the urban heat effect where concrete roads and bitumen roads and deforestation of farmland basically allows more energy to be absorbed by earth, and I think we need to investigate that a bit further.

Q. You live in Kyneton. Why are you standing in Corangamite rather than Bendigo?

A. I live in Torquay in now. I was going to go for Bendigo but it was already taken. I have history in Corangamite. I used to live here. I went to Deakin University, I’ve lived in Jan Juc, I’ve lived in Waurn Ponds. I worked in Geelong at Day Neilson accountants, and I still come down here. I’ve got mates here. I go surfing here. I go fishing. I go to the Otway forests. It was the most natural electorate for me.

Q. Are you working at the moment or have you taken leave to campaign?

A. I work for myself. I buy and sell equipment. I’ve got sheep, I sell sheep. I do bookkeeping and self-managed super fund administration.

Q. You have received a lot of attention about this flyer that went around about your party. You seem to be happy about the attention.

A. I love it. Because I’ve got the media to eat of the palm of my hand. I’ve set a honey trap, so to speak. This was a deliberate strategy … I control everything that I say or do based on my social media site and now the intent is to drive everyone to my Palmer United site, my Facebook site, my Twitter account, where all my views are espoused and a journalist can’t misconstrue or play games.

Q. Do you think the media has been fair?

A. No, I’m actually quite sad. I was actually crying the other week. I said to my mate I was shocked. I actually thought the media was the finder of truth. I’m actually quite scared for our country that the media hasn’t [done what I thought they would]

When I came on board I was actually quite naïve. I thought, “I’m going to have the media ask me questions.”  I’m a champion debater and I haven’t had anything. I’ve sent in so many of my policies and nothing was getting published. I was shocked. I basically came up with this strategy because one, I need volunteers and, two, I believe I’m going to win so I want to party and, three, how do I get people motivated to assist me?  Now, being an Australian male, living in this area and understanding what most of the electorate was like, I knew they were into sport. I knew girls are into netball and guys are into football, so I thought how do I get them to go. So I thought, I’ll have a party and get some attractive models to mingle and make the party a bit more of a vibe and make everybody happy and have a good time. That was the intention. It’s got nothing to do with sleaze. It’s all about engaging people in helping and maybe it will encourage people who have never been civic-minded to be more interested in politics. So I think it is a positive.

Q. Do you think implying models will go home with guests is appropriate for a politician?

A. That’s not my business. They’re paid from 6 to 10. After that they’re a free agent to do what they want.

Q. But your invitation seemed to suggest that might happen.

A. Well, I’m not paying for it. I’m not saying they’re prostitutes, they’re models.

Q. I’m not suggesting you’re paying them, but you’re implying that might happen. Do you think that is appropriate?

A. I wrote that specifically to stop boys starting fights. It was to say, ‘behave yourself’, because I didn’t want them to start a fight. It was a bit of a psychological thing. Guys, don’t be idiots and don’t cause trouble, because the girls … you know. It wasn’t like saying you’re gonna pick up. My intention was to stop violence on the night.

Q. Have you heard from Clive Palmer or anyone at party headquarters about the media over the past 24 hours?

A. They just said, ‘What’s going on?’ and I basically explained what I just told you. They said, ‘Okay, as long as you believe it’s done with good intentions then we’ll support you.’ I’ve got honest intentions for why I did it. I’m not a gigolo. I wrote that line to make the boys behave because boys are boys when they drink, and I thought if I say that, they might think a little differently, so it was just a strategy I had.

Q. How will you direct your preferences?

A. Basically we are still deciding that, so I’ve got to wait for our party meeting. I’ve got some of my own personal views at the moment that I’m still mulling over after meeting the other candidates tonight. If there’s anything outside my own personal values, I will be pushing to have that changed. I will be sure of that. I am not a puppet. The party aligns with my values, but as soon as it starts misaligning I’m going to say I’m not happy about it

Q. Who is a politician you admire? Australian or International, past or present.

A. Well, even though Putin gets a lot of bad rap … As a Ukrainian – well, my grandmother is Ukrainian – I follow some Russian and Ukrainian news and what I read in Ukrainian and Russian is a little bit different to what is reported in the western press. So I’m in two minds, but I believe Putin is a strong leader and has improved Russia’s economy. People who have been in mass poverty after the Soviet Union collapsed are actually improving their lives. People back there are telling me things are going good, so I think in light of the conditions that the Soviet Union went through, I think Putin needs a little bit more attention for the positives that have come over there.

Q. We’ve sat here for 11 minutes and I have recorded this. Are you happy with what I have asked you and with what’s been recorded? You have no problems with me publishing something?

A. I’m happy. You can publish it, as long as you’re fair. I’m a good person. I’m not this monster people are saying. I did it with a clear strategy to engage the civic-mindedness of my electorate. I’ve basically been sleeping in my car to live as a homeless person to test the homeless services in this electorate. I’m satisfied with it based on going into town, meeting the people who hang out in disability services area. The reports they’ve told me, so I’m satisfied with that. I’m tired. I’m doing it all on my own. I’m in credit card debt. I’m basically doing it for Australia and hoping that Twitter and Facebook forums will allow people to start engaging with me.

I’ve never used Twitter before but I’m amazed at how good it is as an information source. I can choose who feeds me information. I think Twitter has a bright future, and I think it’s had a reputation as what Kim Kardashian tweets about. But I think it can be an intellectual tool and a civic engagement tool and I think Twitter is the future.

Buddy and I chatted informally for a little while, and then he said he wanted to add something to our interview. He asked me to record the following:

I’m actually quite concerned as a newcomer to politics about how agendas are driven by quite intelligent but manipulative people, and as a politician you feel like you have to go with the agenda that they push. I’ve met so many ordinary Australians who give me a story and I’m starting to realise that the overall issues coming out are not being portrayed in the media, and my insight is that this is why politics is being turned off by the average Australians. They’re not seeing the issues that they care about the most, they’re only seeing the issues that certain strong minorities care about and I think that’s a travesty. People who have got strong wills need to respect democracy by not being so forceful with their views. Our journalists and politicians are being, not herded or bullied, but they feel like they can’t speak out about it and as a result there’s bad policy, so that’s my insight. I think we need to look into that further.

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