By No Fibs Griffith reporter Jan Bowman,
31 August, 2013
There are eleven candidates standing for election to the House of Representatives in the Queensland division of Griffith, and the polls are getting tight.
Many will be watching Griffith because Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is, of course, the sitting member, with the LNP’s Dr Bill Glasson his main contender.
Mr Rudd’s office has politely declined my request for an interview, but Dr Glasson’s office has not responded to several requests.
But the minor parties have had no problem talking to me.
Karin Hunter of the Palmer United Party is a local teacher and businesswoman. ‘I have found Clive Palmer to be refreshingly honest and upfront, and a great advocate for the pensioners, veterans, sick, and the community,’ she said, before explaining the five ways her party differs from the LNP.
The PUP would repeal the carbon tax and refund all payments made to date; they would ban lobbyists from having a role in political parties; they would support the development of mineral processing within Australia, to ‘create jobs, build export revenue and a stronger balance of payments’; they would direct wealth generated in the regions back into those regions; and they would create a more humane response to asylum seekers.
The Greens have recently announced that they will preference the PUP in some seats because of the last of these policies.
Hunter says the PUP believes it would be cheaper and more humane to fly refugees to Australia and process them on arrival, providing they have a valid passport. ‘The PUP would abolish detention centres and keep families together’, adding, ‘we should recognise they have legitimate rights”.
According to her, people are responding well to the more positive message of the PUP and they have had 3 million hits on their website. The party has struck a deal with the KAP and will preference them second.
Liam Flenady of the Socialist Alliance routinely attends rallies in support of community campaigns such as marriage equality, rights for asylum seekers, single parents and action on climate change.
When he is not out on the hustings he is a PhD student in composition at the Queensland Conservatorium. He says he keeps his art and his politics separate, but the demands of both are significant.
According to Flenady, the Campbell Newman government has decimated the Arts budget in Queensland, in what he says is a mostly ‘symbolic response to so-called cultural elites’, and he says we can expect the same under an Abbott Government.
He says it is a ‘clever ploy’ to label those in the Arts as elites, when the real elites ‘are people like Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and the banks: they’re the economic and political elites who do the real harm to working people’.
The Socialist Alliance will preference the Greens in Griffith, and it encourages people to vote for the Greens in electorates where they do not have candidates standing.
Anne Reid of the Secular Party is an accountant who works in the Griffith suburb of West End, and lives just outside the electorate in nearby Yeronga.
Since being out on the campaign trail, she has discovered that ‘secular’ is a poorly understood term. Essentially, she says, the SP stands for three things: ‘The separation of church and state to ensure government spending is not influenced by religion, the protection of human rights from religious indoctrination, and impartiality towards religion’.
Reid explains her last point, as: ‘not discriminating either against or in favour or religions.’
It is as an accountant that Reid says she is most outraged by the way the tax system privileges religions, citing that: ‘Australia is one of only three countries that exempts both religions and their businesses from paying taxes’. The others are Hungary and Israel.
She said the Catholic Church alone ‘has assets of $100 billon and is the biggest employer in Australia, but does not pay payroll tax’, adding that the SP estimates $31 billion per year is being lost to Government revenue because of tax breaks for religious organisations.
According to Reid, in the last census, 35.3 percent of people in the Griffith suburb of West End and 35.9 percent in Highgate Hill said they had no religious affiliation, and the SP therefore hopes to do well in this electorate.
While closely allied with the Democrats, which it will preference in the Senate ballot, the SP will preference the Greens first in the House of Representatives.
Sherrilyn Church from Rise Up Australia is not a local – she lives 150 kilometres from Brisbane at Crow’s Nest, where she grows citrus. She is actively involved in a charity in Kenya employing local health workers to provide free health care to the needy.
She says she threw her lot in with the RUA because, ‘we are not politicians, we are ordinary everyday Australians who have left our fireplaces and comfortable retirements like Generals, because the country is at war. The enemy is coming through the back door’.
The war, she says, is ‘with the Islamisation of the planet,’ adding that, ‘It is not the Muslim people themselves I have a problem with, but Sharia law.’
A former member of the Katter Australia Party, Sherrilyn wants to see a good living for dairy farmers, no more live animal trade, and no coal seam gas mining, which she says is destroying underground water and aquifers.
Marriage equality she describes as ‘an attack on the very foundations of Australia. Every child should have a mother and a father’.
Climate Change, according to Sherrilyn, ‘is a big scam’.
‘It was hotter in Middle Ages than it is today. I am totally in agreement with Lord Monckton, who is a brilliant scientist: the planet can handle everything we throw at it if we don’t pull down trees and pollute our rivers’.
‘I’m no scientist,’ she said, ‘but a lot of companies will go out of business if we impose the carbon tax on them.’
Church is pleased to have the number one position on the ballot paper and thinks this will bode well for her. She said the party deliberated carefully and gave their first preference to Family First and second to the LNP.
Many of the minor parties seem to be using the election as a platform for their policies and a way to raise their profile in this division. The rise in single-issue parties may also be a symptom of voter disillusionment with the major parties. It will be interesting to see if this translates into votes for some of them on Election Day.