Verbal fireworks at pre-election community meeting

Verbal fireworks at pre-election community meeting
Carol Saffer

The Church of All Nations hosted a pre-election candidates forum for the eight nominated electoral candidates standing for the federal seat of Melbourne to present their platforms on Thursday, April 21.

Each candidate was allocated 15 minutes to speak about their policies to the 80 or so people in the audience.

The United Australia Party and the Liberal Party candidates did not attend.

Before the presentations began, Inner City News asked audience members if they were fence-sitters attending the forum to help decide how to vote.

“As much as I think Adam is a good local member who attends events and is available to listen to your concerns, I will be voting Labor,” Jane Miller, a self-described senior citizen, said.

Rebecca Thistleton, 37, said she was not a fence-sitter; she had already decided. “I came tonight to hear all the candidates and what difference it makes to us as the CBD is our home,” she said.

First-time voter Ned Lindemayer, 19, said he also had made up his mind but was “interested in their philosophical ideas.”

After a ballot to organise the order of presentations, Keir Paterson from the Australian Labor Party was the first cab off the rank

Mr Paterson listed the aims of Labor to govern.

“This is the most important election in living memory, and Labor will focus on care; Medicare, aged care, child care and NDIS,” he said.

“We have to get rid of the government; we are dealing with a Prime Minister who lies easily; he will do and say anything to win.”

Liberal Democrat Richard Peppard, a medical specialist, spoke on reducing taxes, debt, government size, and the use of electric cars and nuclear power. “I am not, frankly, expecting to be elected,” he said.

Bruce Poon, from the Animal Justice Party, touched on its key priorities. “We bring the animal perspective of kindness to all,” he said. “Are they important enough for your vote?” Echoing sentiments expressed by the previous speakers, Mr Poon said, “our first priority is to remove the current government; it has to go.”

“We need to bring in a serious anti-corruption agency to end the random corruption that runs riot in this government.”

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidate Walter Stragan, resplendent in a suit and eye-watering orange tie, represented One Nation in its first attempt at winning the seat.

As articulate as his party’s leader, Mr Stragan’s speech was laden with questions without answers and statements issued without basis or fact.

“This [current] government hived off to the states to force everyone to take the jab,” he said. “We are all guinea pigs. I am not anti-vax; I am pro-choice.”

“I am an accountant, and I know all of the loopholes multinationals use to avoid taxes.”

“They are building concentration camps in Mickleham. Why can’t they give money to get people out of the gutter [who sleep] with rats and mice?”

“I have never seen a government so appalling.”

“If we vote for Labor, Liberal or the Greens, we may as well go to 1933 Nazi Germany because that is where we are heading.”

The Greens’ sitting member for Melbourne Adam Bandt was up next, and it was apparent he took umbrage to Mr Stragan’s monologue.

“Calling these towers behind us concentration camps and to call me, the Labor party and the Liberal parties somehow akin to 1933 Nazi Germany, that is utter disrespect to people who had to live through that and everything it stood for,” Mr Bandt said.

“It is an appalling thing to say, and you should withdraw that before the end of the night.”

“No one should be allowed to disrespect the memory of people who lived through the Holocaust and the millions of people who died.”

He then commenced his speech by elaborating on his party’s policies on social justice issues and the climate crisis.

In what was becoming a common theme on the night, Mr Bandt stated, “this government has got to go. We need an anti-corruption watchdog with teeth.”

The last speaker Colleen Bolger, from the Victorian Socialists formed in 2019, also represents a party running for the first time.

“As socialists, we know about social justice,” she said. “I definitely want to see the end of the Scott Morrison government, and I will be glued to the television set with all my comrades hoping that is the outcome.” •


Caption: Left to Right: Keir Paterson, Colleen Bolger, Adam Bandt, Bruce Poon, Richard Peppard, and Walter Stragan.

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