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2022 State election – Q&A

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James Searle, Greens Party Candidate

What do you think will be the three issues uppermost in people’s minds when they cast their vote this election?

Climate Action – the urgent need to address global warming and its impact globally and locally exemplified by the recent rain and flooding.

Housing – cost and shortage for tenants and homeowners, especially those on lower incomes, linked to the general increase in the cost of living.

Health – access and cost of medical, emergency, allied and preventive services and professionals in rural settings and statewide.

What are the three issues uppermost in your mind as you campaign across the electorate?

Climate action, housing and health are very much top of mind for me personally, but I also have an interest in transport infrastructure, education and endangered species protection.

What can you and your party offer the voter that other parties can’t?

Integrity – not being corrupt nor captive to lobbyists and donors in the oil and gas, land development and other sectors.

Serious and urgent actions on climate change including bans on new oil and gas developments in the state. Stopping logging in old-growth forests and vulnerable habitats by 2023.

Why did you choose politics?

I became interested in representative democracy after becoming involved in my Student Union at university. I realised that elected representatives have real power to be able to make people’s lives better and make change for the future.

Do you think that the State Government spend in the regions is sufficient? If not, why not?

No, there is a pressing need for Government to spend more in the regions in the areas of Health, Education, Transport and Housing where equity of access to these essential services is lacking for regional Victorians.

Do you believe there is enough social housing being built? What policies does your party have to address the problems of scarce rentals and homelessness across the region?

No, the acute housing crisis, especially for people on low income and tenants across the state, means more social housing is required. The Greens would also regulate short-term rentals to free up rental properties and invest in public housing, not just social housing.

If money were no object, name one major area where you would like to see money spent in the electorate? 

One other area of obvious need is Mental Health. Access to affordable counselling, psychological services and psychiatric services is poor in this electorate. The recent Royal Commission laid out the need for spending in this sector, but little has happened.

What would be your chosen portfolio, if you were ever in a position where you were offered a ministry?

I think it would probably be local government. I have a great interest and affinity for local government from my time as a Councillor.

Maree Edwards, Labor Party Candidate

What do you think will be the three issues uppermost in people’s minds when they cast their ballot at this election?

There are several pressing issues that are being discussed across the electorate; the three that I hear most about are the cost of living, housing and health.

However, there is also considerable discussion about climate change, roads and debt.

What are the three issues uppermost in your mind as you campaign across the electorate?

I am conscious that the cost of living is having an impact on many families and businesses, that the pandemic has had a worldwide impact on health delivery – not just in Victoria, and that social and affordable housing is an area of concern across the Shire, the State and indeed across Australia.

I am also conscious of the fact that Mount Alexander Shire residents are very passionate about climate change.

What can your party offer the voter that other parties can’t?

Fair, consultative and engaged representation and delivery of projects, infrastructure and services that our communities need.

Measures to reduce the cost of living offered by the Andrews Government include free TAFE, free 3 and 4-year-old kinder, $250 power saving bonus, Utility Relief Grants up to $1950, electricity discounts and winter gas discounts for concession card holders, extending the Solar Homes and batteries program into 22/23, regional rail travel at city prices ($9.20, $4 concession), capped council rates, discounted and free treatment through Dental Health Care Victoria, sick leave guarantee for casual workers, reduction of the regional payroll tax rate to one-quarter of the metropolitan rate, $1 Billion annually in stamp duty exemptions, concessions and First Home Owner Grants.

We are leading the country when it comes to climate change – we were the first state to have a Climate Change Minister and a legislated Climate Change Act.

Why did you choose politics?

I have always been passionate about politics, and being given the privilege of representing the Bendigo West electorate has been an opportunity and a joy to engage with and deliver for communities across the electorate.

Do you think that the State Government spend in the regions is sufficient?

Over the last eight years, it has been so good to see so much State investment in Mount Alexander Shire. I don’t think there has been a more productive two terms of government for our Shire and for the electorate.

I am proud to have stood by people across Bendigo West and see jobs created, reduced unemployment and restored economic growth.

This investment is the foundation of our remarkable economic recovery.

Do you believe there is enough social housing being built?

What policies does your party have to address the problems of scarce rentals and homelessness across the region?

Housing and homelessness are two very prominent issues across the electorate – indeed, across the State and the whole country.

The Andrews Labor Government’s $5.3 Billion big housing build is the largest single investment in housing by any State or Territory Government in history and will deliver 12,000 social and community houses across Victoria.

I am committed to ensuring that the Shire receives its share of the big housing build to deliver homes for our region.

Just recently, we announced $219 million in grants from the Social Housing Growth Fund to build social housing across regional Victoria, and this includes $23.8 million for 74 new homes across the Bendigo West electorate.

If money was no object, name one major area where you would like to see money spent in the electorate.

Housing is a clear standout – it is one of the areas of most need, whether it be public, social or affordable housing.

What would be your chosen portfolio, if you were ever in a position where you were offered a ministry?

I have had the honour and privilege to be the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly over five years and to be elected Speaker since June this year. This is a role that I have enjoyed immensely.

I would relish being Speaker again should I have the privilege of being re-elected and the Andrews Labor Government returned.

Ken Price, Liberal Party Candidate

What do you think will be the three issues uppermost in people’s minds when they cast their vote this election?

Health, housing affordability, and regional transport.

The issues raised most often with me by members of the community during the lead-up to the election have been the cost and accessibility of regional health care, the lack of integrity in our government, and our State’s debt.

And what are the three issues uppermost in your mind as you campaign across the electorate?

Our regional health and ambulance services, the impact of Melbourne’s growth on regional Victoria, and our region’s capacity to sustain growth.

What can you and your party offer the voter that other parties can’t?

As a candidate for the Liberal Party, I will unapologetically lift the needs of regional Victoria to the same level as Melbourne. 

Pausing a multi-billion dollar tunnel project in the city and putting the funds into our strained healthcare and ambulance system is one step to doing just that.

Why did you choose politics?

I see a huge opportunity for an MP from our electorate to more forcefully advocate for the needs of our region in a Parliament where the vast majority of members represent the interests of Melbourne.

Do you think that the State Government spend in the regions is sufficient? If not, why not?

Less than 12% of major asset investment was allocated to regional Victoria in the last budget. This is far less than is necessary for our State’s regional areas. 

That’s why I’m excited about the Liberal’s commitment to guarantee 25% of new infrastructure spending to regional Victoria.

Do you believe there is enough social housing being built? What policies does your party have to address the problems of scarce rentals and homelessness across the region?

A Liberal government in Victoria would immediately move to fast-track land and partnerships with Housing Associations and not-for-profits to build the homes that Victorians need. Fifty thousand new lots of residential land will be released, and taxes will be cut to bring more affordable housing to the market and get those in need into appropriate housing.

If money were no object, name one major area where you would like to see money spent in the electorate? 

At this time, fixing the health crisis and taking pressure off our hospitals and health staff in our electorate needs to be top priority.

What would be your chosen portfolio, if you were ever in a position where you were offered a ministry?

A portfolio that would allow me to work from our electorate, not an office in Melbourne!

Tarrangower Times 25 November 2022

This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 25 November 2022.

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