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ACT election candidate bake-off: Richard Farmer

By Charlotte Harper - 3 October 2016 24

Richard Farmer

The Canberra Community Voters party is funded by Clubs ACT, and is geared to appeal to voters who have previously voted Labor and are considering a change this time but are not prepared to give their vote to the Liberals.

So says the party’s co-founder, Richard Farmer, the latest entrant in our ACT Election Candidate Baking Challenge and a last minute inclusion on his party’s ticket for the seat of Kurrajong.

“The clubs have given me the money, you can write that,” Mr Farmer says.

“I’ve not admitted that before, the clubs are financing the campaign, they’re paying for most of the television we’re showing.”

The co-founders with Mr Farmer of the party, by the way, are past-President and Director of Capital Community Housing Peter Moore and ex-NSW auditor-general Tony Harris.

Clubs ACT has waged a fierce anti-Labor campaign for months following Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s decision to offer poker machine licences to Canberra’s casino. It says such a move will cause many clubs to close, impacting on sporting and community activities currently sponsored by clubs.

The Canberra Liberals are also working closely with Clubs ACT this campaign – Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson and Canberra Community Voters Party candidate for Ginninderra Geoff Kettle spoke in swift succession at last month’s Clubs ACT rally protesting against Labor’s policies.

The rally was held in Ginninderra heartland, on the oval behind the Raiders Club in Belconnen.

Last week, when we visited him at home in Dunlop for the candidate challenge, Mr Farmer baked us a fish pie in recognition of the fact that the name Kurrajong is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning fishing line*.

Fish pie

The former lobbyist, journalist, political adviser, liquor store owner and restaurateur says his candidate challenge entry will be the major event of his campaign – he is not spending his weekends chatting to voters in shopping centres, hammering election corflutes bearing his image into the earth beside main roads or delivering flyers into Kurrajong letterboxes.

Mr Farmer told the RiotACT when we met at a forum a few weeks ago that he would only run for the Assembly if he had to, as he was hoping he’d find five candidates with better prospects in Kurrajong.

The RiotACT has spoken to three inner south residents he approached to run. All three decided against joining the Canberra Community Voters ticket.

Mr Farmer did secure North Canberra Community Council chair and former two-time Labor candidate Mike Hettinger and rates-cap campaigner Lucinda Spier, who stood for the Canberra First Party in 2001 and for the Liberals before that, in 1995.

“I reckon Mike has got a very good chance,” Mr Farmer says of Mr Hettinger.

“The best chance of an independent or minor party candidate winning has got to be someone who can attract what I think is a considerable number of people who’ve voted Labor all their life, living in Canberra, and really are not that excited about this current government, and they’re looking for an alternative, but they can’t bring themselves to vote Liberal.”

Mr Farmer has managed to ensure the party has received significant coverage in The Canberra Times, and has arranged television commercials for “the three Canberra Community Voters candidates that have got a chance”, Ms Spier, Mr Hettinger and Mr Kettle.

“Me, I’m only there because the more people you have on a ticket, the better your chance,” he says.

“If I pick up two or three hundred, it might just be enough to help Lucinda or Mike.”

After personally spending “a bloody fortune” to get polling done two weeks ago using the outfit that conducted polling for Nick Xenophon before the Federal election earlier this year, Mr Farmer learnt that it was in Ginninderra that an independent or minor party candidate had the best chance of taking a seat. That’s one reason five Canberra Community Voters candidates are running in Ginninderra. The other is the fact that some of Canberra’s largest (and presumably grumpiest) clubs are based there.

The polling found that some 30 per cent of Ginninderra electors were soft about their voting intentions, which Mr Farmer interprets as meaning that Labor is likely to win two seats and the Liberals another two, leaving one “up for grabs”. Does this open up the prospect of Greens candidate Indra Esguerra getting up?

“She’s in the mix, but so are we, with Geoff Kettle and Alan [Tutt], I think,” Mr Farmer says.

Mr Kettle is a former Liberal mayor of Goulburn, and Mr Tutt is a greyhound breeder and former AFL player. Together with their three running mates, they stand a much stronger chance than an independent candidate would, Mr Farmer says.

“Only one person has ever won as an independent starting in that independents/ungrouped candidates column, since they’ve had the Hare-Clark system, and that was a grand final hero [Raiders star Paul Osbourne], whose campaign I ran,” he says.

The common goal the Canberra Community Voters candidates share is ousting Labor’s Andrew Barr from the top job. Ensuring the Greens are unsuccessful is part of that, because the Greens have ruled out a parliamentary agreement with the Liberals (given they will tear up the light rail contracts if elected).

They’re anti-Mr Barr because of his government’s handling of planning issues and continuing increases to residential rates.

Mr Farmer attributes Mr Barr’s position on rates to the fact that he studied economics at the ANU.

“ANU economists are all the same. They turn out thousands of them and they’re all through government, at every level,” he says.

“I call his staff and his advisers the ANU Debating Society, they still act like they’re the ANU Debating Society: ‘Aren’t we clever fellows!’.”

Asked whether the Liberals are in with a chance this election, Mr Farmer says yes.

“For the Liberals to become government, one of us, non-Labor, Liberals and Greens has got to win,” he says.

Mr Farmer says the Liberals are likely to win three of the five seats each in Brindabella and Murrumbidgee, with Labor or a Labor/Greens combination likely to take three each in Kurrajong (though he lives in hope that Mr Hettinger might get up) and Yerrabi.

“That makes the whole game about this one here, Belconnen, out here, my territory.”

As for the fish pie, being a vegetarian I had to rush my slice fresh from Mr Farmer’s oven to a taste tester, in this case my dad. He wasn’t hungry, having already had lunch, but proceeded to eat most of it anyway, giving it the thumbs up. The prawns were a particular hit.

Richard’s fish pie recipe

1kg Nicola potatoes
50g butter for the mash
Splash of milk
500ml fish stock (I cheated and used Mures from Tasmania)
100ml white wine (carefully preserving the balance for the use of the chef)
Small bunch of parsley, separated into leaves and stalks
Half a leek, chopped
350g Ling fillets
350g smoked Snowy Mountains trout
200g small peeled prawns
50g butter for the sauce
50g plain flour
200ml double cream
2 anchovies, finely chopped
Handful of white breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel the potatoes and cut into evenly sized chunks. Put in a large pan, cover with cold water, add a generous pinch of salt, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain, and allow to sit in the colander for a few minutes, then mash until smooth, and beat in the butter and a splash of milk. Season well and set aside.

2. Put the fish stock, wine and parsley stalks into a large pan, and bring to a simmer. Add the fish and the leek, and simmer for five of minutes, then lift out with a slotted spoon. Remove the skins if any from the fish and cut into large chunks. Discard the parsley stalks.

3. Melt the butter in a medium pan over a lowish heat, and then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, being careful not to let it brown. Gradually stir in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.

4. Take the sauce off the heat, stir in the double cream, parsley leaves and anchovies and season. Add the fish and prawns and toss to coat.

5. Put the seafood and sauce into a baking dish and top with the mashed potato. Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and bake for a further 15, until the top is golden.

Are you running for the ACT Legislative Assembly and keen to participate in the RiotACT’s candidate challenge? We want to hear from you! The details are here.

* Kurrajong comes from Dharuk garraju? “fishing line”, as fishing lines were made from kurrajong bark.[1]
Dixon, R.M.W.; Moore, Bruce; Ramson, W. S.; Thomas, Mandy (2006). Australian Aboriginal Words in English: Their Origin and Meaning (2nd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-19-554073-5.

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24 Responses to
ACT election candidate bake-off: Richard Farmer
1
Nilrem 9:19 am
03 Oct 16
#

At least he is honest about them being bankrolled by the clubs and their addiction to pokies cash. Not an appealing foundation for a political movement. I won’t be voting for them.

2
Adsy 9:38 am
03 Oct 16
#

Hopefully none of these ‘independent’ apologists for the pokies are elected. Clubs ACT has overplayed its hand on this issue and alienated many grassroots clubs members. The Clubs need to wean themselves off their financial dependency on these misery machines.

Very sad too that Mike Hettinger has abandoned his progressive principles to throw his lot in with this motley crew of ex-Libs run by a gaming lobbyist. As a former Labor supporter of his, I don’t know anyone in Labor circles who will be supporting him but just think his actions are rather sad and do him no credit.

3
Richard Farmer 11:57 am
03 Oct 16
#

I am continually amused at the way Labor and Greens supporters condemn others for receiving financial help for clubs when their own party campaigns for years have depended largely on the dollars from the Labor and Tradies clubs.
Hypocrisy is a wonderful thing.
Canberra Community declares its donations and its spending on its website

4
dungfungus 12:32 pm
03 Oct 16
#

It only dawned on me today that Jeff House, former Chief of Staff to ACT Labor legend Ted Quinlan and more recently CEO of ClubsACT is now Deputy Director-General, ACT Government Chief Ministers Department.

Just sayin’.

5
justin heywood 2:42 pm
03 Oct 16
#

Great article. It’s good to hear these aspiring politicians saying something interesting instead of rolling out the usual cliches and platitudes.

Richard Farmer said :

I am continually amused at the way Labor and Greens supporters condemn others….when their own party campaigns for years have depended largely on the dollars from the Labor and Tradies clubs.
Hypocrisy is a wonderful thing.

Yep, absolute hypocrisy well spotted – and I’m sure there are many disillusioned Labor voters in Canberra who can’t bring themselves vote Liberal, so you might be on to something.

The irony is that you, having openly declared where your funding has came from, are battling a Labor goliath which would never admit the their own funding sources.

Clubs ACT needs a way to wash the poker money in order to give it a veneer of respectability. Perhaps they could call it the ‘1974 Foundation’?

6
wildturkeycanoe 8:18 pm
03 Oct 16
#

The CCV party seems to be just a one issue party, like the animal justice, secular and others. I’ve tried to find the answer to your party’s stance on the tram, but the only response I found was just a list of your policies on FB [which didn’t answer the question], so pretty much sitting on the fence I assume? Does that mean you would swing the way of the winning major party just to get your one issue through as a deal maker?

7
mike_hettinger 12:47 pm
04 Oct 16
#

Adsy said:
Very sad too that Mike Hettinger has abandoned his progressive principles to throw his lot in with this motley crew of ex-Libs run by a gaming lobbyist.

Um, which progressive principles have I abandoned? If anything, the ACT Labor Party has been abandoning its progressive principles so much that it has become essentially Lib-lite. The Barr Government has been relying on so-called market principles as any Dry Liberal would.

Some examples from the past 15 years:

1. Labor broke its 2001 election promise that it wouldn’t build a freeway through a nature reserve (I remember photos of Simon Corbell on O’Connor/Bruce Ridges) and carried out the previous Liberal Government’s election promise to do just that. And that freeway undercuts the viability of public transport systems like, say, light rail.

2. Labor closed local schools based upon a report it wouldn’t release to the public. That was bad enough, but instead of retaining the infrastructure for all of the schools it closed down, it allowed some to be bulldozed for residential development. That means those schools can’t be used again when the local demographics change making them the best option.

3. Labor, with Greens support, quietly changed the planning laws in 2009 so that Development Applications are no longer needed for knockdown/rebuilds in existing suburbs. This favours wealthy residents who can now build McMansions with impunity to the detriment of the existing residents who are generally lower income. These McMansions are also so large that they have little, if any, gardens or trees. In aggregate this significantly reduces green space and flies in the face of the ACT Government’s own Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

4. Labor is now raising rates at breathtaking speed to the detriment of low income people who are supposedly Labor’s constituency. Combine that with the fact that Labor’s policies have helped lift the unimproved values used to calculate rates, and that gives poorer long-term residents a double whammy. ACT Revenue has told me that you can defer (not reduce) your rates only if you are practically out savings and already in arrears. That means you have to be so stressed that you need to sell your house before they’ll even consider you.

There’s more, but that will do for now.

So far I have done my best to maintain my principles. That, plus my community activities, has been a major source of friction with the Labor Party and ultimately led me to resign from the ACTALP.

And there are any other ex-Labor, ex-Greens or ex-Liberals who agree with me, then so be it.

8
ASW 1:44 pm
04 Oct 16
#

I’ll give Farmer this much – at least he’s being transparent that he’s the hawker for pokies in this town. His candidates should at least have the gumption to admit they’re on the take as well. It’s a pretty binary proposition – If they’re campaigning in support of club pokies then they can’t claim they’re independent.

9
Nilrem 2:34 pm
04 Oct 16
#

mike_hettinger said :

Adsy said:
Very sad too that Mike Hettinger has abandoned his progressive principles to throw his lot in with this motley crew of ex-Libs run by a gaming lobbyist.

Um, which progressive principles have I abandoned? If anything, the ACT Labor Party has been abandoning its progressive principles so much that it has become essentially Lib-lite. The Barr Government has been relying on so-called market principles as any Dry Liberal would.

Some examples from the past 15 years:

1. Labor broke its 2001 election promise that it wouldn’t build a freeway through a nature reserve (I remember photos of Simon Corbell on O’Connor/Bruce Ridges) and carried out the previous Liberal Government’s election promise to do just that. And that freeway undercuts the viability of public transport systems like, say, light rail.

2. Labor closed local schools based upon a report it wouldn’t release to the public. That was bad enough, but instead of retaining the infrastructure for all of the schools it closed down, it allowed some to be bulldozed for residential development. That means those schools can’t be used again when the local demographics change making them the best option.

3. Labor, with Greens support, quietly changed the planning laws in 2009 so that Development Applications are no longer needed for knockdown/rebuilds in existing suburbs. This favours wealthy residents who can now build McMansions with impunity to the detriment of the existing residents who are generally lower income. These McMansions are also so large that they have little, if any, gardens or trees. In aggregate this significantly reduces green space and flies in the face of the ACT Government’s own Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

4. Labor is now raising rates at breathtaking speed to the detriment of low income people who are supposedly Labor’s constituency. Combine that with the fact that Labor’s policies have helped lift the unimproved values used to calculate rates, and that gives poorer long-term residents a double whammy. ACT Revenue has told me that you can defer (not reduce) your rates only if you are practically out savings and already in arrears. That means you have to be so stressed that you need to sell your house before they’ll even consider you.

There’s more, but that will do for now.

So far I have done my best to maintain my principles. That, plus my community activities, has been a major source of friction with the Labor Party and ultimately led me to resign from the ACTALP.

And there are any other ex-Labor, ex-Greens or ex-Liberals who agree with me, then so be it.

If you reckon your ex-Lib fellow travellers, or your Liberal potential political allies, will do any better in furthering your platform, you need to spend more time talking to them. Their worldview is very different to yours.

10
pink little birdie 2:44 pm
04 Oct 16
#

Isn’t the only place in the city with pokies the Labor club?
There is a Hellenic club on the other side of the city but that is a fair walk from the casino.
Civic pub also has pokies but they are the card not spinner style.
I don’t think this is a particular issue. I find the clubs much nicer than the casino. I don’t think it’s particularly worrisome.

11
rommeldog56 3:10 pm
04 Oct 16
#

pink little birdie said :

Isn’t the only place in the city with pokies the Labor club?
There is a Hellenic club on the other side of the city but that is a fair walk from the casino.
Civic pub also has pokies but they are the card not spinner style.
I don’t think this is a particular issue. I find the clubs much nicer than the casino. I don’t think it’s particularly worrisome.

Agreed. The pokies issue is much ado about nothing. Pokie licences will be transferred from clubs who dont want them anymore, so no net increase in the no. of pokies in the ACT.

But Clubs ACT is also rallying against ACT Gov’t charges – including Annual Rates – that they say are very adversely affecting all Clubs.

12
Richard Farmer 3:15 pm
04 Oct 16
#

ASW : We are not hawking anything. When it comes to pokies all we are doing is opposing the secret deal which would see poker machines put in to a casino. Maybe we should advertise ourselves as the anti-pokies party. And we don’t hide where our money comes from – unlike Labor and the Greens which have drunk off the Labor and Tradies clubs teats for years.

13
Nilrem 4:52 pm
04 Oct 16
#

Richard Farmer said :

ASW : We are not hawking anything. When it comes to pokies all we are doing is opposing the secret deal which would see poker machines put in to a casino. Maybe we should advertise ourselves as the anti-pokies party. And we don’t hide where our money comes from – unlike Labor and the Greens which have drunk off the Labor and Tradies clubs teats for years.

“Anti-pokies” party, bankrolled by the Clubs ACT, which has profited from an addiction to a trade in human misery that callously targets the most vulnerable in our community? Astounding.

14
ASW 5:03 pm
04 Oct 16
#

Richard Farmer said :

And we don’t hide where our money comes from – unlike Labor and the Greens which have drunk off the Labor and Tradies clubs teats for years.

Richard, you seem to be playing cute. The Electoral Commission requires all donations over $1,000 to be declared, and it has lowered the maximum cap on allowable candidate expenditure. http://www.elections.act.gov.au/funding_and_disclosure/new_electoral_campaign_finance_laws_in_the_act2

Your alleged commitment to transparency on your website is noteworthy, but I’ll rely on the advice of the Electoral Commission.

15
wildturkeycanoe 5:16 pm
04 Oct 16
#

mike_hettinger said :

That means those schools can’t be used again when the local demographics change making them the best option.

This is already apparent as we found out recently when trying to find a new school for our youngest to try and get a better education in. All the schools in greater Belconnen are at capacity. Every time I called trying to get our bright young lad enrolled for next year in somewhere else but our local school, all I got was “We are at or over capacity and can not take students from outside our area.”
If this is the case, why haven’t the current government re-opened the schools that were shut, or expanded on the rest of the schools that are full to the brim with the savings they made from those closures??

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