Canberra’s newest political candidate for the October election wants to re-route light rail Stage 2 to Belconnen, fearing the current route to Woden will bankrupt the city.
Summernats founder and self-admitted number one revhead Chic Henry has tossed his hat into the ring for Bill Stefaniak’s Belco Party, which had been courting the Belconnen resident of 30 years for some time to join its ticket in Ginninderra for the 17 October poll.
Mr Henry, 74, says taking light rail to Belconnen would be more affordable, especially with the COVID-19 measures putting a dent in the Teritory’s finances, and provide an easier build than crossing the lake and negotiating the Parliamentary Zone.
”Most people would recognise the dramatic cost of getting it across the lake, the horror story of passing it through the minefield which is the Parliamentary Triangle triangle and just getting it to Woden,” he said.
He said the ACT didn’t have the money to go that way and a route to Belconnen would be easier.
”Let’s not lose sight of the value of light rail but I’m a believer in doing the best with what you’ve got,” he said.
Mr Henry says Canberra has been good to him and now he wants to give back something by making a contribution in the Assembly.
He believes there should be more experienced independent views in the Assembly to bring back some balance to politics in the ACT, and that the Barr Government has lost its way and is out of touch with most Canberrans.
”The city needs new energy and new independent blood. We need a new vision which is inclusive of all Canberrans,” Mr Henry said.
He also believes the Ginninderra electorate and the suburbs in general have been neglected in favour of inner-city areas such as Braddon and Kingston.
Mr Henry refused to be drawn on which party he would back to form a government, saying it would depend on the issues at stake.
But given Mr Stefaniak’s previous life as a Liberal leader, the Belco Party’s rates and taxes position and Mr Henry’s pro-small business, less red tape and more law and order stance, the Canberra Liberals might be well placed to get their backing.
That said, he might also have some common interest with the Greens, saying he supports the transition to electric cars and the installation of rooftop solar across the city.
”I’m very interested in working towards seeing more electric vehicles on the road, which is a bit of a contradiction being number one revhead, but it’s coming sooner than people realise,” he said
While the Belco Party is only standing in Ginninderra, Mr Henry believes what’s mostly good for Belconnen will be good for the rest of Canberra.
He believes small business needs more support and less bureaucracy to deal with, saying the planning system was deterring firms from growing.
”They’re reluctant to go ahead because it’s so difficult, it’s a bit of minefield. We want to tidy that up, we don’t want barriers to be put up,” Mr Henry said.
Sticking to his strength, Mr Henry announced two policies for motorists: restricting paid public parking in Canberra to only 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday, and cutting motor registration fees.
”We will abolish paid parking at night and on the weekends. This will reinvigorate our city centres on the weekends and evenings, and be a great help to lower-paid weekend shift workers,” he said.
“Secondly, we will have the country’s lowest registration fees for cars, vans, trailers, boat trailers, motorbikes, campers, and commercial vehicles. We will benchmark all the Australian states registrations charges and beat them by 10 per cent. It is time Canberra motors and recreational vehicle users had a break on what are currently excessive charges.”
He also flagged support for a motorsports facility and pledged to investigate its feasibility and a suitable site.
Mr Henry headed up the annual Summernats motor festival at Exhibition Park from 1988 to 2008, and was made an Honorary Ambassador to Canberra.
Mr Stefaniak said Mr Henry would bring a different perspective to local politics, be a voice for the dreams and desires for the future of many of the forgotten people of Belconnen.
“Chic brings a wealth of experience to the Belco Party team. He is a dynamic can-do leader who has already made a magnificent contribution to the ACT. Chic will make a great MLA and shows a great concern to the everyday members of our community,” he said.
Mr Henry joins Mr Stefaniak and former AFL footballer Alan Tutt in the Ginninderra contest.