Canberra is in a unusual position in that to the north and south of it’s electoral boarders are vast and politically important electorates.
In our continuing series of Email Interviews with local candidates in the coming Federal Election we bring Geoff Peet – Christian Democrat Party Candidate for Hume.
Geoff Peet’s responses, in full and unedited, can be found below:
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Q1. Provide a short (no greater than 200 word) employment application style Resume (CV), including what work have you done apart from being a politician or political staffer or party/union/lobby employee and what experience or qualifications you have with regards to economic management?
I am currently a Deputy Principal in a K – 12 school of over 400 students. I have taught in two schools in a variety of subject levels but am a Mathematics teacher by trade so I do have an appreciation of numbers. Lead to politics is seeing the under funding of the key systems of health and education which rely on the talent and resourcefulness of the people in the sector. I am sick and tired of seeing possible solutions not funded due to a lack of long term vision. I believe strongly in funding initiatives that will spend a dollar today to save 2, 3 or many more in the future. There are so many opportunities that this could be applied to and now is the time for ordinary voters to insist on this outcome.
Q2. What would you like to see as the first piece of legislative change brought about by your Government? What are your personal goals for your first year representing the ACT?
As a teacher it would be to see an increase in funding for all levels of education from preschool through to TAFE and university. Again an emphasis on funding new programs that will assist schools in intervening and actually achieving the outcomes that they are supposed to would be a big thing. Training up the skills that we require now and in the future is another priority.
Q3. What private opinions do you hold which are different to those of your party?
On which issues do you disagree with your Party’s stated position?
That is a difficult question to answer as I’m not sure. As a local member people want to know what your values are pinned to. Our party is both Christian and Democratic. That means my values will be influenced by the need to represent the people of Hume as well as my Christian beliefs. My party gives me the freedom to be democratic in voting on every bill. Micah 6:8 is a great guiding principle for me “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Justice and mercy are huge issues for me. Our constitution acknowledges that our country has been built humbly on Almighty God and what we enjoy today has been built very much on these values.
Q4. Are you in favour of fixed election terms? Why or why not and if so what length of term are you in favour of and why?
This is good idea in my opinion. Governments know the timeframe they are governing too and all parties can work towards a set election date. People know where they stand and can’t complain that they are taken off guard. Less frequent elections also means less cost. I believe it will make the transition of both houses of Parliament smoother and will occur closer to the same time, although some would argue that the lag effect is another safety mechanism.
Q5. Do you think that it is important for the Prime Minister and their family to live in Canberra? Why or why not?
The Prime Minister is in a difficult situation. He is the leader of the country but is also elected to represent the people of a certain electorate and they expect he / she to be in touch with that electorate also. It is a difficult question when children are involved as a base needs to be chosen for them as well. Probably best to use the Lodge as home and visit the electorate at different times but I don’t know that there is a win-win situation on this one. The Prime Minister represents the whole nation so based on strength of numbers you’d probably have to choose Canberra. Which ever decision you make you’ll be damned by some if you do and damned by others if you don’t.
Q6. Do you consider that making observations about the structure and makeup of the other major political party as beneficial to your own party’s role in the election?
The Christian Democratic Party is the only party that has the confidence to allow its members a conscience vote on every issue. That is unique. As a lower house member that means that local people can be represented on every issue rather than having to toe the party line. Many issues can see MPs of the same ideology vote differently as their constituents have different needs. This is a real plus that we offer and that other parties fail to have the confidence to give their members. Highlighting that this is lacking in other parties should be a healthy advantage for us.
Q7. What are you thoughts on the permanent trading of water entitlements, as per The National Water Initiative (http://www.dpmc.gov.au/water_reform/nwi.cfm), and do you believe that giving water a tradable, economic value is really the best method to ensure that this scare Australian resource will be utilized sensibly in the future?
I agree that farmers need certainty in supply to water so fair water rights is something they must have. I’m not sure that initially the system envisaged the economic trading of these and particularly in a permanent sense. I’d want to consult broadly on this one to see what the farmers of Hume believe to be the best and to manage this precious resource in a careful manner.
Q8. Canberra has a large student population and Govt funding per capita for public education facilities seems to be on the slide with there being an apparent shift towards encouraging more people to enter the private education sector. What are your thoughts on this?
What initiatives would you pursue in regard to HECS fees, full fee paying uni courses, increasing/decreasing Austudy payments, funding for education/ R&D/communications infrastructure and assistance or encouragement to private sector research and technology companies?
What measures will you take to ensure the best possible education is available to all Australians?
The education system is crumbling in many ways. It continues to survive on the resourcefulness of the people in the system. Funding for all sectors of schooling is not keeping up in real terms with the cost of education. Initiatives to actually solve some of the problems that are in place aren’t even able to then be considered. Based on the need for skills HECS should be adjusted to encourage people into courses where most needed. Failure to fund research means we lose our best people and our competitive edge as a country. Removal of Federal / State bickering and an appropriately funded education vision from preschool to post school is a must if we are to keep our position as the clever country. Let’s also fund measures to deal with the real issues that people in the various sectors can see. Your question has great depth – sorry I can’t answer it in the space provided
Q9. What’s the single most pressing issue in your electorate (local electorate issue – not a broader issue that has an impact on your electorate) and how do you plan on addressing it?
Hume is a huge and diverse electorate. I would put managing the effects of the drought closely followed by needs in education and health. Support of farmers through the difficult times so that they are able to manage debt and attend to appropriate lifestyle would be what I would address. Again, I would look to the constituency on what would best serve them on this one.
Q10. Suppose that you and I are stuck in an elevator for 5 minutes. You know nothing about me other than I’m enrolled to vote in your electorate. What do you say to convince me to vote for you.
Firstly that would involve breaking the convention on elevators would it not? If this didn’t totally freak you out (I’m 6’5′)I would endeavour to let you know the following:
1. I am aware of many of the complexities that face not only this generation but also the next as I work with in a school environment. I see the needs that are there and believe I have solutions.
2. Whilst I have my opinions I would strongly listen to the people of my electorate as after all I am elected to represent them not my party.
3. My party allows me the freedom to represent the views of my constituents as a truly democratic party
4. The values that drive me are the values that built our nation. If you don’t embrace these you would know where I was coming from and these values would drive me to continue to strive for a just and merciful society where freedom and opportunity exist and hard work is appropriately rewarded without sacrificing the personal and societal security that we need.
5. I would want to turn the focus onto listening to and learning from you. Governing is not all about me!
If you listened to me for 5 minutes on politics that would be very encouraging. Democratic rights can tend to be undervalued by people, some of whom see voting as an enormous inconvenience. I would encourage you to value the vote that you have and use it to send a message to the major parties who appear to be governing more for the party than the people at times. This would be done by giving me your number 1 vote and making a well researched choice as your second preference.