21 November 2007

Federal Election Email Interview - Norvan Vogt, ACT Senate candidate for The Australian Democrats

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In our continuing series of Email Interviews with local candidates in the coming Federal Election we bring you Norvan Vogt – the ACT Senate Candidate for The Australian Democrats.

Norvan Vogt – ACT Democrats

Norvan Vogt’s responses, in full and unedited, can be found below:

Question 1: 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?

Qualifications – Completed a Diploma in Information Technology (Software Development) from the Canberra Institute of Technology and I am currently two-thirds the way through a Masters of Business and Technology at UNSW. I also have certificates of proficiency in French, Spanish and Dutch, as well as volunteer management and Wilderness Leaders First Aid (could come in handy in parliament if it gets rough 🙂 ).

Career – I have spent four years working in the community development sector around the world for various organisation including the United Nations, AusAID and the World Bank. Project for these organisations took me to places like Vanuatu, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea. I have been in the Scout movement for more than 20 years and hold the Baden-Powell Award. Also I’ve served three years in the Australian Army Reserve and presented a white paper on youth volunteering to the United Nations International Symposium on Volunteering. Unfortunately, volunteer work doesn’t pay the bills, so currently I am working as an IT Manager for a local technology company.

Economics – I co-founded a local software development company and am currently studying a post-graduate business degree. As part of my current position as an IT Manager I manage a multi-million dollar budget.

Question 2: 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?

There are several issues that I am particularly concerned about. There is an urgent need to address climate change, but we need to do this in a responsible way that does not put thousands of people out of work or build a nuclear Power Station (especially Jervis bay).

Australia needs a fairer industrial relations regime that neither preferences the unions nor dodgy employers. And of course, withdrawing our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as feasibly possible without compromising the situation.

There is one issue in particular that I really would like to address and that is the restriction of gambling advertising, Similar to the two bills that the Democrats put up in the late nineties, I would like to see gambling advertising restricted just as tobacco advertising has been. This needs to be done at the Federal level and it just doesn’t seem to be a major priority of any other party.

Question 3: 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?

Within the constitution of the Democrats it is stated that every Democrat must vote with their conscience on every vote. There are a number of issues such as voluntary euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research that I do not agree with my Democrat colleagues. This is more to do with the economics of these issues marginalising people than moral grounds. The Australian democracy would be much stronger if senators would vote more on conscience than along party lines. I would oppose any intervention by the Federal government in a law that was lawfully passed within the powers of the ACT Legislative Assembly, even if it was against my own point of view or Democrats Policy.

Question 4: 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?

I am in favour of a number of political reforms and four-year fixed terms is one of them. Four-year fixed terms allow a more orderly approach to elections and would diminish the phoney election campaign that was going on before this election where the Federal government was able to use taxpayer’s money for what some would describe as political advertising.

Question 5: Do you think that it is important for the Prime Minister and their family to live in Canberra? Why or why not?

Yes, the Prime Minister should reside at the Lodge in Canberra because Canberra is the capital of Australia.

Question 6: Do you consider that making observations about the structure and makeup of the other major political party is beneficial to your own party’s role in the election?

I don’t believe that it is constructive to criticise how opposing political parties operate internally. This is a matter for their membership. I would rather focus our energies on highlighting how the Australian Democrats differ from other parties with regard to policy and accountability to the Australian public.

I am more concerned about how lobby groups operate, where their funding comes from and what particular position they hold on particular issues. Lobby groups often undermine the political process due to a lack of transparency and the amount of pressure that they are able to exert upon democratically elected politicians. I believe that there is nowhere near the amount of transparency and accountability on lobby groups as there are on political parties. As many of them do not have a membership base they cannot be held internally accountable.

Question 7: What are your 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 utilised sensibly in the future?

I believe that there needs to be a national review of the social, economic and environmental impacts of Australian water allocations and water trading systems, and a moratorium on the further extension of water trading systems until publication of this review. This should not only just take into account of the Murray Darling basin and surface water allocations, but also a review of water allocations from bore water. The focus should not only be on primary producers, but also on the consumption of water by urban centres such as Canberra and Adelaide in the Murray Darling basin.

Question 8: 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?

I consider that access to publicly-funded education of the highest quality is crucial to overcome systemic disadvantage and should be available to all. Education is a life-long process that should foster individual initiative, creativity, and flexibility, and allow all Australians to maximise their potential and fully participate in their community. Australia needs a thriving public higher education system to succeed in the knowledge economy and improve our national innovation effort. The development of skilled and qualified graduates and the provision of ongoing professional development for the workforce are vital for a knowledge based economy.

Question 9: 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?

Shortage of Bulk Billing GPs – I would work towards more even distribution of GPs throughout Australia through exploration of the allocation of Medicare provider numbers on a per capita geographic basis as well as more attractive packages and adequate resources and support for overseas trained doctors and nationally consistent assessment processes.

Question 10: 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.

I don’t normally get caught in elevators because I like to take the stairs. Keeps me fit an active 🙂

The leadership of our nation lacks direction. I see nothing but obsolete ideas, ideas that can not take Australia successfully into the future. Each of the other parties focus their efforts on pushing one ideology. They spend more time criticising each other’s ideology than finding meaningful solutions. The Australian Labor Party focuses on social issues, often forgoing fiscal responsibility and environmental management to achieve this. Conversely, The Liberal Party of Australia targets economic prosperity to the detriment of anything else – our democracy, society and environment. The Australian Greens have focused on the environment, putting that ahead of social cost or economic viability. A clear direction for the future must be more! A sustainable future must be about “triple bottom line” – a balanced, sensible approach that protects and advances our society, our environment and our economy. The Australian Democrats are the only major political party which has the track record and the independence: to be even-handed, to strive for the best practical outcome on each issue, and to serve the best interests of all Australians. Our principles are strong – we simply pursue them without the dogma. The obsolete ideas of the other political parties can not take Australia into the future. As the past three years have shown us, Australia needs checks on government, and it needs balance. The Australian Democrats can, and have, provided those checks, and the balance, for 30 years. It will provide those checks and balances into the future. I want a better Australia, one that is fair, responsible and sustainable, an Australia which considers and values – equally – our society, our environment and our economy. I hope you do too.

##yeah I know its off my website but it’s a good spiel seems to work well, and It only takes 2 minutes 🙂 ##

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Perhaps “real” in the sense that his speeches do not appear to have been scripted by paid party professionals?

BeyondThought1:16 am 23 Nov 07

Hi. I find the comment that “he does have a real” quality a little odd. The other candidates I’m sure are all decent people (Ivan Milat’s sister, well ok you have me there) and I’m sure want to do a good job, representing their local community etc, etc.

How can it be a waste of a vote in a preferential voting system. If this guy is you number one then vote him number 1 – then if he doesn’t get a quota is goes to your number 2 …. not rocket surgery.

He does have a “real” quality……

Vic, I agree with you that Norvan does come across well. He spoke quite well at the public gigs I’ve seen him doing around town. However, I don’t think it’s a waste to vote for a party that you know won’t actually get in. You get two votes for the price of one thanks to preferences, and it tells the major players what the voters consider to be the important issues. It certainly makes a difference to major party policies.

el ......VNBerlinaV810:21 pm 21 Nov 07

Agreed Ant. Definitely the best so far.

Norvan bring up his personal views on voluntary euthanasia. I am also unsure whether I am breaching some RA etiquite (maybe it is a thread in it own right)

But I was listening on the radio yesterday to some snippets of an interview phil Nitschke, which made me think about it a bit. I had (maybe still do but…)been in favour of voluntary euthanasia.

In this interview he said “The one thing that made me feel a little bit more comfortable was that I’d built the machine. The machine at least allowed me not to have to go and sit by him as a sitting like you, by you and put a cannula in and give the injection. I didn’t want to have any part of that.” (I just pulled that off the transcript to make sure I got it right).

I am also very vocally against the death penalty. As such I was very heartened to also hear on a separate show (about a month ago) that some people in the states have stopped the death penalty on the basis that lethal injection may constitute cruel and unusual punishment. There was a very graphic description of what happens and the possibility that the sentence person may be in agony.

The Nitschke interview made me think – if professional killers like the US justice system cannot make a painless machine, how can Phillip Nitscke? If he has then surely they would use it in the states.

I have always been a

Good response. Well written, honest sounding, and no wankery. Best so far I reckon.

Vic Bitterman7:41 pm 21 Nov 07

Quite a well worded response. Shame about the rest of the party – that’s the reason why I’d never waste my vote.

I’d suggest that Norvan’s talents are wasted in a no-hope party like the democrats. He’d even be much better off running as an independent.

It’s not enough for me to vote for a party that are neither left nor right, and allow their Senators a conscience vote on every issue. I need to know what the party stands for other than just transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, the Democrats are now considered a minor party rather than the third force, so they’re going to have a tough time getting the media to pay attention to any actual policies they might put out.

Impassive – we have the GST courtesy of the Coalition. The Democrats passed numerous amendments, including not having it on basic food. In the end, some (I know Natasha Stott-Despoja at least) voted against it because it was on books. So yeah, they do vote with their conscience.

I shall not comment as it is bad manners to talk ill of the ‘dead’.

Joe Canberran10:08 am 21 Nov 07

Jonathon that’s mean! …but very funny 😀

Jonathon Reynolds9:56 am 21 Nov 07

I think Crikey’s “First Dog on the Moon” has captured the spirit of the democrats the best:

Joe Canberran9:44 am 21 Nov 07

It appears Riot’s spell checker doesn’t cover the header. But as soon as you mentioned it it’s gone. The magic of Thumper…

Besides the answer to question 5 being a bit light on and the use of smilies etc I’m quite impressed.

The chances of them getting in are almost non-existent but I’ll probably give him my first preference to help keep the party alive and decide where my vote finally ends up by voting below the line.

Sounds like a nice bloke with sensible ideas, but we have the GST courtesy of the Democrats.

If their constitution directs them to vote with their conscience either all of them thought it was a good idea, or they actually do what they’re told in contradiction of their constitution.

Either way they’re a dead loss.

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