5 May 2022

Katy v Zed, a field of diverse candidates and a big question over our second Senate seat

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Senator Katy Gallagher and candidate David Pocock

Labor Senator Katy Gallagher and independent candidate David Pocock at the Region Media Senate Candidates Debate. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Senate election races can be little more than an afterthought elsewhere in Australia. Not so in the ACT. As ACT Labor Senator Katy Gallagher told the audience at this week’s Region Media Senate Candidates Debate, everyone knows their senators and treats them much like their local MP.

Region Media brought together six candidates from across the political spectrum for a live debate at the Southern Cross Club, Woden. You can see the full debate below with senators Katy Gallagher and Zed Seselja, and candidates Kim Rubenstein, David Pocock, Tjanara Goreng Goreng from the Greens and James Savoulidis from the United Australia Party.

James Savoulidis, Zed Seselja and Kim Rubenstein

James Savoulidis (UAP), Senator Zed Seselja and independent candidate Kim Rubenstein. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Starting with housing and the cost of living, the debate included vigorous discussion on how best to cap steep housing price rises, whether expanding housing sites would be a key to the squeeze and how the current government’s economic management had impacted Canberrans’ ability to buy a house.

Murky preference swaps and the realities of political deals were also interrogated, given the strong likelihood they will decide the second seat.

Candidates canvassed their value to the electorate, and Senator Gallagher told the audience she treats every election as if she was a local MP, denying that the ALP had taken Canberra for granted.

Senator Zed Seselja, the ACT’s only sitting government minister, and Senator Gallagher, who holds a senior role in the ALP, have both argued that their seniority in the major parties makes them more able to advocate effectively for the ACT.

Candidates on stage

Greens candidate Tjanara Goreng Goreng. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Kim Rubenstein, who has drafted legislation for additional ACT senators, argued that the Territory was fundamentally under-represented and under-served in the current situation.

David Pocock

David Pocock is seeking to break the major parties’ stranglehold on the ACT. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

David Pocock argued that independent representation would break the major party stranglehold in the Territory, but both he and Ms Rubenstein were forced to defend their decision to accept Climate 200 funding.

Candidates on stage

Kim Rubenstein speaking at the debate. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

UAP candidate James Savoulides thinks there should be fewer politicians around the country, although he faced difficult issues raised by Ms Rubenstein, a constitutional law expert, about his plans to decrease the national quota of senators.

Multiple viewers raised the issue of Territory rights, and Senator Seselja defended his voting decisions on issues like euthanasia and same-sex marriage in the face of strenuous local opposition.

Audience members

Audience members at the Region Media Senate Candidate Debate. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Questions from the floor and via Facebook covered refugee and multicultural issues, women’s safety and whether candidates would agree to outlaw false and misleading political advertising and agree to fully transparent and independent anti-corruption hearings.

Genevieve Jacobs

The debate was moderated by Region Media Group Editor Genevieve Jacobs. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

“Yes, and yes,” Greens candidate Tjanara Goreng Goreng said, while Senator Seselja reiterated Liberal Party beliefs that the NSW ICAC model unfairly ends the careers of politicians who are later exonerated of wrongdoing, citing Nick Greiner and Barry O’Farrell as examples.

Zed Seselja, Kim Rubenstein and Tjanara Goreng Goreng

Zed Seselja, Kim Rubenstein and Tjanara Goreng Goreng. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

And on the matter of corflute wars, misleading memes and false inferences about political allegiances, James Savoulides had bracing advice. “Just own it!” he said of his decision to appear on social media wearing a Make America Great Again cap after being aligned with Trump supporters.


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“Others [terrorists] are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves… So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work funding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations…It’s real, and that’s the reason why we have to intensify our [counterterrorism) efforts.”
Secretary of Defense William Cohen at an April 1997
counterterrorism conference at the University of Georgia.

Humans have the technology to change the climate and environment at will. It’s just being hidden from us.

The climate change agenda is a smoke screen used for ill intentions.

Ms Jacobs, please don’t buy into the factually incorrect assertion that the ACT is the most under represented jurisdiction in the country. We have 1 MHR for every 143K head of population and 1 Senator for every 215K. The national averages are 1 per 170K and 1 per 338K. We are in fact over represented in both houses of parliament. NSW is the jurisdiction most under represented in the Senate with 1 Senator per 682K people, and Tasmania is the most over represented with 5 MHR and 12 Senators for only 540K people. Wonder how Rubenstein reconciles her views on this with her desire for truth in political advertising.

Stephen Ashton1:44 pm 05 May 22

Not being partisan, I think she want’s to ‘level the playing field’. The issue is not a local one but needs addressing on a national level. As you point out. the massive over representation in Tasmania (1 per 45k) compared to NSW (1 per 682k) is quite nuts.

But we don’t have local and State governments – only a territory government. And the federal government has the power to pass a law banning the territory from making laws on issues e.g. voluntary euthanasia.

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