2 October 2021

Kim4CBR sets her sights on toppling Seselja in the Senate

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Kim Rubenstein

Kim Rubenstein. Photo: Supplied.

It may be the biggest mountain to climb in ACT politics, but Kim Rubenstein reckons she has the best chance in decades to topple Senator Zed Seselja at the next federal election.

The legal academic has thrown her hat in the ring as an independent, gathering 1700 supporters in her newly-formed Kim4CBR party. Those numbers will put her above the line on the ballot and she believes the growing momentum for independent candidates gives her more than a fighting chance of victory.

Kim is a nationally recognised legal scholar, legal practitioner, professor, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. She is currently at the 5050 by 2030 foundation at the University of Canberra as its co-director, and academic after a lengthy stint in the ANU’s College of Law.

A national expert on citizenship law, she regularly acts on a pro bono basis before the High Court and has been a regular media commentator.

“It is a big call”, she says of the decision to run.

“When I started my career, academic work was attractive because I could do it without having to sacrifice family. Balancing that was important to me, but I always wanted to contribute.”

Her children, now in their early 20’s, are enthusiastic enough about the change to put their own studies on hold for her campaign, and Kim says the last 18 months of concern over gender equity in particular have amplified the need to take action.

“It’s made me think I’ve got to do something in a more direct way. I’ve been doing a lot from the outside – it’s time to come to the inside,” she says.

Kim believes there’s a rising tide of independents in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, pointing to the likes of Helen Haynes, Zali Steggall and Rex Patrick. She thinks greater numbers of non-aligned or independent parliamentarians can also make the system work better by calling MPs and Senators to account outside party lines.

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Her concerns include gender equity, constitutional change, indigenous recognition, a republic and citizenship – all, she thinks, are “really pressing issues” that are unresolved due to the pressures of the party system. She’s also deeply concerned about climate change and describes herself as “a candidate of integrity, committed to representing Canberra”.

She’ll campaign for the Electoral Act to be amended, increasing the ACT’s senators to four* in line with the population growth and says if elected, she’ll also be standing up for the public service against successive cuts to investment and financial support.

But where will the votes come from? How will issues like this move the needle in a jurisdiction where there’s almost two quotas guaranteed for the ALP and a smaller but still solid Liberal vote at each election?

Kim thinks she has a chance with disaffected “small l” Liberals and Labor voters who are frustrated by party loyalties.

“No matter how wonderful people think Zed and Katy are, they vote according to party lines not what’s in the best interests of Canberra,” she said.

“With three seats in the House of Representatives, the Canberra community of thoughtful individuals can vote as they normally would in the lower house. But they could also see the Senate vote as something separate, to send a message to whatever party they support, someone who is more aligned with their values.”

The Voices For Australia movement has provided advice and encouragement but Kim says they’re not formally a part of her campaign. Moral support has come from conversations with sitting independents and some meaningful donations have come in through the Kim 4CBR website.

Zoom is facilitating meetings with the community during lockdown and Kim is also gathering volunteers.

“I’m a dedicated family person, truly engaged with community participation”, she said.

“I have very strong values about family, the importance of the individual and protecting and ensuring inclusive strong community.

“I think our campaign will resonate with Canberrans who want a better and more secure environment. It’s not about exclusion but looking after everyone at the same time – those things are not mutually exclusive.

“We don’t have to label people, we can connect on the fundamental values of human dignity, integrity and a responsiveness to people’s needs.”

*Corrected

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Great – another lawyer, that’s all we need

Capital Retro8:46 am 04 Oct 21

It appears you also don’t know anything about the purpose of the shift command on your keyboard.

HiddenDragon8:55 pm 02 Oct 21

Sounds a lot like the policy agenda being offered by the “Voice For” candidates who are lining up as a small “l” liberal/progressive alternative for voters who can’t quite bring themselves to vote Labor or Green in hitherto safe Liberal seats in the “leafy suburbs” of the larger cities. Canberra being Canberra, most Canberrans who are that way inclined will have long since taken the “when in Rome” option, with the only question being whether they vote 1. Labor, 2. Green, or vice versa.

A far more serious threat for the second ACT Senate seat would be an independent candidate, with an established but ideologically neutral profile (sport, small business, community sector etc.) who was open to some progressive policies, but whose central appeal would be an unyielding determination to fight for a better fiscal deal for the ACT, with support for key legislation subject to that – party-aligned candidates, subject to party discipline, simply cannot promise that. The better fiscal deal would include the Commonwealth involving itself in negotiations between the ACT and NSW over funding for ACT service provision (particularly health), to surrounding areas of NSW.

With both major parties blatantly and unapologetically taking the ACT for granted, a candidate of that sort could appeal to the long-suffering taxpayers of the ACT, regardless of current affiliation.

When prospective politicians say they want to work for the people, it is code for ‘elect me, I want my nose in the trough as well.’

Capital Retro11:16 am 02 Oct 21

She won’t get elected but she will also scuttle the Green campaign so it’s going to be an excellent outcome.

At first I was excited to read this, hopefully someone to replace the dreadful Zed. Then I read of her main concerns – gender equity, (loud & prolonged groan).
A female academic banging on about gender equity – that’ll really excite the voters.

Good luck to her but based on the above, she has somewhere between Buckley’s and none.

On the policy platform provided, she would most likely be cannibalising votes from the Greens rather than convincing any of the centre right voters that would be needed to topple Zed.

Good luck with this, Kim. Don’t think much of your chances, but at least you’re giving it a go. Let’s get rid of Brain-dead Zed.

We’ve seen this movie before, several times, and we already know the ending. Spoiler alert, there are 2 Senate seats, Liberal and Labor win 1 each.

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