9 September 2020

Minor parties face up to major issues ahead of ACT election

| Michael Weaver
Join the conversation
Minor party candidates

Candidates from some of the minor parties who will contest the upcoming ACT election during a forum at the Southern Cross Club at Woden on Thursday night. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Former independent candidate in the ACT Legislative Assembly Michael Moore has some advice for the minor parties tackling the major issues ahead of the ACT election on 17 October.

“My message is to encourage the independents and minor parties to tell voters to put the major parties last and vote for the individuals in a party first,” said Mr Moore, who served four terms as an independent, including as Minister for Health under the minority Liberal governments led by Kate Carnell and Gary Humphries.

“You have to make the Legislative Assembly work in the best way to make the government accountable, and that’s what a crossbench does most effectively.”

Under the Hare-Clark system of voting, Mr Moore said it was imperative that the minor parties and independents tell voters that if they don’t want someone elected, don’t put a mark in their box on the ballot paper.

READ MORE The ACT election is almost here, so what’s Hare-Clark and what does it mean?

“No members of the current government have ever been in opposition, so they don’t know what it is like. You don’t necessarily see the effectiveness of the committee system when you’re not in opposition,” Mr Moore said.

“Of course, it was Don Chipp who put it in the most appropriate terms to ‘keep the bastards honest’.”

Michael Moore

Former independent member of the ACT Legislative Assembly Michael Moore. Photo: Dominic Giannini

Of the 25 seats in the Legislative Assembly, Mr Moore said there was always a chance of someone from a minor party being elected because a strong crossbench is an important part of a democracy.

“The worst thing to do is to try and be a politician for the sake of being a politician. The best thing to do is to really read your maiden speech if you do get elected and say why you are in politics.”

READ ALSO Stanhope: why would I not accept the Libs’ poverty job?

Last Thursday night (3 September) at the Southern Cross Club at Woden, candidates from seven registered minor parties had their say on major issues in a field of 13 minor parties and independents.

The forum included candidates from the Canberra Progressives, The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, The Canberra Party, Belco Party, Sustainable Australia, The Community Action Party, the Australian Climate Change Justice Party, and independents David Pollard and Fiona Carrick.

The turnout was sparse at best and mainly included candidates from the parties.

Event organiser and Canberra Progressives candidate for Murrumbidgee Robert Knight said it’s difficult for minor parties to get their voices heard.

“The major parties have sewn up politics for their own benefit and that of their cashed-up vested interests.

“With 23 of 25 seats in the Legislative Assembly occupied by Labor and Liberal, and two Greens forming a government with Labor, this simply doesn’t reflect the diversity of Canberrans and their views,” Mr Knight said.

Belco Party candidates Bill Stefaniak and Angela Lount.

Belco Party candidates Bill Stefaniak and Angela Lount. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Each of the candidates had their say on policies and issues from town planning, hospitals and creating a closed-loop economy, to domestic violence, commercial leases, electric vehicles and climate change.

Former Opposition leader and Belco Party candidate Bill Stefaniak cited planning as a key issue: “Two cars can’t even pass each other in the streets out at Molonglo.”

Independent Fiona Carrick noted a lack of community facilities: “We have nowhere for community gatherings in Woden outside of the clubs.”

Ms Carrick also declared two political donations: “Dad gave me $1500 and mum gave me $1000.”

Petar Johnson of the Australian Climate Change Justice Party took aim at the ACT Greens for “selling out” to Andrew Barr’s Labor government. “The ACT Greens have been in power for 25 years,” he said.

Retired public servant and former legislative drafter with the Attorney-General’s department Alvin Hopper said he wanted the ACT to be one electorate rather than five constituencies.

One candidate from the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party admitted he “wasn’t across the issue of the West Basin but was happy to find out more”.

The candidates joined at the end of the night for a ‘team photo’, pledging to not do any deals with the major parties to influence the flow of preferences.

“We need more diverse representation in the Assembly to hold the government to account and break up the concentration of power. Canberra will be the richer for it,” said Mr Knight.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Rob Chalmers5:56 pm 09 Sep 20

The Greens run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. They are part of a coalition government but pretend they are keeping the bastards honest. The light rail planning has been abysmal. No prospect of stage 2 being completed anytime soon yet it it is our biggest infrastructure project ever. Now the ACT coalition government seeks to divert attention from the light rail calamity with 90 electric buses….Really.

“The Greens have actually held the balance of power since 2008, or for 12 years now.” (Tim Liersch)

And you ought to be hanging your collective Green heads in shame. Rates up 10-11% every year, rents up, housing affordability down, the visual pollution of ugly low quality apartments, a costly tram, budget blowouts, skywhale, rainbow roundabouts, public art monstronsities, the farce of gay conversion laws, hazard reduction bans, critically endangered species put at risk from rampant over-development, recreational green spaces disappearing, Curtin paddocks under threat, housing block size diminishing, slum like densification, , tree canopy shrinking, …….. I won’t continue because I can see your eyes glazing over.

Excuse me while I take pride in the gay conversion therapy ban, Shane’s authorisation of hazard reduction burns while he held the TAMS portfolio, and a proper public transport infrastructure plan among the Greens’ many other achievements.

Also, I wear glasses. The glazing helps me see through spin.

Speaking as a Greens candidate, I’m kind of amused (flattered?) that Petar Johnson (of the taxi plate lobby) thinks the Greens have been in power for 25 years, which would include the time Kate Carnell served as Chief Minister.
The Greens have actually held the balance of power since 2008, or for 12 years now. We’ve used that position as best we can to be a positive influence on ACT politics, commensurate with our status as a minor party.

Rob Chalmers5:59 pm 09 Sep 20

The Greens don’t hold the balance of power. They are part of a coalition government. It is a Labor/Green coalition.

the trouble with minor candidates is that you have no idea who they are and what they stand for. the belco party for instance appears to be full of ex liberals and there is a strong suspicion that they are simply a front to get the libs elected. The answer is simple – don’t vote for a party if you don’t know what they stand for and who is financing them

Mike of Canberra1:04 pm 02 Oct 20

So what dolphin? Aren’t the Greens mainly there to ensure Labor stays in power and to exact a price from them for the privilege of retaining that power? Nothing new in that – or is it only wrong if it benefits the Liberals instead of Labor?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.