A couple of dinosaurs were spotted in Civic on Wednesday but they didn’t have a lot to say.
The dinosaurs were inflated props for the launch of a political party that lauds itself as being progressive ahead of the ACT election on 17 October. There were the usual spiel about visions, new ideas and tired government, but the Canberra Progressives were tight-lipped on policy and preference deals during the launch.
Canberra Progressives president Douglas Maclaine-Cross said after a year most would likely choose to forget, he marked the launch as a day to be excited about the future.
“We’ll admit politics can be a difficult thing to be excited about, or interested in when our world has been turned on its head,” Mr Maclaine-Cross said.
“From climate change and massive bush fires, through to the increasing pressures on household budgets and the oppressive blanket of COVID-19, it’s not like a local election is high on people’s agenda.
“But it is exactly for reasons like this and more that we need a party built on a solid foundation of ethics, evidence and empowerment.”
Australian Progressives national president Robert Knight is also a candidate for the seat of Murrumbidgee. He spoke familiar phrases that are far from extinct in politics.
“The Canberra Progressives bring a fresh and forward-thinking perspective to the future of Canberra,” he said. “Yes, we care about development, and yes we care about the environment. But our approach is centred around people, livelihoods and community.”
Mr Knight said the dinosaurs are a metaphor for the current ACT Government.
“The dinosaurs have had their time. It’s time to move them into the museum where they belong now.
“We’d like you to meet our dinosaurs Compy and Vesty – short for ‘complacency’ and ‘vested interests’. We’re keen to kick these out of the Legislative Assembly. ACT voters can help us by voting for Progressives candidates in the election on 17 October.”
Asked what makes the Progressives different from the other major parties, Mr Knight said the party is not bound by ideology or vested interests.
“We’re about pragmatism, underpinned by basic decency, compassion and ethical behaviour.
“If you look at the membership of the two major parties, there is stagnant support at best, so you see a desire and an atmosphere for real change.”
Three members of the party will contest the seat of Kurrajong, including Tim Böhm, who has contested previous elections with the Bullet Train Party and recently as an independent at the 2019 Federal election.
President of Canberra Women in Business and award-winning Barbershop chorus member Peta Swarbrick will also contest Kurrajong with Therese Faulkner, who is a former president of the Canberra International Film Festival, a soccer-playing grandmother and winner of TV quiz shows.
Other candidates include Bethany Williams and Mike Stelzig in the seat of Yerrabi and Stephen Lin and Robert Knight, who will contest the seat of Murrumbidgee.
Mr Knight admitted their chances are slim, but ruled out any preference deals the seven candidates will make with sitting members of the Legislative Assembly at this stage.
“It’s a question we will send out to our members and also the community where we’ll talk to them about where they see our best interests.
“We have a full policy suite on our website but we will have some headline policies that we’ll announce as the campaign unfolds,” he said.
To date, 11 parties have registered for the ACT election on 17 October: the Animal Justice Party, the ALP, the Belco Party, Canberra Progressives, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, Shooters Fishers and Farmers, Sustainable Australia, ACT Greens, Community Action Party and the Flux Party.
Nominations close on 23 September.