MICHAEL Belardinelli has walked the streets and had plenty of conversations, and believes three topics come up again and again: law and order, the environment and job creation.
After recently finishing his Certificate III in community care, he decided to try something different – he would run as an independent candidate for Bendigo East.
Instead of being another independent channelling preferences to a major party candidate, he wants to do the opposite.
“I’m not going to have how-to-vote cards. I’m going to preference the Greens and the Democratic Labour Party because they don’t take money from corporations,” Mr Belardinelli said.
“I believe that the Liberal and Labor parties are too heavily coerced by corporations and don’t go in for the real people.”
Rather than being about “me, me, me”, the Sebastian local says his policies are a reflection of what the community wants, developed through countless hours of chats with strangers and friends.
On law and order, he wants to remove parole for murderers and rapists, and 40-year sentences for murder, serial rape and fatal one-punch attacks. Mr Belardinelli also wants private prisons put back in public hands.
For the environment, he says logging of old growth forests should be banned and logging communities be given funding to create new jobs.
“A massive planting program is needed as trees cool the ground, absorb gases like carbon monoxide and are linked to more rainfall,” Mr Belardinelli said.
“A healthy environment promotes a healthy economy.”
He said there were no financial backers for his campaign.
“I’m a one-man band,” Mr Belardinelli said.
Other issues he hopes to raise in the 16 days before the November 24 election include safe injecting facilities for Bendigo to “remove drugs from the streets”, incentives to grow hemp, giving the public full access to political donation figures, more land releases for public housing and a container deposit scheme.
He also thinks people caught talking on their phone while driving should lose their licence for a year, and texting-while-driving should be a three-year loss of licence.
The cut-off for party candidates is Thursday, and independents is Friday.
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