THE Bendigo Advertiser has a long and proud history of keeping the central Victorian community informed.
Our masthead plays a vital role in asking questions on behalf of our readers about issues that matter to them, and their community.
To provide our readers with an insight into those nominating for the federal seat of Bendigo, we invited each of the seven candidates to answer the same series of questions.
Each candidate had the same list of questions and the same time frame - from Wednesday last week to 5pm on Monday.
Below are the answers from four candidates - Labor's Lisa Chesters, Greens' Robert Holian, Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party's Julie Hoskin, and the United Australia Party's Adam Veitch.
Liberal candidate Sam Gayed, Pauline Hanson's One Nation candidate Vaughan Williams, and the Rise Up Australia Party candidate Sharon Budde did not respond by deadline.
Before you vote: Everything you need to know ahead of the 2019 federal election
Robert Holian is a 27-year-old Bendigo doctor who practices at the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative. He was previously a junior doctor at Bendigo Health.
I'm part of a generation that learnt the fundamentals of global warming and pollution when we were in primary school, much like kids today. At the time, I honestly thought it was a problem that society would have sorted out by the time I was an adult.
I'm a local GP, and it's been a true privilege to provide healthcare to so many individual people in the Bendigo community. But I can't help noticing that for many of the people I see and treat every day, their health is determined far more by their social circumstances and their environment than any of the medical factors I can address during our consultations.
Rather than feel overwhelmed or disempowered by the scale of these problems, I joined the Greens because I believe their policies are the most appropriate political solutions. And rather than wait for another year to go by, and watch on the sidelines as our government fails to act on climate change, I put my hand up to be the Greens candidate for Bendigo because I want the next government to ensure a safe climate for everyone.
I'm bringing an approach to politics that does away with the shameless partisan antics we see from some of our representatives in Canberra. Bendigo is rightly sick of it, and we all deserve better than that.
As a GP, I am highly trained to take the best available evidence, and apply it appropriately to a wide variety of situations, circumstances, and people. My work experience means that I have to put myself in the shoes of people who are doing it tough every day, and I'm always acutely aware of the real effects government decisions in Canberra can have on people's lives.
There is a distinct lack of compassion and sensitivity evident in the decisions our government is making in Canberra, and I will stand up for those who currently feel excluded from our national conversation.
I think honesty and integrity are enormously important as a member of parliament. Our collective faith in the Australian democratic process can only be maintained if members of parliament act consistently in the public interest, and are transparent about their process of decision-making. But I believe honesty should go further than that, and include the way politicians communicate with the public. I believe all members of parliament should answer the questions from their community and the media without the "spin" that pervades current debate, which I think obscures nuances of important issues and prevents the public from achieving a full understanding.
Compassion is also sorely needed from our parliamentary representatives, and is more important than ever in our current political debate. When our democracy is currently battling a sense of disaffection from politics, it is incumbent on our political leaders to show compassion to bind our community together, and forge a new way forward based on shared ambition.
While the people working in our local mental health services are highly trained and doing excellent work, the infrastructure and resources available to our mental health services are critically poor. I want to establish a mental health outreach service in Bendigo to fill the gap between hospital psychiatric services and GP services.
I know that local producers and farmers are doing it increasingly tough, and are incurring higher cost pressures as a result of higher temperatures and less rainfall. Primary agriculture is important and affects all sectors of society, but it supports larger regional communities like Bendigo more than most. I want to support our local farmers by giving them access to grants from the Greens' recently announced $100 million-a-year agriculture fund to adapt better to the challenges of a changing climate and set up communities like ours for prosperity in coming decades.
It's also impossible to ignore the deficit in public transport we experience here in Bendigo. Clearly, the single track Bendigo line to Melbourne is putting the brakes on tourism and regional development, and is in need of modernisation, but I want to look even further than that. I want to put commitments the Greens have announced on active transport ($250 million a year) to good use in Bendigo by making it quicker to walk and cycle in our wonderful city.
My background, training to become a GP, has made me pretty passionate about the health of our community. Within that broad topic however, I'm passionate about Indigenous health, mental health, and workforce planning in rural and regional areas. Bendigo has the opportunity to lead the country when it comes to closing the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and when it comes to addressing youth suicide and psychological morbidity.
On the final point, workforce planning, I know from experience that Bendigo can attract the health professionals needed to bridge the gaps we currently have, but the absence of clearly defined and supported career paths at times prevents us from retaining talented individuals. Whether it's nurses, GPs, specialist physicians, surgeons, physiotherapists, dentists, speech pathologists, or any other in-demand profession, if we provided well-supported opportunities for people to train and develop their skills over time, we will foster loyalty from those professionals and create the long-term workforce needed for Bendigo's future.
The biggest challenge facing the Bendigo electorate is the looming threat of the climate emergency. Farmers are already noticing the impacts at a crop level, with drier and less-robust soil, and changing rainfall patterns. The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian National University used IPCC data to model what changes would occur in Bendigo if we continued with "business as usual". It would horrify many to find out the predicted result in Bendigo would be an increase in average temperatures of 3.0, with higher bushfire risks, and that winter as we currently know it would virtually cease to exist.
But in every crisis, there is opportunity. Rapidly reducing the emissions intensity of our economy is a jobs-intensive process, and for a comparable amount of energy produced, solar and wind farms employ far more people than coal plants currently do. While it's clear that we need to phase out our coal mining and export industries, the Bendigo electorate is poised to benefit from the abundance of dry sunshine we have in the north, and the windy conditions we often have in southern parts of the electorate.
No, it's fair to say the current Coalition government rarely gives Bendigo any love, and the recent federal budget was a prime example of that. Tax cuts were announced for wealthy individuals, but there was no vision to improve services in our region, and no plans to add funding to community projects advocated by council.
I think this phenomenon speaks to the attitude of the current government, in that it seems only to announce spending at a local level if it is propping up a sitting Liberal member, or trying to woo voters in a marginal electorate. In other words, it is a political calculation from the Coalition, which concludes that Bendigo simply isn't winnable in their view.
The issue of greatest concern to me, both at a local and national level, is climate change. Without a safe climate, a lot of the things we enjoy and take for granted about living in Australia will be destroyed. But within that crisis, we have the opportunity to create a smarter, fairer and more sustainable society, and I will continue to work towards that aim.
Our treatment of refugees continues to be a dark shadow on the conscience of our nation. The way we treat people fleeing persecution by detaining them indefinitely offshore is disgracefully heartless, so I want to restore compassion and dignity to our asylum seeker and refugee policies.
Finally, I think our treatment of Australia's Indigenous peoples is particularly distressing. As a country, we fail to acknowledge that our nation is built on stolen land, and nor do we show respect or truly celebrate the oldest continuously living culture on earth, which continues to thrive despite government policies which aimed for the genocide of Aboriginal people. The least we can do is take the Uluru statement to heart, establish a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament, establish genuine treaty processes, and address intergenerational disadvantage and injustice.
I reject the implication of this question, which seems to assume that voting with my party (The Greens) may be at odds with what is best for our community. I don't think they should be mutually exclusive. If I do not believe a particular decision is in the best interests of the local community, then I will stridently advocate to ensure it is not Greens policy. I am confident I can do this because of our party's internal processes, which ensure that decisions made by the party room are almost entirely made by consensus, not merely by majority vote. This has been a hallmark of the way the Greens have operated for decades.
Labor candidate Lisa Chesters is a former union organiser. She has held the seat of Bendigo since 2013.
Being the federal member for Bendigo is the greatest honour and a privilege. I would like to continue in this role. There is so much work to do to ensure a fair go for the Bendigo electorate. After six years of Liberal cuts and chaos, far too many of us have been left behind. This needs to change.
I want central Victoria to be a healthy community with a strong education sector, secure jobs people can count on, thriving local businesses and a strong, connected community.
Having been the federal member for Bendigo since 2013, I understand how our parliament works.
I am a grassroots local member who is active in the community. I am committed to continue to meet and learn directly from local constituents, organisations and businesses how federal government reform could affect them. This is critical if you want to be a genuine representative.
Each year I meet with hundreds of individuals and groups, organise regular listening posts and attend as many community events as possible.
I will continue to be a strong voice and fight for Bendigo. My focus is on making sure central Victorians have the best opportunities. Labor's Fair Go Action plan will fix our schools and hospitals, ease pressure on family budgets, stand up for workers, invest in cleaner, cheaper energy and build a strong economy that works for all.
It's important to be in touch with the community you represent and to recognise that is okay to have different and diverse views. You have to be around and you have to be accessible. I often meet with community groups and residents to discuss issues and opportunities across the electorate, which enables me to represent various demographics in the best way that I can. You also need to be a good listener and caring of others. I believe I am both.
Other qualities that are vital to the role include being a strong voice for the region both in parliament and the community, always advocating for inclusiveness and calling out intolerance.
I know that cost of living pressures are an issue for many, particularly for people on a fixed incomes. Not enough is being done to help those most in need of assistance.
Another key issue for locals is access to quality and affordable healthcare. Locals are going without, or going into debt, to pay for medical treatment. It's wrong.
I also believe in funding schools and hospitals before giving the top end of town bigger tax cuts. Labor will deliver a fair go for Australia by reversing cuts to hospitals and making massive new investments with our $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund.
Under Labor, $6 million will be put back into central Victorian hospitals, and schools will be $22 million better off.
I want Bendigo to have its fair share of funding for local projects and infrastructure. It's the only way we will continue to grow.
My focus is on making sure central Victorians have the best opportunities and get a fair go. Labor's Fair Go Action plan will fix our schools and hospitals, ease pressure on family budgets, stand up for workers, invest in cleaner cheaper energy and build a strong economy that works for all.
Federal Labor believes the minimum wage should be a living wage, particularly at a time when company profits are growing five times faster than wages. I want to see workers treated fairly. We have a plan to get wages moving again by reversing the cuts to penalty rates, protecting Australians from unfair labour hire and raising the floor on wages.
I also recognise that many people across Bendigo are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table. Recent reports have named Bendigo as having one of the highest rates of financial hardship in the state. I want to reduce poverty and ease the cost of living across the electorate. A Labor government will reform and extend the National Rental Affordability Scheme to provide incentives for the construction of 250,000 new affordable rental dwellings. Labor will also increase funding by $40 million for emergency relief services that support people in financial crisis.
Cost of living pressures are a huge problem in central Victoria. We know that wages are stagnant and bills are skyrocketing.
Labor will work in the interest of everyday working Australians. We will ease the cost of living by lowering energy bills and better regulating power prices.
I know that many people are struggling to find secure work, particularly at an older age. Bendigo also has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country.
Labor has announced a New Jobs Tax Cut to make it easier for small businesses to create new jobs for people who have been looking for work for more than three months. Companies who take on a new person under the age of 25, or over the age of 55, or a parent or carer just trying to get their foot back into workplace.
Bendigo needs a pipeline of ongoing infrastructure projects. In order for our city to continue to develop it's important that a federal government invests in a variety of community projects and infrastructure. This funding is good for local businesses, will create jobs and help grow our economy.
The short answer is no. I've said many times over the past few years that it's like the Liberal government forgets that Bendigo exists. We have had to fight for every dollar. An example of this is the Bendigo Tennis Centre Development, where the funding was cut then restored after a battle. Not to mention the millions cut from local schools and hospitals, which Labor has committed to restore. It shouldn't be a fight.
There are a number of community projects, upgrades and developments that deserve attention. If elected, a Labor government will inject more than $23 million towards infrastructure projects in the Bendigo electorate, including upgrades at the Bendigo Showgrounds, Bendigo Airport Terminal redevelopment, La Trobe Rural Road Trauma Research Hub, Macedon Ranges Sports Precinct, footpath upgrades and improvements to our growing sporting clubs.
After six years of Liberal cuts and chaos, our united Labor team is ready to serve.
I'm concerned that if the Liberal government returns, the chaos of a divided government will continue. There are also concerns over the chaos and instability around the LNP's preference partners.
The fact Scott Morrison, the Nationals and the LNP have done a preference deal with One Nation shows how desperate they are to cling on to power. A Morrison-Palmer-Hanson Coalition will struggle to function as a government and further weaken our democracy.
Another problem nationally is stable, ongoing employment. In Australia, 2.6 million workers are considered casual - that's one in four workers who are not entitled to paid leave. For these workers it's tough to pay the rent or the mortgage and the bills, let alone make longer term decisions like taking out a car loan or buying their own home. Labor will give long-term casuals the right to request permanent part-time or full-time employment after 12 months. Labor will also crack down on dodgy labour hire rorts and misuse of 457-style visas.
There is also a growing lack of respect for older Australians. After a working life contributing towards building our country, many older Australians have been left in diabolical situations. They deserve respect and dignity. Whether it be decent aged care, better support for pensioners or ensuring all have a healthy and happy retirement; more can be done.
In the six years I've been the federal member for Bendigo, I have found that Labor values line up with the Bendigo electorate values. People really care about for more funding for schools and hospitals. They care about real action on climate change and making sure everyone wanting to work has a secure job.
It's important to note Bendigo is a diverse electorate and sometimes our constituents do disagree. In these cases, I believe it's best to do what is right and what the majority of people in the electorate support.
On occasion, the Parliament will have a free vote or a conscience vote like we did with marriage equality. I didn't need to wait for the results of the marriage equality plebiscite as I was always voting yes to end discrimination against same-sex couples.
Read more: Lisa Chesters talks about cancer diagnosis
Adam Veitch previously ran in 2007 as an independent. He has quit his job as a disability and mental health advocate with the Rights Information and Advocacy Centre to concentrate on his campaign.
The opportunity to stand as a candidate, run and one day possibly serve the electorate of Bendigo is a passion and has always been a dream of mine.
I have been a political enthusiast for almost 30 years, extremely interested in the governance of people practically and theoretically.
I have seen and heard [too much] over this time to just stand by and do nothing. The opportunity to make change doesn't present itself all the time.
As a candidate I can offer myself as an accountable, passionate and driven individual with a commonsense approach to life, a critical in-depth thinker who has been keeping a close eye on the governance of Australia for a long time. I am passionate about looking after the best interests of Australia and its future prosperity for every Australian now and way into the future.
Members of parliament need to be critical integrated independent thinkers, outspoken and incorruptible. Following the party line because you were told to or for re-election purposes has no yield or benefit for the country or its future. Self-preservation at the cost of the Australian people is not a trait of a politician.
The three top priorities for the electorate are still relevant from my 2007 campaign message.
Cost of living/quality of life: Cost of living is way too high and governments have no plans to alleviate this pressure. A poor-quality of life is suffering, living pay cheque to pay cheque. Working poor and borderline homelessness are very real issues for working people. Unemployed people are way below the poverty line and outlook is bleak as their future is an unknown.
Jobs/ secure economy and rural investment: The economy has stagnated and governments have no real plan except throw money at problems with no real return on investment for the population. Keeping taxpayers' money circulating in the economy instead of sitting in the coffers will supercharge the economy, allowing the creation of jobs and re-investment for that money into enterprise and economic growth.
Water security and the environment: Water security has been an issue for decades - it's a dry place - and has not been addressed to the detriment of our farmers and growth and investment into the country and rural areas. A lot of industry and farms have closed due to lack of security and availability of this precious resource. Securing water will allow a growth that's unprecedented with incredible benefits to everyone.
The issue I am most passionate about in this area are the people and their quality of life, we get one life and people shouldn't be suffering or not enjoying their time on this planet. People who know me or have met me know I really do care and I will put people before myself to lead by example and be a positive example.
The biggest challenge facing the Bendigo electorate is the future prospects of the area. We need to go back to basics and get them right, by creating a solid base to grow our country for the future is paramount. This needs to be addressed before we can seriously move forward as a country.
The federal seat of Bendigo has had delivery of some attention and investment. The problem with federal funding is it is mostly ineffective the way it's delivered and a lot of it is wasted during the consultation and application of projects with not a lot left for the actual projects. Cost blowouts and ineffective delivery in recent history shows a lack of accountability, understanding and a duty of care for the tax dollar.
The issues we face as an electorate, we also face as a nation: Cost of living, disposable income and quality of life; jobs and a strong robust secure economy; and water security and the environment.
If you are elected, will you vote with your party, or for what you believe is best for the people of the Bendigo electorate?
If elected I will always put the people first, as is the UAP motto. Elected officials have a responsibility to the people of this country to put the people and the best interest of the country before anything else. For too long they have failed this duty and we now reap what was sown.
By going back and getting our basics right, as all Australians would acknowledge, our country and our citizens will benefit from every decision. I joined the UAP with a lot of people who have Australians' best interests at heart allowing for long-term goals to be laid out and worked towards.
Julie Hoskin, Senator Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party candidate for the marginal Labor seat, is a former Bendigo councillor who led an unsuccessful legal objection to a mosque all the way to the High Court, where she was refused leave to appeal and later went bankrupt, unable to pay the costs of the case. She has indicated to the AEC she is appealing her bankruptcy. Under Section 44 of the Constitution an undischarged bankrupt "shall be incapable of being chosen or sitting" in either house of Federal parliament.
I've observed with dismay, the machinations of the major parties, the rapid downward spiral of social cohesion, freedom of speech, quality of life, affordability of basic necessities and services and the erosion of our value system, constitution and culture.
From my own experience over past years dealing with the challenge against the Bendigo mosque permit, then as an elected councillor for Bendigo and my involvement with the recent banking and finance royal commission submissions exposing criminal/ unlawful conduct of lawyers and finance sectors, it's evident that our political, legal, financial and other systems are broken and no longer serve the interests of Australians.
I researched the agendas and policies of political candidates/ parties and found that only Fraser Anning's suite of objects/ policies covered the fundamental elements that could ensure restoration of our way of life and wellbeing in Australia, including extracting Australia from the clutches of the United Nations, a foreign entity of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who have infiltrated and are controlling what happens to our nation, to our detriment. Fraser Anning is the only politician that I've found to have the integrity to stand firmly against the socialist/ Marxist agenda and, if elected, I will too.
As a fifth-generation Bendigonian, I've lived, worked and raised a family in Bendigo and I know the people and region well. I've repeatedly and actively stood to protect the interests of Bendigo residents in matters that impact their lives, property and communities and I've done so in the face of extraordinary opposition from various levels of government, media, bureaucrats and the legal system, who are supposed to listen and uphold the will of the people, but increasingly are not doing so. I believe I've proven myself to be consistent and resilient in my efforts to uphold the rights of the Bendigo electorate and I have the conviction and determination to continue to do so. Like Fraser Anning, I won't capitulate to the socialist agenda that is bent on destroying our safety, culture, prosperity and way of life in Australia.
I've also had the privilege and the advantage of being an elected councillor to Bendigo council and seeing firsthand the agendas and workings of local and state government. I already know their plans and I will act to ensure that the best interests of the public are served above the interests of political and other agendas that don't achieve such outcomes. I'll pursue the right of Australians to have control and a say in what happens to our country.
A politician is elected to serve the will of the people who voted them into office and to adhere to the 1901 Commonwealth Constitution that places us under the sovereign, Queen of England. Our laws and constitution are founded on Judeo-Christian values that provide the boundaries and quality of life for a civilised society. Christian or not, we all get to enjoy the benefits that these underpinning value systems provide.
These elements have been systematically and very deliberately and unlawfully eroded over the years in an attempt to direct our country down a socialist pathway to globalism. The eventual result will be the removal of our national sovereignty and our right to control what happens to us as a nation and society. I have the qualities, determination, tenacity and the conviction to address these abuses against our national interests and to implement sensible policies that restore our quality of life and protect our interests and wellbeing.
I recognise that Australia is at a tipping point and the coming election is possibly the most important election in our history. We must have people in power who will challenge the major parties to hold the balance of power to bring to account those who have systematically betrayed our country.
The policies of Fraser Anning's party serve to protect Australia from foreign interference emanating primarily from the UN, whose agendas do not serve the interests or safety of our nation. This is especially critical for Bendigo because delegates from the UN who visited Bendigo have declared in the media that Bendigo is to become the model for all regional cities in Australia under their dictate. Without public knowledge or consent, this agenda is being implemented by each level of government in our region.
READ MORE: No UN dictate hangs over Bendigo
Similarly, the Bendigo council and City of Greater Bendigo have signed memorandum of understandings with delegates from the European Union that the public was not privy to. Residents are denied a voice when contentious issues arise and little is done by the relevant authorities to resolve their grievances if they conflict with the socialist/ UN agenda. With good policies in place, our top priorities for the Bendigo electorate are to remove UN interference and return to the public the right to control what happens here, to re-industrialise and bring back manufacturing and jobs so our region can prosper again, to stop all immigration of those who won't assimilate and control other immigration numbers until we achieve strong fully employed levels and unemployment levels of below four per cent.
I am staunchly patriotic and loyal to Australia and likewise, to the Bendigo electorate. I want communities to have their democratic rights and freedoms upheld as reflected in our 1901 Commonwealth Constitution and relevant laws. Freedom of speech is a fundamental part of this. The silencing of those who raise concerns or challenge the conduct of those in power is out of control and the media is largely responsible and complicit in this abuse. Across the world, this is a huge concern and shows just how manipulated and controlled by foreign interests the mainstream media is. Therefore, I am passionate about returning power to the people and giving them a voice to be heard, respected and acted upon by those who are there to serve their interests, including government and the media.
We have a very serious problem with lawlessness in our country and an imbalance of justice being metered to certain demographics of the community. This must be rectified if we are to have any confidence in our legal system and other related agencies. Re-industrialising and bringing manufacturing and jobs to our region is critical for job security and prosperity as is controlled and balanced and selective immigration for the interests and safety of Australians.
Lack of honesty, transparency and accountability in all levels of government, who are implementing agendas that most residents in our region have had no say whatsoever in, but whose lives and wellbeing will be drastically impacted. There is a push to remove the right of private ownership of vehicles and to impose draconian laws that deprive people of their right of movement and lifestyle choices, including ownership of property. This is being rolled out (beginning in 2020) after the federal election by state, local and federal governments and will be ramped up if we don't have an alternative force in federal government to hold the balance of power.
The biggest challenges facing the Bendigo electorate will be determined by the choices they make at the ballot box in the coming federal election. We either choose wisely in favour of independence from the UN dictatorship and the radical social engineering of our lives and country or we capitulate to cultural Marxist, socialist control of a foreign entity that does not have our nation's interests at heart. The sweeteners and inducements from the major parties are a con and are rarely honoured. The challenge to the Bendigo electorate is to think carefully and make your vote count for Australia.
The question should be, has it been in the interests of the domiciled residents of Bendigo? Did they get say in any of it? Whose interests and agendas were being served and why?
In line with the policies and objects of the party that can be found online at conservativenationalparty.org.
The suite of policies that Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party is offering have all of Australia's best interests in mind, including the electorate of Bendigo. However, if elected, I will advocate strongly on issues that impact the Bendigo electorate. As a Bendigo electorate representative, it would be my responsibility to communicate concerns and to argue for the interests of the electorate on any contentious or potentially conflicting issues. Fraser Anning is a very reasonable, balanced and decent person and I'm confident he and the party would respect and listen to ensure the best outcomes for our region.
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