IT'S a question of days before the federal election is called, and Bendigo federal Greens candidate Cate Sinclair is ready to kick off campaign.
The former occupational therapist and health researcher said addressing climate change will be the big-ticket issue on her agenda.
"We're determined that Australia needs to be far more active in that space," she said, "we need action on climate change."
As a Greens candidate, Ms Sinclair will be pushing for quicker action on climate change rather than waiting for the 2030 or 2050 net-zero targets.
The Greens hope to move to a greenhouse neutral target by 2035.
If the latest newspolls are to be believed, Labor will win the federal election in May, and Ms Sinclair said the Greens will be pushing Labor to adopt further climate action.
"The Labor party are likely to need to work with the Greens in order to form government," she said, "Australians want action on climate change and we'll be pushing them for further action."
Ms Sinclair said student debt was also high on the list of aims for the Greens.
Currently, more than 2.9 million people owe an average of $23,685, and the Greens plan to abolish all student debt.
"Childcare and pre school needs to be free," she said, "and HECS debt and university and trades training will be free."
"That's essential for helping young people start their lives and set themselves up for the future and encouraging them to engage in education."
Housing affordability is also a big issue for the Greens and one Bendigo residents are familiar with.
A recent report found that almost half of all Bendigo renters were in financial stress.
"We need to build more social and rental housing," Ms Sinclair said
"We need housing that people can purchase and then work towards owning."
Clearly, in a pandemic world, healthcare is also up on the list of the Greens campaign.
"People are waiting ages for treatments and healthcare workers are exhausted."
"Mental health is particularly underfunded, we're planning to put mental health care and dental care under Medicare."
"That's particularly important especially for young people who are very vulnerable after the pandemic and for regional victoria where young people's mental health care is really poorly resourced."
For the Greens, the question of funding their policies is one of priorities.
"Our plan is not to be taxing everybody so people are losing to make things happen," she said, "our plan is to tax billionaires who have benefited enormously from the pandemic."
"Many billionaires in Australia have doubled their wealth over the last few years."
A recent Oxfam report claimed Australia's 47 billionaires doubled their collective wealth during the pandemic to a combined $255 billion.
This included mining magnate Gina Reinhart, and software entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar.
The greens plan to increase the billionaire tax to 6 per cent.
"That will pay for a lot of our policies to help regular Australians."
Recently, the federal Greens have been under fire after internal disagreements over trans rights came to a head when Greens rising star and City of Melbourne councillor Rohan Leppert raised concerns about the Andrews government's gay-conversion therapy laws that have implications for how doctors treat young people with gender dysphoria who were considering gender reassignment.
On top of the public outcry, Mr Leppert was internally accused of transphobia by several members in an open letter to party leader Adam Bandt.
In a statement this week the Greens said they did not stand behind Lepperts concerns.
"The concept of gender identity, the existence of trans and gender diverse people, the need for trans and gender diverse people to be able to access gender-affirming healthcare and the importance of keeping trans and gender diverse people safe through evidence-based policy, are not up for debate," the party said.
Ms Sinclair said she backed the party's stance.
"We respect any individual's rights and choice," she said.
"There's been questions about where some people stand on those issues within the party.
"But trans people need access to services to be able to understand their choices and have their choices respected."
Ms Sinclair's election campaign has already kicked off, and Senator Janet Rice will be visiting Bendigo on Saturday to make further party election announcements.
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