This is my latest adventure - standing for election as councillor, trying to do some good, and learn more about how the world works.
I've long thought about politics - as you can see in other writings - and hopefully you can see some worth in my perspective. Long ago I wrote a letter to my local members, a first attempt to engage with politics in the area. I should point out that since then I've managed to catch up with Mr. Dominello for a meeting, I don't know how the idea of a meeting was lost in the original letter. My insights on politics at higher levels are captured in my articles on Political Debate, the recent conflict between Abbott and Turnbull, and going back further, the 2014 budget.
I previously stood for the Federal election - there's some material from the local papers here.
I'm now standing as a Councillor for East Ward in Ryde City Council.
Group Membership and Cycling Around the Local Area
I'm a member of many different groups. Locally that includes the Ryde District Historical Society. Ranging further, I'm a member of The Humanist Society of NSW, The Sydney Outdoor Lighting Improvement Society, The Non-Smokers Movement of NSW and the Sydney Engineering Heritage Committee.
I'm also a member of Bicycle NSW, and cycle all over Ryde - you may have seen me at a few of the cafes around. I've also taken in the geography and geology around Ryde, and have noticed the Buffalo Creek Rehabilitation and Stormwater project, and make use of the cycleway along Shrimptons creek, and the cycleway leading to Meadowbank along the Parramatta River, the John Whitton wrought iron bridge leading to Concord, and the ways leading into Turramurra north of Macquarie University. I also ice skate ( I'm quite a beginner ) at Macquarie Ice Skate Rink. I broadcast the Roving Spotlight community radio program on Radio Skid Row, Marrickville.
Pirate Party Membership
Importantly, I'm also a member of the Pirate Party of Australia. I'm an independent and the Pirate Party have no state based party to endorse me. Nevertheless, I am informed by their ideas and have their approval and support should I become a councillor. We'd have a great combination - my eyes on the ground, together with many insights from objective and thoughtful people outside of Ryde, with the ability of the Pirate Party to contribute to local Government on show for all to see.
The Pirate Party are principled, democratic and transparent. Rather than enter into preference deals for the upper house, our members decided on our preferences democratically, and our whole membership gets to vote on all policy. I'm standing for the ward where I live ( apart from the Upper House, I've always stood where I live ), while the opportunities might have been better in other wards. I'm limiting the amount of letterboxing, which results in a great deal of wasted paper - preferring to focus on this web statement. If you think people who don't do the internet would be interested in this statement - please print it out for them. Ideally, that's something printed that will be appreciated.
I've also limited my advertising - I'd love to advertise in both local papers, but the rates on one are pretty high, so I have to limit myself to a limited number of ads in just one paper.
Comparing the Pirate Party and Myself to Other Parties
The Pirate Party origins means it appreciates the contribution business makes, but also makes a finessed judgement. It is not beholden to vested interests, nor does it grind an axe against business. When a business does not rent-seek or push its costs onto others, it can do good. It's something the Liberal party tends to be blind about.
We can see things clearly without Labor or Liberal biases. While there are good people in these Parties, Labor can miss the contribution business can make; equally, Liberal policy may miss out on a nuanced understanding but rather be what's left after various sectional interests have had their shot.
And while I'm not about to criticise the Greens, I hope that in terms of both our policy and what I stand for personally, we will compare favourably. I won't compare myself to other independents and minor party candidates standing, but ask you to think about what we are all offering.
Importantly, the Pirate Party embraces evidence-based policy. No party says they ignore evidence, but our claim is on show for all to see. It may be difficult to measure up the claims by the different parties and candidates on whether they are really evidence based. I can but say during my time in the Pirate Party - I have been impressed - staggered even - by the quality of thought, debate and engagement with the evidence which goes into our policies. I hope, you won't just take my word for this, and will take the time investigate the Pirate Party and compare us and our approach to other parties seeking Government. Our policies are listed here, and you can find other information on our website.
Pirate Party Positions
As an example, while we see no problem in Government hiring private industry for construction, there's problems in private-public partnerships where a company can stop Government from doing things like developing competing public transport. While not against subsidies we endorse subsidies to supply, not demand. Many remember how the first home buyers subsidy just pushed the price of homes by a similar amount. If we support childcare, it is important not to give parents vouchers, but rather to subsidise the introduction of new childcare facilities and the expansion of existing ones, with perhaps subsidies in relevant courses and training staff. We believe in the expansion of land value taxes, along with an integrated taxation and welfare system. Incidentally, land value taxes were endorsed by the Chinese philosopher Mencius in his book "Gong Sun Chou".
Not all of these perspectives will be directly applicable to local Government, but I hope you can appreciate how we're different and where we are coming from.
Well before I even thought of becoming a councillor, I have turned up to the odd council meeting, and have paid attention to the local papers, maintaining a clippings folder to try to make sense of it all, and you may have seen the odd letter from me. The world is about more than just the local papers, but it is a good place to start. There's a lot of thinking I've done, and I can only consider some of it here.
I've noticed some patterns - one is that people's criticism of something now is contrasted to their earlier silence, when they could have done something or no political players of any significance were involved. Sometimes, when people criticise others, they make sweeping assertions - proof by strong assertion as it were - without at least trying to summarise their opponents position and show with argument how it is wrong.
Another is how many developments are put in without any concern on their impact on traffic. Each development is considered in isolation, without much consideration of other developments and the shadow they cast, which this development sits in. When Macquarie Centre expanded its parking, I made a submission to council noting how much traffic would be generated for each additional job in retail as compared to other forms of employment.
Developers are frustrated with the community's inability to appreciate the positives in the development they are promoting, but developers seem unable to put themselves in the minds of the residents, and cannot see that the community are in a sense "the umpire", who can only make their own decision. Some in council have promoted the worth in saving residents rates through development, but there's a balance - we may end up paying lower rates to live in an area which is not worth living in.
Certainly, the level of development in the Ryde area is extreme, with a local paper reporting that land values in Ryde grew by 12.6% in to July 2016 with one street in the area recording growth of 27%. Other articles report a concern with the link between growing land values and unaffordable rates. While we should try to avoid being selfish in arbitrarily stopping others from sharing in the wonderful suburb we live in, certainly Ryde has already taken on more than its fair share of development.
While there's a limit to what can be done at Council level, I have engaged with the issue of housing affordability and have answered questions on this topic when I was asked at candidates forums for Bennelong.
In standing, I think I have something to offer. I would like to do good, I would like to demonstrate how perspectives from the Pirate Party are superior and practical. Many have said how well I communicate, how I am willing to listen, and I would hope to become such a councillor, as compared to some councillors who have done little more than fill a chair. I would like to make mistakes I can learn from. I would like to - for the benefit of us all - better understand how the world works. Being a councillor is an opportunity to do all of these things, and I hope you would grant me that.
If you chose to vote for me, please number at least two boxes below the line, ideally giving me your number 1 preference, but certainly a high preference will be appreciated regardless.