We now come to another collection of independents, and one of whom I know nothing, which is always refreshing. The independents are Bob Nicholls, Kylie Nicholls and Peter Webb, and they have kindly provided me with a website to look at, bobnicholls.com.au. And we know it’s going to be good, because it has a Eureka flag on it. That’s three parties invoking Eureka so far that I’m aware of…
Let’s see who Bob and Team, as they occasionally like to call themselves, have preferenced in the Senate.
Their first choice goes to ungrouped Independent, Lyn Gunter. Solidarity among independents is a lovely thing to see. They then pass on to Mark Farrell from the DLP, and distribute preferences to Bank Reform, Katter’s Australian Party, Bullet Train for Australia, and the Fishing and Lifestyle Party. Then they start picking and choosing their favourite people from some of the more left wing parties, including one Green, one Democrat and one ALP candidate, before going on to One Nation. Then they have one Liberal party candidate. They continue in this cherry-picking fashion most of the way down the ticket – clearly some thought has gone into it, but the logic is not clear to me – I think I’d need to do a lot of research for it to become so. Towards the end of the ticket, they decide who they really don’t like, which is Family First, the Climate Sceptics, Rise Up Australia, HEMP, Smokers Rights, Stable Population and last of all, the CEC.
Actually, I’m not too sure what to make of any of that. They look to be mildly to the right, but only mildly, and they clearly aren’t into the really right wing Christian parties, unless they are Catholic.
Bob Nicholls’ website informs me that he is an independent voice from small business for all Australians. He has a Bob and Team page, which tells me that Kylie Nicholls is a Medical Education Project Manager and Peter Webb is a Project Manager in Repetition Engineering. That’s all we get to know about them at this stage. Mostly, this page is about Bob Nicholls.
On his ‘About’ page, he starts with a bunch of Q&As ranging from why he wants to do this:
I’m sick and tired of constantly hearing governments complaining about budget deficits and cutting spending to areas we should, in fact be growing. We should be considering alternative ways of raising revenue and national investment schemes to at least smooth out the up and downs of global economic fluctuations… Our country’s problems have driven me to create the time to run this campaign and I have strong personal belief behind my convictions.
.. to his plans in the senate. I do like the idea of doing a SWOT analysis on Australia, I must say. He also plans to have a fairly open door policy, spending about 20% of his time in Canberra, and the rest of his time working in the community listening to the concerns of the general public. It sounds like he has an open door policy:
I would start work as soon as I was elected, gathering information from anyone I come in contact with or who contacts me… I would become your voice and my door would always be open for your input. The more questions I ask, the more answers will come to light, leaving me better equipped for the fight in our nations capital.
Nicholls feels that his concerns are shared by many Australians, or at least the ones he has spoken to. There does seem to be a pleasing streak of idealism and will to serve here that I find appealing, though the invisible running mates do make me suspect that his ego is getting something out of this too (and that’s fine – absolute altruism might not be the best quality in a leader in any case). The little videos of him talking about things like what he wants his eulogy to be would tend to support this, but I’m finding them fairly endearing at this point.
Nicholls provides a confidential CV (er, Bob, I think once you put it on the internet it isn’t confidential any more…), which tells me that he has survived and thrived in small business (as the owner and managing director of Regional Brass near Ballarat), but has been frustrated by the shortcomings of taxation, legal and administrative frameworks in practice ‘and with concerns for general societal and community attitudes’. He wants to encourage a return to a primary focus on public interests, and to get the basics right by being a true independent.
Bob tells us that his guiding principles are:
- Equality of opportunity or fairness.
- Independence and/or responsibility and the freedom that comes from that.
- Improve what happens in practice in the current service delivery systems.
There’s that responsibility word again, though I’m a little less wary of it in this context, because I don’t think Bob Nicholls has been playing the political game long enough to be speaking in codes. He also wants to help Australia determine a vision for the future: ‘”what type of scoiety do we want to finish up with?”, and for himself, he wants “to continue to learn and to strive always to be a better person”.
And then we get his entire CV, which I’m not going to analyse, but I do find it rather charming that he is putting it out there.
I’m kind of liking him, so far.
Nicholls also has a Capability Statement that includes his general objectives:
- Ensure all legislation addresses the core principles of equality of opportunity and fairness.
- Encourage the return to public interest rather than the self interest of individuals, groups and corporations.
- Influence and encourage attitudes of individuals and business to become independent rather than dependent on government subsidies and handouts.
- Actively enforce against rorts and corruption.
- Veto the sale of Commonwealth assets to pay for recurrent expenditure.
- Encourage new and innovative industries in regional areas in addition major population centres.
- Encourage creation and growth of small business as an important driver of future jobs growth.
Again, I’m a little concerned about the Independence bit – I am all for people not having to depend on government subsidies and handouts, but there are a number of ways to achieve this, some of which pull the rug out from under people’s feet more than others.
Let’s have a look at his policies, or rather, his key campaign areas.
And let’s start with three cheers, because Bob is a feminist!
Gender Equality – Misogyny stops with me!!
To reach a point where there can be mutual respect between genders we need to:
- Collectively uncover and root out misogynistic tendencies hidden in our cultural background
- Individually examine our attitudes and be determined to make a conscious change
- The men particularly must take up the challenge. Say “NO” to the smutty jokes that degrade women.
” Be a real man, stand up and be counted”.
(not that smutty jokes aren’t fun, but I do like the fact that he gets that misogyny really is something that is rooted in culture).
Bob is also pro-choice on Abortion, Euthanasia and Same Sex Marriage:
It is not my role to tell other people how to live their lives.
Thank you, Bob.
(I’ve just noticed that we are suddenly on first-name terms, such is my enthusiasm for Bob Nicholls’ feminism. I find that mildly amusing, so I’m going to keep it, but will now revert to politely using his surname instead.)
Nicholls wants tax reform, by broadening the tax base further, rather than increasing the GST. He points out that taxation is a major part of Australia’s revenue, and we need to do it better and more fairly, plugging the leaks in the system, but also to talk about it more and figure out a better strategy for the future. Sounds pretty good to me. He is also absolutely against the sale of public assets:
Any good manager in small business will tell you
- Never ever sell an asset to pay a debt, all debts are repaid out of income
- You never fund a long term asset out of short term cash flow
How much worse is it to sell our countries assets to fund recurrent expenditure.
I feel that Nicholls makes a very good point. Then again, I agree with him, so of course I think that.
Nicholls supports the Australian Manufacturers and Farming Program initiated by Madigan, Xenophon and Katter. He wants to support small business, too, and feels that “The nature of jobs is changing, we need to develop skill and abilities to take up these new opportunities.”
I hope this translates to more training opportunities for people who are unemployed or whose jobs have effectively ceased to exist,
Nicholls feels that the principle behind all legislation must be equal opportunity and fairness, and that putting the public interest first ‘should be stated as a sole purpose test for all governments before any other interests.’ I’m beginning to think that I’d like to see him in government.
I like his views on mental health, too.
Mental health is the hidden problem that must be addressed. Many of society’s ills have a causal link with mental health; They include homelessness, poverty, suicide and many types of addiction. Promoting this issue, working towards solving these problems will give a huge payback for society.
I note that he doesn’t provide any framework for how to promote or solve this issue (then again, this is clearly not his background), but it’s nice to see it featuring heavily on his radar.
He views education, medical areas and infrastructure as the basics that provide growth in Australia, and feels that they ‘must be considered as asset building, not as costs’.
Altogether, Nicholls sounds to me like an old-fashioned, small-L liberal – conservative, but not regressive, with a genuine sense of public service. I rather like him. I don’t think he has everything right, but it sounds like he is willing to listen and genuinely does want to make this country a better and fairer place to live in. And he does get points for being the first candidate I’ve read this election to come right out and declare his feminism, though he might not call it that himself. I would like to know more about his running mates, but on the whole, he seems like a pretty good candidate. He’s going to be quite high on my senate ballot, I think.