Our next Independent, as we fly over Hungary and Romania, is Christopher Beslis, who is running for public office ‘on a platform with fresh ideas to improve our country’. He is doing this because he feels the major parties are no longer listening to the public. I’d say he has a point there.
It’s hard to summarise Mr Beslis’s policies, for the simple reason that most of them are single sentences. However, his opening statement gives you a pretty good idea of where he is coming from:
I decided to run for public office because I want to serve the people of Victoria and the people around the country to improve society with policies to help those less fortunate such as: people in poverty, the hungry, the homeless, the physically disabled, the intellectually impaired and pensioners.
His policies are, as you might imaginem fairly socially progressive and left wing, which is how I like them.
He also makes a point of saying that he is self-funded and not beholden to any party factions, donors or lobbyists. This will be a recurring theme with our independents. (If you want a drinking game, I’d suggest taking a swig any time someone claims to be a ‘true independent’.)
Mr Beslis has a list of policies but ‘will add to this list if I receive suggestions from the public that are helpful.’. I think he was probably wise to put those last three words in that sentence. He is also happy to discuss his policies with anyone who contacts him.
(I am not going to contact him because a) I am on a plane and b) if I talk directly to one independent or party I will feel compelled, in fairness, to talk to them all, and life is too short.)
As I said, it’s hard to summarise a collection of single sentence policies, but I’ll do my best to group them – you can also read them in full on Mr Beslis’s website – it won’t take you too long.
He is pro-environment, with policies against mining, fracking and nuclear energy, as well as subsidies for coal mines, but supporting renewable energies (including a policy to make all new houses have installed solar panels, which I like). He also wants to save the Great Barrier Reef, and abolish plastic bags.
He is pro-marriage equality, pro-Republic, pro-legalisation of euthanasia, pro-a proper NBN, and pro-Gonski, but is anti-guns, anti-poker machines and gambling advertisements, and anti-war. He is also against excessive military spending and deregulation of universities, and doesn’t want religion taught in public schools, or subsidies for private schools.
Did we have a drinking game going for anti-corruption commissions? If so, it’s time for another drink, as he wants to investigate politicians and other senior government agencies. In fact, he seems rather mistrustful of both banks and politicians. I can’t blame him for that. Politicians’ salaries are to be reduced, and he wants to abolish their perks, and stop the government spying on citizens via their metadata. He is also harsh on the subject of secret preference deals in the Senate, though he’s late onto the bandwagon with that one, given the recent changes to Senate voting rules. He also wants to get rid of banks and ATM fees, and wants banks to be compelled to reduce their mortgage rates whenever the RBA cuts interest rates.
Continuing with business and economics, Mr Beslis wants to keep penalty rates, but cut company tax for small business, and crack down on tax evasion by multinational companies. He also wants to get rid of negative gearing, but raise the tax-free threshold to $25,000.
He wants to increase funding for homeless and domestic violence crisis centres, and increase the pension, and he is pro-vaccination, but does not support punishing parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
His immigration policy is a little unusual, in that he absolutely opposes detention of asylum seekers, offshore or onshore, but also wants to reduce immigration for more sustainable population growth, and reduce 457 work visas.
He also supports ‘adequate funding for the National Treasure Trove to restore, maintain and preserve historically important documents and artifacts.’. I’ve never heard of this. How have I never heard of this?
And he doesn’t want a high-speed rail network from Melbourne to Sydney, which he feels is economically unsustainable. He is, in fact, the only candidate I’ve ever seen actively opposing this idea – everyone else is either all for it or ignores the idea completely.
And there you have it – a broad collection of generally socially-progressive and environmentally sustainable policies, without, it must be noted, a lot of information on how these will be funded. I can’t see too many points of difference between Mr Beslis and the Greens, to be honest. Once again, Mr Beslis seems like a good choice, and will probably score fairly high on my ballot paper.