Victorian State Election: Meet Stewart Hine!

I don’t have time to read all of this!
The Basics

Website for Stewart Hine:
Themes: Being a true independent.  It’s hard to say what his policies might be.  Probably quite good on environment and public transport, is my guess, and neither hard right nor hard left, though it’s difficult to say where he leans overall.

With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket

As an ungrouped independent, Hine doesn’t get a group voting ticket.  But it’s interesting to see where he has been placed by others. His best billing comes from Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, which puts him at 9th, after Chawla and Lee, the Aussie Battlers and Hudson.  Chawla and Lee put Hine at 22 and the Greens put him at 27, but beyond that, he’s not getting much love.  A lot of the parties in South Eastern Metropolitan seem to have decided that Independents are far too much like hard work, and have stuck all the ungrouped independents last or near last on the ballot.

The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs (how can I be this far into the project with no theme songs?) and Other Observations

Stewart Hines is one of those elusive candidates with very little online presence.  I ascertained last night that he was the same Stewart Hine who is a financial planner and writes a blog that is mostly restaurant reviews and food, with the odd post full of dad jokes.

Now, I am up for this, but it’s not terribly illuminating, politically speaking.

But… as far as I can see, at the very same time that I was typing these words, Hine updated his website, and now he has a page called Candidacy for State Parliament.  So that’s helpful!

Hine is a mortgage broker and financial planner with a background in accounting, mentoring, training and… floristry?  He seems like a pretty decent guy, and a little bit quirky which is always nice in a political candidate.

His candidacy page is the transcript of an interview with ‘independent MLC candidate in South Eastern Metropolitan, Stewart Hine’.  (The interviewer’s name is not listed.  I suspect it is ‘Stewart Hine’.)

He wants

To be the voice of the ordinary people in South Eastern Metropolitan. The voice of the ordinary voter seems to be lost; special interest groups, lobbying, party politics, factions, popularism, nepotism, graft, corruption and self-interest seem to dominate politics. I want to represent the people of my constituency. I want to be their voice, their voice of independence.

This is classic independent candidate stuff  – political parties are corrupt, only an independent can speak for his constituents without being influenced by party politics and factionalism.  And he has a point.  He talks about having considered forming a political party such as the “Fair Go Australia” party or the “Social Equity Party” (don’t go with option 2, my friend – I don’t think you want to risk being associated with the Trotskyists over at the Socialist Equality Party, because they are a little more lunar left than even I can deal with.  And you seem lovely, but I don’t think you are to my left, politically speaking…), which gives you a hint at some of his themes, but decided that while party politics is useful, it wasn’t for him.

He talks about his background and allegiances, and actually sounds reasonably balanced:

I have no allegiance to any political party. I do not owe any favours to developers, unions, employer groups, construction companies, conservation groups, electric car advocates, logging companies, public transport groups, cycling groups or in fact any special interest group that you might care to name. Not that I am anti any of these people or what they represent. I have personally participated as a cyclist, a member of a trade union, owned my own business, employed people, worked in the timber industry; and certainly travelled by public transport.

And he concludes by saying that he can afford to be truly independent, because his future does not depend on re-election and he isn’t in a position to owe or give favours.  Which apparently includes preference deals.

One happy outcome of that policy is that I won’t have to pay for or arrange the distribution of How to Vote cards. Happy because I have no campaign funds whatsoever and no party supporters to distribute them.


He talks about his credentials – which are largely in business – and his various qualifications which include

.. a Business Degree, a Graduate Diploma in Management, a Diploma in Finance and Mortgage Management, Certificates in Financial Planning, Real Estate, Training and Assessment, an Australian Credit Licence, a Real Estate Agents Licence, a motorcycle licence, a boat licence, a recreational shooters licence and even a drivers licence and above all; the drive to do what it takes to do the job properly.

… OK, I noticed that shooters licence.  Is our friendship to be over so soon?

(I’m not usually *quite* this suspicious of people who like guns, but what with the somewhat underhand behaviour of the SIFA in funding attack ads against the government that don’t mention guns but are clearly meant to undermine a government that is in favour of the current gun control legislation, it’s a red flag for me right now.  More of a yellow flag in this instance, because I find it hard to be suspicious of a candidate who writes that much about food on his blog, but it is cause for caution.)

Back to the main event, Hine then talks about what I would call his social qualifications for the role, and this I quite like:

I have worked in jobs at the bottom of the pile and others nearer the top, I was unemployed for 18 months during the last recession and I know the anguish that goes with that, I have been both an employee and an employer as a small business owner, I am a homeowner but I have also been a renter after I lost my home through divorce, I am happily married but I have been divorced and was a single parent for many years between marriages…

I am all for candidates who have a broad range of personal experience, particularly, I must say, that of unemployment, given the way governments tend to demonise the unemployed at present.

And he leaves us with this teaser:

If the opportunity arises I would be pleased to give voice to my views on any topic of relevance to the governance of Victoria that you care to choose; water supply, religious education in State schools, public transport, roads, infrastructure and green energy are some that I care about and might be of interest in deciding which candidate to vote for.

These all sound pretty interesting, Mr Hine!  Feel free to pop over to my comment thread and expound!

Overall… look, I’m not in South Eastern Metro, so this isn’t really my conundrum to solve.  My gut feeling is that without any policies to judge him on, I’d be putting him somewhere in the middle of my ticket.  He seems like a pretty decent person, but without knowing which way he’d be likely to vote on the issues I care about, I couldn’t put him at the top of the ballot.

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