Victorian State Election 2018: Meet Michael Fozard!

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

Campaign Facebook page:
Themes: Community.  Getting politicians to stop ignoring Gippsland.  Making Gippsland Great Again.

With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket

As an ungrouped independent, Mr Fozard does not get to lodge a Group Voting Ticket, so instead, we’re going to take a little peek at what the other parties thought of him.

He’s mostly sinking to the bottom of most of the tickets, though it’s the most left-wing parties that are inclined to put him dead last or close to it.  His best score comes from Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, which puts him at 7th – but given that the DHJP seems to favour all of the independents, this isn’t particularly illuminating.

The Democratic Labor Party puts him at 11th, and given their care to re-order candidates even within political parties, this is probably meaningful, and suggests he has some approval from the conservative side of politics.  The Australian Liberty Alliance puts him at 21st, and Health Australia and Sustainable Australia both put him at 23rd.  Given that there are only 46 candidates on the Eastern Victoria Region, this is not really a ringing endorsement.

So… probably conservative, but a bit early to judge.

The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs and Other Observations

Michael Fozard is a community advocate, whose slogan is ‘Together, Let’s Make Gippsland Great’.  (And sometimes it is ‘Together, Let’s Make Gippsland Great Again’, which starts sounding alarmingly Trumpish.) What a slogan like this does, apart from raising the hairs on the back of my neck, is say ‘hey, we have potential as a community.’  It’s an invitation to action – and an acknowledgment that your help is needed for this action to be possible.

… Which is actually rather lovely, until you start adding the ‘again’ and giving everyone Donald Trump vibes.  Why Fozard has made this particular choice, I do not know.  His policies do not, in fact, seem particularly Trumpish.

Here’s a bit from Fozard’s Facebook page:

It’s time that we stand together as Gippslanders and demand that we get treated like the Priority we deserve to be!

I’m passionate about helping Gippslanders, supporting Small Business, Farming, Education, Public Transport, Tourism, Volunteers, Police Services to make Gippsland great again because WE deserve to be represented by someone who is Passionate about OUR beloved land & community.

My goal is to help the Gippsland community, far and wide to receive funding, development and more importantly prioritised support from the government.

Fozard has a fair bit to say about the way the major parties have been ignoring Gippsland except when they want something.  He reckons frustration is at an all time high, and people don’t like any of the candidates on offer, since none of them seem to know anything about Gippsland.  I actually have family and friends in Gippsland, and so this story is very familiar to me – it’s been an ongoing source of disgruntlement for a long time.  If Fozard is popular locally, he well get some traction with this.

Looking at Fozard’s background, he seems to be habitually political – he has been a member of the Liberal Party, stood as the Democrats candidate for Narracan in 1999, and is a former Baw Baw Shire Councillor.  He has also served on the boards of a number of tourism, school and youth organisations, and Trafalgar Rotary, and his cafe hosts the Baw Baw Sustainability Network.  Clearly, community is something he is interested in.  He has owned several small businesses, including a dairy farm, a garden supply business, and the cafe which he currently owns.

Fozard also worked for some years as the manager of Old Gippstown Heritage Park in Moe, but resigned in 2012, complaining of a lack of government support, and too much red tape.  It sounds as though he was trying to make the park into more of a community space, and help troubled teenagers, but was perhaps doing so in a way that wasn’t quite as OH&S-approved as one might wish.

So, what does he stand for?

Well, Gippsland, of course. He wants to harness the region’s industrial and natural resources to improve Gippsland and Victoria.  Power generation is important to Gippsland’s economy, but he also believes there are opportunities in agriculture, and in environmental, industrial and heritage tourism.

Incidentally, he seems to be walking a tricky line between renewable energy and coal, and is quoted as saying “I know the future is in sustainability and green energy but also we have brown coal. What is the best way we can use brown coal?”

In other words, it’s a little hard to tell where he sits on environmental issues.

Here he is, challenging the other candidates to a debate:

As a candidate, I’m noticing the very negative feeling that exists in the community in relation to politicians. Comments like – “they only show interest in us at election time”, “too many politicians seem more interested in furthering their own careers than in serving the country”.
As candidates we need to change this feeling of frustration and give confidence back to the institution of parliament.
It is vital that the public are aware of issues impacting on their area:

  • Health services
  • Train travel
  • Cost of living
  • Police
  • Planning
  • Protection of farming land and farming
  • Use of the lakes
  • Extraction industries
  • Drought strategy, plus others.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually say much about what he thinks about any of these things.  Knowing a little about Gippsland, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that he isn’t happy with the level of local hospital services. He mentions in one article that people in Gippsland are a bit tired of everyone else getting shiny new rail infrastructure while theirs never gets upgraded, and on Facebook he is annoyed about rising power prices (and let’s face it, nobody ever mentions cost of living unless they think it’s a problem), but the rest could go in several possible directions.

On Facebook, he says some smart things about crime and corrections:

If we are going to reduce the crime in our community, we need a multi-pronged approach.

Those already in the correctional system need to be better trained, better rehabilitated & better up-skilled to avoid re-offending.

And that’s really all I’ve got for you.  My take on Fozard is that he is a community-minded person (he certainly seems to have a passion for creating new community spaces), who is concerned about young people in his region and their futures.  I think his main goal is really to get Gippsland back onto the political map, which is fair enough.  I reckon he probably leans more towards the conservative side of politics than the left, but I see no obvious red flags, and he does seem to be happy to work with anyone who he thinks can give Gippsland a leg up.  You could definitely do worse.


6 thoughts on “Victorian State Election 2018: Meet Michael Fozard!

  1. This is André, who wrote Blatantly Partisan Party Reviews.

    I might do Blatantly Partisan Party Reviews again but I don’t have much following on Tumblr so I’m not sure it’s worth my while. I do have a decent audience on Twitter, so I wrote this little thread:

    I’m enjoying your reviews thus far! Much more detailed than I have either the time or willingness to do, so it’s definitely appreciated.

    I’m not sure we can draw much from the Group Voting Tickets this time around. Practically everyone has done deals through Glenn Druery, as to rob the GVTs of ideological coherence to some degree or another. I think some still give away a measure of ideology, but others are a true muddle borne of expediency. Hilarious to see who the likes of Aussie Battler or Transport Matters are preferencing. (Transport Matters, what a total mess. As a public transport advocate I’m especially angry that they might collect some pro-PT vote from people who don’t realise they’re a taxi industry front.)

    • Hi André,

      Lovely to see you here again, and I hope you do write your reviews, because I always enjoy them. Love the Twitter thread, too! I don’t have the gift for conciseness, and I like the way you’ve boiled everything down.

      It’s interesting to hear about the Group Voting Tickets – I’d noticed that there were a few highly similar ones, and was wondering what was going on there. I wonder what Druery’s motivations are?

      And yes, I’d heard about Transport Matters, and it makes me pretty cross, too. Especially as I think they are going to get up, probably at the expense of my two favourite independents…

  2. I was thinking his name wasn’t familiar and then the Rotary connection popped up and I went “oh, him!” Unfortunately I don’t know much more about him other than I have met him at least once. I am so helpful.

    Based on some of your observations I suspect Druery has been amusing himself by pairing up tickets to essentially nullify some parties. I could be wrong on this though. And probably am!

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