Federal Election 2019: Meet Ken Betts


Website: https://www.kennethbetts.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008014699300
Truly Independent Pensioner
Your Voice for Victoria
Themes: Representing the voices of youth and of pensioners.  Volunteers with migrant groups, good on refugees.  Very community minded!  Believes in ‘Traditional Aussie Family Values’.
Upper House: VIC (Ungrouped Independent)
Preferences: Not indicated.

Policies & Commentary

Ken Betts is the first Ungrouped Independent on the Victorian Senate Ballot paper, and is running as a ‘Truly Independent Pensioner’.  His website tells us that he wants to be a voice for the vulnerable, in particular:

  1. Provide more assistance to the elderly by raising the pension and improving services in old age care support.
  2. Assist youth unemployed by working together with community organisations and industry to create more opportunities.

Betts is on the board of the African-Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services (alongside fellow independent Murray McInnis – they should have teamed up and gone for an above the line spot!) (Yes, I know it isn’t that easy…), so he does have some relevant experience on point two; as a pensioner himself, I imagine he also has some pretty clear ideas about point one.

Betts doesn’t have a policy page on his website yet – it’s a single-page affair thus far – but he tells us that there are many other issues that he supports:

I am developing climate change policy, policy to create better opportunities for educations and more affordable housing for young couples. 

This is vague, but promising.

Finally, Betts tells us:

I’m standing up for youth because I’m sick of many others from my generation ignoring that young people are our future and we should invest in them.

Good to hear.

This, while promising, doesn’t quite tell me where to place Betts on my list of 82 candidates below the line, so I moved to Google and to Facebook to see what I could find in the public domain.

It turns out that this is not the first time that Betts has run for Parliament.  He ran as a Liberal candidate in 2010, and then as a candidate for Voice for the West in 2014.  This suggests that on the one hand, he and I are probably not going to be very well aligned politically, but on the other hand, we share the infuriating experience of living in a safe Labor seat that never gets any infrastructure.  Common ground, of a sort!

Betts has lived in Footscray for most of his life and is very active in his local community.  His profile on the AAMEYS website tells us that he is an ex Channel 9 and ABC reporter and that:

Ken has been working tirelessly with the African and Vietnamese community in Footscray as volunteer for over 5 years. He managed to assist the small businesses and individuals with settlement needs and technical requirement to establish business or find employment.

And he was previously actively involved in the Footscray Asian Traders Association and the Footscray African Traders Association.

On his Facebook page, Betts mentions in one conversation that his major concern is ‘defending and maintaining Aussie Traditional Family Values’, which, well, that could mean a few things, and I have some concerns about where he is likely to stand on LGBTQIA inclusion.

On a more positive note, in another conversation, he outlines his work with asylum seekers and migrants, including the fact that he volunteers as a JP at the ASRC and that he has used his position as a registered lobbyist (I learned for the first time today that this was a thing – what a world!) to lobby the immigration minister for the release of a Vietnamese man in detention. On the question of offshore detention, he said:

My vote would be to screen all refugees and if no criminal records, then release into the community with permanent protection visas.

So we are in pretty close harmony on that topic.

And that’s about all I’ve been able to find.  Betts won’t be at the top of my ballot – for me, this really is the climate election, and he’s a bit too vague on that topic for my taste.  But I think he will rank reasonably high – I have a lot of time for people who are actually getting out there in the community and working to help others, and Betts certainly seems to be all about that.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

Betts seems to take himself fairly seriously, so I probably shouldn’t give him anything too ridiculous, because that would be mean.  That suggests a song from France, who always take themselves very seriously (except when they really truly don’t), and I have just the one in mind, because last year, they sent a really touching song about a refugee child who was born at sea.

Given Betts’ connections to and concern for the asylum seeker community, this seems like a good fit for him.

Mama travelled so far over every tide
And for nearly nine months I was safe inside
Oh I, I was safe inside

But she couldn’t ignore what she had to do
Ran away from the war, nothing left to lose
Oh no, nothing but our lives

2 thoughts on “Federal Election 2019: Meet Ken Betts

  1. Congratulations on being literally the only person on the internet who managed to find out anything about this candidate.

    I just posted a link to your site on a friend’s Facebook page, and her response was ‘this is the most helpful thing ever!’

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