Meet the Independents: Immanuel Shmuel

I am still flying over the dark and mysterious seas, which seems as good a time as any to consider the mystery that is Immanuel Shmuel.

Mr Shmuel is a strange candidate indeed.  He ran as a candidate for Australian Voice a few years ago, which alas tells us little about his views on the world, since they seemed to be a bit all over the place politically, with individual party members creating individual policies.

Mr Shmuel has no political website, though he does have one for his financial planning website, which has a logo that is one big Star of David with lots of little stars of David, and also his initials, IS, in a very cursive, Arabic-looking script, which seems a little unfortunate given current associations with those initials.  Conversely, his Facebook page – and yes, it is the same man – is full of inspirational quotes, many of which seem to have quite a strong Christian bent, and there is also Arabic text.  And then he has this odd slogan:

‘I am’ Australian, collectively, ‘I am’ Australia. Feel, sense and own the same.

I can’t tell if the emphasis on ‘I am’ is a strange reference to YHWH (in which case, what does he mean by it?), or if I have been spending too much time around Old Testament theologians in the last week and am reading way to much into what is just a weird choice of punctuation.

Seriously, this is doing my head in.

(It is not my intention to harp on a candidate’s possible religious affiliations, but Mr Shmuel’s online presence seems to be remarkably full of very mixed religious symbology, and very little else, suggesting that religion that is pretty important to him.  I’m finding this very distracting, especially given the dearth of other material I have to work with.)

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Meet the Independents: Trevor Nye

I’m out over the ocean now, heading towards the southern tip of India, which seems like a slightly strange time to be reading about Trevor William Nye, a man whose slogan is ‘Buy back the farm’.

I feel like we are getting a lot of rural independents all of a sudden.  I wonder if this is a reflection on the National Party and how it is being perceived to represent (or not represent) rural voters.

My name is Trevor William Nye, and I’m committed to making your voice heard in the Senate.  Like you, I want to play an active role in making our community, state and country a safer, better place to raise our children, run our businesses, and forge a future filled with promise.

His values are:

  • that he cares
  • integrity matters
  • true representation – service above self
  • honesty is a given
  • working together for the common good

He is frustrated that politicians are not listening to what the public is saying, and feels that the Senate needs to be a house of review, including members of smaller parties and independents, so that the coalition, Labor and the Greens cannot just sell off the country willy-nilly.  We will be hearing more about this shortly.

Nye’s background is in education, and talks a bit about the values of hard work, persistence and honesty.  These are all good things in themselves, but I hope it’s not going to make him decide that people who are unemployed are all just bludgers.   Continue reading

Meet the Independents: Christopher Beslis

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.

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Victorian State Election (Pascoe Vale): Meet Francesco Timpano!

Francesco Timpano is running as an independent in the seat of Pascoe Vale.  He is a local architect, who ran for council in the rather bizarre Moreland Council Election a couple of years back, when everyone and their dog ran for council and several candidates engaged in such dodgy and underhanded – and occasionally illegal – shenanigans that we even started getting written up in The Age for our general dubiousness.  So nice when the Northern suburbs get some attention.

Mr Timpano, however, was one of the better-behaved candidates in this election, so I am disposed to view him mildly favourably.  (But I did just re-scan the Lower House Ticket for Pascoe Vale, just to make sure the really shonky candidates hadn’t joined any political parties and come back to haunt us.  It seems not.)

Mr Timpano has a FaceBook page for his campaign, and it is fairly shouty.  He likes to tell us things IN BLOCK CAPITALS.  WITH EXCLAMATION MARKS!

Here’s his manifesto:

Now running for the seat of Pascoe Vale at the upcoming state elections.

Because its the only way to get OUR FAIR SHARE & stop getting ignored and short changed by the major parties.



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Meet the Independents: Clive JACKSON, Richard GRUMMET (Group F, Southern Metropolitan)

The end of this insane project is finally in sight, as I reach the last of the Independents on the Legislative Council ballot in Victoria!  (After that, all that remains is for me to address my local Lower House parties and independents in Pascoe Vale – oh, and also figure out who I’m voting for before Saturday.  It would be a little embarrassing if I forgot to do that bit…)

Clive Jackson and Richard Grummet are running as Grouped Independents in the Southern Metropolitan Region, but actually, they are representing the Australian Democrats.  And this makes me sad like a very sad person, because it is always difficult to observe the last days of an endangered species, and the Democrats seem to be about at that point.  From the balance of power in Federal Parliament, to not being able to get their party registered in the Victorian State Election is a long and painful fall indeed.

The Democrats would like us to know that they are A New Vision for Victoria.  On their front page, they have a rotating banner next to their How to Vote Card, which includes “Aboriginal equality – now”, “Getting ready for peak oil”, “Towards a Sustainable Population”, “Compassion for Asylum Seekers” and “Sustainable Energy”.  Other headlines inform us that “Victoria needs a manufacturing renaissance, or face failure” and “Link and network public transport first, say the Australian Democrats.

Mr Jackson and Mr Grummet have their own page, with brief bios for each candidate.  So we learn that Mr Jackson cares about heritage buildings and the environment, public transport, education and jobs, that he is a statutory planner, a pianist, and barracks for Geelong.  And likes steam trains.  Mr Grummet, on the other hand, is passionate about wind, water and solar energy, is a teacher and sports coach, has worked with the disabled, and helped Save the Fitzroy Pool.

That’s all very well, I hear you cry, but who are they preferencing?  A good question, which I will now answer.

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Meet the Independents: Peter ALLAN, Nicola THOMSON, Nicole BATCH (Group N, Northern Metropolitan)

Peter Allan, the lead candidate of the Group N Independents in the Northern Metropolitan Region asks if I am “Tired of Melbourne’s North being ignored in State politics”.  Oh, I am, Peter, I am! Apparently, I should therefore vote above the line for Peter Allan.  Which is a losing argument, because as you all know by now, I never, ever, vote above the line for anyone…

Mr Allan calls himself a ‘Community Independent’, and a brief look at his online presence suggests that he is pretty media-savvy – and particularly strong on social media.  Not only does he have a Facebook page and Twitter account, you can even get Peter Allan Twibbons to show your support on Twitter (I find this mildly hilarious).  He took part in the recent Candidates’ Forum in Brunswick and has been interviewed on 774 FM. I’ll be using this interview and his main website to write this article.

According to his biography, Mr Allan has lived all his life in Melbourne’s North, and has ‘a strong record of community action across social justice, educational and environmental issues’.  Sounds like my kind of candidate.  He is apparently one of Australia’s foremost authorities on recycling and sustainable resource management (and we’ll be hearing more about that later), and was recently recognised as Moreland’s Citizen of the Year.  His track record is an impressive one if you live on the left-side of politics.  Projects he has been involved in have included getting cigarette advertising banned, phasing out leaded petrol, expanding solar installations (and payments), and introducing household recycling.  There’s a lot of good stuff here.

His motivation to become a state parliamentarian is based on his energetic commitment to social justice and environmental protection, his concern about the current state of corruption in Victorian politics, and a desire to be a strong voice for services in the often neglected North.

An excellent start, I think.

A brief note before we get on with the preferences.  While there are three un-grouped Independents on this ticket, it is very much the Peter Allan ticket.  I can’t find information about his running mates anywhere, so I’m guessing that they are largely here so that he can have an above-the-line presence on the ballot.  I’m not sure why he needs two people for this (the minimum for an above-the-line group is 2, and he has three), nor am I aware of the significance of them both being named Nicole/Nicola.  But I am positive there is some!

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Meet the Independents: Tiffany HARRISON (Ungrouped, Northern Metropolitan)

I’ve been saving ungrouped Independent Tiffany Harrison for last, because she’s in my home region of Northern Metropolitan, and also because I wanted a nice, bracing dose of left-wing goodness (or even left-wing loopiness, I’m not pre-judging here, except about the left-wing bit) before diving back into my parade of right wing political parties.

As it happens, Ms Harrison is really only technically an independent.  She is a member of Save the Planet, and is representing them as a candidate, although they are not registered as a party in this election.  If I recall correctly, this is the second election in which they have run candidates as independents – they seem to be having difficulties reaching their minimum requirement of 500 members.

Because Ms Harrison’s own FaceBook page states that she is running as a Save the Planet candidate, I think it’s appropriate to look at this party’s policies as a representation of what she believes and will stand for.

Save the Planet’s home page informs me that:

Save the Planet is a new political party and community campaign focused on reversing  global warming, creating a safe climate and providing real leadership in the climate emergency.

On their home page and FAQ page they state quite clearly that they “will not be distracted by issues unrelated to the building of a safe-climate-restoring economy, done at emergency speed”.  While they acknowledge that the Greens and Socialist Alliance have some good policies, Save the Planet views them as too distracted by social policies that ‘dilute’ their focus on the climate emergency.

The purpose of the Save the Planet Party is to campaign so effectively on our core goals that we make it a political necessity for all other major parties including the Greens to lift their environmental policies and performance to match our position. It then will be possible to build a safe-climate-restoring economy in Australia at emergency speed. We can do this through public education and using political leverage at elections.

Further down, they add:

We have deliberately restricted Save the Planet’s policies to a limited focus around key issues on climate change with the hope that we can attract wide support for emergency speed action to restore a safe climate. All candidates have agreed to our purpose and goals which include the creation of a world that is environmentally and socially sustainable and working to eliminate high levels of inequality.  Candidates also have to pass a good character test which includes not being racist or sexist. In the context of these constraints, on any other policy issue, a Save the Planet candidate is effectively an independent and you would need to ask their personal views.

So, essentially, we have a party that makes no bones about being a single issue party, because they view that issue as the paramount emergency of our time.  But… without actually having concrete policies on other issues, they do actually have some very definite ideas about how candidates should think and behave.  I am also interested to note that they are also encouraging people to work from within the major parties, and particularly the Greens, to push for a safe climate policy.  While Save the Planet’s founders feel that they, personally, have taken the ‘reform from within’ strategy as far as they can, they acknowledge that it is still a useful one.  This is far more pragmatism than I would have expected from a group that manifestly leans left.

(As a known leftie, I’m not knocking the left side of politics here.  But, as a movement, we do have a tendency to let our ideals get in the way of actually achieving something.  I’d say the right of politics has the opposite problem – pragmatism getting in the way of ideals.  But I could be wrong.)

They also have a page about preferential voting, and explain in several different places how voting for a small party does not, in fact waste your vote (including a link to this gorgeous cartoon on the subject). This is useful information – and yes, it’s also something that small parties need to make sure people understand!

Let’s have a look at how the other parties have preferenced Ms Harrison.

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Meet the Independents: Gary MANNION (Ungrouped, Western Victoria)

And here, I’m afraid, I’ve drawn a blank.  Gary Mannion, congratulations, you are officially the most elusive candidate so far in this election.  There are, as it turns out, a number of Gary Mannions on the internet.  One of them is a psychic surgeon, which sounds like far more fun than writing about politics.  Another is a politician – but in Massachusetts, not Melton.  A third Gary Mannion is a country musician in South Australia.  I was getting high hopes of another music video, but I’m pretty sure this is the wrong Gary Mannion too.

In short, I don’t know who this candidate is.  I do have one lead on a Gary Mannion who lives in the right suburb and trains greyhounds, and while my gut feeling is that this is the write chap, I can’t say for sure that it really is.  This particular Gary Mannion has a few political things on his Facebook page, including a poster saying that what Australia needs is more unemployed politicians, and also a petition to ban Halal certification fees.

And that’s it.

In terms of where he stands with the various political parties, People Power put him at 11th, which is quite a good effort, and the Liberal Democrats, who I am beginning to suspect just like ungrouped Independents generally, put him at 19th.  Nobody else is too keen.  The Greens and ALP put him at 26th, the Liberals at 29th.  The Cyclists and Palmer United both put him at the bottom of their ticket.  Given the possible association with greyhounds, I was curious to see where the Animal Justice Party put him, but they put him at 30th, which is below the major parties and the parties that they actually like, but above their least favourite groups (right wing Christian parties and parties belonging to people who like hunting).  I don’t think this counts as evidence either way.
In fact, this whole post is basically a very long way of saying “I have no idea who this guy is or who he stands for.”Sorry, folks!

Meet the Independents: Jeff BARTRAM (Ungrouped, Eastern Victoria)

And now we come to our third ungrouped independent candidate for Eastern Victoria, and what a candidate he is.  I’ve been keeping a vague eye on Jeff Bartram‘s website for a week now, and had concluded that it was just going to be that single photo, announcement of his candidature, and his slogan “Looking for Good in People and in the Region”.

But sometime in the last 24 hours, everything changed.  The website sprang to life, and what a life it is.  Because Jeff Bartram, my dear readers, is another member of that exclusive club – the club of political parties and independents who decide to sell themselves with a song.

Once again, I find myself speechless.  My husband came in to find out what on earth I was listening to, and watched the video with delight for several minutes, before opining that it would make a first-class gay nightclub anthem.  Which was at almost exactly the same moment that I, looking for the Youtube link to the video, found myself being educated by Google on just what tradesman’s entrance can be slang for.

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Meet the Independents: Jean-Michel DAVID (Ungrouped, Eastern Victoria)

Jean-Michel David, who is standing as an Ungrouped Independent in the Eastern Victorian region, does not make it easy to find his website.  I mention this only because I do feel faintly guilty stalking people via their email addresses provided on the VEC website, but I spent a very long time Googling this chap and getting nowhere, and only when I typed in his email domain into my browser was I able to find his official website and confirm that I had been looking at the correct Jean-Michel David all along.  I didn’t know it was possible to make a website so difficult to find – or not by accident, anyway.

Ah – but perhaps it was no accident, but entirely intentional?  For our friend Mr David, in addition to being a Steiner School teacher, is also a notable expert on the Tarot, who has published books on the subject.  The world ‘occult’ means hidden – perhaps Mr David’s elusive website should be taken as an invitation to a journey of self-discovery in order to find him?

OK, I’ll stop being silly now, but in all seriousness, aspiring independents of the world – please, make your website easy to find.  You’re batting on a difficult enough wicket not having a group ticket to support you without making it virtually impossible for people to find out what you stand for.

And speaking of Group Tickets, let’s see what his fellow candidates think of Mr David.

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