Meet the Independents: George NEOPHYTOU (Ungrouped, Southern Metropolitan)

George Neophytou is running in the Southern Metropolitan Region, and his slogan is

To make government keep its promises.

Nothing wrong with that.

And just to make sure you fully understand where he is coming from, here is Mr Neophytou’s candidate statement:

Why do people distrust politicians, it is because they are not always trustworthy. They make promises and do not keep them. It is time to make them keep their promises. That is why I am standing. Not for power. Not for glory. Just to make sure promises are kept.

I am a genuine Independent who is contesting a seat in the Legislative Council, Southern Metropolitan Region. I am not a member of any political party, past or present.

My kingdom for a proof reader who understands commas.

Mr Neophytou’s background is in law and marketing, and he is really, really into honesty and integrity. He wants us to know that he is self-funded in this campaign and has accepted no donations from anyone, and “believes there should be a higher caliber of person in political office. Apart from honesty and integrity elected Members should have the skills, commitment, professional acumen and common sense to hold office and the serve the community. Importantly, the reason for accepting office should be on the grounds of altruism and not self-interest.”

I always love it when common sense gets invoked on a political website. It’s an almost guaranteed indicator that you are on the right-wing side of the political spectrum.  I have no idea why this is – perhaps an idea that the left side of politics just likes to make things needlessly complicated and bureaucratic (common sense apparently being the opposite of bureaucracy)?

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Meet the Independents: Darren BAIN (Ungrouped, Northern Metropolitan)

I’ve had a rather depressing couple of days, and I can’t face Family First just yet, so I am declaring today Independents Day (see what I did there?)!  Let’s take a break from the established parties, and see what our Ungrouped Independents have to offer us…

Darren Bain is a hard man to pin down.  Running as an Ungrouped Independent in my very own Northern Metropolitan Region, he doesn’t seem to have a website, a FaceBook page, or any other clues to his identity.  It’s always fun to find a candidate with an absolutely minimalist web presence.

This report will therefore be short and a little bit stalker-ish, because basically all I know of Mr Bain is what I have found by matching the contact details he listed on the VEC website to his workplace and Linked In Profile.

All I therefore have to report is that Mr Bain is currently a Policy Advisor / Practice Specialist at Cure Consulting, and previously worked at the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.  He describes himself on Linked In as:

Quality and Risk Advisor specialising in Human Resource performance and underperformance issues in Small and Medium sized Enterprises. Supporting management with policy systems and the implementation of new or revised procedures. Advising management on employee productivity and performance planning.

When I visit the Cure Consulting website that matches Mr Bain’s email address, it turns out to be a single page, with a quote from B.C. Forbes, a Scottish journalist and founder of Forbes, an American business magazine.

The quote is:

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.

And at the bottom of the page we have the company motto:

Cure Consulting:  Helping you turn obsticles into truimphs.

From which we may conclude that Mr Bain is not readily discouraged, and also that he needs a proof-reader for his website.  It’s not a bad motto, if perhaps a little bit ‘by-their-bootstraps’ in its intent, but I am constitutionally incapable of not noticing unfortunate spelling.

I’m guessing this is a new business and a new website, because there are not currently any contact details listed.

Darren Bain also had a letter in The Age yesterday telling us:

How to vote for an independent candidate

At the bottom right edge of the ballot paper for your region you will see the heading “Ungrouped”. Under it you will find the names of people running as “Independent Candidates”. You will need to follow the precise instructions for your vote to count. Unfortunately “Grouped” and “Ungrouped”/”Independent” candidates are not represented above the line – so a quick “1” in the box above the line eliminates these candidates from the race. Democracy takes effort and is imperfect, but if you value it,  please take the time to make your vote count. 

All good advice, as far as it goes.

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Meet the Independents: Arif OKIL (Ungrouped, South Eastern Metropolitan)

Arif Okil wants you to know that he is ‘Motivated by passion to represent South Eastern Community’.  It’s good to have a passion in life.

Mr Okil joins the trend of candidates who have chosen to create a political FaceBook page, rather than a website – which makes a fair bit of sense, since one can do this for free, and it’s certainly easier than designing a website.  It can, however, make policies harder to track down.  Fortunately – or unfortunately, really – Mr Okil only started his page a few days ago, and has written relatively little, so it’s fairly easy to find what he does actually have to say.

But first – the weather report.  Oops, sorry, wrong script.  What I meant to say was, let’s take a look at what the other candidates think of Mr Okil.

Interestingly, the Greens have put him at 14 and the Animal Justice Party at 16.  Evidently he is further to the left than his pale blue colour scheme led me to believe (and isn’t it interesting that political colour branding is that powerful?)  The Liberal Democrats have also placed him fairly high, at 17, which is less of a recommendation for me, and in fact, most of the parties seem to be fairly neutral about him, putting him in the twenties and occasionally early 30s.   The only exceptions are the Cyclists and Rise Up Australia, who put him dead last at 41.  The Cyclists seem to be doing the whole preference-whisperer thing, so goodness only knows what their logic is.  As for Rise Up Australia – well, Mr Okil hasn’t said anything terribly pro-choice or anti-Christian anywhere that I can see, and they seem to be treating Independents in other electorates pretty much individually.  I have an awful feeling they may have seen his name, decided that it looked Muslim and dumped him at the bottom of their ticket accordingly.  But this is rampant speculation, based on my dislike of Rise Up Australia, so please take that with a whole ocean full of salt.

Mr Okil’s poster contains the following points:

  • Effective use of policies and resources
    • Police
    • Public Transport
    • Local Council
  • Improve education system
  • Develop advanced health care and hospitals

You know, it’s not often that someone who puts ‘police’ so high on their list of priorities is also into public transport, education and hospitals.  I wonder why that is, actually?  I don’t see any obvious connection, or lack thereof.  Then again, I’m pretty tired right now!

Elsewhere on his Facebook Page, Mr Okil comments that we need a government that cares about Victorian people, and suggest that all Victorians should have access to an online first aid course.  He would also like Emergency and Non-Emergency areas in Victorian hospitals, and he is in favour of a recommended retail pricing system (similar to the one we have for books) for all grocery and medical items, with retailers being required to sell goods for that price or under.  The goal is to prevent higher prices in some suburbs than others, which is laudable, though one would clearly need related legislation to prevent particular retailers from colluding with manufacturers to set prices that will allow them to offer a discount that others can’t afford.And that’s about it.  No detail on how to achieve this, or why these are Mr Okil’s priorities of choice.  I think the most useful summary I can make here is to say that Mr Okil clearly cares about a number of things that are, in my view, well worth caring about.  But beyond that, it’s really hard to say.

Meet the Independents: Christine SINDT (Ungrouped, Eastern Victoria)

It’s always nice (and so unusual!) when one starts one’s little journey into the land of small parties and independent candidates with someone who gives every appearance of being sane and intelligent.  Dr Christine Sindt looks suspiciously as though she might be both of these things.

Of course, I’m probably biased in her favour by the fact that she is a scientist (crystallography and biologically-active compounds) and speaks English, French and German.  And I really love the fact that she helped establish the Sudanese Nuer Community Language School in the La Trobe Valley.

Dr Sindt is currently a La Trobe City Councillor, and is running as an Ungrouped Independent in the region of Eastern Victoria, which runs from the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne (Belgrave, Lilydale, Mornington), and stretches all the way to East Gippsland, taking in part of the Victorian Alps along the way.  She is clearly very passionate about education, and is absolutely against a proposed merger between Monash University Gippsland and the University of Ballarat, on the grounds both of educational quality and governance (she is concerned that if the Churchill Campus is run from Ballarat, local priorities will be ignored).

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The Budget and the Cross-Benchers

I still don’t know what to do.  This is one of those weeks when it’s very hard to believe that ordinary Australians have any power at all to influence the government, or even politics in general.

But that’s only half true.  I have to believe that.

At this point, I don’t see that there is much to be gained from writing to Tony Abbott, to Joe Hockey, or to any other members of the Coalition.  From everything I’ve read in the last day or so, they really believe in this budget, and they aren’t going to change their minds about that.

But the Coalition is not the only party in the Senate, and frankly, they aren’t the majority, either.

In fact, if this graphic from the Australian is to be believed, the Coalition is going to have a lot of trouble getting some of its policies through the Senate at all.  It’s a giant game of chicken, and we just have to hope that the ALP, the Greens, the Independents and the micro-parties don’t blink first.

(well, except the LDP.  They can blink as much as they like.  But I think we all know I was never going to have much in common with them – in fact, their sole issue with this budget is that some of the taxes have gone up.)

Let’s have a look at what they are saying, shall we?

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