Meet the Independents: Eric Vadarlis

Last, but certainly not least, of the Independents is Eric Vadarlis, who I am pretty sure I will be getting on well with, since he is best known for his work on the Ruddock vs Vadarlis (Tampa) case.  If you don’t have time to read that, suffice it to say that he is pro-refugee.

Mr Vadarlis has the slogan #supportpolicies not parties, and his website cycles through a bunch of images, which include the slogan ‘leave Medicare alone’.

Here’s his sales pitch:

I’m an Independent Candidate for the Senate 2016. Melbourne Lawyer. Dairy Farmer.
Would you prefer a voice in government for greater social justice and human compassion?
If yes, then vote policies not parties come election day on Saturday 2 July 2016.

Not a bad starting point.  His three key principles are also good:

  • Humane treatment of asylum seeker refugees
  • A fair go for the Australian Indigenous population
  • Properly fund and encourage education

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Meet the Independents: Meredith Urie

Right, I’ve had a sleep and am now somewhat vaguely awake.  Let the jetlagged commentaries commence!

Meredith Urie looks like a bit of a sweetheart.  Her keywords are ‘inclusive, insightful, integrative’, and her vision is ‘thriving self – thriving relationships – thriving communities – thriving planet’.  Her mission is to raise the quality of political dialogue, which I think we can all agree could use some raising, and her principles and values are:

Deeply listen
Respond with an open heart
Continuously learn
Make decisions from the best place

She wants to take care of the whole person (and gets bonus points from me for not using the word ‘holistic’), she wants decision making to involve ‘multiple stakeholders and the most complete information’, and to benefit all individuals, the environment, the economy and future generations’.  She likes words like ‘curious’ and ‘connectedness’ and ‘collaboration’ and ‘respect’, she wants to build trust, and, oh drat, now she is using the word ‘wholistic’, so not only does she lose that bonus point, she loses an extra point for spelling it weirdly.  She calls her policy advisors her support group, which makes me giggle because I am a terrible person, and also jetlagged, which apparently makes me even more sarcastic than usual.

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Meet the Independents: Dana Spasojevic

I’m actually flying over Australia now, and my laptop is running out of battery (as am I), so Dana Spasojevic may well be my last Independent before I get to take a really looong nap.

Dana Spasojevic knows all about long journeys though, as she is a long-haul truck driver who, according to her Facebook page, is spending the weeks leading up to the election driving trucks up and down  the Hume Highway.

Alas, this is about all we know about her, because while she does have the aforementioned Facebook page, she is too busy working to update it.

Her Facebook post is rather adorable, though:

To all that have supported me with the nominations for the Senate I would like to give a huge thank you for I am eternally grateful. I have received my first vote and all I need is about another 25000 to get into the senate, so please vote for me and could you tell everyone you know to vote for me too. I’m rather excited to see my name on the ballot paper.

My analysis? Ms Spasojevic seems to have nice friends on Facebook, but no discernable policies.  She does score above the other ghosts, because at least one can get a bit of a sense of her personality, and she seems to have a nice one.  Also, I rather empathise with being too busy to cope with this election.  I hear you, sister.  Why did it have to be July 2?  Why?

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: Chris Ryan

I’m still out over the open, empty ocean, but now it seems very apt, because it is time to write about another of our more spectral senate candidates. Chris Ryan is, according to the AEC website, a lawyer.  This is all we know about him. He has no internet presence whatsoever – or if he does, it is impossible to distinguish him from the other Chris Ryans out there. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if Chris Ryan is a him at all – Chris could be short for Christine.

(I do wonder what these internet-avoidant would-be Senators expect to achieve.  I realise that not everyone is online, but for a national or even state election, relying entirely on offline interactions for your vote strikes me as a losing prospect.)

It turns out that there are quite a few Chris Ryans out there who are lawyers, some of whom appear to be doing pleasing things and others rather less pleasing ones.  There are also Chris Ryans who are interested in policy, but these do not seem to be the same Chris Ryans, as they are not lawyers.

Chris Ryan – Man (or woman) of Mystery!

While it’s tempting to make a guess as to which Chris Ryan is our Chris Ryan, I’m a bit worried that if I do, I will slandering someone.

This is something I would prefer not to do, particularly if that someone is a lawyer.

I can’t recommend voting for someone about who one knows absolutely nothing.  I’d give Chris Ryan a miss this time around.

Edited to add: I have been sent Chris Ryan’s campaign leaflet!  He’s good (ie, socially progressive) on Education, Health, Refugees, Marriage Equality, and basically everything I care about.  But he has no suggestions on how to fund his proposals.  I’m not quite sure why he isn’t with the Greens. It’s too late for my vote, but if he’s your kind of candidate, you might move him up the ballot paper a bit.

Meet the Independents: Geoff Lutz

Geoff Lutz, ah, Geoff Lutz – who are you, what do you want, and why should we vote for you?

Alas, as far as the internet is concerned, Mr Lutz is a ghost, a mere shadow, a wraith, with no discernable presence whatsoever.  The AEC tells me that he is a semi-retired orchardist.  Make of this what you will.

Clearly, he knows something about fruit.  But is he the apple of our eye, or just another political lemon?  The cherry on our political sundae, or a nut in our electoral fruitcake?

We may never know.

I choose to believe that all he is saying is give peach a chance.

(… yeah, I really have no idea, sorry, though I’m guessing he will be in favour of supporting farmers.  Everybody else is, and they don’t even have orchards.)

Meet the Independents: John Karagiannidis

Alrighty.  My plane has finally left Abu Dhabi, so it must be time to look at another independent!

John Karragiannidis has a Facebook page, which seems to be largely friends-only, and thus not so helpful, and a GoFundMe page for his campaign, where I don’t think he has actually raised a lot of money, but which does, at least, give us a sense of what he is in this for.

Mr Karagiannidis was born in Greece and emigrated to Australia as a child in the sixties, but adds ‘I’m an Aussie, I call Oz home!’.

I will use your financial help for my campaign to realise my passionate and patriotic cause – to make my beautiful, exotic and great country Australia stronger and prosperous and leave it as a vibrant legacy to our future generations.

So far, so good, and I do like the way he expresses himself.  Like many of the independents, he makes the standard complaint at the political duopoly, and – ha – objects to the new Senate reforms:

I’m sick and tired of the political duopoly come oligopoly that’s made a mess of this country.  To reinforce this political duopoly come oligopoly, most of the political parties voted to change the Electoral Act, I believe, to make the election of independent senators confusing and difficult.

I think he’s called it.  And, bless his cotton socks, not only does he want transparency and accountability but he’s rolled out ‘Keep the bastards honest’ on his policy list.  I’m rather liking Mr Karagiannidis.

His top priority is improving disability and aged care service, while reducing waste, and he has 20 years in disability service.  He also says ‘I’m also look an advocate for a disabled man’ – I’m not sure if he’s trying to say that he is such and advocate or that he is seeking one.

Other priorities are generally left of centre, and include stopping domestic violence, reducing unemployment by fostering innovation and job creating opportunities, advocating  for regional development and  regionalising government services, and being a bit sensible about the environment about climate change.  These are all one line policies, so the exact nature of what some of this means is unclear.  Which is, of course, a bit of a problem.

Mr Karagiannidis feels that Australian farms should be owned by Australians, and that foreign companies should be forced to pay tax here. He is also in favour of ‘responsible value adding immigration’.  It’s hard to know just what the latter means, but it sounds like he’s about the same vintage as my father, who emigrated from Italy as a child in the fifties, so I suspect he’s talking about people much like himself and his family, who would have come out, worked at whatever job they could get, and made sure their children got better opportunities.  But this is a guess.  And I am not unbiased here, because setting aside my own sense of common ground with him, I’m just really enjoying his writing style.  Though I do wish he had written something beyond his terribly unsuccessful fundraiser.

I’m going to end by letting Mr Karagiannidis speak for himself, since he really does this well:

Are these [goals] achievable? Is my patriotic passion achievable? Yes!! You bet they are!!  They just need a resourceful, tenacious, dedicated, intelligent, passionate and forceful independent Senator to fight for you – ME! Please help me to serve you.

Meet the Independents: Stephen Juhasz

Passing Basrah now, as I drop in for a look at Stephen Juhasz, who is a bit of a ghost candidate, with no website, facebook page, or indeed web presence generally.  This does not seem like a good way to win votes.

The AEC tells me that Mr Juhasz is a student from Geelong, and that he has run as an independent before, in Bellarine, in 2010.

The internet tells me that he is something of a letter-writer and maker of submissions regarding banking (he seems to think that banks should be allowed to fail, but only in a way where the banks get penalised and the depositors are protected.  Not sure how he plans to make that work.).

In a letter to the Sunraysia Daily, he called for a Royal Commission on banking (drink!), as ‘the banks cannot, or will not, clean up their act’.

The last time we had [a royal commission on banking] was in 1937 and the last prime minister who really understood the problems with banking was Ben Chifley. 

He once said: “It has been said that I hate the banks. The only things I hate are want, misery and insecurity of any people in any country.” 

He is also sarcastic about smart cities and commutes, suggesting a helicopter Uber service for the likes for Bronwyn Bishop.

Smart cities? Great idea, but it will pose some challenges to achieve a maximum 30 minute commute for most people, especially in the larger capital cities. Maybe a new helicopter Uber service could help. Might be right up Dick Smith’s alley. Shame it wasn’t running a year ago when it could have saved us some money and Bronwyn Bishop her job!

So yes.  I think one can expect that Mr Juhasz would crack down on banking.  Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.  He might even be serious about the helicopters, in which case, he has my vote…

(somehow, I don’t think he is)

Edited to add: I have just had my attention drawn to Mr Juhasz’s Facebook page, which I searched for earlier and could not find.  Actually, when I search for it now, without following the link, I can’t find it. I have no idea what is going on there.  Mr Juhasz has a big yellow poster there with seven policies:

  • Save penalty rates and reduce casualisation of work
  • End government waste
  • Tax justice (make big companies pay their tax to fund healthcare, education and infrastructure)
  • Protect Australian business from unfair competition (???)
  • Cheaper housing (we need affordable housing and allegedly he will make this happen)
  • A new national approach to drug and gambling addiction
  • Make poverty and homelessness history

Essentially, another progressive candidate with very little detail on how he will deliver his goals.  But they are good goals, so you could certainly do worse.

Meet the Independents: Peter John Hawks

Only two hours to Abu Dhabi, and we are flying with Baghdad to our right and Tehran to our left.  Which means that it is time to look at Peter John Hawks, who is ‘echoing the concerns of the silent majority’.

I don’t know about you, but in my experience the ‘silent majority’ is never very silent, and I’m not at all convinced it is the majority.  But there you have it.  I am the Red Under the Bed, so what would I know?

Mr Hawks wants us to know that he is a successful business and family man, a life member of Apex Australia who gives to the community, a Financial Planner, and ‘a passionate and patriotic Australian’.

Something tells me that we are not going to get along.

Ooh, yes, here we go.  Policy number one is to get rid of Safe Schools – ‘children need to be taught reading, writing and arithmetic, not gender issues’.  He also wants to ‘uphold our Christian and family values’.  Who is ‘our’ in this sentence?

He is against ‘social engineering’ from the ‘extreme left’, and wants total freedom of speech, including repealing 18c.  I’m pretty sure this is the law about racial vilification, but I’m on a plane, I’ll check this when I land.

Yep. It is.

Mr Hawks seems to be rather big on personal responsibility – doesn’t like ‘money fixes’ for education and health, but wants to create more paperwork, sorry, more accountability for administrators and teachers, and wants to encourage people to provide for themselves.  He also wants lower taxes and to keep negative gearing, and there is a decided feeling of trickle-down-economics about all of this.

Like everyone, he supports small business.  And farmers.  And he wants to bring water south, but stops short of the underground pipeline from Queensland idea, which is a pity, because I think if you are going to start with this one, you should go big or go home.  (My personal preference would be for a giant waterslide tunnel from Queensland to Victoria.  This would also act as a tourist attraction, and an alternative to high speed rail!)  He also doesn’t trust our judicial system, but I read this as more Derryn Hinch than Men’s Rights.

Also, apparently, we should look after our volunteer firefighters.  No argument on that one.

On the whole, way too right-wing for my liking, and in a rather narrow, Christian, personal responsibility-without-mercy sort of way.

I won’t be voting for Mr Hawks.  I’ll be too busy socially engineering things from the left.  Or possibly doing health-related paperwork if medical research funding gets cut.

Meet the Independents: Dennis Hall

My plane is now flying over the Middle East. On my left, I have the Tigris River.  And on the right, I rather fear, I have Dennis Hall, who wants Independent Nationhood for Australia – yes, it’s Brexit all over again, and just when we were breaking into Eurovision, too…

Mr Hall earns my instant ire by advising people continually ‘remember to number 1-12 candidates  below the line, and forget the rest.’

No.  Do not forget the rest.  Particularly do not forget the rest if you are voting for independents or small parties.  If you do, you risk your vote exhausting and someone you like even less getting into the Senate.  Seriously, people, 12 is the minimum, and that’s great, because now you don’t have to be afraid of voting informal by accident.  But for heaven’s sake, number all the candidates you can!

Oh yes, that’s right.  I need to talk about Dennis Hall…

Mr Hall has a Facebook page only, not a website, which makes his policies a bit tricky to track down, but he has a profile and some useful statements, so I’ll be mostly using those here.  Here’s what he says about himself.

I consider myself an everyday Aussie. Born in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland and growing up in regional Victoria.

In the early ‘80s I discovered an interest in the Australian Constitution, that interest quickly became a passion and now I am an advocate for constitutional change that is in the best interest of all Australians.

He likes footy, pottering around in sheds, and democracy.

Am I the only one having an attack of ‘On The Mateship’ from Keating the Musical?  It’s that whole ‘I’m just a bloke / an Aussie bloke’ vibe.  Oy. Continue reading