Huge field for by-election

IT’S been a mammoth turnout of candidates contesting for the federal seat of Perth this by-election, with 15 people putting their hands up to replace retiring Labor MP Tim Hammond—three times as many contenders as the 2016 election. Here’s a quick run-down of who’s thrown their hat into the ring.

JULIE MATHESON nabbed top spot on Friday’s ballot draw. She’s convener of the Western Australia Party which has popped up at the past couple of state elections on the platform of “getting a better deal from Canberra”. They “want out of the GST equalisation formula” altogether and actually did alright for one of the smaller parties at the recent Darling Range by-election. Candidate Russell Goodrick nabbed 5.79 per cent of the primary vote, rivalling the Greens’ 5.85 per cent. Pre-polling suggested their primary votes had come from people who’d usually vote Liberal, so with no Liberal candidate this time round they might have a decent run come July 26.

NICOLE ARIELLI represents the Animal Justice Party WA, has a bachelor of science in environmental management, and is on the Stop Live Export committee. Along with wanting to end live exports, the party opposes factory farming, and abuse of animals for sport and entertainment. They have a few policies for human animals too, reflecting their values of “non-violence, kindness and equality”: supporting voluntary euthanasia and asylum seeker rights, opposing the shipping off and processing of refugees to countries not approved by the UNHCR.

JIM GRAYDEN is billing himself as an independent Liberal, running because the Libs did not put up an official candidate, and says “if elected I intend to support the Turnbull government”. His family is steeped in politics, with his father Bill Grayden spending decades in state parliament. He previously had a strong run in a 2005 state election for South Perth, nabbing 10.5 per cent as an independent, bettering any other non-Labor/Liberal candidate.

WESLEY DU PREEZ is running for the Liberal Democrats, the libertarian-ish party headed by proud loudmouth David Leyonhjelm (he’s currently being sued by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young for defamation, and both of them have set up crowdfunding pots to fuel their legal bills). Unlike Labor man Patrick Gorman who deleted all his social media accounts ahead of the election, Mr Du Preez is proudly keeping his online presence: “I’m going to make mistakes,” he wrote on his publicly available Facebook page, where you can go and read about how he thinks “modern feminism fails boys by demonising the father and son relationship”. “I’m going to say and do things that don’t quite make sense to some people. I might even get roasted in the comment section by someone who knows more than me on a particular issue, but through it all, I’ll be here accepting criticism as it comes,” he says.

COLIN SCOTT from Sustainable Australia is a small business owner, Perth Voice letter writer, and was instrumental in establishing the North Perth community garden. He’s running on a policy of sustainable population growth—here and overseas (one of their plans for global population growth is through increased foreign aid for female education, one of the proven most effective ways to lower birth rates, and universal access to contraception). The party also wants a transition to renewable energy and a moratorium on fracking.

BEN MULLINGS represents the Australian Mental Health Party. Homeless as a teen and now a counselling psychologist, Dr Mullings wants easier access to mental health care under Medicare instead of the current “fragmented” system where you just have to hope you get better within your medicare-funded 10 annual appointments, and they want better mental health and relationship education in classrooms.

PATRICK GORMAN is Labor’s pick to replace Tim Hammond. A long-time party man who worked behind the scenes for Kevin Rudd and on Mark McGowan’s state election campaign, the bookies reckon he’s a shoe-in for the job.

PAUL COLLINS was an early independent to put his hand up for the spot. A Liberal party member who’s not afraid to speak out against party policy when he sees fit, he’s currently president of the Mt Lawley Society and wants a bigger share of the GST for WA and opposes Labor plans to abolish negative gearing.

CAROLINE PERKS is running for the Greens. A climate change policy expert, she wants to make sure the climate issue doesn’t fall off the radar if she makes it to Canberra. She also wants a cut to government subsidies towards the fossil fuel industry.

AARON HAMMOND represents the Science Party. A multidisciplinary engineer, he works on ultra-low emission engines for UAVs and on inertial navigation systems for autonomous and submersible vehicles. He reckons Australia should lead the world in high tech industries like renewables, agriculture and health care, and the party wants a doubling of research spending.

ELLEN JOUBERT is a media advertising expert, coach and mentor running for Australian Christians, a group founded in 2011 that opposes euthanasia. They want laws to “preserve and protect the life of the unborn child” and only want married couples to be able to access IVF.

TONY ROBINSON is a Perth surgeon with long involvement in the Australian Liberty Alliance. He recently spoke at a rally opposing the gaoling of UK anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson, telling the crowd “we have spent 2000 years getting where we are. Why are we going to go back to Islam? Back to Communism? The answer is no! The ALA will stand up and we will go ‘no no no!’” He said “Bill Shorten and the Greens are soft in the head… we’re going to stand up for western society ideals!”

IAN BRITZA was the Liberal party’s MP for Morley, until he was ousted in 2017 by a big swing against him which saw Labor’s Amber-Jade Sanderson swept in with 51.4 per cent of the primary vote. Last year he drove across the Nullarbor to run against Barnaby Joyce, but nabbed only 0.5 per cent of the vote for the Australian Country Party, and he’s now running as an independent.

BARRY MASON is from the long-running Citizens Electoral Council, and unlike a lot of the new microparties that popped up in the past couple of elections they’ve been around since 1988. While a few of the party’s ideas are a bit out there, this time round they’re using the campaign to focus on raising awareness of a local version of the United States’ “Glass-Steagall Act”, passed in the midst of the Great Depression to split up commercial banks from investment banks in an attempt to stop the gambling bankers from falling over and losing everyone’s money. They’ve had a bit of success, with their members prompting federal MP Bob Katter to introduce a Glass-Steagall style bill into parliament on June 25.

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