People Power – Community Politics
Monday, 5th June 2006 at 1:06 pm
The Victorian State election in November 2006 is set to be the first battle ground for the newly formed political party – People Power – which describes itself as the voice of the community sector, with the help of some high profile candidates
Registered federally back in March, the new party plans to then go on to contest state elections in Queensland (by February 2007) and NSW (by March 2007) with its campaign to empower families, consumers, people with mental and physical disabilities, the aged, volunteers, community organisations, small business and individuals.
The Victorian line up includes a number of candidates with Not for Profit backgrounds but the full list of those contesting both Upper and Lower House seats won’t be revealed until a launch event on June 15th in Melbourne.
However there is a tantalizing list of candidates said to be considering standing in November- from the former owner of Crickey.dot.com and a founding member of the People Power Party, Stephen Mayne, to western suburbs community campaigner Les Twentyman and a number of high profile AFL identities with strong links to the charity sector.
The new party says it represents a broad mainstream of society that is currently without political voice or representation in the parliament.
It will field a team of up to 30 candidates in Victoria.
What is confirmed is that the campaign will be led by Jack Reilly, former Deputy Secretary of Treasury in Victoria and a Socceroo legend. (Australia’s goalkeeper in the 1974 World Cup) Reilly will stand in the Northern Metropolitan Region for the Upper House.
President and Co-founder of People Power, Vern Hughes says the aims in the Victorian election campaign are to win several seats in the new Victorian Upper House and hold the balance of power, and to win three seats in the lower house.
Elections in the new Victorian Upper House will be based on proportional representation in November and People Power says the balance of power is up for grabs.
Hughes who is also the Executive Director of Social Enterprise Partnerships and long-time networker in social enterprise and community says the party is about ordinary people wanting to reclaim state governments and re-order their priorities, values and resources.
Hughes says the party wants to create a new culture of accountability in state politics and place disability and mental health, and an empowerment agenda for individuals, families and communities, on the political landscape.
He says currently in Australia there is a vacuum in the area of social policy despite the efforts of traditional advocacy groups and the Not for Profits are not directly represented.
People Power says it will place a high priority on disability and mental health.
Vern Hughes says that currently Labor is recruiting from the union movement and the Liberals from the ranks of the legal profession, but there are no volunteers or those working in the Not for Profit sector making their way into politics.
Hughes says People Power is neither left nor right but describes itself as ‘bottom up’ – attracting people and groups that don’t fit into the traditional left or right ideal.
Some confirmed Victorian candidates include ‘anti-pokies’ campaigner Gabriella Burns, Karin Orpen who is a current a councilor and former Mayor in the City of Knox and Sarah Barton who is the parent of a child with a disability as well as the Mayor of Portland, Mike Noske.
Hughes says in Victoria the party will challenge the bi-partisan obsession with ‘major projects’ and focus on a reduction of bureaucracy, red tape and waste of tax payers’ money.
He uses the analogy of the Greens federally saying it has made environmental issues top of the political agenda partly because the party exists.
In the same way, he says, People Power will put community issues on the agenda.
He says there will be a similar emphasis in the Queensland and NSW elections with up to 30 candidates from backgrounds in community, local government, business and the sporting arena.