A speech by Darren Churchill, to Belconnen Community Council, Ginninderra Candidates’ Forum: 07 October, 2008

A speech by Darren Churchill, to Belconnen Community Council, Ginninderra Candidates’ Forum: 07 October, 2008

Good Evening.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Darren Churchill, president of the ACT Democrats and “Ungrouped” candidate for Ginninderra. You’ll find me in the “U2” column on the ballot paper.
I grew up in Goulburn, so my background is in the Canberra district. I was educated at the Universities of Newcastle and Wollongong. I also spent some time at CCAE. I have worked as a public servant, bank officer, shop assistant and in hospitality. I have also taught commerce and geography both in NSW and the ACT. In the 80s and 90s, I spent some time managing rock bands and working in the music industry. I am currently employed as a group fitness instructor (Boxfit).
I’m standing for election because I want to return the Australian Democrats’ 31 years of cross-bench expertise to the ACT Legislative Assembly. We need accountability and good negotiating skills when it comes to legislative decisions. As a Democrat, I’m offering to bring to the Assembly a “balance of responsibility.” We hear a lot about a “balance of power” but with power comes responsibility. It’s two-sides of the same equation.
I stand for getting the balance right in legislative decisions. The result needs to be the right mix for the environment, the economy and social justice. I represent the core Democrats values of honesty, tolerance and compassion. Being fair to all groups and speaking up for the marginalised and the oppressed.
A really big issue is climate change. We need to look at addressing transport, health, energy and planning in ways that will lead to a sustainable Canberra and a better future. Managing our schools is high on my agenda. Adequate resources for public education, and support for teachers. There is a need for reviewing how we manage public housing. Provision of medical services and keeping people in the medical professions (especially nursing) and including women’s and mental health. Reform of electoral laws and accountability in government.
I am a qualified teacher of Studies of Society and Environment (Economics and Geography), so I understand the importance of managing competing environmental, economic and societal issues. I have served on committees as a student, a teacher and band manager as well as with the Democrats. I can bring the ACT Democrats legislative ability to the Assembly and “Keep the Bastards Honest!”
This election is not just about who forms the next government. It is about who forms the next cross-bench. Legislation needs to be thoroughly scrutinised by the Assembly. Majority government hasn’t worked. The Stanhope government has been able to force through anything it chooses without proper consultation, review or thinking things through.

The Democrats are the “natural party of the crossbenches.” We respect the mandate of a government to govern. But we are the negotiators, the people who know how to make otherwise bad legislation into better, fairer legislation for all. We work for good outcomes.

As a Democrat, I will work to ensure that all legislation is fair and reasonable for Canberrans. I will not be silenced on the important matters of transport, planning, health, education, the environment & climate change. I will provide straight talking on tough issues for the people of Ginninderra (and for the wider Canberra community).

ACT Democrats policy is to increase community input into government decision making – in planning health education, carer services, youth services, aged services, etc.

There are already many (voluntary) community groups (including Belconnen Community Council) with expertise – we also want to reinstate a process like the LAPACS (Local Area Planning and Advisory Committees)

The ACT Democrats want to help these bodies to be more effective in representing their communities and influencing government.

The government already provides the Belconnen Community Centre – it should also provide the office management services that are required in the Centre. This could include free or subsidised phones, computers, filing cabinets, photocopiers and a salary for communal office management and secretarial services.

There should also be a Liaison Officer within the Chief Ministers Office to assist community groups to access government information and to respond to government requests for information and to make submissions to government committees and enquiries.

There should be a number of support facilities in a region the size of Belconnen – possibly also at Jamison and Kippax, possibly in closed schools?

Democrat politicians have an obligation to vote according to their consciences, and not according to vested interest groups, political opportunism or the dictates of a party Whip.

The Democrats are not beholden to interest groups. We are not controlled by the interests of big business, the union movement, the hard-core environmental lobby or any other group. We listen to everybody and act on what is right. A voice for all, especially the voiceless, the marginalised, the oppressed. We are the only truly effective and independent crossbench party.

If elected, I will “keep the bastards honest!”

Thank you.

(This is the complete text of the speech. An slightly edited version was delivered on the night due to time constraints).

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