Archive for the ‘Speeches’ Category

A Speech by, Darren Churchill, candidate for Ginninderra to launch the ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy at the Mental Health Week Community Forum, 12.30pm, 08 October, 2008.

12/10/2008

A Speech by, Darren Churchill, candidate for Ginninderra to launch the ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy at the Mental Health Week Community Forum, 12.30pm, 08 October, 2008.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Darren Churchill, president of the ACT Democrats and Ungrouped candidate for Ginninderra.

The ACT Democrats recognise that demand for mental health services in the ACT is increasing. We understand that good mental health is just as important for the ACT community as good physical health. We support increased resources for preventative programmes and early intervention to prevent chronic mental health problems developing.

People with mental illness remain among the most disadvantaged, neglected and marginalised people in Australia. Up to 1 in 4 Australians will suffer from a mental illness during their lifetime. Many of us here today may have suffered mental illness or had a friend, family member or even party colleague who has suffered a mental illness, especially depression.

Mental health problems have a profound effect on the physical, emotional, social and financial well being of people with mental illness, as well as their family and friends. Mental health issues also have multiple effects on our community, including higher absenteeism at work, more personal stress and unhappiness, and a more fragmented community. Mental health concerns need to be brought into the public spotlight, with more resources and attention paid to preventing future deterioration in the mental health of the Canberra community.

The best way to prevent mental illness from becoming chronic is to provide intensive support for people living with a mental illness at the first onset of problems, so further mental deterioration is prevented and people are assisted to become well and stay well into the future. More subsidised counselling needs to be made available.
.
We recognise that stable housing is essential to maintaining good mental health, and support the priority allocation of public housing with support for people who have experienced mental illness.

The ACT Democrats have a good record of achievement on mental health. In the 5th Assembly, the Democrats successfully moved a motion calling on the ACT Government to increase the number of mental health outreach workers. We also successfully moved a motion in that Assembly that uniformed police officers and marked cars should not be used to escort mentally ill people to hospital for assessment. We have always campaigned strongly for greater resources for suicide prevention, including raising the media profile and giving talks on the issue.

The ACT Democrats want more spending on community education about mental illness, to reduce the discrimination experienced by people with mental health issues. We support a greater range of treatment options, including more supported settings outside hospital, and better access to subsidised counselling to complement drug therapy.

The ACT Democrats support additional suicide prevention programs to reduce the ACT suicide rate, which is still alarmingly high. The ACT Democrats believe that more can be done to increase employment of people with mental illnesses, particularly by opening up access to ACT public sector positions.

The ACT Democrats support school-based programmes that help young people learn about mental illness, and about strategies to maintain a positive and stable outlook. We support education about the link between illicit drug use and potential mental illness, so young people better understand the risks to themselves and their friends.

The Rate of Youth Suicide in the ACT has risen drastically in the past two decades. The ACT Democrats believe that suicide prevention programmes and adolescent mental health services need an immediate injection of funds, and that we need an adolescent in-patient facility for young people. Having one Calvary Hospital was suggested by one of the earlier speakers – and we would support that.

The ACT Democrats recognise that one of the biggest hurdles to improving identification and treatment of mental illness is removing the stigma attached to having a mental illness. The ACT Democrats believe that mental illness is like any other illness, and this idea needs to be promoted more widely throughout the community. People and families should not feel ashamed of mental health problems, nor feel that they have to hide their problems, as this reduces the likelihood of seeking and continuing appropriate treatment.

The ACT Democrats believe that more needs to be done to educate professionals and the public about mental illness. The Democrats advocate additional programmes to inform professionals about mental health issues, in particular health professionals, police officers, educators and employers. We support an increase in wider public education campaigns such as Mental Health Weeks and awareness raising initiatives to increase public awareness and understanding of mental health problems in our community.

The ACT Democrats continue to be concerned about people with mental illnesses getting caught up in the court system, when the acts they were arrested for were done as a result of their illness. We need to look at how we determine whether or not a person is well enough to face trial and determine fitness to plead. This was also mentioned by one of the earlier speakers and we share their concerns.

We believe that the treatment of mentally ill people who come into contact with the police and judicial system can be considerably improved. Our police do a great job but the Democrats believe that police officers should receive special training to work with people with mental illnesses, so they better deal with transporting or assisting people who are acutely ill. There was a story on Stateline last Friday night that raised concerns about this very matter. I’m sure there are some people here today who may have seen that particular story. We believe that Police transporting people for assessment should not be uniformed and should be using unmarked cars.

The ACT Democrats recognise that patients respond differently to treatment for mental health problems, and that the ACT Government has a responsibility to provide a range of treatment options in order to ensure each individual is catered for. More attention needs to be paid to the variety of mental illnesses that need to be catered for, including personality disorder. The ACT Democrats believe a wider range of supportive environments needs to be provided to assist in recovery. In addition to hospital care and long-term care, suitable short and medium-term accommodation with appropriate support is required.

The Democrats recognise the role of carers, and will work to ensure that carers are appropriately consulted and involved in patient care and are given support where they are assisting in treatment.

The ACT Democrats call for additional resources for dual diagnosis and dual disability services. The Democrats recognise that some mental health conditions may have considerable overlap with substance abuse, and diagnosis and treatment must address both issues simultaneously. Similarly, Governments need to recognise the existence of dual disabilities, and provide adequate information and resources to
address these needs.

We recognise the work of Mental Health professionals, especially community organisations that provide counselling, such as the Salvation Army, Centacare and Community Centres. There is a great need for extra services to cope with the demand.

Access to Mental Health support services is just as important inside the new ACT prison as in the wider community (in some ways even more important). These services also include access to mental health professionals, improving access to treatment (medication and counselling), and suicide prevention.

The Democrats also recognise that turnover amongst Mental Health professionals is extremely high. People can burn out pretty quickly. Retention is higher when the organisation provides clinical supervision and good opportunities for professional development and we will support and encourage this and would like to see greater resources directed towards such ends.

The ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy will be available on our website http://www.act.democrats.org.au within the next twenty-four hours. I invite you to have a look at it.

Thank you.

(This is the a version of a speech given by Darren Churchill to launch ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy at the Mental Health Week Community Forum. It may vary from the actual presentation, which was given largely from notes and varied to fit in with time constraints).

A speech by ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill, to Australian Christian Lobby, ACT Election Event: 07 October, 2008

11/10/2008

A speech by ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill, to Australian Christian Lobby, ACT Election Event: 07 October, 2008

I thank ACL for the invitation to speak tonight and I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am Darren Churchill, president of the ACT Democrats and “Ungrouped” candidate for Ginninderra. You will find me in the “U2” column on the ballot paper.

The name of that column, “U2” isn’t lost on me. It reminds me of the Irish band called U2. And like the singer of that band, Bono, I find that faith informs my conscience and drives me in the things that I am passionate about.

Faith is important to me. I am a Christian, a practising Anglican (Anglo-Catholic). So, how does that faith fit with my politics?

I don’t think that as a person of faith, I could be more at home than I am in the Australian Democrats. My party was formed on the principles of honesty, tolerance and compassion, with policies based on common sense and fairness.

We are a party based on a commitment to human rights, justice, equity, and accountability. We championed the environment (long before it was ever fashionable to do so), have spoken up for the vulnerable in society, particularly children, for peace and harmony in Australia and abroad, for a prosperous economy, fair industrial relations, work and family balance, and good publicly-funded education, health and transport services.

We have always engaged with mainstream Christians – as individuals and as interest groups. We find ourselves like-minded on very many issues and we appreciate the advocacy and the advice offered by Christians.

The strength of a society can be seen by how it treats it’s least fortunate members, by how we deal with social inclusion. Jesus Christ taught that “whatever we neglect to do to the least important of these, so we neglect to do to Him.” The Australian Democrats have always taken a positive approach to Social Inclusion by recognising and responding to the diverse needs of all Australians, with particular emphasis on those in greatest need. We continue to do so.

Social inclusion is about social cohesion. It is about creating a framework, whereby the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed, are provided with the opportunities to share in society’s prosperity, to participate in society.

It is the role of government to ensure that there is a safety net to protect those who slip through the cracks of our economic and social structures.

For many Canberrans the real threats to their security come from poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunity or poor access to services.

Among the ways the Government can act is by addressing the divides in our society. Government should target programmes to those parts of the Territory where there is greatest need.

Government can move to reduce local clubs relying so heavily on gambling revenue, given the social impact of gambling. The ACT Democrats oppose further expansion of the ACT’s poker machine industry. We advocate government assistance to problem gambling support services and believe that greater recognition can be shown to this very real issue and those who are affected by it.

The ACT Democrats will increase our stock of public and community housing, as well as providing increased funding and resources for homelessness shelters, halfway houses, and crisis accommodation. We acknowledge the increasing number of Canberrans put at risk of homelessness as a result of domestic violence and relationship break-up and will improve support services to help Canberrans transition safely from unsafe home environments into stable, affordable long-term housing.

Housing and support services must be remodelled to provide pathways out of homelessness. Affordable and accessible housing is an essential component of any policy aiming to address employment, family, community or welfare issues, yet it usually gets little attention from the other political parties.

Lack of transport is a barrier to participation for many Canberrans. The Democrats will act to reverse the decline of our bus networks and implement an attractive comprehensive public transport system. Buses that are accessible to all, where you want, when you want.

The Democrats will work to remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in the full range of economic, community, and recreational activities that Canberra offers. We want greater support for children with disabilities so they can achieve their potential and for every child to have the opportunity for inclusion into a mainstream school setting if
that is their parents wish. Greater classroom support is needed so children with disabilities receive the full benefit of their education.

The Democrats welcome the initiative taken by the Federal Government in establishing a Social Inclusion Board. We propose that a similar Social Inclusion Unit be set up in the Chief Minister’s Office here in the ACT and will take action to ensure that it is and that it’s work is consistent with the aims of it’s Charter.

The ACT Democrats support religious freedom absolutely. Religious freedom is a basic right of all Australians and the ACT Democrats support that freedom absolutely. We believe that no-one should be the subject of unfair discrimination.

Humans are given to be stewards of the environment. I believe the Earth is God’s Earth and we are to be it’s carers.

The ACT Democrats have a long history of fighting for an environmentally sustainable Canberra. We have a very extensive platform of action we will pursue on climate change. We will create an environmentally sustainable Canberra by reversing the decline of our bus networks and implementing an attractive comprehensive public transport system; ensuring that new developments, especially high-density housing, are built to robust environmental standards; initiating a sustainable plan for Canberra’s long-term water and energy needs; continuing to support the establishment emissions trading schemes.

Especially in an era of climate change we all have to do our best at conserving water and preserving environmental flows, but increasing population numbers will undoubtedly require an increased supply and increased storage.

The Democrats will support the Cotter Dam enlargement and the proposed Angle Crossing to Googong Dam pipeline and provide an adequate water allocation for Canberra’s urban residents.

The ACT Democrats are Canberra’s strongest advocates of open and accountable government. We believe absolutely in the right of Canberrans to engage directly in the political process and be consulted on issues of concern to them. The ACT Democrats will fight in all forums for public access to the procedures and decisions of government.

The Democrats stand by our principle that Governments should be held to honour their election promises. And recognise that a government has a mandate to govern and implement the platform it was elected to, but not to dictate or force through unfair legislation; it must be scrutinised and debated.

We are the negotiators, the natural party of the cross-benches, the people who know how to make otherwise bad legislation into better, fairer legislation for all. We work for good outcomes. If laws are to be honest and just, the Assembly and the public must be given ample time to discuss all proposed legislation

These are just some of the measures that will begin to address how we build and strengthen local communities, support and empower families, and reduce disadvantage, lack of access and poverty and improve representation and democracy.

Our policies conform to what we call triple-bottom-line accounting practices which achieve a balance between competing economic, environmental and social objectives.

In closing, I’d like to begin my closing remarks with a few words from my party’s first federal parliamentary leader, Don Chipp, from an interview he gave in 2005:

“I believe there is God. That all love comes from God. And love is the only answer to the world’s hate. The world will destroy itself through hate. Simple as that. And if you think I’m a nutter, or a religious maniac for that, so be it. but I’ve got an answer to it, you haven’t.”

In 1 Corinthians 13, Saint Paul tells his audience (the early Christians in Corinth) that they may have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but unless they first have love, these gifts mean nothing. Tolerance, kindness, unselfishness, taking no account of evil done to it, honesty, trusting, hoping, persevering, and triumphing, is how St Paul describes love. Yes faith, yes hope “but the greatest of these is love.”

Ladies and gentlemen, in love, the love given to us from God may we find the answers that lead us to honesty, tolerance and compassion.

Thank you.

(This is the complete text of the speech. An edited version was delivered to the ACL due to a reduced time allocation).

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

11/10/2008

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).

A Speech by ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill, to Canberra ASH (Action on Smoking & Health), 02 October, 2008

10/10/2008

A Speech by ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill, to Canberra ASH (Action on Smoking & Health), 02 October, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll declare something here. I am an ex-smoker. So, we’ll see if that colours anything I have to say.

Firstly, I’d like to say to say the Australian Democrats are not in any way a socially conservative party. We’re social liberals, and we believe in the right of people to enjoy their lifestyle, in, the way they choose. The exception to that is where that lifestyle impinges on what we could perceive as the greater public good. A health issue like this, this is one of those issues when there is a role for the state to regulate when and where people can enjoy their right to smoke, so others can enjoy their right to clean air.

The Democrats have a long tradition of being innovators in tobacco law reform. In various jurisdictions we have worked cooperatively with governments, often pushing them a little further than they would like to go on tobacco law reform, and other public health measures. It was pointed out earlier that we supported the ban on indoor smoking.

When smoking was regulated in indoor areas, the doomsayers cried “it will ruin the hospitality industry!” That hasn’t been the case.
What’s been the case is that people largely support the ban on indoor smoking. Including, many smokers,

Canberra has a wonderful café culture with a large number of pavement dining areas. So, now we believe that it’s a natural progression to expand the protection of non-smokers and hospitality workers to those outdoor eating areas.

We shouldn’t allow some manipulation by the tobacco industry (political donations and the like) to clog our thinking about the need to legislate for decent, sensible public health policy. Current smoking laws have been well received. And it is time to take them further. It’s time to take action to protect families and give workers a safer workplace. Outdoor areas must come next.

We’d like to see an environment whereby hospitality workers can carry out their work in an environment that isn’t contaminated by people polluting the air with smoke and contaminating it with toxins. So the ACT Democrats support the creation of “clean air zones.’

The position of the Australian Democrats in relation to tobacco advertising even predates our existence as a party. In the early 1970s, the person who was to become our first federal parliamentary leader, Don Chipp, was a strong advocate of banning television and radio advertising of cigarettes and tobacco products. Such was the influence of the tobacco industry that the Chief Executive of one of the tobacco companies wrote to the then Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, saying that they would withdraw funding to the Liberal Party if Don Chipp didn’t stop his advoocacy of bannning tobacco advertising on television and radio. Of course, Chippy kept up his fight and as you probably know in the mid 1970s, the last Liberal government of which Don Chipp was a part took action to ban tobacco advertising on radio and television.

The Australian Democrats have continued this work, supporting the banning of tobacco sponsorship of sport by the Hawke government in the 80s and 90s. And also here in the ACT supporting the banning of smoking in indoor areas.

Whilst, I don’t advocate giving smoking a mischievous quality by making it be perceived as a banned or naughty product (nothing sells better than a banned product, I mean we can cite the example of records that have been banned by radio stations, they go to number one on the playlists, on the hit parade). So, I don’t advocate the total removal of tobacco products from display. I do support the discrete display of tobacco products with little or no advertising, away from the easy view of children.

It is very hard to enforce a ban on smoking in cars. Public education is also a fantastic thing, which I think should be encouraged.

Federally, three years ago, my party did attempt to ban smoking in cars in the belief that it would cut down on bushfires, littering, car accidents and cancer. And I agree, it would cut down on those things. I do think the idea has merit. However, I believe it is an incredibly difficult thing to enforce and that education rather than legislation is probably the way to go. We’ve already seen example in society where sensitive, aware parents don’t smoke in the house around their kids. Sensitive, aware parents don’t smoke in the car with their kids; and I think education to extend and encourage that is what we should be supporting. It should be the role of government as part of health promotion to provide such education.

However, public transport and planes have been smoke free for many years, so there possibly is a case for enforcing smoke free driving.

I think there should be Assembly inquiries into all things to determine best practice within Australia and overseas. Having said that, I think all legislation should be thoroughly examined and we should make better use of the Committee system in the assembly to determine good legislation, good outcomes on all legislation and that’s been common Democrat practice for a long time. And we support that.

Smokers do have a right to smoke. The majority of citizens also have a right to breathe clean air and to enjoy clean air. Medical evidence has shown that there are many bad effects from side-stream and environmental tobacco smoke on the health of non-smokers. And we as legislators must take action So to examine what is world’s best practice and Australian best practice before legislating in the ACT, I think that’s a good idea.

I don’t believe you can legislate respect. I think it’s like trying to legislate manners. It’s just impossible. They only thing you can do is try to teach respect. And respect is part of that old two-sided equation, rights and responsibilities. Yes, you have the right to smoke but you also have the responsibility to ensure that others are not affected by your smoking and that you respect the zone in which you are permitted to smoke. So, if it’s a “clean air zone” then you don’t light up in that zone. It’s a respect issue. We can’t legislate and enforce that sort of thing. I think that education campaigns are the right sort of way to go on this.

The ACT Democrats believe more should be put into education and awareness campaigns. We support increased funding for tobacco education in schools and the community with a focus on informed choice. We are talking about a legal product after all. We are committed to promoting additional methods of reducing the harm caused by tobacco and especially the use of it by children. We don’t believe that we can have tighter tobacco control without more generous tobacco cessation programmes. The two things need to go hand in hand. It is time that we took away the excuse for not stopping smoking. Which often are for instance, the gum or the patches are too expensive. And we need to recognise that tobacco is an addictive substance and to treat tobacco addiction as exactly what it is – an addiction. So, as such, we support more resources being given to Quit Smoking campaigns.
I think that a proposal for “no smoking’ clauses in residential tenancy agreements requires a thorough examination of the proposed legislation in relation to it. I have lived in student accommodation where smoking was banned in the enclosed area of the premises. However, it was permitted on the balcony area. So, there’s room for consideration of that. However, I don’t think it’s a simplistic solution and it’s something that needs to be examined thoroughly.

It is also important that we focus on the health and well-being of expectant mothers and babies. I think this can really be done as part of an overall awareness campaign. I think some of the messages are already getting through, particularly through the medical profession in relation to both alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. People are far more aware of the impact on the unborn child these days than they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. I mean, we’re aware now of the drug Thalidomide, we’re awre of the affect of alcohol on the unborn child, we’re aware of the affect of smoking. I think as the medical profession get this message through to people (and part of their role is to educate on current medical practice) that the message is getting through. And giving children a good start in life is one of the most important investments that a society can make in it’s future. But the only real protection that can be given to the unborn child is common sense on the part of the mother. And that can only come about through education.

Subliminal advertising in movies is a problem. The subliminal messages in movies are very strong. It does glamourise smoking and I think action needs to be take. But this is something that needs to be done, probably more at a federal level than what we can do at a territory level. We can’t say that a certain type of film has to have one requirement in the ACT but something else in the rest of Australia. It’s really a federal issue but we should lobby and put pressure on the federal government to pick up on that, as it has been when the Democrats Senators attempted to introduce this into the Senate back in 2004. I think it’s a good idea to pick up on it again. And, I think that maybe it’s time will come too.

Thank you.

(This shows Darren’s responses to Canberra ASH as a speech. To view it as a question and Answer format see http://www.act.democrats.org.au and click on “Speeches”)

A speech by ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill, to ACT Light Rail, Election Event: 30 September, 2008

05/10/2008

A speech by ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill, to ACT Light Rail, Election Event: 30 September, 2008

I thank ACT Light Rail for the invitation to speak tonight and I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.

I’m Darren Churchill. I’m the president of the ACT Democrats and Ungrouped candidate for Ginninderra. Ungrouped, because of the seriously flawed electoral laws we have.

Ladies and gentlemen, the ACT Democrats have been advocating light rail for over seven years now. In 2001, we took a serious proposal for light rail to the election. It’s good to see that now Light Rail is back on the agenda.

However, the ACT Democrats are not simply prepared to be a policy think tank for the old parties. The ACT Democrats support the idea but not the current execution of an integrated transport plan for Canberra. The recently released plan is “more of the same” from a tired government.

Its central thesis of a car-centred Canberra is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It has not been helped by a bus service that increasingly failed to meet the needs of the people, despite the individual efforts of those charged with delivering the service.

Canberra needs a light rail system for the current citizens of Canberra, the future development of Canberra and for visitors to Canberra. A light rail system is not a novel idea, nor is it a high-risk idea. Modern progressive cities around the world have adopted light rail successfully.

The current government gives lip-service to light rail, but has failed to allocate resources to support these words. The Democrats will support any measures to redress this.

The concept of light rail does not exist in a vacuum. The development of Canberra’s built environment, its Nature Parks and public spaces, its tourism infrastructure and its business centres will be affected by this project.

How is it to be funded? Where should the first line go? What style of light rail should be deployed? How should it be integrated into the existing city? How are future developments best designed to extend the network? Is it is to be privately, publicly, or jointly developed and operated?
In answer to these, the ACT Democrats believe that a light rail system should be a key element of Canberra’s public transport services.
We acknowledge that light rail is more environmentally sustainable, provides accessible transport to the majority of the population and is a viable complement to a well planned road system.
We believe, that there should be a light rail spine linking Gungahlin, Civic, Woden and Tugerranong. And eventually Queanbeyan too. There should also be a link between Belconnen and Civic
The first stage of this would be a link between Gungahlin and Civic. That should be planned for in conjunction with the upgrades to the Gungahiln Drive Extension and Caswell Drive.
And I know, that originally the ACT Democrats did oppose the Gungahlin Drive Extension. However, now that the thing’s done (and only half done) it should be done properly and that should include a light rail facility following that route.
Stage two would see the extension to Woden and Tuggeranong, and then from Civic to Belconnen.

We believe the light rail system should preferably be publicly owned and operated.

The Light Rail system needs to be integrated with other forms of transport and should be part of an overarching transport plan. We envisage such a plan operating in the following manner:

– with a full service bus system which would link the suburbs with the town centres;
– there should be a integrated ticketing system between the bus and the light rail system;
– light rail vehicles should also be able to carry bicycles and there should be bike facilities at light rail stops;
– parking, or park-and-ride facilities, should also be made available at light rail terminals;
– On the question that’s been raised on “right of way.” Light Rail would have right of way. Traffic lights would be triggered by the approach of the light rail vehicle, similar to that system that operates with the current Tram system in Melbourne;
– Light rail should be commenced along existing major transport corridors and should be planned for along future road corridor developments.

However, some of these questions are best decided and negotiated by the Assembly and the ACT Government. This includes budget allocations and negotiations with the Commonwealth for necessary infrastructure assistance.

We believe the majority of the consequences will be beneficial to Canberra. With all development, engagement with the community and negotiating tradeoffs is vital for its success. What is the best way to engage in a truly consultative manner?

One method of engagement would be the implementation of broad community consultative committees, similar to the planning advisory committees (or LAPAC). There needs to be a better method than the selective, collective consultation that frequently occurs with the current government. Hand-picking favoured groups for consultation is not the best model. Ignoring the hard work of such committees is also not the best model..

Effective community consultation is not always easy but we would not be the first city in the world to achieve it.

So, lthough generally supportive of light rail, the Democrats believe it is more important to invest in it’s development as a viable transport option, rather than simply as a system designed for tourism.

Your Light Rail advocates in the ACT Democrats are Greg Tannahill (in Molonglo) and myself, Darren Churchill (in Ginninderra). Look for us in the “ungrouped” column on the ballot paper.

Thank you.

Darren Churchill: Social Justice speech to CES: 25 September, 2008

30/09/2008

A speech by ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill, to Christians for an Ethical Society, addressing Social Justice

I thank Heather and the CES for the invitation to speak tonight and I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it could be said that the Australian Democrats have done more than just a little bit of work on Social Justice.  Right from the beginning, my party was formed on the principles of honesty, tolerance and compassion, with policies based on common sense and fairness.

We are the true small “l” liberals, socially progressive, being a voice for Aboriginal reconciliation, human rights and refugees as well as championing the environment long before it was ever fashionable to do so.  In 2008, the ACT Democrats stand by those very same principles

The Australian Democrats have always taken a positive approach to Social Inclusion by recognising and responding to the diverse needs of all Australians, with particular emphasis on those in greatest need. We continue to do so.

Social inclusion is about social cohesion.  It is about creating a framework, whereby the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed, are provided with the opportunities to share in society’s prosperity, to participate in society.

It is the role of government to ensure that there is a safety net to protect those who slip through the cracks of our economic and social structures.

For many Canberrans the real threats to their security come from poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunity or poor access to services.

Among the ways the Government can act is by addressing the divides in our society. It can recognise the importance of diversity in the community sector.  Government should target programmes to those parts of the Territory where there is greatest need.

Government can move to reduce local clubs relying so heavily on gambling revenue, given the social impact of gambling. The ACT Democrats oppose further expansion of the ACT’s poker machine industry.  We advocate government assistance to problem gambling support services and believe that greater recognition can be shown to this very real issue and those who are affected by it.

The ACT Democrats will increase our stock of public and community housing, as well as providing increased funding and resources for homelessness shelters, halfway houses, and crisis accommodation. We acknowledge the increasing number of Canberrans put at risk of homelessness as a result of domestic violence and relationship break-up and will improve support services to help Canberrans transition safely from unsafe home environments into stable, affordable long-term housing.

Lack of transport is a barrier to participation for many Canberrans.  The Democrats will act to reverse the decline of our bus networks and implement an attractive comprehensive public transport system.  Buses that are accessible to all, where you want, when you want.

The Democrats will work to remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in the full range of economic, community, and recreational activities that Canberra offers. We want greater support for children with disabilities so they can achieve their potential and for every child to have the opportunity for inclusion into a mainstream school setting if

that is their parents wish. Greater classroom support is needed so children with disabilities receive the full benefit of their education.

The Democrats strongly believe that the ACT Government should treat drug use and addiction as a health issue, base drugs policy on an evidence basis, and work to minimise the impact of drugs on the health and lives of users and their families. The Democrats support increased funding for alcohol, tobacco and other drug education in schools and the community with a focus on informed choice, the Democrats are committed to promoting additional methods of reducing the harm caused by tobacco and alcohol, and especially the use of these substances by children.

The Democrats welcome the initiative taken by the Federal Government in establishing a Social Inclusion Board.  We propose that a similar Social Inclusion Unit be set up in the Chief Minister’s Office here in the ACT and will take action to ensure that it is and that it’s work is consistent with the aims of it’s Charter.

The Democrats are pleased to see the Alexander Maconochie Centre ready to receive it’s first inmates.  It’s opening  will mean prisoners have greater access to their families and support networks, reducing the likelihood of recidivism by allowing prisoners to maintain the bonds that sustain human dignity.  It will allow the ACT to adopt world’s best practice in promoting rehabilitation within its prison system.  We welcome the operation of the prison on human rights principles.

The Democrats will act to ensure the prison maintains strong connections with community support agencies to ensure a smooth transition into the community and work after leaving the prison, as well as supporting the families of offenders.

We support and encourage programmes such as Alternatives to Violence and Restorative Justice.  We support efforts to tackle social disadvantage and inequality which are the social roots of offending.  Preventing crime by addressing the inequities that lead to crime is an important part of our justice, community safety and corrections platform.

The Democrats believe that ideally, drugs should be kept out of the new prison.  But recognising the fact that despite our best efforts, people do devise new and ingenious ways of getting drugs into prisons, we therefore support the adoption of harm minimisation approaches such as a needle exchange programme, believing the health of inmates and the safety of prison officers can be best protected in such a way.

We continue to be concerned about people with mental illnesses getting caught up in the court system, when the acts they were arrested for were done as a result of their illness.

We believe that the treatment of mentally ill people who come into contact with the police and judicial system can be considerably improved. The Democrats believe that police officers should be trained to work with people with mental illnesses, so they better deal with transporting or assisting people who are acutely ill.

The ACT Democrats recognise that demand for mental health services in

the ACT is increasing. We understand that good mental health is just as important for the ACT community as good physical health. We support increased resources for preventative programmes and early intervention to prevent chronic mental health problems developing.  Access to Mental Health support services is just as important inside a prison as in the wider community (in some ways even more important).  These services include access to mental health professionals, improving access to treatment (medication and counselling), and suicide prevention.

The Democrats have always aimed at achieving a balance between employer and employee.  The casualisation of much of the labour force has led to uncertainty of employment and little protection of income.  This has been highlighted recently by the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union in their campaign for a “fair deal for cleaners.”

The Democrats welcome the government’s agreement to implement reforms for contract cleaners.  But we question why it has taken so long and why has it only come about when an election looms large.

The Democrats support fairer pay and industry endorsed work rates.  We will implement contract clauses that allow continuity of employment, transportability of superannuation, sick and long-service leave provisions and ensure that casual workers are paid fairly and proportionately in comparison to their full-time colleagues.

The ACT Democrats support the protection and improvement of the urban and natural environment of our Bush Capital. We are committed to ensuring Canberra retains green space in the urban environment, improving residential and recreational amenity, and protecting remnant native vegetation.

The Democrats support measures to reduce emissions, including reducing energy use and reducing consumption of fossil fuels.

Water is an essential requirement for Canberra. The quality and quantity of water supplied is a major factor in the quality of life of Canberra residents. The

role of government is to develop a long term plan for the management of supply and demand at a reasonable cost to the community.

Especially in an era of climate change we all have to do our best at conserving water and preserving environmental flows, but increasing population numbers will undoubtedly require an increased supply and increased storage.

The Democrats will support the Cotter Dam enlargement and the proposed Angle Crossing to Googong Dam pipeline and provide an adequate water allocation for Canberra’s urban residents.

For better governance, the Democrats stand by our principle that Governments should be held to honour their election promises.  And recognise that a government has a mandate to govern and implement the platform it was elected to, but not to dictate or force through unfair legislation; it must be scrutinised and debated to “keep the bastards honest.”

We are the negotiators, the natural party of the cross-benches, the people who know how to make otherwise bad legislation into better, fairer legislation for all. We work for good outcomes. If laws are to be honest and just, the Assembly and the public must be given ample time to discuss all proposed legislation

These are just some of the measure that will begin to address how we build and strengthen local communities, support and empower families, and reduce disadvantage, lack of access and poverty and improve representation and democracy.

Our policies conform to what we call triple-bottom-line accounting practices which achieve a balance between competing economic, environmental and social objectives.

Thank you.

(This is the complete text of the speech.  An edited version was delivered to the CES due to a reduced time allocation).

Some Thoughts on Human Rights

23/11/2007

International Obligations on Human Rights
Australia must back up our international obligations with domestic legislation and action.  If people are acknowledged as refugees under the UN Convention, which Australia has ratified, we have at the very least a moral obligation to grant them protection.  We have accepted international co-operation as part of that convention and should honour our obligation as part of the international community. We have also ratified the international convention on human rights and we must ensure our laws are consistent with that agreement.

Refugees

Since when is it an offence to flee from persecution and war?  And to try to save the lives of your family members by taking them away from trouble?
In my opinion, the Australian government committed an offence under Australian law AND international law in 2001, when (with the co-operation of the opposition) it passed retrospective legislation to justify it’s actions in ordering our military to invade the Tampa (a Norwegian vessel carrying 400 frightened human beings) and took them without their consent to detention camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.  It should have allowed the ship to bring them to Australia!
Refugee asylum seekers should remain in reception centres for a maximum of fourteen weeks for processing and health checks.  The 45 day rule and Temporary Protection Visa system (which is discriminatory) should end. Refugee status should be determined efficiently and refugees be issued with a bridging visa and released into the community with access to services including medical services and English classes. This would bring them into line with asylum seekers who arrive on visas and apply for asylum once onshore.
There is a moral obligation to provide a safe-haven for people fleeing from persecution.  To send a human being back to somewhere they may be killed or tortured makes us just as bad as those doing the killing or torturing.  We have a moral responsibility and a duty under international law to protect people from being returned to persecution, torture or death.

A Bill of Rights?
Both the ACT and Victoria have Human Rights legislation.  But we really need national legislation on this issue. Introducing a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities would be the first step towards setting down clear guidelines for the treatment of our citizens and residents and it will be my first act if elected. I think the action taken by the ACT and Victoria has been the right thing to do.  I’d like to see the other states and territories following their lead.  But I’d also like to see Human Rights legislation enacted at the federal level.  And I’d like there to be consideration of enshrining it in the Constitution.

Accountability

A person should not be held in custody without a proper legal hearing.  Law enforcement must be accountable to the courts.  The right of habeas corpus has long been a protection of liberty in Common Law countries and has historically allowed people to challenge unlawful custody.  Only a court should determine whether a person has a right to be held in custody for any length of time; and people held in prison should always be brought to a speedy trial.  We need to guarantee this in Australia and fight for it to be the case when our citizens are held in custody on foreign soil.  No law should be exempt from this, including anti-terror laws.  The argument of “national emergency” should only apply if International Humanitarian Laws and the Geneva Conventions and their protocols are upheld.

Retrospective legislation should be opposed at all times.  Charging a person with an offence from a law tailored to fit the alleged offence makes the law all-powerful and denigrates the notion of a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.  Back-dating a law to the date of an announcement of intention for that law denies proper scrutiny and accountability to the parliament.  Regardless of the seriousness of the matter it is being legislated for, retrospective legislation is also (for the reasons I have just mentioned) a very serious matter.  It is “legislation by press release” and should not be a part of a democratic system.

Language Tests

The use of an English language test in qualifying people for Australian citizenship is potentially divisive and risks placing unnecessary stress on refugees and migrant who are educationally disadvantaged.  Government funded English language programmes for all migrants would help increase skills in our common language and if properly conducted would include it’s own assessment and measurements of proficiency.

The Death Penalty
Australia opposes the death penalty domestically and we need to take a strong, fearless stand against this and other human rights abuses and violations in our region.  We oppose the death penalty at home and we must also oppose it abroad, regardless of the circumstances.  We must show some leadership on this matter, especially in the Asia-Pacific (but also elsewhere)  and therefore, we must not allow our opposition to the death penalty to be seen as in any way ambiguous.

Indigenous Australians

Indigenous Australians have very good reason to be critical of the way the have been treated by Australian governments.  Forty years after the passing of the referendum which finally recognised indigenous Australians as people, there is still much disadvantage and inequality faced by indigenous Australians.  It is high time for tackling social, economic and political disadvantage; for targeting government services to indigenous communities; and for regional autonomy and an elected national voice for indigenous people.  This needs to be done in a way that is inclusive nad consultative with indigenous leaders.  The paternalistic ways of the past (which the government has shamefully revisited in recent months) are not the way forward.  The way forward is about fairness, equality and respect and negotiation.

(This document didn’t copy very well when I cut and pasted it from the original Word Document in which I wrote it.  I hope you were still able to read it with ease.)

Darren’s statement about Carers

23/11/2007

As the Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser, I call on Mr Howard and Mr Rudd to outline what they will do do to provide ongoing support for people who care for friends and relatives with disabilities.

I attended the launch of National Carers’ Week in Canberra at the start of the election campaign. It deeply concerns me that carers have been virtually ignored during this campaign.

Carers have been the forgotten people of this election campaign. There still isn’t adequate respite for Carer’s in the ACT. There are not enough group houses, despite the involvement of both the government and private welfare sectors.

Financial difficulties, depression and the need for greater support structures are just a few of the problems faced by carers. But they highlight the need for greater government assistance for carers both financially and with the provision of services and programs. The assistance of emotional support for carers is also in need being addressed, with depression being an area which needs greater awareness overall.

I call for an increase in Carer payments and allowances, greater tax relief for carers, provision of more respite houses, and extension of the eligibility for carer payments and allowances.

The Australian Democrats Carers policy can be found at: http://www.democrats.org.au/docs/ActionPlans/Disability_Carers_2007.pdf

The Australian Democrats statement about Carers can be found below.

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

0412 196 473

The Australian Democrats statement about Carers

The Democrats have long acknowledged that the work of carers receives little in recognition or financial reward and we have a long history of addressing and raising in the Senate the difficulties, both financial and social, that carers face. For example, we have had a specific campaign on increasing carer payments for over a year now.

The Australian Democrats believe that additional support and help should also be provided to young carers, ageing carers, parents of children with disabilities and carers of the profoundly disabled.

The Australian Democrats will continue to advocate for carers at the federal level and provide as much support and advocacy for Australia’s carers as we possibly can in the future.

Our key policy commitments for each of the 5 issues that they have highlighted follows. We also have a commitment to introduce a Family Responsibilities and Carers’ Rights Act as recommended by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in its report ‘It’s About Time: women, men, work and family’.

1. Integrated support for carers
Establish a National Office for Carers with responsibility to develop a national carer framework and advise on the impact of new policies on carers.

2. Carer financial security
Increase the rate of carer payment from $215.65/week to $383.25 (75% of the standard minimum wage) and double the rate of the carer allowance to $98.50 per week. Convert the $1,000 Carer Bonus into an annual, indexed payment.

3. Carer workforce participation
Establish a national one-stop carer workforce participation gateway, an Employers for Carers program, provide financial and other incentives to encourage employers to participate. Support the right to flexible work hours and part-time work for carers.

4. Carer health and wellbeing
Fund a carer health program

5. Carer education and training
Increase access to employment, education and training, and without fear of losing financial assistance

My speech to The Justice Project – Human Rights Forum, Dickson College, 08/11/2007

08/11/2007

(Thanks Kurt. I thank Matilda for her welcome and I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet).

Anti-terror laws are supposedly about risk mitigation, protecting us from a present risk of terrorism. What is the “present” risk of terrorism? The government is using the perceived risk of terrorism. to frighten us. The government thrives on creating a climate of fear. It used to be “reds under the beds” in the old days of the Cold War. Now it’s “terrorists behind the lampposts” or some other such phrase, for fostering fear, and making us suspicious of anyone who is visibly different from “us” (whatever “us” may be taken to mean). The perceived risk of terrorism is high. But the actual risk of terrorism is minimal by comparison.

Accountability is all about contestable decisions being heard by a court. The right to trial, the principle of habeas corpus, is a protection of liberty and enables people to challenge unlawful custody. There is a right to be heard: for decision makers to be unbiased, the right to know the evidence used against you and the right to know the case against you. This is referred to as “natural justice” (also known as “procedural fairness”). It prevents inaccurate results and means that you are able to defend yourself in court, where only relevant information is taken into account and irrelevant information is put aside (this is why the Haneef case was such a travesty) The courts have a role to act as a balance to the decisions of the executive. They can also act as a protection of peoples’ rights against overenthusiastic law enforcement agencies. (Especially when the government and opposition collude to increase the powers of those agencies, as happened recently).

A government has a duty and a fundamental responsibility to protect it’s citizens but this must be done in accordance with upholding the freedoms it is setting out to protect.

Even in the case of a “national emergency” such as war (or terrorism), basic human rights principles, our civil rights and freedoms (whether under statute or common law) as well as International Humanitarian Laws and the Geneva Conventions must be upheld.

There can still be a presumption against bail in dangerous and drugs cases. And if necessary an arrest order or warrant can still be issued in a very short period of time (about half an hour). But that doesn’t take away the right to have a person’s status determined by a court.

Politicians have an agenda. Courts, rely on evidence and development of the law. Keeping information “protected” from the court, or the defence, and closing courts from public view (except in cases justified to the court for the protection of one of the parties involved, eg. children, (or) domestic violence) (protected Information) involves a lack of scrutiny that risks poor decisions being made.

Our worst comes out when we justify poor decisions in the name of fighting threats of terror or war. When our rights and freedoms are eroded by government actions in the name of fighting some perceived threat to our freedoms, there is also an erosion of our morality. It occurs by undermining all we have worked towards in the evolution and historical development of our justice system. We throw it all out the window in a few short years when we fail to uphold the basic principles of justice on which our civilised society is built.

There is something morally wrong with imposing gaol sentences on journalists for reporting accountability issues. It is not about protecting people from terrorists. It is playing politics. Again, we have a situation of creating a climate of fear. No one is able to say anything, journalists become frightened to report anything for fear of imprisonment. This denies freedom of expression and a free press. It places our law enforcement agencies above the law, above scrutiny. It punishes freedom of information and takes away the publics’ right to be informed by a free and independent press

We need a balance, protecting us from excessive concentration of power by government . The separation of powers and the idea of responsible government as defined in the Australian Constitution is what is meant to give us the checks and balances between the branches of government without fear or interference. However, concentration of the government in the executive has increased with recent decisions by Ministers (such as the Attorney-General or Immigration Minister) to take powers away from the courts (as referred to above). We need to address constitutional reform to give greater clarification and definition to the relationship between the Executive, the Parliament and the Judiciary.

The Australian Democrats have long been the balance between the excessive power of Liberal (and) Labor governments. We will continue to fight for balance, for human rights and protection of privacy, freedom and accountability.

(Thank you).

(Speech given by me at the above meeting at approximately 6.45pm on 08/11/2007 addressing:

Does the “present risk of terrorism” justify:

– The new control orders. Which allow a person considered a threat to be restricted to their home where the person concerned has not been found guilty of an offence by a court?

– ASIO’s new power to detain a person suspected of being a terrorist but against whom there is not enough evidence to bring charges?

– laws that impose a 5 year gaol term on a journalist who reports the fact of a person held in detention under the powers referred to in the previous question?

- the new power of the Attorney-General to close courts to public view?

– the new power of the Attorney-General to prevent a litigant from seeing the evidence used against him or her?)

(Italicised parts of the main text are additional or “ad libs” to the original speech)

The Candidates of Fraser – Stateline (ACT Edition) 02/11/2007

08/11/2007

PHILIP WILLIAMS: First the Federal election. Shortly Michael Brissenden with day 19 of the campaign and the action is hotting up. But we begin with our local coverage, and this week we profile the Fraser electorate and meet the candidates. The commentator is Crispin Hull.

CRISPIN HULL: Since the ACT lost its third seat, the seat of Fraser has been the seat with the most voters of any seat or electorate in the Australia.

At the moment it’s held by Bob McMullan on a very safe margin of 13.3 per cent. The Liberal Party is standing Troy Williams.

Now Troy Williams is probably seen as the poster boy of the Liberal Party because his posters are all over town. But fact is people do not vote on the basis of posters.

The other candidates – the Democrats are standing, now the Democrat vote collapsed in 2004 so you wouldn’t expect the Democrats to get much more than 1 or 2 per cent.

The Citizens’ Electoral Council is again standing here as it’s standing in quite a number of seats around the place. Again, this is a shrapnel sort of party with a grab bag of far left and far right policies and you wouldn’t expect it to get many votes.

Now, the Greens are standing Meredith Hunter. She is the director of the ACTU’s coalition. She’s done quite a lot of work with young people, drug rehabilitation and so on and you’d expect her to do reasonably well. The Greens got around 12 per cent last election and you’d expect them maybe to improve a bit on that.

MEREDITH HUNTER, THE GREENS: Canberra should be a place where every child has access to a quality education, where we have a well resourced health system, where we support investment into renewable energy sources, where we encourage industrial democracy back into our workplaces, and where we ensure that the one in 10 people in our community who are doing it tough, including Commonwealth and Defence Force superannuants, get a fairer go. These are some of the issues that are important to me as a social justice advocate and that’s why I’m standing.

JIM ARNOLD, CITIZENS ELECTORAL COUNCIL: If you categorise the CEC as being in a nutshell old Labor, concern for the common man, support for a development bank that will sponsor major development projects such as water harvesting and high speed rail. Also, of course, we would remedy the crisis in health and education. It’s a crime that we poach much needed skills from third world countries. If you need more you can Google us.

DARREN CHURCHILL, AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS: We need balance: the environment, the economy and social justice. Instead of so many tax cuts, I’ll fight for increased funding for hospitals, paid maternity leave, affordable housing, the environment and all levels of education. I’ll fight for human rights and privacy legislation that protects all regardless of race, gender, religion or place of Origin. Choose commonsense by voting one Australian Democrats in both houses, for honesty, tolerance and compassion. Let’s bring back balance.

BOB MCMULLAN, AUSTRALIAN LANOR PARTY: The big issues here in Fraser are the national issues like WorkChoices and Kevin Rudd’s national water plan which has got the potential to help us solve the water crisis here in the ACT. But there’s very big local issues, like getting public service employments into the town centres, Gangland and like solving the traffic congestion around the airport. Those are the big issues I’ll be concentrating on in the next three years if I’m re-elected.

TROY WILLIAMS, LIBERAL PARTY OF AUSTRALIA: This election’s important. It’s one where we have the opportunity to re-elect a coalition government which has a demonstrated record of keeping unemployment low and increasing real wages. But it’s a local level where a lot of people make a choice. And my commitment will be to reinvest Commonwealth funds in our Territory schools and to reinvest money back into our hospital systems. My goal will be to put our community back in touch with its electorate, to be an effective local representative for the people of Fraser.

CRISPIN HULL: In all, the seat of Fraser is a very safe Labor seat and, in fact, to be honest the Labor Party could probably stand a white rabbit in the seat of Fraser and it would be elected.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: A white rabbit in the Parliament, that’s an image to conjure. And as we’ve done each week, the order in which the candidates appeared was randomly selected. Crispin Hull was a deliberate choice and we’ll be back next week to look at Eden Monaro. We had to travel further afield to catch up with those candidates, including our 6 hour round trip to a shearing shed in Adelong.

(Transcript from “The Candidates of Fraser” – Broadcast 02/11/2007 on Stateline (ACT Edition) ABC TV