Scratching beneath the surface of the Canning campaign
There’s no doubt Andrew Hastie is an Abbott kinda guy – a military man, the son of a preacher, who helped advise about Operation Repel Refugees.
Though he doesn’t want you to ask about his religious beliefs – just know he was raised a God fearin’ man who will do some volunteering when he gets a chance. His views on same sex marriage (against, but for a plebiscite just like Tony) and creationism are not important.
In his first two days on the campaign trail, Hastie visited the local surf lifesaving club and the local volunteer bushfire brigade – hey, if it worked for Tony….
Hastie’s first sweetener was an announcement that the Commonwealth Government will invest $1 million in the Port Bouvard Surf Life Saving Club redevelopment.
The club was only built 12 years ago but they are going to put a second storey on the clubhouse.
“The extension will ensure the Port Bouvard Surf Life Saving Club is able to continue and extend its safety, education, and fitness services to members and the local community.”
Or perhaps allow an enterprising businessman to put in a restaurant with ocean views as many upper floors of surf clubs do?
When there was a car accident on Denny Avenue in Kelmscott, Andrew immediately called the State Minister for Transport, Dean Nalder, and requested an urgent onsite meeting. Even though it is a state responsibility, never give up the opportunity for a photo shoot, no matter how presumptuous it may be for a candidate to “summon” a Minister.
There was another photo session with the mayor, Tony Abbott, Matthias Cormann and a big map where Hastie took them to see the congestion on Armadale Rd.
“I will be pressuring the Prime Minister and senior Ministers to ensure we get real action and a real commitment to fixing this problem,” Mr Hastie said.
And it seems he is a man who can command action because a few days later we hear that the Commonwealth Government will provide $116 million for the Armadale Road duplication between Anstey Road and Tapper Road. Forget the fact that this was actually announced in October 2014 as part of the Western Australia Projects National partnership.
Michael Keenan also showed up to tell us that $3.4 million would be spent on upgrading the bridge over Beenyup Brook in Byford. As it turns out, this was announced in March through the Bridges Renewal Programme.
Whilst there, Keenan and Hastie went to the opening of the new headspace centre in Armadale and Hastie speaks about the government’s commitment to improving mental health services. What he doesn’t tell you is that the Department of Health has frozen the funding for Headspace, a move which experts warn will see young people turned away due to lack of resources.
He also won’t tell you that the government, on the basis of the recommendations of a review into mental health services conducted by an economist earlier this year, plans to cut $1 billion from hospitals’ mental health budget.
Hastie is putting most of his effort into a campaign on community safety and particularly, the fight against the Ice epidemic.
“I will use the experience I’ve developed as an Army captain in logistics, human resources, strategic planning and issues management , in conjunction with focus and discipline, to help coordinate a tough, rigorous yet compassionate approach to dealing with drugs and crime in our community.”
For an unemployed job applicant who currently has no right to claim to be representing anyone, Hastie seems supremely confident.
“In a show of his ability to lead and pull together resources to fight for solutions to issues, Mr Hastie brought together Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan, WA Police Minister Liza Harvey, WA Corrective Services Minister, Joe Francis, WA Mental Health Minister, Helen Morton and City of Armadale Chief Executive Officer, Ray Tame to discuss and plan an effective and real strategy to tackle the issue.”
Does anyone seriously believe anything was achieved at this meeting other than yet another photo?
We are told that, prior to convening the meeting, Mr Hastie visited the federally-funded Hope Community Services in Armadale which offers counselling, residential rehabilitation and transitional housing, supervised residential care for youth, outreach, prevention and life skills education and referrals.
What he doesn’t tell you is that there are only two rehabilitation services in Canning and neither has funding beyond the end of this financial year because of the Abbott Government’s cuts of almost $800 million to the Health Flexible Funds.
Instead of providing funding to the experts Hastie has his own plan.
If given the honour of being elected, Mr Hastie said he would will (sic) develop and implement a Canning Ice Action Plan within his first 30 days.
Some of the key elements will include:
The Canning Ice Action Taskforce – Call for expressions of interest from the community to become involved in the taskforce to consult with the community. The taskforce would report back and the views and information will be passed to the ministers here today who are now directly engaged.
Community Forums –Get real community engagement through a series of forums. The forums will ensure the Taskforce is properly informed on local community intelligence on Ice and how it may be better tackled locally and how users may receive better treatment.
Dob in a Dealer – Promote the new Dob in a Dealer campaign which asks community members to report people who are dealing illegal drugs and activity that is association with drug labs and distribution.
A lot of talk whist frontline services are under threat of closure.
Hastie also made the ubiquitous CCTV camera announcement. What they don’t tell you is that, rather than distributing the proceeds of crime to community groups that offer crime prevention, mentoring and support programs as happened in the past, the Abbott government has chosen to keep that money for themselves to help with their budget bottom line and to fund CCTVs at election time.
Hastie may photograph well but, when you scratch beneath the surface, he’s a salesman with nothing new to sell but a pitch.