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Tag Archives: Canning by election

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.



Canning pre-selection; strategic or the best person for the job?

The pre-selection of ex-SASR soldier, Andrew Hastie as the Liberal Party candidate for the September by-election in Canning, Western Australia is a clever move by the Liberals. Who better to know of the dangers of ISIS and the threat of asylum seekers arriving by boat than a man who has served three tours of Afghanistan, and who has already advised Abbott on Operation Sovereign Borders? The former Captain, who was in charge of troops who reportedly chopped off the hands of dead Taliban fighters in 2013, is no stranger to the gruesome nature of war.

Fresh faced and youthful at 32, Hastie’s pre-selection photos give no indication of the horrors he has certainly witnessed. This is not a man who shirks his national responsibilities. He has demonstrated this with his service for Australia. Hastie has seen first-hand the impacts of terrorism and extremist fighters in the Middle East. He should understand intricately the consequences of war to innocent people, and has no doubt seen the thousands of refugees fleeing in fear of their lives.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is already running the Government like his own personal army. He is notorious for making Captain’s Calls. He has warned Coalition MP’s and Senators of the consequences for voicing alternative views to his hard-right policies, including promising to sack any who cross the floor on marriage equality. Abbott has militarised immigration with the new Border Force, clearly not content with the regular Defence Forces. He has threatened imprisonment to professionals exposing Government-sanctioned torture and abuse.

It seems a natural progression from Abbott running the Coalition-led Government like a para-military organisation – complete with the blokey atmosphere and entrenched under-representation of females, to endorsing a candidate who has stepped straight out of the armed forces the very week his pre-selection is announced.

Who better to be the face of national security and public protection than a former Captain in the Special Air Services Regiment?

This is not a slight against Hastie as a soldier. Soldiers of all rank are paid to do a job. And that job includes defending Australia, its allies and interests on the whim of whichever political party is in power. Soldiers are deployed to war zones, on peace keeping missions and to help with natural disasters. Many experience horrors unimaginable to the ordinary citizen, leaving veterans up to twice as likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime compared with other people in the general community.

However it is in the context of the current Liberal party’s neo-conservative nationalist regime, fascist policies and Abbott’s authoritarian leadership that Australians should be worried by the pre-selection of a freshly retired SASR Captain.

It should be of serious concern that a man who has witnessed the atrocities of a war zone is standing up to represent a party who uses war, terrorism and asylum seekers as political playthings.

There is no suggestion that Mr Hastie is not a man of integrity. There was no cloud over his head when he resigned from the Defence Force this week. However the Liberal Party’s pre-selection of a man such as Mr Hastie, at a time when Abbott’s popularity is at yet another low, must be viewed cynically. Is Abbott afraid that multiplying the number of flags for each successful national security announcement is not having a strong enough impact on the nation?

Does Abbott believe that Australians are not taking the threat of terrorism seriously enough, and feels the need to enlist a candidate who has personally witnessed the atrocities of war to help convince the public of the need for fear?

Mr Hastie took no time at all going from his apolitical role as a Captain in the Defence Force, to making it unequivocally clear of his political allegiances and persuasion.

Has Hastie sworn his loyalty to the party which believes in the ‘inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples’, a party founded on the principles of ‘a just and humane society’, and the importance of the role of law and justice being maintained? Or has he sworn to uphold the ideology of the Abbott-run Liberal Party which boasts proudly of its cruel asylum seeker policies?

It is clear from an objective viewpoint that Hastie’s pre-selection ties in perfectly with Abbott’s ‘national security’ agenda; an agenda Abbott has used predictably for months to deflect from poor opinion polls, woeful economic performance, and other accusations, like branch stacking on conscience votes for marriage equality, and his embarrassingly inadequate greenhouse gas emissions target.

Who better to give legitimacy to the Liberal Party’s draconian policies than a man who has actively fought in a war zone? Who else to give credibility to the need for harsher, more controlling and restrictive legislation than a man who has seen the worst of humankind?

There is no question about Hastie’s personal character. But there are certainly questions about the motivations for the Liberal Party to pre-select a man of Hastie’s experience and qualifications.

National security and stopping the boats are seen as vote winners for Abbott. Hastie has publicised involvement and knowledge of both. Perhaps Hastie brings other skills to the table, but in his first major speech he promised that his ‘combat skills’ would help his electorate. He says that after putting his life on the line for Australia he would use those same skills to represent his electorate. His background appears almost exclusively military.

It’s hard to see how the Liberal Party’s Canning campaign will be based on anything other than its ability to prioritise and promote national security, and protect the public from the Death Cult, with Hastie as the perfectly chosen representative.



Can Canning fix it?

To the people of Canning,

You have a grave responsibility in front of you.

It is widely accepted that a defeat for the Liberal Party in Canning would see the end of Tony Abbott’s leadership. Even if you are a conservative voter, this would be to your benefit – it will not cause a change of government, but it could snatch your party from the clutches of the Credlin/Abbott cartel which is not only leading your party to defeat but this country to ruin.

Compare the candidates that the two major parties have proposed.

The ALP candidate, Matt Keogh, grew up in the electorate. He is a dispute resolution lawyer and, at age 33, is the youngest person to hold the position of Law Society of WA president.

He has identified jobs, health, education and training as key areas of concern in the seat.

The Liberal candidate is SAS officer Andrew Hastie. He was born in Victoria, spent most of his life in NSW, and moved to WA in 2010 for his SAS training. He does not live in the electorate and currently lives in defence force housing in Shenton Park, close to the SAS Campbell Barracks in Swanbourne.

Hastie served in Afghanistan and the Middle East and was an adviser on Operation Sovereign Borders.

Canning is a diverse electorate from fly-in, fly-out miners, treechangers in the Perth Hills, seachangers in Mandurah, farmers and semi-rural residents and a large proportion of unemployed or low-income earners.

It will be interesting to see if concern about 457 visa workers plays a part. Will climate change be a common concern? Is support for the unemployed the most important issue?

One can assume that the Liberal candidate will run heavily on national security – quelle surprise. One hopes that the Labor candidate has a bit more to offer the people of Canning.

A Newspoll survey revealed Don Randall’s 11.8 per cent margin would be wiped away and the seat left on a knife edge if the poll was held this week.

This is a chance to restore some sanity to politics.

Can Canning fix it? Yes they can!


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