Ray Collins will never have had as much exposure as Crikey’s civic team
have granted the low profile candidate for Melbourne Lord Mayor in this
entertaining diatribe.

Labor isn’t endorsing local government candidiates. But that
hasn’t stopped colorful Melbourne identity Raymond Collins cranking up
an Active.Local.Progessive ticket – and proclaiming his independence
amidst a dirty election campaign. I am running for Lord Mayor of
Melbourne. I am no-one’s stooge, lackey or puppet although this spray I copped in Crikey the other day seemed to suggest otherwise.

As
Hugo Kelly and Terry Maher don’t seem to talk to anyone outside their
friendship circle (a small group I believe), I thought I’d spill the
beans on what’s really going on.

Whose shout?

In
conjunction with my lead Council candidate Anthony van der Craats, I am
funding my own campaign for Lord Mayor. I have been in business for
thirty years, I’ve always paid my own way, I am beholden to no-one.
That’s how I’ve been all my life. This campaign is no exception. I
challenge all candidates in this election to do what I am doing which
is to release for full audit every dollar received and every dollar
expended, with original paperwork, receipts and records at the end of
the campaign.

Very few of my opponents will be willing and
able to do this. It is an ongoing scandal that developers’ donations to
candidates are not disclosed to the public as they are in federal
elections. It must change. I make it very clear, we are not accepting
one dollar from any developer or indeed any donor other than Anthony and me.

When
we did our budget, we decided to spend no more than the first year’s
Councillor salary (around twenty five thousand dollars). In Anthony’s
case, he’s been saving for quite a while to make this happen. That’s
all we intend to spend at this stage, although with two weeks to go,
nervous candidates reserve the right to bump it up a bit (say 20%).

But
there it is: full disclosure. And we’ll produce every receipt,
cheque-butt and invoice to show what we spent and where it came from. I wonder whether all candidates will accept our challenge to do the same. I doubt it.

Fundraisers at Dragon Boat: A conincidence?

This
is especially the case with those candidates who’ve done a deal with
John So, many coincidentally had fund-raisers at one or other of his
restaurants. I don’t mind John kicking in money, in fact I think he’s
not a bad bloke, but it should all be fully disclosed.

I
challenge inner-urban leftist (and occasional ALP member when we’re in
Government) Kate Redwood, Irene Goonan, Anthony Nicholson (the
Councillor who has not explained where an $8000 cash advance from the
Council was spent), Sue Chambers et al, who are all receiving
John So’s assistance in return for endorsements.

Kate
Redwood’s campaign manager has – in writing – said that “John’s people”
are arranging the distribution of Kate’s material. It’s allundisclosed
until now. This is Cash for Comment pure and simple. It’s enough to
make Alan Jones blush.

By
contrast to all of them, I am no one’s puppet. The preferences show,
our material proves, and the quality of our candidates demonstrates I
am in a good position to win the election and certainly Anthony is
considered by many a strong chance to get on the Council.

Our
assessment was all along, if So’s vote was disappointing for whatever
reason, that I could sneak up the middle the way So did the first time.
Hugo Kelly will recall my prediction before the start of the count last
time that So would win. I hope my predictions thistime are just as
accurate. The bottom line is we’re very serious about running, and
winning.

I am therefore no one’s stooge.

I
was particularly saddened by the attack on Anthony van der Craats.
Anthony’s support of Crikey principles like disclosure and
accountability make him a lot more of an attractive candidate than the
bad guy you painted him to be. His commitment to exposing rortsin the
Clown Hall has frankly been far more effective than any Councillor in
years.

Today’s Herald Sun
was one of many examples of Anthony discovering problems in the Town
Hall. Whether it was exposing the obscene cost of the Lord Mayor’s
limousine, the initial revelations about junkets to the Olympics years
ago, Anthony has been doing a great job. And he’s not even on the
Council. Yet.

The fact that Crikey hardly mentions the
shocking abuse of travel privileges by most incumbent Councillors in
the past term (yacht racing in Osaka, obscure festivals in St
Petersburg, useless conferences in India) but makes a personal attack
on Anthony does not fit with the idea of Crikey I have in my head.
Fearless, fanatical about disclosure, tough on rorters. Crikey and
Anthony’s description could be and should be the same.

Can Hugo count?

As
for the political speculation, anyone familiar with anything to do with
the Labor Party could tell you hell will freeze over before moderate
ALP types are able to get someone preselected in inner-city Melbourne.
Bronwyn Pike was the closest the Right had to a victory in decades and
she’s seems to be in the far Left pledge faction! To say the Melbourne
Council elections are a proxy war for any state preselection in the
future shows an appalling ignorance of the ALP in inner-city Melbourne
and is absolute fantasy.

If Kimberley or any other Labor
moderate want to run for office on day, they’ll do as many Labor
moderates have done over the years, people like Luke Donnellan, Joe
Helper, Andre Haermeyer to name just a few and move far away from here.
The local Socialist Left faction (Hugo Kelly’s former employer’s
faction) control 80% of the local FEA and 70% of the local SECC. I
assume Hugo knows this so it does raise the question how he came to be
writing this fiction. Follow the numbers and you will see the utter,
total absurdity of this
being a proxy war for anything. This is the
sort of gleeful invention one feels like writing up when having one too
many red wines over the keyboard.

Our campaign is not being
“handled” by any incumbent Councillor – including Kimberley or any
relative of theirs. We are thrilled to have her endorsement and her
excellent campaign skills but we are very much running our own show,
thank you very much. I have run Labor Melbourne City Council campaigns
for years and need no youngsters directing me what to do.

Don’t give me the arguments, show me the preferences

As
for preferences, there are two ALP members running for Lord Mayor. Both
agreed to do their own thing with preferences and that’s
exactly
what we did. A foolish junior staffer at ALP Head Office (associated
with the Socialist Left) Nathan Murphy mistakenly told The Age we’d
broken ALP rules by doing this. Given only the State Secretary or State
President of the Party are allowed to speak for the Party on such
things, I think he’s had a tough week. He’s since apologised and I
understand got a huge kick up the bum from his boss. Rightly so.

And
the assertion that we’re funnelling preferences to a Tory called Warren
Stooke is pure nonsense too. Make no mistake, his preferences will end
up with me. That’s the idea anyway.

I think my candidacy
is much stronger than his. My credentials, my community involvement, my
history of decades of involvement in local and municipal affairs give
me a big base of support. As does my willingness to tell the truth
wholeheartedly that I am a 30 year Labor Party member. I am heading a
ticket that only comprises members of the ALP. That honesty might cost
a few votes, but it’s right to disclose fully (unlike Kate Redwood for
example who doesn’t) and certainly reminds Labor voters of who is
worthy of support.

Am I part of the secret Greg Sword-Bill Shorten-Harold Holt preferencec conspiracy?

No, I am no-one’s lackey.

Warren Stooke may be good mates with Greg Sword (a factional opponent of mine) and Bill Shorten (a factional ally). That made no
difference
to me, either way. All it meant was I thought he would be slightly less
likely than the average Liberal (some of whom are
notorious) to
renege on preference deals. Looking at Warren’s material and his low
profile among residents I have no doubt I’m in
front of him. I hope the voters agree.

Only
time will tell of course. As a paying customer of Crikey’s, I’ll be
looking forward to my free subscription of Crikey if elected
the
first Labor Lord Mayor of Melbourne for a very long time. I will deem
that to be adequate compensation for the pasting you’ve given
me and
Anthony. As for Terry Maher, I insist that he shout me a red wine at
Percy’s. Having spent many an evening at Percy’s enjoying
the odd
tipple with my late father (Bill Collins) who also enjoyed the odd red,
I’m sure he’ll be looking down on us with a wry smile.

And
maybe, if you’ve finished throwing crap from a distance, you might
think about whether Active.Local.Progressive’s policies are good for
Melbourne. We pledge:

  • To cut the Lord Mayor’s
    and Senior Executive salaries by 10% and invest the savings into the
    reduction of childcare waiting lists;
  • To scrap the Lord Mayor’s Limousine;
  • To
    solve CBD traffic gridlock through increased bicycle stations, with
    racks, showers and changing rooms to make it less of a hassle
    to ride into town;

Plus lots more. Check out www.activelocalprogressive.com

Cheers,
Raymond Collins
Active. Local. Progresive. For Lord Mayor Melbourne
“Everybody Loves Raymond”