I usually try to avoid blogging in an overly partisan party political way (as opposed to expressing an opinion about specific issues). However, given the interest some have expressed in my decision to throw in my lot as a House of Representatives candidate for the Greens after having spent twenty years with a different political party, I am posting some thoughts here (cross-posted from my personal blog):

It’s nearly two years since the last election, when the Democrats lost all their seats, and over sixteen months since I finally left the Senate, as did the Democrats as a party. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to get back into party politics and contest a seat at next year’s federal election. It was formally announced yesterday that I’ll be running in the seat of Brisbane, which is where I live.

I’ve actually run in that seat once before, back in 1996. That was the election the Keating government got wiped out. Labor’s Arch Bevis, the incumbent in Brisbane at the time (as he still is), was 6.5% behind the Liberal candidate on primary votes, but at the end of the count he managed to get 559 votes in front, thanks to a very strong flow of preferences from Democrat and Green voters.

I had to weigh up a lot of things before deciding to dive back into party politics. There are aspects of politics that I could live without – some of which I’ve already been reminded of — and in the last year or so I’ve been enjoying engaging with a range of issues through a variety of different roles without having to worry about having a party label put on me.

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But eventually I decided there are too many important and urgent issues that need to be addressed far more effectively than they currently are, and I felt I was in a position to help provide some of the extra political pressure to bring the necessary changes about.

Climate change is the most obvious and urgent matter. I can’t see any likelihood of either major party doing what is needed on climate change unless they feel it will cost them votes if they don’t. There are plenty of other issues that also need more attention between now and the next election.

Housing affordability remains a big and growing problem despite the recent economic downturn and tax reform will be on the agenda again and will need to be done right. It is also very important for Queensland to regain a voice in the federal Parliament from outside the major parties. This has been absent since the last election, when I lost my seat to Labor.

With the Democrats basically out of the picture as a viable party, the Greens are the only real political option available to push these issues and provide a different perspective. It is interesting being in a new environment and discovering what things work differently, although it feels a bit strange sometimes too, after having been in the Democrats for twenty years.

However, I know plenty of the people — there are quite a few former Democrats in the Greens — and it will be interesting to have a go at campaigning focused at a more local level than before.

The first time I ever ran as a candidate was in the Brisbane City Council elections in 1991. I stood as a Democrat, but it was also as part of a wider team of candidates who ran under the overall banner of the Green Alliance, with Drew Hutton as the Lord Mayoral candidate.

Read more at The Stump.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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