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Back to the Polls

The state election seems like just yesterday if you live in Hobart. Chances are you have to vote again this Saturday. The Tasmanian Legislative Council elections for the seats of Hobart and Prosser are being held this weekend and voting is compulsory for Australian citizens living within these electorates.

You can find out if you are eligible to vote on Saturday here.

Look under State Legislative Council Division and if it says Hobart or Prosser, you have to vote

Although the campaigning and coverage for the Lower House election was so extensive it became exhausting (if you’re not a politics junkie like me that is), there hasn’t been a lot of coverage for the upcoming Legislative Council elections. If you are wondering who to vote for, or only just found out you had to vote, we’ve compiled a list of all the candidates to help you make a decision. As the electorate of Prosser is situated where very few UTas students would live, we’ve decided to focus on Hobart. If you do live in Prosser however, and would like a detailed analysis of the candidates, refer to this analysis by Tasmanian electoral analyst Kevin Bonham.

The current make-up of the Legislative Council is 10 Independents, 4 Labor and 1 Liberal, making our upper house the only non-partisan House in Australia. The sitting member for Hobart, Rob Valentine, makes up one of those 10 Independents, who range from left to right on political spectrum. With the Greens and Labor not running a candidate in this election, the choice is between a Liberal, minor party candidates, and independents. Members of the Legislative Council hold their seat for six years and are elected on a rotational basis so only two or three seats are contested each year.

Now what actually is the Legislative Council? Well, it basically works the same way the Senate does in Canberra. It is a house of review that scrutinises legislation that comes from the Lower House, where the Premier and most of the ministers reside. If the Premier wants to get legislation through, it also needs the support of the Legislative Council. With 4 Labor members and some left-leaning independents, some of the legislation the Government has tried to pass has been blocked or amended. The Legislative Council acts as a check on the power of the Government and every state in Australia has one, except Queensland (who had to get their Upper House to vote themselves out of a job, which they did lol).

It is worth noting that there are no female candidates in this election, which is disappointing considering the great progress made recently with Tasmania becoming the first state in Australia to have a majority female Lower House. So, of the 6 (male) candidates running, what do they stand for, and what will they do?

 

Rob Valentine

Independent

The Basics: Incumbent, left-leaning, pro-environment, healthcare and the arts.

Valentine is the current sitting member for the seat of Hobart, having taken the seat from Doug Parkinson, Labor, in 2012. Before that, he was the longest serving Lord Mayor of Hobart.

He has been identified as the most left-leaning member of the Legislative Council, based on a voting analysis by Kevin Bonham. Valentine is unconvinced of the merits of the Mt Wellington cable-car, opposes mandatory sentencing, believes policies relating to housing availability need review and supports preventative health programs. He is a supporter of the arts and believes in the need for decisive action on climate change.

 

Richard Griggs

Independent

The Basics: Lawyer, independent, human-rights focus, environmentalist.

A new face, Richard Griggs is a lawyer and head of the Tasmanian Branch of Civil Liberties Australia. Recently, Griggs has lead the charge for a Tasmanian Human Rights Act. In his time as head of the campaign, the cause gained support from both Labor and the Greens.

He has decided to step aside from his position of lead campaigner to run for the seat of Hobart, promising ‘New Ideas and New Energy’. He has advocated for free peak-hour bus travel to address Hobart’s traffic problems, has been critical of attempts to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act, believes in pursuing a Tasmanian Human Rights Act and feels the need for a cultural shift in which an education up to Year 12 and beyond is considered the ‘new normal’. Griggs is also passionate about the environment and advocates for a Tarkine National Park, he is also opposed to the Mt Wellington cable-car.

 

Simon Behrakis

Liberal

The Basics: Focus on economy, growth and jobs. Pro traditional values.

Simon Behrakis may be a familiar face to some, having recently run unsuccessfully for Denison in the state election. If elected to the Legislative Council, the small business owner would become the 2nd Liberal member, boosting the Liberals ability to pass legislation and is running to provide balance in the Upper House. As an endorsed candidate, it is likely Behrakis would vote in favour of all government legislation. Behrakis has identified his top two priorities as ensuring economic growth and maintaining ‘our values and heritage’ in a profile he has written for the Australian Christian Lobby website. Behrakis has identified several ways he intends on maintaining our values and heritage, including through making sure programs such as Safe Schools ‘never make their way into the curriculum in our state’ and opposing ‘any move to implement gender theory in our schools’, as well as opposing changing the date of Australia Day. Behrakis believes in delivering on job creation and ‘fostering an economic environment where small businesses can thrive and grow’.

 

Brendon Hext

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

The Basics: Protecting your right to enjoy the outdoor life

Hext is an armoured truck operator who lives in Rokeby (outside the electorate). He is an ‘outdoors’ person who enjoys Four Wheel Driving, fishing and motorbike riding. He has belonged to the SFF party for 4 years and wants to see the Government follow through on their election promises. Whilst not providing specific policies on the party website, the general party policies include improved rural infrastructure, ‘vigorous’ protection of the right to enjoy the outdoor life, and the protection of the environment through education and biosecurity measures.

 

Chris Simcox

Animal Justice Party

The Basics: Animal rights focus. Anti cable-car

Simcox is an animal rights activist who lives in Petcheys Bay (also outside the electorate). He is the first AJP candidate for a seat in Tasmanian parliament. He commits to campaigning for a ban on greyhound racing, the end of factory farming, a change to the Dog Control Act 2000 and to stop the ‘slaughter of wildlife’ by hunting, crop protection and the use of poison, and address the problem of roadkill. He is opposed to the Mt Wellington cable-car.

 

Alan Barnett

Tasmanians 4 Tasmania

The Basics: Keeping the government honest. Pro cable-car

Barnett is semi-retired and lives in Glenorchy, also outside the electorate. He is running for the new ‘Tasmanians 4 Tasmania’ party, which he describes as a truly Tasmanian only party, dedicated to acting in the best interests of Tasmania. When running for the seat of Denison in the recent state election he said his objective was to ensure that the government acts in the best interests of the state and its people. He is in favour of a Mt Wellington cable-car.

 

Many thanks to Kevin Bonham, whose blog has been invaluable for information on the candidates.

Whoever is successful in bid for the seat of Hobart will be your representative for the next six years. So make sure you do your research, choose wisely, and don’t forget to vote!

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