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|Things should be more like they were when John was young.
|Upper House: Eastern Victorian
Lower House: none
|O’Brien suggests only voting for the bare minimum of 5 below the line – with himself at 1, of course. After that, he’s given the nod to James Unkles of the United Australia Party, Ruth Stanfield of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, and Melina Bath & Renee Heath of the Coalition.
Policies & Commentary
John seems to me to be a straightforward man, who proposes simple solutions to the problems that face Victoria. Sadly, the problems facing Victoria are complex, and most of John’s solutions seem to date from, oh, let’s say early 1979 at the latest.
For instance, he has a solution for the cost of living crisis: elect him. That’s it. That’s as much detail as he has: elect him, and independents like him, because politicians have no idea. Of course, continuing to scroll through his policy offerings, the very next thing is that he wants to Make Public Utilities Ours Again! apparently unaware that the ALP also wants to do this, so perhaps politicians do actually have some idea after all. That said, John goes a little further – he’d also like to see roads, wharves, schools and prisons brought back under government control. And to see the State Bank of Victoria re-established, although the reason why is unclear. Moving on, he also wants to see VicRoads brought back into public ownership, decries the dropping of licence fees as a sweetener aimed at making young voters vote ALP, and to see potholes fixed in a more timely fashion. He also thinks that the solution to quicker road construction is More manpower, more equipment, less disruption, even though it really does sound like the first four words of that quote would make the last two impossible.
So, some of you have spent the last paragraph wondering why I mentioned early 1979 above. It’s due to John’s next idea, which is for Victoria to get into nuclear power! You see, the new technology is believed to be much safer than the technology that led to, for example, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant meltdown in March 1979. The new technology in question is the molten salt reactor, of which only three were ever built, one in the 1950s one in the 1960s, and one in China, which began operating in 2021. Now, nuclear reactors can take a while to build (the Chinese one took about ten years, although some of that was research, which wouldn’t need to be repeated in new construction), so John proposes that Victoria get seriously into clean coal in the meantime. You will probably not be surprised at this point to learn that the search terms “climate”, “nuclear waste” and “pollution” all came up empty when I applied them to John’s site. John would also like Victoria to be self-sufficient in oil and gas, so that we don’t have to worry about fuel. Despite his advocacy of nuclear power, he does not apply a similar logic to uranium and thorium, which is probably wise on the grounds that no deposits of either are known to exist in Victoria.
Moving on to the Public Service, John calls for a reduction in staffing levels and also a reduction in the number of outside contractors hired by the public service. Those of you capable of remembering things you read a whole paragraph ago might wonder where exactly the people to administer the newly-de-privatised government services will come from, a question which appears to not to have occurred to John. He then goes on to say, quite sensibly in my opinion, that Name calling, bullying behaviour etc should not be how professional people dealing with our states future should be conducting themselves during question time. Parliament is no different to any workplace, and should be a respectful workplace. Politicians can make their point or debate an issue without acting like a child – which is absolutely right (if a little ad hominem towards the end there). He’d also like to see campaign finance reform, calling for a nominated campaigning amount should be allocated to each party / independent. This ensures an equal representation in the media etc and avoids the complicit nature of campaign donations and implied favours, which is again a sensible (if somewhat self-interested) idea. I’m not sure it’s exactly the reform I’d choose, but campaign finance is definitely an area we need to have a serious conversation about in this country.
He would also like to bring under control the overspending that has occurred since the Andrews Government to office. He does not trouble himself to say what exactly constitutes overspending, but it seems safe to assume that it’s money spent on things he doesn’t approve of. I mention this, because so far, he’s called for a bunch of things that will add billions to the expenditure of the state government, especially nuclear power, which is extremely expensive to build and maintain. And he’s not done throwing money he insists we don’t have around. Buckle in.
John wants to see more funding for health, more funding for education, the creation of emergency accommodation for the homeless, more playgrounds and skate parks for the young, and a lot of money spent maintaining and rebuilding Victoria’s jetties and docks. Mentioning the role of docks in emergency evacuations during bushfires (John’s electorate of Eastern Victoria was the hardest hit in the state by the 2019 bushfires) is as close as he gets to acknowledging climate change. But he’s got a mad-on for the teachings of gender identity issues and WOKE beliefs (caps in original) and adds that Also all teachers are to remain apolitical and not allow their political beliefs into their teaching and also a Police in schools program for every Victorian school. The former of these is actually already a legal requirement, and the latter is of unclear utility – although given that John also wants to see increased funding of mental health services for the high-school aged, I’m willing to assume that whatever a “police in schools” policy is, he means well. Of course, he also wants mandatory minimum sentences in order to align with the American justice system (because THAT’S a role model for our cops and courts), so meaning well doesn’t carry a lot of weight.
And there you have it. John O’Brien seems to me to be a decent enough fellow, just a little stuck in the past. He is, by no small distance, the most “OK Boomer” candidate I have seen in Australian politics since John Howard retired, and even if I lived in his electorate, I would not be ranking him very highly on my ballot – he has some policies I enthusiastically agree with, but too many others that are red flags.