Day 14 of the campaign, and momentum continues to build. With the launch of my Pledge for Victoria, I travelled to Ballarat with Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to support the local candidate Belinda Coates. We got a good reception, and momentum continues to build. See below for the day's update.
Today I launched our fuel efficiency standards policy in Melbourne with Senator Christine Milne. I also talked about procurement - why aren't the Government buying electric cars made right here in Victoria?
Today was my last day - for now - as a health professional, as I turn my thoughts to what we can accomplish in Parliament if I'm elected. I'll be making a pledge on what I will strive to achieve later in the week, but keen to hear your thoughts. I've had lots of good feedback already today - keep it coming!
Some days one could be forgiven for getting a little down on the political process. I just watched the leaders' debate on telly. The most interesting bit, I'm sad to say, was watching the response on Twitter. It seemed like half the time was spent on the monstrous threat of boat people and where in the pacific to corral them. How did it come to this? It seems that yet another election is being fought on immigration and refugees. Where are the pressing issues of health and transport, prtotecting our forests, gay marriage or an open internet?
It's about time Bob got a look in on the leaders' debates. Not only would it liven up the discussion but it would demonstrate to Australians what real leadership is about. I suppose that's what the old parties are worried about.
The good news is that the campaign is galloping along. Media interest is high, but more importantly the reactions our candidates are getting on the street is amazing. First-time Green voters everywhere are coming up and giving them pats on the back.
On the way back from launching the campaign of Des Benson for Kooyong, which was yet another venue packed with enthusiastic supporters and volunteers, I passed by the Labor candidate for Melbourne campaigning outside a supermarket in Fitzroy. Next to her were the folks from voteclimate.net, a community climate group, who have been turning up in the same places. They have a big banner that reads "Labor: In the pockets of big coal." Good on 'em for making a nuisance of themselves.
Today's video update after the jump.
Julia Gillard today announced her government's response to the issue of climate change: a "citizens' assembly" of "real Australians" to investigate the issue and work to build consensus for action.
This has to be one of the most cynical announcements of the campaign. This government was elected with a strong mandate to take action and three years later we still have nothing. The Age wrote this morning that the PM will "flag the possibility of further delay if the citizens' assembly is not convinced of the need to act." It's hard to see how anybody in Australia or abroad could have any confidence that we as a nation take the issue seriously.
This morning I appeared on ABC2's News Breakfast discussing yesterday's announcement of a levy on junk food advertising to fund the promotion of healthy food. Several agencies including VicHealth have come out in support of the proposal. It's good preventative health policy and something I could talk about all day long if they let me.
Video after the jump.
You may have seen the announcement we made this afternoon: The Greens announced a new policy calling for a levy on the advertising of junk food and alcohol. The money would be used for the promotion of fresh food such as fruit and vegetables.
I attended the press conference with Bob which generated a lot of interest and many questions from journalists. Bob and I took a minute out from the madness to record our thoughts on the announcement.
Video after the jump.
This morning I went down to the headquarters of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), where the unions were holding a rally in support of Ark Tribe and against the ABCC.
The ABCC was set up in the wake of the Cole Royal Commission to specially regulate and control workers in the construction industry. The problem with that is that the Commission actually didn't find widespread abuses and resulted in zero prosecutions. The Liberal government set up the ABCC, but the ALP have inexplicably refused to disband it. Its powers are draconian; Ark Tribe, a construction worker, attended an unauthorised safety meeting at a building site. For refusing to attend a secret ABCC on the legality of that safety meeting, he is facing the threat of 6 months jail. His trial is set to continue in a few days.
It's a sorry state of affairs, and it leaves The Greens as the only party that is standing up for the rights of workers in this industry.
Watch today's video bulletin from the scene after the jump.
One of the central issues of the campaign for me has been health. I admit to being biased - as a doctor and public health professional it's a policy area I happen to think is important. Fortunately, it also happens to be one of the great challenges of government and is something that weighs very heavily on the public mind. If you don't have your health you've got nothing, as they say.
To the relief of every journalist, political junkie and aspiring candidate in the nation, Prime Minister Gillard finally named a date for the election. Some of you will have heard about it within 5 seconds of the announcement by SMS or Twitter (talk about a compressed media cycle) but for those that haven't heard yet, it's August 21. Although The Greens believe in "moving forward", I make the following election commitment on the first day of the campaign: I promise not to use an election slogan more than three times a day.
I'm really excited about the election. Support for The Greens has been building for a long time. This isn't just about the ETS backflip or the appalling handling of the asylum seeker issue. It goes much deeper. More people than ever before are coming to events. I'm meeting increasing numbers of people who say they will vote Green for the first time. The mood on the street is good and it's infectious.