Barely months before the federal polls, Liberal Party’s candidate for Victoria’s Premier distances himself from his party’s leadership.
As Victoria approaches elections, all political parties contesting for power have sounded their bugle by launching their respective campaigns. With the Labor party being the incumbent for the polls scheduled for November 25, all eyes are on how the main opposition party, i.e. the Liberal Party has to offer, especially because they’ve made loud noises about the law and order in Melbourne. SBS Punjabi hopped on to the party’s election campaign bus with the Liberal Party’s candidate for the office of premier, Matthew Guy.
This bus serves as Mr Guy’s election headquarters as well as a roving billboard for the elections as he travels across the state in it. It leaves at around 9.30 am and brings Mr Guy and his team back to Melbourne by 7 pm every day. It has fair security and intelligence detail and a few police officers accompany him all the time.
In an exclusive interview to SBS Punjabi while on the campaign trail, Mr Guy detailed his party’s topmost issues. “Crime, congestion and cost of living are the biggest issues on people’s minds. Particularly around the outer suburbs … crime and community safety… The government has had four years to make the state safe, instead, they’ve let the frontline police numbers fall. What that means is we get the highest crime rate in Australia. And as a consequence, Victorians are hurting. Cost of living has never been so high. Congestion has never been as bad. We’ve got comprehensive plans to deal with all of that,” said Mr Guy.
Mr Guy said mandatory minimum jailtime, bail reform and parole reform will be at the core of his focus to improve the law and order situation as it exists in Melbourne. He added that “making sure that jail means jail,” is very important to tackle the rising crime levels in Victoria especially Melbourne. Mr Guy also touched upon his party’s stance on domestic violence: “We’ve put in place Victoria’s first mandatory minimum jailtime sentences for domestic violence, for mandatory reporting on domestic violence… I think it’s very, very important to send a message and also to crack down on it.”
Distancing himself from the Liberal Party’s recent leadership spill at the federal level which resulted in the unceremonious exit of the party’s former leader and prime minister Malcom Turnbull along with the unseating of other senior ministers, Mr Guy curtly said that he is sick of “Canberra politics”. When asked whether or not he thinks that the infighting in the Liberal party might have impacted the people’s confidence in its, Mr Guy said: “I’m a state leader and I’m not interested in Canberra just as much as Daniel Andrews isn’t interested in Bill Shorten… four months ago, people were talking of Bill Shorten having a leadership spill. So, I think we’re just sick of Canberra politics for the last 10 years.”
Highlighting that he is a child of not just migrants but also refugees who came to Australia several years ago, Mr Guy emphatically said that migration will work for Australia. But how does his party, which is in power in Canberra and is constantly toughening Australia’s approach towards foreign migration, measure up to this? He highlighted that it is important for Australia to make sure that “our country has the migration scheme in place to suit Australia’s needs at any particular time”. He added that at times, even he finds it difficult to get a holiday visa for his relatives living in Eastern Europe.
Mr Guy has targeted Australia’s burgeoning Indian community in his election campaign by attending several community celebrations of important festivals like Vaisakhi, Janmashtami, Dusshera, Diwali and has also proposed to fund Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary next year along with several other proposals to pump in money for community events. In the light of his family’s migratory history, when asked to comment on the emotional need of migrants, especially of Indian background, to have their families and elderly parents migrate to Australia and how he can play a role in convincing the federal government to soften its stance, Mr Guy said: “there comes a time when with 25 million people in Australia and 40 per cent of them from overseas, we can’t accept the whole world in Australia. SBS Punjabi had earlier reported Mr Guy’s comments, spurring a debate over the intentions of the Liberal party to ease migration and citizenship in the country.
SBS Punjabi also asked Mr Guy when his Liberal Party will show enough confidence in Indian-Australians to put up such a candidate in one of their strongholds. Referring to a Telugu-speaking candidate He replied: “The best chance for an India-Australian to be elected to the next Parliament would be Dinesh Gourisetty, who has been selected by the Liberal party for the Upper House for the western suburbs. And we are very, very close to getting that seat back. He’s our candidate and we fully expect him to win.”
SBS Punjabi has also learnt that Victoria’s taxi drivers have thrown their weight behind the Liberal Party because their taxi place licences were cancelled by the Daniel Andrews government, causing huge losses to their business. “We want to give taxi licence holders a fairer deal. They’ve been treated very badly. Some of them have worked all their life and lost their business. The government won’t let them buy back into that business and they haven’t paid them adequate compensation. But more importantly, that they’ve got independent valuation of their taxi licences because at the moment they do not have that,” said Mr Guy explaining how he intends to compensate taxi drivers by buying back their taxi licences, should he become Victoria’s next premier. He also touches upon how affordable taxi services like Uber are different from hail cabs in terms of their taxi licences.
To listen to this interview, click on the player at the top of the page.