unChain’s recommendations for the seat of Melbourne Ports

The unChain executive has decided to ‘hand out’ a ‘how to vote’ card electronically in the Federal election. We will not be handing out a card at any of the polling booths. If you want to, you can print out the unChain card and take it with you to the polling booth.

We expect that Michael Danby (Labor) will be returned – but with a significantly reduced majority. If he is re-elected, we wish him the best in the next term of Parliament. However we recommend that voters concerned about local issues place Ann Birrell (Greens) first, Kevin Ekendahl (Liberals) second and Michael Danby (Labor) third, with the candidates from the minor parties after them.

Our how-to-vote recommendation is based on the executive’s assessment of the candidates’ responses to our survey, after taking into account comments from members.

On many issues the candidates had similar positions that were consistent with the policies that unChain has developed. Had Kevin Ekendahl or Ann Birrell been a far-right or far-left firebrand unconcerned with our local issues, we would have recommended Michael Danby without hesitation. However, we are fortunate in that all three candidates from the major parties would be acceptable representatives for us in Melbourne Ports.

We believe that Ann Birrell is clearly the best candidate on the federal issues that have an immediate ‘local’ impact. One relevant consideration in then recommending Kevin Ekendahl over Michael Danby is that the former promised to support unChain’s request for federal funding for the Palais and the St Kilda Triangle. Michael Danby did not respond to our request.

Tactical voting was also relevant in our recommendation. It would be good to make Melbourne Ports a marginal seat. This is largely because the major parties appear to take more notice if they have to actually fight for the right to represent us.

unChain is fiercely independent; we are not pro-Green, pro-Liberal or pro-Labor. In part, we are trying to send a message to the state government. We do not want the Liberal state government to trample over local concerns on matters like the 96 tram project for Fitzroy and Acland Streets and the urban renewal project at Fishermans Bend. We are cautiously optimistic that, ultimately, there will be good outcomes on such issues, in part because of pressure from our Council and activist community groups like unChain.

Many voters are unhappy with the level of debate and policy discussion in this federal election. The unChain executive believes that by asking the candidates in Melbourne Ports detailed questions, posting their responses in full on our website and attempting to assess those responses, we have done our small bit in raising the quality of debate.

The unChain recommendation is exactly the same as that of the human rights advocate, Julian Burnside. He says: ‘vote Green in the House of Representatives, then preference whichever major party does not currently hold the seat you are in. If you are in a Labor seat, vote Coalition’. (www.julianburnside.com.au/vote.htm)

Many unChain members and supporters will make their decision on broad national and international issues, rather than on the recommendation of the unChain executive on ‘local’ issues. For example some unChain supporters may vote for the Greens because of their policy on refugees. They may take into account recommendations by people like Julian Burnside. Others may vote against the Greens because of their economic policies. Some will prefer Michael Danby over Kevin Ekendahl because they do not want a Tony Abbott government. Others may think it important to preference a ‘moderate’ small ‘l’ liberal like Kevin Ekendahl to give balance in a future Tony-Abbott government. So be it. unChain is a broad church.

The assessment of the candidates’ position on important Melbourne-Ports-specific issues was made by the executive of unChain Inc. The elected Port Phillip Councillors did not have a say in our deliberations. For lavish praise and (mild) criticism please contact me, Catherine Sharples, at unchaininc@gmail.com or our vice president, Peter Holland, at hollandp@me.com

~ Catherine Sharples
President, unChain

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