What's at stake?

Sydney is a place for The Greens to shape the national political conversation in 2016

I've always had a passion for justice. I've been an activist for more than 20 years and I joined our party in 2011. I wanted to put my experience to use in the most important organisation in Australia for transformational change.

The hard work of party members over 30 years is paying off. For the first time it is legitimate to vote Greens at every level around here. Labor's responses to asylum seekers, We$tCONnex, ASIO powers, coal and gas mining, tax breaks for the rich and shabby treatment of single parents and the unemployed have created disappointment and anger.

The seats of Sydney and Grayndler are now a chance, though we will need to work very hard to get close this time, with Turnbull now presenting a prettier face for the Liberals. Tanya Plibersek, as a leader of the Labor Left, has been part and parcel of the party's drift to the right, backing Shorten very loyally. Just a few months ago she endorsed the idea that Labor would turn back asylum boats and she's said nothing about closing Manus and Nauru. Sadly she has gone along with the Liberals every time they've tried to increase laws that allow spy agencies to spy on citizens and she supports Australian involvement in the US's never-ending wars.

I am an active party member, but being a candidate was not on my mind when I joined, and it’s fair to say I have a concern about people joining our party because they want to be in parliament. Why? Because I don’t think parliament is where real social change begins.

Parliament is a conservative institution. David Shoebridge says parliament changes people, when we should be changing parliament. However changing parliament from the inside is an impossible ask of our MPs by themselves. We have to learn from Labor’s mistakes. Change begins and builds through the community: in workplaces, on campuses and in the streets. Greens MPs can help resource campaigns and use parliament to champion community campaigning.

So how would I campaign alongside you as our candidate? The specifics will depend on you as members living in the seat of Sydney. I do think our four pillars and our charter need to be better used to show the community we are not a single issue party, that we see how everything in society is connected, so we're serious about broad social change. That said, the climate emergency and its impacts does connect everything, but not everyone sees this yet.

Ideas are powerful. Jamie and Jenny mobilised hundreds of members and new supporters to talk one-on-one in classic grassroots campaigns. We will need to do the same on a bigger scale.

The Young Greens have a ten-word narrative for us to use in the federal campaign. It gets to the heart of the feelings of many people, including very many who still vote 1 – in a disappointed way – for Labor. It asks, If things are getting better, why am I feeling worse?

Let's campaign as the party who demand the security we all deserve. That means job security. It means housing security. It means free education. It means knowing your retirement savings can’t be destroyed by a market collapse. It means speaking up about the danger of US bases. It means colossal government action on climate change and clean energy and direct action to force that to happen fast.

If you know me then I hope you'll let others know I’m reliable, passionate, calm and persuasive. I will – like Jenny and Jamie – give it my all. Please support me in the preselection so we can build a movement to have a Green Sydney, reelect Lee Rhiannon and kickstart a wider understanding that our party really does want to change things. Our world needs it, urgently.

My strengths

from my experience and the people around me

1. A clear vision...

of what sort of society we can have and the role of The Greens in getting closer to it.

2. A lifetime of community activism...

with the extensive networks that creates, plus public speaking and media skills. I helped organise protests against Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, was there at the start of the Refugee Action Coalition and directly assisted refugees from Villawood. I've been a consistent peace activist and a campaigner for a just peace for Palestinians and I was an early participant in Community Action Against Homophobia in the push for equal marriage rights. I helped organise the first Walk Against Warming, am an active union member and support other unions' actions, and was the spokesperson for the protest against the neoliberal Forbes Global CEO Conference.

3. Diverse work experiences...

teaching in a maximum security jail and with migrants at TAFE; working as a union educator for workers in the community sector, Qantas, Sydney Trains and Sydney Water; various administration roles in the finance sector and contracts at Union Aid abroad APHEDA and Legal Aid NSW. Currently I manage a project in the community legal sector. I know a lot of people and have earned their respect through working with them.

4. Degrees in environmental systems and economics & industrial relations...

give me an insight into critical debates in these areas where we need credibility – and connections to professionals in these fields.

5. Five years of working with other members in The Greens...

gives me a thorough understanding of our party's rules, processes, culture and diverse membership: I initiated the Greens Reboot Future conference, reinvigorated GreenMail, regularly participate at State Delegates Council and work with MPs. Currently I represent Greens NSW at National Conference and National Council.

6. Part of the Inner West for more than 20 years...

I'm a well-known local person with lots of connections across the seat of Sydney.

Key Issues

A more democratic society

Too few people make too many of the key decisions in society. Corporate power dominates the parliament. Obvious action on critical issues like climate change is stalled because the fossil fuel corporations have leading MPs in their pockets. CEO pay has skyrocketed. Market movements are given more importance than environment or culture. Most of the media is owned by corporations, so it's no surprise. At a minimum we need to talk about corporate power as the core problem in our governance. Next steps could include a federal ICAC, banning corporate donations, employee and community reps elected to public corporations, a guaranteed basic income for all. We should be advocating creating public alternative banks and insurance companies and taking private energy and transport corporations into public hands. Not all this is Greens policy yet, but without bold initiatives for a more democratic future we are headed for ecological disaster and much greater inequality. The Greens need to lead the community debate about fundamental issues and help to build a movement for transformative change, or - frankly - what's the point?

Free tertiary education

Ability to pay should not be any part of public education, at any level. Universities have become degree factories with high paid CEOs. TAFE has been vandalised by successive governments, with private providers circling our public money, usually for providing substandard courses. Countries from Germany to Chile now have free tertiary education and we should - and could too. In fact we did, only thirty years ago, until the ALP decided to take it away. Education and research funding are the greatest investments in a prosperous future, yet Australia is way behind most other rich countries. We should promote a society where every child can imagine having a future where free, public, quality education allows them to fulfil their potential. Closing some tax loopholes would pay for this. So would closing detention centres. Let's make free education a priority this election.

A safe climate future needs radical action

We're in a climate emergency. End of story. Even the deniers have stopped denying. Yet coal and gas expansion and ridiculous plans like We$tCONnex continue to be approved by Lib-Lab governments. What's the role of The Greens in turning this disaster around? It has to be a call for massive public investment in a renewable energy sector and targets that agree with science, not political convenience. We should call for and participate in civil disobedience to encourage others to do the same. Going back to a market 'solution' like an ETS is an unnecessary diversion. An ETS is too slow. We know where the dirtiest energy plants are. As soon as clean capacity comes on we should shut them down. We should encourage community-owned local energy systems, but not forget the renters and disadvantaged who will need government support. Crucial to this is bringing energy generation, transmission and retail back into public ownership.

Housing security as a human right

House prices and rents are out of control around here. The average home loan size grew by 22% in the last year. If the bubble bursts hundreds of thousands of people will potentially lose their homes. Rents are now crazy too. But no matter how much you pay there's no security for tenants. What a ridiculous situation for one of our most basic needs - a real inditement of what happens when markets rule instead of planning and strong regulation. For years we've been told that first home owner grants and denser suburbs would solve the problem. But they haven't. Three reforms will go a long way to restoring some sanity to housing. We need to start with the principle that secure, affordable, quality housing is a human right. First we need to close the tax loopholes that have made housing a gambling market. Second we need to invest in a massive home building scheme funded by this extra tax revenue and borrowing. Third, we need a renters' rights revolution: long leases with protection against eviction, enforced quality standards and rental rises pegged to inflation. Many countries already have these. We need to campaign to catch up so a house is a home, not a financial asset or temporary shelter till the landlord kicks you out.

End the border panic. Close the camps. Free the refugees

We've had mandatory detention since 1992. Thanks Paul Keating. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been unnecessarily humiliated and traumatised. Too many have died. Why? To prove that Australian politicians are tough on border security. Labor and the LIberals have converged to the same cruel policy. It's now costing $1.2billion every year on the Pacific prison camps alone, just to play tough on refugees. We know asylum seekers are desperate. That's why they spend their life savings and risk their lives seeking safety and hope. I've met many of them. They are just like us - without the good fortune to have been born here or come on a valid visa. We don't need detention camps. Processing can happen in the community. Faster international processing as close as possible to countries from where people flee would stop the boats. But the boats have never been the problem. The problem is the politicians who want to pretend that refugees are a threat to our security and who want to look tough. I celebrate the activists who tirelessly campaign to end this cynical policy. Human rights know no borders. Close the camps. Free the refugees.

Workers deserve more security, a better share & better rights

Many people, especially young workers, are now facing a lifetime of precarious work. In an increasingly casualised economy, workers are expendable from one day to the next. Sick pay, annual leave and public holidays are becoming the preserve of a lucky few. And all workers are being forced to sacrifice an growing share of the wealth they created in favour of profits and costs for services that used to be free. Everyone should be guaranteed a secure job, with decent pay and good conditions, so they can plan the life they want to live. This means giving casuals the right to demand a permanent position. It means defending weekend penalty wage rates and increasing them for night shift workers. It means giving exploited overseas workers permanent residency. It means more democratic workplaces to end bullying. To get these, it means supporting the right of workers to join unions to organise - and go on strike - to get the security and respect we all deserve.

Treaty - let Aboriginal and TSI people decide

It's time for politicians and state agencies to let Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make their own decisions about their lives. Non-indigenous Australians - and our governments - need to: tell the truth about the past and educate the whole community to be able to share this truth; listen to Aboriginal community leaders and set policy on that basis; end discriminatory policies like the NT Intervention; provide generous resources to close the many gaps in health, education and housing; and negotiate a treaty in good faith which recognises ATSI remnant sovereignty and rights and which creates a post-colonial Australian republic. Our society can never be free of the scars of invasion and occupation without these steps.

Our services: free and public

Free, universal and publicly owned is the only way to ensure quality and accessible services for all. But whether it's the private health insurance rebate, forcing TAFE to compete with for-profit providers or privatising disability services, this essential basis for a fair society is being eroded. Free market ideology continues to infect both major parties. There is never a shortage of corporate interests looking to clean up from the next asset fire sale or secretive government contract. Despite this, the Greens vision for free and public services retains broad community support. People know that with marketisation and privatisation costs go up, quality goes down and workers lose out. In campaigning to defend – and extend – public health, education and care services, the Greens are listening to people who use these services and the workers who provide them.

Close US bases for a safer future

Iraq 1991. Afghanistan 2001-now. Iraq 2003-now. Syria now. Are the governments or rebel groups in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria a threat to people in Australia? If not, why have Australian soldiers been fighting there? Has their fighting helped? Following the US into resource and strategy wars is unethical and counterproductive. Both Labor and the Liberals believe that it is in Australia's 'national interest' to fight alongside the US and to agree to American spy and war comms bases - and now there's a marine base in Darwin too. Thanks Julia Gillard. This is never discussed in the parliament or at elections and mostly kept out of the media. It's the bipartisan elephant in the room. American bases make Australia a target in any future military conflict. Former conservative Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser - in the last 15 years of his life - agreed. He should know, having been staunchly pro-American through the Cold War. We should escape from the Cold War alliance and become a neutral country seeking friendship with our neighbours. I think talking peace needs to be a higher priority for The Greens.

Stop We$tCONnex - Fund public transport

We$tCONnex won't work. It will bring more cars onto the road and put more toxic pollution into our suburbs - the opposite to what our city needs. It will take public money away from public transport investment - the opposite to what our city needs. It will damage local communities and precious green spaces and remnant bushland - the opposite to what our city needs. Successive reports have concluded that there is no business case to waste public money in this way. It will probably fail just like many toll roads have as drivers simply avoid the high cost of driving on them. Integrated public transport solutions are available. Mehreen Faruqi and Ecotransit have costed plans. So why is Baird doing it? As Jenny Leong says, if this project is really about a massive transfer of public money to private construction companies by politicians who used to be merchant bankers, then we shouldn't expect it to make any sense. Effective and environmentally sound transport investment is critical for a more liveable Sydney. Congratulations to the community activists all over the Inner West who are fighting this concrete monstrosity and imagining a better future.

Women to the front: so much still to win

Women's perspectives and leadership are essential in everything we do. Do you know that abortion is still a criminal offence in NSW? Only a court decision from 1971 allows it under specific circumstances. How incredible that women's health choices are still treated as legal matters. I'm proud of the campaign led by Greens women to decriminalise abortion and I hope Greens members and supporters will get active with the #End12 campaign. Women are subject to much higher levels of abuse and violence, and yet funding of women's services has continuously been cut at both a state and federal level. Funding cuts to these services means that more women are killed by their partners directly because they can't get the help they need in time. On average women are still paid $260 less than men per week. As a result, women struggle more with rent, HECS debt and superannuation, even before taking into account the breaks forced by needs of children and/ or parents. Union campaigns like the ASU's equal pay victory and for domestic violence leave are helping. It's great that NTEU members have already won DV leave at Sydney Uni. Only women - acting together and seeking male allies - can transform work, family relations and safety. I'm proud that a majority of our nine Greens MPs from NSW are women.

Equal marriage rights - every vote, every MP, every time

Civil liberties versus the secret state

Since the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 and the Bali bombings we have seen repeated attempts by the police and ASIO to gain more resources and powers. With two tragic individual events in Sydney - in Martin Place and Parramatta - this has escalated. Baird and Turnbull want to hold people as young as 14 in custody for up to 28 days <em>without charge</em> while police see if they can find evidence to lay a charge! Meanwhile internet data retention has begun, making it clear we are now all under suspicion and we will pay for it. Labor has repeatedly caved in to pressure from the Liberals on these questions. I'm proud of the work of Scott Ludlam in Canberra and David Shoebridge here in helping the community realise that the police and ASIO now have too much power and that we are citizens not suspects. We all want to be safe, but even with extraordinary powers the police missed the Martin Place and Parramatta attacks. Keeping society hyper-vigilant is a well-known recipe more fear and more racism, making life worse for all of us, but especially for Arab and Muslim people. Sacrificing our civil liberties in the name of national security is extremely unsafe for the future of our rights.

Our bodies, our choices: end the war on drugs, allow dying with dignity

In too many areas governments continue to impose a legal and moralistic model on our behaviour as if we were children. Why should this be the case when the 'harm' - if any - is to ourselves? Punishing drug use - whether recreational or due to addiction - makes criminals of users, discourages education, medical treatment and initiatives to reduce harm and creates petty crime, black markets and corruption. Successful models of decriminalisation and harm reduction are growing elsewhere. Portugal is a case in point. Richard di Natale visited recently and endorses the Portuguese approach. Let's be leaders to change the frame here, with evidence-based policy, as soon as possible. Similarly, governments should facilitate the right of mentally competent people experiencing unrelievable suffering to choose to die with dignity with medical assistance. These popular human rights reforms are long overdue.

Demystifying the economy: public borrowing is good, tax loopholes are the problem

The balanced budget mantra is economically illiterate, but most politicians and most people have accepted that public finance is like a household budget and that debt is bad. The effect is an excuse for cut backs and the constant threat of more cutbacks, making people feel that things cannot get better. The Greens have a role in educating the public about the potential for strategic borrowing to improve infrastructure and services. This is especially true with historically low interest rates. We did a good job under Christine Milne pointing out the many billions of dollars that should be collected from the wealthy and their corporations just by closing existing loopholes and ending unnecessary subsidies, such as to the mining industry. Tax loopholes in superannuation, negative gearing, capital gains, family trusts and multinational profit-shifting cost the federal budget tens of billions every year which should be funding better services and better benefits for those in need. We should be repeating these economic arguments until people see that we're serious. The old parties aren't.