The Newsroom presents exclusive interviews with Labor and Greens candidates for the seat of Melbourne.
Recently released polling data by market research company Roy Morgan found 40.5 per cent of Melburnians are likely to vote for the Australian Greens for the seat of Melbourne, followed by the Australian Labor Party at 34.5 per cent, the Coalition at 18.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent for “other”.
Labor candidate Sophie Ismail and current sitting Greens MP Adam Bandt told The Newsroom about their promises for Melbourne’s youth. Liberal Party of Australia candidate Phillip Le Liu was unavailable for an interview.
An increasing number of young people are turning to crime. The Crime Statistics Agency found that more than 28,000 Victorians aged 20-24 committed a crime between April 2015 and March 2016. How do the candidates propose to combat this in Melbourne?
Mr Bandt talked about people who finished their schooling and haven’t been able to find full-time employment.
“If you haven’t got a secure job and housing becomes unaffordable, you’re putting people in very difficult situations and maybe people will start doing things they otherwise wouldn’t,” Mr Bandt said.
“It comes to me as no surprise that some young people might be trying to find other ways to make ends meet.”
Ms Ismail said a Labor government would invest in apprenticeships to help young people gain employment.
“The main thing that keeps people out of crime and alcohol fuelled violence is having a decent job, having access to affordable housing and not saddled by unreasonable student debt,” she said.
The Coalition’s federal budget proposed an initiative to promote internships and on-the-job training. It would allow up to 30,000 young people to complete an internship and earn $200 a fortnight for working up to 25 hours a week.
If re-elected, the Coalition would also push to introduce “employability skills training” to ensure youth have the correct “skills, attitudes and behaviours required to be successful in a job”.
Live music scene
Music festivals Stereosonic, Soundwave and the Big Day Out have been cancelled this year. These music events bring together thousands of people, most of them young. How do the candidates propose to bring more live music to Melbourne?
Mr Bandt said a Greens government would increase funding to the Australia Council, the federal government’s arts funding and advisory body.
“Many artists rely on Australia Council grants in order to get by so we need to make more money available for that and we need to provide greater support for touring activities within Australia,” he said.
Ms Ismail, a big fan of music festivals, said Labor’s commitment to $1.8 million annually for four years for Sounds Australia would make a big difference.
Victoria trialled lockout laws in 2008 and found the number of reported assaults decreased in the Melbourne and Port Phillip areas between 8pm and midnight, compared to the same period in 2007, according to a report by KPMG (audit and advisory firm). It also found during “certain periods” of the trial the number of reported assaults had increased between midnight and 2am. Will the candidates push to introduce lockout laws if elected?
Ms Ismail opposed lockout laws because they made her feel less safe in her home state of Queensland, where people are barred entry to licensed premises after 3am.
“You’d be at the club to meet someone, you go and get a drink of water and then you find yourself locked out of the club, isolated from your friends and [with] a whole bunch of drunk people who have also been locked out and were angry and loose in the streets,” she said.
Ms Ismail said lobby groups like LISTEN are doing great work in stopping women being harassed in clubs: “The focus has to be on creating a safe culture. [It] goes along much further than cracking down on lockout laws.”
Mr Bandt said lockout laws make the city less safe and “do no more than turf a whole pile of people onto the street”. He instead suggested around the clock public transport.
Victoria is half-way through a 12-month trial for all-night public transport on weekends.
The federal budget contained cuts of $1.4 million to community radio each year, for the next four years. This funding helps support media such as not-for-profit SYN Media to air on FM and digital radio.
Ms Ismail said community radio is important because the stations “tell the stories that major media often neglect”. She committed to restoring all funding cut to community radio if a Labor government is elected.
“I know so many artists, particularly female artists, who would just never get the exposure they deserve without community radio,” she said.
Mr Bandt said the Coalition government had tried to cut funding to community radio in former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first budget, but the Greens had campaigned against it and won.
“We reversed the cuts and I feel confident we can do the same again this time around. We must defend community radio,” he said.
- The Greens and Labor are against lockout laws in Melbourne
- The Coalition government wants young people completing internships, Labor is committed to investing in education and the Greens want a bigger focus on youth employment
- The Greens and Labor want more funding for Australian music and arts
- The Coalition government wants to cut money from community radio and the Greens and Labor are committed to restoring it. – Story and photos by Matthew Male
Photo of MP Adam Bandt supplied by the Australian Greens.