A Green Tide

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By Steph Hodgins-May, Federal Greens candidate for Melbourne Ports

As the Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne Ports, I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support and encouragement of our community. At the time of writing, the count for Melbourne Ports continues, and the result remains inconclusive. What is clear though, is that a green tide is sweeping through St Kilda and the appetite for progressive, forward looking and collaborative representation is growing. I am heartened and motivated by swings towards the Greens of upward of 10% in St Kilda and surrounds.

This amazing electorate is incredibly diverse in its cultural, political, professional, ethnic and religious  composition. For example, according to the census, we not only have very large Jewish, Catholic and Anglican populations, but one of the highest rates of identified ‘atheists’.  We also have a vibrant and proud LGBTIQ community.

For a new candidate like me, it was an amazing experience to engage with such a multicultural electorate, which reinforced my belief that most people share a common desire to make this country a healthier, more decent and fairer place.

The Australian Greens campaigned on the issues we see as critically important for today, and for the future.  As Dr Richard Di Natale said on the day he became Greens leader, if we don’t address climate change and the damage being done by global warming, then all other issues will be background noise.

Climate change and making sure our city, country and planet are not ruined through pollution, fracking, pouring toxins into our air land and water, and destroying our farmland and natural environment are issues I believe are important. Here in inner-city Melbourne we are faced with growing liveability issues are directly affected by what happens to our state and beyond which is why the impact of climate change on our food security, air and water quality is critical to all of us.

But I am also very proud to represent a party that puts human rights and care for those most in need as a priority.

Health care, education and closing down those inhumane detention camps, where innocent people are locked up indefinitely, is an issue I am passionate about, and I know many people I have spoken with share that commitment.  I’ve previously worked at the United Nations and know just how important it is for Australia to set an example on how to manage people seeking asylum and refugees other than turning our backs on innocent people fleeing the Taliban, Islamic State and other terrors.

Throughout the campaign I tried to stay focussed on the policies and issues that matter to the people I want to represent in Parliament and the voters of Melbourne Ports responded very positively to the Greens messages.

On the other hand Mr Danby, the long-time ALP member, seemingly wanted to make this election about the complex and seemingly insolvable Middle-East situation.

A lot of untruths were voiced about the Greens and Israel, and I regret that this became an unnecessarily divisive matter for some, however I was heartened by the support I received from both new and old friends in the Jewish community.  I was proud to stand with my Jewish supporters and hear from them about why they backed me and the Greens.

Elections should be a contest of ideas about how we improve the lives and health of the people and environment we want to represent. The Greens don’t run negative adverts or play on the politics of fear.

Although the counting isn’t complete at the time of writing this, it looks like I received a swing of 3.8 per cent, well above the national swing to the Greens. I congratulate Mr Danby, who despite a swing against him of just under 5 per cent, will likely be returned.

I’d like to publicly thank the hundreds of people who helped and supported me during the election.

Who knows, we might all be doing this again sometime soon.

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