Dr Vania Holt
Candidate for the seat of Robertson in New South Wales
“[I]n Australia our public administration and our politics – certainly at a federal level – have been remarkably free of corruption”.
– Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, Senate, 3 February 2016, 281 (George Brandis, Attorney-General).
In 2016, this quote from the Attorney-General of Australia in 2016, Senator George Brandis, caught my eye. It made me cranky!
At that time, I was a prosecutor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in NSW and I was completing a PhD (Law) part-time on corruption in federal politics. I asked myself why it is that politicians suddenly become ‘uncorrupt’ (or ethical) when they serve the public at the federal level? Are only local or state governments corrupt? That can’t be true.
From that moment on, I went to work proving the then Attorney-General wrong and the public right. The public has been calling for a federal anti-corruption commission for years. Even after numerous government enquiries, still the government has not established one. The model which has been proposed by the government has been labelled a sham and one that protects vested interest, most notably, the politicians themselves.
What’s the point of having a useless federal ‘ICAC’? Well, it’s so the politicians look like they’re doing something when in fact they’re hiding behind it. Democracy is based on accountability and transparency – this government appears to have neither. A strong federal ‘ICAC’ will help us to improve these democratic principles. Our policy provides for a federal ‘ICAC’ with teeth.
I want to vote for someone with integrity and values, and who takes responsibility for their actions. I want to vote for someone who bases decisions on evidence (from scientists and researchers). I want to vote for someone who works for the public interest and not for themselves. I want to vote for someone who actually listens to community concerns and not just political donors or those with big cheque books. I don’t expect a politician to be perfect, but I need to trust that all decisions are made with integrity, transparency, accountability and with the public interest as the priority.
At present, I cannot find a politician who has these values and so, I am running myself. I am a lawyer (sorry!) with a small law firm but I am willing to put all that on hold to see if we can get the country back to what it was before it was destroyed by politicians who prioritise themselves, and their self-interest, over the public. It’s time that we, the public, decide how our country should be run.