Q&A with Maroubra’s state election candidates

Get to know the candidates for the seat of Maroubra in Saturday’s state election

Candidates for Maroubra (left to right): Roderick Aguilar (IMOP), Bill Burst (Liberal), Kym Chapple (Greens), Holly Williamson (Animal Justice), Monique Isenheim (Sustainable Australia) and Michael Daley (Labor)

Quotations have been lightly edited for concision and readability.

Roderick Aguilar, Informed Medical Options Party

What’s the top issue you want to tackle in the Maroubra electorate?

It is the traffic in the Maroubra electorate, especially in Pagewood. It's hard to get out of my street in the morning and afternoon because of the amount of traffic. That stems from the lack of planning from all of the large developments coming on to the area, without doing the road infrastructure prior to approval.

There’s also the Qenos issue here in Pagewood. I attended the recent meeting and I want to make sure that they're doing the right thing, and there's nothing toxic coming out of that stack. It's the biggest thing I've seen in all these years that could have been a big problem for the area. I want to be more involved in that, and make sure they're not doing something that's dangerous for the Pagewood/Maroubra area. Just to keep them honest basically. So there's congestion, and also, those accidents.

What are some ideas or policies that you and your party have to solve some of the key issues?

Our policy is about giving people a choice. At the last election, it was just major parties I could vote for. But what if I'm not happy with the major parties? I had no choice. By me putting my hand up for the Informed Medical Options Party, people will have the choice rather than just the major parties. And the policy that we're trying to bring in is common sense and accountability. They need to make someone accountable for a lot of the bad decisions they made, especially in their response to COVID. A lot of the things that they pushed us through just didn't make sense. There's no accountability. So we want to bring that back. And the last one is human rights, whereby, we lost a lot of human rights when they locked us down. And we should have the human right to be able to make our own choices about our own bodies, which they took away during COVID. Once I bring back common sense and accountability and choice, hopefully some of the decisions that are affecting our electorate, like the congestion and the dangerous industry that's happening here, those things will get looked at and we can alleviate some of those issues.

What have you learned from the voters while you've been campaigning?

They feel the same way, that the major parties aren't doing what they‘re meant to be doing to help the electorate. There's a lot of disgruntled voters and locals that want change. And I'm hoping to be that change by giving them a choice. By giving them a choice, I'll be able to bring about some different conversations that aren't being brought up that benefit the electorate.

What do you think separates yourself from the other candidates?

I'm an everyday Australian representing all Australians. I'm not a career politician. I'm putting my hand up because I'm not happy with the way the major parties are leading the country in this electorate and state as a whole.

What’s a hidden gem in the area that you can share with the readers?

It's not a hidden gem, but we go to Maroubra beach. My kids grew up there, they did nippers, my oldest son did surf lifesaving patrols there. It's not a hidden gem, I just I think there should be more people using the beach and they shouldn't have locked it down during COVID.

Bill Burst, Liberal Party

What do you think the electorate’s biggest issues are right now?

Buses, the Yarra Bay cruise ship terminal, overdevelopment, reducing pressure on household budgets and growing our economy.

What are your concrete ideas for improving those issues?

Yarra Bay - after five years of fighting this issue within government and our community, it is off the planning list and it's protected.

I’m going to fight against overdevelopment. The Rezoning Pathways Scheme is designed to fast track initial applications in developing areas that are greenfield sites. It’s not appropriate for seat of Maroubra/Botany locations. There is the safeguard of Formal Planning Proposal stage to meet the strategic merit test criteria.

Buses - there are positives across the Maroubra/Botany area. There is a requirement for continued work on route improvements and I will champion this for our community.

Reducing pressure on household budgets by supporting people through the current challenge, while building the foundations for your financial security. There’s a suite of programs, like back to school vouchers, toll relief, energy rebates, et cetera. To grow our economy, we’ll create secure and well-paying jobs and pay for the services NSW needs - and we'll do it without taxing our community more.

What have you learned while campaigning?

The community want an MP that is passionate, caring, not lazy and listens to our community. They want problems resolved in the seat of Maroubra/Botany.

What separates you from other candidates?

I'm not a career politician or a lawyer. I have lived over 32 years in Botany, Chifley and Phillip Bay/La Perouse. I have common sense. In my career as an aircraft maintenance engineer, in global food safety compliance, and logistics, I identified problems and processes and got on with fixing them.

Kym Chapple, The Greens

What do you think are the Maroubra electorates biggest issues right now?

I think the biggest issue in Maroubra, and across the state, is the cost of living crisis. It's particularly bad for students, casuals and those on social security payments, as we're watching electricity, groceries and rent all rage out of control. I’d also say Maroubra is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. Renters are being slugged with unprecedented increases. I've seen inspections with more than 100 people present. And prices mean new homes are basically impossible for young people.

What are you and The Greens going to do about it?

Well, I think there's a frustration about the response to the cost of living being voucher schemes, which don't address structural issues. I think what needs to be a key priority is wage rises for essential workers, like nurses, teachers, and firefighters, who are still carrying over 10 years of wage caps.

We also have a plan for rental freezes for two years, while steps are taken to make the market fairer, including investing in social and affordable homes, making developers pay with their super profits, and ensuring homes come before holidays.

What have you learned while you've been campaigning?

I'm hearing from a lot of young people who are struggling to make rent as prices go up, and wages don't. I've heard from a lot of people that they're having to stay in share houses into their 30s and 40s, which wasn't necessarily everyone's plan. And they're also less likely to seek essential repairs, because they're doing everything they can to avoid rental increases. I'm also hearing from a lot of people that they're concerned we're not doing enough on climate action, and that the next few years are essential. People remember the fires and the floods, and they're worried about the future.

And what separates you from the other candidates running in Maroubra?

I come from a party that's not owned by the developer or gambling lobby. We're not focused on getting or keeping government. We're focused on delivering for local communities, on key things like climate and cost of living. I also think, up until recently, I rented, which is the case for more than 40% of people in our area. Our parliament is full of people who own holiday homes and investment properties. And that's not what it looks like out there. You know, I live in an apartment with my partner and two kids.

Fundamentally, what really sets me apart is this knowledge that we must take urgent climate action. And if we don't do it now, it is going to be too late. We have about five years to sort this out or we will make our area uninhabitable. We'll lose our beaches, we'll lose our coastal areas. We'll be stuck in that cycle of fire and flood and devastation. There's opportunities in this crisis if we do it properly. There's new green jobs, there's emerging technologies, and there's preserving our beautiful native forests.

What's a cool hidden gem in the area that you reckon the readers should know about?

The hidden gem is Malabar Headlands. It's a national park right in the middle of our beachy urban area. And it has incredible birds, amazing wildlife. It's between two beautiful beaches. The kids love it. It's the perfect day out.

Holly Williamson, Animal Justice Party

What’s the top issue you want to tackle in the Maroubra electorate?

Stopping the proposed Yarra Bay cruise terminal. The Liberal Party’s proposed cruise terminal will permanently devastate Yarra Bay and harm the peaceful community living there. It will bring increased traffic and commercial and residential overdevelopment which will destroy the way of life residents and visitors enjoy. It means increased noise and litter pollution on land, air and ocean, and much of the shore and surrounding habitat will be concreted. Our coastline will suffer erosion and ocean bed dredging will wreak havoc on wetlands and estuaries. The dolphins, whales, turtles, fairy penguins and seal colonies that call Yarra Bay home will be pushed out by habitat loss, pollution and ocean traffic.

Do you have a concrete idea on how you can solve this issue?

I will ensure funding to carry out an independent environmental impact investigation to determine the number and variety of ways the proposed cruise terminal violates the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The cruise terminal threatens numerous endangered and threatened species and I intend on fighting the proposal on legal grounds.

What have you learned while campaigning?

People are disillusioned and feeling powerless watching the major parties fail and fail again to take action to protect our environment and wildlife. Locals are heartened to hear that this election they can vote for a local leader who will prioritise the protection the environment and the animals that inhabit it.

What separates you from the other candidates?

I am the only candidate who 1) recognises that in order for humans to thrive, the environment and animals - wild, native and domestic - must be unequivocally protected and permitted to thrive as well, and 2) will take strong action to ensure animals, the environment and people are able to thrive harmoniously. I will take action to replace lethal shark nets with effective technology, prevent the Yarra Bay cruise terminal and Little Bay Meriton development from going ahead, protect marine life by establishing marine sanctuaries and push for off-lead beach areas for dogs.

What's a hidden gem in the area that you can share with the readers?

Herb n Sprout cafe has the best food I've tasted!

Monique Isenheim, Sustainable Australia Party

What’s the top issue that you want to tackle in the Maroubra electorate?

There are a couple of issues that are top of mind for many of the electorates, not just Maroubra. The state of the environment, native species, housing costs, cost of living, the decline in accessible healthcare, the declining education system, and corruption in politics. One of the topics that is felt really heavily in Maroubra is over-development. It’s pretty mind-blowing that we’re talking still about massive cruise ships in Yarra Bay, or talking about high-rises in Little Bay. All of this is going to take up lots of green space and will lead to congestion and a strain on the community and the limited infrastructure that’s already in place.

What are some of the main policy ideas that that you and your party are putting forward to solve some of these issues?

A major issue is that decisions are not made on the community level. But you know, it's somebody in the state who isn't necessarily affected by those decisions. And all the more if it's not an area where there's lots of their own voters, so to speak. I think the decision should be made by the community. Giving back a lot of those planning powers and making sure they can easily be they can be overridden on a state level is really important. The other component to that is this idea that endless growth — and that's population growth and economic growth — is the solution to many of our problems. When, in fact, it is actually pretty much a cause some of those problems. So questioning this whole growth paradigm is something that SAP is doing.

What have you learned from the community while you've been campaigning?

What I love is that there's a lot of people doing their proper due diligence, before casting their vote. I had a lot of people and community groups that reached out and asked me, what is your position or your party's position on lots of different things, whether that's gambling or education, cost of living, overdevelopment, riding bikes in the eastern suburbs, lots of things. I really love that people are looking into the parties and not just casting the vote where they've always put it.

What separates you from other candidates?

SAP is an emerging movement. Obviously, not as big as the other parties, but it's really becoming an alternative for people who don't feel properly represented by by the big three parties. For people that really care deeply about the environment, our species and politics being based on proper scientific process and evidence, rather than favour banking amongst mates and flows of money and influence, that's really where SAP comes in, and provides a bit of an alternative.

What's a hidden gem in the area that you can share with the readers?

Not so much a hidden gem. I really like Maroubra Beach and the Malabar Headland. One thing that I really like is to go for a walk or run after sunset because it’s quieter. Then you run into your local possums, foxes and if you're really lucky, into a spider web, as well. So that's something that I would recommend.

Michael Daley (Labor) was not available for an interview before our deadline. We’ll update the article if he becomes available.

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