Q&A with Rockdale's state election candidates

Candidates from the Liberal Party, The Greens and Sustainable Australia Party make their pitch

Muhammad Rana (Liberal) and Peter Strong (Greens). Images supplied. Photo not yet provided for James Morris.

Quotations have been lightly edited for concision and readability.

Muhammad Rana, Liberal Party

What do you think the electorate’s biggest issue is right now?

The issue being raised with me is cost of living. This is an issue not unique to Rockdale, or across NSW. Everyone is experiencing this issue right now.

What are some concrete ideas for improving this issue?

Cost of living vouchers like Back To School, Active Kids, Creative Kids, First Lap, Energy Saver and also the Toll Relief are really important to families right now, who are especially benefitting from these programs.

What have you learned while campaigning?

Cost of living is the top priority for people in Rockdale. Families and small business feel this pressure. That’s why I’m proud to be part of the Perrottet Liberal Team and ask for the community’s support on March 25. The Liberal Government have a plan for the future to keep NSW moving forward.

What separates you from other candidates?

I have an incredible passion for the community and want to advocate for them. I hear their concerns about cost of living and want to be there to support them.

Peter Strong, The Greens

What is the top issue that you want to tackle in Rockdale?

The issue is transparency in governance. This comes through with things like the gambling industry, housing developers, and the rollout of synthetic fields in the Rockdale area. These weren't very transparent the way the tenders happened. The Greens pride ourselves in taking no corporate donations, and everything is for the good of the people and not just trying to appease a developer or gambling interest that might offer an olive branch to make policy happen. With the Greens, you can rest assured that we will not take corporate donations, and we are totally independent as far as decision making and designing policy and promoting policy.

What are some ideas or solutions that you and the Greens have for tackling these issues?

Everything should be accountable, and every interest should be publicised. If the Greens are elected, we will make sure there's no hidden things going on, and that everything is upfront and revealed to the public. We have campaigned strongly against synthetic fields. Nobody knows the tender process for that, it wasn't in the public interest. There's lots of issues that come through, like toxic compounds and the like. Too hot to play on a summer's day. We'll be putting in policies for transparency for everything. Everything has to be revealed and accounted for.

What have you learned while campaigning since you decided to run?

I've learned that you've got your supporters and the people who are very interested, and you've got people that you'll never turn around. I find it's great engaging with with the public. And just witnessing since about 2015 — I've run twice for council and the first time I ran, I was nowhere near getting in. The second time I was 100 votes short. And I've watched the Green vote grow in the Bayside/Rockdale area. And that's really encouraging. We're getting more support in the area. So I've learned that people are interested in the new political landscape in the area.

And what separates you from the other candidates running?

I have an interesting technique. I'm an artist and a musician. I make solar powered sound systems. And sometimes you'll see me on the polling booth with a wheelie bin sound system playing multicultural music, because I really love the multicultural makeup of Rockdale, and my music tastes reflects this. All sorts of Eastern European, Arabic, Latin music sounds and so when I'm there handing out how to vote cards, it's done with music. And I do think that music and art is a really important part of any community. And I'll be promoting that aspect.

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

I first moved to the area in 2004, and we had an arts warehouse down at Turella station. I started exploring the area and I couldn't believe the Two Valley Trail. It's just amazing. There’s this beautiful wildlife corridor, with cliffs and huge trees. So that's one of the hidden gems. During the pandemic, my family and I, we couldn't do much, but our exercise would be going to the top of the hill and climbing the rocks there.

James Morris, Sustainable Australia Party

What would you say is the Rockdale electorate’s biggest issue right now?

Right now, the biggest issue facing the Rockdale electorate is high-rise overdevelopment, which is not being accompanied by the required new infrastructure, such as schools, recreational facilities and sports grounds.

What are your concrete ideas for improving this issue?

We need to ensure that proportionate new infrastructure is delivered before more housing density.

What have you learned while campaigning?

I have learned that letterboxing can be tiring! It is also rewarding to spread the message that Sustainable Australia Party is campaigning to protect our environment, stop overdevelopment and stop corruption.

What separates you from other candidates?

Sustainable Australia Party supports a science and evidence-based approach to public policy that puts our community first.

What’s your favourite hidden gem in the area?

There is nothing like exploring the many nooks and crannies of our waterways.

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

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