Sure and steady wins the race. Brad Kennedy has been using this approach since his previous attempt at Longman. Longman has been held by the LNP’s Wyatt Roy for six years and in 2013 Kennedy received 2.82% of the vote as the Katter’s Australian Party candidate. This time his eyes lay firmly on the prize.
Kennedy has lived in the Longman area with his wife for 23 years. During this time he has raised two children, served as a member of their school P&C committee and coached their local soccer. In his youth Kennedy had been a member of the Young Liberal Party. He said his time in the organisation gave him the “shakeup” he needed to realise he was not happy with the direction the Australian political scene was headed.
He strongly believes that the candidates up for election should directly represent their area, not just be allocated the position by the higher-ups in the party. “The bottom line is the House should really be a bunch of representatives from their electorates, all fighting for their electorate,” he says. “And the two party system just doesn’t encourage that at all”.
As a man who has had to relocate due to being made redundant, and owned his own successful Australian Produce Export company, Kennedy says he understands the important balance between employer and employee. After 35 years in the aviation industry, it was the lack of growth and opportunity in the Longman area that prompted him to enter the political scene.
He says the driving factor behind the decline in jobs can be attributed to poor overseas investment. “I basically see the country falling apart,” he said. “The main driver is jobs. We as a country need more jobs. As the manufacturing companies move overseas we’re losing thousands and thousands of them. The motoring industry is going to lose 46,000 jobs”.
Kennedy has been searching for something new to bring to the Longman area to help combat low employment rates and create sustainable careers. He believes 3-D Park is that project. “The 3-D Park will do a lot of things,” he says. “First of all it will be an international university, it will have subsections from all the universities that we invite to be part of the project, so it becomes a think tank…The initial plan is to develop Personal Electronic Transport Vehicles."
He said this would give the area a vehicle industry, which no longer exists in Australia, along with thousands of associated jobs. He said it would also provide the option of building factories throughout Australia, allowing the building of bigger vehicles, and the potential to build 3D print facilities to sell globally.
Another key issue for Kennedy is the rapidly increasing cost of electricity. Between 2003 and 2013, electricity prices for Longman’s closest city, Brisbane, rose by 73%. He says Australia is paying ridiculous prices in comparison to other countries around the world. “We are a country very rich in natural resources like gas and coal which power our generators at the moment and it would be great to see other ways of producing that power,” he said. "They don’t sell petrol for $1.50 a litre in Saudi Arabia, I can tell you”.
Similar to other regional candidates from neither major party, Kennedy is a strong believer that political donations and the Australian media have potential to dilute the quality of the democratic process. Not only does he suggest all donations be available to the public, he firmly states no overseas companies, or companies owned overseas, should be able to influence the outcome of an election in Australia through financial means.
“No foreign company should be able to contribute to the campaign of an Australian political party,” he says. “It should be made illegal. No company in Australia that’s owned by a foreign company should be allowed.”
His campaign manager Tony Zegenhagen says this time will be different for Kennedy. “Since his last campaign he has followed politics, he’s been desperate to have another go,” he said. “He’s listening to what the council wants, been introduced to some of the big developers in the area, listening to what they want, as well as some of the councillors. He would be a candidate who would work with the local council through to the state government.”
Kennedy says he will continue to ramp up the energy of his campaign as July 2 approaches, looking to close the gap between himself, Roy, and the Labor candidate Susan Lamb. His fundamental aim is to raise the standard of living in Longman. “I want to make change and I want to make change for the good,” he said. “I want to make change for Australia so that we have jobs for our children, and so we have a future.”