Ian Bell can be summed up in one word: passionate. He is passionate about inventing, innovating, and the environment. He is passionate about sailing, travelling, and wildlife rescue. He is also passionate about his party, The Greens, and the values they stand for.
Most importantly, Bell is passionate about how he is portrayed in the media. He would rather the voters don’t know about his “wild and carefree days”, instead wanting to focus on how he now takes a cautious path but is “unafraid when it comes to standing up for what matters and what is right”. He has put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that this final-year journalism student doesn’t misunderstand what he has discussed in an interview.
Earlier this month Bell attended a live radio segment on ABC Sunshine Coast with three other Longman candidates. Bribie Island local and ex-serviceman Ken Park asked what each party aims to do for the older community, as they are the ones who built this nation. Bell took this as an opportunity to criticise the Liberal National Party.
"An advantage that the Greens have is that we have not blown $50 billion on a hand-out to the high end of town,” he said. “Because we haven't done that, we are positioned with all our policies that are rolling out daily to help the disadvantaged generally."
Bribie Island local Leeann Crawford said his response was rather general and didn’t mean anything. “A comment much more detailed would make more sense,” she said, “A lot of elderly have had no super because when they were working it was not compulsory.”
When asked what type of support Bell would provide to services who focus on suicide prevention in the community, his response went a bit off track. He talked about how impressed he was by the Greens senate candidate Larissa Waters’ announcement to spend $5 billion for support to family violence victims. “The reason we can do this is because we haven’t blown the $51 billion,” he said. “The LNP have dropped the ball.”
Bell wants to inspire young people, to show them his perspective, and how the world has changed in his lifetime. He said that because of his study and readings, he can see the challenges that will be faced in the future. “I reckon I’ve got a better than average understanding of the economic problems we face, the environmental problems or the climatic problems we face because I read that stuff all the time,” he said.
ABC’s New Inventor’s program featured Bell for his flood-proof fence, which flattens itself at the push of a button to protect cattle and assist farmers during flood season. His office is decorated with awards and memorabilia, reminding him of his achievements. Newspaper cut outs document his involvement in stopping a $2 billion desalination plant on Bribie Island while running for the state seat of Pumicestone in 2009, his first attempt at public office. He also ran for mayor of Moreton Bay Regional Council in 2012.
The Greens hope to be serious competition against the major parties this year, but results from the previous four elections for Longman show a 0.04% decrease. When Rod Blair ran for them in 2010 he received an impressive 9.12 percent of the votes, but that number dropped drastically at the next election when the Palmer United Palmer emerged. Surprisingly, the other minor parties have increased 3.75% since 2004.
Bell strives for innovation and wants to encourage the Longman community to do so as well. If elected, his first move to influence innovation would be to improve the community’s understanding of the region and form partnerships with council. “There would have to be a common vision for the region about what are we doing here and what are the challenges,” he said. “And I don’t see that at the moment.”