For someone whose faith in parliament is lukewarm, James Macdonald is surprisingly keen to get elected to it.
“I’m not sure how much faith I have in the ability of Parliament to actually make concrete things happen,” says the Greens candidate for Kingsford Smith, in Sydney's East. The desire to represent the views of younger Australians is partly what drives him.
"A real motivation for me running is to feel like I actually have a voice,” he told UniPollWatch.
Macdonald, 27, a data analyst,is optimistic about success in the upcoming election in Kingsford Smith, despite past results. “It’s a long shot, but it’s so important to have progressive parties out here showing that it doesn’t need to be the way it is at the moment,” he said.
His previous campaign in 2013 won him less than 10 per cent of the vote, according to the Australian Electoral Commission tally.
Macdonald’s main policies for this election are refugee rights, climate change, and transparency and anti-corruption within government. He has long been opposed to the offshore immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea and is pleased the Manus Island centre is about to close. “I think it’s pretty horrible to take a group of people and make them miserable as an example to other people,” he said.
The Greens candidate told UniPollWatch that with only a week to go before the election, his party had still not decided to direct its preferences to Labor. This could doom Labor's Matt Thistlethwaite who, 2013, lost on first preferences in Kingsford Smith to his Liberal opponent Michael Feneley, but won on Greens preferences.
“We as Greens need to believe that Thistlethwaite presents a real difference from Liberals… A lot of people in the local (Greens) group … feel on the issues that Labor doesn’t present much of a difference to the Liberal Party,” he said.
However a Greens "how to vote" card published online shows Macdonald's preferences flowing to Thistlethwaite, despite the somewhat ambiguous text above inviting voters to allocate preferences "in the order of your choice".
Macdonald and Thistlethwaite have both been campaigning against the felling of historic trees along Anzac Parade and Alison Road to create space for the new light rail transit system. The new line has been criticised by many in the area, including Peter Schick, head of the Kingsford Chamber of Commerce. Schick told UniPollWatch that the construction of the project is damaging local businesses.
Thistlethwaite, referring to the decision to move the station from the racecourse side to the other side of Alison Road, said, “The project has been completely mishandled."
Macdonald is more sceptical of the reasoning, “I don’t know if I really believe that about the racecourse side. I think there’s more to that than meets the eye."