Sitting in a cafe in Mona Vale, at the heart of the federal electorate of Mackellar, Mike Hall is all smiles and enthusiasm as he heads into his campaign as the Greens candidate for the 2016 election. You’d never be able to tell he’s running in what is considered one of the safest Liberal seats in the country, so he has almost no chance of winning. But, listening to his ideas about the state of the current political system, his passion and determination is less surprising.
“I would really like the opportunity to highlight in this election whether this system of a contest between grossly unequal parties at a local level geographically defined area is the right way to be doing politics” he said. “I’m not sure it is.”
A former international journalist, working in Africa, India, and Europe, Mike was raised and educated in the UK and currently lives on Scotland Island with his partner Melinda and two teenage children. Currently he owns his own designer textile business and chose to become the Australian Greens candidate in Mackellar at this time because his “ family responsibilities were somewhat diminished” and he is “at a bit of a turning point with [his] business.” A resident of Mackellar for over 12 years, he made the decision to run in the 2016 election after he watched the Abbott Government “head in what I thought was completely the wrong direction”.
For Mike the most important issue is “climate change”. “The biggest issue for me though was just this complete lack of vision on climate change and renewable energy and the economics around that” he said. After working as a financial journalist he said “just looking at the crazy decisions that were being made around renewable energy and action on climate change were big drivers”.
Mike described himself as “a bit of a Jazz tragic” and a feminist adding that during the pre-selection process he was “keen to see if the local group could find a woman to run as a candidate”. He said he doesn’t watch Game of Thrones and hasn’t read Harry Potter, although he has seen the movies.
Mike said that growing up in the UK in the early 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was in power was instrumental in "politicising” him. “In many ways I saw under the Abbott government some of the same issues,” he said. “That was an important experience.”
While Mike is active on social media, and believes that social media will have an affect on the election, he is also keen to “have as much face to face time with voters as we can”. He planned to walk 100 km through the electorate to meet and talk to potential constituents. His walk began on 11 May, 2016.
Mike is keen on grassroots and local discussions. “One of the things I’ve learnt as a candidate is just the incredible contribution to community life at a local level of all the numerous community groups that exist”. He talked about how these community groups have a great handle on local issues and that by talking to them “you get to understand the complexity and the history of the issues that really matter to people”.
“The experience of standing as a candidate has highlighted to me the need to really look hard at our political system,” added Mike as a final note. “I’m not necessarily able to come up with answers but I would love to see a much bigger debate about the way we do politics and the way we make decisions and the way governments operate.”