Ted Cruz once said “politics is Hollywood for ugly people”, but Rob Law must have missed the memo. He claims he hasn’t “slept with any underage girls”, he’s been homeless and is the man to lead “the revolution”. Instead of plastering his face on billboards, Law would rather keep his face masked as an act of solidarity to his “fellow invisible, unrepresented electorate”.
That electorate is the Liberal National Party stronghold of Longman in southeast Queensland and Law is the independent candidate who is making things awkward for everyone involved. It might be the fact that a slightly delusional-sounding contender is speaking uncomfortable truths about the state of democracy – but there is something infectious about his witty jibes toward the major parties.
Although that sounds a little like Donald Trump’s rise to political stardom, you’ll quickly see unlike the conservative Republican, Law is a social justice advocate who hates big business. “Please don’t vote for me because of my cool name, or my face or some hyperbolic, inane tagline like 'let’s take back Australia',” Law’s website reads. “I don't want you to vote for me because I'm pro-environment or because I support the families – I don't think anybody's getting elected on a ticket of suffocating dolphins or having ugly children put down. I want you to vote for me if I inspire and motivate your vote.”
Law is a self-proclaimed anti-politician whose budget is zero. He’s against spending money on lavish election campaigns, he’s anti consumerism and he’s especially anti Liberal Party. He loves mockingly reminding voters that LNP candidate Wyatt Roy is in "desperate" need of campaign volunteers because a $1 million campaign budget and $200,000 salary isn’t enough. Law said he doesn’t even want a salary if elected.
“Some politicians want to line their pockets and push their ego and agenda,” he said. “I don’t want a salary unless I can organise an average wage – I wouldn’t even plan to have an office or fly business class. I want people to regain trust in their elected and in their motives. I’m sure there are well meaning politicians out there but they’re not seen that way. I can’t empathise with people if I was earning $200,000 – there’s no way I could look them [voters] in the face.”
That face has been the core to Law generating relative overnight notoriety after being dubbed the "Sia of Australian politics" by The Courier-Mail. But Law said he wasn’t afraid to show his face when the political trail heated up.
“I’m not trying to be reclusive or anything, it’s more about getting a bit of publicity,” he said. “I’m starting behind the eight ball by not being aligned to a big party. It also shows that I’m the everyday man – it doesn’t matter if I’m black, brown, blonde, if I have 10 kids or am gay, or whatever background.
“At the same time I know you can’t represent your electorate without showing your face. I have no issue with it – being out and about, being at rallies and making speeches. Your face in the end has a lot to do with your reputation and people won’t trust you, which is an unfortunate reality. It was more of a strategy thing, rather philosophical.”
Law has had a lot to say about what he’s not, but despite the mask, he’s also a very real human being – and that may be his strongest quality. He lives on Bribie Island, has four kids, owns a local indoor soccer centre, and his wife of 20 years, Sue, who is terminally ill, is his inspiration.
“She has terminal breast cancer,” he said. “It’s fairly advanced. Eventually it will take her out, we’re just not sure when. We thought she’d last longer than what the last diagnosis gave her. She knew it was something I wanted to do and she encouraged me. In a way it seems like bad timing, but we went through it to see if it was okay for me to run before I got involved and she was really supportive.”
He said he was “certainly a little bit worried” about what would happen if she deteriorated during the campaign. “She’s an exceptional human being – I’ve never met anyone like her,” he said. “You don’t know how you’d face terminal cancer and there’s no way I would face it as well as she has – I’d roll up in a ball and watch Game of Thrones all day with a block of chocolate.”
Although Law couldn’t be clearer about what he doesn’t stand for, he hasn’t released a whole lot of policies to date. His main message as an IT software developer of 25 years is fewer cars on roads by creating more incentive for professionals to work at home.
“If private industries are working from home then the target is for government organisations to keep the roads open for emergency services and tradies,” he said. “We need less infrastructure. If you put up another road it encourages more people to drive … it creates more pollution, the roads are choked up and people are living in their cars for hours every day.
“It’s a shame the National Broadband Network fibre hasn’t gone all the way to the houses … it’s a missed opportunity. More people could be working from home. The analogy I use is, ‘if you get an opportunity to build a road you don’t build a dirt road to save money’, but that’s what the Liberals thought was best [with the NBN].”
Law knows there isn’t much chance of an inexperienced independent getting into the House of Representatives, but he does hope he can influence the voters of Longman to think twice before voting for a major party on election day.