November 24, 2014 – 12:00AM
By Keryn Reynolds
Read more about Family First in our feature article: ‘The property developer and the party – Family First lives up to its name’ (24/11/2014)
Mr Keith Geyer, the Family First candidate in the key goldfields marginal electorate of Buninyong, is something of an enigma, and a person of puzzling character.
It’s hard to sort out the puzzle of Mr Geyer because Family First candidates across Victoria aren’t talking to the media.
But an Internet search does reveal a few facts.
He’s a dedicated martial arts expert, who owns and teaches at his own karate business in Elsternwick and lives in Box Hill, or perhaps Balwyn.
As an 8th Dan black belt in karate, he has spent his life perfecting his art and, according to his website, improving his character by following five traditional principles – seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor, respect others, refrain from violent behaviours.
He grew up in South Africa, has three adult children and was an actor, having starred in the martial arts movies, Karate Killer (1976), Kill or Be Killed (1980) and Terminator Woman (1993).
Australian actor and heartthrob, Dean Geyer, 28, is his son. Dean is a former Australian Idol contestant who went on to star in Neighbours and Glee.
Mr Geyer is married to Ms Deborah Geyer, who’s also running as a Family First candidate in Albert Park.
Both Mr and Ms Geyer are also connected with GROW Melbourne, a church group in Ringwood led by Pastors Mr Sean Morris and Ms Trudie Morris, who is also running for the Upper House seat of Eastern Victoria.
Mr Geyer doesn’t live in the electorate of Buninyong, and UniPollWatch can’t confirm whether he has ever visited the electorate.
Now, apparently, he’s keen to leave his dojo and enter state politics.
Or is he?
Mr Shane Clark, the Administrator for Family First Victoria – who’s also running as a candidate for the Southern Metropolitan Upper House seat – told UniPollWatch that, ‘All of our media enquiries are handled via our head office, so unfortunately Keith will not be available for a phone interview.’
When UniPollWatch asked to interview Mr Geyer in person, Mr Clark responded he was happy ‘to coordinate between our candidates and yourself,’ and asked for UniPollWatch to send him a list of questions.
UniPollWatch sent through some questions to Mr Geyer, including querying whether he lived in the electorate, whether he would move to Buninyong if he won the seat and when he last visited the electorate. Other questions concerned what he believed were the key issues for voters, and whether he would be campaigning in Buninyong before Election Day.
Mr Clark responded a few days later with a ‘fully considered’ response, which we quote in full below:
‘Keith Geyer is the Family First candidate for Buninyong. Married to Deborah and the father of three adult children, Keith well and truly understands the many issues facing regular everyday families in the local community, especially in the area of housing affordability. Keith owns and operates his own business as a karate instructor, which has been his passion and has been involved in for most of his life. His business aims to educate, motivate, guide and honour students through sport in a fun and safe environment. His main priority for this election is to fight for the preservation of family values.’
Mr Clark also provided UniPollWatch with the party’s three key policy positions – the party wants to improve the affordability of housing in Victoria, they are opposed to the introduction of legislation allowing cage fighting in Victoria, and they are against the East West Link, supporting instead public transport improvements in both road and rail.
UniPollWatch also spoke to Mr Ashley Fenn, the Victorian State Director of Family First, to try and obtain more information on Mr Geyer, particularly about how he had been selected as a candidate.
‘Basically we look at people who volunteer to be candidates we assess them and either they may choose to go to a specific electorate or they’ll just indicated wherever we’re short of somebody… it’s incredibly unlikely that Family First would win a Lower House seat…’
And if he wins Buninyong, does Mr Geyer have any genuine intentions to move to Buninyong and pursue the legitimate concerns of local voters?
‘Most certainly. But if Keith got elected, I image the first thing he would be doing is packing up and moving to Buninyong and representing the people of Buninyong and living from there in Parliament. The reality is the likelihood of a minor party getting elected in a Lower House seat is very, very slim…’
But Keith’s wife is running for a seat in Albert Park, and if they both win, isn’t it unlikely they are going to move to separate electorates to live?
‘Yes, yes. You’ve got to look at realities. If she can win in Albert Park and typically we get between a half and one per cent of the vote, then I would be astounded…’
At least twenty of the 55 Family First candidates, including Mr and Ms Geyer, have connections with the GROW church in Ringwood. Don’t Family First policies say candidates should be independent of any church or denomination?
‘No, it’s not a particular policy. GROW is the local church that I actually go to myself. I have a wide range of friends there, that’s how we get to meet a lot of people. Through those connections and through some of the other candidate connections and friends, that’s just where my circle of friends has evolved around.’
As for preferences, Mr Fenn said ‘Typically we are supporting center right and center minor parties. Then we have a mixture of typically center right – ALP- and we go left. You could probably say we start center, then right, then to the left…’
How will Family First allocate preferences in Buninyong?
‘… Minor parties don’t always do well in three corner contests… at this stage we haven’t determined Buninyong yet… If all of the candidates hold similar positions to our policies then it’s a bit like flipping a coin…’
So, in summary, Mr Geyer is primarily running in Buninyong to gain votes for the Family First candidates in the Upper House seat of Western Victoria, not as a genuine local candidate.
He might have a specific interest in running in the Buninyong electorate, or he could just be filling in a gap where his party was ‘short of somebody.’
If Mr Geyer does win Buninyong, which his own party agrees is extremely unlikely, then, yes – he will move, leaving his wife in Box Hill or Balwyn, unless she wins Albert Park of course, in which case she will most likely move there, while he moves to Buninyong.
Keryn Reynolds is a Master of Journalism student at the University of Melbourne