November 7, 2014 – 7:00AM
With his first child due to be born on election day Mr Tony Goodfellow, the Greens candidate for Buninyong, has a particular reason to focus on the future. He wants the community to understand that they can meet the needs of today without compromising the needs of future generations.
In the 2010 Victorian state election, a Greens candidate gained almost 15 per cent of first preference votes in the former electorate of Ballarat East. Back then it was only the distribution of the Greens preferences to Labor that resulted in Mr Geoff Howard narrowly beating Liberal’s Mr Ben Taylor by 1098 votes.
Mr Goodfellow however, is not interested in talking about preferences.
He told UniPollWatch that, ‘People should vote for who ever they want to vote for, make up your own mind.’
The chance of the Greens winning Buninyong outright may be slim, but there is little doubt Mr Goodfellow’s preferences will again play a key part in the 2014 Victorian State election.
‘One of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced is climate change,’ Mr Goodfellow says.
Currently $5 billion worth of renewable energy investments are waiting to be built in western Victoria, including $1.825 billion in the Ballarat region. Mr Goodfellow believes the right policies can allow the community to take action on climate change, save money on power, and create local jobs.
He is calling for barriers to investment to be removed.
‘This electorate could be the capital of renewable energy but hostile government legislation is stopping it and scaring investors.’
Mr Goodfellow said under the coalition government only eight turbines have been approved compared with almost 1,000 under the previous government.
‘Wind farms help regional employment and provide an income stream for farmers. The Moorabool wind farm alone would create 100 immediate construction jobs, 25-30 ongoing operational jobs, and power up to 158,000 houses,’ he says.
He claims to have talked to farmers who wanted wind turbines on their properties, but who felt betrayed by the Nationals and the Victorian Farmers Federation.
The Greens want to re-instate the Victorian Renewable Energy Target with the aim of at least 90 per cent of the electricity bought and sold by Victorian electricity retailers coming from renewables by 2030.
He also wants Victorian emissions targets to achieve a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from all sources by at least 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and net zero or negative greenhouse gas emissions, no later than 2050.
‘This would reduce power bills and help create a new industry around renewable energy, that means jobs for my electorate,’ Mr Goodfellow says.
Solar power is another key source of renewable energy. With 11.4 per cent of houses in Buninyong already having solar installations, he wants to make it simple and affordable for more houses to install panels.
Mr Goodfellow grew up in Ballarat and has lived in Buninyong for the last six months.
He has traveled extensively in Australia and overseas. Recently he worked in the Northern Territory with indigenous communities. In Wadeye he helped set up a native bee project, and later in Murrinpatha he worked with the media to maintain local language and culture.
He has a Bachelor degree in natural environment and wilderness studies and an honours degree in sociology, both from the University of Tasmania.
While studying, he organised a number of environmental and education campaigns to protect native areas, including the Blue Tiers and Recherche Bay.
Mr Goodfellow’s environmental activism led him into a more active role in politics.
‘I grew up in Ballarat which has its own unique background in revolution. Now we are in a new revolution, the environmental revolution. It’s something I think we should all fight for.’
He says voters are disillusioned with the major parties, seeing them as a revolving door for big business. ‘I will continue to bring up environmental issues during the campaign because they are based on evidence and science, not just ideology.’
With the campaign trail heating up, Mr Goodfellow is the only candidate still working full-time. He has a job with the Gamblers Help team at Children and Family Services in Ballarat. Juggling work and family while trying to run a grassroots local door-knocking campaign is difficult.
‘Yes, its pretty crazy at the moment. But I want to be a person who stands up for what I believe in. My vision for Buninyong is not being offered by any other party.’
However, its not only renewable energy on Mr Goodfellow’s mind.
He supports increased funding for Ballarat TAFE, which has suffered a 40 per cent cut to its operations budget in recent years. ‘We need a well-funded quality public TAFE system. Rural youth are being massively disadvantaged.’
He’s against federal changes to health and education policies, believing Australia is following international models that are ‘elitist, disgusting and out of touch with the most vulnerable of Australians.’
‘I’m here because of the opportunities I had. I went to TAFE and university and without those opportunities today young people won’t get jobs.’
He supports stronger action around violence against woman and children. ‘It is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for women aged 15 to 44 years.’
The Greens want to introduce a $100 million per year funded Victorian Family Violence Action Plan, for more support services to keep women and children safe.
‘We have a well-funded whole-of-government strategy and we will resolutely pursue it.’
Mr Goodfellow also considers law and order an issue in the Buninyong electorate. He is worried about drug use in the region. ‘This needs a coordinated response including prevention, education and evidence based responses.’
‘We also want a stronger independent broad-based anti-corruption commission in Victoria.’
He supports a residential zone in Buninyong with larger blocks of 800 square meters, to maintain ‘the character of the town.’
He is also in favour of a multi-use park within the Canadian Forest. ‘It is not only an opportunity for the environment but also an opportunity for tourism, which means jobs in the area and encouraging healthy living.’
Mr Goodfellow wants a permanent ban on fracking (the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth), onshore gas development and new coalmines in Victoria.
He says that Bacchus Marsh is threatened by a huge coalmine proposal and high impact exploration that has also included test drilling close to homes.
‘This is a fork in the road moment for fracking in Victoria. With balance of power the Greens can stop fracking in Victoria.’
‘The community needs to move away from fossil fuels towards clean energy. We will stand up with farmers and the community to stop mining companies taking over their land.’
Another key issue he is pursuing is the revival of the Goldfields Rail Line. ‘Geelong, Ballarat, Castlemaine and Bendigo are all thriving regional cities and they need to be linked together for commuters.’
When asked why people should vote for him, Mr Goodfellow said, ‘The Greens are more than just an environmental party. We want Australians to have clean air, water and clean soil but we also speak on behalf of others about crime, refugees, children, students and issues that affect the local community. We care and we can make a difference in Victoria.’
Keryn Reynolds is a Master of Journalism student at the University of Melbourne