By ERWIN CHLANDA
The number one Senate candidate for the 1 Territory Party is spending the last five days of the election campaign working. He says he can’t afford not to.
Luckily, Braedon Earley’s job is not in an underground coal mine but taking customers fishing in the paradisiacal waters of the Top End.
The Greens and 1 Territory may be poles apart on some issues but both are pushing for a ban on fracking and creating a marijuana industry.
Mr Earley thinks a large chunk of the electorate is sick of the two major parties, bordering on revulsion for some. This election may be the one then that breaks the Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee, one Labor, one CLP Senate result in the Territory.
Voters are pre-polling in unprecedented numbers, Mr Earley says, and according to information he received yesterday, “the majority of them are not taking the how to vote cards. There are a lot of angry people voting. It is my opinion there is a major backlash against the two major parties, in both the Lower House and the Upper House.
“In the Senate voting there are nine boxes above the line. People need to register only six. There is a real chance the major parties won’t get any votes at all above the line from people who have well and truly had enough of the duopoly.”
Speaking from his boat at Point Stuart where clients are baiting their hooks, Mr Earley doesn’t beat about the bush: “I am not bound by party politics. I don’t have to bow to political donors. My masters, for my political party, do not live on the eastern seaboard of Australia.”
We ask him about the five most important points of his and his party’s platform.
One: Ban fracking. My priority is protecting the waters of the Northern Territory. Put a value on water so it cannot be used at the expense of the environment, and others, for making people in other countries rich on the back of the suffering of Northern Territorians.
Two: I will seek compensation for all people affected by Fire Fighting Foam (PFAS). The Liberal Party and the Labor Party knew about it since the 1980s, failed to tell anyone about it, failed to deliver compensation, failed to look after Territorians and others by PFAS contamination, in Katherine, Alice Springs, Darwin – everywhere they’ve use PFAS chemicals.
Three: Allow international airlines to pick up domestic passengers in Australia, landing in Darwin and Alice Springs, and take them anywhere in Australia. I will seek to abolish airline cabotage, get rid of the monopoly of Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin. That’s the answer to cheap airfares, to increasing trade to 260 million people within a two-hour air flight from Darwin. The reason why it is not being abolished is the fact politicians get to sit in the gold wing of the Qantas lounge, not with the rest of us in the waiting area. They travel a lot and they all travel up the front. Any 1 Territory members elected will travel economy, mate. No-one will be flying business class.
Four: We will seek to develop a marijuana industry. They are buying two ounces of hemp oil in New York for $99. We have the perfect climate for hemp, for medicinal purposes, decriminalise marijuana for recreational purposes and make the NT the place to come to have a great time. This also addresses carbon sequestration. This election is about climate change, make no bones about it. When the Labor Party talks about buying carbon credits overseas to achieve its targets – what a lot of nonsense. We can develop carbon credits, and that money from big companies can stay in Australia. Like it should, but the Liberal Party and the Labor Party can’t see the big picture, can’t develop ideas and ingenuity by themselves, where the country they are supposed to represent is the primary beneficiary.
Five: Make it possible for the Legislative Assembly to approve euthanasia in the NT, not only making it a destination for people who would like to be euthanised, but also give Territorians the right to end their lives if they are terminally ill, in a way they see appropriate.
Mr Earley, whose fellow candidate for the Lower House is Independent Hamish MacFarlane, muses about the trials and tribulations of a self-funded politician.
“I’m not like the Labor Party which had two trade unionists on full wages doing the rural areas of the Northern Territory, three months prior to the election,” he says.
How does he know that?
“I met the guys. I met them at the airport hotel the other day. Two blokes. On full wages. They hired brand new vehicles, and they’ve been on the road for three months.”
Which union are they paid by?
“Don’t know. Nice guys, though.”
PHOTO (from left): Mr Earley, Mathew James and Michael Williamson, both from NSW.
By ERWIN CHLANDA