Wanneroo needs a real advocate

One needs to have the skill, resolve and determination to advocate for Wanneroo within your own party, Labor candidate for Wanneroo Mrs. Sabine Winton stated talking to Tribune. As an intro to our discussion we chose French political thinker’s Alexis de Tocqueville observation that ‘the most valuable candidate is the one who would make the office of local representative the fixed aim of his endeavors. People in a democracy do not distrust them’.
On the day we sat with Mrs. Winton the One Nation’s party popularity increased significantly. Few weeks earlier Green Party’s Members of Parliament walked out during the speech delivered by the One Nation’s leader sen. Pauline Hanson.

What are your thoughts on the political phenomenon of One Nation party and senator Pauline Henson?

My view is that she is legitimately elected, so people who supported her deserve respect from elected Members. I believe it is wrong to turn your back on someone, who is in Parliament. Representatives have standing orders in the Parliament, which can control those who break rules or laws. These orders are also defining what member can say or not say in the Parliament. It is wrong to walk out because one does not like what the other member is saying. This is my personal view. I think this situation goes to the heart of what is going in America that there is a big group of people disenfranchised from both sides of politics for variety of reasons. Dismissing them is disrespectful and not democratic.

I have been a union member for 27 years. I was proud to march with my colleagues in the State School Teachers’ Union at The May Day Rally.

Photograph by Sabine Winton Facebook

What is your experience from discussions with supporters of One Nation? 

Yes, I talk to the voters of One Nation party. Some people avoid them, but I discovered that we have more common with them than that anything what may separate us. “No more Muslims” slogan is not necessarily what attracts people to One Nation but other issues that she talks about like jobs for Australians, and looking after this country. According to many polls economic issues are attracting people to One Nation as opposed to cultural issues that labeled it.

“I think the situation with growing popularity of One Nation party goes to the heart of social change in America. There is a big group of people disenfranchised from both sides of politics for variety of reasons. Dismissing them is disrespectful.”

The reason that some voters support One Nation party is distrust of politicians from traditional parties. How are you convincing a voter that you can be trusted?

I am noticing when I door knock, because I do it, that I am being welcomed as politician. My friends ask me why after 25 years of being a teacher, one of the most highly regarded professions, you want to become a politician?  That serves me well because people ask what is about that person that wants to put her hand to stand up for office. They are saying: “perhaps we can trust her more? She is in for issues that may interest me.” I tend to have good conversations because I bring to the position other experience. I am a mum. I have three children. I was a teacher, worked in the country. So people say that is kind of background we need for politician advocating for us.

Is it your inspiration to be a politician? 

I did not aspire to be a politician. It has just happened to me. It had to do with circumstances and my life experience. When I recollect primary school in Yanchep, because we came from Germany when I was 8 years old. In my early days I remember being in Yanchep. I spent days outside of my classroom being kicked out of the school. Dad who was the gardener would say: “she was kicked out again from the classroom.” When I think why that was? I do not remember me being naughty and causing any troubles. I think it was about being me argumentative and it was always based around something that was not fair. When I went to high school I was on the student council for 5 years. So I must have been identified among my peers: Sabine would stand and speak. I think it was just that.

“I was one of those, who would stand up in the staff room and call a spade spade. I think it is my personality.”

But after that you became teacher. Did you have an opportunity for any advocacy?

As a teacher I was involved with the State Teacher’s Union.  I had never been promoted for the same reason. I was one of those, who would stand up in the staff room and call a spade spade. Such people do not get promoted. I think it is my personality. Ten years ago something happened to my local community. I got more and more involved in that. From that point I would go for council meetings to observe more actual governing system. People said you should run for council. I did. I really enjoyed being a councillor. I love getting new agendas on Friday night. I love people calling me with an issue and I love advocating for them to try and fix those issues. I think I am a natural advocate, to be honest.

“I tend to have good conversations because I bring to the position other experience. I am mum. I got three kids. I was a teacher, worked in the country. And people say that is kind of background we need for politician advocating for us.”

Photograph: Sabine Winton Facebook

Your plans to be a strong advocate for the region may be limited by the discipline in the party. This fact also raises concerns of many voters whether their elected representatives will be successful because they should be loyal first to the party leader. Party system is precisely what sometimes paralyzes or even stops politicians from acting for the benefit of their electorates.

That certainly happens to me in my perspective as a candidate. As a councillor I am purely an independent person. I can make decision what I pursue or what I talk about. But when you join a political party it is not a different situation than when you are employed by a corporate. You have responsibilities to be part of that team. But I fear that sometimes we may go a bit over the top with it. And then you do not see any individuality, any spirit because everyone is too scared of being pulled out or being misinterpreted. There is no courage to speak openly and let people know what kind of person you are. I find that a bit difficult. I am hoping that will also change if I am elected. I also assume that candidates are very different to an elected member. For example me as candidate, I am pretty limited to whom I speak to or what I speak about. When for instance John Quigley, who is also part of the team, has much more autonomy in terms of what he can say to his community.
I understand that there is a need for that because look what happened previously to One Nation party.  [Just recently Senator Pauline Hanson prohibited candidates to speak with media – ed.] They were having a very little control over candidates and this is damaging to the party. There is a balancing act.

What is your vision for the electorate of Wanneroo. What do you want to see happen at the end of your term?

It is a longer term vision for 10-20 years. I do not know whether I will have an opportunity to represent that area for that long. This is also a problem with current politics. It is such a short term cycle. This is one of the reasons things do not happen. Some things I have in my plans for Wanneroo require 10-20 years. When we talk about the east Wanneroo that is rural area or Neerabup, the industrial park. All of those things can not be achieved during one-term of the government. It requires commitment beyond who is in government. It is similar to the construction of freeways. The political party wants always to take ownership of it. We built it. But when we look back at Mitchel Freeway extension. It probably started with a candidate who we do not even know anymore.

What would you like to see in terms of Wanneroo?

I would like to be focused on the inside of Wanneroo particularly on the Coastal area. There is a lot of strategic planning done for it. I understand this is a source of growth. We will have Alkimos and a new city.

We also have to acknowledge eastern Wanneroo where the massive urbanization is taking place. We can’t just do it without providing an opportunity for this community to live and work. Eighty percent of Wanneroo leaves this area every morning to go to work or shop. We need to focus on getting better infrastructure here. We need also public transport because there is no short term plan for railway or any connections for this whole area to be connected to anything else.
Wanneroo has such a long rural history and heritage. I want to make sure that together with keeping pressure on the urbanization of Wanneroo we preserve a part of the heart of Wanneroo. That we can maintain that but in balance with urbanization. We seem to not have a heart in our strategies of development. We just rip off some carpet and we think that we can put some things back, rather than be more creative and preserving some rural areas. History and heritage are important to me.

How do you know with confidence that the state and federal government will begin investing in Wannerroo?

This seat is an important seat to form a government. And that means we will get a lot of attention at the federal and at the state level as what is needed for Wanneroo in the longer term. Obviously there is short term fixes. We want to have an overpass and fixed Wanneroo road. But I am talking about longer term vision.

“What I would like to see happening more as a state representative is a positive relationship between government and federal government and Wanneroo. There is too often too much politics and there is not enough constructive cooperation to solve problems.”

What are you thoughts of the current representative of Wanneroo?

I do not offer many criticism rather than I compare myself with him in a sense that he would be a member for eight years, I would like to think that I would have achieved a lot more for the community around the place. He missed that opportunity.
As a representative I would like to see more community involvement in our lives at a lot of different levels. I think he did not hold up to the responsibility to do that. I am also coming to connect people with similar visions, dreams and aspirations inside the community. What I would also like to see happening more as a state representative is a positive relationship between government and federal government and the council. There is too often too much politics and there is not enough constructive cooperation to solve problems. So we see city of Wanneroo being criticised or city of Wanneroo criticising government. Rather than saying: “let us just play together because we are connected in serving to our community and things that we do at the state level need to be supported by local government”. And vice-versa. That is really important. I do not think there was enough of such approach in the last eight years. There is a lot of distrusts in these relations.

Did he fail in attracting more funding for the benefit of the electorate in Wanneroo?

I think you are right. I was talking to the market gardeners here in Wanneroo and the Shadow Minister for Water Dave Kelly was there. We were talking about the Water Department taking 20-25 percent of their water allocations that will have significant ability to run their businesses. One of the participants asked what Labor is going to do? Dan Kelly was not making any commitments but I think he and Labor Party are looking how to respond. I do not doubt that response will be coming. I think it comes back to my beginnings. I am not sure what Labor will come up with that issue. But I will tell you this. Once we form government I will be nagging constantly the Minister for planning to resolve this issue because that is the kind of person I am.

So you will continue advocating for Wanneroo inside the political party?

Yes. Even if you are in government you need local representatives to be strong advocates because the fight is within your party. There are competing electorates and you need to have that skill, resolve and determination within your own party to advocate. I think I have always done that and I have opportunity to continue doing that. I am not interested in promotion. I am just interested to be an advocate for this area. That means advocating amongst your colleagues. I do not think that Paul Miles has done it very well over the last eight years.

Why has he not been able to do it?

This is up to him to explain it. I think he has not advocated very strongly for Wanneroo. I think he is doing much better now because we have not many days left to the Election. But it does not make him a natural advocate in the long term to work with beautracrats in departments. One needs to talk about policy very strongly and convincingly. Making few announcements at the last minute does not make him a real advocate.

Few months ago he decided to take position in government so his ability to advocate weakened even more. Would you take a position in government if you would be asked?

I have no aspiration for that. Not at all. That is not what motivates me, nor inspires me. I really do not think about it at all. When I was in council I also did not behave the way to be promoted higher up. No, it does not motivate me. I am excited to run for the seat for Wanneroo. I have a very strong connection to this area.

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