Australia: Andrea Wildin, Greens candidate in Stretton state by-election, discusses political issues with Wikinews

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Andrea Wildin, Greens candidate for the Stretton by-election.
Image: Australian Greens.

After the resignation of Australian Labor Party Member of Parliament Duncan Pegg of the Queensland branch, voters in the Queensland electoral district of Stretton are to go to a by-election on July 24.

Pegg announced his resignation on April 22 to deal with a cancer diagnosis, and died on June 10. Stretton covers suburbs in south Brisbane such as Calamvale, Sunnybank Hills, Kuraby, and the eponymous town. At the 2020 Queensland state election, Pegg won 56.59% of the first preference vote in Stretton, with his closest opponent being Peter Zhuang of the Liberal National Party, who won 30.21% of the vote.

Since the seat's establishment in 2001, it has been held by the Labor Party except for one exception in the 2012 Queensland state election, which was a victory for the Liberal National Party, who won 78 of Queensland's 89 seats. Pegg was first elected in 2015, after defeating the Liberal National incumbent Freya Ostapovitch.

Five candidates are running in this by-election, including Andrea Wildin of the Greens. The Greens' website describes Wildin as a former nurse and midwife, who now has been "volunteering as a disability advocate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic", being a wheelchair user herself. Wildin previously ran for the Greens in Stretton at the previous state election, coming in third place among four candidates and winning 8.71% of the vote. Wikinews spoke to Wildin in an interview via email about issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare, and more important subjects both on a statewide and local level.



What do you want to change as an MP?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) As a representative of Stretton, my aim is to elevate the voices of the everyday people of my community so that politics works in their favour and so that everyone has what they need to live a good life. I hope to clean up politics, ban corporate donations including developer influences in politics so that politics is based on grassroots democracy and actually works for the people.

 ((WN )) How has the recent COVID-19 lockdown effected your campaign and how you've reached out to voters?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) This election was called during the lockdown within a very short timeframe, very difficult compliance issues regarding new LNP city council rules such as having to register signs placed on people's private lawns, and yet both the major parties were out campaigning before the election was called, with the LNP even sending out letters to every household asking them to register for postal voting before anyone knew the dates for the commencement of postal voting for this election. This made for an unfair election timeframe for smaller parties as there was a lack of transparency of the rules, which suited those already in power. As for living, working and voting in a covid[-19]-safe environment? This is not a problem. We are able to vote in a covid[-19]-safe environment and democracy is still important.

Stores in Pinelands Plaza, Sunnybank Hills.
Image: User:Orderinchaos.

 ((WN )) What local issues in the Stretton area would you like to see addressed?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) Stretton is the most multicultural electorate in Queensland and we need to address that in this electorate with appropriate services identified by the constituents. We need fully funded health care and education that is fully inclusive of everyone in this electorate. Our area also needs a more reliable (and free!) public transport system and lower electricity costs through the use of renewable energy. Domestic Violence is an issue, housing affordability is an issue, a shortage of rental houses in this area is an issue - but I think the main issue on everyone's minds at the moment is Covid[-19] and the vaccine rollout. I believe more local, multi-lingual health hubs that are bulk billed, can help with vaccine hesitancy and help get us through this pandemic. This will avoid more closures of our local cafes, restaurants, gyms, beauty services, musicians and our tattoo artists who are also running small businesses.

 ((WN )) Could you explain to me your thoughts on the recent voluntary assisted dying legislation passed by the government?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) My personal thoughts on this legislation are that after working in health care for 20 years and assisting people through end-of-life decisions, I can appreciate that this legislation could be beneficial for someone who wants to advocate for themselves and choose how and when the end of their life is to be - to have control over those decisions. I am also a person who is disabled and therefore, I understand the fear that this legislation brings with it and I understand that some members of the community would be deeply troubled by this legislation; for religious reasons or otherwise. I believe that religion should be kept separate from our legislation and therefore, my decision to support the legislation is based on science, human rights and personal autonomy.

Official store for the Tokyo Olympics in Ōmori, Tokyo.
Image: User:Syced.

 ((WN )) What are your thoughts on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's decision to travel to the Tokyo Olympics in support of Brisbane's 2032 Olympic bid?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) I've been following discussions from community members and it doesn't seem like people in the community are happy with the Premier travelling to Tokyo at this time, considering many community members have been separated from their overseas family members for so long now. It seems like such a contradiction that those in power or elite sport or corporates or the wealthy are able to come and go out of the country whenever they like but there are different rules for the working class. I can understand why my community is upset. Everyone has also been made to pivot to online meetings during Covid[-19] too. However, I can also understand that the Olympics 2032 may be seen by some as a good opportunity for Brisbane and Queensland. It's important to note that the 2018 Gold Coast [Commonwealth] Games were touted as economically benefic[i]al as well, but the forecast benefits were not actually realised and there was a massive disruption for local residents.

 ((WN )) Businesses, as of 9 July, are mandated to make customers register their visits using the Check In Queensland app. What do you think about this decision by the state government?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) As a public health professional, I understand that logging every location we attend is important at the moment to assist contact tracing. I also understand that my community is frustrated by what they perceive as an invasion of their privacy. The rules around how the data is used need to be strengthened to ensure situations like those that have happened where the police accessed this information cannot happen again. My community needs assurance that their private information isn't being used by third parties and that it's being stored securely and they don't have that confidence right now.

A protestor in Brisbane, holding up a Greens sign.
Image: Stephen Hass.

 ((WN )) At the last election, you also ran as a Greens candidate in Stretton. What did you learn from this experience?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) I learned last election to operate with integrity and stick to my values. I learned that being a politician was about representing your community and being a voice for the members of your community so they could live a better life. I learned that not everyone is in politics for the same reasons as I am.

 ((WN )) Why did you make the decision to join the Greens?

 ((Andrea Wildin )) I joined the Greens because their values aligned with mine; social justice, grassroots democracy, peace and non-violence and ecological sustainability. Other parties focus on what is best for their corporate mates and doing deals with international mining conglomerates. The Greens focus is on what is best for people and the environment. Choosing the Greens was an easy choice.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.