Meet the Independents: George NEOPHYTOU (Ungrouped, Southern Metropolitan)

George Neophytou is running in the Southern Metropolitan Region, and his slogan is

To make government keep its promises.

Nothing wrong with that.

And just to make sure you fully understand where he is coming from, here is Mr Neophytou’s candidate statement:

Why do people distrust politicians, it is because they are not always trustworthy. They make promises and do not keep them. It is time to make them keep their promises. That is why I am standing. Not for power. Not for glory. Just to make sure promises are kept.

I am a genuine Independent who is contesting a seat in the Legislative Council, Southern Metropolitan Region. I am not a member of any political party, past or present.

My kingdom for a proof reader who understands commas.

Mr Neophytou’s background is in law and marketing, and he is really, really into honesty and integrity. He wants us to know that he is self-funded in this campaign and has accepted no donations from anyone, and “believes there should be a higher caliber of person in political office. Apart from honesty and integrity elected Members should have the skills, commitment, professional acumen and common sense to hold office and the serve the community. Importantly, the reason for accepting office should be on the grounds of altruism and not self-interest.”

I always love it when common sense gets invoked on a political website. It’s an almost guaranteed indicator that you are on the right-wing side of the political spectrum.  I have no idea why this is – perhaps an idea that the left side of politics just likes to make things needlessly complicated and bureaucratic (common sense apparently being the opposite of bureaucracy)?

Mr Neophytou has a nice little section explaining about what the Legislative Council is and what it does.  Great idea, and I wish more independents would do the same.  Or more political parties, for that matter  – education about our political system is always a good thing.  He also explains how to vote below the line, which is very important, because he doesn’t have a group voting ticket.

And speaking of group voting tickets, what do his fellow candidates think of Mr Neophytou?  Well, not much, as it happens.  His best preference comes from People Power, who put him at 14.  I haven’t read much about People Power yet, but from what I have read, this is not much of a recommendation.  Beyond this, on a ticket of 48 candidates, nobody has rated him higher than 22nd (LDP, Rise Up Australia), and he is mostly lurking in the high twenties.  The Greens have him at 26, Labor at 27, Family First at 29, Liberal at 41, and Palmer United at 44.  The Euthanasia folk and the Group R Independents (Luzio Grossi, Crystal James) have put him last.

Again, this is not terribly informative.  Nobody really seems to want him to get in, but nor are most of them desperate to keep him out.  I’m guessing he’s going to be mildly on the conservative side, because the Group R independents are pretty heavily left-wing, but frankly, we could have guessed this from his background.

George Neophytou is one of the better-organised Independents, and has a nice collection of Key Issues on his website.  His statement of how he thinks representatives should work is rather good:

George believes that elected Members have a duty to represent their constituents and to support the issues the majority of the Victorian communities want, even if your personal views may differ. Further, there is the obligation to support minorities who have needs although they are not part of the “critical mass”.

George also considers there should be stability in the Upper House, with Members following their Constitutional obligations. Particularly, to not frustrate the Government, which has been elected on its agenda, but make sure the legislation reflects the promises made and is fair and just.

I can’t help wondering if this attitude is informed by his lawyerly background – after all, a barrister represents her client regardless of whether she likes or agrees with them.  Mr Neophytou seems to be taking this attitude into the political arena.  Though I’m not sure how he supports the majority and the minority at the same time.  Still, it’s a fairly good statement of how he intends to operate.

He has policies in Education, Health Care, Economy, Public Transport, Environment, Roads, Law and Order, Childcare, Public Housing, and Planning, and they are quite sane ones.  He believes that education and housing are fundamental rights, and wants to support TAFE and public housing.  He also wants to upgrade hospitals and is impatient with blame shifting between Federal and State government.  He does not weigh in on the GP fee, but does want to reduce waiting times.

Mr Neophytou wants to be tough on crime, and wants a strong economy that supports industries and small businesses and encourages job expansion.  He wants the State Government to support childcare, which he views as essential, but also something that should be means tested and not paid for by those who don’t use it.  I’m not sure how you make that work.

Mr Neophytou finds a rare spot of middle ground between trains and roads.  He acknowledges that trains are the most carbon-friendly way to get people around, and wants to upgrade our rail system so that it doesn’t fail every time we have a hot day.  He also wants to relocate rail crossings underground.  However, lest you think he is all about public transport, he also thinks that the East-West link is necessary, and wants to duplicate the Chandler Highway Bridge.  Congestion generally seems to be a thing for him, and he just wants to get people around efficiently.

He is also pro-solar, in favour of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, against fracking, and in favour of protecting our native wildlife from imported and feral fauna.

(I’m beginning to see why this chap is an independent – he has at least one significant point of difference with every existing party.  Quite apart from anything else, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who was in favour of the East-West Link and concerned about public transport and greenhouse gas emissions both at the same time.)

Finally, Mr Neophytou has a policy on planning, and this is clearly close to his heart, because it gets about four times as much space as any other policy.  Alas, it is not close to my heart, so I’m probably the wrong person to report on it, but I’ll do my best.  Essentially, he wants stricter controls over development, including extension of heritage overlays, and height restrictions in commercial areas.  He wants to reform VCAT, which should not allow developer substitutions without going back to Council.  And he wants more community involvement / consent in planning.

(I’m actually beginning to suspect that Mr Neophytou has a background in local government, or at least a strong interest in it, because Councils seem to feature quite heavily in his thinking.)

And that’s about it.  Mr Neophytou comes across as a moderate – neither strongly left nor strongly right, with some good policies and some excellent intentions.  He also comes across as very well organised, which is something I really appreciate right now.  If he were in my area, I’d be giving him serious consideration.  I wish him the best of luck.

Edited to add: Mr Neophytou has dropped by in the comments below, and mentioned in particular that he now has a few new policies up.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go back and review them (I’m working against the clock at this point!), but I do encourage you to check out his Key Issues page if you are in the Southern Metropolitan Region

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3 thoughts on “Meet the Independents: George NEOPHYTOU (Ungrouped, Southern Metropolitan)

  1. Dear Catherine

    Thank you for taking the time to prepare articles on the Small Parties and Ungrouped Independents at the current election, the later group is usually left out of the reporting arena.

    Enjoyed your journalistic comment, style and flair in all the articles.

    I would like to compliment you for summing up well where I stand; although I have never worked for local government, you rightly suspected that I might have a strong interest in the area and you are right. I have been involved in community concerns, particularly planning matters in my inner City area of South Yarra. I have also been involved in a number of hearings at VCAT and am disappointed at times, as it appears planning policies and guidelines are interpreted to get the outcomes desired. Usually for large developers who engage sizeable legal teams and experts, opposed to the ordinary affected person who has limited resources. So much for the rule of law.

    In regards to preferences, I made the decision to leave the voter choose their order of priority. I think it is good for a voter to do some basic research and then decide accordingly. I was surprised at where some candidates/parties had placed me in the preferences, given the lack of contact and knowledge of my values and key issues.

    Since writing your article I have uploaded a few more platforms I am passionate about and amended a couple of key issues to accurately convey my thinking and reasoning for the policy direction.

    Again, your work is much appreciated.

    Sincerely

    George Neophytou – Independent Candidate LC-SMR

    • Thanks very much for visiting, George! I’m glad you enjoyed what I wrote.

      I shall note in my article that there are now some new, exciting policies on your site (I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to get back to look at them myself at this point, since I have twelve more parties and three more sets of grouped independents to write about in the next week – eek!).

      Wishing you the best of luck for next Saturday.

      Catherine

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