Meet the Independents: Luzio GROSSI, Crystal JAMES (Group R, Southern Metropolitan)

Lucio Grossi and Crystal James are running as grouped independents in the Southern Metropolitan Region, so my opinion of them doesn’t matter terribly much, if it ever did, which is a pity, because I’m inclined to like them.  Also, they want us to Get Real.

According to his Twitter page, Luzio Grossi is a “Photographer, Journalist, Actor, Artist, Independent Upper House candidate Victorian State Election Nov 29th 2014”.  He is running in the Southern Metropolitan Region,

As a professional photographer, Mr Grossi has done candidate shots for a number of politicians contesting election before deciding to join their ranks himself.  Personally, I’m just enjoying the Star Wars Storm Troopers playing the trumpet and the violin on his business website.  If a candidate isn’t going to serenade my ears with a song and a YouTube clip, the least he can do is provide me with storm troopers playing the violin, and I’m glad to see that Mr Grossi has passed this vitally important minimum bar…

Lucio Grossi’s main political site is his FaceBook page, which means one does have to dig a bit to find all the policies.  He was also interviewed on 774 FM a few days ago, so I will use this interview to further inform his policies.

The other half of Group R is Crystal James, also on Facebook, who is a Board Director of the Council of Single Mothers and their Children, a community organisation run by and for single mums, which provides telephone support, referrals, advice and emergency relief to single mothers and their children throughout Victoria, as well as acting to lobby government and media.  She is definitely going for the mum vote:

My message is simple – I want to be the voice for MUMS in the Victorian Parliament. I have no party affiliations or political agenda other than a passion and commitment to achieve socially progressive policies that support and empower MUMS.

I’ll look at each of these candidates separately, but since they are voting as a group, I’ll start by seeing just where their group votes are going…

This is another very left-to-right sort of Group Ticket, with a bit of an emphasis on personal freedoms.  Number one on their preference list is the Group F Independents, also known as the Stealth Democrats (which is to say, they are members of the Australian Democrats, running as Democrats, but the Australian Democrats didn’t manage to achieve party status in this election.  A sad day.), followed by the Animal Justice Party, the Cyclists, the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, People Power, the Sex Party, and – at least  – the ALP, Greens and the Liberals.  At the bottom of the ballot we have the four parties from the Christian right, with our friend the Ungrouped Independent, George Neophytou at the very end of the list.

It’s quite a good ballot paper, actually.  Though why, why, why is everyone giving such high preferences to People Power?

Lucio Grossi was a candidate for the Sex Party in last year’s election, but chose to run as an independent in this election rather than run in a seat to which he did not have a connection.  He also feels that as an independent, he can read all the legislation and judge it on its merits, without being influenced by any party politics.  He also wants to ‘Keep the bastards honest’.  No wonder he put the Stealth Democrats first in his preferences…

Mr Grossi views Labor and Liberal as largely the same – the Greens are OK, particularly their refugee policy – and indeed his number one policy is ‘Welcome Centres, NOT Detention Centres for Refugees’.  This banner appears several times on his FaceBook page, so evidently he feels strongly about it, even while recognising that this is sadly not a vote-winner in the current climate.

(Though it would win my vote, if I could vote in the Southern Metropolitan Region, which I can’t…)

Here’s his manifesto:

Are you sick of watching the major parties drag Victorians into Conservatism? I am, and that’s why I’m running as an independent candidate at the upcoming 2014 Victorian State Election on November 29. My commitment is to promote socially progressive policies for our community. I will be fighting for social justice and human rights.

As an artist himself, Mr Grossi is very keen to support artists, and wants copyright and moral rights protection for writers and artists, as well as protection of live music venues.

He also joins the throng calling for an ICAC and mandatory disclosure of political donations.  According to the 774 interview, he’s in the clear on this one – his budget for this campaign is $1,000, all out of his own pocket.

Mr Grossi is in favour of a secular and public education system, and wants to see five more public schools opening in the Southern Metropolitan Region.  He wants to see more housing for single and low-income families, and he wants to Save Our ABC.

Mr Grossi is concerned about how much of our power comes from brown coal, and wants to see more investment in renewables.  He is pro-choice.  And he wants a pay-rise for paramedics.  I am honestly astonished at how few people have come out and said this, because I would think that this was an incredibly popular policy.

He is also in favour of reforming the justice system with an emphasis on finding out why people commit crimes, and preventing this at the source.  In the interview, he made a slightly unfortunate remark about needing to educate the lower class in order to prevent crime – since I live in the same glass house, I hesitate to throw stones, but I rather suspect we’re looking at someone with an upper-middle-class background with excellent social ideals who has perhaps not had very much contact with people from the so-called lower orders.

Moving on, Crystal James is pretty much there to represent mums, and particularly single mums.

As a parent, I believe it’s time we hold our government to account for the harsh and unprecedented cuts to our social welfare and the underfunding of critical support services for our families. I support social equality and equal opportunity for all families, but the major parties are seriously lagging behind when it comes to progressive policies that support MUMSShe wants rebates for family day care, affordable and quality childcare, before and after school programs for secondary students, and transition and training programs for mothers returning to work.  Also for working mothers, she wants to work with businesses to increase permanent flexible job-share and part time work opportunities, and she wants an equal parental leave scheme.  This last policy is of particular interest to feminists, as it has been found that in countries where men get equal parental leave entitlements, not only do they actually take these entitlements, but it tends, over time, to decrease employment discrimination against women – there is no longer this general feeling that if you hire a woman in her twenties or thirties she will go off and have a baby on you, where a man won’t do that.

Ms James wants to reform the parenting payment, family support and child support, and wants to restore the parenting payment for sole parents with school age children.  She also wants better public housing, compulsory bulk billing for single parents at GPs and Specialists, an enquiry into the overcrowding and shortage of public schools, and a Royal Commission into family violence (she was all over White Ribbon Day this week like a rash, and more power to her!)

Unsurprisingly, Ms James is concerned about the lack of female representation in Parliament, and hopes to be part of the solution on this one!  She is concerned about rising parking fees at hospitals, and wants to see an election promise to do something about this. She also wants more women-only accommodation and spaces in mental hospitals.

Like Mr Grossi, she is also concerned about the cuts to the ABC.  They were both at the protests this week, and good on them!

All in all, if you like your Independents left wing, if you like the idea of refugee welcome centres, and particularly if you want to vote for someone who really, REALLY cares about the issues facing single mothers, you could do a lot worse than to vote for Luzio Grossi and Crystal James.  Their policy platform is not as wide-ranging as some, but what’s there is definitely worth considering.  I wish them well for Saturday.

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