LABOR’S candidate for McMillan has said investigating coal seam gas mining, legalising gay marriage, seeing the NBN through and improving school funding would be among his priorities if elected in the upcoming federal election.
VIDEO: click the play button above to watch the full interview with Mr Naus.
An HD playback option is available – click the cog in the bottom right of the video when playing and select 720p, then switch to full screen playback.
In an interview with The Warragul Citizen, Anthony Naus said education funding issues were what prompted him to become a candidate.
“I spent a few weeks thinking about [candidacy] and [then] the liberals came out with their policy against Gonski and I’m like ‘nah, you can’t have that position’… so that was my prime reason to get into it,” Mr Naus said.
Mr Naus said improving TAFE funding, although a state issue, was also important for Australia’s future and defended Labor’s recent reductions in university funding.
“Key issues here, especially in Warragul, would be I guess TAFE because the state government’s ripping funding, $300 million, out of TAFE courses and we need to build a high-skilled economy.”
“We’ve doubled funding for universities in the last seven years so we are the biggest advocates for university funding and yes, the funding hasn’t been taken away, the increase in funding has been lessened.
“If you think taking away that money is severe, imagine when the Liberals get in and they cut everything.”
Coal seam gas exploration was also a key issue for Mr Naus despite his party’s inaction on this issue federally.
“It’s a huge issue. I live on a farm and we have a bore so we rely on [underground] water supplies, and that’s what coal seam gas destroys, the water table.”
“We don’t have a concrete position on this. I do advocate more research into the area either for [how we can] exploit it or the damage it can cause.
“But if it’s just going to destroy the water table and create more problems than it solves then there’s no damn point, you might as well just put up a wind farm.
“We should be moving to other technologies, not more fossil fuels. I hope that our party finds a concrete position.”
Mr Naus also suggested wave power could provide Australia’s energy needs.
Seeing gay marriage legalised is also a priority for Mr Naus.
“One issue I hope they get though [in the next parliament] is the equality of gay marriage act.”
Mr Naus’ other priorities centre around what he describes as Labor’s “welfare state” history.
“We created the welfare state, we created Medicare, we created superannuation… and we’ve always stood up for the low socio-economic (sic), this seat’s very diverse with that.
“Our policies I believe, like the NBN (National Broadband Network) and Gonski, will help spread that opportunity level out and have everyone on an equal playing field.”
Mr Naus said he will be campaigning on a mixture of state and national issues and is confident he and Labor can win at the next election.
“I reckon we have the tools to win, there’s no doubt we have the policies in place to win,” Mr Naus said.
“If you look at the opinion polls it looks pretty dire, but you have to be optimistic.”
Mr Naus said former Prime Minister Paul Keating winning “the unwinnable election” was testament to the unpredictability of politics, but when challenged acknowledged the present hung parliament had “definitely dampened politics.”
“It creates so many problems but it has produced one of the most prosperity (sic) eras, we’ve put amazing reforms through with that hung parliament.”
Mr Naus is confident he can win McMillan.
“This electorate’s pretty good [for Labor] actually.”
“Yes of course the Labor party isn’t going too well, but this electorate doesn’t really sway federally too much.
“It really is a marginal seat and anyone can win if you push enough and get out there enough and spread the word enough you can win.”
Russell Broadbent presently holds McMillan with a 54.41 per cent two party preferred majority, but experienced a small swing of 0.38 per cent against him at the last election.
“For Labor itself, I don’t’ accept this defeatist attitude, this negativity [of] ‘yes we’re going to lose’ or ‘how much we’re going to lose by’,” Mr Naus said.
“The coalition has no policies and when the election gets closer the media should divert their attention off us an on to Tony Abbott, who has no policy at all really on any issue.”
Mr Naus said it would be unlikely that any change in the Labor leadership would influence policy.
“It’s a difficult question because you have multiple factors – I don’t think the policy will change too much.”
At the age of 22, Mr Naus is two years younger than former McMillan Labor MP Christian Zarah when he first contested the seat. Mr Naus says his age has helped him to connect with the electorate.
“From my experience it’s been a positive, especially for people quite alienated or disillusioned from… the political system in general.”
“Having a new face does refresh people, it does give people hope for the future.
“I have had hardly anyone say you’re too young for this.”
You can watch a video of the full interview with Mr Naus at the top of this article.