Mount Waverley – Greens: Justin McCarthy

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Justin McCarthy is busy preparing for the state election. He had just finished his first door-knock activity of the campaign when he accepted the interview of UniPollWatch in late September.

This is Justin’s first time standing as a candidate for the seat of Mount Waverley, in Melbourne’s South-East. Although the seat is one of the most unlikely for the Greens to win, Justin is optimistic.

“I’m proud to be representing the Greens in Mount Waverley,” he said.

Justin is 26 years old. He was born in Mount Waverley and lived there his whole life. Justin studied Politics and French, he graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2015.

Justin has been a volunteer of the Greens for around 5 years and a member for just over a year. He has participated in local campaigns in Eastern Metro, and South-East Metro for the state election campaign, the 2016 Federal campaign and the Northcote by-election in 2017.

Justin said he has learned a lot from these experiences, “I learned about engaging with people. It’s important to have these one-on-one conversations with people to learn about what issues are important to them and to let them know what the Greens plan are for those certain issues.”

Mount Waverley is a cultural melange of English, Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan and Malaysian people. We do not have reliable data on the area’s population growth as it was rezoned in 2014.

Many residents interviewed by UniPollWatch believed the increase in the immigrant population had brought more problems to the district, such as congestion, public transport and crime. But Justin has some different opinions.

“Lots of people associate these issues with population growth and immigration. I don’t think that immigration itself is a problem,” he said, “But there are some problems among public planning, population and congestion.”

Residents also expressed concern about the number of high-rise buildings being built in Mount Waverley, sometimes on former green space. Justin said that the government should make long-term development plans, not just focusing on immediate problems.

Justin said that all the councils and the communities agree that the building is too high. “But often when they vote against a development it will be taken to VCAT who will then overrule the decision.”

VCAT deals with planning cases based on Planning and Environment Act 1987. “VCAT will often go against what the community wants,” Justin said,

he thinks this takes away the community voice about developments in Local Governments. “I think we need to give the power to communities,”

Public transport is another issue in Mount Waverley. According to the 2016 census, 17.4% of people travel to work via public transport in Mount Waverley and 68% use cars. “People would take public transport if it’s convenient, but it isn’t,” Justin said.

He thinks the Andrews government’s proposed suburban rail loop, which would connect train stations on multiple Melbourne train lines, “is a good idea”.

Justin said If he were elected, traffic is the first thing he would like to improve. His plan is to reduce the numbers of cars on the road and improve the public transport network. Justin said: “I’d great support in transport. The Greens have funding to support the public transport.”

What Justin said is the Greens Rapid Bus Network, which would service Melbourne’s east including Mount Waverley. Eleven new routes would link up universities, employment hubs and activity centres.

Crime is also one of the most important issues in Mount Waverley. According to the Crime Statistics Agency, as of 2018 June, there were decreases rate per 100,000 (down 7.89%, from 4543.4 to 4184.8) for recorded offences in Mount Waverley. However, the number of recorded offences has increased 11.6% over the last 4 years.

“These things still happen, we have the responsibility to control and reduce crime rates,” Justin said. However, he thinks crime is not as much of an issue that the Liberal Party makes it out to be. “Crime is actually going down in Victoria,” Justin said, “I think the Liberal just telling big stories rather than what the real thing is, because it how they win votes.”

Forest protection, as one of the key campaign areas of the Greens this year, is one of Justin’s main work. It is about protecting high conservation areas by creating the Great Forest National Park (GFNP) and The Emerald Link.

“But we have faced difficulties with the Labor Party,” Justin said. In September, he publicly accused the Labor and the Liberal of voting against the Greens’ bill to protect native forest on Facebook. “Time to turf them out,” he posted. (https://www.facebook.com/justinmccarthygreens/photos/a.169291313908781/268326180671960/?type=3&theater)

But as a young politician, he is full of confidence in his party. “There is still a lot to do. The Greens is growing slowly but it has been steady. we’re optimistic that we can win the campaign to create the GFNP and The Emerald Link.”