Bentleigh – Labor: Nick Staikos


Sally Cooper

Nick Staikos, Labor.

Bentleigh MP Nick Staikos was born at Moorabbin hospital and the 32-year-old has lived in East Bentleigh ever since.

The son of greek migrants who came to Australia in the 1960s and 1970s, Staikos says he grew up in a Labor-voting household.

“My grandfather was a big fan of Gough Whitlam our former Labor Prime Minister who really made migrants feel very welcome and made them feel like they were Australian. So I think my family has probably been Labor since then.”

At 19, Staikos was elected to serve on the Glen Eira City Council. He graduated from Monash University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours).

He is a fan of Aussie legends Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham but also likes opera music. He paints during his spare time – although he doesn’t consider himself to be good at it. He barracks for the Saints in the AFL but admits he hasn’t always followed them.

Staikos has been Bentleigh MP since he ousted Liberal candidate Elizabeth Miller in November 2014, winning by just 50.78 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.

Now Staikos, who has held the seat of Bentleigh for one term, is encouraging voters to “Stick with Staikos” during this election.

When asked about his greatest achievements over the past four years in office, Staikos mentions the removal of the level crossings at Bentleigh, McKinnon and Ormond, promised by Labor at the 2014 election.

“I’m very proud of that achievement, because at the election a lot of people didn’t believe that we would do it, they had heard it all before and we are very impressed that we actually got it done”, he says.

Securing more than $60 million over four budgets for schools in the Bentleigh electorate is another of Staikos’s biggest victories. He is particularly proud of the $11.5 million the Andrews Labor government invested to rebuild the Bayside Special Developmental school in Moorabbin.

If re-elected, Staikos says he will continue rebuilding local schools, which will include funding a second McKinnon Secondary College campus in East Bentleigh.

He also supports investing in renewable energy and says a re-elected Labor government would put solar panels on people’s roofs without any upfront costs.

Improving transport is also high on Staikos’s list of priorities.

“We will continue building the metro rail tunnel,” he says – As well as building the suburban rail loop that Staikos says will “revolutionise public transport in this state.”

With crime a hot topic going into this election, Staikos says he will continue working with local government to keep the Bentleigh electorate safe.

In September, Staikos announced the Labor government will fund a $203 000 project to improve the safety for those who use the Centre Road shopping strip. The project will see lighting installed around the Bentleigh shops car park as well as from Bentleigh station to Godfrey street.

Staikos has also supported a $200 000 grant for better lighting at Moorabbin reserve dog park to make it safer for dog walkers.

When asked if he is in support of safe injecting rooms, Staikos says nobody except the Liberal candidate Asher Judah has said there is going to be a safe injecting room in Bentleigh.

“I’m in support of the trial at Richmond where there is a particular problem. I’m not in support of the Liberal party view of putting people’s health and safety and putting peoples’ lives below their ambitions to be the government of Victoria.”

Stoikos believes having a limit to the number of terms for MPs would be undemocratic. He thinks anybody who is an Australian citizen, a resident of the state of Victoria and on the electoral roll “should be able to stand whenever they want.”

Asked whether he supports political parties and candidates disclosing, in real time, donations to their parties and campaigns, Staikos says he is in support of more rigorous disclosure.

Staikos told UniPollWatch: “We brought in huge reforms and brought the disclosure threshold to $1000 so there will be more disclosure. We’ve banned foreign donations but we’ve also put a cap on donations as well.”

While this would mean more public funding for election campaigns, Staikos says “it’s a price [he is] willing to pay for integrity and probity in the system.”

Bentleigh is traditionally a marginal seat, having been held by Liberal in 2010 before swinging back to Labor in 2014.

However as the election campaign heats up, Staikos remains optimistic about his chances for a second term.

“I feel confident that we have delivered more for Bentleigh than any other government in our history,” Staikos says.

“I think the people of Bentleigh know exactly how hard I’ve worked for them, I will accept their verdict on the 24th of November, absolutely, but I go into the election confident that I’ve done everything I can.”