Photo by Andy Mangeldorf
Oakleigh’s new Liberal candidate is a man on a mission. Coming from the Oakleigh area, Edmonds is currently serving with the Air Wing of Victoria Police.
Edmonds has lived in and around the Oakleigh electorate for close to 30 years, and served a policeman for 19 years. Serving as a Medic in the Australian army, he has also seen active duty in Afghanistan in 2009.
A man with no prior political career, Edmonds says a series of events led him to get involved.
From his active opposition to Skyrail, to poor funding for schools, and working on the Bourke Street Incident last year, he came to the realisation that he needed to do something.
“I looked in the mirror and I thought, well you know what, there’s no point me complaining about it. I’ll try and do something about it, I’ll put my hand up.”
Edmonds explained that increasing crime rates over the last few years was also a contributing factor.
But when asked about the reliability of such crime rate statistics, he says that while statistics can be manipulated, the real question is do people feel safer?
“You won’t hear me talk about statistics as a policeman. I have a healthy level of scepticism about crime statistics and where they come from,” he says.
Over the past seven years Edmonds has gained a statewide perspective serving with Victoria Police Air Wing, patrolling Victoria from the air.
His job is to scan the police radio and the ground for incidents while flying across the state. They help local police when needed, and deal with other incidents they come across.
The Liberal National Coalition in Victoria has a tough stance against crime as a part of its election platform for the November election.
Edmonds current role of police officer has placed him at the centre of this debate.
“He will bring a real and practical perspective regarding law and order issues in Victoria,” tweeted Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Police, Corrections and Community Safety, Edward O’Donohue in March.
Edmonds says that he had secured a $1.5 million commitment to re-open Murrumbeena Police Station.
In Edmond’s view, increased police presence is the key to combatting crime.
“When I fly a helicopter over an area, all of a sudden the crime-rate drops off, because criminals do a risk assessment, and they think to themselves, ‘what’s the likelihood I’m going to get away with what I’m about to do?’ So if they see a police car, a police helicopter, the likelihood is they’re not going to get away with what they are about to do.”
“…That’s why a visible police presence is the most important thing when it comes to crime and reducing crime and keeping Victorians safer”, says Edmonds.
In recent years, disclosure of donations to political parties has become an object of increasing scrutiny in state and federal politics.
Edmonds fully supports real-time disclosure of donations to all political parties, election campaigns and individual candidates, saying that it is bad when information in the public interest is withheld.
“I’ve seen what can happen when information that should be available to the public, is kept from the public,” he says.
“If there’s a requirement for declaring interest or something, then declare the interest.”
“I always plan on campaigning on honesty and integrity. I won’t allow anything to compromise that.”
Under the current system of disclosure, politicians are only required to disclose donations once a year.
The major issues Edmonds sees in the Oakleigh electorate are school funding, crime and public safety, congestion and cost of living.
The new Liberal candidate looks set to prove a real challenge to Oakleigh’s sitting ALP member Steven Dimoupoulos.
Oakleigh electorate’s mixed political past reveals it has changed hands between Liberal and Labor roughly once every 10-20 years.
It has now been in Labor hands for 19 years and the polls have narrowed with Liberals gaining over 41 per cent of the vote in 2014.