A cheese maker with a background in computer systems engineering may seem like an unlikely candidate for the seat of Eltham.
However, Matthew Goodman believes that his unique background has equipped him with the necessary experience and passion to make a change.
The Greens member wants to bring “a fresh approach” to Eltham, which has been held by the Labor party since 2002.
“Because I’ve lived in other states, in other countries, I’ve seen different ways of doing things,” he said.
“I can see that they can be better.”
Goodman joined the Greens when he realised that climate change was not being taken seriously by the government.
“When I started university in 1993 it was very clear that we needed to do something about global warming,” he said.
“I thought, ‘well I will just try to live an ethical life…and that will have to be enough’. And all these years later I can see it’s not enough, because even if we went 100 percent renewable and Australia really looked after itself, we’re still pushing our cheap coal onto other countries.
“We need to change the government’s attitude to this.”
Goodman believes that the government’s approach to handling worker’s rights also needs to change.
Employed as a chef for more than a decade, he has had first-hand experience with many of the issues that occur in the workplace.
Goodman says he wants to give workers a platform for voicing their concerns.
“I just see that we’ve got so many lawyers and bankers as our politicians and no one who’s had real experience working,” he said.
“I want to see more voices of people who’ve worked in manual environments.”
Goodman says that a major problem is that while politicians create laws to address workplace issues, the pressure to ensure that these laws are being enforced falls on unions.
“You need to not only make laws, you need to regulate them. It’s not enough to say ‘well, you need to supply a safe work site’, you need to go and check those work sites regularly to make sure people are obeying the laws,” he said.
“We’re taking power away from unions and at the same time relying on them to provide all the safety net for low paid workers.”
Efficient transport is another of Goodman’s concerns.
A key policy from the Greens is a rapid bus system that will link the outer eastern suburbs, including Eltham. The electric buses will offer eleven new routes with express services running every ten minutes.
Goodman believes this new service is important because the current system of public transport prioritises the city. This makes it difficult for those who live, study and work in the eastern suburbs when planning their routes.
“People think that public transport’s not working and can’t rely on it,” he said.
“We need to change that dynamic so that people don’t even have to look [at the timetable]. They should know that within ten minutes of them arriving at a bus stop, there will be a bus there taking them to where they need to get to.”