At the age of 29, this is the first time Sarah Dekiere runs in a state election. She joined the Greens four years ago in Queensland, and has since been involved in campaigning for the environment in Geelong and Glen Eira.
Ms Dekiere is a high school science and maths teacher, with a degree in neuroscience and psychology from the University of Melbourne. She now works in an alternative style school, where activities include taking the children to farms to connect with the land.
Ms Dekiere is a dual Australian and Belgian citizen and lived in Germany before moving to Melbourne. She also lived in Queensland, where she learned to sail and her other passions include hiking and camping.
She has worked with not-for profit organisations involved in protecting endangered animal species and campaigned to stop companies from logging in Victoria.
Ms Dekiere said that, growing up, she didn’t really like politics, but after realising that politicians were “not doing the right thing”, she decided to get involved and deal with her frustrations.
“When you see injustice you need to step up and do something,” she said.
When asked what she hopes to achieve in the November 24 election, Ms Dekiere said that she is seeking a platform to communicate the Greens’ ideas.
“People pay attention to Bentleigh because it is a marginal seat,” she said, seeing it as a way to implement policies according to the Greens’ principles.
She wishes to promote a better life for the people in the electorate, referring to climate change as one of the biggest issues to tackle.
Ms Dekiere said that she appreciates the work done by the current government, but she believes that it is not addressing some prominent local issues, like high-rise development in the electorate’s suburbs.
Ms Dekiere explained that, while the city council can turn down developers’ permit applications, they have the opportunity to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and at times receiving a permit allowing developers to “go ahead with their constructions against the community’s values”.
“Now, everything is being approved in Bentleigh, including big developments above the height limit,” said Ms Dekiere, “and nobody is trying to stop it.”
The Greens’ candidate said that she would work to change this process, addressing laws at the state level.
Another problem for Ms Dekiere is the underfunding of education and schools. “We are called the ‘education state’, but compared to Europe our system is not good enough,” she said.
She also stressed that the Greens do not accept political donations. In fact, the Australian Greens Internal Policy on Donations states that the party pursues publicly funded elections at all levels of government, and all donations equivalent to or above $1,500 are subject to an ethical review.
Ms Dekiere said the Greens are the only party actively working to support full disclosure of donations to political parties. She referred to a parliament motion by the Greens national leader Richard Di Natale in August, 2018. The motion was voted down in federal parliament.
According to Ms Dekiere crime is not a prominent issue in Bentleigh. She criticised the CCTV cameras project pushed by the Liberals citing privacy and budget issues.
The Greens’s candidate highlighted that logging is the issue closest to her heart. She said that Labor is publicly anti-logging, but “when bills are brought to parliament, Labor MPs don’t show up and allow native forests to be destroyed.”
Ms Dekiere said that both the tourism and plantation industries are hurt by state forest logging, which has tripled in the past term, endangering the environment and undermining employment growth.
She believes that the Labor state government is not doing enough to protect Victorian forests, which are filled with endangered species.