By Joseph Price
Young volunteers are standing up to target Peter Dutton’s marginal Dickson seat by performing door knocking sessions for the left-leaning lobby group GetUp.
Politicians including Mr Dutton claim that the group have a political preference, with the Home Affairs Minister blaming “the dirty tricks” of GetUp and the Labor Party for the theft of one of his election signs.
Dickson’s Independent candidate Thor Prohaska is also one of those doubters who question GetUp’s political motives following their “how to vote” graphic on their website at previous elections.
These suggested ballots had Labor and The Greens as first and second preference, above Mr Prohaska and Mr Dutton, the LNP candidate.
“How could you possibly claim to be non-party political and put collaborative consensus politics at the forefront,” Mr Prohaska said.
But GetUp’s Dickson campaign director Ruby-Rose O’Halloran said the group was impartial and that their strategy was to unseat the most conservative, hard-right MPs obstructing the nation’s development.
“We believe these particular MPs are the people who are holding back progress on the issues that our members care about the most and making sure they don’t have a voice at the next parliament is the single best way that we can begin to make progress,” she said.
The group said this would be achieved by working on issues regarding climate justice, democratic integrity, economic fairness and human rights.
As a result, the “issue-based” organisation has made it clear there are no safe seats for any MPs who put interests of corporations over those of everyday people.
Dutton’s Dickson seat currently sits on a margin of 1.7 per cent, with GetUp urging the people of the electorate to make a decision about who they really want to represent them.
Ms O’Halloran said Dutton was the most powerful figure in the hard-right faction of the Coalition, whose policies and ideologies were at odds with everyday Australians.
“We are going to be talking to the people of Dickson about the issues that are most important to them and making our case for why we don’t believe Mr Dutton represents their interests on those issues,” she said.
GetUp volunteers have been doing fortnightly door knocking sessions throughout Dickson.
The group has been recruiting volunteers from the University of Queensland and said it has been great to see so many young people who were excited about getting involved in the campaign.
Johannes Faller is a University of Queensland physics student who is one of those young members. The 18-year-old first volunteered at the 2016 Federal Election.
Mr Faller has since become the GetUp UQ door knocking team leader. He said giving up a couple of hours a fortnight could really make a difference, one conversation at a time.
“As a student, free-time is not so prevalent, but whatever little time I do have I want to give back to the community because that’s all this really is, creating a better Australia,” he said.
The volunteers are given an introduction and training with a script to practice talking with the people of Dickson about the issues they care about most.
Mr Faller said linking these discussions with how Mr Dutton was not representing the voters was important.
“Politicians are so disconnected these days, it’s really just having that first conversation which helps people become aware of the political environment,” he said.
Mr Faller said he believed door knocking was the most human and effective form of communication, despite the group’s efforts to communicate with locals via phone calls.
The two GetUp members both share the plea for people to take action, with Ms O’Halloran urging voters to get involved to make a move towards a more progressive Australia.
“Our message to the people of Australia is that your vote is powerful, but your actions are even more powerful and so if you want to be a part of making change at this election, you should stand up and get involved,” she said.