The Greens: ‘we’re back to finish the job’


Raksha Ravikumar

Greens’ candidate for Macnamara – Steph Hogins-May.

Former environmental lawyer and St Kilda resident Steph Hodgins-May is the Greens’ candidate for Macnamara. She is running for the second time in the division.

“In 2016 we were just a few hundred votes short of turning Macnamara, then Melbourne Ports, Green and this time we are back to finish the job,” she said.

Ms Hodgins-May worked with the Australian Mission to the United Nations, following which she joined the Greens. If elected, she promises to lobby for a strong plan for climate change.

“We are facing a climate emergency and the Greens are the only party who have put forward a coherent plan that looks after our environment, protects our economy as we transition out of coal, and protects families that are dependent on the jobs,” she said.

Ms Hodgins-May said there is a strong sentiment in Macnamara towards action on climate change. The Greens are campaigning for a National Container Deposit Scheme and a ban on all single-use plastics to improve the condition of Port Phillip Bay.

“People are talking about how neither government is listening to the scientists or the 16-year olds that are out striking because they recognise that their futures are at stake,” she said.

Housing affordability in Macnamara is another key aspect of the agenda.

“We are seeing soaring rates of homelessness in the City of Port Phillip so we have committed to building 500,000 new homes across Australia, and a large proportion of those would be in Macnamara,” Ms Hodgins-May said.

She added that the Greens have also been pushing for mandatory affordable housing and public housing contributions from any developer that builds a new development. For renters, the Greens want caps on rent increases, longer leases and more renter rights.

On Michael Danby’s retirement, Ms Hodgins-May said that the Labor party has come up with progressive policies, but Mr Danby has been on the backbench for most of his career.

“It’s difficult to point to anything meaningful he’s done for this community. His criticism of some ABC journalists and his skipping parliament to attend press conferences in Jerusalem is really problematic,” she said.

“I spoke to a lot of people and they said that as constituents they haven’t received the attention that they expect and deserve from a local member,” she added.

Commenting on Josh Burns contesting the seat for Labor, Ms Hodgins-May pointed out that Mr Burns used to be Mr Danby’s former chief of staff, but that he is a “much friendlier person to deal with.”

She also addressed contradictions within the Labor party with regard to their stance on Palestine.

“The Labor party have, in their recent national conference, pointed out they do support a Palestinian state but when Josh Burns is being questioned about this, he’s really flip-flopped around and hasn’t answered the question,” she said.

She added the Greens have consistently supported a peaceful two-state solution.

Ms Hodgins-May is also actively campaigning for refugee rights, aiming to increase Australia’s intake of refugees to 50,000 a year.

“Offering people protection is a sign of strength, not of weakness,” she said.

“These offshore processing hellholes are creating a generation of damaged people and are in breach of international laws. The fact that we are locking them up offshore and calling them illegals is a stain on Australia’s history.”

Describing offshore detention centres as “economically irresponsible,” she said, “It’s costing us a million dollars per person to set an example to the rest of the world that we can be crueler than anyone else.”

In recent months, three Greens members have left the party owing to “cultural issues.” Addressing this, Ms Hodgins-May said that she has experienced a “hugely positive and supportive culture,” adding, “the experience they speak of is so far removed from my own.”

Ms Hodgins-May said her campaign is locally funded through art auctions, fundraising dinners, e-mails and phone calls to supporters.

“We do sometimes receive support from wealthy individuals, but we do not accept donations from corporates in the mining and gambling industry, for example, which are trying to buy influence,” she said.

“At the very least there need to be real-time disclosure of donations because it was only after the state election that we discovered that the Pokies lobby had funded the state government’s campaign.”

Describing herself as a social and environment justice advocate, Ms Hodgins-May said she has had a fortunate upbringing having clean air, clean water, healthy food and stable climate.

“For me, environmental justice means everyone having those intrinsic things that survival depends on,” she said

She added that in terms of social justice, the Greens are the only party pushing for an increase to Newstart.

“We’ve got people living under the poverty line and instead of listening to them, our government is listening to their political donors,” she said.

Ms Hodgins-May said she is contesting this election with experience, enthusiasm and a commitment to being a strong, dependable and local voice for the community.

Addressing voters, she said, “you know where I stand on policy issues. There are not going to be any surprises thrown into the mix at the last minute.”

“I’ve consistently said this election is about climate, equality and ensuring the local liveability of our area and I look forward to this opportunity, if the voters give it to me.”