“I’m just a normal bloke from the suburbs who wants
basic human rights for people.”
Twenty-six-year-old tradie and Chisholm candidate for The Greens, Luke Arthur, has his eyes set on a brighter future for us all following the May 18 federal election.
Arthur has always lived in or near the electorate, attending Old Orchard Primary School for some time in the Chisholm suburb of Blackburn North before the family moved to Boronia in the neighbouring Aston electorate.
His mother always reminded him how people in less-fortunate countries would risk life and limb to be able to vote. He believes in Australia we lose sight of the privilege that comes with voting rights after being bombarded with election pamphlets and negative political news, and admits that he too was once a selfish person.
“I probably used to be a bit selfish to be honest, and then a few things happened and I had a breakdown at 22. After ending a long-term relationship, buying a house on my own and losing a best mate in pretty tragic circumstances over in Vietnam, I felt completely lost with no solid views on anything,” he said.
“I started to re-evaluate who I was as a person and saw it as a great opportunity to start from scratch and be who I wanted to be. I grew very organically into a Greens-type of person without even knowing the policies of the Greens.”
He said it was after this “brutal time” in his life that he started to look at what makes him happy and what his legacy would be.
“I began listening to people for the first time, I started to take pride in education, I pushed against the social norms of selfishness and consumerism. I began reading about philosophy and history and realised the world was a much bigger place,” he said.
“Fast forward to 2019 and (Greens leader Richard) Di Natale gave three massive speeches in Parliament where he stood up for the community, called out sexual harassment and put the case forward for our environment. I became more involved from the outer and thought, ‘this is my party, these are my people’.”
The controversial same-sex marriage debate in 2017/18 was Arthur’s first activism role, though he had previously been loosely involved with First Nations peoples and environmental causes.
“I could see the awful effects on people in the LGBTI community, especially those who were of similar age (to me) and not confident in themselves. One of my proudest moments was as the final voting date neared, I spent the week going and talking to people who hadn’t really thought about the issue and offered to collect their yes votes and deliver them to a post box if they were unable to get to one,” he said.
A current day in the life of Arthur involves leaving his Ferntree Gully home at 5.30am and travelling all over Victoria to fulfil his role as a full-time fire services technician. That said, he always gets back as quickly as he can to do “the political stuff”. He is currently attending as many pre-poll centres as he can to speak with early voters and hear their concerns.
“I do this as a bit of a hobby because I believe in the cause. I couldn’t be a candidate if I didn’t believe in everything I’m saying,” he said.
Sporting the hashtag #AFutureForAllOfUs throughout his social media campaign, Arthur believes it is time to get serious on the pressing issues of climate change and family violence in order to create a sustainable future for us all.
“Everyone knows The Greens for (our advocacy around) the climate so we’ve got to get our other messages out there. We’ve got a homelessness crisis, yet 11 per cent of the rooms in the city are vacant. In what world is that okay?” he said.
The Greens have publicly called out the Liberal Party for criminalising and vilifying people who are experiencing homelessness rather than addressing the issues. The Greens have vowed to commit $500 million per year to crisis accommodation, planning to make the funds available by phasing out negative gearing.
“The homelessness crisis can be fixed. We actually do have the money, before I got into politics I thought we’d have to raise taxes to fund these things. But that’s wrong – all we have to do is re-divert the money going into other ridiculous projects,” he said.
His social media campaign is also heavily centred around climate change, the Greens dubbing the election the #climateelection.
“We’ve had to make a change for the last 25 years but now its got to the point where we are actually starting to see what’s happening. We’ve got bushfires just over the hills there, floods up north, ridiculous drought. Firstly we’ve got to stop Adani, if all these really damaging man-made projects go ahead we will be the generation alive to see the death of a natural wonder. I absolutely do not want that on my watch,” he said.
A self-confessed social progressive candidate, Arthur acknowledged that there would be thousands of jobs lost from towns if mines like Adani are not built or are shut down. But he believes we should “begin the process of retraining and getting these workers into new generational careers now rather than in 10 years time when things dry up”.
He also wants to cut emissions, increase government funding of public schools, phase out negative gearing and use the money for things such as shelters and emergency accommodation for those escaping violence. Arthur would also like to see civics taught in high school so kids know the laws of Australia and how to vote.
“It’s not a policy of The Greens, but I’m going to keep pushing for it and hopefully it does become a policy one day,” he said.
If there is one common theme amongst Chisholm voters it is disillusionment, Arthur said, and everyone is sick of the major parties and their broken promises. He encourages young people to vote for The Greens as they are looking to the future, “trying to fix the problems of 2002” not create more problems for 2022.
In the lead up to May 18, Arthur can be found at various pre-poll centres and train stations throughout the electorate, or at home with his rabbits and hen or enjoying some gardening.