Speechless in key battle

Dickson, Qld


An Ali France campaign billboard at Westfield Northlakes

Dickson’s two leading candidates have often been speechless outside of campaign events as the Federal Election looms. Peter Dutton and Ali France are going head-to-head, but some locals are struggling to get in contact with them.

In a Twitter thread on a post about the Dickson Candidate Forum on April 27, a user commented: “People are finding it hard to get in contact with Ali France.” There is no contact number or address available on the internet for Ms France’s office, and locals are beginning to get frustrated.

An anonymous local constituent said: “Well, I don’t know anything about Ali France.” Ms France was asked multiple times via email for an interview for this article, but a spokesperson said she was too busy to comment.

On the night of April 27, the Dickson community held a candidates’ forum in Samford to give locals an opportunity to ask the important questions. In an Instagram post Ms France wrote: “Unfortunately, the current sitting member for Dickson Peter Dutton was a no show.”

After making repeated phone and email requests for an interview with Mr Dutton over five weeks, a spokesperson said to look on his website for his local achievements and statements, “as well as doing a Google search for articles on mainstream media outlets”.

When an anonymous local shop owner from Strathpine, who has lived in Dickson their entire life, was asked for their opinion on Mr Dutton ahead of the election they said: “Everybody is busy, you aren’t special Peter, you’re working for the people, but I think you’ve forgotten that. He’s supposed to be working for the people and asking people what they want, not deciding for them.”

In the 2019 Federal Election, Ms France and Mr Dutton went head-to-head, with Mr Dutton being elected for the seventh time. The Australian Labor Party’s France is running for a second time, after losing by 2.95%.

Mr Dutton has held the seat of Dickson for 21 years and he and his family are longtime residents, with his great-grandparents coming to the area in the 1860s. Mr Dutton is currently serving as the Minister for Defence and is a key figure in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s leadership team. He is also a member of the National Security Committee of Cabinet, and the Expenditure Review Committee.

A sign for Peter Dutton on Gympie Road at Strathpine

Mr Dutton’s slogans for his campaign are delivering for Dickson and working hard, getting results. He has delivered important projects, including building more carparks at the Ferny Grove train station and the Arana Hills all-abilities playground

Even with his long-term residency as an MP and list of achievements, has Mr Dutton proved himself to his electorate? “There shouldn’t be career politicians, simple as that,” one constituent says. “They should have a term or two and that’s it. Too long in there and too many things are set in their ways. They forget to contact the people, they forget to speak to the people, and they start doing what they choose to do.”

Ms France is a single mother of two boys, whose career in politics started after working as a journalist. France’s father, Peter Lawlor, and her grandmother both worked in politics, but she was not drawn to the field until she was in an accident that left her with an amputated leg.

In May 2011, Ms France was run into by an out-of-control car driven by an elderly man at the Highpoint Shopping Plaza carpark. She was pinned between two cars, managing to save her then four-year-old son from serious injuries.

Ms France was told she would never walk again. She saw and spoke to many people who were struggling with the health system and expenses, inspiring her to go into politics.

Ms France is working to fight for local jobs, quality healthcare and better NDIS support for the Dickson community. In a tweet Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese said: “Ali France is up against Peter Dutton at the election, and I can’t think of anyone better to represent the people of Dickson.”

Over the recent campaign Ms France has been frequently attending local events, roadside campaigning and door knocking with volunteers. Ms France even took time away from her family over the Easter weekend by roadside campaigning on the Petrie roundabout and door knocking in Murrumba Downs. On Easter Sunday she attended the Old Petrie Town markets. Although Ms France has frequently been out in the community, some constituents say it has been hard to get to know her.