As a key part of our activities, Clifton holds events from time to time with key opinion leaders with a view to helping expand participants’ knowledge and contacts.
In our work in government relations, we know how important it is to understand the dynamics of politics especially with independents and small parties playing a more important role.
Clifton hosted Reason Party Leader Fiona Patten at a small private luncheon recently where she talked to some of our clients and friends about her agenda for the coming term.
Fiona is a member of the Victorian Legislative Council, representing the Northern Metropolitan area. She is in her second term and has distinguished herself by her strong, considered and independent approach to issues.
She has been able to achieve many notable changes to policy – for example the ‘dying with dignity’ legislation, the safety zone around birth control clinics and establishing a trial safe injecting room in Richmond. She has won great respect and influence in the Parliament.
Her approach aims to achieve more government transparency, winning greater trust from the community and moving forward on social issues to offer young people more tolerant and supportive policy settings.
At the luncheon Fiona emphasised her concern about the community’s overwhelming lack of trust in politicians and the adversarial nature of Australian politics. She prefers to describe herself and the other ten independents in the upper house as ‘non-government’ rather than ‘opposition’ as they treat every bill and issue on its merits. The majority of legislation is in fact passed with support from all parties but the community sees the name-calling and attacks of question time as the norm.
Fiona also emphasised the challenge for independent members to research and form an opinion about the many bills that come before the parliament, particularly when there is often very little real scrutiny of legislation in the lower house where government and opposition just speak from their party notes.
Fiona lamented the loss of the joint committee system, recently abolished by the Government, as these committees provided important scrutiny and helped achieve bi-partisan support for legislation.
Fiona is currently focusing on addressing the issue of ‘spent convictions’ so that, for example, a young person convicted of a minor offence can have that erased from their record, if there is no further offence, so that their future career is not blocked.
She is also working hard on the laws relating to cannabis use with a view to Victoria adopting more permissive and health-based policies such as Canada has acheived.
Fiona would like to lift the protective veils that protect religions from disclosing their property and financial activities.
Finally, she emphasised her concern that there is no coherent overall plan for the development of Victoria. She emphasised the need for government commitment to long term planning for the growth and development of our communities.
Fiona will be prominent in the Parliament in this term. If you want to learn more about her or the other independents, please don’t hesitate to contact us.