Dr Francesca Collins is a Senior Lecturer in Behavioral Studies in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, Clayton campus and the head of non-residential Phoenix College at Caulfield campus. Dr Collins has registered to run for the Sex Party in the upcoming state election.
What seat/electorate/division are you running for and which party are you representing?
I’m the Australian Sex Party candidate for the Upper House region of Southern Metropolitan which covers Kew down to Beaumaris, Clayton across to the bay and everything in between.
What attracted you to this party over another party or running as an independent?
How did you get involved with this party?
I spent the 2011-12 academic year teaching at Princeton University, and nothing crystallises your values like the rarefied and conservative air of an Ivy League institution. I guess that’s when I came out as a civil libertarian. Back in Melbourne, it became clear that the major parties were locked in a ‘Mexican stand-off,’ with no-one brave enough to make the first move on the civil liberties that our community has been calling for years, such as marriage equality, dying with dignity and the therapeutic use of cannabis.
So, I decided to get active in supporting the civil liberties the major parties were shrinking away from. I soon discovered the Australian Sex Party and was delighted to find a group of people who shared my values and my desire for a progressive voice in government. I’d never belonged to a political party before, but I figured I could lament the regressive state of Australian politics or I could get in there and do something about it. I joined the party in 2013, volunteered in that year’s Federal Election then decided to throw my hat in the ring for the 2014 State Election.
This is the first time I’ve ever run for a government role. I think my ‘freshness’ to politics, and the fact that I’m still out there working in the real world, will stand me in good stead. As an academic at Monash University, I’m in the privileged position of working directly with many of the young people – and future leaders – of the Southern Metro region. They don’t pull their punches in their critique of the current State government and what they expect from its successors.
What, in your view, is the current government doing wrong?
They seem to be desperately trying not to upset anyone and, in doing so, are ignoring the wishes of the majority of their constituents. For example, the vast majority of Victorians support voluntary assisted dying, however the government (and the opposition) are fearful of alienating the small proportion of dissenters because they need their vote to get over the line. Not what I would call courageous. As a civil libertarian party that has no alignment with any other party, we don’t have to compromise our policies to retain the support of super-conservative groups.
What (if anything), in your view, is the current government doing right?
They’re slowly beginning to listen, as evidenced by their support for 24-hour weekend public transport and legalising the therapeutic use of cannabis.
Recent reports have indicated that youth unemployment is at a 15-year high in Victoria. How would you and your party help ensure that more young people are able to access employment?
Currently, it’s not our goal to form government but, rather, to bring a progressive voice to Parliament and ensure that legislation is informed by research evidence, not morality or ideology. In regard to youth unemployment, we will support proposals that uphold the dignity and civil rights of young people and that are evidence-informed.
Would you restore the funding to the TAFE sector that has been taken out of it by the Bailleu/Napthine governments?
We won’t be in control of the purse, but, again, we would support proposals that uphold the dignity and civil rights of people wanting to access technical and further education.
What is your stance/your party’s stance on the controversial East-West link project? Should the Napthine government have signed the contract before the election, or should they have waited until after the November vote?
The Australian Sex Party opposes the East West Link, and would prefer to see the money used for new public transport infrastructure and improvements to existing infrastructure. Projects should include a dedicated airport link, a north/south train line connecting the eastern radial lines and reserving rail corridors for future development. We encourage commuters to cycle or utilise public transport wherever possible and we also call for 24-hour train services on weekends, with appropriate security personnel.
Personally, I think the Napthine government should waited until after the election to sign off on the contracts and allowed Victorians to have their say on the matter. The whole ‘will they rip up the contracts?’ situation is a mess. No-one is going to win if this project goes ahead and now we are almost guaranteed to lose out financially if the contracts are ripped up.
What is your view/your party’s view on Protective Services Officers on train stations? Are they making travellers safer, or are they a waste of money?
We will be pushing for 24-hour public transport on weekends to ensure that people can get home from work or a night out safely and soundly. We need well-trained PSOs to make this happen.
Victorian Trades Hall Council have been running an anti-Napthine campaign in cooperation with Nursing, Paramedic and Fire service unions among others over their work conditions under this government. How do you feel about their concerns?
I personally stand in solidarity with our state’s nurses, paramedics and fire fighters in their fight for farer employment conditions. Anyone who has seen our emergency services personnel in action will be appalled and embarrassed to hear of their low salaries and poor employment conditions.
What is your stance on the deregulation of Universities /TAFE?
This really saddens me. It will create an elitist higher and further education system that will be completely at odds with our otherwise egalitarian society.
Do you think you will benefit from major party apathy?
The Coalition and Labor are indistinguishable from Futurama’s Jack Johnson and John Jackson. I think major party apathy will create opportunities for minor and micro parties, and a richer mix of voice in parliament will be fantastic for our state. We need to break up the current Parliamentary group think.
How has the campaigning been going? Has there been any feedback from your potential constituents?
Like my students, I’ve got the Week 12 feels; it’s mayhem all round. Come November, though, you’ll see me out on the streets, at your local train station and popping up in the press and social media. The feedback so far has been mostly along the lines of ‘Wow! This all makes so much sense!’ with a smattering of, “Have you thought of changing the party’s name . . . ?”
Is there anything else you think students should know about you and your party?
If you haven’t already, enrol to vote at http://enrolnow.vec.vic.gov.au/
And remember, the State Election is a great opportunity to earn some cash while get some rare electoral experience. You can find out about working on Election Day at https://www.vec.vic.gov.au/Media/ElectionEmploymentRegister.html